With rumors swirling of Kelly’s departure, Oregon keeps its focus in Fiesta Bowl

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The Fiesta Bowl was, in fact, treated as a party — a going away party for Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

Kelly’s name has become surgically attached to the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles in recent weeks. Both organizations are reportedly in Glendale, Ariz., for the bowl game in an attempt to steal Kelly away from Eugene and into the NFL. They’ll have Oregon’s permission to speak to Kelly too.

From the moment Kelly turned away the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a year ago, everyone — players, Oregon’s administrators, fans and media alike — knew this time was coming again. Hot coaching commodities have windows of opportunity and Kelly’s is wide open right now. The thought of Kelly departing Oregon for the pros surely weighed on those collective minds, and perhaps on Kelly most of all.

Yet through the distractions, Kelly did the one thing for which he’s best known: keeping his focus on the task at hand. “Win the day” is not just a cliché for the Ducks’ head coach. Neither is the “next man in” philosophy.  It’s what he personally practices and asks of everyone involved with the program. As a result, Oregon’s identity has been closer to that of a machine rather than a football team over Kelly’s four years as head coach of the Ducks.

The focus was apparent Thursday night when the No. 5 Ducks knocked off No. 7 Kansas State 35-17. On the opening kickoff, De’Anthony Thomas darted around defenders for a 94-yard touchdown run. Immediately, Oregon converted a two-point conversion by catching K-State off guard.

That’s focus (or, speed).

Up 22-10 heading into halftime thanks to a more Oregon-esque 45-second drive, Kelly still wasn’t satisfied. “I have to call a faster game,” Kelly said to ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “That’s on me.”

That’s focus (or, logistics).

The Ducks then made excellent halftime adjustments along the offensive line and running back Kenjon Barner finished with 143 yards after a sluggish first two quarters.

That’s focus (or, great coaching).

These are just examples of why Oregon is going to be fine if Kelly leaves for the NFL. His players don’t fear his departure. In fact, they respect that their coach seeks to win at the highest of levels because it’s a quality they all possess as competitors. It helps that the university also has a plan. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is reportedly the next-in-line to grab the reins should Kelly take his final bow. Per USA Today‘s George Schroeder, Helfrich is a pure cut from Kelly’s philosophical cloth.

He can finish Chip’s sentences,” a source told Schroeder about Helfrich. “He’s been in that environment long enough (to succeed). It’s a leap of faith but it’s very similar – I’d almost argue that it was a bigger leap (promoting) Chip than with Mark.”

If it is a leap, it’s a calculated one. Oregon has a brand and an identity on and off the field matched by few in today’s college football environment. So whether it’s Kelly leading the Ducks on to the field or Helfrich, Oregon is in a position for continued success even with a hearing with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions looming.

If it is Helfrich? Well, Chip, it’s been fun. And a little too fast in every sense of the word.

Arkansas early enrollee arrested on DUI charges

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Arkansas early enrollee Mike Woods was arrested Friday night on suspicion of DUI, minor in possession of alcohol and, crucially, improper turn/U-turn. The Washington County booking report says he was released on Saturday afternoon but due back for a hearing on Monday morning.

Hogs head coach Chad Morris released the following statement: “We are aware of the incident involving Mike Woods and are gathering information from the proper authorities. We will make a determination regarding his status once we have reviewed all of the information.”

A consensus 3-star recruit out of Magnolia, Texas, in the Houston area, Woods originally committed to SMU but followed Morris and wide receivers coach Justin Stepp to Arkansas.

Bill Snyder honored by Missouri Western with pavilion at football stadium

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Bill Snyder traveled to his hometown of St. Joseph, Mo., on Thursday, as Missouri Western State University christened a pavilion at its football stadium as the Bill Snyder Pavilion.

The pavilion was donated by Steven L. Craig, who already serves as the namesake for Division II Missouri Western’s football stadium and its business school. But for the new pavilion of Craig Field that holds two levels of hospitality space, Craig and the school elected to honor one of St. Joseph’s most famous residents and a former Missouri Western student. With the honor, Snyder became the rare (only?) person to have his name on two separate football stadiums; Kansas State plays in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

After graduating high school from St. Joseph’s Lafayette High School, Snyder originally enrolled at Mizzou, where he discovered the major university life was not for him. “I did extremely poorly,” Snyder told the Kansas City Star. “I was out of my element. My mother had saved all of her life to send me to college, and I was wasting her money.”

He returned home to enroll at Missouri Western, then known as Missouri Western Junior College, where he played on the basketball team. He then transferred to William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., where he played quarterback and defensive back before graduating in 1962. Outside a brief stint as a graduate assistant on John McKay‘s USC staff, Snyder spent the first decade of his coaching career at the high school ranks in Missouri and California. He landed a job in 1974 as the offensive coordinator at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and two seasons there led to a job on Hayden Fry‘s staff at North Texas in 1976. Snyder followed Fry to Iowa, and nine successful seasons as the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach granted him the Kansas State head job, where he has authored the greatest turnaround in major college football history.

Snyder, who will turn 79 the day after Kansas State visits Baylor on Oct. 6, is 210-110-1 as K-State’s head coach. He led the Wildcats to four straight 11-win seasons from 1997-00, a Big 12 championship in 2003 and, after a 3-year retirement, returned to lead the Wildcats to their first No. 1 ranking and a second Big 12 championship in 2012. Despite spending much of the off-season battling throat cancer, Snyder led Kansas State to an 8-5 record with a Cactus Bowl win over UCLA in 2017.

“St. Joseph will always have a special place in my heart,” Snyder said Thursday. “Missouri Western likewise.”

Snyder will open his 27th season as K-State’s head coach on Sept. 1 as the Wildcats host South Dakota.

 

Former Miami, Purdue QB Robert Marve arrested on domestic battery charges

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Former Miami and Purdue quarterback Robert Marve turned himself in to Hillsborough County, Fla., authorities on Friday morning after his girlfriend accused him of domestic violence in their Key West hotel room. He was booked on felony battery/domestic battery by strangulation charges and released an hour later on $50,000 bond.

According to the Tampa Bay Times:

(Marve’s girlfriend Channing) Tomes told the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office that Marve “lost control” after seeing messages on her phone. He then began hitting her face, chest, arms and legs, and stomped on her throat, according to the warrant.

“I am beyond relieved to know he is finally exposed as the monster he truly is,” Tomes said in a text message to the Tampa Bay Times. “I am so thankful for everyone who has worked tirelessly on this case, as well as other victims.”

Tomes also accused Marve of biting her on the lip, striking her face, knocking her unconscious and sexually assaulting her back in May.

“I do not care if I am the face of this case or if my sexual life, job or school is exposed in this process. My ultimate goal was to see that he never hurt another woman again and stand up for past victims who were too scared to come forward. Rape and domestic violence is never okay,” Tomes told the Times. “I have found that the only ‘safe word’ with Robert Marve is ‘911.’ ”

Marve led powerhouse Plant High School in Tampa to a Class 4A state championship in 2006 and signed with Miami in February 2007 as Rivals‘s No. 8 pro-style quarterback of that year. He later transferred to Purdue and needed six years to complete his college career, a season that was ended prematurely after a second ACL tear. He had a cup of coffee with his hometown Bucs and a brief career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL before retiring in 2015.

Marve currently lives in Tampa and works as the athletic director at the Tampa Sports Academy training facility, according to jail records, in addition to coaching Plant’s quarterbacks.

Michigan State to reportedly remove interim tag from AD Bill Beekman on Monday

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Michigan State is set to name interim AD Bill Beekman to the job on a permanent status on Monday, according to reports from the Detroit Free Press and ESPN.

The move brings a bit of stability to the university as the Larry Nassar saga continues to embroil the highest level of MSU leadership in controversy. Though its highest-profile employees, football coach Mark Dantonio and men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo, remain in their posts, AD Mark Hollis retired in late January as ESPN dug into the athletics department’s (lack of) response to sexual harassment within its ranks. MSU president Lou Anna Simon resigned two days before Hollis, but that may be the least of her problems stemming from the Nassar saga.

As for Beekman, he is a near-MSU lifer who has experience across university leadership but, prior to his appointment as interim AD five months ago, none in athletics. He was hired as an administrator with the MSU HealthTeam, per the Free Press, and has since risen to assistant dean of finance and planning for MSU’s school of medicine, executive director of the MSU alumni association, vice president and secretary of the MSU Board of Trustees, and he was even briefly named MSU’s interim president after Simon’s resignation.

He was appointed to the full-time AD position by interim president John Engler. Michigan State’s board are currently in search of a full-time president, but that person will not be in place until the end of the upcoming academic year.

Given all that ongoing upheaval, it will be interesting to see the contract Michigan State’s interim president hands to its now full-time AD with no prior athletics experience.