Few schools have turned around the fortune of their football program quite like Memphis has the past few years and it appears the reward for all that hard work is some significant upgrades to the Tigers’ facilities to keep them even more competitive in the college football landscape.
To that end, Memphis Business Journal reports that the university Board of Trustees approved a $10 million debt package on Thursday that will just about cover all the costs associated with building a brand new football indoor practice facility. As you have to come to expect with just about any such facility, the new digs will include an enclosed and climate-controlled practice field along with renovations to existing spaces that will bring about a new football operations office.
The plans for the new indoor building have been floating around for some time but it seems most of the recent focus in the athletic department was centered around a new basketball facility. With that project nearly completed and the football team doing well under head coach Mike Norvell, it seems that the attention is being shifted to the gridiron and the debt package will be the first steps in financing the start of construction.
The Journal also notes that the debt being taken on is being backed somewhat by the Tigers’ AAC conference revenue, while the remaining $600,000 or so the project needs will come from donors. Given that the team is one of the favorites to win the league in 2017, it might just be safe to say that the thinking around Memphis is if you build it, they (donors) will come.
Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze dialed “at least 12” numbers associated with escort services through online advertisements, according to a review of open records obtained by ESPN.com. The calls took place over a 33-month period, stretching from April 2014 through January 2017, and typically lasted two minutes or less.
Those calls appear to be what Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter referenced as “a pattern of personal misconduct” on the night he resigned. The calls are the second phone related-issue connected to Freeze’s dismissal. He also made at least 200 calls to a booster that is under NCAA investigation.
There are two puzzling aspects to Freeze’s calls to escort services: A) that he made the calls on a university-owned cell phone in the first place, and B) that Freeze did not redact the calls from the records request, since other private calls were removed from the public review of his 39,000 calls as the Rebels’ head coach.
“Any personal calls having no relation to UM business are not public records,” Ole Miss attorney Robert T. Jolly wrote in an email to ESPN. “Personal calls will be clearly marked and redacted from the documents released.”
Freeze went 39-25 in five seasons as the Ole Miss head coach, peaking with back-to-back wins over Alabama and a long-awaited Sugar Bowl victory to close the 2015 season but ending with a 5-7 mark and a self-imposed bowl ban for the 2017 season, which will be coached by interim Matt Luke. Ole Miss will sit before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Sept. 11, with Freeze’s character and strict adherence to NCAA recruiting rules a cornerstone of the school’s defense.
Jeff Carr is planning to transfer from Oklahoma State, according to a report from Pokes sidelines reporter Robert Allen. That report has since been confirmed by the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman. Carr has since been removed from Oklahoma State’s online roster.
A junior, Carr was Oklahoma State’s most experienced running back but was passed on the depth chart by sophomore Justice Hill. Hill ran the ball 206 times for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns a year ago, while Carr rushed 12 times for 83 yards and one score. His 6.92 yards per carry average led the team. Carr rushed 36 times for 142 yards and one score as a freshman in 2015. Carr also saw his touches as a kickoff returner (29 returns to three) and a receiver (11 catches to one) fall from 2015 to ’16.
After losing the Temple, Texas, native, Oklahoma State will have five running backs on scholarship — four freshmen and one sophomore, Hill.
Multiple outlets have reported Carr is headed to Texas A&M-Kingsville, a Division II school that will permit Carr to play immediately.
Georgia Southern is rolling with a freshman at quarterback this season.
The Eagles have announced that redshirt freshman Shai Werts will be the club’s starting signal caller to begin the season. Werts beat out junior college transfer Kado Brown and junior LaBaron Anthony to win the job.
“I think Shai certainly came in and took the majority amount of snaps with the ones both in spring practice and in camp and I thought he did a great job,” head coach Tyson Summers said in a statement. “I think that you see him have a very clear understanding of what we want do on offense. I think you see him have a very clear understanding of what he’s got to work on to get better at and I think that he’s done a tremendous job from a leadership standpoint on the field and in the classroom and in the meeting room. He’s certainly one of the key leaders for our entire football team, not just in the quarterback room and not just the offense, so I’m very proud of Shai.”
Werts replaces Georgia Southern’s two departed quarterbacks in seniors Kevin Ellison and Fabian Upshaw. The pair combined to complete 112-of-190 passes (58.9 percent) for 1,485 yards (7.82 yards per attempt) with 12 touchdowns against five interceptions while rushing 208 times for 1,019 yards (4.9 per carry) with nine touchdowns. As a team, Georgia Southern ranked 101st nationally in yards per play and 78th in scoring.
A native of Clinton, S.C., Werts stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 190 pounds. He was named the HSSR-SCHSL Division I AA Offensive Player of the Year as a senior at Newberry High School.
“All the work I’ve been putting in, it’s finally paid off,” Werts said. “I called my mom and she just went crazy so I’m glad that she’s proud of me and I can’t wait to tell the rest of my family.”
Werts will kick off its season at No. 12 Auburn on Sept. 2 (7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).
Still a dozen years down the scheduling road, a future Big Ten-Pac-12 series has nonetheless been revealed.
UCLA and Wisconsin announced Tuesday that the two football programs have reached an agreement on a future home-and-home. The two teams play at the Rose Bowl on Sept. 15, 2029, and at Camp Randall Stadium on Sept. 7, 2030.
“UCLA is one of the premier programs in college football,” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “We had some memorable bowl games when I was on the sidelines but this is a great opportunity for us to play them at Camp Randall. Non-conference scheduling is always a challenge but the folks at UCLA have been great to deal with and we look forward to the series.”
The two teams have met 11 times previously, the most recent coming in the 2000 Sun Bowl. The last regular season meeting between the programs came in 1982.
The Bruins own a 7-4 advantage in the all-time series, including a perfect 5-0 mark in Madison. The Badgers, though, have won the last three meetings, all of which came in the postseason and the first two of which were Rose Bowl victories.