Former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien is no longer under the governance of the NCAA, so he is as free as he has ever been to speak his mind about the situation Penn State’s football program is in. Speaking with NFL media at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday, O’Brien said it is ridiculous Penn State is currently serving a postseason ban.
“The fact that there is a bowl ban at Penn State, is ridiculous,” O’Brien said, according to the quote sheet provided by the Houston Texans. The quote came mixed in to a question about his decision to not leave Penn State without informing his players of the decision. O’Brien explained the team was on Christmas break because of the postseason ban, but he attempted to make contact with every player before leaving to be named the head coach of the Texans.
“I didn’t ever want to be somebody that just rode off in the middle night and never said a word,” O’Brien said. “I mean, I love those kids and had a great relationship with all those guys. I don’t know if I reached every one of them but I at least left a message for all of them.”
Penn State was issued a four-year postseason ban in the summer of 2012, just as O’Brien was getting prepped for his first season on the job in State College. The sentence was part of larger sanction parameters including a $60 million fine, significant reduction in football scholarships and the vacating of all wins dating back to the 1999 season. The landmark sanctions were dropped following the release of the Freeh Report, an investigative look at how the Jerry Sandusky crimes were handled by the university leadership in place, including former university president Graham Spanier and former head coach Joe Paterno. Penn State will enter the 2014 season, the first for new head coach James Franklin, with two full seasons remaining on the postseason ban.
The NCAA has already taken measures to restore football scholarships. Penn State jumped up to 20 available scholarships for the Class of 2014 and will return to the 25-scholarship limit in the Class of 2015. Penn State will be able to get back to a full-scholarship count by 2017. The decision to return scholarships was inspired by the latest annual report by George Mitchell to the NCAA, which complimented Penn State in acting on improvements within the structure of the university. If the NCAA is to make any other adjustments to the sanction terms in the event of another positive report from Mitchell later this year, a reduction in the postseason ban would appear to be the most likely possibility at this point.
Helmet sticker to Ben Jones of StateCollege.com.
In a statement Wednesday night, Memphis head coach Mike Norvell confirmed that he has indefinitely suspended wide receiver Jae’Lon Oglesby and cornerback Kam Prewitt from his football program.
The teammates were reportedly involved in an on-campus physical altercation Tuesday. Later that day, several gunshots were fired into Oglesby’s car while the receiver was sitting in his apartment. Oglesby told police he did not see who fired the shots, but did indicate that he had been involved in the altercation with Prewitt.
No one has been arrested in connection to either incident, and Memphis police are currently investigating the situation.
“I will make no further comments on this matter while it remains under investigation,” the Tigers coach said in his statement. Norvell’s decision to suspend the players came after consultation with athletic director Tom Bowen.
Bowen said in his own statement that the university has “offered our full support to the local authorities investigating that incident.”
The past two seasons, Oglesby, a sophomore, has caught 25 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown. Five of those catches and 46 of the yards have come in 2016. He also has carried the ball eight times for 64 yards.
A redshirt freshman, Prewitt has yet to play a down for the Tigers. According to the Commercial Appeal he was suspended during summer camp for undisclosed reasons.
Whether Florida will have its leading tackler for its annual rivalry game with Georgia won’t be known (still) for another couple of days.
The good news is that, for the first time since severely spraining his ankle in the Week 7 win over Missouri, Jarrad Davis returned to practice Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis. If the linebacker takes the field for the UGA game, it won’t be known until Saturday shortly before kickoff.
“Obviously, that will be one of those that it’s got to be right with him, got to be right with the doctors. We’ll see. Kind of game time,” head coach Jim McElwain said. “I thought he moved pretty well. One of the tackling circuits he got beat up by one of the sleds. The sled bit back, but it was good to see. The opportunity to play in this game is something that’s real special and that guy is a real big part of our team. He’ll do anything he can to help us.”
Davis currently leads the Gators in tackles with 48 and is tied for second on the team with 3.5 tackles for loss.
While the status of Davis remains up in the air, McElwain did confirm that two starting defensive linemen, end Jordan Sherit and tackle Joey Ivie, will play against the Bulldogs. Sherit underwent arthroscopic surgery three weeks ago while Ivie had surgery performed on his thumb the week before. Additionally, starting defensive end Bryan Cox has a chance to play despite his own thumb injury.
Thankfully, one of the more underrated in-state rivalries isn’t going away anytime soon.
BYU and Utah announced Thursday that the schools have reached an agreement on a two-game extension of their series. The Cougars will host the first game of the extension Sept. 11, 2021, in Provo while the Utes will return the favor Sept. 3 the following season in Salt Lake City.
The schools had previously agreed to games from 2017 through the 2020 season.
“BYU-Utah is one of the great college rivalries in the country. There’s a lot of history and tradition between the two schools and I’m glad we were able to extend the series through 2022,” said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe in a statement. “I’ve loved this rivalry as a player, coach and administrator, and look forward to the future games.”
The teams have played 91 times since the series kicked off in 1922. The Utes hold a 56-31-4 advantage all-time, including a 20-19 win earlier this season.
When Derwin James went down with a torn meniscus in Week 2, Florida State had the Clemson game circled as a potential date for a return. Unfortunately for both the player and the team, that won’t be the case.
On his weekly call-in show Wednesday night, Jimbo Fisher confirmed that James and his surgically-repaired knee will not play in the Seminoles’ game this Saturday against the Tigers. There is still no timetable for the sophomore safety’s return.
“Hopefully Derwin will be back here soon,” the head coach said.
One thing apparently off the table is a redshirt for James as Fisher said if the defensive back can return at any point this season he will.
The Clemson game will mark the sixth straight missed by James. FSU will close out the regular season against North Carolina State (Nov. 5), Boston College (Nov. 11), Syracuse (Nov. 19) and Florida Nov. 26).
In less than two full games this season, James was credited with 11 tackles and also has an interception.
As a true freshman last season, James’ 91 tackles were second only to Reggie Northrup’s 94. He was also second on the team in tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (4.5).
For that, he was named a consensus freshman All-American and third-team All-ACC. This offseason, he was named to the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award watch lists, and is widely considered one of the most talented players on the defensive side of the ball in the country.