Sorry UMass: Sun Belt opts against expansion… for now

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It was reported earlier this month that UMass, which will be leaving the MAC following the 2015 season, had been in discussions with the Sun Belt about moving its football program to the conference.

A week later, it appears that option is, at least for the foreseeable future, off the table.

Following his league’s spring meetings that ended Wednesday, commissioner Karl Benson released a statement explaining that membership had tabled the idea of expanding “at this time.”  In that statement, Benson also used wording that doesn’t sound good for the Minutemen’s future in the conference.

“While we may explore adding a 12th all-sports member [to] the Sun Belt Conference, at this time we are moving the conference forward with our membership as is,” the statement began. “Come July 1 the membership will be stable for the first time in over two years with no incoming or departing members,” he said. “The makeup of that 11 all-sports conference will give us more than just stability – it will give us strength and opportunity.”

The phrase “adding a 12th all-sports member” doesn’t bode well for UMass as the athletic department is looking for a league home for its football program, not every other sport as well.  Whether the university’s stance would change come 2015 is unclear.

In addition to UMass, it’s believed the SBC had considered current FCS members Liberty and James Madison. Liberty has been making noise for a couple of years about leaping to the FBS level, while James Madison announced last month that its football program wouldn’t be making the move after discussions with the SBC had taken place.

Reports: a candidate for Temple job, Mike Elko to remain at Texas A&M

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It appears as though Jimbo Fisher won’t have a vacancy on his Texas A&M coaching staff to fill this postseason.

In the days after Geoff Collins left Temple to take the head job at Georgia Tech, Mike Elko has been mentioned prominently as a potential replacement.  Wednesday, however, multiple reports have surfaced that Elko has decided to remain in College Station as the Aggies’ defensive coordinator.

Elko just completed his first season as Fisher’s coordinator after spending the 2017 season in the same job at Notre Dame.

In 2018, Elko was paid $1.8 million, making him the fourth-highest-paid assistant coach in the country.  While it’s not listed in the USA Today coaching salary database, it’s believed that Collins was working under a five-year, $10 million contract while the head coach of the Owls.

With Elko now out of the mix, a new report has surfaced that puts Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown squarely in the mix.  Another defensive coordinator, Miami’s Manny Diaz, has also been mentioned as a possibility at the AAC school and has already interviewed for the job.

Blood clot in C.J. Fuller’s lung caused ex-Clemson RB’s death

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C.J. Fuller died suddenly the afternoon of Oct. 3 after the former Clemson running back suffered chest pains as well as a suspected seizure.  Nearly 10 weeks later, a cause of the 22-year-old’s death has been released.

According to the Charleston Post & Courier, the Pickens County (SC) Coroner’s Office has determined that Fuller died as the result of a pulmonary thromboembolism and deep vein thrombosis stemming from a football injury.  A pulmonary thromboembolism is essentially a blood clot that breaks free and ultimately becomes lodged in the lungs.

Fuller had suffered a knee injury playing flag football in August of this year and underwent surgery the following month.  On the day of his death, he attended his first physical therapy session, one that reportedly went off without an issue.

“Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies are with C.J.’s family,” Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement at the time of Fuller’s death. “I’ve known C.J. a long time and watched him grow up through the Easley rec leagues all the way through Easley High School. I’m proud of what he accomplished as a Clemson Tiger, most of all, his accomplishment of being a Clemson graduate. Our deepest condolences and the thoughts of our program are with his family this evening. May he rest in peace.”

Following the 2017 season, Fuller left the team as a would-be graduate transfer. In late March, Fuller, who was expected to continue his collegiate playing career at another program, was one of three individuals charged in connection to an alleged armed robbery in downtown Clemson.

In 2017, Fuller, who began that season as the starter, was fifth on the Tigers with a career-high 217 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the Tigers portion of his playing career with 599 yards and four touchdowns on 147 carries, as well as 18 receptions for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

One of those touchdown catches came in the College Football Playoff semifinal win over Ohio State in 2016. The Tigers went on to win the national championship that season.

Fuller earned a degree in sociology from Clemson in August, the same month in which he sustained the injury that preceded his death.

Auburn transfer TE Jalen Harris lists Georgia, Colorado among five potential landing spots

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It’s unclear at this point to where Jalen Harris will ultimately transfer, but the list of potential landing spots has been significantly whittled down.

In mid-September, Harris announced that he would be transferring from Auburn.  On Twitter Tuesday, the tight end revealed his list of five finalists that will serve as possible transfer destinations, including a pair of SEC schools in Georgia and Vanderbilt.

The other three schools include a pair of Power Five programs (Colorado, Kansas State) as well as one from the Group of Five (Troy).

A decision from Harris is expected at some point next week.

Harris did not play in more than four games this season, meaning he preserved a year of eligibility under the new redshirt rule.  He will also head to his new college football home as a graduate transfer, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

As a fourth-year senior this past season, the 6-4, 257-pound Harris played in three games before opting to transfer.  The previous three seasons, the Montgomery, Ala., native played in 39 games, with most of that action coming on special teams and as a blocking tight end.

Harris did, though, catch a pair of touchdown passes among his four career receptions.  Both touchdowns came during the 2016 season.

Richmond confirms death of DB Augustus Lee

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Sadly, tragedy has yet again struck the college football community.

Tuesday, Richmond confirmed that Spiders football player Augustus “Gus” Lee had passed away earlier in the day.  According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Virginia Department of Health’s Central District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner declined to provide details on the cause of the redshirt freshman defensive back’s death.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Augustus Lee,” Richmond head football coach Russ Huesman said in a statement sent out by the FCS program. “Gus was a terrific young man and a great member of our Richmond family. His loss is a true tragedy to those who knew and loved him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gus’ family. This is a very difficult time for everyone in the Richmond Spider family.”

“I have been in touch with Gus’s family to express our deepest condolences on behalf of the entire University,” a statement from president Ronald Crutcher began. “Gus was a sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia, who played on our football team. He was an undeclared pre-business major and a good friend, especially to his teammates and his fellow student-athletes. We extend our deepest sympathies to Gus’s family, his teammates, professors, and many friends on our campus.”

Lee played in 11 games this past season, with most of that action coming on special teams.  He was named Defensive MVP of the Spiders’ spring game earlier this year.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Lee’s passing.