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Report: Vols QB likely moving on to Charlotte

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A month and a half after Butch Jones acknowledged he did “not anticipate that he will be a member of our football family moving forward,” Riley Ferguson appears to have been adopted by a new football family.

While nothing is official at this point, Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com tweeted Monday that, barring any recent changes in his thought process, Ferguson plans on transferring to Charlotte from Tennessee.  Ferguson brother Zach is a redshirt sophomore at the school, which likely played a role in his decision.

Because the 49ers are an FCS program — the school won’t make the official move to the FBS level in Conference USA until 2015 — Ferguson would be eligible to play immediately in 2014.  He will have four years of eligibility remaining beginning this season.

A three-star member of the Vols’ 2013 recruiting class, Ferguson was rated as the No. 23 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school in North Carolina.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

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Report: starting Auburn DB suspended after verbal confrontation with coach

Arkansas v Auburn Getty Images

It appears No. 5 Auburn will go into its nationally-televised prime-time affair Thursday night without an experienced member of its secondary.

An AU official, Ryan Black of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer tweeted, confirmed that Jermaine Whitehead did not travel with his teammates to No. 20Kansas State earlier today.  Because of that, Whitehead will not play in the game against the Wildcats, al.com also confirmed.

While neither of those papers gave a reason for the decision, AuburnUndercover.com wrote that “[a]ccording to knowledgeable sources, Whitehead had a verbal confrontation with an Auburn assistant coach, resulting in his suspension.”

His future beyond Thursday’s game is unclear as well, the website reported.

The loss of Whitehead for even one game is a significant one.  He’s started the last 26 games at safety, and currently leads the Tigers in interceptions with two. One of those picks was returned for a touchdown in the season-opening win over Arkansas.

As for a replacement, al.com writes that while “freshman Stephen Roberts is listed as Whitehead’s backup on Auburn’s depth chart… it’s possible cornerback Josh Holsey could move to free safety after playing in the boundary last season.”

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UofL QB Bonnafon mourning dad’s death, won’t be available Sat.

Miami v Louisville

The latest example of many things being more important than a game of football is Louisville’s Reggie Bonnafon.

The backup quarterback will not travel with his teammates for the Cardinals’ game against FIU Saturday because his father, Wallace Bonnafon, died unexpectedly Monday of heart failure.  The player didn’t practice Tuesday as he left the school to go home and be with his family.

“We won’t have Reggie this week,” head coach Bobby Petrino said. “It’s a very tough situation for him and his family, something that caught him a little bit off guard.

“The plans are they’re going to have the showing on Friday and the funeral on Saturday, so he’s just going to focus on helping his mom and the rest of his family.”

Despite being listed as the No. 2 quarterback, Bonnafon has seen significant action this season. He’s thrown attempted 20 passes the past two games, throwing for 151 yards and a touchdown. In the UofL’s upset loss to Virginia Saturday, he briefly replaced benched starter Will Gardner.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to Bonnafon and his family for their loss.

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Jim Mora playing coy with Brett Hundley’s status for ASU game

UCLA v Texas Getty Images

UCLA already knows it won’t face Arizona State’s starting quarterback, Taylor Kelly, in a huge Pac-12 matchup a week from Thursday.  There are also question marks surrounding the Bruins’ starter at the position, but their head coach has decided to play things close to the vest for the time being.

Brett Hundley suffered an elbow injury in the first quarter of the Week 3 win over Texas and didn’t return.  The bye this weekend should certainly help Hundley’s availability for the ASU game as he rehabs what’s described as a slight hyper extension of his left (non-throwing) elbow.

“No,” the head coach said when asked about the the injury. “They work every day with the medical staff to get back out there as quick as they can and when they’re ready to go they put them back out there and they’re ready to go.

“So, that’s about it.”

If Hundley is unable to go against the Sun Devils, logic would suggest that Jerry Neuheisel would get the start.  After replacing injured starter, the son of former Bruins head coach Rick Neuheisel threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns, the second one a 33-yarder with three minutes left that proved to be the game-winner.  For that performance, Neuheisel was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.

Mora, though, wouldn’t even commit to Neuheisel as the starter if Hundley is sidelined.

“Just because Jerry went in that game doesn’t mean that’s our backup quarterback,” said Mora after practice. “We’ve never determined who’s No. 2, 3, 4. We’ve got a whole bunch of guys. Next time someone has to go in, it could be Asiantii (Woulard). Heck, Asiantii might start the Arizona State game. Who knows?”

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David Ash retires from football; UT loses DT to season-ending injury

David Ash, Jarrian Roberts AP

It was bad news all around on the personnel front for Texas Wednesday.

During a press conference this evening, head coach Charlie Strong revealed that quarterback David Ash has decided to retire from the game of football due to multiple concussions.  Ash suffered yet another head injury in the season opener against North Texas and hasn’t played since.

Strong stated that it was Ash who “actually came up to me and approached me” about retiring from the sport. The decision came after consultation with the UT medical staff, and it was likely the wisest course of action given Ash’s history.

In addition to the issue this year, he also missed most of last year due to a concussion suffered early on in the season.  After incurring the original injury Sept. 7, Ash returned two weeks later only to see the concussion symptoms recur and sideline him yet again.  In late November, Ash was officially shut down for what little was left of the season.  In mid-January, he was cleared by the UT medical staff to resume football activities.

In mid-April this year, Ash broke a bone in his left foot and missed the remainder of spring practice.

“‘There was no way we were going to let you back out on the field,'” Strong said he told Ash.

Tyrone Swoopes, who took over for Ash the past two games, will be the starter still moving forward. As Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman tweeted, “[i]t doesn’t appear they want to play freshman Jerrod Heard at all.” Heard was a prized member of Strong’s first Longhorn recruiting class, a four-star signee rated as the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the country.

In addition to the news on Ash, Strong also announced that defensive tackle Desmond Jackson will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury.  Jackson, you may recall, was the player responsible for the coin toss kerfuffle prior to the UCLA loss this past Saturday.

 

Jackson started 13 games the past two-plus seasons at UT.

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D.J. Morgan leaves USC football, still has eyes on NFL

D.J. Morgan

The star-crossed and injury-plagued USC football career of D.J. Morgan has officially come to an end.

Tuesday, the running back-turned-defensive back as well as head coach Steve Sarkisian confirmed the player is no longer a part of the team.  Morgan will remain in school, however, as he wants to run track for the Trojans this spring.

“We’re wishing him the best of luck,” Sarkisian said.

Morgan also stated that he’s not retiring from the game of football, and that he still holds NFL aspirations.  Instead, he wants to give his body time to heal before pursuing that dream.

I realize I still have a lot left in me,” Morgan said of his football skills. “I haven’t played in a while and I just want to get my body back.”

Morgan was a four-star member of USC’s 2010 recruiting class, rated as the No. 3 all-purpose running back in the country and the No. 68 player at any position in the country. That recruiting résumé, however, never translated to much on-field success.

Thanks to injuries that cost him all of the 2013 season and half of 2012, he finishes his Trojan career with 364 yards rushing and a touchdown.

During summer camp, and in an effort to jump-start his career, Morgan was moved from the offensive backfield to the defensive secondary. The move came at Morgan’s request.

(Photo credit: USC athletics)

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WR Joshua Stanford taking leave of absence from Hokies

Virginia Tech v Ohio State Getty Images

Virginia Tech’s experience and depth at the wide receiver position has taken at least a short-term hit.  Whether it will turn into a long-term issue remains to be seen.

Tuesday, Tech head coach Frank Beamer  announced that Joshua Stanford has been granted a leave of absence from the football team.  Other than to deal with a personal issue, no reason was given for the sabbatical.

It’s also not related to any type of school-mandated disciplinary action.

Stanford has started 13 of the Hokies’ 16 games the past two seasons, including two of three in 2014.  He was third on the team in 2013 with 40 catches for 640 yards.  This season he has just five catches for 35 yards, totals that rank seventh and eight, respectively.

As noted by Norm Wood of the Newport News Daily Press, “Stanford is the second Virginia Tech receiver to leave the team for a period of time this season due to personal reasons. Sophomore Carlis Parker was also absent from the team for the first two games, but he returned to practice last Tuesday.”

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Report: Ed Orgeron turned down Nicholls State job

Ed Orgeron

Earlier this month, out-of-work coach Ed Orgeron told 247Sports.com in an interview that while he “love[s] being at home with my kids, my wife and my family… it’s been special,” he also “can’t wait to get back to football.”

As it turns out, Orgeron had the opportunity to do just that recently — and passed.

Sunday, Charlie Stubbs stepped down as the head coach at 0-3 Nicholls State due to what was described as “major health reasons.” Steve Axman was subsequently named as the interim head coach for the remainder of the year, but he wasn’t the first choice of Rob Bernardi.

The Nicholls State athletic director confirmed to CoachingSearch.com that he had approached Orgeron about taking over the job for the remainder of the season. Citing a “commitment he made to his wife and family for this season,” Pete Roussel wrote, Orgeron declined.

Orgeron lives in Mandeville, La., a short distance from the Nicholls State campus.

In September of last year, Orgeron took over as USC’s interim head coach after Lane Kiffin was fired. Orgeron — and others — openly pursued the permanent job that ultimately went to Steve Sarkisian, and, even as the new coach wanted him, eventually decided to part ways with the Trojans when he didn’t get the job even as.

Orgeron was also the head coach at Ole Miss, and will likely be looking for a job at the FBS level once the spinning of the 2014 Coaching Carousel commences.

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With appeal denied by NCAA, Michigan RB Ty Isaac will sit out 2014

Ty Isaac

The chance for transfer running back Ty Isaac to see the field was already slim after the running back’s initial request for a medical hardship waiver was denied back in August, but that chance has slipped down to none after his appeal was denied by the NCAA this week.

Head coach Brady Hoke confirmed the news on Wednesday.

“He’s handled it great,” Hoke told the Detroit Free-Press. “He’s our scout running back, one of the two guys who fill that role and he had a great day yesterday. From an attitude standpoint and everything, he’s been awesome.”

Isaac originally enrolled at USC and rushed for 236 yards and a touchdown on 40 carries as a freshman in 2013. He moved closer to his home near the Chicagoland area after his mother underwent hearing loss surgery.

Without Issac, Michigan ranks 30th nationally in rushing at 242 yards per game in this young season, and averages a 14th-best 6.26 yards per carry. Derrick Green leads the club with 50 carries for 332 yards and three touchdowns, and fellow sophomore De’Veon Smith has added 24 attempts for 189 yards and two additional scores. With the addition of Isaac, Michigan should have a formidable stable of runners for the next couple years.

Isaac will have three years of eligibility remaining when his career resumes in 2015.

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Alright, now how does Jameis Winston’s half-suspension affect the gambling line?

Jameis Winston

We’ve covered how Jameis Winston’s have-fun-explaining-this-one-to-your-grandmother half-game suspension affects Saturday night’s tilt between No. 1 Florida State and No. 22 Clemson on the field, and how it alters his chase for a second Heisman Trophy. Now it’s time for the important stuff: how does this affect the line?

According to TomahawkNation.com proprietor/SB Nation gambling expert Bud Elliott: not that much. The defending champion ‘Noles are still favorites, just not quite as heavy as before.

After hovering around three touchdowns before Wednesday morning’s news, Florida State is a consensus 16.5 or 17-point favorite. With an over/under at 60.5 points, Las Vegas expects a Florida State win hovering somewhere in the neighborhood of 38-21.

Oddly enough, this game has a very recent doppleganger. A year ago, the reigning Heisman winner was suspended for one half, and replaced by a little-used back-up. Back then, Matt Joeckel completed 14-of-19 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown in leading No. 7 Texas A&M to a 28-21 halftime lead over visiting and future Conference USA champion Rice. Johnny Manziel came on in relief, threw for 94 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another 19 yards, leading the Aggies to a 52-31 win. The spread was 28. Make of that what you will.

Florida State has beaten Clemson in two straight games, rallying from a 31-21 third quarter deficit to score four unanswered touchdowns in route to a 49-37 win on Sept. 22, 2012, and absolutely ripping the Tigers for a 51-14 final on Oct. 19, 2013. Both times, Clemson was undefeated and ranked in the top 10 nationally. This time around, Clemson is hanging on to its Top 25 status after falling 45-21 to then-No. 12 Georgia on Aug. 30.

While Brent Venables and the Clemson defense figure to throw the book (and everything else they can grab) at backup-turned-emergency-starter Sean Maguire and his 26 career passes, the Florida State defense is still intact and facing the nation’s No. 66 rated passer, Cole Stoudt (and freshman phenom Deshaun Watson, whenever Dabo Swinney and Chad Morris decide to play him.)

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Kevin Sumlin confirms WR Speedy Noil will miss SMU game

Speedy Noil, Carl Harris

With reports stating wide receiver Speedy Noil would miss 3-5 weeks with an MCL sprain, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin responded with the temperament you would great a cockroach in your cereal bowl.

Simply put, Sumlin despises divulging any information he does not absolutely have to with the press, so A&M scribes should consider themselves thankful that Noil would miss the Aggies’ trip to SMU on Saturday.

“He won’t play this weekend,” Sumlin said. And, about that 3-5 week prognosis, Coach? What’s his status for next week’s date with Arkansas?

“I’ll update you next week.”

Well, okay then. By simply ignoring an issue he clearly finds annoying in hopes that it goes away, Sumlin simply prolongs his agony. Maybe he secretly enjoys getting in passive-aggressive tussles with the press.

For this week at least, Texas A&M should be fine without Noil. Though the freshman has snagged 12 passes for 197 yards and stands as the Aggies’ leading punt returner, No. 6 Texas A&M would be fine against SMU even with Speedy’s less-gifted cousin at wideout, Moderately Sluggish Noil.

SMU has been outscored 88-6 this season and still hasn’t scored with time remaining on the clock, notching its only score in a 43-6 beatdown at North Texas on a 33-yard heave as time expired. The Aggies are listed as 33-point favorites in most books.

Texas A&M is expected to start sophomore Edward Pope, a Rivals 250 prospect in his own right, in Noil’s place.

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WVU CB Worley charged with battery following altercation with female

West Virginia v Kansas Getty Images

Just days after word broke West Virginia had suspended starting defensive back Daryl Worley for a violation of team rules, a warrant for his arrest has been issued by Morgantown police.

As reported by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a warrant was issued Wednesday afternoon. Worley has been charged with battery as a result of an altercation with a female outside a nightclub early Sunday morning. As the sports world is constantly reacting to various headlines regarding physical abuse of women by football players, West Virginia suspending Worley was an easy decision to make while the legal process plays out. As reported, citing information from police reports, Worley allegedly put his hands around the neck of a woman and pushed her down. There is no report on any serious injuries, but the incident as described is certainly not a good luck.

West Virginia is set to host Oklahoma this weekend. The loss of Worley is a hit to the Mountaineers on defense, but this issue is clearly more important than football.

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Former TCE DE Fields plans on FBS return before NFL

Devonte Fields, Wes Lunt

If you think Devonte Fields is going to play football this fall at a junior college and get set to enter the NFL Draft in 2015, that may not quite be the plan. The former TCU defensive star is currently playing his college football at Trinity Valley Community College but his plan appears to be going through the recruiting process with the intent of playing at least one more season at the FBS level before taking a chance at the NFL Draft.

“Everything he has said to me and everything his family has said to me is the plan is for him to get his (Associate’s Degree) and to play Division I again,” Trinity Valley CC head coach Brad Smiley said to The Dallas Morning News this week. “He is excited about going through that process and playing Division I again. He has not said anything about coming out to play in the NFL.”Brad Smiley said to said to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram this week. “He is excited about going through that process and playing Division I again. He has not said anything about coming out to play in the NFL. He is excited about going through that process and playing Division I again. He has not said anything about coming out to play in the NFL.”

Fields was forced to relocate to the junior college level this fall after a promising career at TCU spiraled out of control. The former defensive freshman of the year in the Big 12 was involved in an incident reportedly involving pointing a gun and making a threat to an ex-girlfriend. That led to an investigation over the summer and TCU removed Fields from the football program. Fields later surrendered after a warrant for his arrest had been issued and it looked as though Fields would drop down to the FCS to play at Stephen F. Austin. TCU blocked the transfer and then officially separated from any association with Fields.

As noted by The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fields currently has 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one tackle for a loss through the first three games of the season. This comes with double team coverage routinely as Fields is a superstar on the junior college playing field.

“Everybody he sees knows who he is,” Smiley said. “He is their Super Bowl.”

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The long countdown to Michigan-Texas is officially on

91st Rose Bowl Game: Texas Longhorns v Michigan Wolverines Getty Images

Get ready to make your plans well in advance, Michigan and Texas fans. The Wolverines and Longhorns have made official a home-and-home series that had been in the works.

As confirmed today, Michigan will host Texas in Michigan Stadium on August 31, 2024. Texas will host the Wolverines three years later on September 4, 2027. Plan accordingly.

“A match-up of this magnitude doesn’t come along all that often, and when it does it’s special for both programs and the great fans that support each institution,” said Michigan head coach Brady Hoke said in a released statement about the series. “This also is a special series for all fans of college football, and I anticipate great games just like the first contest played between the two programs.”

These two legendary programs may be playing through some hard times right now, but in 10 years Michigan and Texas could be a huge match-up, as it should. Unless the two collide in a postseason game in the next 10 years, the series will mark just the second and third times Michigan and Texas have met on the playing field. The only other meeting in the series history took place in the 2005 Rose Bowl, with Texas taking a 38-37 victory.

Who knows what the college football postseason will look like a decade and 13 years from now, but under the current format for the College Football Playoff it would seem Michigan and Texas are making an effort to increase the attractiveness of the non-conference schedule. Texas is already playing a nine-game conference schedule and by then Michigan will be fully engrained in a nine-game Big Ten schedule. As it is currently set-up, Michigan will play either Texas or Oklahoma annually between 2024 and 2027 with a home-and-home series with the Sooners sandwiched between the Texas games. Texas will be coming off a home-and-home with Michigan’s rival, Ohio State, as the Longhorns head into the series with the Wolverines. Texas and Ohio State have a home-and-home series set for 2022 and 2023.

As of now, Texas has no non-conference games scheduled for 2025 or 2026. Perhaps another Big Ten school could fill that void. If so, how about Nebraska? It would be nice, but unlikely. Nebraska is already locked into a home-and-home those seasons with Tennessee. Wisconsin? Penn State? Both are available if Texas is interested.

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Jameis Winston suspension may cost 2013 winner a shot at history

Jameis Winston

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is looking to make some college football history this season. Not only is he looking to lead Florida State to back-to-back national championships, but he is also the latest player to have a chance to win the Heisman Trophy in back-to-back seasons. That accomplishment has only been done once, and in light of Wednesday’s news about serving a suspension for the first half of this weekend’s game against Clemson, it looks like legendary Ohio State running back Archie Griffin will remain sitting at a table for one in New York City.

Winston may still be the best player in college football, but the Heisman Trust Mission Statement is held in high regard by some of the voters. Winston’s actions off the field carry more weight for some voters than others, but his recent outburst of vulgarity on campus may be enough for some voters to wipe Winston off their ballots starting today. Perhaps some voters were waiting for a reason to eliminate him from the conversation. That remains to be seen.

Winston was already fighting history enough as it is for a defending Heisman Trophy winner. With just one repeat Heisman winner in the history of college football’s highest individual honor, the odds may have been stacked against Winston from the start. A handful of other worthy contenders have also emerged in the early going of the season, like Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Georgia running back Todd GurleyAlabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall. And do not forget about Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill.

Winston winning a second straight Heisman Trophy may not be impossible, but the road to travel just became filled with additional potholes and was covered in ice. If Winston continues to win and make incredible plays, as he did in the opener against Oklahoma State, and other candidates take a hit or two along the way (two losses did in Mariota last season, for example), then Winston will remain in the hunt as a leading contender. Until then, at least Winston will be able to vote for himself.

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Jameis Winston’s suspension won’t cost Florida State a win vs. Clemson

Jameis Winston, Josh Furman

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has been suspended for the first half of this weekend’s contest with Clemson. For the Seminoles to suspend their starting quarterback for the entire first half of a key division game against a top 25 team should send a message to Winston and anyone else watching that the bar is supposedly being set high for Florida State’s student-athletes. So, is one half enough of a message?

Considering the circumstances revolving around the reasoning for this suspension, it would seem appropriate enough. Winston was not in violation of any laws and he did not harm anybody in the process from the information reported at this point. He did, however, not act accordingly as a student-athlete, represent the football program or university in an expected manner and that is reason enough to issue some sort of punishment. Missing the first half of a game should be enough to deliver that message to any player on the football roster, even he just so happens to be one of the best

Critics are running wild suggesting Winston needs to grow up (and yes, he does), so hopefully this is the final straw for Winston and the off-field shenanigans. The time to know what is right and what is wrong or inappropriate in a public setting is now for Winston.

As for the game, Winston’s absence for one half should have an impact. Will it be enough for Clemson to take advantage and steal a win while they can? It is not as though Florida State is shallow on talent around the field. Redshirt sophomore Sean Maguire should be capable of handling things for one half even against Clemson, and it is not as though Jimbo Fisher will put Maguire in any position he feels uncomfortable with if it means risking the game. Florida State has too much to play for to put Maguire in a situation to blow it for one half before Winston takes the field at the start of the third quarter. It is not so much a suggestion Fisher will avoid trying anything pivotal with Maguire under center, but knowing Winston will be available in the second half means the urgency to force something with the back-up quarterback should never pop up even if things look bad.

Florida State can more than weather a storm for one half of football, even against Clemson. Now Winston just needs to show he can avoid creating a storm in the future.

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