On Friday the California football family celebrated the life of Ted Agu, who recently passed away after collapsing during a conditioning drill. Agu’s death was referenced by Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema when asked about the evidence to support a rule proposal designed to slow down the tempo of the offense in college football. As you may have heard by now, the comment did not exactly go over with much grace. This we expect from Bielema though.
Bielema’s comments were addressed Friday by California Athletics Director Sandy Barbour, who scolded Bielema for taking advantage of a tragedy to further his agenda.
Bielema has since offered an apology for his comments.
“It was brought to my attention that remarks I made yesterday evening while discussing a proposed rule change were unintentionally hurtful,” Bielema’s statement reads. “My comments were intended to bring awareness to player safety and instead they have caused unintended hurt. I would like to extend my deepest condolences and sympathy to the Agu family, Coach Sonny Dykes and to the University of California family.”
Bielema certainly did not mean to offend anybody with his comments referencing Agu’s passing, but sometimes in the heat of a moment a coach can say something without having much of a filter. Bielema has always spoken freely when asked for his opinions. This is just the latest example of it coming back to bite him. The Razorbacks head coach took plenty of heat for his comment, both in our comment section, on Twitter and from multiple reporters and other members of the media. In an interview with Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, Bielema attempted to explain in more detail what he was trying to say when he brought up the death certificates comment.
“I’m talking about the concussion crisis, sickle cell trait. This one [sickle cell trait] really scares you because you don’t know when it’s coming. The kids have difficulty breathing. They don’t want to come out of practice or the game. All the ones I’ve ever been around, they want to stay in because they don’t want their teammates to think they’re quitting or stopping. What we began to rationalize is that when these players pass when they’re involved in these conditioning drills, they pull themselves out of it or the trainer pulls them out of it because they’re having difficulties. What if you’re in the middle of the third or fourth quarter and you know that the kid standing 15 yards away from you or on the other side of the field has this trait. He’s got this built-in possibility of something happening. Your doctors have told you about it. Your trainers have told you about it. He looks at you through those eyes or maybe the trainer even says, “Hey coach, you need to get him out of there.” And you can’t. You have no timeouts. He’s not going to fake an injury. He’s not going to fall down.”
The defensive substitution rule proposal would prevent an opposing offense from snapping the football for the first ten seconds on the play clock. This allows defenses to substitute players on every play before getting caught in a rushed tempo by the offense. Player safety was one of the primary reasons for the proposal when it was reported, but it is being criticized as an attempt to hurt teams that have found a winning formula with an up-tempo offensive style. It does not seem as though the rule will have enough votes to be passed, but Bielema is going to continue to stand by his opinions anyway.
Whether you agree with him or not, let us just hope Bielema handles arguing his case with some better examples moving forward.
Texas and Texas A&M can’t seem to get together to renew their rivalry on the football field, but the two programs still find their scheduling paths crossing every now and again.
Texas and Rice announced in separate press releases Thursday afternoon that the two schools have reached an agreement on a new three-game series that will renew the in-state rivalry yet again. The first game of that series will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston on an undetermined date in 2019. The final two games will be played in Austin during the 2021 and 2023 seasons.
The 2019 game on Rice’s end will replace a previously-scheduled matchup with A&M. According to Rice, A&M requested a release from that game because of a scheduling conflict.
The Longhorns and Owls have met 94 times previously, the most recent coming just this past season. Those 94 games represent the most Rice has ever played against a single opponent.
UT owns a 72-21-1 edge in the all-time series. The Owls only win in the series since 1965 came in October of 1994.
Yesterday we noted that Sonny Dykes had likely landed the man that will help direct Cal’s offense in 2016. Today we get the confirmation.
In the expected press release, Cal confirmed that Jake Spavital has been added to Sonny Dykes‘ staff as offensive coordinator. Additionally, Spavital will coach a Golden Bears quarterbacks room that will be without leading passer Jared Goff for the first time since the 2012 season.
Spavital replaces Tony Franklin, who abruptly left the program last month to take the same job at Middle Tennessee.
“Jake is one of the brightest young coaches in college football and he is a tremendous addition to our coaching staff,” Dykes said. “We were looking for someone to join our coaching family that shares our vision and has a similar offensive philosophy to what we have used to produce some of the nation’s top offenses for nearly two decades. Jake has gained a tremendous amount of experience by working with some of the top coaches in the game, while he has tutored some of the best quarterbacks in college football history. Both will pay huge dividends for us.”
Spavital had spent the past three seasons at Texas A&M, first as co-offensive coordinator in 2013 and then as coordinator in 2014 and 2015. He also coached quarterbacks all three seasons.
In early January of this year, it was announced that the two parties were “mutually parting ways.”
For the Tennessee faithful in the audience, it appears you can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
On National Signing Day eight days ago, UT received a commitment from Jonathan Kongbo, one of the top junior college prospects in this year’s recruiting class. While Kongbo had committed to the Vols, he hadn’t yet sent the university a signed National Letter of Intent binding him to the football program; that meant other programs could continue to pursue the highly sought after defensive end.
Any ongoing pursuit from rival schools has unofficially come to an end, however, as Wes Rucker of 247Sports.com, citing a source close to the player’s recruitment, is reporting that Kongbo has indeed sent his signed NLI to the university. The delay reportedly involved Kongbo’s father.
Kongbo had signed the letter, but his father had not. Tennessee was able to announce him as a signee because he had signed his financial aid agreement.
Kongbo told SEC Country earlier this week that his father was out of town and he was waiting for him to return to sign and send the letter.
Rivals.com rated Kongbo as a five-star prospect coming out of Arizona Western Community College in Yuma. Not only that, but both Rivals and 247Sports’ composite rankings had the lineman rated as the No. 1 JUCO prospect in the country.
In addition to UT, Alabama, Florida State, Ole Miss and USC were finalists for the 6-6, 260-pound end.
A move that has been two months in the making has been confirmed by one of the principles involved.
In an interview with The Oklahoman, Barry J. Sanders confirmed that he will be transferring into the Oklahoma State football program and playing his final season of college football with the Cowboys. Sanders will graduate from Stanford this summer; as such, he will be eligible to play immediately for OSU in 2016 after he arrives this June.
In early January, Sanders confirmed his intention to transfer from the Cardinal after receiving a release from his scholarship. That confirmation came a month or so after speculation began growing that Sanders, the son of Heisman-winning OSU legend Barry Sanders, was considering a move to his father’s alma mater, talk that prompted Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy to address the issue.
As the younger Sanders will be following in some rather sizable Stillwater shoes, he discussed the move with his father before deciding to become the second Barry Sanders to have his name on an OSU uniform.
“His message to me was to keep an open mind,” Sanders told the newspaper. “I think that he would have wanted me to look at more schools. He definitely didn’t want me to make a decision without considering other options. What I told him was that this was something I’ve been thinking about for some time. I just knew this was the right decision and the right fit for a variety of different reasons.
“So when I kind of explained my reasons behind it, he was pretty comfortable with it and he’s just as excited as I am.”
Sanders was a four-star member of the Cardinal’s 2012 recruiting class, rated as the No. 9 running back in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma. He chose Stanford over, among others, Alabama and the Big 12 OSU.
The last three seasons, Sanders has rushed for 672 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. He’s also caught 12 passes for 89 yards and averaged 9.5 yards on 10 punt returns.