Instead of waiting a year for the quarterback room to clear out, Jimmy Fitzgerald has decided to get out of Champaign.
In a press release Wednesday, Illinois announced that Fitzgerald has decided to transfer from the Illini. The redshirt freshman had been listed co-No. 3 a,long with Jeff George Jr., behind starter Wes Lunt, and backup redshirt sophomore Chayce Crouch.
With Lunt being a senior, Fitzgerald was expected to battle Crouch and George for the starting job next year. Instead, he’ll be on the hunt for a new school.
“After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to leave the Illinois football program and consider other opportunities for my collegiate career,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “I want to thank all the coaches I’ve played for and worked with at Illinois, including Coach Beckman, Coach Cubit and Coach Smith. My Illini teammates are an incredible bunch of guys and many will remain friends for life. Having grown up in this community,
“I’ve been a life-long fan of the Fighting Illini and it was a fantastic thrill and opportunity to wear the orange and blue. I know there are great things in the future for the Fighting Illini, but I feel this is the time for a fresh start in my collegiate career.”
A three-star member of the Illini’s 2015 recruiting class, Fitzgerald was rated as the No. 33 pro-style quarterbacks in the country and the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Illinois. The Champaign native took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.
Fitzgerald chose his home school over offers from FIU and Western Michigan. Harvard and Yale offered scholarships as well.
“I met with Jimmy Tuesday evening and we discussed his future as he has decided to leave our program,” first-year head coach Lovie Smith said. “We wish Jimmy nothing but the best as he moves forward with his career. He is a terrific young man who has the respect of his teammates and all our coaches. Sometimes it just seems to a young man that the best move is to try and get a fresh start, and this is what is happening in this situation.”
There appears to be some confusion regarding the status of Ja’Vonn “Pigg” Harrison, but one thing is seemingly certain — the wide receiver won’t see the field for the Seminoles for the foreseeable future, if ever again.
Following practice Tuesday, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher announced that Harrison has been suspended from his football team. The only reason given was an unspecified violation of team rules.
“As of right now, he’s suspended,” the head coach said in quotes distributed by the team. “We’ll see what happens. Team violation.”
However, TomahawkNation.com is reporting that third-year junior has left the team completely and intends to transfer.
A four-star member of FSU 2014 recruiting class, Harrison was rated as the No. 30 player at any position in the state of Florida and the 197 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. The Lakeland native, however, never quite lived up to that recruiting pedigree.
Including this season, Harrison has played in 20 games in his career, starting one of those contest (2016 vs. Ole Miss). He caught eight passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Six of those receptions, 129 of the yards and the lone touchdown came in 2015. This season, he had one catch for nine yards.
If you though the rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State was strictly on the football field, think again. Bedlam reaches beyond the gridiron and now has T. Boone Pickens slinging mud at Oklahoma president David Boren.
According to Kirk Bohls of The Austin American-Statesman, the Oklahoma State donor shared some comments about the Big 12 expansion saga that continues to drag its feet. Pickens reportedly prefers the Big 12 to add within the current Big 12 foot print by inviting Houston and SMU from the American Athletic Conference. That’s probably good news for fans of Houston and SMU, if they believe Boone’s influence carries any weight in this process (it doesn’t, but we don’t have to pour cold water on this subject for now). But the interesting part of the report included a jab at Oklahoma’s president, who recently appeared to suggest he was fine with a 10-team Big 12 only to respond by saying no decisions have been made where Oklahoma stands on expansion.
“I’ve known David forever. He likes to talk. He gets a little bit confused sometimes,” Pickens said. He also suggested “maybe it’s time for David to retire.”
Pickens also updated his relationship status with Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy.
“I don’t have any conversations with Gundy,” Pickens said. In late December 2014 there appeared to be some friction between the head coach and top donor when Pickens proclaimed he didn’t care who coached the team while suggesting he will always support the program and university, his alma mater. Gundy looked to make sure the two were on common ground. Things appeared to have smoothed over by the following spring, but the two are not exactly hanging out together in their spare time.
“I don’t know, but Mike doesn’t handle people relationships very well. And he gets mad about things,” Pickens explained. “I’ve heard he’s written some notes about me that weren’t very complimentary.”
Excuse me while I file away a Freedom of Information Act request for access to these notes…
Prior to last weekend’s game between Nebraska and Northwestern in Evanston, three Nebraska football players opted to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem during the pregame routine. Now, one regent at Nebraska wants those three players kicked off the team.
Hal Daub told The Lincoln Journal Star student-athletes are not to do anything that might create disparagement or negative implications. Apparently, in the eyes of the Korean War veteran and former mayor of Omaha, the act of taking a knee during the national anthem to protest social injustices in our nation, crossed the line.
“It’s a free country,” Daub told the Lincoln newspaper Tuesday. “They don’t have to play football for the university either.”
The three players who took a knee during the national anthem on Saturday were Michael Rose-Ivey, Mohamed Barry, and DaiShon Neal. Rose-Ivey has been eloquent in his explanation for why he has chosen to follow the lead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others who have chosen to demonstrate for their beliefs during the national anthem. Rose-Ivey said fans in the stands hurled racially charged insults and comments suggesting they should be lynched or shot.” You would like to think Nebraska’s leaders would come to the defense of their players, but that does not appear to be the case here.
“They know better, and they had better be kicked off the team,” Daub said. “They won’t take the risk to exhibit their free speech in a way that places their circumstance in jeopardy, so let them get out of uniform and do their protesting on somebody else’s nickel.”
Why is it OK to take a knee on the sideline when a player is injured on the field, but not during the national anthem. During the game, taking a knee is a show of respect for those hurt on the field. During the national anthem, taking a knee can be a show of respect for those who have been hurt by an unjust society that continues to try and work out our differences. It is a shame Rose-Ivey and other protesting players are on the receiving ends of hurtful comments when they simply want to express their voices of concern and wishes for a better world.
It’s even more of a shame some regent in Nebraska chose to push for their banishment from the program instead of come to their defense. This was a golden opportunity to help promote progress, and Daub fumbled it away.
The good news is Mike Riley and university president Hank Bounds have made it clear they do support the players who choose to voice their concerns, so none of these three players should have any fear about being removed from the prorgam.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher and Houston head coach Tom Herman were quick to go on record saying they have not been in contact with the folks at LSU looking to fill a coaching vacancy following the dismissal of Les Miles this week. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer confirmed his commitment to being the head coach at Ohio State. Stanford head coach David Shaw was quick to dismiss the mere idea of being considered for the LSU job. There is no doubt LSU will attract some high-profile candidates as the coaching search rolls on, but add one more notable coach to the growing list of coaches keeping a distance.
Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino, who once coached LSU rival Arkansas and gained a taste of coaching in the SEC (and SEC West), says he is not going anywhere and looks forward to continue building at Louisville.
“I’m not interested in going anywhere,” Petrino said during a weekly press conference on Tuesday. “I’m very fortunate to be the head coach here at the University of Louisville, very happy about that, very glad I have the support of our athletic director Tom Jurich. We were able to sit down last year and do a new contract. We’re going to expand the stadium. We’re coming off one of the greatest crowds and Card Marches I’ve been around. We feel like we’ve got everything going in the right direction.”
Then came the signature line that you would expect any coach to say about the current job position they own when approached about any other possible job vacancy.
“This is the job I want. This is where I’m going to be.”
Now, we have all been following this stuff long enough to understand that just about every coach is going to say these things. They have to for a number of reasons, including keeping the fans (and donors) calm and keeping recruiting efforts on solid footing. Sometimes coaches will lie when in this situation, and sometimes the honest feeling will actually change once details about a possible new contract enter the equation. It is the ultimate variable that can shift the balance of the entire outlook at any given moment.
So any time Petrino and any other coach has to go on record and say this, take it with a grain of salt. Petrino does indeed appear to be happy and settled in back at Louisville, where he arguably has experienced the height of his coaching success under two different stints, and few coaches can say the grass is not always greener once you leave Louisville. Plus, Petrino appears to have everything he might need to build a championship program at Louisville now and in the future that LSU might be able to offer (although recruiting at LSU would appear to be an advantage).
Petrino has a true ACC and playoff contender this season with Louisville. This week he takes the Cardinals on the road for a pivotal ACC Atlantic Division contest with defending ACC champion Clemson. A win for Louisville will pretty much wrap up the division with two months still to play barring a complete meltdown. Louisville already owns a win over Florida State and has quickly moved to being the betting favorite this weekend on the road at Clemson.
I’m dropping this gem from LSU Freek here just because…