Former North Carolina State head coach Tom O’Brien says if he could do it all over again he may have started quarterback Russell Wilson as a true freshman. Doing so may have made everyone happy in Raleigh.
“We probably would have played him that first year,” O’Brien said during a conference call this week, according to Joe Giglio of The Charlotte Observer. Not starting Wilson, or at least giving serious playing time, in 2007 would have ended up avoiding what would turn out to be a bit of a complicated divorce between Wilson and NC State.
Wilson graduated from NC State in 2011 and wanted to continue pursuing a potential career in baseball. He had been drafted by the Colorado Rockies but O’Brien wanted him to focus on football. That hard stance from the football coach ended up with Wilson moving on from NC State. Eventually Wilson ended up at Wisconsin, having put the baseball plans behind him after a short stint in the Rockies minor league system. Wilson played his final year of football eligibility at Wisconsin after transferring from North Carolina State in 2011. He led the Badgers to a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl berth, where Wisconsin lost a back-and-forth offensive battle to Oregon.
“I’m not clairvoyant, I can’t tell the future,” said O’Brien. “You make decisions based on the facts at that time. We had to make a decision that was best for N.C. State.”
NC State moved forward with Mike Glennon taking over as the starting quarterback. Glennon went on to have a 3,000-yard season with 31 touchdowns but the comparisons to Wilson continued. Wilson had comparable passing yardage to Glennon, two more touchdowns but eight fewer interceptions and provided the Badgers with more mobility. It was unfair to Glennon to compare and contrast with Wilson, but it was one O’Brien could not duck from despite going 8-5 with a bowl victory. NC State had gone -4 the year before with Wilson.
Daniel Evans was NC State’s starting quarterback in 2007. The junior passed for 2,030 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Harrison Beck backed Evans up but struggled when on the field as well. Beck ended the season with two touchdowns and nine interceptions. Going back in time and just assuming Wilson would have done better as a true freshman would be unfair, but given Wilson’s track record that would later be established, it may not be an unfair expectation.
Dave Aranda makes more money in one year as LSU’s defensive coordinator than Tony Sanchez would earn in four as UNLV’s head coach.
But, still, the $600,000 Sanchez earned before his firing in Las Vegas as a living that most of us would deem more than comfortable, especially for a guy who began his career as a JV coach at Redlands High School back in 1995.
So that, and UNLV’s history of losing, are not enough to scare off Aranda from the UNLV job. Multiple outlets reported Tuesday that Aranda has emerged as a strong candidate for the vacant Rebels’ head coaching job. (Full disclosure: I also work for FootballScoop.)
UNLV went 4-8 in 2019 and 20-40 in five seasons under Sanchez. In fact, the last coach to leave the desert with a winning record did so in 1985.
Still, Aranda has been part of the turnaround at previously-moribund Utah State, and UNLV’s history is part of the intrigue for him.
Aranda is not UNLV’s next head coach at this time, but he could be. That alone is cause for celebration in Vegas.
Western Michigan quarterback Jon Wassink has been named the 2019 winner of the Wuerffel Trophy as college football’s top community servant, it was announced Tuesday.
The trophy is named in honor of Florida Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel. He will receive the award at the All Sports Association’s annual banquet in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
“We are excited to announce that Jon is this year’s recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy and are thrilled about him joining our family of past winners,” said Wuerffel. “What he has done serving others off the field, along with his work in the classroom and on the playing field, represents what the Wuerffel Trophy is all about. Also, I’d like to say the same about our other two finalists, Isaiah Sanders of the U.S. Air Force Academy and Derrick Brown of Auburn University. The amount of community service that these young men have done is just incredible. Hats off to these amazing student athletes.”
Wassink is also a finalist for the Campbell Trophy as the nation’s top scholar-athlete, which will be awarded Tuesday night during the National Football Foundation’s annual dinner. The Wuerffel Trophy announcement was made in conjunction with the NFF festivities.
Wassink carries a 3.96 GPA as an accounting major. A three-year starter and a two-time MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete, the Grand Rapids native has thrown for 6,289 career yards, rushed for 581 yards and scored 63 total touchdowns.
He led the Broncos to within a game of the MAC West championship and will close his career in the First Responder Bowl against Western Kentucky on Dec. 30, and he’ll do so with one and perhaps two major off-the-field awards in hand.
Mike Gundy has a dry sense of humor and a delivery flatter than the Stillwater topography, which can make it hard to parse when he’s being serious and when he’s not — which makes his sense of humor all the sharper.
But in this case, it seems like he was giving Oklahoma State’s Texas Bowl opponent a genuine complement, even if it reads on the page (or, uh, screen) as if he was attempting to damn Texas A&M with faint praise.
“I think they are the best 7-5 team in the history of the NCAA in my opinion,” said Mike Gundy on Sunday, via Pistols Firing. “They have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they lost to No. 4; and they lost to No. 12. That’s their five losses.
“They are definitely a top-20 team. I haven’t started watching tape on them. I watched them on TV a couple times. I know that they are very athletic. I know that their quarterback, he’s a third-rated quarterback in the SEC, only behind the Heisman Trophy winner and behind Tua. So it will be a great challenge for us. We’ll have to get to work as soon as possible. We’ll have to have great preparation and we’ll have to play a very good game against a very, very good team.”
Texas A&M became the first team in AP poll era to face three separate AP No. 1 teams — postseason included — and did so during the regular season. The Aggies’ five losses came to then-No. 1 Clemson, then-No. 8 Auburn, then-No. 1 Alabama, then-No. 4 Georgia and then-No. 1 LSU. No. 25 Oklahoma State went 8-4 this season with losses to the-No. 12 Texas, unranked Texas Tech, then-No. 18 Baylor and then-No. 7 Oklahoma.
Gundy and company will attempt to make the Aggies the best 7-6 team in NCAA history come Dec. 27 (6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN).
When Buffalo takes the field for the Bahamas Bowl Dec. 20, the MAC program will do so down a man in its backfield.
Saturday night, running back Dylan McDuffie was arrested on domestic violence charges. Details of what led up to the arrest and charges have not yet been released, although the school did acknowledge that the alleged victim is not a student at the university.
As a result of the incident, McDuffie has been indefinitely suspended by the football program.
“Whenever there is a serious violation of our program’s code of conduct, we will take immediate action to address the situation, with the understanding that the university and law enforcement has a process that must be respected and followed,” a statement from head coach Lance Leipold read. “Domestic violence will not be tolerated.”
In its release, the school added that “[s]tudents are told in no uncertain terms that they put their academic and athletic careers at risk by breaking the law or violating UB’s Student Code of Conduct.”
A redshirt freshman, McDuffie is currently third on the Bulls in rushing with 150 yards. His 6.5 yards per carry leads the team.