Well this is certainly an abrupt — and positively stunning — turn of events.
Much to the shock of pretty much everyone, Florida sent out a release Wednesday afternoon that Joker Phillips had, effective immediately, resigned as the Gators’ wide receivers coach. Phillips will be replaced by graduate assistant and former UF quarterback Chris Leak.
Other than “personal reasons,” no motive for the creation of an unexpected hole in head coach Will Muschamp‘s coaching staff was given. Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com subsequently tweeted that “[p]er source, Joker Phillips worked the Florida camp today. This is unusual.”
“I appreciate Joker’s contributions to our program and wish him and his wife, Leslie, nothing but the best in the future,” Muschamp said in a statement.
One month after being fired as Kentucky’s head coach, Phillips came to the Gators for what turned out to be one season.
Phillips, whose main mark while at UF was as a recruiter and Twitter genius, would’ve been entering his second season in Gainesville after replacing Aubrey Hill in late December of 2012. Hill himself abruptly resigned in August of 2012 because of “personal issues.”
“I’m thankful for the opportunity that the University of Florida and Will Muschamp provided to me and my family,” Phillips said, “but at this time I have decided to step down from my position on the UF coaching staff for personal reasons.”
Yeah, this is as convoluted as the headline suggests.
Based on multiple reports, there is one thing that’s certain: Gerad Parker was arrested early Tuesday morning on a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. According to the Purdue Exponent, “Parker was charged around 2 a.m. by West Lafayette police, after he was reportedly attending a going away party at a near-campus bar.”
From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Parker reportedly was seen driving the wrong way on West Lafayette’s Pierce Street when he was stopped. Parker was taken to the Tippecanoe County Jail, where he was booked and held. The Exponent also reported that Parker was released later Tuesday without a bond, according to a jail spokesman.
Parker served as the interim head coach at Purdue this past season following the firing of Darrell Hazell in mid-October. In late January, Cincinnati announced that Parker had been hired as Luke Fickell‘s running backs coach.
However, it’s being reported that Parker had, according to a school spokesperson, resigned his post at UC last week to take the wide receivers coach job at East Carolina, a move that came prior to his legal run-in and even as the coach’s personal Twitter account still has him listed as a Bearcats coach. Parker would’ve/will replace Phil McGeoghan, who left ECU in late January for a job with the Buffalo Bills.
How this development will impact Parker’s reported employment with the Pirates is unclear.
A graduate transfer from Notre Dame is not the only Power Five addition Bronco Mendenhall made to his Virginia roster Tuesday.
According to the Cavaliers in a press release, Brandon Pertile will enroll in classes at the university and play football for the Cavaliers this fall. The offensive lineman will be graduating from Oklahoma State this spring, making him eligible immediately to play during the 2017 season.
This upcoming year will be Pertile’s final season of eligibility.
Pertile began his collegiate career at Georgia State, appearing in six games for the Panthers in 2013 before transferring to an Arizona junior college for the 2014 season. He then transferred to Oklahoma State, where he played in three games the past two seasons.
Pertile and John Montelus, the former Notre Dame lineman whose addition to the roster was confirmed today as well, are actually the third and fourth Power Five transfers added to the team in less than a month. One of Montelus’ former teammates, fellow offensive lineman Colin McGovern, transferred to UVa. late last month, and was followed a week later by Missouri quarterback Marvin Zanders.
McGovern is coming to Charlottesville as a graduate transfer, while Zanders will have to sit out the 2017 season and leave him with one year of eligibility that he can use in 2018.
Once upon a time, Jason Nichols was a school-record holding receiver at East Carolina. On Tuesday, he officially returned to campus — as running backs coach.
“Not only does Jason bring a wealth of coaching experience to East Carolina, he knows first-hand of the special bond that exists between Pirate Nation and our program,” head coach Scottie Montgomery said in a statement. “To have the opportunity to impact young men on the same campus and playing field where he earned his degree and competed is immeasurable. From a recruiting standpoint, I’m not sure if there’s anyone else who could tell a more compelling story of what it means to be a Pirate.”
After leaving East Carolina in 1998, Nichols deposited a couple years in the CFL and Arena Football League before returning to campus as a graduate assistant in 2001.
From there, Nichols went on to coach wide receivers at Sacred Heart, Appalachian State, Toledo, Louisiana-Monroe and, in 2016, at Western Carolina.
Nichols takes over a running game that finished 110th nationally at 132.4 yards per game and 101st in FBS at 3.93 yards per carry. The Pirates’ leading returning rusher stands as rising senior Anthony Scott, who carried 79 times for 384 yards and two touchdowns in eight appearances.
Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage has been on a quasi-sabbatical for the past four months, but that period is now over.
Littlepage announced in late October he would work on an “adjusted” schedule through Jan. 2 to attend to personal matters involving a family member. January eventually turned into February, but the school announced Monday Littlepage is now back at work on a full-time basis.
Executive associate AD Jon Oliver served as the Cavs’ acting AD during Littlepage’s absence.
“I would like to thank the University administration, our student-athletes, coaches, staff and especially Jon Oliver for their support and hard work while I was away,” Littlepage said in a statement. “It’s great to be back and I look forward to a successful and productive spring semester for Virginia Athletics.”