The rumors have officially come to fruition.
With speculation swirling, North Carolina confirmed Thursday evening in a press release that Gene Chizik has decided to step down as the Tar Heels’ defensive coordinator. Chizik stated he decided to “step away from coaching to be with my family.”
John Papuchis, UNC’s linebackers coach and former DC at Nebraska (2012-14), will take over for Chizik as coordinator.
“After a lot of prayer and discussions with my wife and children, I have made the difficult decision to step away from coaching to be with my family,” said Chizik in a statement. “The past two years at the University of North Carolina and the opportunity to work with Coach Fedora have been a blessing, and I’m extremely proud of the success we enjoyed. I have always told my players family should come before football, and it’s time for me to follow my own advice. I look forward to watching my own son play the game I’ve dedicated my life and career to for the next two years, and I look forward to the simple joys of being a father and husband I’ve missed out on.”
“These last two years with Gene have been exactly what I hoped they would be,” head coach Larry Fedora said. “The defensive improvement speaks for itself, but I’m equally as proud of the growth and development of our student-athletes on the defensive side of the ball. I hate to lose Gene but certainly understand the reasoning behind his decision, I know it’s been hard on him and his family. We wish the Chizik family all the best and appreciate their dedication to Tar Heel football.”
Chizik was in charge of a significant and impressive — and immediate — turnaround of UNC’s defense.
In 2014, the year prior to Chizik’s arrival, UNC finished 119th in scoring defense (38.9 points per game) and 118th in total defense (263.5 yards per game); in 2015, they were 35th (22.6 ppg) and 26th (194.5 ypg), respectively. This past season, they were 14th in yards per game (183.8) but dipped to 46th in points per game (24.9).
Even as he now resides in South Florida, it appears Mark Richt has lost control of Georgia football’s Twitter account.
Shortly before Saturday’s second spring game under Kirby Smart, UGA’s Twitter account for the football program was suspended. That marked the sixth time since January 17 of 2017 in which the account was suspended, and that suspension remains in effect as of this posting.
While there has been no official word from the university or athletic department on the latest suspension, it appears that it is related to, once again, a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice. Essentially, UGA is accused of using copyrighted music in their tweets, which has led to their five previous suspensions.
Along with the most recent suspension as well as the first in January of last year, UGA’s account was suspended June 20, 2017; July 27, 2017; August 14, 2017; and February 7, 2018. The last one came during National Signing Day, with USA Today noting at that time that “[t]he DMCA suspends accounts after three violations within a certain period.”
Western Kentucky quarterback Steven Duncan was arrested Sunday morning on a charge of driving under the influence.
The WKU Herald reports that Duncan was booked at 2:43 on Sunday morning and, in addition to DUI, was charged with failure to produce insurance and failure to illuminate his headlights. “We are aware of the situation and currently gathering more information,” the program told the Herald. “We take this matter very seriously as a football program.”
Duncan is a redshirt sophomore from Charleston, S.C. He completed 2-of-2 passes for two yards as a redshirt freshman in 2017, and is in open competition with fifth-year senior Drew Eckles, Davis Shanley and Graydon Kulick to replace the graduated Mike White as starting quarterback. White threw for 4,177 yards with 26 touchdowns against eight interceptions in head coach Mike Sanford‘s first season.
WKU concluded its spring on Saturday with a 92-play scrimmage.
“Spring game, beautiful day, great to have the fan base out here, it was a fun game,” Sanford said. “Obviously, it wasn’t a traditional spring game, tackle, playing with two true teams, but the work we wanted to get out of it we absolutely got out of it. We got 92 plays in the scrimmage. We wanted to make sure every single person on our roster got a rep today and that was good to see. Overall, I’m pleased with what I saw.”
Former Notre Dame defensive lineman Kona Schwenke died at his Laie, Hawai’i, home on Sunday, the program confirmed on Monday. He was 25.
Cause of death was not known as of press time.
Hailing from the same hometown as Manti Te’o, Schwenke was a 3-star member of Notre Dame’s 2010 class and appeared in 31 games with nine starts over the following four seasons. He collected 30 career tackles, helped the Irish post an undefeated regular season with an appearance in the BCS National Championship as a junior and won the Irish’s Next Man In Award as a senior.
He was signed to the rosters of the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks but did not appear in a game before concluding his football career in 2016.
“We will tell the stories of how things were different with you. I love you my brother. Thank you for everything over the years,” fellow Hawaiian and former Notre Dame player Robby Toma wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday. “I am grateful for the time we got to spend with you on earth. My heart hurts, but I know the memories we have will last a lifetime. Look over us, my USO. My prayers are with my Schwenke Family. #RIPuso”
Funeral arrangements were not available as of press time.
Ohio State running back Antonio Williams is moving a bit closer to home to continue playing his college football. The North Carolina native reportedly will transfer to the University of North Carolina to play for the Tar Heels. Williams announced his transfer news via Twitter.
“Though being at Ohio State provided me with the right path to reach those goals, the timing for me to be at OSU wasn’t the most ideal,” Williams said in a statement on Twitter. “With that being said, following the end of this semester, I will be transferring to the University of North Carolina.”
Williams appeared in 12 games for the Buckeyes last season, carrying the football 57 times for 290 yards and three touchdowns in a backup role. Ohio State’s running game was led by freshman breakout star J.K. Dobbins and sophomore Mike Weber. Both are back this fall to continue carrying the ball for Ohio State, which would have left Williams sitting no higher than third on the team’s depth chart.
Before attending Ohio State, Williams previously committed to UNC during his recruiting cycle. He switched his commitment status to Wisconsin before making one final switch to Ohio State.
Williams will have two years of eligibility after sitting out the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Williams will likely burn his unused redshirt season this fall to retain two years of eligibility at UNC.