Update: Jim Tressel named Akron’s ‘VP of Strategic Engagement’

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UPDATED 11:21 a.m. ET: Following up on the news that broke late Wednesday night, Akron announced the hiring of Jim Tressel as its “Vice President for Strategic Engagement”.  The release issued by the school stated that it’s a newly-created position that will be utilized in support of programs that promote student success.

“I have great memories of my time at UA and, more importantly, I feel a real sense of family when I’m on this campus,” Tressel, a UA graduate, said in a statement. “I am inspired by the vision of President Proenza.  I admire what he, the leadership team and the faculty have accomplished over the last decade to build the reputation of the University and lay a strong foundation for student success.  I’m looking forward to being part of the spirit of innovation that drives the University of Akron.”

UPDATED 8:34 a.m. ET: Akron has confirmed in a press release that it will hold a 10 a.m. ET press conference featuring school president Luis Proenza and former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.  The release did not state specifically what the presser was regarding, although it’s expected it will be announced that Tressel has been hired for a non-athletic administrative position.

A television station in the Cleveland area is reporting that Tressel will be hired as some type of vice president and his contract will be in the neighborhood of $200,000 per year.

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Over the weekend, a Twitter “report” surfaced that former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is interested in going back to the collegiate level — at Ohio St. or somewhere else — in an administrative capacity.

Based on another report, that could very well come to fruition sooner rather than later.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Tressel has been in discussions with the University of Akron regarding an administrative position with the school.  The Plain Dealer states that an announcement of Tressel’s hiring by the NE Ohio school could take place as early as Thursday.

In a statement, the university did nothing to shoot down the speculation.  In fact, they added more fuel to the speculative fire.

“When Jim Tressel and other alumni assisted us in our search for a football coach last December, we began to engage in dynamic conversations about Jim’s professional goals outside of athletics,” the unattributed statement read. “We share a common interest in innovative programs for student success. Our discussions continue.”

There was no detail provided as to whether the administrative position would be inside or outside of the Zips athletic department.  Tom Wistrcill was hired as Akron’s athletic director in August of 2009, and has been considered to be by and large a success during his brief tenure.

Since retiring/resigning/being fired as Ohio State’s head coach last memorial Day weekend, Tressel served as a game-day instant replay advisor for the Indianapolis Colts.  He was interviewed — twice — for the NFL club’s head coaching vacancy earlier this year, but lost out on the job to Chuck Pagano.

He had also been rumored as a potential head coaching candidate for the Zips before the school hired Terry Bowden.

The paper also reported that Tressel was being considered for administrative leadership posts at Baldwin Wallace College and Wittenberg University. BW was where his father Lee Tressel became an Ohio small college coaching legend.

Georgia third string QB Stetson Bennett considering transfer

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Georgia lost quarterback Jacob Eason to a transfer, but gained a younger, more highly-regarded signal caller in Justin Fields with the 2018 recruiting class. With Fields on the roster and Jake Fromm not going anywhere, another Bulldog quarterback is considering leaving as well.

Stetson Bennett IV — who, outside of the current U.S. Attorney General, sports the best Southern name in circulation — has told Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart he might rather leave than spend his career as the No. 3 man in Athens.

“He’s looking at some different options,” Smart told the Macon Telegraph. “Stetson has done a tremendous job for us. We’re really excited what he has done for us. We’re exhausting every option to try to keep Stetson with us. We think he’s a very talented young man. I’ve spoke on behalf of that multiple times. We hope we keep him here. He has not made that decision yet.”

Listed at an even 6-foot-nothing and 172 pounds, Bennett was a successful quarterback at Pierce County High School and listed as a 2-star recruit before choosing to walk-on at Georgia rather than take scholarship offers from Group of 5 and FCS programs. Bennett redshirted as a freshman in 2017, sharing Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year honors with three other players.

Should Bennett transfer, his stature and walk-on status would draw easy comparisons to Baker Mayfield, which is ironic considering Bennett was tasked with mimicking the 2017 Heisman winner ahead of Georgia’s Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma.

Both of Bennett’s parents are Georgia graduates, so leaving would be a tough decision for the redshirt freshman.

“We need to keep Stetson there and help us,” Smart told the Telegraph. “We don’t really have many other guys to be honest. We have two young quarterbacks who will be walk-ons, who we think are good players. But we’ve invested a lot in Stetson with the development he took this spring, and with what he did in bowl practices. I’m excited to see what he can do. We’re encouraging him to stay so he gets that opportunity. I certainly respect what he has done this far for the University of Georgia and he’s a really good student as well. We’re selling him on the University of Georgia education.”

Tulane extends Willie Fritz through 2023

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Major news on the Kansas football front came down the pike Tuesday when Tulane announced it has extended head coach Willie Fritz through 2023.

Wait, what? Let’s back up a bit.

Kansas fired AD Sheahon Zenger on Monday, citing that a “change in leadership is necessary” because “progress in key areas has been elusive.” While Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod did not come out and say this move was related to football, he did feel the need to mention head coach David Beaty in his release announcing Zenger’s firing. “In addition, earlier today I spoke with Coach Beaty and shared my expectation that he will continue recruiting hard and getting his team ready for the season,” Girod said.

It doesn’t take Leonardo DiCaprio to read Girod’s thoughts here. Beaty is 3-33 in three seasons as KU’s head coach, including a 1-26 mark in Big 12 play. Coaches that average a win a year don’t typically last until Year 5. Just last year, Nebraska cleared out its AD so the new AD could fire the existing football coach and hire a new one, and it appears Kansas is headed down the same path later this year.

With Beaty apparently on his way out, I tweeted on Monday where Kansas should direct its incoming search.

Fritz-to-Kansas makes sense on a number of levels. Fritz is a proven program builder, a more-with-less guy that won at Blinn Junior College, Central Missouri, Sam Houston State, Georgia Southern and, now, Tulane. Overall, Fritz is 202-89-1 with two junior college national titles and conference championships in three separate leagues — all at places that have no business posting a collective .693 winning percentage. Simply put, Kansas is the rebuild job of the century, and there is not a more proven general contractor than Fritz.

And even better for Kansas, Fritz seems likely to take the job. He’s a Sunflower State native and at an age — 58 — where he’d likely take any Power 5 job offer that came his way, lest it be the last one.

All that said, it did not seem a coincidence that Tulane announced an extension for Fritz on Tuesday, who is 9-15 in two seasons with the Green Wave.

“I couldn’t be more excited with the direction in which our football program is headed,” Fritz said in a statement. “It is an absolute joy to coach at this institution. We have total buy-in from everyone on our staff to our administration, and I know we have a bright future.”

With Tulane being a private school, financial terms were not disclosed, but the key number will be the buyout.

Of course, Fritz could also pass on a potential Kansas offer. Or he may not get an offer. Or the job may not open at all. But even the prospect of an offer has already turned into a win for him.

DB Craig Watts leaves USF, lands at Div. II school

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With transfer season in full swing, South Florida is the latest to see its roster sustain a bit of attrition.

Craig Watts took to his personal Twitter account Monday to reveal that he will be transferring from Charlie Strong‘s USF program.  The defensive back also posted a photo of him signing paperwork for Valdosta State, indicating a move to the Division II school.

As he’s dropping down a couple of levels, Watts, who’ll be a redshirt sophomore in 2018, will be eligible to play immediately this coming season.

After coming to the Bulls as a three-star recruit on 247Sports.com‘s composite board, Watts took a redshirt as a true freshman.  He played in 12 games last season and was credited with five tackles.

Nevada’s Devin Porter arrested for failure to appear

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After a dozen days, it’s time to, once again, flip the switch on a “Days Without An Arrest” reset.

The latest to do the off-field deed is Devin Porter, with the Reno Gazette Journal reporting that the Nevada linebacker was arrested over the weekend for failure to appear.  The redshirt junior had been scheduled to appear in court for a traffic citation.

From the Gazette Journal‘s report:

The charge is a misdemeanor. If a defendant skips a court date, a judge can issue a bench warrant for their arrest. If 30 days pass before a defendant surrenders himself, an additional charge for “failure to appear” can be issued. The maximum sentence for such issue includes four years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines, although both are rare.

Porter was issued a $415 bail, which he posted and was released.

Porter is a walk-on to the Wolf Pack football program who has yet to see any game action for the Mountain West Conference school.  According to the newspaper, “[h]is brother, Cliff, was a starter at left guard for Nevada as a sophomore last season before graduating early and giving up the rest of his eligibility.”

(Tip O’ the Cap: ArrestNation.com)