Author shares insight on Bill O’Brien’s departure from Penn State

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Bill O’Brien left Penn State for the Houston Texans for a number of reasons. The first is likely because it has been a long time dream and ultimate goal of O’Brien to be a head coach in the NFL. After that may be the unstable state of the leadership in place at Penn State and the broken promises left behind after two years on the job.

John U. Bacon, author of Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football, outlined what he believed to be the logic that helped lead O’Brien to accepting an offer made by the Texans earlier this month. His thoughts are mapped out in a column on The Post Game. As a number of Penn State fans may tell you, the assumptions are not all that surprising. Bacon blames the failed leadership at Penn State almost as much as the inviting nature of the sales pitch made by Houston.

From the infighting Penn State Board of Trustees and the handling and response to the somewhat infamous Freeh Report to the apparent lack of concern for O’Brien’s résumé, Bacon suggests there were a number of reasons O’Brien may have been concerned about the job. Many who read Bacon’s book will recognize some of the points illustrated in his column outlining the O’Brien departure. Much of the criticism is aimed at athletics director David Joyner. It didn’t stop there though. Bacon says O’Brien was made promises that simply were not kept by Joyner, including increased pay for assistant coaches and facilities and more. Those promises were not kept, according to Bacon. Perhaps having to pay off a $60 million fine and decreased attendance figures had something to do with that.

“I want to be clear: I love the Penn State fans and always will,” O’Brien told Bacon. “They were incredibly supportive, and the players were great. I love those guys. I just felt that this was the best move for me and my family.”

O’Brien was never a long-term solution for Penn State. He was always going to be more of a transition piece for Penn State from the downfall of the Joe Paterno era to the next face of the program (James Franklin?). O’Brien thrived under the pressure of the situation but always had the NFL on his to-do list. While he did some great things, miraculous even to some extent considering the circumstances, Penn State never should have believed O’Brien would be there for too long.

That said, that does not mean Penn State should not have done their part to hold up their end of the deal.

After $1 million donation, UCF is adding a lazy river to new athletes village that will be open for tailgating

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College football traditionalists will have none of this, but Wet ‘n Wild may soon be a term you hear to describe future UCF football games.

Thanks to a $1 million donation this week from a pair of alumni, the school announced that they are finalizing plans for ‘Recovery Cove’ as part of a new $30 million UCF Athletics Village. As the name implies, the area will be for athletes of all sports to come to relax and recover and now will feature a pool, a lazy river and various other amenities.

“Florida weather is one of our greatest competitive advantages,” athletics director Danny White said. “UCF student-athletes have very demanding schedules. Having a recovery and leisure space so close to the Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership and the Garvy Center for Student-Athlete Nutrition will significantly enhance the UCF student-athlete experience. Recovery Cove will also deliver one of college football’s most unique game-day premium experiences for UCF fans.”

Yes, it that last little bit wasn’t clear, Recovery Cove will be opened up before football games for tailgating. The school eventually expects to even make quite a bit of money off the project as fans and others pay to get in and use the facilities before and after the Knights take the field at nearby Spectrum Stadium.

A timeline for the project was not released but any construction will naturally begin in the offseason. While we’ve seen pools at stadiums in the state before (such as Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field), Recovery Cove certainly is stepping things up in a new and unexpected way in Central Florida.

Houston QB D’Eriq King done for the season after torn meniscus

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While everybody and their mother seemed focus on the brouhaha between Houston star Ed Oliver and head coach Major Applewhite during Thursday night’s win against Tulane, another pretty significant thing happened that was overlooked by many: starting quarterback D’Eriq King was taken off on a stretcher in the first half.

Now we know the extent of the damage and it’s just as bad as many feared. Per the Houston Chronicle, King suffered a torn meniscus and will miss the rest of the 2018 season as a result.

“He simply handed the ball off and went to carry out his fate,” Applewhite said. “It all kind of stunned us, quite honestly, when he said he could not straighten his leg out.”

King has been stellar in taking over as the Cougars starter this season, coming into the weekend responsible for the most points in all of FBS. Sadly he’ll wrap up the year with an even 50 touchdowns, including 36 scores through the air to go with 2,982 yards passing and six interceptions. The elusive dual-threat also rushed for 674 yards.

True freshman Clayton Tune took over for King in the 48-17 win over Tulane and appears to be the starter the rest of the way for Houston, which has a good shot at making it to the AAC title game in a few weeks. Tennessee graduate transfer Quinten Dormady is also on the depth chart as a backup but has appeared in only one game this year for the program.

Report: Les Miles finalizing a deal to become next Kansas head coach

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Mad Hatter meet Rock Chalk.

According to a report from Sports Illustrated, former Oklahoma State and LSU head coach Les Miles is finalizing a long-rumored deal to take the vacancy at Kansas — with an announcement coming as soon as this weekend.

The move from the pristine grass of Baton Rouge to the wheat fields of Kansas has been one that was identified early on by several people in college football almost as soon as Jayhawks athletic director Jeff Long made the decision to fire David Beaty in early November. Both men spent several years together while at Michigan in the 1980’s and Long reportedly once tried to hire Miles when he was in charge at Arkansas back in 2012.

Speculation that the Jayhawks settled on Miles as their next head coach has been the prevailing wisdom for the past several weeks but really kicked into high gear on Thursday afternoon when LSU announced they had reached a settlement with their ex-head coach on his hefty buyout. Instead of the school paying the $6.5 million still owed over the next several years, the Tigers instead cut a $1.5 million check to wrap up their financial obligations — freeing up Miles to take another job without any strings attached.

Needless to say, people don’t cut bait on $5 million like it’s nothing so KU’s financial package for the new head coach will likely be significant.

Miles is no stranger to the Big 12 Conference, though it has been 14 years since he was getting Oklahoma State turned around as a program. The 65-year-old most notably spent a dozen years leading LSU to a 114-34 overall record that included one national title in 2007 and a pair of SEC championships during his time in Baton Rouge. After he was fired in 2016, Miles has been mentioned for several other jobs around the country but has spent part of his time as a broadcaster and aspiring actor.

It appears those days of non-coaching work are over however as the affectionately-named Mad Hatter will embark on one of the biggest tasks in college football: turning around a Jayhawks program that has gone 22-88 in the past decade.

The Big Game between Cal and Stanford has been moved to Dec. 1 due to Bay Area wildfires

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It’s been a trying time in California the past few weeks as several terrifying wildfires have continued to burn in multiple parts of the state. Air quality in several regions has been a huge issue as a result — particularly so in the Bay Area, where the haze from the nearby Camp Fire has caused several health warnings to be issued.

Taking all that under advisement, the Pac-12 has made the correct decision to postpone this weekend’s annual rivalry between Cal and Stanford from Saturday to December 1st at noon PT. The 121st Big Game between the Cardinal and Bears, still set to be played in Berkeley, will therefore serve as the regular season finale for the conference as it comes one day after the Pac-12 title game down in nearby Santa Clara.

“We have been carefully tracking air quality in Berkeley and the Bay Area over the past week, relying on the best data and guidance available to us from medical and environmental experts,” Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said in a statement. “The forecasts we have received show a minimal chance of the improvement necessary to hold the game on Saturday. While we would have preferred to play the Big Game on its scheduled date, once we realized that air quality would likely not return to acceptable levels, we made the decision to postpone for the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, gameday staff, students, band and spirit groups, alumni and fans.”

“The entire Stanford Athletics community recognizes this has been an extremely challenging time for so many people who have been affected by the wildfires, both in the Bay Area and throughout the state,” Stanford AD Bernard Muir added. “Our thoughts are with them, first and foremost. We are thankful to the University of California for collaborating with us on the logistical challenges of rescheduling the Big Game, and are looking forward to playing the game on Dec. 1.”

Tickets will continue be honored despite the date change and the game will still be televised on Pac-12 Networks in the middle of championship Saturday in college football. There will be several rescheduled games already on the docket for Dec. 1, including several on the other side of the country that were moved as a result of hurricanes earlier in the season.

Neither Cal or Stanford are in the running for the Pac-12 title game so the decision to push their game back comes as no surprise. Both teams will have this weekend off before the Bears face off against Colorado (in Berkeley) next Saturday, while the Cardinal will play their other in-state rival UCLA down at the Rose Bowl.

You can follow NBC News for additional reporting on the non-sports aspects of the deadly wildfires throughout the state of California.