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Tony Morales, Texas Tech’s personification of perseverance, gets SEVENTH year from NCAA

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Yes, you read that correctly.  And, yes, this is still an amazingly awesome story if you’ve been following along.

Monday, Texas Tech confirmed to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that Red Raiders center Tony Morales has been granted a rare seventh season of eligibility.  The offensive lineman will be eligible to play in 2017 if he so chooses, and there seems to be little doubt that he will.

“I know I’ve got another year, for sure,” Morales said after Monday’s practice. “I already talked to compliance and (offensive line) coach (Lee) Hays and them. I worked too hard for too long. I didn’t rehab for four years to turn down eligibility.”

In March, it was announced that Morales had been granted a sixth season of eligibility and would suit up for the Red Raiders in 2016.  And, if there were a picture next to the word “perseverance” in the dictionary, it’d be that of Morales taking the field this year.  And next, as it turns out.

The Tech offensive lineman missed the 2011 season, his true freshman year, due to an injury sustained in summer camp. The same thing around the same time happened again in 2012. And again in 2013. And, unbelievably, again in 2014.  That’s right, Morales missed four straight complete seasons because of injury.

Morales’ myriad health issues have consisted of a torn labrum in his right shoulder (2011); a strained knee ligament (2012); a torn labrum in his left shoulder (2013); and another knee issue in 2014.

The Avalanche-Journal offered a brief explanation as to how the NCAA made its decision:

A Tech spokesman said Tech filed for an extension of Morales’ five-year eligibility “clock” after last season and NCAA personnel who reviewed his case said Morales’ circumstances dictated he could have an extra two years — 2016 and 2017 — if he wanted.

Should Morales suffer an injury that costs him either the remainder of this season or any or all of 2017, that time will forever be lost as he will have exhausted all potential appeals for additional eligibility.  There’s been good news on the medical front of late, though.

Finally healthy in 2015, Morales started six games at right guard last season.  This season, Morales has started all eight games at center for the Red Raiders.

School-wise, Morales is currently working on a master’s degree (educational leadership) and may begin the pursuit of a second one given the additional year of eligibility.

While a seventh season is extremely rare, it’s not unprecedented.  In fact, there’s a very recent example of it as San Jose State’s Deontae Cooper is currently in the midst of his seventh season.  The running back made his collegiate debut in 2010 at Washington and spent his first six years with the Huskies before transferring to the Spartans in March of this year.  This season, Cooper, who suffered three torn ACLs, is third on the team with 331 yards rushing.

Florida DL Taven Bryan declares for NFL Draft

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The Dan Mullen era has everyone excited in Gainesville, but one key contributor won’t stick around to see it.

Defensive lineman Taven Bryan announced Monday he will leave school to enter his name in the 2018 NFL Draft. According to the statement released on his Twitter account, it sounds as if he made his mind up during the Jim McElwain and Randy Shannon regimes and nearly returned upon Mullen’s arrival.

Bryan ranked fifth on the team with 40 tackles while also recording six TFL and four sacks, just half a sack off the team lead.

A native of Casper, Wyo., Bryan will attempt to become just the third Wyoming native to be among the ranks of active NFL players.

SMU reportedly tabs former Cal, La Tech head coach Sonny Dykes as new head coach

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Sonny Dykes will take over as SMU’s head coach, according to multiple reports. The move was first reported by FotballScoop on Monday morning, and since confirmed by ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

Dykes takes over for Chad Morris, who left last week to become the head coach at Arkansas.

Morris was hired to re-establish ties with the Texas high school community after the program flatlined under June Jones, and Dykes has a similar appeal as his predecessor. Like Morris, Dykes is a former Texas high school coach, though only briefly. (He spent one year as the running backs coach at Richardson Pearce High School in 1994.) But more importantly he’s a name that will resonate with Texas high school coaches as the son of the legendary Spike Dykes.

The younger Dykes served as an assistant at Navarro Junior College and Texas Tech before taking over as the head coach at Louisiana Tech, where he led the Bulldogs to a 22-15 mark with one WAC championship from 2010-12. That success led him to Cal, where he took the Golden Bears to one bowl game in four seasons.

He was let go after the 2016 season, and spent the 2017 campaign laying low nearby the Hilltop, as an offensive analyst at TCU.

Dykes will inherit a 7-5 SMU team that ranked eighth nationally in scoring offense and 113th in scoring defense. The Mustangs will meet Dykes’s former team Louisiana Tech in the inaugural Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Interim head coach Jeff Traylor garnered significant support inside the locker room to take over on a full-time basis, so it will be interesting to see if Dykes works to keep the former Texas high school coach on staff, perhaps in an offensive coordinator capacity.

Report: Former Stanford QB Tavita Pritchard named Cardinal offensive coordinator

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It can be argued Tavita Pritchard started the current era of Stanford football. Trailing 23-17 with 48 seconds left, it was Pritchard that hit Mark Bradford for a 10-yard touchdown to push the Cardinal past No. 2 USC for a 24-23 win in 2007, at the time the largest point-spread upset in college football history and kickstarting the Jim HarbaughDavid Shaw era that continues today.

And now it will be Pritchard’s job to keep the ball he first pushed way back when rolling.

According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, Pritchard will be named Stanford’s offensive coordinator.

Still only 30, Pritchard graduated from Stanford in 2009, but he never really left the Stanford football program. He volunteered with the coaching staff in 2010, began working with the Cardinal defense in 2011 and was promoted to the full-time coaching staff in 2013, working with the running backs.

Pritchard was moved to quarterbacks and wide receivers in 2014 and has remained there the past four seasons, but is now in line to take over the entire offense with offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren now the head coach at Rice.

Led by Doak Walker Award winner Bryce Love, Stanford concluded the regular season ranked 32nd in rushing, 61st in passing efficiency, 19th in yards per play and 39th in scoring at 32.0 points per game. The 13th-ranked and Pac-12 North champion Cardinal will meet No. 15 TCU in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Darrell Dickey to join Texas A&M staff as offensive coordinator

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Memphis offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey is taking the same job at Texas A&M, according to a report from, uh, me.

Dickey has been on the Memphis staff for the past six years, first as an original member of Justin Funete‘s staff and continued on under new head coach Mike Norvell. His 2017 unit ranked among the top five nationally in scoring, total offense and yards per play, and came within a defensive stop of winning the American championship and playing in the Peach Bowl.

Beyond Memphis, the appeal for Jimbo Fisher is Dickey’s extensive experience in Texas. A Galveston, Texas, native, Dickey broke into coaching as a graduate assistant on Jackie Sherrill‘s staff at Texas A&M and bounced around in the state as the offensive coordinator at UTEP, SMU and Texas State, and served as the head coach at North Texas from 1998-06. He led the Mean Green to four straight Sun Belt championships from 2001-04.

It will be interesting to see how much control of the offense Fisher gives to Dickey. Memphis ran 882 plays in its 12 games this season, 41st nationally, while Florida State ranked 122nd with 734 — a difference of a dozen snaps a game.