Georgia Southern Eagles

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Hurricane Irma pushes Georgia Southern game vs. New Hampshire to Birmingham in Week 2, too

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Well, so much for completing Hurricane Irma-induced schedule changes in college football.

Wednesday evening, it was confirmed that Florida International’s game against Alcorn State, originally scheduled for Saturday in Miami, had been moved to Friday at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.  As it turns out, the home of the UAB Blazers will be taking on additional out-of-state guests this weekend as Georgia Southern announced that its game against New Hampshire has been moved to Legion Field as well.

That game will be played Saturday at 4 p.m. ET., and admission to the contest will be free of charge.

“When looking at the possibilities where we could try and play this football game, UAB and A.D. Mark Ingram reached out to us and offered us their facilities,” GSU athletic director Tom Kleinlein said in a statement. “After reviewing the updated forecast, we believe the best option for ensuring this game being played is to move to Birmingham. With the developing weather situation, it was paramount to make a decision today so that we would not have to pull resources that may be used in an evacuation scenario.

“I want to thank Mark Ingram, the City of Birmingham and everyone involved in helping make this move possible. This couldn’t have been done without the flexibility of the University of New Hampshire and our staff.”

For those curious, the full-time Legion Field tenants will be playing Saturday against Ball State in Muncie, Ind.

And kudos to all involved, from the UAB football team to the city to everyone else, for taking in these teams and allowing them some semblance of normal amidst a storm of epic and historic proportions.

All told, and at least at the moment, there have been seven FBS games, including the two mentioned above, that have been impacted by Irma.

Tuesday, it was announced that the Memphis-UCF game, originally scheduled for Saturday, had been moved to Friday in Orlando ahead of the hurricane, which is expected to make landfall in the state of Florida sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.  Wednesday, Miami announced that, much to the chagrin of its opponent, its game against Arkansas State in Jonesboro had been canceled and will not be rescheduled, at least not this year.

Also Wednesday, both Florida and Florida State announced that the start times for their home games against Northern Colorado and Louisiana-Monroe, respectively, have been moved up to noon ET.  Additionally, UConn confirmed that its home game against USF Saturday would be moved from a noon kickoff to 10:30 a.m. the same day in order to allow the Bulls flexibility in potentially getting home ahead of the storm.

Georgia Southern names redshirt freshman Shai Werts starting QB

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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).

Chad Morris, Derek Dooley among betting favorites to be next Ole Miss head coach

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It did not take long for people to start talking about who the next head coach at Ole Miss will be following the Thursday night resignation of Hugh Freeze. And somehow, one of the betting favorites has quickly become former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.

As noted by Rocky Top Talk, the Tennessee blog on SB Nation, the former Vols coach and current assistant with the Dallas Cowboys is listed as the second most-favored coach to take over at Ole Miss, listed at +500 according to BetOnline. SMU head coach Chad Morris is the current betting favorite on the betting website, with Morris listed at +300 to be the next coach of the Rebels.

Other names on the board include former LSU head coach Les Miles (+800), and former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly (+1400). FAU head coach Lane Kiffin has been having fun trolling about the Ole Miss fallout on Twitter, yet he is also on the board at +1600.

For what it is worth, interim head coach Matt Luke has also been given odds to keep the job, and he is listed at +1200.

Here are the latest odds as listed by BetOnline;

  • Chad Morris +300
  • Derek Dooley +500
  • Blake Anderson +700
  • Les Miles +800
  • Mike Norvell +1000
  • Brent Venables +1200
  • Scott Frost +1400
  • Chip Kelly +1400
  • Neal Brown +1600
  • Lane Kiffin +1600
  • Mike MacIntyre +1600
  • Charlie Strong +1600
  • Willie Fritz +2000
  • Bryan Harsin +2000
  • Bobby Petrino +2500

So place your bets wisely. But if you choose to place your money on Dooley, you might as well just send me your money instead.

Georgia Southern being sued by two fired offensive coordinators

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This week brought word that Penn State had filed suit against one of its former defensive coordinators.  Thursday brings word that the legal shoe is on the other foot as it pertains to another FBS program and a couple of its former assistants.

According to USA Today‘s Dan Wolken, David Dean and Rance Gillespie filed separate lawsuits last month against Georgia Southern, its athletic association, its head football coach, Tyson Summers, athletic director Tom Kleinlein as well as what were described as multiple GSU administrators.  In early December, both Dean and Gillespie were fired from their positions as co-offensive coordinators.

“The lawsuits allege breach of contract, fraud and tortious interference after the school failed to execute the 18-month contracts the coaches signed initially, then pressured them to sign shorter deals two days before their dismissal,” Wolken wrote.

More from Wolken’s report:

After being offered the job by Summers and receiving formal offer sheets, both David Dean and Rance Gillespie signed 18-month contracts on Jan. 27, 2016, that established June 30, 2017, as the end of their term.

Both coaches claim that more than nine months later, they learned the school’s Board of Regents and the Georgia Southern University Athletic Foundation never signed the contracts. According to the lawsuits, Summers notified the coaching staff on Nov. 3, 2016, that new contracts were being prepared.

The second contract, which was given to the coaches following the 10th game of the season on Nov. 16, had changed the end of the agreement to Feb. 28, 2017.

The lawsuit alleges that Summers, Kleinlein, senior associate athletics director for business operations Jeff Blythe and director of football operations Cymone George “conspired to change the terms of the January Contract and specifically the employment end date” in order to save money, knowing they would be making coaching changes on the offensive staff.

In the civil action, the former coordinators are suing for loss of compensation and accrued interest as well as attorney fees.

Last season under Dean and Gillespie, the Eagles dropped from 24th to 79th in scoring offense, 24th to 104th in yards per play and from first to 29th in rushing as their 363 yards per game average in 2015 plummeted precipitously to 224.  Southern’s record fell accordingly to 5-7 after going a combined 17-7 the previous two seasons.

That subpar record led to speculation Summers could be one-and-done at the Sun Belt school prior to the head coach firing both of his coordinators.

Ohio State corner Joshua Norwood leaving Buckeyes

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Entering this week, Ohio State had been one player above the NCAA’s 85-man scholarship limit.  Thanks to Joshua Norwood, the Buckeyes are right at the number again — at least for the moment.

Citing two sources close to the program, Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Norwood has decided to transfer from OSU.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer subsequently confirmed through an OSU spokesperson the Dispatch‘s initial report

May added that it’s believed the Georgia native will continue his collegiate playing career at Georgia Southern.  A GSU official declined to confirm the cornerback will be added to the football roster, although an announcement could be coming over the next handful of days.

If Norwood lands at GSU or any other FBS program, he’ll likely have to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He’d then have two years of eligibility at his disposal beginning with the 2018 season.

A three-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2015 recruiting class, Norwood took a redshirt as a true freshman.  He played in 11 games last season, mainly on special teams, and was credited with eight tackles.

Although no specific reason for the transfer was given, being buried on the depth chart exiting spring practice was likely the impetus for the move.