This week pits the last two ACC Coastal Division champions, Georgia Tech and Duke, against each other in what looks to be one of many crucial division game sin a wide-open division. This game does not carry the animosity you would get with Alabama-Auburn or Michigan-Ohio State, but a nice little war or words has developed this week between the head coaches at both ACC schools.
Duke head coach David Cutcliffe touched a nerve with his comments about Georgia Tech’s inability to be able to recruit talented playmakers at positions like wide receiver because of the offensive style run by Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. Cutclife asked a rhetorical question about why a wide receiver would choose to go to Georgia Tech. Demaryius Thomas was the last 1,000-yard receiver at Georgia Tech, in 2009. Only two wide receivers since then have had at least 400 receiving yards in a season. Johnson took aim in his response to Cutcliffe’s comments.
“How many receivers have they put in the NFL?” Johnson asked according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I can tell you. None. They’ve had one offensive player (drafted by) the NFL in his six years there. … He probably ought to worry about his own business.”
Cutcliffe attempted to clarify his statements during the weekly ACC coaches conference call. He toned it down a little and suggested he was not attempting to criticize Johnson or Georgia Tech.
“I think young people today, and you go across this country and anybody like I said that knows football, like I was saying, it’s a different type of offense,” Cutcliffe said Wednesday. “We’re different. We’re not a pro-style offense or defense. So what it does, and certain kids — I think Coach Johnson would tell you the same thing. Certain kids don’t like to think about playing in that type of system.”
For what it is worth, Duke and Georgia Tech have two of the ACC’s top wide receivers this season. Duke’s Jamison Crowder is All-ACC caliber and is fifth in the conference with 343 receiving yards. Georgia Tech’s DeAndre Smelter is right behind him with 339 yards and four touchdowns to Crowder’s two. A win for Georgia Tech would improve their ACC mark to 3-0 with wins against Duke, Virginia Tech and Miami already behind them. Duke would drop to 0-2 in the ACC.
Florida Atlantic will go through spring practice without their starting quarterback this year.
Head coach Lane Kiffin told reporters after practice on Wednesday that former Oklahoma transfer Chris Robison was suspended all of spring for an “internal matter” and would not be with the team as a result.
“We don’t really discuss details on them, but it is what it is,” Kiffin said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “We’re always trying to help kids grow and mature and hold kids to a high standard.”
This isn’t the first issue for the former four-star recruit. He was dismissed by the Sooners after a violation of team rules — four months after he was arrested for public intoxication. Then Kiffin slapped Robison with a day-to-day suspension last spring after the quarterback violated team rules with the Owls following his transfer in.
The loss of the team’s starting quarterback is quite notable given that Robison threw for 2,540 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018 on his way to being named co-CUSA freshman of the year. His absence leaves FAU with just one scholarship quarterback available this spring as Indiana transfer Nick Tronti and redshirt freshman Cordel Littlejohn battle for reps.
Sorting out the depth chart for spring football is suddenly on the back-burner in Berkeley this month.
On Wednesday, a former sports medicine intern at California published a Facebook post that detailed several allegations of sexual harassment against the football program, including current and former players and coaches.
“We are aware of the very disturbing public allegations made on social media,” a statement from the school to ESPN read. “Allegations of sexual violence and sexual harassment by campus employees are confidential unless officials determine policy is violated, and disciplinary action has been decided.”
The woman, Paige Cornelius, said that she had withdrawn from Cal in order to seek counseling therapy as a result of the alleged incidents. One such allegation leveled against the program was against a coach she said is still employed by the university, saying he invited her to a nearby pool and commenting on how she would look in a bikini. Another involved an unsolicited kiss from another staffer and comments from football players as well.
Speaking to ESPN, Cornelius said that she had tried to detail her allegations with athletic director Jim Knowlton and football coach Justin Wilcox but “didn’t receive a response,” prompting her to go public on social media and to other outlets.
Needless to say this isn’t the kind of headline that you want to have during a fairly big offseason for the program as the #MeToo movement hits the Pac-12 program.
adidas wants more MACtion.
In a spring letter to supporters this week, Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier confirmed a little bit of news that the program had extended their apparel deal with the German sportswear company for seven more years.
“Speaking of gear, I am excited to announce that we have extended our existing relationship with adidas for the next seven years,” Frazier wrote. “Look for more details on this soon!”
It’s a busy spring for the Huskies, who are coming off a MAC title in 2018 but will be seeing plenty of changes outside of their apparel deals with a new head coach in alum Thomas Hammock.
While the school re-upping with the three stripes is unlikely to be the sort of lucrative deal worth nine figures that some of their Power Five brethren have gotten, every little bit of extra money at a program like NIU counts and they will likely be able to plow that right back into the football program among other things.
We’ll have to see just how lucrative the deal is in the end but more money and more stability is a nice bit of business to take care of as spring football winds down in DeKalb.
They say it just means more in the SEC and most can agree that it is certainly the case in Louisiana, where LSU football is a way of life for many in the state. It’s also a place where politics and sports find themselves in the same story more often than you would think.
Case in point came this week where Gov. John Bel Edwards called Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron’s new $4 million a year contract a “bargain” for the school on his regular call-in radio show.
“It’s the way things are… and quite frankly, there are other schools, in the Southeastern Conference especially, that pay more,” Edwards said, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. “His enthusiasm for all things LSU is apparent and it’s also contagious.”
The governor, who is up for reelection in the state this year, also stuck to sports just a bit longer. The Tigers athletic department may have things going in the right direction on the football field but athletic director Joe Alleva is no fan favorite for the way he ousted Les Miles a few years ago to hire Orgeron and has seen his basketball coach caught up in the FBI wiretap scandal that has swept up college basketball.
Despite being embattled and hearing calls for Alleva to be let go, Edwards declined to go down that road as well in saying he was not in favor of a change in LSU leadership.
All politics is local after all and in the state of Louisiana, LSU football — and the athletic department in general — are certainly a subject worth commenting on for those in charge.