UCLA granted bowl waiver from NCAA

16 Comments

At 6-6 with an interim coach and on the wrong end of a 31-point spread for this Friday’s Pac-12 championship game against Oregon, UCLA stands a pretty good chance to finish the regular season at 6-7. Yet, the Bruins had applied for a bowl waiver from the NCAA in hopes that, in the event UCLA finished with a losing record, they could still go to a bowl game.

That waiver has been granted, according to an official statement from the school.

“As a program, we appreciate the NCAA approving our petition for a bowl waiver,” said UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero in a release. “We will be able to give our 18 seniors one more chance to represent their university and end their collegiate careers on a high note, regardless of the outcome of this Friday’s Pac-12 Championship Game. We’d like to thank the NCAA for considering the unique situation in which we find ourselves this year and rewarding us with this opportunity.”

The reasoning behind the NCAA move is really pretty simple. UCLA made the Pac-12 championship game by default because of USC’s sanctions and the Pac-12 is already struggling to fill all its bowl slots. No matter what happens in the conference championship game, the Pac-12 looks like it will send two teams — the conference champion and Stanford — to a BCS bowl. That leaves six non-BCS bowl slots to be filled by five bowl eligible teams.

Should UCLA lose the Pac-12 title game and their bowl — most likely the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl — they would end the season at 6-8.

Yeesh.

North Texas (represent!) made the New Orleans Bowl in 2001 with a 5-6 regular season record. Elite company indeed.

Texas ‘expecting’ Sam Ehlinger (shoulder) to play against Kansas

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As Texas looks to wrap up a spot in its conference’s championship game, it appears the Longhorns will have their starting quarterback under center.

In Saturday’s win over Iowa State, Sam Ehlinger aggravated the AC joint in his right (throwing) shoulder that he had originally injured earlier in the season.  Monday, Ehlinger’s status was decidedly up in the air for this Friday’s game against Kansas.

Wednesday, however, there was a decidedly optimistic update from the football program.

“Ehlinger’s injured right shoulder continues to progress as Texas’ sophomore QB fully participated in practice on Wednesday,” a release from the school began. “He increased his workload to 40 live throws during UT’s final workout before heading to Lawrence on Thanksgiving Day.”

Most notably, head coach Tom Herman stated that he is expecting Ehlinger to play against the Jayhawks.  Should Ehlinger suffer a setback over the next 48 hours or so, Shane Buechele would once again step into the starting role.

A Texas win over Kansas would mean the Longhorns will face the winner of Friday night’s Oklahoma-West Virginia matchup in the Big 12 championship game the following weekend.

Former Penn State LB Manny Bowen transfers to Utah

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manny Bowen’s winding roller coaster journey in his college football life will include the Pac-12 as his next stop.

On his personal Twitter account late Wednesday morning, Bowen announced that he “will be playing my final season of college football for the University of Utah.” Bowen, who announced his transfer from Penn State in mid-October, is set to graduate from the university next month.

The Utes subsequently confirmed the addition of Bowen.

In late August, James Franklin confirmed that Bowen had left his football program; that move came a little over three weeks after the fourth-year senior rejoined the team and was practicing with the rest of the Nittany Lions in preparation for the 2018 season.  Bowen was suspended late last season and then dismissed in late December for what were described as violations of team rules.

Bowen had started the first nine games of the 2017 season, before the disciplinary issues hit, after starting a dozen contests during the 2016 campaign.  He didn’t play in the Rose Bowl that season because of, you guessed it, unspecified violations of team rules.

At the time of his 2017 suspension, Bowen was third on the team with 51 tackles and tied for second in quarterback hits with four.

Rumored to have left Hurricanes, Miami says Jeff Thomas still ‘a member of the football team’

Getty Images
2 Comments

Is he or isn’t he?  That’s a rather significant question that’s being asked regarding the status of one of Miami’s most productive players on the offensive side of the ball.

Earlier in the day, speculation was swirling that Jeff Thomas had left the Miami football team. Not long after, a UM spokesperson stated that the wide receiver would not be at practice Wednesday due to what were described as personal reasons but that he’s still a member of the football team.

It has been rumored that there was some type of issue between Thomas and unspecified members of the coaching staff earlier this week that led to the current situation.

Head coach Mark Richt is not scheduled to meet with the media Wednesday or Thursday.  It’s unclear if the football program will send out an update on Thomas’ status with the team, although it’s possible that could happen at some point today.

Thomas is currently leading the Hurricanes in receptions (35) and receiving yards (563).  The sophomore’s 16.1 yards per reception are second on the team while his three touchdown receptions are tied for third.

Miami closes out the 2018 regular season with a home date against ACC Coastal champion and 24th-ranked Pitt this Saturday.

USC’s Jake Olson named 2018 Walter Camp Award of Perseverance winner

Getty Images
2 Comments

One of the most inspirational stories in college football the past few years has earned Jake Olson some much-deserved hardware.

Tuesday, the Walter Camp Foundation announced that Olson has been named as the recipient of the 2018 Walter Camp Award of Perseverance.  Olson, without sight in either eye since the age of 12, made history last year as a member of USC’s special teams by becoming the second legally-blind player to appear in an NCAA football game.

“Jake’s story is an inspiration to all, and our Foundation is honored to recognize him with the award of perseverance,” said Michael Madera, Walter Camp Foundation president, in a statement. “Jake has demonstrated courage and a strong will to succeed despite the challenges he has had to overcome.”

The award is merely a continuation of what’s been nearly a decade’s worth of touching moments for a remarkable young man.

In 2009, the Pete Carroll-led USC Trojans football team essentially adopted Olson, a teenage fan of the program at the time suffering from cancer of the retina in his right eye (he lost his left eye when he was less than one year old).  It was subsequently determined that Olson would need the right eye removed; on his final day of sight prior to the surgery that would leave him blind for the rest of his life, he chose to attend a Trojans football practice.

Fast-forward a few years, and Olson walked on to the USC football team as a long-snapper in 2015.  He took his first live-drill reps with the Trojans in September of that year, then snapped for the team in the 2016 spring game.  While he didn’t see any real-game action either year, in last season’s opener, at the end of USC’s closer-than-expected win over Western Michigan, Olson finally got to take his place on the field in an actual game with the rest of his special teams teammates as the long-snapper on an extra point — thanks in large part to a very classy assist from WMU head coach Tim Lester.

Olson remains a playing member of the Trojans football team, and is currently in his redshirt junior season.  He’s listed as the Trojans’ third-team long-snapper on the team’s most recent depth chart, although he hasn’t taken the field in a game this season.