It appears the coaching carousel won’t be making a stop at Utah State, at least not this year.
Taking over a program that won a school-record 11 games in Gary Andersen‘s final season in 2012, Matt Wells continued the winning ways in Logan by guiding the Aggies to a total of 19 wins his first two seasons. USU slipped to 6-7 in 2015, then stumbled to 3-9 this year.
The Aggies finished 2016 mired in a five-game losing streak, leading some to speculate that the athletic department might look for new direction in the football program. Amidst the rumors, athletic director John Hartwell issued a letter of support confirming that Wells will return for the 2017 season.
However, “there will be some changes made as we start preparations” for next season. Those changes were unspecified, although it’s safe to assume at least some are related to Well’s coaching staff.
In reflecting on the recently completed football season, we did not meet the expectations of our student-athletes, our coaches, our administration, or our fan base. The level of success over the previous five years (43 wins vs. 24 losses and five straight bowl appearances) has become our measuring stick. Head coach Matt Wells has been a vital part of that success, and no one is taking the disappointment of this season harder than him. The sting of this season will be a driving force for all of us associated with our football program to make the changes and sacrifices necessary to regain the winning edge.
Coach Wells and I have had multiple meetings over the last few weeks to examine our entire football program. The goal and expectation is to get our program back to the level we all enjoyed over the previous five seasons. We have complete confidence that coach Wells is the man to lead us moving forward. He and I agree that there will be some changes made as we start preparations for a successful 2017 season.
Much to the chagrin of many, the Big Ten is officially ahead with its controversial version of Friday Night Lights.
Earlier this month, the Big Ten confirmed that it was going against its longstanding tradition next season by playing games on Friday nights in the months of September and October. Less than a week later, the conference has announced which six games will be played on the day usually reserved for high school football in the Midwest.
Half of the games will be non-conference matchups, the other half conference contests.
- Fri., Sept. 1 Washington at Rutgers
- Fri., Sept. 1 Utah State at Wisconsin
- Fri., Sept. 8 Ohio at Purdue
- Fri., Sept. 29 Nebraska at Illinois
- Fri., Oct. 13 Northwestern at Maryland
- Fri., Oct. 27 Michigan State at Northwestern
The league, as a direct result of its new television agreements that go into effect next season, will play six Friday night games per year for the next six years. None of those games will be played in November.
Michigan, privately, and Penn State, publicly, will not be participating in FNL. It’s unlikely either would’ve been asked to host such a game as the league is reportedly reluctant to schedule them in stadiums with a significant capacity.
The conference noted in today’s release that “[w]hile not all institutions are able to participate in Friday night matchups, all 14 institutions will participate in the broad initiative to provide more primetime exposure on national platforms.”
Given the scrutiny the decision has garnered, the league also went out of its way to ensure that they’re still thinking of the kids.
The Big Ten Conference appreciates the significance of high school football within the region and has worked to minimize the impact of this initiative by limiting the number of Friday night games. Overall, these games represent approximately six percent of Big Ten home games annually, and no institution will host more than one game in any given year. Friday night games will also be announced at least 10 months in advance to provide all parties adequate time to prepare.
In June of 2015, four playing members of the Utah State football program were injured in a car wreck. Less than a year later, another Aggie sustained critical injuries in a one-car crash. Just a few months after that, yet another USU football player has found himself in similar vehicular circumstances as his teammates.
According to the Deseret News, safety Zach Swenson was injured in a one-car accident last Thursday that also injured a male passenger. The News wrote that “while coming down Logan Canyon, Swenson lost control of a Toyota Tacoma pickup in a curve and hit a rock wall east of the mouth of the canyon.”
The defensive back sustained a broken leg in the wreck and underwent surgery to repair the damage. Swenson is expected to make a full recovery, although it appears he has a long road ahead of him.
“I’ve communicated with him and his father, and I think the surgery went well,” head coach Matt Wells said. “It will be a very, very long recovery, but they think it will be a complete recovery.
“So, we’ll get him back up here soon, but we feel very fortunate that that’s the only thing that happened.”
Swenson is taking a redshirt this season as he recently returned from serving an LDS mission.
Under fire for its handling of a disturbing off-field situation, USC has suddenly reversed its course.
The Trojans program announced Tuesday afternoon that linebackers Osa Masina and Don Hill have been banned from all football-related activities and will not play in the Week 3 game against Stanford. Masina and Hill had been suspended for the first two games but had controversially been permitted to practice and otherwise participate in all other football activities during the week.
“Under the university’s further guidance, it has been decided that they have been suspended from participation with our football team,” head coach Clay Helton stated.
Both players are under investigation in California for allegedly raping a woman this past July. Masina is also being investigated in Utah for the alleged rape of the same woman.
Neither player has been charged in connection to the allegations as the investigations continue.
Masina (pictured, left) was a five-star 2015 recruit who was the top-rated player at any position in the state of Utah. He played in 12 games as a true freshman last season and was credited with 25 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, with the highlight of his first year as a Trojan coming on a fumble return for a touchdown in the season-opening win over Arkansas State.
Hill appeared in five games a redshirt freshman last season
For the second straight week, a USC football player has cast his university and his program in a negative light.
Just a couple of minutes into USC’s Week 2 game with Utah State, starting left tackle Chuma Edoga was ejected from the game after he got physical with an official. Edoga and a USU player were involved in some extracurricular activities following the play and the official attempted to restore order, but was met by an angry — and large — lineman who was in no mood for his brand of officiating.
The Trojans were penalized 15 yards for the personal foul, and the sophomore was given the boot.
In last week’s season-opening loss to Alabama, Jabari Ruffin cleat-stomped a Tide player in the groin. Ruffin was suspended for the first half of today’s game.
As of this posting, USC holds a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.