USC fires Steve Sarkisian

50 Comments

A day after placing head coach Steve Sarkisian on an indefinite leave of absence, USC has terminated the contract of the head coach effective immediately. Clay Helton will continue as the interim head coach, as was announced following the initial leave of absence for Sarkisian on Sunday. A brief statement from USC Athletics Director Pat Haden announced the news on the school’s website.

“After careful consideration of what is in the best interest of the university and our student-athletes, I have made the decision to terminate Steve Sarkisian, effective immediately,” the statement from Haden said. “I want to thank Clay Helton for stepping into the interim head coach role, and I want to add how proud I am of our coaching staff and players and the way they are responding to this difficult situation.”

Sarkisian, a former USC assistant coach, returned to USC in 2014 to take over as head coach following five seasons at Washington. He replaced Lane Kiffin, who was also let go in-season in 2013. Sarkisian lasted 18 games with the Trojans, going 12-6 in those games. As it turns out, both Kiffin and Sarkisian lasted just five games in their final seasons as head coach at USC. Sarkisian’s final game came Thursday night, with the Trojans being upset at home by Washington. For Sarkisian, the problems off the field ultimately may have carried much more weight in the decision to remove him as head coach.

Sarkisian’s recently reported struggles with alcohol had crossed a line with interfering with practices, team meetings and/or sideline decision-making during games. Sarkisian also had an embarrassing public display of drunkenness prior to the start of the season in front of prominent boosters and supporters of the program. On Sunday Sarkisian showed up to the USC practice facility said to be “not healthy,” per Haden. He was then placed on indefinite leave to seek help.

“Through all of this we remain concerned for Steve and hope that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal well being,” Haden’s statement today said.

So USC is now in the market for a new head coach, and the Trojans should be one of the more attractive jobs on the job board this coaching carousel cycle. there will also be calls for more changes though, as Haden has come under fire for his past hires as well. Big changes could be on the horizon for USC, and what the Trojans do now will be watched by everyone around college football.

Pitt mourns passing of Chris Doleman following ‘prolonged and courageous battle against cancer’

Pitt football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The extended Pitt football family is grieving the loss of one of its own.

Late Tuesday night, it was confirmed that Chris Doleman, 58, had passed away following “a prolonged and courageous battle against cancer.” Two years ago this month, Doleman had undergone surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Doleman played his college football at Pitt from 1981-84.  From the school’s release:

Doleman finished his college career third all-time at Pitt with 25 sacks, a total that still ranks eighth nearly four decades later. He played in the Sugar, Cotton and Fiesta bowl games, while helping the Panthers earn three Top 20 finishes, including a No. 2 ranking in 1981 and No. 9 finish in 1982.

As a senior, Doleman was elected a Pitt tri-captain with linebacker Troy Benson and offensive tackle Bill Fralic. In addition to his immense athletic gifts, the 6-foot-5 Doleman also set a standard with his desire and relentless play.

The late Foge Fazio, Doleman’s defensive coordinator in 1981 before serving as head coach from 1982-85, said: “Sometimes we’ll stop the game film just to point out to the team Chris’ desire and hustle to get there.

In December of 2018, Fralic passed away at the age of 56.

“I had only been at Pitt for a few months when I first met Chris and he could not have been more supportive and enthusiastic about the University of Pittsburgh,” said Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi in a statement. “It was obvious that he took great pride in being a Panther. I remember we had him as our honorary captain when we played at Georgia Tech one year and he was so energetic with our kids. You know he wanted to put on that Pitt helmet one more time. Our deepest sympathies to the Doleman family. His passing is a great loss for all of us, but his memory and legacy, on and off the field, will never be forgotten.

The fourth-overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Doleman was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

Third Oklahoma State WR in a week enters transfer portal

Oklahoma State football
Getty Images
1 Comment

It’s been quite the past handful of days for the Oklahoma State football receiving corps.

On Twitter a week ago Tuesday, Tyrell Alexander announced that he has decided to transfer from the Oklahoma State football team and “reopen my recruitment process.” The wide receiver would be leaving Stillwater as a graduate transfer for his final season of eligibility.

Two days later, teammate and fellow receiver LC Greenwood entered the portal as well.

Tuesday, another of Greenwood’s and Alexander’s receiving teammates at OSU, C.J. Moore, announced on Twitter that he too will be entering the transfer portal.

“God has a different plan for me,” Moore wrote. “Please respect my decision.

A four-star 2018 signee, Moore was rated as the No. 26 receiver in the country. He was also the No. 5 player in the state of Oklahoma regardless of position. More to the point, Moore was the highest-rated signee in the Cowboys’ class that year.

Despite that recruiting pedigree, the 6-5, 175-pound receiver failed to even remotely live up to it on the field. He played in one game as a true freshman and took a redshirt. In 2019, he totaled 81 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions in five games.

It’s likely that Moore will have to sit out the 2020 season if he lands at another FBS school. That would then leave him with two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2021.

Moore, Greenwood and Alexander are actually the second, third and fourth wide receivers to leave the Oklahoma State football team this cycle, joining Patrick McKaufman.  Like Moore, Greenwood was a four-star recruit, albeit in 2017.  Alexander was a three-star signee in 2016.  McKaufman came to OSU from junior college.

All told, a dozen Cowboys have left the program.

Tight end Grayson Boomer was another of those transfers.

Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence co-favorites in latest odds to win 2020 Heisman Trophy

2020 Heisman odds
Getty Images
4 Comments

We’re nearly three full weeks into the college football offseason, so what better time than the present for some 2020 Heisman odds?

Shortly after suffering the first loss of his collegiate career, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was listed as a 7/2 favorite to claim this year’s Heisman Trophy. Right behind Lawrence was Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields at 4/1.

In the updated 2020 Heisman odds released by the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, Fields and Lawrence, both true juniors, are list as co-favorites at 4/1. No one else is really all that close, with Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler coming in at 12/1.

Interestingly, new Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman, who transferred in from Wake Forest this month, is one of two listed at 14/1. The other is also a quarterback, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger.

The shortest odds for a running back are Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard, who surprised many observers by returning to the Cowboys for his senior season, and Clemson’s Travis Etienne, who surprised most observers by staying with the Tigers and returning for his senior season, at 20/1.  The last two decades, just three running backs have won the Heisman.  The last player at that position to claim the most prestigious trophy in collegiate sports was Alabama’s Derrick Henry in 2015.

The two quarterbacks expected to replace 2019 Heisman winner Joe Burrow and 2018 Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa, LSU’s Myles Brennan and Alabama’s Mac Jones, respectively, are both at 25/1.  One 2020 signee, though, will have some say in the Alabama competition.

Arizona safety Xavier Bell enters transfer portal

Arizona Wildcats football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

If you had the Arizona Wildcats football program as the next school to feel the portal’s sting, collect your winnings. Or something.

247Sports.com was the first to report that Xavier Bell has taken the first step in leaving the Pac-12 school. An Arizona Wildcats football official subsequently confirmed that the defensive back is in the NCAA transfer database.

A redshirt sophomore, Bell will be leaving the Wildcats as a graduate transfer. That will allow him to use the first of his two seasons of eligibility in 2020 at another FBS school.

Bell was a three-star 2017 signee. The California native was rated as the No. 73 safety in the country on the 247Sports.com composite.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Bell played in 22 games the past two seasons. Of those, 10 appearances came in 2019. During his time with the Wildcats, Bell has been credited with 21 tackles, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. He also blocked a punt in 2018.

Bell is one of a handful of players at his position who have left the program. From Michael Lev of the Arizona Daily Star:

Arizona hasn’t lost as many players to the transfer portal since the start of the 2019 season as some of its Pac-12 rivals. But four players played safety at one point or another: Bell, Day Day Coleman, Maurice Gaines and Chacho Ulloa.

At the moment, just four Arizona Wildcats football players are listed in the portal.

The development involving Bell comes a couple of weeks after the revamping of the defensive coaching staff was completed.