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Miami surges to No. 2 in coaches poll; Alabama sweeps first-place votes

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You knew there would be some drastic changes in this week’s Amway Coaches Poll after the way Week 11 went down, and there certainly was. Following a dismantling of Notre Dame, No. 2 Miami rocketed up four spots to trail only No. 1 Alabama. The Crimson Tide remain the only team to receive any first-place votes from the coaches this week.

No. 6 Auburn also made a worthy move up four spots in this week’s ranking and the coaches even do the correct thing in putting the two-loss Tigers just ahead of No. 7 Georgia. Had it been a closer result, Georgia may have managed to stay just ahead of Auburn given the ridiculous nature of the coaches poll at times, but this felt like the right call to anyone who watched Auburn’s performance against the Bulldogs.

No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Wisconsin swapped spots in the coaches poll this week, despite the Badgers remaining undefeated and Clemson struggling to put Florida State until late in the game on Saturday. No. 5 Oklahoma moved up two spots, and No. 8 Ohio State bumped up three spots to re-enter the top 10 this week. No. 9 Notre Dame fell four spots to remain in the top 10, while No. 10 USC moved up four spots to crack the top 10.

No. 12 UCF remains the highest-ranked Group of Five team in the coaches poll, as expected. But they were passed in the poll this week by USC and No. 11 Penn State. Other notable drops in the polls this week were experienced by No. 14 TCU (down five) and No. 15 Washington (down seven). No. 24 Michigan State took the hardest fall, dropping eight spots. No. 23 Stanford returned to the poll this week while Virginia Tech and Iowa State each fell out of the poll this week. No. 25 West Virginia filled the other remaining spot at the bottom of the poll as a result.

Here is this week’s full coaches poll, with first-place votes noted.

  1. Alabama (63 first-place votes)
  2. Miami
  3. Clemson
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Auburn
  7. Georgia
  8. Ohio State
  9. Notre Dame
  10. USC
  11. Penn State
  12. UCF
  13. Oklahoma State
  14. TCU
  15. Washington
  16. Washington State
  17. Memphis
  18. Michigan
  19. Mississippi State
  20. USF
  21. LSU
  22. NC State
  23. Stanford
  24. Michigan State
  25. West Virginia

Others receiving votes: Virginia Tech, Northwestern, Arizona, Boise State, South Carolina, Iowa, Kentucky, Army, San Diego State, Iowa State, Troy, Ohio

UCF’s Shaquem Griffin wins inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award

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UCF has won another trophy for last season and this is one they can very proudly display in the school trophy case.

That’s because recent Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin was named the winner of the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award during a ceremony in the Dallas area on Thursday night. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph were also finalists for the new award.

Griffin was one of the best players in college football for UCF despite the fact that his left hand was amputated when he was younger because of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. A tenacious pass rusher, he was the AAC’s defensive player of the year in 2016 and was recently named the defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl as his team capped off a perfect season.

The award honors “exemplary leadership” on and off the field from a Division I college football player and was presented by Witten’s foundation. The former Tennessee star and All-Pro tight end with the Dallas Cowboys started the award last year and serves somewhat as the college version of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

HBO releases new trailer for Joe Paterno movie starring Al Pacino

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We’re inching closer to the release date of HBO’s Paterno about former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno and his story in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. Emotions already run high in State College whenever this subject is brought up and that seems like it will be the case again after today as the worst scandal in college sports history is relived and brought vividly to life on cable TV.

This is something that is happening however and HBO released a new, official trailer for the film on Friday that gives us an extended look at both Al Pacino in the title role and a bit more on some of the plot lines that are being brought to the silver screen.

In addition to starring Pacino, Barry Levinson is directing the movie, Riley Keough plays reporter Sara Ganim, Kathy Baker is Sue Paterno and Darren Goldstein was cast as former Nittany Lions coach-turned-whistleblower Mike McQuearyAs you can see in the trailer above, the film is mostly centered on what Paterno did or did not know about Sandusky — the team’s defensive coordinator who was found guilty on 45 of 48 child-sex abuse charges in June of 2012 and is currently serving a prison sentence of at least 30 years.

Paterno premieres April 7th on HBO.

UConn head coach Randy Edsall: We’ve become a farm system, pay the players

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The FBI sting into college basketball malfeasance has gotten a lot of folks riled up on Friday afternoon, especially when it comes to NCAA rules and potential violations. This, in turn, is leading to everybody and their brother rehashing the argument to pay (or not pay) players.

While you would probably not have expected it, even football coaches are wading into the discourse and there’s a somewhat surprising line of thinking being taken by UConn head coach Randy Edsall on Twitter:

While Edsall’s first point about football coaches getting nervous about the FBI probe spilling over into their sport probably rings true, it’s not every day you see a head coach openly advocating for paying players and calling college football a farm system for the NFL.

The Huskies head coach’s latter tweet is referring to a proposal put forward by the SEC that was approved last month which essentially allows non-coaching analysts to evaluate film of recruits in ways they could not previously do so. This has led to many expecting programs (looking at you, Alabama) creating player personnel departments in even greater numbers to streamline evaluating prospects and allow certain staffers to handle more of the recruiting load.

Edsall is far from the first coach to advocate paying players but something says his comments on Friday will also mean he will just be the latest in a long line of advocates for advancing much the same cause, especially in light of the payments going on in college basketball that are just beginning to come to light.

Charlotte’s Greg Adkins reportedly Marshall’s new O-Line coach

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Country roads, take him home.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman, Charlotte assistant Greg Adkins is expected to return to his alma mater of Marshall to take over as the Thundering Herd’s next offensive line coach.

Adkins is well known around Huntington for his work with the team back in the early 1990’s when they were winning NCAA titles and making regular title game appearances at the then-Division I-AA level. He also had stops at Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma State and with the Buffalo Bills among others before being hired at Charlotte by Brad Lambert.

The return of Adkins fills the hole on Marshall’s staff after the departure of offensive line coach Alex Mirabal, who left for Oregon earlier in the week.