Urban Meyer, Cardale Jones, Mariota, Abdullah & CMU Hail Mary nominated for ESPY Awards

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Oh, you thought award season was over and award watch list season was in full swing? Well, you are mostly right. The midsummer award fest manufactured by ESPN known as the ESPYs are coming up in a couple of weeks, and Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones and head coach Urban Meyer are among the nominees for various awards from the world of college football.

Jones was nominated in the Best Breakthrough Athlete category. Others up for the award are New York Giants wide receiver, and former LSU Tiger, Odell Beckham Jr., golfer Jordan Spieth and Little League Baseball standout Mo’ne Davis. Jones may have a solid case to be made as the biggest breakout player last season, but that is some tough competition in the category. Beckham Jr. may end up snagging this one by the tips of his fingers, and Davis had an incredible story proving girls can be as good as any on a Little League Baseball field last summer.

Meyer may not have taken home many coach of the year honors last season despite the accomplishments of his Buckeyes squad, so we will see how he stacks up against a pretty solid field of nominees for Best Coach/Manager. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Duke men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma are also nominated.

Ole Miss also received a nomination for best upset. The victory over Alabama was chosen as the best college football upset of last season and is up against Georgia State’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament victory over Baylor and the Kansas City Royals winning the American League pennant. Ole Miss should have a tough time winning that award up against those two nominees. Also, was this really the biggest upset of 2014? If so, it must have been a pretty weak year for upsets around college football. I asked my Twitter followers for the biggest upset in college football last season while writing this up. Among the responses I received, one said Ole Miss beating Alabama. The majority suggested Virginia Tech upsetting Ohio State, although that loss gets the benefit of hindsight to help its argument. Arizona beating Oregon received a few mentions, as did Christian Hackenberg avoiding injury.

There were some other college football mentions among the rest of the ESPY nominations. Central Michigan’s Hail Mary in the Bahamas Bowl and Ameer Abdullah‘s touchdown run vs. McNeese State are entered in a tournament style Best Play category. Former Oregon Duck and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota is the only college football player nominated in the Best Male College Athlete category.

LSU opens as double-digit favorites on Oklahoma; Ohio State slight underdog to Clemson

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While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.

Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released.  LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl.  No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship.  Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1.  Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.

Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners.  Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.

The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.

LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004.  Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.

Arkansas confirms hiring of Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman as head coach

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When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.

Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman.  A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.

“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”

The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.  He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.

The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.

Mizzou zeroing in on Eli Drinkwitz as next head coach

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Once again, it appears a Power Five program will pilfer a Group of Five school for its next head football coach.

Sunday afternoon, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Applachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz “has emerged as a strong candidate” for the vacancy at Missouri.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Drinkwitz has reached an agreement to become Missouri’s next head football coach and a deal is being finalized.”

An official announcement of Drinkwitz becoming the permanent replacement for Barry Odom, who was fired late last month after four seasons at his alma mater, is expected no later than Monday.

The 36-year-old Drinkwitz is in his first season as the head coach of the Mountaineers, his first head-coaching job at any level of football.  App State stands at 12-1 on the season after claiming its second-straight Sun Belt Conference championship Saturday with a win over Louisiana.

Dec. 21, App State will face UAB in the New Orleans Bowl.

Georgia WR Dominick Blaylock reportedly suffered ACL tear in SEC title game loss

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A rough weekend for Georgia was underscored on Sunday as reports surfaced saying one of their key young players is done for the rest of this year and likely part of the next one.

As per Rivals’ Radi Nabulsi and a host of other beat writers in Athens, Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the loss against LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

The freshman from Marietta, Ga. had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after making a short catch and planting his knee awkwardly. The team’s top receiver, Lawrence Cager, was already out after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 29.

Blaylock had made 18 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns at UGA this season.