Jameis Winston hangs on to lead in latest HeismanPundit Poll; Bryce Petty surges

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Reports of an investigation into allegations surrounding Jameis Winston have done little to dampen the enthusiasm of voters for his Heisman candidacy, as the Florida State freshman quarterback once again led the HeismanPundit Heisman Straw Poll released on Tuesday.

Winston captured six out of 10 first-place votes from the weekly panel of Heisman voters, and totaled 20 points, down slightly from his 22-point total last week, but still ahead of second-place Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, who also dropped a couple points (2 first-place votes, 18 points).

The biggest gainer since the last poll was Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, who seemingly culled support from both Winston and Manziel to move into third with 11 points and a first-place vote.

Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, who led the poll as recently as a couple weeks ago, dropped into fourth place with six points and one first-place vote.

Now in its eighth season, the HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll is the college football world’s most trusted gauge of Heisman voter sentiment. It has been the most accurate Heisman poll in the country during the past seven seasons, with the final 2012 poll correctly picking the top five finishers and the final 2011 poll picking the top seven. This year’s poll is made up of 10 anonymous Heisman voters from across the country. Each week during the season they will pick three players. Tabulations for the preseason poll are tabulated like a real Heisman ballot, with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.

Each week’s poll is released on Tuesdays throughout the season at HeismanPundit.com.

The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll, 11/19/2013

Total Points (with first place votes in parentheses)

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State — 20 (6)

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — 18 (2)

3. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor — 11 (1)

4. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon  – 6 (1)

5. (tie) AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama — 2

Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois — 2

7. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College — 1

Report: Akron to hire Chattanooga’s Tom Arth as next head coach

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The coaching carousel is, for now, all wrapped up.

According to the plugged-in folks at FootballScoop.com, Akron has filled the final FBS head coaching vacancy this offseason by plucking Chattanooga’s Tom Arth to be the Zips’ newest head coach.

The Ohio native is a former star quarterback for John Carroll University and most famously served as Peyton Manning’s backup with the Indianapolis Colts from 2003-2005.

Arth began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater back in 2010 and was elevated to head coach in 2013, going 40-8 with the Blue Streaks. He moved up to the FCS level with Chattanooga and doubled the Mocs’ win total in just two seasons at the school.

The move up to the MAC means Arth will replace Terry Bowden at Akron, who was fired earlier this month after going 35–52 over seven seasons with the program.

Arth won’t have much time to get acclimated to his new gig in Northeast Ohio with the early signing period just around the corner next week.

2017 starting LT Josh Ball, suspended after being accused of dating violence, won’t return to Florida State

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It appears Josh Ball‘s playing career at Florida State has come to an end.

In November of last year, reports surfaced that Sandra Sellers, an FSU student who dated Seminoles football player Josh Ball for a year and a half, had accused the offensive lineman of dating violence, including allegations that he physically attacked her on at least three occasions.  In mid-May, in connection to those allegations, Ball was suspended by the university after a ruling by the school’s judicial panel and led him to play at the junior college level in 2018.

While there was speculation earlier this month that Ball would attempt to rejoin the Seminoles football team, the lineman posted on Twitter Thursday evening that his time in Tallahassee is over.  Ball did, though, state that he is leaving the university “in good standing.”

“I have made the determination to stay closer to family and not return to Florida State even though I have been cleared and [am] in good standing to do so by the Florida State administration,” Ball wrote.

Ball started the last nine games of the 2017 season at left tackle for the Seminoles.  Exiting spring practice this year, and with last year’s starter Rick Leonard no longer around due to expired eligibility, the redshirt sophomore was penciled in as FSU’s starting right tackle.

A Fredericksburg, Va., native, the 6-8, 335-pound Ball spent the 2018 football season at a Kansas junior college.

Minnesota again extends P.J. Fleck’s contract

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In November of last year, not even all the way through his first season with the Golden Gophers, P.J. Fleck was given a contract extension.  A year and a month later, it’s lather, rinse and repeat on the contractual front.

Early Friday afternoon, Minnesota announced that the university and its head football coach had agreed to another contract extension.  The extended deal was formally approved by the university’s Board of Regents earlier in the day.

With the tweaked contract, Fleck, whose original five-year contract was agreed to in January of 2017, is now signed through the 2023 season and on into 2024.  Fleck made $3.35 million in 2018; there was no word on what if any financial adjustments were included in the extension.

“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead this team and represent the University of Minnesota and our great state,” a statement from Fleck began. “Our family loves living in Minnesota, and I look forward to leading our football program into the future. Through the academic, athletic, social and spiritual development of our student-athletes, and through recruiting, we are building a championship culture that our fans can be proud of.

“Heather and I are so thankful to our staff, [athletic director] Mark Coyle, President Kaler and the Board of Regents for seeing the vision we have for our football program. We are so excited and humbled with the contract extension!”

Taking over a program that won nine games in 2016, Fleck has guided the Gophers to records of 5-7 and 6-6 his first two seasons at the school.  This year, Minnesota beat rival Wisconsin for the first time since 2003 and, in the process, became bowl-eligible for the first time under Fleck.

Pitt mourns death of College Football Hall of Famer Bill Fralic

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The extended Pitt football family is mourning the loss of one of the greatest Panthers ever.

Following a battle with cancer, Bill Fralic passed away Thursday, the football program announced in a press release Friday.  The former Pitt All-American was 56 years old.

“Bill is truly one of the iconic figures in the history of Pitt Athletics,” athletic director Heather Lyke said in a statement. “He set a tremendous standard for our current generation of student-athletes, not only as an athlete but also for what he went on to accomplish once his playing days concluded. Bill’s reputation for giving back might even transcend his Hall of Fame football career. He was a passionate supporter of Pitt and Penn Hills. Our deepest sympathies to his wife, Susan, and his many loved ones and friends.

Fralic, whose No. 79 jersey was retired more than three decades ago, was a three-time first-team All-American at Pitt, earning unanimous honors his last two seasons with the Panthers.  Twice Fralic finished in the Top 10 of the Heisman Trophy voting, the first-ever offensive lineman to do so.

Fralic’s prowess on the gridiron also led to a word that’s still a part of the football lexicon.

Fralic’s collegiate career led to the phrase “Pancake Block” being added to the football lexicon. Pitt publicists used “Pancakes” as a statistical barometer for each time Fralic put an opposing defensive lineman on his back.

The passing of Fralic comes less than a week after he paid for the hotel rooms for all of the players and coaches at Penn Hills High School, his alma mater which played for the PIAA Class 5A championship last Friday night.