New Browns owner: ‘I’d love Ohio State to play’ in Cleveland

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Five times in the storied history of Ohio State football, the Buckeyes have played a game in the city of Cleveland — four times at old Municipal Stadium (1942-44, 1991) and once at the “new” Cleveland Browns Stadium, that coming in 2009 against Toledo.

With “neutral-site” games at NFL stadiums all the rage in the game of college football, and with a new owner set to officially step in next month, could the Buckeyes be headed back to Northeast Ohio in the not-too-distant future?

If that new owner has anything to say about it, absolutely.

In the course of an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Tennessee businessman and new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was asked about getting more use out of his stadium generally and getting the Buckeyes to return for a game specifically.  Suffice to say, Haslam would jump at the opportunity.

“I’ll go on record as saying I’d love Ohio State to play here. I mean love to,” Haslam, whose father was a member of the Tennessee Volunteers’ 1951 national championship team, stated.

A game in Cleveland would make sense on at least a couple of levels.  The city and surrounding areas that stretch several counties wide have been a hotbed for both a highly-supportive fan base as well a recruiting pipeline for the football program.  Plus, it would give the opportunity to people in the area to come into the stadium and see a winning football team and I’m a lifelong Browns fan so by law I’m permitted to crack wise.

When asked about the possibility of returning to the Northeast Ohio city, OSU left the door slightly — very slightly — ajar.

“Our experience in Cleveland has always been enjoyable,” athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement sent to CFT in response to Haslam’s comments. “As  we look at our future schedules, I do not see an opportunity in the near future but will always keep that prospect in mind.”

As for the possibilities of an opponent if — still a big if, obviously — such an agreement would be struck between the Buckeyes and Browns, future non-conference games against in-state schools would seemingly make tremendous regional sense — Cincinnati and Kent State in 2014, Bowling Green in 2016 and Cincinnati again in 2018.

Ironically, the 2018 game “replaced” a game scheduled for this season that would’ve been played at Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Playing a future Big Ten game in Cleveland shouldn’t be totally discounted, either; a conference matchup between Illinois and Northwestern was played in 2010 at storied Wrigley Field, home of MLB’s Chicago Cubs.

The latter scenario, though, likely wouldn’t sit well with Columbus-area fans and alumni, losing a home conference game to That City Up North.

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

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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

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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’

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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

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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.