Gruden may meet with Vols this week… or not

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Let’s get this out of the way: we have been led to believe by multiple individuals that in no way, shape or form will Jon Gruden actually pull the trigger on a job at the collegiate level, whether it be Tennessee, Arkansas or any other campus to which he’s been connected.

Instead, the greater likelihood is that Gruden will either step back onto the sidelines — after what would be a five-year absence — at the NFL level or remain in his cushy, multi-million dollar broadcasting gig.

Maddeningly, though, the will he/won’t he headline above is directly related to Gruden’s latest fingernails-on-a-chalkboard flirtation with an FBS job.

Even before Derek Dooley was dismissed as Tennessee’s coach last week, there was push by fans and even some in the media for Gruden to ride in on his blonde horse and save the storied Vols program.  In a connect-the-dots way, Chucky makes perfect sense; his wife went to school at UT, Gruden was a Vols grad assistant in the mid-80s and he and his wife own property in the state.

Forget the fact that he hasn’t coached in the college ranks in over two decades, or at any level in half a one for that matter; he above anyone else is the elixir for all the ails Rocky Top, the common line of thinking in that area goes.

Earlier this month, there was speculation that an announcement on Gruden’s hiring was not a matter of if but when.  That didn’t happen.  A report then surfaced Tuesday night that new Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, a well-heeled UT booster, had offered Gruden an ownership stake in the NFL franchise as part of his signing on as the Vols head coach.  Both the Browns and Gruden denied the report of such a deal, which would’ve likely stepped across multiple NFL/NCAA lines if it had a shred of truth to it.

The latest development in the Race for Chucky is that a meeting between UT and the former coach scheduled for Wednesday was canceled, per a tweet from Knoxville radio host Jimmy Hyams.  Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com followed that up a short time later with a tweet that read “Gruden may meet with Vols AD later this week, I’m told.”

The qualifier? “But Gruden’s main goal is heading back to pros,” Freeman succinctly wrote at the end of the tweet.

And thus the circus ends up right back where it began: Gruden is in like with a college job, but one a level up is what really makes his heart flutter and toes straighten.

In December of 2010, Gruden met with then-Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt to discuss the Hurricanes’ vacancy.  Nothing came of that meeting; in the end, it’s likely lather, rinse, repeat with this latest round of Gruden speculation as it relates to UT specifically and college football in particular.

Or not.

Lane Kiffin suspends FAU QB Chris Robison for spring practice after ‘internal matter’

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Florida Atlantic will go through spring practice without their starting quarterback this year.

Head coach Lane Kiffin told reporters after practice on Wednesday that former Oklahoma transfer Chris Robison was suspended all of spring for an “internal matter” and would not be with the team as a result.

“We don’t really discuss details on them, but it is what it is,” Kiffin said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “We’re always trying to help kids grow and mature and hold kids to a high standard.”

This isn’t the first issue for the former four-star recruit. He was dismissed by the Sooners after a violation of team rules — four months after he was arrested for public intoxication. Then Kiffin slapped Robison with a day-to-day suspension last spring after the quarterback violated team rules with the Owls following his transfer in.

The loss of the team’s starting quarterback is quite notable given that Robison threw for 2,540 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018 on his way to being named co-CUSA freshman of the year. His absence leaves FAU with just one scholarship quarterback available this spring as Indiana transfer Nick Tronti and redshirt freshman Cordel Littlejohn battle for reps.

Ex-intern goes public with sexual harassment allegations against Cal football

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Sorting out the depth chart for spring football is suddenly on the back-burner in Berkeley this month.

On Wednesday, a former sports medicine intern at California published a Facebook post that detailed several allegations of sexual harassment against the football program, including current and former players and coaches.

“We are aware of the very disturbing public allegations made on social media,” a statement from the school to ESPN  read. “Allegations of sexual violence and sexual harassment by campus employees are confidential unless officials determine policy is violated, and disciplinary action has been decided.”

The woman, Paige Cornelius, said that she had withdrawn from Cal in order to seek counseling therapy as a result of the alleged incidents. One such allegation leveled against the program was against a coach she said is still employed by the university, saying he invited her to a nearby pool and commenting on how she would look in a bikini. Another involved an unsolicited kiss from another staffer and comments from football players as well.

Speaking to ESPN, Cornelius said that she had tried to detail her allegations with athletic director Jim Knowlton and football coach Justin Wilcox but “didn’t receive a response,” prompting her to go public on social media and to other outlets.

Needless to say this isn’t the kind of headline that you want to have during a fairly big offseason for the program as the #MeToo movement hits the Pac-12 program.

Details are mum but AD confirms Northern Illinois extends apparel deal with adidas for seven more years

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adidas wants more MACtion.

In a spring letter to supporters this week, Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier confirmed a little bit of news that the program had extended their apparel deal with the German sportswear company for seven more years.

“Speaking of gear, I am excited to announce that we have extended our existing relationship with adidas for the next seven years,” Frazier wrote. “Look for more details on this soon!”

It’s a busy spring for the Huskies, who are coming off a MAC title in 2018 but will be seeing plenty of changes outside of their apparel deals with a new head coach in alum Thomas Hammock.

While the school re-upping with the three stripes is unlikely to be the sort of lucrative deal worth nine figures that some of their Power Five brethren have gotten, every little bit of extra money at a program like NIU counts and they will likely be able to plow that right back into the football program among other things.

We’ll have to see just how lucrative the deal is in the end but more money and more stability is a nice bit of business to take care of as spring football winds down in DeKalb.

Louisiana governor calls LSU head coach Ed Orgeron a bargain, declines to comment about ousting Tigers AD

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They say it just means more in the SEC and most can agree that it is certainly the case in Louisiana, where LSU football is a way of life for many in the state. It’s also a place where politics and sports find themselves in the same story more often than you would think.

Case in point came this week where Gov. John Bel Edwards called Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron’s new $4 million a year contract a “bargain” for the school on his regular call-in radio show.

“It’s the way things are… and quite frankly, there are other schools, in the Southeastern Conference especially, that pay more,” Edwards said, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. “His enthusiasm for all things LSU is apparent and it’s also contagious.”

The governor, who is up for reelection in the state this year, also stuck to sports just a bit longer. The Tigers athletic department may have things going in the right direction on the football field but athletic director Joe Alleva is no fan favorite for the way he ousted Les Miles a few years ago to hire Orgeron and has seen his basketball coach caught up in the FBI wiretap scandal that has swept up college basketball.

Despite being embattled and hearing calls for Alleva to be let go, Edwards declined to go down that road as well in saying he was not in favor of a change in LSU leadership.

All politics is local after all and in the state of Louisiana, LSU football — and the athletic department in general — are certainly a subject worth commenting on for those in charge.