Victim in alleged Philip Nelson assault shows improvement

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Finally, a sliver of good news in a story that’s previously seen nothing but heartbreak.

Earlier this month, now-former Rutgers quarterback Philip Nelson was arrested in connection to what was reportedly a vicious assault outside of a Mankato, Minn., bar. Nelson was ultimately charged with first- and third-degree assault in an incident that left the victim, former Div. II football player Isaac Kolstad (pictured), hospitalized and fighting for his life.

The family released a dire statement a week later, confirming that the 24-year-old Kolstad, who is married and has a young daughter, was on life support and had a portion of his brain removed after allegedly being kicked in the head repeatedly by Nelson and another male who is facing charges as well.

While Kolstad remains in a coma, his family wrote on a blog that updates the former Div. II football player’s progress, the swelling in his brain “has decreased even more and we are told by his physicians we are now ‘out of the woods’ for needing additional brain surgeries to repair damage from the injuries or other post-operative complications he was at risk for, but thankfully avoided.” The last family statement gave almost no hope that Kolstad would live let alone ever recover to any degree; today, however, there’s some optimism in the midst of the uncertainty.

Again, from the family’s blog:

Miracles are truly happening. Every day we are seeing small signs of improvement, small victories of potential recovery. To put it into perspective, when Isaac arrived in the Emergency Room on the night of his injury the physician’s scored him according to the Glasgow Coma Scale. The scale is scored 3-15. That night, Isaac scored a 3. His neurosurgical team of Mayo Physicians, both here in Mankato and in Rochester who were working as a team for his case, informed us that through their experience and through outside research, 97% of cases that arrive with scores below 5 do not survive or are left in a vegetative state. There was little hope that he would make any type of recovery. But right now, our Isaac is in the 3%, he is surviving. We are so hopeful that Isaac will continue to heal, continue to show us that he is working so hard, and continue to beat the odds. The tremendous support and love, the so many people who have reached out to our families, the prayers and positive thoughts have truly gotten Isaac this far. We again, can never thank you enough, and please continue to think and pray for all of those involved, we truly believe it will get Isaac to the recovery he had so small of a chance of reaching.

We said it before and we’ll say it again: While Kolstad lays in a hospital fighting for his life, Nelson is free on a $20,000 bond.

(Tip O’ the Cap: NJ.com)

UConn AD gives Randy Edsall a vote of confidence

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UConn is 6-30 in the 2.0 tenure of Randy Edsall, having gone 3-9 in 2017, 1-11 last year and 2-10 this. The program reportedly also has more than a dozen players in the transfer portal.

Needless to say, it’s not a good time in the annals of Husky football, but it’s also not a good time to make a coaching change. The program is short on cash and in the midst of transitioning from the American to life as an FBS independent, and AD David Benedict has no plans to add another major change on top of that. As he told the AP on Sunday:

“I’m not saying that everyone has to share the same opinion or have the same level of confidence in Coach Edsall that I do, but he has to be given the time to build the program and you can’t do it in three years,” he said. “Ultimately over the next three years, we’ll hopefully see our program become more and more competitive.”

As far as votes of confidence go, this is about the least confident you’ll ever see an AD be when he backs his coach.

But at the same time, it’s also one of the most concrete. Whereas most ADs will commit to backing their coach through the end of that season and the one following at the absolute most, Benedict seems to indicate Edsall will not only be back in 2020, but 2021 and ’22 as well.

LSU opens as double-digit favorites on Oklahoma; Ohio State slight underdog to Clemson

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While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.

Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released.  LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl.  No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship.  Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1.  Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.

Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners.  Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.

The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.

LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004.  Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.

Arkansas confirms hiring of Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman as head coach

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When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.

Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman.  A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.

“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”

The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.  He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.

The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.

Mizzou zeroing in on Eli Drinkwitz as next head coach

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Once again, it appears a Power Five program will pilfer a Group of Five school for its next head football coach.

Sunday afternoon, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Applachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz “has emerged as a strong candidate” for the vacancy at Missouri.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Drinkwitz has reached an agreement to become Missouri’s next head football coach and a deal is being finalized.”

An official announcement of Drinkwitz becoming the permanent replacement for Barry Odom, who was fired late last month after four seasons at his alma mater, is expected no later than Monday.

The 36-year-old Drinkwitz is in his first season as the head coach of the Mountaineers, his first head-coaching job at any level of football.  App State stands at 12-1 on the season after claiming its second-straight Sun Belt Conference championship Saturday with a win over Louisiana.

Dec. 21, App State will face UAB in the New Orleans Bowl.