While some college football rivalries can get heated on the field — and in the stands and tailgates and amongst certain trees — there’s generally a great deal of respect on both sides off if it.
The latest example of that comes in the midst of a true tragedy.
The weekend before last, Navy running back Will McKamey collapsed during a practice session and lapsed into a coma following brain surgery. Sadly, the 19-year-old Midshipman never awoke from the coma and passed away last Tuesday.
Monday, McKamey was laid to rest in his home state if Tennessee. One of the mourners who came to pay their respects to the family? Army head coach Jeff Monken.
In a statement, the first-year coach explained his decision and how the historic Army-Navy rivalry simply doesn’t matter in a time like this.
“It’s more than just a rivalry on the field. There’s something beyond that. I really felt it was important that our academy and our football team was represented there. We were all just amazed at how remarkably strong his parents were and what a great example of leadership they were for their other children and for all the people that were there. It was great to be there and be around their players and coaches and be there together with the same sense of spirit to support his family and their loss.”
The Navy football program returned to the practice field Tuesday for the first time since McKamey collapsed March 22. That came a day after more than 80 players and coaches attended McKamey’s funeral.
Navy had missed a total of four spring practice sessions. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo said those sessions won’t be made up as it was and is far more important for his team to have time to heal.
“t’s been tough on us, but it’s really been tough on the [McKamey] family,” Niumatalolo said following yesterday’s practice. “Last week we took some time off to mourn. There’s nothing that prepares you for that. …
“I thought it was most important … for our team to heal. It’s obviously still ongoing. There are things way more important than football, things way more important than spring ball.
North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.
Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.
Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.
As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.
He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.
Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.
Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.
“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”
Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.
David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.
Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:
Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”
“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”
The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.
Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.
According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.
“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’
“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.
The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.
It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.
If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.