The college football world will focus squarely on the annual Army-Navy rivalry game this week but a secondary storyline to the contest is a little more pressing than the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the Midshipmen on Saturday.
The Capital Gazette reports that Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper’s status for the contest is up in the air this week after his son Jarren was hospitalized overnight after doctors found a “potential complication” during a check-up. The 14-year-old has been awaiting a heart transplant for several months following an initial complication that arose after surgery for an abnormally fast heart rhythm.
The elder Jasper missed Wednesday’s practice and no status update was given for the team’s Thursday practice.
The Jaspers’ story has been covered quite a bit this season on the Showtime documentary A Season With Navy Football after Jarren was initially diagnosed during fall camp and all of the subsequent ups and downs that have come since. The family have been a mainstay at the Academy for 18 seasons and Ivin has served as the team’s offensive coordinator for the past decade.
Per the Gazette, if Jasper is unable make it to Philadelphia for the game, running game coordinator Ashley Ingram would move from the sidelines to the Lincoln Financial Field press box and serve as Navy’s play-caller. Hopefully Jarren can recover quickly enough to be able to go home and watch his favorite team close out the regular season on Saturday but, either way, he can probably expect a whole bunch of positive thoughts and prayers from both sidelines of this all important rivalry game.
Chris Robison‘s time in Norman ended in controversy. As he gets set to begin his quest to become Florida Atlantic’s starting quarterback, Robison is again mired in a bit of a kerfuffle.
As FAU kicked off spring practice Tuesday, Lane Kiffin confirmed that Robison has been indefinitely suspended from his football program. The only reason given was the standard unspecified violation of team rules.
One sliver of light amongst the latest off-field cloud for Robison is that the suspension trigger seems to be relatively minor in nature as the head coach said it could be lifted at any time.
“[He’s] not doing things right off the field and not just that he hurt himself, but he hurt his team,” Kiffin said by way of the Palm Beach Post. “Like we just told our players, you got choices; we can’t make the choices for you. If you don’t want to make the right choices, [there are] punishments for them.
“I think our punishments are a bit more severe than most people would be, but we want to teach our guys they gotta do everything right.”
A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April of that year for public intoxication; four months later, OU announced that Robison had been dismissed from the football program. In August of last year, Robison announced his decision to transfer to FAU and ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017 season.
Robison and De'Andre Johnson are expected to compete for the starting job vacated by Jason Driskel, who announced earlier this offseason that he was retiring from the sport. Johnson missed most of the 2017 season after blood clots were discovered in one of his arms.
This is not exactly the most optimal way to open the spring for Nick Saban and Alabama.
Shortly before seven p.m. ET this evening, grad transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew, who originally committed to play his last season of college football at Alabama, announced on Twitter that he will instead move on to Washington State. Not long after that, after the Crimson Tide had completed their first practice of the spring, Saban confirmed that Tua Tagovailoa sustained an injury to the thumb on his right (throwing) hand. Specifically how he sustained the injury wasn’t clear.
The rising sophomore will be taken to Birmingham for further evaluation; just how long he’ll be sidelined remains to be seen.
Jalen Hurts started every game but one at quarterback the past two seasons, guiding the Crimson Tide to a 26-2 record in that span. He was under center for the national championship game loss to Clemson, and was in the same spot for this year’s title game against Georgia until a 13-0 halftime deficit compelled Saban to pull the trigger on a change.
And the rest, as they say, is history, as Tagovailoa played a significant role in a second-half comeback that was capped by the true freshman’s game-winning touchdown pass in the first overtime. Even as it seems obvious to those on the outside that this is Tagovailoa’s team moving forward, given how much more advanced the backup is in the passing game than the erstwhile starter, Saban is not quite ready to pull the trigger on a full-time change at the position. In fact, the head coach even stated that he’s open to playing both quarterbacks.
Minshew, who started five games at East Carolina last season, was viewed as experienced insurance in case Hurts decided to transfer. Or, if Tagovailoa suffered an injury.
So much for the implementation of the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™.
In late February, Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer quarterback from East Carolina, confirmed that he had committed to play for Alabama and would enroll at the university in May. Nearly three weeks later, Minshew shifted his course significantly, announcing on Twitter that he is “[p]roud to say that I’ll be playing my last year of college ball at Washington State.”
At least when it comes to the opportunity for playing time, the Cougars, looking to replace Luke Falk, make much more sense than the Crimson Tide, who has, in addition to a two-year starter in Hurts, national championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa.
As a graduate transfer, Minshew will be eligible to play immediately for Wazzu in 2018 and could be in line to win a starting job at the Power Five school.
Minshew started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.
The news of Minshew’s initial commitment to UA came a little over a week after Minshew visited the Tuscaloosa campus. Earlier in February, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.
“All or Nothing” has been Amazon’s answer to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with one clear distinction — “All or Nothing” actually follows its subject throughout the season. The first two seasons followed the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams, and has now expanded into the college game. Amazon on Tuesday unveiled the trailer for its upcoming season with Michigan, in which its cameras followed Jim Harbaugh‘s Wolverines through an 8-5 campaign where the maize and blue won no games of consequence.
This is not the first such documentary series to follow a college team. Showtime’s “A Season With” has chronicled seasons of Florida State, Notre Dame and Navy.
The upcoming season will hit all Amazon Prime streaming devices on April 6.