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.

Randy Edsall abruptly pulls plug on news conference after being asked leading DC question

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Randy Edsall wanted no part in heading down the road one media member at least attempted to get him to travel.

Following a subpar start to the 2018 season on that side of the ball, Wake Forest earlier this week announced that they had decided to part ways with defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel. On a related note — you’ll see in a minute — UConn is currently dead last among the 130 FBS programs in total defense (a staggering 664 yards per game; next closest is Ohio at 540.3) and scoring defense (54.4 points per game; next closest is Bowling Green at 44).

At his weekly press conference Tuesday, Edsall was asked about the Wake situation and his philosophy on such an in-season move. Suffice to say, the head coach wasn’t particularly fond of the media member’s line of questioning.

From the Hartford Courant:

Reporter: “Wake Forest just fired their defensive coordinator. I’m just curious about your philosophy on that.”

Edsall: “What does that have to do with us? I’m done. I can see where this is going. I’m not — I’m done.

Edsall’s defensive coordinator is Billy Crocker, who is in his second year with the football program. In Crocker’s first season, the Huskies were 122nd in scoring defense (37.9 ppg), 127th in total defense (519 ypg) and 130th (dead last) in pass defense (339 ypg).

Prior to his time at UConn, Crocker was on the coaching staff at Villanova for 12 seasons, the last five of which he spent coordinating the FCS team’s defense. In his last season with the Wildcats, they had the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense at that level.

Ankle injury leaves RB LJ Scott ‘day-to-day’ for Michigan State against Central Michigan

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Michigan State could again be without one of the top returning running backs in the Big Ten.

In the third quarter of the Week 2 loss to Arizona State, LJ Scott went down with an ankle injury and did not return to the game. The injury also sidelined him for the conference opener, a 14-point win over Illinois, in Week 4.

With its non-conference finale against Central Michigan set for this Saturday, it appears the senior back will be essentially a game-time decision. At least, I think that’s what his head coach was getting at.

“Probably a little of both,” Mark Dantonio said when asked if Scott was day-to-day or will play against CMU. “I expect him to play. Maybe day-to-day.

“He may be out there today or he may not be. Probably the best answer I can give you.”

Despite missing nearly a game and a half, Scott’s 103 rushing yards are still tops on the Spartans. Scott has led Michigan State in rushing each of the past three seasons — 898 yards in 2017, 994 in 2016 and 699 in 2015.

Following MSU’s Holiday Bowl win last December, Scott confirmed that he would be eschewing early entry into the 2018 NFL draft and would be returning to East Lansing for a fourth season.

Nevada’s EJ Muhammad announces season-ending surgery on Instagram

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Once again, a player has utilized social media to make a rather significant announcement.

On his Instagram account earlier this week, Nevada defensive back EJ Muhammad announced that he will miss the remainder of the 2018 season after undergoing surgery. Just what the medical procedure he underwent is unclear at the moment.

The football program, for what it’s worth, has not addressed Muhammad’s status moving forward.

Muhammad appeared in nine games as a redshirt sophomore last season, starting three of those contests. He had started the first two games of the 2018 season as well before missing the last two because of the injury that ultimately will sideline him for the remainder of the year.

Demoted Clemson QB Kelly Bryant misses second straight practice

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Things are certainly getting interesting, quarterback-wise, for the second-ranked team in the country.

Monday, Dabo Swinney confirmed that senior Kelly Bryant had been benched in favor of true freshman Trevor Lawrence.  A day later, Swinney revealed that he and Bryant had a lengthy conversation in which the two discussed, among other things, the possibility of a transfer.

According to Swinney, he gave Bryant the day off from practice Monday to allow him to wrap his head around the demotion.  Both TigerNet.com and The State are now reporting, though, that Bryant missed a second consecutive day of practice on Tuesday.

The obvious intimation from a second straight day of missing practice is that Bryant is seriously contemplating a move from the Tigers — or has already decided a move on is in his best interests.  Because of the NCAA’s new redshirt rule, Bryant, who started the first four games of the 2018 season, could leave the Tigers now and retain a year of eligibility that he can use in 2019 at another school.

If he were to play another down this season, however, Bryant’s collegiate career would be over at the end of the 2018 season.

“Certainly if he walked in here today and said, ‘Hey coach, I don’t want to play the rest of the year unless you’ve got to have me,’ well ‘Ok, if that’s what you want to do I’m all for it.’ I love Kelly,” Swinney said earlier today, prior to the reports od a second missed practice surfaced. “I would be disappointed in that because we need him. But I wouldn’t judge him for that.”

Bryant has started the last 18 games under center for the Tigers, winning 16 of those contests.  Lawrence was a highly-touted five-star 2018 signee who had outplayed the incumbent the first third of the regular season.