College football awards confirm Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is nation’s top player

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It’s official. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is really good. He now has a ton of hardware to back up that claim. Mariota claimed three different awards on his way to Saturday’s Heisman Trophy Presentation in New York City.

Mariota won the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year before the evening was finished. Each of those awards will reside in Eugene, Oregon, for the first very time. As the favorite to claim the Heisman Trophy, Mariota will likely add that to the Ducks’ ever-expanding trophy room.

But the Oregon quarterback wasn’t the only Pac-12 performer to dominate during the awards circuit.

Arizona’s Scooby Wright III swept the three categories in which he was a finalist. Wright is the third-straight defender to win the Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award. With 28 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and six forced fumbles, Wright seemed like a shoe-in for the Butkus Award and possibly a darkhorse candidate for the Heisman Trophy. He wasn’t a finalist for either. The Heisman Trophy snub is somewhat understandable but only being a write-in candidate as one of the nation’s top linebackers is unfathomable.

Wright’s Butkus Award worthiness aside, below are the winners of this year’s college football awards:

Maxwell Award (Player of the Year)

Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Walter Camp Player of the Year

Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Chuck Bednarik Award (Defensive Player of the Year)

Scooby Wright III, Arizona

Bronko Nagurski Trophy (Nation’s Outstanding Defensive Player)

Scooby Wright III, Arizona

Rotary Lombardi Award (Nation’s Outstanding Lineman)

Scooby Wright III, Arizona

Davey O’Brien Award (Nation’s Best Quarterback)

Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Doak Walker Award (Best Running Back)

Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Biletnikoff Award (Best Wide Receiver)

Amari Cooper, Alabama

John Mackey Award (Best Tight End)

Nick O’Leary, Florida State

Outland Trophy (Most Outstanding Interior Lineman)

Brandon Scherff, Iowa

Rimington Trophy (Best Center)

Reese Dismukes, Auburn

Jim Thorpe Award (Best Defensive Back)

Gerod Holliman, Louisville

Lou Groza Award (Best Kicker)

Brad Craddock, Maryland

Ray Guy (Best Punter)

Tom Hackett, Utah

Home Depot Coach of the Year

Gary Patterson, TCU

Frank Broyles Award (Top Assistant Coach)

Tom Herman, Ohio State

NCFAA Contributions to College Football Award

Grant Teaff

Disney Spirit Award

Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma

Star WR Michael Pittman confirms he’ll play in USC’s bowl game

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(Pardon us as we’ve been catching up on a few things due to some very significant technical difficulties.)

USC fans can assuage their anguish somewhat over the retention of Clay Helton with the knowledge that one of their school’s most explosive weapons on offense will be available during the postseason. There, feel better?

After some uncertainty and speculation, Michael Pittman announced on Twitter this week that he will be playing in the Trojans’ bowl game. USC will face Iowa in Holiday Bowl Dec. 27, the first meeting between the football programs since 2002.

Pittman led the Trojans this season in receptions (95), receiving yards (1,222) and receiving touchdowns (11). The catches and yards led the Pac-12, while the scores were second.

The fourth-year senior was named first-team all-conference and is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

FAU makes hiring of Willie Taggart as Lane Kiffin’s replacement official

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A week ago, it was reported that Willie Taggartbadly wants a second act” at USF.  While that job ultimately went to a Clemson coordinator, Taggart still ended up landing yet another gig in the Sunshine State.

With rumors swirling throughout the day, Florida Atlantic confirmed Wednesday evening that Taggart has been named as the Owls’ new head football coach.  Taggart replaces Lane Kiffin, who left shortly after FAU won the Conference USA championship game Saturday for the Ole Miss job.

“I’m grateful to Brian White and President Kelly for their belief in me to lead the football program at Florida Atlantic University,” a statement from Taggart began. “I’m looking forward to long-term success here. I think our players and the university deserve that commitment. Family is extremely important to me. I couldn’t do what I do without their love and support and all of us are looking forward to being here in Paradise for the foreseeable future.”

After four years as the head coach at South Florida, Taggart left USF for Oregon — for one season as it turned out as he pulled up stakes from the Pac-12 school for the Florida State job in December of 2017.  Less than two full seasons later, though, Taggart was shown the door by the Seminoles in early November.

Taggart is a native of Bradenton, Fla. and has deep, extensive recruiting ties in the state, which will only aid him in taking over a football program that has won two conference championships the past three years.

Taggart has never won a conference crown during his 10 seasons as a head coach, although he did claim a division title at South Florida in 2016.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Taggart on board to lead our football program,” FAU athletic director Brian White said in his statement. “Coach Taggart is a proven program builder who will develop strong relationships with our student-athletes and develop them as future leaders. His deep relationships around the state of Florida and the nation will be vital in recruiting as well. The traits he brings to the table will allow us to continue building upon our recent success.”

FAU’s Harrison Bryant named Mackey Award winner as nation’s best TE

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In a change of pace, we come to an award that doesn’t involve either Joe Burrow or Chase Young.

The John Mackey Award winner was announced earlier in the day Wednesday, with Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant claiming this year’s honor.  The Mackey is handed out annually to the nation’s top tight end.

Established in 2000, the 2018 winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson.

This past season, Bryant caught 65 passes for 1,0004 yards and seven touchdowns.  Bryant led all FBS tight ends in both catches and receiving yards.

Bryant beat out seven other tight ends for the 2019 Mackey.

  • Hunter Bryant, Washington
  • Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
  • Brevin Jordan, Miami
  • Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
  • Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
  • Colby Parkinson, Stanford
  • Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan

Ole Miss announces future home-and-home with Oregon State

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With the 2019 regular season put to bed, there is some future scheduling news on which to hit — and some very rare news at that.

Wednesday afternoon, Ole Miss announced that it had reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series with Oregon State.  The Beavers will travel to Oxford Sept. 18, 2027, with the Rebels making the trek to Corvallis on Aug. 31, 2030.

The 2027 game will mark the first-ever between the football programs.

According to Ole Miss, they have played a current member of the Pac-12 just twice, with both of those games coming against Cal.  Those games, incidentally, came in the last three years, including this season.

Oregon State last played a team from the SEC in 1987 when they traveled to Georgia.  A team from that conference has never played in Corvallis.