A month or so before the start of his first spring practice in the Queen City, Luke Fickell has put the finishing touches on his first coaching staff at Cincinnati.
Willie Martinez has been added as the Bearcats’ cornerbacks coach, the school announced, filling the final spot on Fickell’s nine-man on-field coaching group. Martinez had spent the past four seasons as the defensive backs coach at Tennessee, although the Vols opted to go in another direction last month.
“I’m very excited to bring Willie and his family to Cincinnati,” Fickell said. “I promised our team we would put together an outstanding staff to lead them and we have done that. Early in this journey, we talked to our players about taking a leap of faith and that is true of our coaching staff as well. You can go up and down the list of our coaches and you see great teachers, great motivators and great men.
“Our next step is to get spring football started and make an impact while continuing to lead our student-athletes to success.”
Counting his time in Knoxville, Martinez spent 14 of the past 16 seasons in the SEC. Nine of those came at Georgia (2001-09), including a five-year tour as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator.
After two years at Oklahoma, Martinez was at Auburn for the 2012 season.
Former Baylor and Boise State football player Sam Ukwuachu has had his conviction for sexual assault overturned, but he is far from free just yet. The 10th Couth of Appeals in Texas overturned a sexual assault conviction on Thursday and is sending the case back to district court for a brand new trial.
The Court of Appeals determined phone evidence used by the prosecution was improperly used and attained.
“In six issues, Ukwuachu complains that the trial court erred by allowing the State to reference the cell phone records of his roommate during its cross-examination of his roommate and his roommate’s friend, that the indictment was defective, that evidence of an extraneous offense was improperly admitted, that his due process rights were violated due to an abuse of the grand jury process by the State, and that text messages between the victim and a friend of hers the night of the alleged offense were improperly excluded,” an elaborate ruling from the Court of Appeals explained. “Because we find that the trial court erred by disallowing the admission of evidence … we reverse the judgment of conviction and remand this proceeding for a new trial.”
“While I respect the 10th Court of Appeals, I disagree with their decision and reasoning in this case,” McLennan County District Attorney Abelk Reyna said upon learning of the appeal decision. “I am extremely confident in the decisions made by our prosecutors and the rulings made by Judge Johnson in the trial of this case.”
Ukwuachu transferred from Boise State to Baylor after being dismissed by the Broncos program in 2013, reportedly following a case of depression in Boise. Boise State denied any knowledge of Ukwuachu’s violence toward women when he was with the program, which was prompted by comments from former Baylor head coach Art Briles. Former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen did claim to have informed Briles of Ukwuachu’s violent past.
Ukwuachu was found guilty and sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years probation for rape in August 2015.
The alleged victim of Ukwuachu has already settled a lawsuit with Baylor.
One day after Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill to allow concealed guns to be carried into football stadiums, the state senate voted to make an exemption to block guns on game day.
The house bill that was signed into law by the governor this week would have allowed those with proper training to be allowed to bring a concealed handgun into an otherwise restricted area such as a football stadium. The bill overruled any stadium policies banning weapons as well, but that will no longer be the case.
According to the Associated Press, the Arkansas state senate voted 22-10 in favor of an exemption to the rule that would uphold a weapons ban in football stadiums throughout the state. The law will still allow those with the proper training to carry a concealed handgun on college campuses, in bars and government buildings, but football stadiums are off limits.
The amended bill still must pass through the House of Representatives in Arkansas.
Attrition is hitting Tennessee’s depth on the defensive side of the ball this early on in the spring.
Tuesday, reports surfaced that safety Stephen Griffin had decided to transfer out of Butch Jones’ Volunteers football program. Two days later, it appears one of Griffin’s former teammates, linebacker Gavin Bryant, is headed toward a similar departure.
The football program has not addressed Bryant’s with the Vols moving forward.
A four-star member of UT’s 2014 recruiting class, Bryant (pictured, taking a knee to the helmet) was rated as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Alabama. After redshirting as a true freshman, Bryant played in 21 games the past two seasons as a reserve linebacker.
Griffin, meanwhile, was a three-star 2015 prospect who played in 10 games last season. He started one of those contests.
It appears Dino Babers is on the verge of, once again, completing his Syracuse coaching staff.
FootballScoop.com is reporting that reporting that Justin Lustig (pictured, left) is leaving his job as the head coach at Div. II Edinboro (Pa.) College to take over as running backs coach at Syracuse. Additionally, Lustig will serve as special teams coordinator for the Orange.
This will mark Lustig’s first job at a Power Five program.
Lustig replaces Mike Hart, who left earlier this month to take the running backs coach job at Indiana. Tom Kaufman, who oversaw Syracuse’s special teams as well as coached linebackers, took the defensive coordinator job at an FCS program two weeks ago.
Hired in January of last year, Lustig took over an Edinboro team that finished 0-11 in 2015 and turned them into a 9-2 squad one year later. For that turnaround, he was named the Div. II Coach of the Year.
Lustig’s last job at the FBS level came at Ball State, where he served as running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 2011-15. He also earned the title of assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.