That famed grass at Notre Dame Stadium that Rudy cut and lined to help work his way into a spot on the Irish football roster? It’s gone. Or, at least, it will.
During Notre Dame’s spring game Saturday afternoon — on the NBC Sports Network, incidentally — athletic director Jack Swarbrick confirmed that the stadium’s grass will be replaced with a version of FieldTurf. Ripping out of the old and installing the new will begin shortly after commencement the middle of next month and is expected to be completed by the middle of August, well before the home and season opener Aug. 30 against Rice.
While Swarbrick stated that the university “had a strong predisposition to stay with a natural grass field,” the natural grass field had become unacceptable and embarrassing the past couple of years.
The move to the synthetic grass is hardly a surprise as Swarbrick has broached the subject numerous times in the past. The surface was admittedly a mess last season, with the South Bend Tribune writing in late December that “the field was replaced three times between March and October of 2013, and by November it was a slick, divot-pocked surface that frustrated Irish head coach Brian Kelly, the Irish players and Swarbrick.”
Given the level of frustration in recent years, the university and football program had almost no choice but to go the FieldTurf route.
New Cal head coach Justin Wilcox‘s first hire is a big one.
Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin has left his red field of fire to become the offensive coordinator in Berkeley. “This one is right, it’s an incredible opportunity,” Baldwin said, via the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
He leaves Eastern Washington with an 85-32 record, including six FCS playoffs appearances with four trips to the FCS semifinals and a national championship in 2010. Baldwin’s 2016 Eastern Washington team finished 12-2, won the Big Sky championship and reached the FCS semifinals.
Baldwin, of course, isn’t being hired for his head coaching acumen. He’s being brought to Berkeley to move the ball and score points — and on that front Baldwin is one of the best in college football. Eastern Washington finished the season ranked among the top three in FCS in total offense (529.6 yards per game), passing offense (401 yards per game), third down conversions (52.1 percent), completion percentage (67.9), passing efficiency (168.2) and scoring offense (42.4 points per game).
He’ll inherit an offense that finished tied for 54th in yards per play, 22nd in scoring and 51st in passing efficiency running Sonny Dykes‘s Air Raid system.
Baldwin joins a growing group of FCS or Group of 5 coaches leaving head coaching spots to become Power 5 coordinators, following Dan Enos (Central Michigan to Arkansas), Joe Moorhead (Fordham to Penn State) and Pete Lembo (Ball State to Maryland). Baldwin also interviewed for the Nevada head coaching job that ultimately went to Jay Norvell.
The Willie Taggart era at Oregon is barely a month old, and already the first crisis has arrived.
A report from The Oregonian uncovered that at least three Ducks football players have been sent to the hospital after undergoing grueling workouts administered by new strength coach Irele Oderinde, who followed Taggart from South Florida. Offensive linemen Doug Brenner and Sam Poutasi and tight end Cam McCormick are in “fair condition” at Springfield’s PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend, where they have remained since late last week.
Poutasi has reportedly been diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a soft tissue condition triggered by overwork that can lead to kidney damage.
While those three players remained hospitalized, The Oregonian reports the rest of the team was required to complete the same workouts this week:
The sources said that some players “passed out” and others later complained of discolored urine, which is a common symptom of rhabdomyolysis. After testing, others were found to have highly elevated levels of creatine kinase, an indicator of the syndrome.
“The safety and welfare of all of our student-athletes is paramount in all that we do,” Oregon said in a statement to The Oregonian. “While we cannot comment on the health of our individual students, we have implemented modifications as we transition back into full training to prevent further occurrences.
“We thank our medical staff and trainers for their continued monitoring of the students and we will continue to support our young men as they recover.”
Taggart visited the players in Riverbend before leaving the state to recruit, the paper reported.
Brenner is entering his senior season, while Poutasi and McCormick redshirted last fall.
Tennessee is still in search of its next athletics director, which has become a point of contention lately — and especially over the past 24 hours.
Alabama hired Greg Byrne away from Arizona without ever letting the job hit the open market, which begs the question, just what the heck are they doing in Knoxville? Outgoing AD Dave Hart has been outgoing since before football season started. Getting outmaneuvered by their rivals to the south — their immensely more successful rivals to the south, at least in the sport that matters in Tennessee — has created turmoil for an athletics department that majors in it.
As an apparent slice of red meet to the fans, the Vols let it be known Monday Phillip Fulmer is a serious candidate for their AD job.
“Fulmer has grown close to Tennessee President Joe DiPietro and a group of influential boosters have been working behind the scenes to help install him as Dave Hart’s replacement, according to people close to the situation,” Wolken writes.
Fulmer has exactly zero athletics director experience, but he is a harken back to the glory days of yonder for the Volunteers. He went 152-52 in 17 seasons with six top-10 finishes, three SEC titles, six SEC East crowns and a national championship in 1998.
In fact, even the “bad” Fulmer seasons — a .531 SEC winning percentage with one top-15 finish and one SEC East championship from 2005-08 — compare favorably with the marks of his three successors. Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and Butch Jones have collectively posted a .349 SEC winning percentage with zero top-15 finishes and zero SEC East championships in the eight seasons since Fulmer’s dumping.
It’s not clear what Fulmer brings to the department beyond a familiar face and a living, breathing link to the glory days, but perhaps those attributes are good enough at Tennessee.
Missouri State running back Richard Nelson was fatally shot in the back while attempting to break up a fight on Saturday night. He was 18 years old.
According to a description of the altercation from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nelson was at his home in his native Las Vegas when he attempted to break up a fight between his older sister and “several individuals” when one of the individuals shot Nelson multiple times. Officers responded to a call and transported him to Sunrise Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“I saw blood and everything,” Nelson’s girlfriend Christina Martinez told the Review-Journal. “The next thing I know, I look at him in the eyes. I touch his head and his eyes are closed. I heard his last breath and I just cried and cried,” she said Sunday. “I knew at that moment that I should have done something more. I wish I could have hugged him one last time. I wish I could have kissed him and said goodbye.”
Nelson planned to fly back to Missouri on Sunday to begin preparations for his redshirt freshman season in 2017.
“Our Missouri State football family is in shock and mourning at the loss of one of our family members,” Missouri State coach Dave Steckel said in a statement. “Richard is like a son and a brother. It is a tragedy that he lost his life defending what is right. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in Las Vegas, and we know he is in a good place with God. We ask everyone to respect the privacy of our football family at this time as we begin the healing process.”
“Richard is like a son and a brother,” added Missouri State AD Kyle Moats. “It is a tragedy that he lost his life defending what is right. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in Las Vegas, and we know he is in a good place with God.”