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Report: Chris Gallon, one of BGSU’s top WRs, could miss season

Kent State v Bowling Green Getty Images

If it weren’t for bad injury luck, Chris Gallon wouldn’t have any luck at all.

Speculation has surfaced recently that the Bowling Green wide receiver either suffered a significant new injury or had reinjured his knee.  While the school has yet to address what if any injury issue the wide receiver may be facing, the whispers are growing louder.  And sounding season-ending-ish before the season even gets started.

From the Twitter account of WTOL-TV’s Jordan Strack:

The loss of Gallon certainly wouldn’t be optimal for BGSU’s offense.

In 2012, Gallon led all Falcon receivers in catches (54), yards (720) and receiving touchdowns (six).  He was second in all three categories last year (24-232-2) when he went down with what turned out to be a season-ending injury.

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Authorities investigating death of Wayne State player

wayne state logo

Nebraska authorities have begun an investigation into the death of Wayne State football player Eddie Key III, who was found dead in his dorm room on Saturday night.

An autopsy will be performed on Sunday for the freshman defensive end. The deputy Wayne County attorney said no foul play is suspected.

Key was from Lincoln, Neb., where attended North Star High. According to the Wayne State web site, he earned Second Team All-Nebraska and Super State honors as an offensive lineman for North Star.

A Wayne State spokesman said the school is providing grief counseling to the football team and other students.

Logo courtsey WayneState.edu.

 

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Chris Klieman to succeed Craig Bohl as North Dakota State head coach

Chris Klieman AP

FCS powerhouse North Dakota State has found its new coach.

The Bison elevated defensive coordinator Chris Klieman to their head coaching position on Sunday, a week after Craig Bohl was hired away by Wyoming. The 47-year-old Klieman has spent three seasons at NDSU, the last two running the defense. His units have been at the top of the FCS statistically and are allowing just 11 points per game this season.

Klieman, who turned down a chance to go to Wyoming with Bohl, pledged to build on what Bohl built in Fargo.

“I’m not going to be Craig Bohl. I’m going to be Chris Klieman. And I think that’s good. I think that’s OK,” Klieman said. “I’ve learned so much from Craig. Craig is the best leader I’ve ever been around as far as just a genuine leader. He tells you exactly how it is.”

Klieman certainly has some large shoes to fill.  In Bohl’s 11 seasons at the school, the Bison went 101-32 and won the last two FCS championships.

NDSU takes on New Hampshire Friday night in a semifinal game at the Fargodome. Bohl will coach the team through its playoff run.

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North Dakota fires its football coach

chris mussman

Chris Mussman has been fired as the head coach of North Dakota’s football team, athletic director Brian Faison announced on Tuesday.

“Coach Mussman and I met this morning at which time I shared with him my decision to make a change in our football leadership,” Faison said. “I want to thank Chris for his service to UND and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Mussman recently completed his sixth season as head football coach at UND with a career record of 31-34. He joined the UND coaching staff as the offensive line coach in 1999. Mussman was elevated to offensive coordinator in 2001 and took over as the head coach prior to the 2008 season.

UND competes in the Big Sky conference of college football’s FCS division. Faison added that a national search for a new head coach will being immediately.

Photo courtesy of UNDsports.com

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Heisman candidate stats update

Tennessee v Oregon Getty Images

Here’s what the top Heisman candidates did on Saturday:

Marcus Mariota, Oregon – Mariota completed 23 of 33 passes for a career-high 456 yards with four touchdown passes and no interceptions, plus 27 yards rushing on six carries with another score as Oregon whipped Tennessee, 59-14.

AJ McCarron, Alabama – McCarron went 20 of 29 for a career-high 334 yards with four touchdown passes and no interceptions in Alabama’s 49-42 win at Texas A&M.

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville – Bridgewater threw for 250 yards and one touchdown on 16 of 28 passing. He also rushed for 35 yards on six carries as Louisville beat rival Kentucky, 27-14.

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M – The defending Heisman winner went 28 of 39 for 464 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions and 98 rushing yards in a 49-42 loss to Alabama.

Brett Hundley, UCLA – Hundley was 16 of 24 for 294 yards with three touchdowns and one interception plus 61 rushing yards as UCLA came from behind to beat Nebraska in Lincoln, 41-21.

Jameis Winston, Florida State – Winston continued his hot streak by hitting on 15 of 17 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns with one pick. He also ran for a touchdown.

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Heisman race beginning to take shape

Oregon v Virginia Getty Images

Maybe the Heisman can’t be won in September, but it can certainly be lost. Two weeks into the season, we’re beginning to see the first signs that the race is taking shape.

Braxton Miller’s candidacy hangs by a thread. Marcus Mariota is surging. Aaron Murray survived an elimination game. Todd Gurley impressed against a tough defense. Tajh Boyd underwhelmed. Teddy Bridgewater continued to dominate lesser foes. The Baylor duo of Bryce Petty and Lache Seastrunk are now hanging around the periphery of the race.

All the signs point to what should be a particularly intriguing campaign.

Here’s quick rundown of what happened this weekend with some of the main contenders:

Braxton Miller -- Miller, the front runner headed into the season, missed most of Ohio State’s game with San Diego State, which puts his Heisman hopes in serious jeopardy. Missing one game — and maybe more — will affect his overall numbers and make it difficult to have Heisman-worthy production at season’s end. If he doesn’t have a big game next week against Cal, he’s done.

Marcus Mariota – The Oregon quarterback shined in a rout of Virginia, passing for 199 yards and rushing for 122 while totaling three touchdowns. It seems likely that Mariota is headed for a huge season and as the quarterback for a team contending for the national title, he might soon replace Miller as the front runner in this race.

Aaron Murray – Murray had his back against the wall and he came through with a great game in a win over South Carolina. He was 17 of 23 for 309 yards and four touchdowns while making some really clutch throws. If he can have this kind of game against LSU and lead UGA to the SEC East title, he’s probably a lock to get to New York.

Todd Gurley – The sophomore running back also had a good game against South Carolina, rushing for 134 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. He’s on the verge of firmly establishing himself as the top running back candidate in the race.

Tajh Boyd – The Clemson quarterback threw for 169 yards on 14 of 23 passing against South Carolina State. No touchdown passes and just a touchdown run was a disappointing result considering he needs to have huge numbers at season’s end to win the trophy. There is plenty of time for him to make up for this lackluster production, but this game makes it a bit harder.

Teddy Bridgewater – The junior ripped Eastern Kentucky for 397 yards and four touchdowns on 23 of 32 passing. His numbers after two week are stellar, though it came against weak competition. Still, he’s doing exactly what he needs to do to stay in Heisman consideration.

Bryce Petty – He may not be a real candidate just yet, but he’s playing like one. He went 13 of 16 for 338 yards and two touchdowns against Buffalo and also scored once on the ground. His production should be fantastic this season and if Baylor contends for the Big 12 title, then he should emerge as a contender.

Lache Seastrunk – If Gurley gets a running back challenger, it should be Seastrunk, who had 150 yards and three touchdowns in one half’s work against Buffalo. He’ll need to catch fire and approach the 2,000-yard mark to have a real shot at Heisman glory, but it seems possible in that Baylor offense.

I think there’s a good chance the Heisman winner and most of the finalists comes from this group, though I’m not discounting the possibility that other candidates may emerge. There’s still a long way to go and a lot can happen in this crazy sport.

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Additional bowl to be added to playoff mix?

Bill Hancock AP

It’s been nearly three months since the June approval of a four-team playoff that will be in place for the 2014 postseason.

While the who/what/where/how details have been few and far between, it was initially thought that the two semifinal games — the title game will be bid out — would come from a rotation of six current bowl games.  As it turns out, the new system’s eyes may have not been big enough for the playoff’s immense financial stomach.

Following an ongoing set of meetings involving conference commissioners, BcS executive director Bill Hancock confirmed that the group is considering adding a seventh game to the previously-planned rotation, another bowl that would add to the “marquee” of the revamped FBS postseason.  While Hancock technically spoke of access — presumably referring to the non-BcS conferences — to the new postseason table…

“They created a playoff and they had a working concept for access, but they knew that more conversations were needed. There was discussion about access and whether another game might be necessary. There was. … But how it comes out, we don’t know.”

… he’s practically referring to greater potential access to higher-revenue bowls for members of “The Big 5.5″ conferences.  And further devaluing the already overvalued 20-ish other much lesser bowls in the process, but that’s another story for another day.

That said, and regardless of whether it’s a six- or seven-bowl rotation, there’s the question of which bowls will or would actually be a part of the playoff equation.

There are two bowls already contractually locked in — the Rose and Orange bowls.  The for-now-dubbed Champions Bowl, which in theory would pit the winners of the SEC and Big 12 against each other, will be locked in once the t’s and i’s are crossed and dotted, respectively.  The host site nod for that new bowl, at least initially, is expected to go to Dallas Cowboys Stadium, although Houston is reportedly very serious in its bid to land the game as well.

The Fiesta Bowl, despite its excessive graft past, will be another piece of the rotation.  That’s four.  The Sugar Bowl?  Another no-brainer, whether it’s part of a potential Champions Bowl rotation or not.

That makes five and leaves one or possibly two bowls left to be a part of the rotation.

The Cotton Bowl and Jerry Jones’ Ode to Excess Stadium is one significant double-dipping possibility, given the Dallas Cowboys owner’s propensity for throwing gobs of cash at the opportunity to host college football games.  Could the Champions Bowl, at Jerry World, as well as the Cotton Bowl, at Jerry World, be two-sixth or two-seventh of the playoff rotational equation?  As they say, money talks and bullsh…

It appears, then, there could be at least three bowls fighting for what right now would be a not-yet-created seventh spot in the rotation — the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Capital One Bowl and Outback Bowl.  The smart money, right now, would be on the Atlanta game.

Regardless of how the bowl rotation plays out, there are other, even more overriding factors on several levels that will play a significantly more important role in determining the success or failure of the FBS power structure’s attempt to move on from the train wreck that was the BcS:

– As far as fans or anyone else who cares anything at all about the sport are concerned, the makeup of the committee that will determine the four teams — yes, it should at least be an eight-team field; it’s not, so get past it — should be far and away the most important discussion point as it pertains to the new postseason system.  Hancock, who said he was in favor of a committee consisting of 15-20 individuals, was kind enough to offer a non-update update on that part of the equation:

“The working model has been that every conference would have a representative. And then that there would be enough people on the committee to accommodate recusals. The concept being that when your institution is discussed you would be recused.”

There are currently 11 FBS conferences for football, soon to be 10 once the WAC is officially put out of its misery.  There will then be six major/BcS conferences, four non-BcS conferences as part of the working model; you do the math on how the voting will go with a committee that consists of every FBS conference having a representative, and how access to the six or seven marquee bowls will play out.

– As far as the conferences and individual schools are concerned, however, how the revenue is distributed and protecting the brand “historic” leagues have developed — lookin’ at you, Delany — in the new postseason format is at or near the top of the list of concerns.

“The first championship game is 28 months away. And so the highest priorities are going to have to go to the television contract and site selection.”

We included this just to emphasize the fact that, despite the “progress” when it comes to the postseason, it remains all about the money student-athletes can make for a university by simply playing a game.

Fairness, equity or inclusion, thy name is not part of the latest big-time college football postseason ruse.

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Joe Adams, Honey Badger finalists for Johnny Rodgers award

Joe Adams, Mike Locksley AP

You can officially add one more postseason honor to the countless individual awards handed out every year in college football.

The inaugural Johnny Rodgers National College Football Return Specialist Award will be given to, you guessed it, the best return specialist in the sport. The four finalists for this year’s award are former Arkansas receiver Joe Adams, North Carolina’s T.J. Thorpe, Dustin Harris from Texas A&M and LSU’s Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu.

The award is named after 1972 Heisman Trophy winner and College Football Hall of Famer Johnny Rodgers of Nebraska.  The winner will be announced Thursday and be presented with the award during a banquet in Omaha, Neb., on April 12.

And, as a reminder, here’s a video of Adams’ punt return against Tennessee mashed with the sweet symphony of the “Benny Hill” theme song.

(It’s not that we’re giving Adams preferential exposure over the other equally deserving candidates. It’s just that in my limited YouTube search, Adams’ return was the only one that featured the “Benny Hill” theme. So, yeah. We’re going with that.)

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Persa still ahead of schedule, still not ready for spring

Dan Persa

When the Achilles tendon of Dan Persa ruptured last November, the prognosis was that the Northwestern quarterback would miss an extended period of time rehabbing the injury, including the whole of spring practice the following year.  Two months later, reports surfaced that Persa was ahead of schedule but was still expected to be unavailable for the spring sessions.

With the Wildcats set to commence official preparations for the 2011 season on Monday, it appears those expectations will, basically, be met.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, offensive coordinator Mick McCall reiterated that Persa is ahead of schedule.  McCall also reiterated that his quarterback will spend the vast majority of the spring on the sidelines watching his teammates.

“We hope he will throw some routes and work it in, but not do any team stuff or 7-on-7 stuff,” McCall said. “But we’ll see where that comes out, and we’re going to err on the side of being ­conservative.”

That said, and barring a setback, Persa should be available for and participate fully in the start of summer camp.

With Persa sidelined, Evan Watkins and Kain Colter will take control of the offense for the spring.  Watkins started the final three games of the 2010 season after Persa went down with his injury.

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Two starters among three Cavaliers suspended by UVA

Virginia v Georgia Tech Getty Images

With the 2010 season firmly in the rear-view, and the next on-field action seven months or so away, ’tis the season once again for arrests and, yes, suspensions, to help bide our time until the real footballs start to fly again.

The latest to be hit with the indefinite ban hammer is a trio of Virginia Cavaliers, suspended Tuesday by head coach Mike London.

In a statement released by the school, London announced that a trio of juniors — linebacker Ausar Walcott, cornerback Devin Wallace and center Mike Price — have been indefinitely suspended from all football activities for conduct detrimental to the team.  What that conduct entailed, however, was not released.

“The players know the expectations I have for them as student-athletes both on and off the field, and as representatives of both the football program and the University,” London said in a statement. “I am disappointed in the conduct of these individuals and the fact they chose not to represent themselves in the appropriate manner. They will not participate in any team activities while suspended, but they will continue to attend all study halls and to meet their academic requirements.”

Walcott started 11 games in 2010 and finished third on the team in tackles, while Wallace started seven.

Price was a backup lineman who saw action in two games.

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Texas hires Alabama D-Line coach

texas longhorn logo 092007

After weeks of rumors and speculation as to who might fill the 5 vacant positions on Texas’ coaching staff, Mack Brown has officially filled two of those vacancies. Yesterday, Brown picked up wide receivers coach/recruiting extraordinaire Darrell Wyatt, and today, Alabama defensive line coach Bo Davis.

Davis spent several years under Nick Saban at both Alabama and in Miami with the Dolphins, and played football at LSU as a defensive tackle. However, Davis also has ties to the state of Texas, having coached at North Shore High School in Houston.

“This is a great opportunity for me and my family,” Davis said. “When Coach Brown contacted me, I thought it was a great opportunity and one I just needed to take.”

“We wish Bo Davis and his family the best at the University of Texas,” Saban said in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for Bo and we will certainly use this as an opportunity to improve our staff at the University of Alabama.”

Davis is replacing former D-line coach Mike Tolleson, who retired in December. Clemson’s Chris Rumph will replace Davis at Alabama.

Brown still has to replace his offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators at Texas, a task that has been secretive and ever-evolving to say the least. Earlier today, it was reported that Mississippi State’s Manny Diaz was a candidate for the DC job. On the opposite side of the ball, Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst was in Austin yesterday to interview for the Texas OC position.

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Florida International notches win, taking the right steps forward

Darriet Perry

(Quick note: after previously being the butt of my jokes, bowl games named after food establishments have countered with the two of the better games this postseason. And, so, I thoroughly retract my insults … Pizza. Pizza.)

Moving on …

Just over a decade ago, Florida International University didn’t even have a football program.

In fact, the University itself wasn’t established until 1965 — an infant when compared to the likes of Harvard and Yale, whose inaugural years predated America as we know it today.

Yet, in their first ever bowl appearance, FIU scored a thrilling 34-32 victory in the Little Caesar’s Bowl over Toledo. It was a game that featured everything: outstanding special teams play, two-minute drills, critical fourth down conversions, a game-winning field goal, and even a hook-and-ladder.

It also means FIU finished with their first winning season in school history at 7-6.

Not bad for a program built from scratch in the late 1990’s.

Everyone knows about Florida’s Big Three — Florida, Florida State and Miami — but the state itself produces such a massive amount of talent that it seems nearly impossible that another Florida program couldn’t have some measurable success, provided they have the proper facilities and coaching staff to go along with that talent. After all, there have to be kids in Florida who aren’t getting looks from the Big Three, but want to stay in state and have a chance to play.

As far as off-the-field improvements go, FIU recently decided to expand their stadium to 45,000 seats, and the program looks to have found a suitable coach in Mario Cristobal.

FIU still has a long way to go in maintaining success all three of those departments, but they’re off to a tremendous start. Even if they had lost, a bowl appearance has to do wonders for the perception of that program.

But the Golden Panthers won — and dramatically, we might add.

And that, too, is a step in the right direction.

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Sooners stay in-house for new offensive coordinators

OKLAHOMA QUARTERBACK JOSH HEUPEL PURSUED IN ORANGE BOWL

Bob Stoops didn’t have to look very far to find a replacement — or, technically, replacements — for Kevin Wilson, who was named last week as Indiana’s new head coach.

According to a press release issued by the school, Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell have been promoted to co-coordinator by the Oklahoma head coach.  Heupel will serve as the play caller beginning with the Fiesta Bowl against UConn.

“As has always been the case, our entire offensive staff will work together in game planning, but there needs to be one coach who calls the plays and Josh will have that responsibility,” Stoops said in a statement. “Josh has a good feel for the game and rhythm that we’ve been able to establish.

“This is a great way to maintain our current style and continuity. Our current style fits our personnel and allows us to remain balanced, something that is important to me.”

Wilson will stay on staff through the bowl game, and will serve as a position coach for the fullbacks and tight ends.

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Vandy readying to ramp-up coaching search

Gus Malzahn

On the surface, from what can be seen publicly, there’s been very little progress made in Vanderbilt’s search for a new head coach.  There have been a couple of names connected to the opening — former Miami coach Randy Shannon, Temple’s Al Golden and Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo chief among them — but very little else.

It appears, though, Vandy’s in the process of rolling up their sleeves and diving headfirst into the coaching pool.

(We’ll leave it up to you to decide why somebody wearing a sleeved shirt would be jumping into a body of water.)

According to The Tennessean, vice chancellor of athletics David Williams said the school plans to interview at least 10 candidates for the job, and that the interviewing process began on Thursday and will continue through a first-round of talks with each coach on their wish list.  Obviously, Williams will not divulge the names of the coaches the Commodores have targeted.

Williams interviewed candidates Thursday and Friday, and plans to continue doing so through the weekend and into early next week.  Two candidates who may be of interest — Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn — will coach in conference championship games today, and could be in the official mix once those games are complete.

“We’ve sort of taken the position that if you’re playing in the championship games, we’re not going to bother you right now,” Williams told the paper. “There might be other people we reach out to after those games.”

The paper also mentions Air Force’s Troy Calhoun as a potential candidate, although he reportedly turned down overtures from Colorado earlier this month.

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Kiffin thinks Barkley’s ‘just going to make himself play regardless’

Matt Barkley

After missing Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame due to injury, Matt Barkley said there was “no doubt” that he would play in USC’s game with crosstown rival this weekend.

Three days later, there appears to be no reason to doubt the youthful quarterback’s hubris when it comes to his health.

Barkley suited up for practice Tuesday and, according to ESPN Los Angeles.com, is expected to start Saturday against UCLA.  Mitch Mustain started in place of the sophomore against the Irish, but Lane Kiffin told a radio station today that he doesn’t see any way he’s going to be able to keep Barkley off the field this weekend.

I think he’s going to play because I think if it’s anywhere close he’s just going to make himself play, regardless,” the Trojans head coach said.

It should be noted that, while Barkley was in uniform, it was Mustain who took the reps with the first-team offense as the QB continues his recovery from a high left ankle sprain.

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