When LSU needed a spark on offense, Les Miles handed the offense over to Purdue transfer quarterback Danny Etling. Etling wasted little time taking advantage of the opportunity, and Miles may find it difficult to take it back in hopes of seeing Brandon Harris getting off to a good start again. Sure, it was only one game against a (very good) FCS opponent in Jacksonville State, but Etling was cheered when he came in and deemed a hero when he left the field after leading LSU to a 34-13 victory Saturday night.
Taking a job away from a starter is nothing to be worried about in college football, because it is what every player should aim to do. Etling, however, knows what it is like to be a starter losing the job after constant struggles, so he has a unique perspective on what Harris is experiencing right now.
“I empathize a lot with him,” Etling said after the game Saturday night, per ESPN. “It’s not a fun position. It’s terrible and it’s something that maybe only quarterbacks can understand, and it’s something that I definitely understand. I really wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.”
Etling was once the starting quarterback at Purdue, taking the job from Rob Henry in October 2013 after the Boilermakers struggled on offense and took a loss against Northern Illinois. Etling had come in to replace Henry in that loss and Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell made the decision to stick with Etling moving forward in Big Ten play. A year later, after being named the starting quarterback for the season, Hazell benched Etling and replaced him with Austin Appleby. Appleby went on to be named Purdue’s starting quarterback for the 2015 season as well, while Etling saw the writing on the wall and was granted a release from his scholarship to pursue other opportunities. After weighing his options, the decision was made to attend LSU. After sitting out the 2015 season, Etling is now taking advantage of his second chance in college football, for now at least.
Miles said after the previous week’s loss to Wisconsin that Harris can struggle to knock off a shaky start. Whether Miles gives Harris another chance remains to be seen. For now, Etling should be the quarterback for LSU’s offense until proven otherwise. LSU opens SEC play this week at home against Mississippi State.
Helmet sticker to ESPN.
Ohio running back Maleek Irons was arrested over the weekend for his role in fleeing a possible drunk driving accident.
The Athens News reports Irons was arrested Saturday morning by police responding to a call about “an intoxicated male driving a vehicle, colliding with other vehicles, and fleeing the scene.” The vehicles connected to the call was found off the road at 3:39 a.m. When police discovered the car, Irons got out of the car and started to run tow a dorm on Ohio’s campus, failing to stop when commanded by the officer.
Irons has been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, resisting arrest and obstructing official business. He was released on bond and has a court appointment scheduled for Tuesday morning. There has been no statement from Ohio on his status with the program, although an indefinite suspension of some sort may be expected as is usually the case when an issue like this arises.
With Irons finding himself in some legal hot water, that means The Fulmer cup season is officially underway.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban may be the most powerful person within the Alabama sports department, but even he has a boss. Now, he will have a new boss.
Alabama Director of Athletics Bill Battle is stepping down into retirement from his current position, although he will remain active in the university as a special assistant to university president Stuart Bell. Battle has been fighting through health issues and completed treatment for cancer last summer. His vacant spot in the athletics department will be filled by Arizona Athletics Director Greg Byrne. A formal announcement has not been made as of yet, but multiple reports have confirmed the pending Byrne hiring. (UPDATE: Alabama has since formally announced the hiring of Byrne)
”Bill has done a tremendous job as director of athletics, and has accomplished so much during his career,” Bell said, according to the Associated Press. ”His business expertise, coupled with his coaching experience and his strong understanding of the role an athletic department has in the daily fabric of a university, has allowed us to achieve the great successes we have enjoyed during his tenure. We are blessed to have the continued benefit of his counsel.”
The hiring of Byrne takes Alabama outside its own foundation to bring in an outsider to lead the sports department. Byrne is an Idaho native who has worked in an administrative role in two SEC schools, so he will be familiar with the landscape the conference has to offer. Byrne was the athletics director of Mississippi State from 2008 through 2010 before moving to Arizona for the past six years. At Mississippi State, Byrne hired football coach Dan Mullen. Byrne also held an associate AD role at Kentucky, where he directed development and fundraising efforts for the Wildcats.
It’s not yet Signing Day, but Notre Dame has already secured a major commitment for what Brian Kelly hopes is a major bounce-back 2017 season.
Offensive lineman Quenton Nelson announced Sunday he is returning for his senior season. “Excited for this team to grow every day this offseason by putting in nothing but hard work and grinding together. When we reach our full potential, look out,” Nelson wrote in an Instagram post. “I’m right behind you Coach.”
Nelson, who hails from “Westeros, GOT,” according to his Twitter bio, is a two-year starter at guard for the Irish. Notre Dame finished tied for 62nd nationally in yards per carry this season, but ranked eighth in that same metric a year ago en route to earning a finalist not for the inaugural Joe Moore Award — given to the nation’s best offensive line unit — and a Fiesta Bowl appearance.
Former California head coach Sonny Dykes is set to join TCU’s staff in a to-be-determined role, multiple outlets reported Sunday evening. Jeremy Clark of TCU’s 247 site broke the news.
Dykes, of course, was the head coach of the Golden Bears through last Sunday, when the school abruptly fired him. He was 19-30 in four seasons with Cal.
With Doug Meacham off to Kansas and Sonny Cumbie running the show for the Horned Frogs’ offense, Dykes is a natural fit to slide in and assist Cumbie. Dykes was an offensive assistant of Mike Leach at Texas Tech from 2000-06, and Cumbie played for the Red Raiders as a quarterback from 2000-04. Sharing the same first name can’t hurt, either.