Dee Ford Senior Bowl

Auburn’s Dee Ford leads South defense to 20-10 victory in Senior Bowl


Auburn defensive end Dee Ford had been recognized by the Senior Bowl earlier in the week for his efforts in practice all week, and he capped it off by helping to lead the South defense to a 20-10 victory over the North. Ford recorded a pair of sacks and earned Senior Bowl MVP honors to continue to build momentum heading closer to the NFL Draft.

Practices leading up to the actual game tend to carry more weight in player evaluations, but here are six players who made the most of their performance in the Senior Bowl, in no particular order.

1. DE Dee Ford, Auburn

Ford was difficult to slow down in this one. Much like his impact in the BCS Championship Game, Ford brought constant pressure in the North backfield and recorded a pair of sacks and batted down a pass. If any defensive lineman helped his draft profile with this game, it was Ford. Ford was named the Senior Bowl MVP.

2. RB James White, Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s running back led all players in the game with 61 rushing yards on 11 rushing attempts. He was the lone highlight for the game for the North squad as he scored the North’s only touchdown.

3. RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina

One of the top names from the FCS ranks playing this weekend handled himself well for the South team, leading the team in rushing with 31 yards.

4. QB David Fales, San Jose State

He did throw an interception, but he also had the arm that threw two of the biggest offensive plays in the game. Fales completed six of seven passes for a game high 104 passing yards and a touchdown.

5. DB Pierre Desir, Lindenwood

One of the biggest questions about Desir was how he would perform on the field against all of those big receivers from the big time programs. He did quite well, coming down with an interception in the end zone late in the game.

6. TE Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State

Colorado State tight end Crockett Gillmore made some nice plays when on the field, including two of the better catches of the game for the South. He also led all players with 61 receiving yards and snagged a touchdown catch from Fresno State’s Derek Carr on a pass that was slightly behind him on the run.

And here are three who left something to be desired in the game.

1. QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

For all of the talk about potential for Logan Thomas, the Senior Bowl showed much of what Hokies fans have witnessed the past few years. He did complete four of five passes, but for just 18 yards. Thomas took a handful of sacks as well for a loss of 38 yards.

2. QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson

Boyd failed to make any special plays in the game, completing a little less than half of his passes (7 for 16) for 31 yards. He was also intercepted once.

3. QB Stephen Morris, Miami

It must be an ACC thing. Morris joined his conference mates in having a rough afternoon in Mobile. Miami’s quarterback completed 9 of 16 passes for 84 yards and two interceptions in a game when no quarterback for the North team (yes, the North) struggled to move the offense against the South defense.

Win over Grambling approved, Cal officially becomes bowl eligible

Jared Goff
Associated Press
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Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.

Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.

But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.

“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”

The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.


Tulane reportedly set to fire head coach Curtis Johnson

Curtis Johnson
Associated Press
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The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.

According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.

Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”

Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.

If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.

Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.

Reports: Michigan DC D.J. Durkin a “strong candidate” for Maryland vacancy

D.J. Durkin
Associated Press

Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.

“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”

Added Feldman:

Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).

Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.

Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.

“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.

“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”

Illini to decide on fate of interim head coach Bill Cubit by Sunday

Bill Cubit
Associated Press

Illinois will decide whether or not to retain interim head coach Bill Cubit for the full-time job by Sunday, interim AD Paul Kowalczyk told WSKJ-FM Wednesday.

“We need to make that call and figure out which way we’re going for everyone’s sake,” Kowalczyk said, via the Chicago Tribune. “For me, it’s posthaste.”

Illinois closes its regular season Saturday against No. 16 Northwestern in Champaign. The Illini are 5-6 on the year and, for what it’s worth, Cubit desperately wants the job.

Also worth noting: the athletics department is operating under a total state of dysfunction in the wake of AD Mike Thomas‘s firing.

From 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday:

Sources tell 670 The Score that as overwhelmed university officials are dithering and providing little guidance, the group of trustees, boosters and alums left to run things can’t yet agree on much.  Some want to hire a search firm with a spotty recent track record, others want to form their own search committee, while another faction thinks they need to act faster by using their own contacts to target specific AD and coaching candidates right now and just get moving.

Any support for retaining Bill Cubit is getting strong push-back from those who don’t believe he wasn’t aware of Tim Beckman’s aberrant behavior, and from some who feel strongly about making a more dynamic hire.

For those keeping score at home: Illinois is dealing with a power vacuum of trustees, boosters and alums battling for control while an interim chancellor and interim athletics director work to reach a resolution on an interim football coach.

And the coaching carousel starts spinning in full four days from now.