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Scott Frost questions Nick Saban’s handling of Tua Tagovailoa


This might cause a bit of a stir. Or kerfluffle, if you will.

Prior to Monday night’s College Football Playoff championship game, Tua Tagovailoa had seen as much meaningful action this season as I had — none. Then, with Alabama trailing Georgia 13-0 at halftime, Nick Saban yanked starter Jalen Hurts in favor of Tagovailoa and the rest is history, with the true freshman quarterback leading a second-half comeback that culminated in an overtime win punctuated by Tagovailoa’s walk-off, title-winning touchdown pass.

Tagovailoa’s beyond-his-years play was a stunning revelation for most of the country, already leading to speculation that the job is the freshman’s moving forward and Hurts, 26-2 as the starter, could be headed out of Tuscaloosa as a transfer. One who was not stunned by Tagovailoa’s primetime revelation was Scott Frost; so much so, in fact, that the Nebraska head coach — and former head coach of the “other” 2017 national champions — took a swipe Saban and his coaching staff for failing to realize earlier in the season that Tagovailoa was the better option at quarterback.

“It was a decision I don’t know I would have been courageous enough to make. That’s the answer you want to hear,” Frost told prior to winning the Bear Bryant Award Wednesday night.
“The other answer is that [Tagovailoa] was pretty obviously better and they had 12 games to figure that out and didn’t. Coach Saban is above criticism with everything he’s accomplished, so I don’t mean it that way, but I recruited Tua out of high school and knew what he could do and it doesn’t surprise me that he did what he did. Jalen’s a great player, too. That was a very bold and courageous move and I’m surprised it didn’t happen earlier [in the season].”

Damn with faint praise much?

Frost, as he noted, has a connection to Tagovailoa, one that could cause some to question the coach’s own judgment and evaluation skills when it comes to the phenom.

Tagovailoa grew up idolizing fellow Hawaiian Marcus Mariota and desperately wanted to follow in the Heisman Trophy winner’s footsteps at Oregon. During Tagovailoa’s recruitment as a high school a freshman and then sophomore in 2013/2014, Frost, as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was part of Mark Helfrich‘s staff at Oregon that failed to offer the prospect a scholarship despite said prospect practically begging for one.

“It wasn’t until approximately 18 months later — after Oregon secured and then lost the commitment of four-star quarterback Ryan Kelley and Tagovailoa committed to Alabama — that Frost and Oregon coach Mark Helfrich deemed Tagovailoa worthy of a scholarship,” the Oregonian wrote, adding, “12-game season vs. 18 months? Saban has Frost beat by a full calendar year in the ‘recognizing Tagovailoa’s talent’ game.”

[Insert Kelso burn GIF here]

It should be noted that Frost left UO on Dec. 1 of 2015 to take the head-coaching job at UCF; the Ducks finally offered Tagovailoa on June 11, 2016, one month after he had committed to the Crimson Tide.  Alabama had offered Tagovailoa a scholarship in March of 2016.

And Helfrich?  He was fired a little over five months after offering Tagovailoa and less than a year after Saban won his fifth national championship.  Saban, of course, won his record-tying sixth title earlier this week, thanks in large part to Tagovailoa ‘s heroics.

Dismissed by West Virginia, Tyree Owens has now been removed from East Carolina’s roster

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To say that Tyree Owens has had an up-and-down — mostly down — collegiate career would be a significant understatement.

Originally a West Virginia signee, Owens was one of three Mountaineer football players stabbed in an off-field accident in September of 2015… only to be one of three WVU football players dismissed from the program very shortly thereafter for violating unspecified team rules.

After one season at a junior college, the defensive lineman transferred to East Carolina. After one season at ECU, Owens is out again as the American Athletic Conference school announced that the redshirt junior “has also been removed from the roster as a result of an indefinite suspension related to the team’s academic policy.”

Last season, Owens started three of the 10 games in which he played, with all of those starts coming at defensive tackle. His 3.5 tackles for loss were fourth on the team, while his three quarterback hits were second on the Pirates.  Two of those tackles for loss came against… WVU, of course.

A three-star member of WVU’s 2014 recruiting class, Owens was rated as the No. 49 strongside defensive end in the country. He took a redshirt as a true freshman for the Mountaineers.

Owens, now at a Mississippi junior college, originally committed to Texas A&M in October of 2016 before decommitting nearly three months later and ultimately signing with ECU in mid-December of that same year.

Clemson DT Christian Wilkins on substitute teaching: I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Kindergarten Cop’

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Those of a certain age may look back on going to grade school and think fondly on those rare days where the regular teacher was out and a substitute filled in. For many around the country, that often meant watching a movie or two for class instead of doing, well… actual work.

If you happen to be a kindergarten student at James M. Brown Elementary School in Walhalla, South Carolina though, having a substitute teacher for class has been taking on a whole different meaning the past few weeks. That’s because 300-pound Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has been moonlighting as a sub and trying to corral little kids on a much gentler scale than he corrals quarterbacks on Saturdays in the fall.

“It was fun, but took a lot out of me,” Wilkins told ESPN earlier this week. “I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Kindergarten Cop’ with all those little kids. Talk about energy, but it was a real cool experience.”

Perhaps the most accurate line from Chris Low’s excellent story on Wilkins’ substitute duties came by one young pupil who muttered, ‘That’s one big mister.’ The senior All-American is only getting $80 for a day’s worth of work with the kids but seeing the massive defensive tackle walk into a room is probably as priceless for Wilkins as it is for those at the school.

UCF claims undefeated season was worth $200+ million in exposure for football program

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How much is an undefeated season worth for a program? If you ask the most recent team to accomplish the feat, the answer is a lot of dough. Like nine figures worth.

According to a release by UCF, the school commissioned a report compiled by Joyce Julius & Associates on just how much value they got from their football team’s perfect season that was capped off with an AAC conference title and a Peach Bowl victory over Auburn:

When combining national television game broadcasts, television news coverage, print media, Internet news and social media, the value of the exposure for UCF Football from Nov. 17, 2017-Jan. 31, 2018 was $171,079,417.47. Combined, the entirety of the 2017 UCF Football season’s exposure was valued at well over $200 million.

Further more, the study found roughly 160,000 total social media posts “generated nearly 655 million impressions with an estimated exposure value of $17,696,403.81. Of the 160,792 posts the study found, over 138,000 of them were on Twitter.” No word how many of those tweets were fans ridiculing the school for claiming a national title or just angry Alabama supporters yelling back about the sport’s true champion last season.

There’s no doubt that the Knights’ story and resulting publicity from claiming to be “national champions” was worth plenty to the school, but it seems like a bit of fuzzy math to claim all of $200 million worth of exposure even with new state license plates and trips to Disney World. One wonders if UCF can claim low nine figures from a “championship” run you’ve got to think Nick Saban’s actual title-winning Alabama team might be able lay claim to more than double that amount for winning the College Football Playoff after all.

Louisville signee Jairus Brents caught speeding, arrested for outstanding shoplifting warrant

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It’s never good for a head coach to get a call that one of his players was arrested and equally bad when the player in question hasn’t even arrived on campus. Such is the case for Louisville coach Bobby Petrino as one of his recent signees was arrested by police on Wednesday.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that four-star cornerback Jairus Brents was cited for speeding by local police and then was arrested due to an outstanding warrant that was the result of a shoplifting citation from shortly before National Signing Day. He was reportedly going 86 mph in a 55 mph zone and was also cited by police for reckless driving and driving without a license.

While that’s not great to say the least, here’s what the Courier-Journal says about the reason for Brents’ actual arrest:

He was arrested because of a warrant stemming from an alleged incident on Jan. 26. According to police, Brents and an “unknown (co-defendant)” took five tank-top shirts and four boxer briefs from the JCPenney store at St. Matthews Mall. Brents’ court date was set for March 5, but court records show that he was not present.

Louisville has not released a statement about the matter yet but Brents is still expected to remain a member of the Cardinals’ recruiting class. In addition to being rated as a four-star defensive back by 247Sports, the local star was also listed as the state’s No. 2 prospect in the class of 2018.

Either way, not the way one wants to begin a career in college football… before it really even begins.