Jaleel Awini

Air Force QB says he’s transferring to Buffs


Jaleel Awini may have lost his good standing at a service academy, but he’s apparently found it at a Pac-12 university.

While Colorado has yet to confirm it, Awini revealed to BuffStampede.com that he plans to transfer to the Buffaloes and continue his playing career in his home state.  After sitting out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Awini will be eligible to play in 2015 and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Awini, who played quarterback at Air Force but could move to wide receiver at Colorado, has already informed the CU coaching staff of his decision to transfer into the Buffs football program.

Awini played his high school football in Aurora and was actually offered a CU scholarship by Dan Hawkins; after his dismissal, Hawkins’ successor, Jon Embree, did not follow through on the offer and Awini opted for the service academy.

As a sophomore in 2013, Awini started three of the first four games of the season but was indefinitely suspended from the team shortly thereafter.  At the time of his suspension — or, as the academy put it, “no longer a cadet in good standing” — Awini was on academic probation.  It’s unknown if the suspension was related to academics or another issue.

“I am very thankful for my time at Air Force and thankful for just getting the opportunity to be there but the military lifestyle is not for everybody,” Awini told the Rivals.com website. “I learned a lot from my time at Air Force but football is just a little more important to me than the military lifestyle.”

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.