RichRod honored as Pac-12 hands out year-end awards

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As Michigan gets set to make Brady Hoke its ex-head coach — a 4:30 p.m. ET press conference today has been called on that front — the man Hoke replaced is making the situation in Ann Arbor a little tougher to swallow.

Tuesday afternoon, the Pac-12 announced its year-end awards for the 2014 season, with Rich Rodriguez taking home honors as the conference’s Coach of the Year.  In his third season at Arizona, Rodriguez guided the Wildcats to a 10-2 regular season, a South division title and a spot opposite Oregon in the league title game.

In three years at UA, Rodriguez is 26-12; in his three seasons at UM, Rodriguez went 15-22.

Below are the winners of the other four major awards, with blurbs provided by the conference:

Offensive Player of the Year – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: Mariota, a junior from Honolulu, Hawaii, threw for 3,470 yards and 36 touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions, leading the Pac-12 and the nation with a 190.2 passing efficiency rating. Mariota led all Pac-12 quarterbacks in rushing yards with 636 (53.0 yards per game), accounting for 47 touchdowns in total with his 36 though the air and 11 on the ground. The Davey O’Brien Award & Maxwell Award finalist has led the ducks to wins over No. 7 Michigan State, No. 18 UCLA and No. 20 Utah, helping Oregon close the year out on a seven-game winning streak and win the Pac-12 North to earn a berth in the Pac-12 championship game. Mariota ranked second in the Conference and fifth in the nation in total offense averaging 342.2 yards per game. Mariota was selected as the Conference’s offensive Player of the Week twice this season. Mariota takes Player of the Year honors two seasons after earning honors as the Freshman of the year.

Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year – Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona: Wright, a sophomore from Windsor, Calif., anchored an Arizona defense that captured its first-ever Pac-12 South division title, while leading the Conference in forced fumbles (6) and ranking third in the nation in sacks (14). A finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and Rotary Lombardi Award, he led both the Conference and the nation in tackles for loss, recording 27.0 total and averaging 2.25 per game. Wright helped spearhead a defense that forced two or more turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown in each of its last four games en route to clinching the South title. Wright, who recorded 139 tackles this season (11.6 avg), helped the Wildcats to their first 10-win regular season since 1998. The sophomore was selected as the Conference’s defensive Player of the Week three times this season and earned Pac-12 honorable mention honors as a freshman last season.

Freshman Offensive Player of the Year – Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon: Freeman, a freshman from Imperial, Calif., made an immediate impact in his first season of collegiate football, leading a Ducks offense that ranked first in the Conference in rushing (232.0 ypg), total offense (539.5 ypg) and scoring (45.9 ppg). Freeman led the Conference with 16 rushing touchdowns and ranked fifth in the league in rushing yards per game (98.8 ypg). The freshman ranked fifth in the league in scoring, averaging 8.5 points per game and accounting for 17 touchdowns in total (one passing), more than any other running back in the Conference. With 1,185 yards rushing this season, he’s extended an Oregon streak of having a 1,000-yard rusher in eight consecutive seasons.

Freshman Defensive Player of the Year – Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC: Jackson, a freshman from Belleville, Ill., came in and made a difference as a three-way standout for the Trojans. Jackson alternated between being a shutdown corner on defense, an impact receiver on offense, and a threat as the Trojans’ kick return man on special teams. On defense Jackson was often called upon to matchup with opposition’s best receiver and he helped lead the team to a finish as the Conference’s second ranked defense while also limiting opposing quarterbacks to the Conference’s second lowest passing efficiency rating (118.5). Jackson ranked fourth in the nation in kickoff return average (27.7) and took one kick back 100 yards for a touchdown (at Utah 10/25) and added two receiving touchdowns. Jackson earned honors as the Conference’s special teams Player of the Week one time this season, and now becomes the third Trojan in the last four years to be named Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.

It’s official: LSU-Alabama moving to daytime for the first time since 2010

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Astute observers of college football’s television contracts (read: nerds) perked up when CBS announced over the summer it had chosen Notre Dame’s Sept. 21 visit to Georgia as its annual primetime selection, meaning LSU’s Nov. 9 trip to Alabama would likely be played under sunshine for the first time since 2010.

However, there remained a question that CBS could work a backroom deal with ESPN to get Tigers-Tide in prime time, like it did back in 2011 when CBS initially used its annual primetime pick on Florida-Alabama and then nabbed LSU-Alabama when it became apparent that would be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game. With history repeating itself on the field — Alabama is No. 1 in the AP poll, LSU is No. 2 — one had to wonder if history could also repeat itself in the boardroom.

That question was answered Monday, when CBS announced LSU-Alabama on Nov. 9 will indeed be played in the SEC on CBS’s traditional time slot of 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT.

Playing the Crimson Tide in daylight could be a good omen for LSU. The Tigers, losers of seven straight primetime affairs, won the most recent afternoon kickoff, a 24-21 decision on Nov. 6, 2010.

Mark Richt suffers heart attack, says he’s ‘doing fine’

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From the outside, it seems as if Mark Richt is the most relaxed, stress-free person in the entire college football universe. In 18 seasons as the head coach at Georgia and Miami, Richt had an inner peace and perspective that never seemed to let the stresses of the job get to him in the way it did most other coaches or people in similar high-stakes gigs.

Now, he’s very much living that retired multi-millionaire life.

That’s why it was so surprising when Richt announced Monday he suffered a heart attack earlier this morning.

“I am assuming word travels fast,” he tweeted. “So I wanted to be able to inform everyone that I did have a heart attack this morning. I am doing fine. As I went through the experience I had peace knowing I was going to heaven but I was going to miss my wife. I plan to be at work this week.”

While Monday’s news was obviously frightening, it’s comforting to know Richt survived and will hopefully be around to eat many, many more cheese balls on the beach.

 

‘GameDay’ making maiden voyage to South Dakota State

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The Football Championship Subdivision recently made a coordinated, nationwide push for ESPN’s “College GameDay” to pay its brand of football more attention. That push has quickly paid off.

ESPN announced Sunday that “GameDay” will make its first ever visit to Brookings, S.D., as No. 3 South Dakota State hosts No. 1 North Dakota State. The Jackrabbits are 6-1 this season, losing only to FBS No. 17 Minnesota 28-21 to open the season and then running off six straight victories by an average of 24.3 points. North Dakota State is 7-0 on the season with four victories over FCS top-20 opponents.

South Dakota State should send flowers to Wisconsin, who lost to Illinois ahead of their visit to No. 3 Ohio State, to Michigan, who lost to Penn State before hosting No. 8 Notre Dame, and to ESPN for their recent visit to Baton Rouge, making a return visit for No. 9 Auburn at No. 2 LSU seem too redundant.

“GameDay” last visited an FCS site on Oct. 14, 2017, as No. 1 James Madison hosted Villanova.

Saturday will mark North Dakota State’s third “GameDay” appearance, passing Harvard for the most among FCS teams. The Bison won both of their previous appearances, a 51-0 drubbing of Delaware State on Sept. 21, 2013, and a 58-0 blowout of Incarnate Word on Sept. 13, 2014.

South Carolina dismisses DB Jamel Cook after domestic violence arrest

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Because of an off-field issue, South Carolina’s depth in the secondary has been pared a bit.

Friday, Jamel Cook was arrested and charged with one count of second-degree domestic violence.  Other than he was ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim or return to the location of the alleged incident, details surrounding the arrest and charge have not yet been divulged.

Early Sunday, the Gamecocks confirmed that Cook had been indefinitely suspended for violating unspecified team rules.  Later that day, Will Muschamp announced that the redshirt junior has been dismissed from his football program.

“[That’s] all I’m going to say about that,” Coach Gump added.

Cook was originally a four-star member of the Left Coast USC’s 2016 signing class, rated as the No. 17 player at any position in the state of Florida.  He played in three games in two years for the Trojans before transferring to the Gamecocks following the 2017 season.  Because of NCAA transfer rules, the defensive back was forced to sit out the 2018 season.

This year, Cook had appeared in one game prior to his off-field issues.