Miami Athletic Department

Miami announces plans for $34 million indoor practice facility

4 Comments

A lack of quality facilities has been one of the knocks on the Miami football program the past few decades but the school is certainly playing catch up very quickly on that front ever since new head coach Mark Richt was hired.

To that end, the school announced on Friday plans for the latest addition to Coral Gables in the Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility. A $14 million donation from the family of local real estate magnate Jeffrey Soffer was the lead gift for the upcoming building, which carries a price tag of $34 million.

“Today we take yet another step forward in continuing our mission of Building Champions at the University of Miami,” athletics director Blake James said in a release. “The generosity of Carol Soffer’s children and others enables us to build one of the finest football facilities in the nation, which will serve the needs of our football program and all our student-athletes for years to come. We are forever grateful to Jeffrey, and Carol’s other children for their support of and passion for UM Athletics.”

Miami was one of the few Power Five schools around the country not to have a proper indoor facility — quite a problem for the team given the weather at times in South Florida. The 81,800-square-foot facility will feature two smaller-than-regulation turf fields and a large football operations center. Football coaches’ office space, position meeting rooms, conference rooms, recruiting lounges and a video center are also part of the new building.

“An indoor practice facility means a great deal to this football program,” Richt said. “I am grateful that the University and the Department of Athletics recognized the need for an indoor facility and worked tirelessly to make it happen. I can’t thank the Soffer Family enough for their contribution and helping us bring this project to fruition. We appreciate Carol’s generous and deeply committed support of Miami Hurricane Athletics.”

Richt contributed $1 million of his own money to the facility earlier this year and the school has all but $10 million of the final cost already pledged by donors. There was not a timetable announced for groundbreaking but one would probably be safe in assuming the fancy new facility will be complete in time for the 2017 or 2018 season.

The move by Miami is just the latest in a furious arms race in the state. Florida State opened their new indoor practice facility in 2013 and Florida recently started practicing in theirs prior to this season (the Gators also are planning to build a new football building too).

Now it seems as though the Hurricanes are joining in on the building boom too.

LOOK: Arizona State to wear Pat Tillman-themed uniforms

Associated Press
1 Comment

Pat Tillman is essentially the Knute Rockne of Arizona State football, the central figure that will be as important to the program 100 years from now as he is today. And while Notre Dame will wear Rockne-themed uniforms later this season, so, too, will Arizona State.

The program revealed Tillman-centric uniforms on Monday for their Nov. 4 game with Colorado, based on the uniform Tillman wore as a member of the U.S. Army while fighting in Afghanistan.

Tillman played linebacker at Arizona State from 1994-97 (he was named the Pac-10’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior) and then spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before the events of 9/11 inspired him to join the U.S. Army. He was a member of the Army Rangers before he was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004, at age 27.

Arizona State unveiled a Tillman statue at Sun Devil Stadium at its season-opening win over New Mexico State.

“Pat spent his whole life trying to be the best person he could possibly be,” Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother, said at the unveiling. “He didn’t focus on money, he didn’t focus on fame, he didn’t focus on a pretty statue. It was, ‘How can I make myself a better person in all these different facets of my life?’ And ASU gave him an opportunity to do that.”

Jim McElwain says family, players have received death threats over 3-3 start

Getty Images
14 Comments

Florida has lost two in a row and is off to a 3-3 start, and that streak will probably reach three on Saturday after the Gators meet No. 3 Georgia. While everyone knows SEC fans are passionate about their football, some have taken Florida’s struggles too far.

How far? By threatening to kill the players and coaches.

“I think it’s a pretty good lesson for the way things are,” head coach Jim McElwain said, via Only Gators. “There’s a lot of hate in this world and a lot of anger. And yet, it’s freedom to show it. The hard part is, obviously, when it’s threats against your own players, death threats to your families, the ill will that’s brought upon out there. And yet, I think it’s really one of those deals that really is a pretty good testament to what’s going on out there nationally. There’s a lot of angry people, and in this business, we’re the ones you take the shots at. And that’s the way it is.”

In my experience, it seems people lodging death threats are far more serious about the threat part than the, uh, other. But that’s easy for me to say, I’ve never received one.

Report: Sam Darnold expected to return to USC in 2018

Getty Images
6 Comments

Sam Darnold was appointed the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on the second day of 2017. As a redshirt freshman, Darnold torched Penn State to the tune of 33-of-53 passing for 453 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in a 52-49 Rose Bowl win.

One problem, though. Darnold hasn’t played like a No. 1 pick this season.

While he hasn’t been the most disappointing player on what’s turning out to be a disappointing USC team, Darnold has posted pedestrian numbers (for him): hitting 63.5 percent of his passes for an even eight yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He ranks 38th nationally in passing efficiency. This puts him, coincidentally, one spot ahead of former USC quarterback Max Browne.

On Monday, NFL Draft analyst Benjamin Allbright shared a report that Darnold is expected to return to USC next season.

Considering Ronald Jones could return next season and that Stephen Carr is just a freshman, the prospect of Darnold returning in 2018 has to take the sting out of a lost 2017 for Trojans fans.

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, C Zach Shackelford in concussion protocol

Getty Images
2 Comments

Texas has lost two straight upset bids in strikingly similar fashion: true freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger leads a potential-game winning drive, scrambles, hits his head on the turf and ends the possession in a puzzling throw.

The first came in last week’s loss to No. 10 Oklahoma. Trailing 29-24 late in the fourth quarter, scrambled for two yards to the Texas-48 yard line but hit his head on the Cotton Bowl turf and was forced to leave the game for five plays. Shane Buechele pushed the Longhorns to the Oklahoma 31, but he was replaced after a sack and Ehlinger ended up throwing the ball away on 4th-and-13 from the OU 34 with two minutes to play. That, as they say, was that.

Fast forward to Saturday and Texas was trailing No. 11 Oklahoma State 13-10 in overtime when Ehlinger opened the possession with a scramble that again saw the back of his head bang against the Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium turf. He stayed in the game this time, but ended the game on a puzzling (to say the least) interception to absolutely no one on 3rd-and-4 from the OSU 6.

While Ehlinger was not evaluated for a concussion during the game, he did not practice Sunday and head coach Tom Herman said Monday that Ehlinger and center Zach Shackelford are in concussion protocol.

Complicating matters for Texas is that sophomore back-up Shane Buechele is playing on a gimpy ankle that kept him out against San Jose State and Kansas State that Herman said will not improve as the season goes on.

No matter, Texas will face a hungry Baylor team on Saturday (noon ET, ESPNU) that nearly completed a comeback against No. 22 West Virginia on Saturday night.