Gators get past buyout hurdle, name McElwain as HC

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After a couple of days of back and forth, and will he or won’t he, it appears Florida has gotten its man.

Chris Low of ESPN.com tweeted Thursday morning that “[t]he buyout issues have been resolved, and Florida is expected to announce Jim McElwain as its coach later today.” At issue was the $7.5 million buyout in McElwain’s Colorado State contract, a number that only CSU president Tony Frank had the power to lower. Whether that number was negotiated down — there was speculation that UF was offering to play a game at CSU to help offset the buyout — is unknown.

After McElwain had been identified as the program’s top target, UF officials had flown to Fort Collins Tuesday, at which point McElwain had agreed to become the next Gators head coach pending the settlement of the buyout issues. Those same officials flew back to Gainesville Wednesday with no replacement for Will Muschamp as Frank continued to balk at lowering the buyout number.

Reports surfaced late Wednesday night that UF was “pessimistic” that a deal could get done without the buyout being reduced. The $7.5 million wasn’t the issue, per se, but rather all of the other financial commitments for which the athletic department is responsible that left the university hedging on footing the cost of bringing in McElwain.

The Gators already are on the hook for about $8 million owed to Muschamp and his staff, and they have roughly $87 million in on-campus projects underway. And of that $87 million, the athletic association has raised around $60 million.

Additionally, athletic director Jeremy Foley went into his meeting with McElwain with the understanding that “there were provisions in McElwain’s contract that would allow him to leave for a lower buyout.”

McElwain’s contract states that “in the case or event of extenuating circumstances the University’s President shall have the discretion, but not the obligation, to reduce in whole or in part McElwain’s buyout obligation to pay [the buyout to CSU]. McElwain shall have the right to request that the Parties engage in a good faith discussion of such Liquidated Damages amount prior to McElwain providing formal notice to the University of his decision to terminate this Agreement without cause, and in such event the University agrees to engage in such discussion, although the University has no obligation to reduce in whole or in part McElwain’s obligation to pay Liquidated Damages.”

While McElwain is technically responsible for paying the buyout, universities, normally without exception in this day and age, absorb that cost through various means.

The manner in which McElwain left, however, isn’t sitting well with at least one of his now-former players.

UPDATED 11:24 p.m. ET: Florida announced via Twitter that Jim McElwain has indeed been named as its new head football coach.  A press conference will be held Saturday to introduce the now-former Colorado State coach.

 

Cincinnati WR Javan Hawes commits to Arkansas State

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After losing a couple of players to it last month, Arkansas State has gained one from the football portal.

On Twitter last month, Javan Hawes announced that he has committed to the Arkansas State football team.  While he’s committed, he’s not officially been added to the Red Wolves roster.

At this point, it’s unclear if Hawes is leaving as a graduate transfer.  If he is, the wide receiver will have two seasons of eligibility he can start using in 2020.  If he isn’t, he would sit out the upcoming season.  That would leave the Georgia native with one season of eligibility to use in 2021.

Hawes was a three-star member of the Class of 2017 for the Bearcats.  During his three years at UC, Hawes appeared in a total of 22 games.  Just two of those appearances, though, came during the 2019 campaign.

In those appearances, Hawes totaled 102 yards and a touchdown on a dozen receptions.  As the two appearances might suggest, Hawes didn’t record a catch this past season.

In May, a pair of Arkansas State football players, tight end Eugene Minter and defensive back Nathan Page, entered the portal.  The month before that, they also lost William Bradley-King to Ye Olde Portal.  Shortly thereafter, the first-team All-Sun Belt defensive lineman moved to Baylor.

Arkansas State is coming off its sixth-straight postseason game in six years under Blake Anderson.  One of the eight wins ASU had in 2019 was a Camellia Bowl triumph over Florida International.

All told, the Red Wolves haven’t finished with fewer than seven wins since 2010.

Louisiana-Monroe RB Kayin White enters transfer portal

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For the first time in 2020, at CFT at least, we have a portal post related to the Louisiana-Monroe football program.

According to 247Sports.com, Kayin White is set to transfer from the Warhawks.  A Louisiana-Monroe football official subsequently confirmed that the running back is in the NCAA transfer database.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

White was a two-star member of the ULM Class of 2016.  The Baton Rouge native will be leaving the Sun Belt Conference school as a graduate transfer.  The upcoming season will serve as his final year of eligibility.

White has played in 24 games the past three seasons.  He’s rushed for 320 yards and five touchdowns on 70 carries.  Just six of those attempts and 11 of the yards, though, came in 2019.

The playing time issue likely triggered the portal decision.

Louisiana-Monroe is coming off a 5-7 season in the fourth year under head football coach Matt Viator.   The Warhawks have finished .500 or worse seven straight seasons.  They have played in just one postseason game (2012 Independence Bowl) during their time as an FBS program.

Arizona State punter who declared for draft, signed with agent, went undrafted… granted waiver by NCAA to return to Sun Devils

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Thanks to Arizona State football, we have something never seen before.  Ever (we think).

Back in January, Michael Turk gave up two years of eligibility with Arizona State football to enter the 2020 NFL Draft early.  The punter signed with an agent.  Then promptly went undrafted.

After Turk went undrafted, though, ASU went to the NCAA to seek a waiver that would allow Turk to return to the Sun Devils.  The school’s reasoning?  The coronavirus pandemic cost Turk the opportunity to work out for NFL teams, thus causing his draft stock to plummet.  Not only couldn’t Turk work out privately for NFL teams, but ASU’s Pro Day was canceled because of the pandemic as well.

That tack worked for Turk as it’s now being reported that a special waiver has been granted by the NCAA.  One that should be granted to every player who leaves early and goes undrafted, incidentally.  But that’s another story for another day.

Turk came to Arizona State as a transfer from the junior college ranks as part of its 2018 recruiting class. Turk’s uncle is Matt Turk, the former NFL punter who spent one year of his professional career with a New York Jets team coached by current ASU head coach Herm Edwards.

As a redshirt sophomore this season, Turk was tied for 11th nationally and led the Pac-12 in averaging 46 yards per punt.  For that, he earned first-team all-conference honors.  He was also named as a handful of semifinalists for the 2019 Ray Guy Award.

Turk, though, won’t be handed his old job back without some competition. Last month, Florida State punter Logan Tyler transferred into the Arizona State football program.

As had been the case the previous three years, Tyler served as FSU’s starting punter in the 2019 opener against Boise State.  However, Tyler was involved in an automobile accident back in August and was under investigation by the Tallahassee Police Department for driving under the influence.  Tyler served a two-game suspension in Weeks 2 and 3 in connection to that off-field situation.

While Tyler dressed out for the two games after his suspension ended, walk-on Tommy Martin continued serving as the Seminoles’ primary punter.

Including the one game this season, Tyler has averaged 42.5 yards on his 209 punts during his career, with the average currently fourth in school history. His 82 punts and 3,545 yards in 2018 set a school record.  The Tallahassee Democrat noted that “Tyler currently holds FSU records for the most punt yards in a single game (499 vs. Clemson, 2018)… and punt yards in a single season (3,545).” His 8,879 career punt yards are also second all-time in school history.

Louisiana QB Brayden Hawkins in transfer portal, will be looking for FIFTH college football home in less than three years

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Louisiana is the latest football program to learn that the transfer portal giveth.  But, it taketh as well.

As we noted Tuesday, Arizona State offensive tackle Zach Robertson transferred into the Louisiana football program.  Now, it’s time to note that 247Sports.com is reporting that Brayden Hawkins has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Hawkins signed with UTEP in February of 2018.  In late July of that same year, the North Carolina native joined the Maryland football program as a walk-on.  Hawkins then moved on to Northwest Mississippi Community College following the 2018 season.  In May of last year, he joined the Louisiana football program.

Add it all up, and Hawkins’ next stop will be his fifth collegiate home.  In less than three years.  Suffice to say, he’s never thrown a pass at this level of football.

Louisiana football is coming off a school-record 11 wins.  In fact, it’s the first time as an FBS program the Ragin’ Cajuns hit double-digit wins.  Part of that school-record victory total was a win in the Lendingtree Bowl.  Head coach Billy Napier was a candidate for the Baylor opening, but opted to remain with the Sun Belt Conference school.