USC quarterback Max Wittek has decided to skip spring practice, graduate and then transfer to another school to play his final two seasons, he told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
Because he will have his undergraduate degree, the redshirt sophomore will be able to play immediately at an FBS school under the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule.
Wittek informed USC head coach Steve Sarkisian of the decision on Wednesday.
“I had talked to Coach a couple of times,” Wittek told the Times. “What it really came down to was a feel for me…. Getting my degree from such a great university will mean a lot, and ultimately, allowing me to play right away with two years to play was the best way to go.”
Wittek started the final two games of 2012 after Matt Barkley got injured, but he couldn’t secure the starting job in 2013 after Barkley departed as Cody Kessler took the vast majority of the snaps and started every game. Wittek ended his USC career with 600 passing yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions.
He is undecided on where he will end up playing.
“At the very beginning I’ll be open to anything to keep that spectrum open,” he said. “I hope to narrow it down to a few schools I feel comfortable with.”
With Kessler firmly entrenched as USC’s starter, it makes sense for Wittek to transfer. The Mater Dei High product should be an attractive option for any quarterback-starved schools out there. He is big (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) with a cannon for an arm. He just needs some seasoning.
As for USC, it will head into the fall with Kessler, redshirt freshman Max Browne and true freshman Jalen Greene at quarterback. The Trojans better hope Kessler stays healthy behind a rebuilt offensive line or things could get dicey in Sarkisian’s first season at USC.
Nearly two months after his tragic passing, a cause of death for Zach Hemmila has been confirmed.
Based on the autopsy report filed by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Republic is reporting that the 22-year-old Hemmila’s death was the result of the combined toxic effects of two different prescription drugs. The two drugs, the Republic noted, were oxymorphone, an opiate painkiller, and alprazolam, an anxiety medication.
From the newspaper’s report:
Chewing tobacco was found in Hemmila’s mouth, according to the autopsy report. No intact pills were discovered in his gastrointestinal system. His lungs were “markedly congested,” per the report.
Hemmila passed away either very late on the night of Aug. 7 or early in the morning Aug. 8. A cousin discovered Hemmila’s body at the Arizona offensive lineman’s residence.
His death has officially been ruled an accident.
“Arizona Athletics continues to mourn the passing of Zach Hemmila,” a statement from the university said in response to the report. “We will honor the family’s request for privacy and support them in any way we can.”
Hemmila started six games last season. He was slated to start at center for the Wildcats this season.
The Wildcats will continue to wear a sticker the No. 65 to honor Hemmila for the remainder of the season.
LSU received some good news and not so good news ahead of its first game without Les Miles on the sidelines in more than a decade.
On the latter news front, star running back Leonard Fournette is listed as a game-day decision for Saturday’s contest against Missouri because of a lingering ankle issue. The All-American initially injured the ankle during a mid-August summer camp practice; then aggravated it against Wisconsin in the opener; sat out the Week 2 game against an FCS foe; and then aggravated it again in Week 4 against Auburn.
After leading the country in yards per game last season with nearly 163 yards per game, Fournette is currently 10th at 128.7. That total still tops the SEC.
On a more positive tip for the Tigers, interim head coach Ed Orgeron confirmed that starting defensive lineman Davon Godchaux has been reinstated to the program and will be permitted to practice with his teammates. Whether he plays this Saturday remains to be seen. Godchaux had been arrested on a pair of charges stemming from a domestic incident over the weekend, but the prosecutor in the case announced Tuesday that he would not be filing formal charges.
Godchaux has started all four games this season (26 in his career) and is fifth on the team in tackles.
Three playing members of the Nebraska football program who knelt in protest during the playing of the national anthem Saturday faced significant — and some racially-charged — criticism for their actions, including one NU regent who wants the players removed from the program. The state’s governor, Pete Ricketts (pictured, right), was highly critical as well.
“Generations of men and women have died to give them that right to protest,” Ricketts said. “I think the way they chose to protest was disgraceful and disrespectful.”
One of the NU kneelers, senior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, took to Twitter to ask the governor to met with him and discuss the issues that led he and his teammates, freshmen Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal, to kneel in protest.
Late Tuesday night, Ricketts responded.
Imagine that, discussion, not rhetoric, on both sides of an issue. What a revolutionary concept.
In the eyes of some, Jimbo Fisher left the door open for a departure from Florida State in his first public comments since LSU fired Les Miles.
“I’m not talking about LSU. No I haven’t [had contact with the Tigers] and I’m not talking about it,” the head coach said Monday.
Two days later, Fisher, one of the wagering favorites to replace Miles, attempted to slam the door on a potential departure, although some will see his “plan on” qualifier as leaving the door propped open yet again.
“I love this university. I plan on being here for a long time,” Fisher said during Wednesday’s ACC coaches’ teleconference. “I love Florida State, and that’s all I’m saying. I’ll talk about myself and Florida State.
“Anything else is clutter, and does not concern me, and is not involving me.”
Fisher spent seven seasons (2000-2006) as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at LSU before leaving for the same jobs — and the added title of head coach in waiting — at FSU. Taking over for Bobby Bowden following the 2009 season, Fisher has guided the Seminoles to a 71-15 record in six-plus seasons, with 2013 ending with a national championship.
Last year as speculation centered on Miles’ tenuous status, Fisher was mentioned as a potential candidate then as well. In fact, some reports had Fisher “intermediaries” in talks with LSU, although, obviously, nothing ever came of it if it indeed actually happened.