Full Mizzou statements on Michael Sam’s historic revelation

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As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the sports world witnessed some significant history being played out Sunday evening.

Michael Sam, who ended his stellar Missouri career in 2013 as an All-American defensive end and co-leader in the SEC in sacks, announced to the world last night that he is in fact gay.  The public proclamation sets Sam up to become the first active, openly-gay player in the NFL, with the defensive lineman expected to be taken somewhere in the middle(ish) rounds of the upcoming draft.

While the news took the general public by surprise, it was far from that for the Mizzou football program.  During summer camp last August, Sam revealed to his teammates and coaches that he is a homosexual.  In fact, some of his Tiger teammates had known for years about this aspect of Sam’s personal life.

In a statement sent out shortly after Sam’s announcement, head coach Gary Pinkel said that “[w]e discussed how to deal with that from a public standpoint, and ultimately Michael decided that he didn’t want that to be the focal point of the season.”

“We left it that whenever he felt the time was right, however he wanted to make the announcement, that we had his back and we’d be right there with him,” Pinkel added.

Both Pinkel and athletic director Mike Alden used a form of the word “pride” in discussing the huge step taken by a former member of the football program.

“We’re very proud of Michael and the courage he has displayed for coming out,” Pinkel said.

Alden stated that “[w]e are proud of him on every level.”

Below are the complete texts of the statements from Pinkel and Alden, beginning with the former:

“We’re really happy for Michael that he’s made the decision to announce this, and we’re proud of him and how he represents Mizzou. Michael is a great example of just how important it is to be respectful of others, he’s taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesn’t matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we’re all on the same team and we all support each other. If Michael doesn’t have the support of his teammates like he did this past year, I don’t think there’s any way he has the type of season he put together.

“We talk all the time here in our program about how one of our core values is to respect the cultural differences of others, and this certainly applies. We view ourselves as one big family that has a very diverse collection of people from all walks of life, and if you’re part of our family, we support you.

“Looking back, I take great pride in how Michael and everyone in our program handled his situation. This past August, Michael was very direct with the team when he decided to let everyone know that he is gay. We discussed how to deal with that from a public standpoint, and ultimately Michael decided that he didn’t want that to be the focal point of the season. He wanted to focus on football and not do anything to add pressure for him or for his teammates, and I think that’s a great example of the kind of person he is. We left it that whenever he felt the time was right, however he wanted to make the announcement, that we had his back and we’d be right there with him.

“We’re very proud of Michael and the courage he has displayed for coming out. We look forward to following his career, and the success he’s going to have.”

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“We are so proud of Michael for what he has accomplished at Mizzou academically, socially and competitively. This is a young man who earned his degree from MU, was a unanimous All-American on the football field and now he’s being a leader in his personal life. He continues to display great character, courage and compassion. We are proud of him on every level.

“We work very hard at the University of Missouri to provide an environment that is respectful and inclusive of all people. We’re pleased with the strides we’ve made over the years with our student-athletes, coaches and staff about respecting and celebrating our differences. We continue to grow every day. We talk all the time about our core value of respect, and we emphasize that in a number of ways, whether it’s through individual actions, team settings, public efforts such as our ‘If You Can Play, You Can Play’ video, and even our Men-for-Men and Women-for-Women programs.

“The University’s theme is called ‘One Mizzou.’ What that theme represents is that we are all family, we are all Tigers, and we should all respect and appreciate each other.

“We wish Michael all the best in all that he does.”

Report: Butch Jones leaving Alabama for job at Maryland

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College Park is taking on a decidedly Tuscaloosa feel to it.

Earlier this month, Maryland confirmed that it had hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as its next head football coach.  Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, 247Sports.com is now reporting that Butch Jones is leaving Nick Saban‘s program for a spot on Locksley’s Terrapins coaching staff.

Jones, who met with Locksley earlier this month before agreeing to take the job, is expected to serve as the Terps’ tight ends coach.  He’ll also carry the title of associate head coach for the Big Ten program.

In March of this year, Saban added Jones to his Alabama football staff as an offensive analyst.  Jones, of course, was the head coach at rival Tennessee for nearly five seasons before he was summarily dismissed in mid-November of last year.

Jones last served as a tight ends coach in 1998 at Central Michigan; he was last a position coach at West Virginia (2005-06).

Per the terms of his UT contract, Jones will be paid just north of $8 million in the form of a buyout, minus whatever he was to make at future jobs through February of 2021.  He made $35,000 as an analyst at Alabama this year.

Ex-Texas Tech lineman Justin Murphy gets sixth season at UCLA

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After originally ending his collegiate career prematurely, Justin Murphy has now seen it extended.

Murphy took to Twitter on Monday to announce that he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. “None of this could’ve been possible if it weren’t for the amazing job done by [UCLA’s compliance department],” the offensive lineman wrote.

In the middle of the 2016 season, Murphy, then at Texas Tech, announced that he was taking a medical retirement because of knee injuries.  In April of 2018, however, Murphy revealed that he would be moving on from Tech to UCLA as a graduate transfer.

Murphy played in the first four games of his first season with the Bruins this year before going down with a knee injury.  That issue kept the lineman sidelined for all but the final two games of the year.

Ex-Florida State, ‘Last Chance U’ QB transferring from FAU

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Maybe the fourth chance will be the charm for De’Andre Johnson?

After a highly-publicized incident that was caught on videotape, Johnson was dismissed by Florida State in July of 2015.  Following a stint as one of the stars of “Last Chance U,” Johnson landed at Florida Atlantic.

Two years later, the quarterback took to Twitter to announce that he has decided to transfer from Lane Kiffin‘s FAU program.  Johnson gave no indication as to the specifics behind his decision to leave the Owls.

As noted by the player himself, Johnson will be leaving as a graduate transfer — he’s scheduled to earn his degree in the spring — and will have two seasons of eligibility he can use at another FBS program.  One of the seasons of eligibility is the result of blood clots in his arm that sidelined him for all but one game in 2017.

This season, Johnson completed 13-of-23 passes for 161 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  He also ran for another 178 and a score on 35 carries.

As for a potential transfer destination, the Palm Beach Post notes the West Coast or a Big Ten school could be possibilities:

A source with knowledge of the situation said Johnson hopes to move up to the Power Five level and hasn’t ruled out moving to the West Coast. Johnson’s younger brother, Tyreke, is a cornerback for Ohio State and Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins is a redshirt sophomore who could jump to the NFL.

In June of 2015, Johnson was indefinitely suspended by FSU after being accused of punching a woman at a bar.  He was subsequently charged with misdemeanor battery as video of the incident emerged.

One day after the video surfaced, Johnson was dismissed.

Kyle Whittingham adds former Ute to Utah coaching staff

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In filling a hole in his Utah coaching staff, Kyle Whittingham reached back to the Utes’ football past to do so.

Monday evening, Utah announced that Whittingham has hired Sione Po’uha as his new defensive tackles coach.  Po’uha spent the 2018 season coaching the same position at Navy.

“It’s great to have Sione back in our program,” said Whittingham. “In his playing days he was an outstanding defensive tackle here at Utah and had a lengthy and successful NFL career as well. We are also excited about the impact he will have in our recruiting.”

From 2001-04, Po’uha was a defensive lineman for the Utes, earning first-team All-Mountain West honors as a senior.  He was a third-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, and spent his entire eight-year career with the New York Jets.

After beginning his post-playing career as a student assistant at his alma mater from 2015-16, Po’uha became the Utes’ director of football player development in 2017 before leaving for Navy.  The job at the service academy was the first on-field role of Po’uha’s coaching career.

“I am so appreciative of Coach Whittingham for giving me the opportunity to come back and coach at my alma mater,” said Po’uha. “It was a dream of mine and I am excited about working with the players and coaches here.”