Illini AD defends Beckman as new accusations surface

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Sunday evening, former Illinois football player Simon Cvijanović went thermonuclear on Twitter, accusing Illini head coach Tim Beckman of “misuse and abuse of power” and also, most damning, of attacking — physically, emotionally or mentally wasn’t specified at the time — a former teammate of Cvijanović’s.

Cvijanović, who had started 33 games along the offensive line during his time in Champaign, and his brother, also a former Illini football player, “developed mental-health issues, Simon said, as a result of their medical problems and the staff’s neglect,” ESPN.com wrote. In a statement released after his former player’s damning accusations, Beckman stated that “we have continued to support [Simon Cvijanović] with medical care, an academic scholarship and academic advising,” adding “[w]e cannot make any student accept our support.”

Monday evening, Illini athletic director Mike Thomas backed his beleaguered head coach while at the same time promising a review of the accusations.

“The feedback I get from the players and our players’ families is that these coaches genuinely care for them and treat them like their own children,” Thomas told reporters. “It’s been very positive from the kids and the families. They talk a lot about the family atmosphere. They talk about the culture. They talk about the caring of our coaches as it relates to their well-being. …

“We will have a follow-up. We will review, and the timeline and who’s to be involved will be determined very soon.”

The father of the two ex-Illini players, though, is coming from a different point of view. Much, much different as Frank Cvijanovic laid any future blame for a failed NFL career at the feet of the coaching staff.

“It’s really just ridiculous,” the dad told ESPN.com. “[Simon] is a kid who’s been looking to play in the NFL since he was 8 years old. Now that this has happened, he’s just been filled with anxiety — almost an identity crisis.”

And then there’s this, from the Chicago Tribune:

A former Illinois player, who spoke to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity, backed up Cvijanovic’s claims of being berated for suffering an injury and of witnessing Beckman physically take down a player at practice.

“He overreacted,” the player said. “We all saw it and thought it was weird.”

Andrew Weber, a kicker who played at Toledo under Beckman, also said on Twitter he had similar experiences with the coach as Cvijanovic.

“We had the exact same issues,” he tweeted to Cvijanovic on Monday. “Thanks for standing up! Be proud!”

Beckman saved his coaching skin by seeing his Illini to a bowl berth in 2014.  Under fire for his team’s on-field performance, and now under fire for his reported treatment of his players?  That’s a potentially crippling combination for any head coach.

Four-star 2018 signee Kukea Emmsley of Boise State is in transfer portal

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In December of 2017, Kukea Emmsley posted on Twitter that he dreamt of being a Boise State football player.  A little over two years later, the dream is over.  Or, it’s on its way to being over.

According to 247Sports.com, Emmsley has entered himself into the NCAA transfer database.  The move to the portal by the redshirt defensive end would be the first step in leaving the Boise State football team.  Emmsley could, though, pull his name and remain with the Broncos.

Conversely, the Boise State football program could pull his scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.

A four-star 2018 signee, Emmsley was rated as the No. 4 player regardless of position in the state of Hawaii.  He was also the No. 25 outside linebacker in that class.  Of the 25 recruits signed by Boise State football that year, only one on the defensive side of the ball, Chris Mitchell, was rated higher than Emmsley.

Despite that pedigree, Emmsley failed to live up to the pre-career billing.

As a true freshman in 2019, Emmsley took a redshirt.  This past season, Emmsley made his Boise State debut in an Oct. 19 loss to BYU.  As it turns out, that was Emmsley’s lone appearance.

Emmsley will likely have to sit out the 2020 season if he follows through on a transfer and moves to another FBS school.  That would leave him with two years of eligibility beginning in 2021.

Virginia OC Robert Anae withdraws name from Hawaii coaching search

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We don’t know yet who will be the head coach of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football team.  We do, though, now who it won’t be.

In days after Nick Rolovich left to replace Mike Leach at Washington State, Robert Anae‘s name has been mentioned prominently as a potential successor.  Tuesday, however, the Virginia offensive coordinator announced in a statement that he has withdrawn his name from consideration for the job as the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors head coach.

“After careful consideration, I am withdrawing my application for the University of Hawaii head football coach position,” the statement began. “I have been overwhelmed with the commitment by Coach [Bronco] Mendenhall and the leadership of [athletic director] Carla Williams. I am excited and energized to close out our recruiting class as we continue our quest for the conference championship.”

The 61-year-old Anae, who played his college football at BYU, was born in Hawaii and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football team.  Anae just completed his fourth season as Virginia’s coordinator.  He also coaches the team’s wide receivers.

With Anae out of the picture, Hawaii could stay in-house for its new head coach. Craig Stutzmann, UH’s quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator and Mark Banker, UH’s assistant head coach and linebackers coach, have been mentioned as possibilities.  The offensive line coach at Syracuse, Mike Cavanaugh, has been floated as a possibility as well.

Penn State DE Daniel Joseph hurtles into the portal

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Count the Penn State football program as the next FBS school facing a potential personnel loss.

First reported by the SEC Network‘s Cole Cubelic, defensive end Daniel Joseph has taken the first step in leaving the Penn State football team by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.  247Sports.com subsequently confirmed the initial report.

A four-star 2016 signee, Joseph was rated as the No. 12 strongside defensive end in the country and the No. 3 player regardless of position in the state of Illinois.

Joseph took a redshirt as a true freshman.  The next three seasons, Joseph appeared in 33 games.  A dozen of those appearances came during the 2019 campaign.

In those three seasons, the defensive lineman was credited with 29 tackles, 5½ tackles for loss, five sacks, one pass defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

On the last depth chart of the 2019 season, Joseph was listed No. 3 behind starter Yetur Gross-Matos and backup Shane Simmons.  Gross-Matos confirmed in early December that he will be leaving the Nittany Lions early for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Joseph is the second Nittany Lion to hit the portal this offseason.  Earlier this month, offensive lineman Hunter Kelly entered his name into the transfer database.  Both Kelly and Joseph will be leaving the Penn State football team as graduate transfers.

Oregon confirms hiring of Joe Moorhead as OC

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The Oregon Ducks football team officially has its new offensive boss.

Last week, it was reported that the Ducks were expected to hire Joe Moorhead as offensive coordinator.  A week later, the Pac-12 school confirmed Moorhead’s addition to Mario Cristobal‘s coaching staff.

Moorhead replaces Marcus Arroyo, who took the head job at UNLV in mid-December.

“The search for our next offensive coordinator was extensive and drew interest from coaches at all levels from around the country,” the Oregon Ducks football head coach said in a statement. “It was a thorough process, because we wanted to not only get the best coach for the University of Oregon, but also the best fit for our student-athletes and coaches. I’m fired up to welcome Joe, his wife Jennifer, daughter Kyra and sons Mason and Donovan, to Eugene and our football family.

“I’ve admired Joe’s offensive philosophy and ability as a play-caller from afar, and after meeting with him I was even more impressed. He is a great teacher and communicator, and instills confidence and belief in his players. His offenses have been explosive, balanced, multiple and creative. More importantly, he’s a great man, father and husband who our players and staff will enjoy working with.”

In two seasons at Mississippi State, Moorhead went 14-12.  Moorhead’s January firing was centered on an ugly fight between teammates in the run-up to the Music City Bowl.

The day after Christmas, it was reported that freshman Garrett Shrader, who was supposed to start the bowl game at quarterback, was injured in a post-practice scuffle with a defensive teammate.  The altercation was preceded by an in-practice altercation during a contact drill.  Shrader suffered some orbital bone damage as a result of the incident.

The MSU job was, at the time, the furthest west Moorhead had worked in a three-decade coaching career.

From 2016-17, Moorhead was the coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Penn State.  In the four years before that, he was the head coach at FCS Fordham.  He’s also been on staffs at UConn (2009-11), Akron (2004-2008) and Georgetown (2003).

Moorhead was the coordinator at all three of those latter stops.