Pitt’s Narduzzi takes veiled shot at Penn State playcalling

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New Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi certainly has plenty of reasons to be feeling boastful right about now. His Panthers are fresh off a road win at Georgia Tech, sitting in first place in the ACC Coastal Diviosjn with a 5-1 overall record. Pitt is ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2010, and now Narduzzi is dropping some mild shots at Penn State. Narduzzi was asked about the play of his quarterback, Nathan Peterman, during Pitt’s recent run and Narduzzi dropped a not-so-subtle reference to the ongoing struggles at quarterback and playcalling at another school in the state of Pennsylvania; Penn State.

“You could have a talented quarterback with a bad play caller and make him look bad,” Narduzzi said. “You can see that around the country, some closer than others.”

One can only assume Narduzzi was referencing Penn State with quarterback Christian Hackenberg and offensive coordinator John Donovan. Donavan has come under fire his playcalling this season and a year and a half of disappointing results with Hackenberg at quarterback. Hackenberg shined as a freshman under former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien, but has been average at best for much of the early goings in the James Franklin era in State College. While there is room for some excuses for Hackenberg’s lack of development (Penn State’s continued rebuilding on offensive line being the biggest culprit), there is still blame to direct toward Hackenberg for some decision-making errors along the way. That said, the bulk of the blame continues to fall on Donovan. It is Donovan’s job to put the offense in its best position to advance the football and that simply has not seemingly been the case since the start of the 2014 season for Penn State.

It is also worth noting Narduzzi is not simply spouting off as a head coach of another program in the state of Pennsylvania in an attempt to take a shot at a recruiting rival. He also speaks from firsthand experience. As defensive coordinator at Michigan State last season, Narduzzi coached the Spartans’ defense against Hackenberg, hodling him to just 21-of-45 for 195 yards and an interception. Michigan State beat Penn State 34-10 in the regular season finale.

Hackenberg was a five-star pro-style quarterback out of high school in Penn State’s Class of 2013.

With both Pittsburgh and Temple being ranked in the AP Top 25 this week, it marks the first time since November 12, 1979 that two schools from Pennsylvania were ranked in the AP poll and neither was Penn State. Penn State and Pitt have not played each other since 2000, but the two long-time instate rivals will revive their rivalry starting next season with the first in a four-game series. Whether Hackenberg will still be around remains unknown. His draft stock has dropped some, but a strong second half could ease some concerns about his NFL future.

In wake of Odell Beckham kerfuffles, CFP to review sideline, locker room access policies

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Odell Beckham may have just ruined it for everybody.  Or, at the very least, curtailed it for most everybody.

Monday night, LSU beat Clemson for its first national championship since 2007.  Odell Beckham, a former star wide receiver with the Tigers, was on the sidelines for the game.  And on the field and postgame locker room as well.

And that’s where the trouble began.

Beckham appeared to hand cash to at least two LSU football players on the field after the game; LSU is looking into the situation.  Beckham appeared to slap the ass of a police officer in the postgame locker room; a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

In the wake of all of that, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock has confirmed that his group will review its sideline access policies for both the semifinals and title games.

“Being on the sidelines is a privilege,” Hancock told USA Today. “Along with any privilege comes responsibility, because the focus should be on the people playing and coaching in the game, rather than on any visitors. The CFP will be reviewing its policy for allowing guests onto the sidelines and into locker rooms at future games.”

Kudos, Odell Beckham.  At least you got the attention you so desperately crave.

Doesn’t matter that you’re taking the spotlight away from the players at your alma mater who just put up a historic season, right?  As it’s always been, it’s all about you. That’s all that matters.

Sleep well, basking in the knowledge that it’s (almost) all about you.  Not the team that won a title that you didn’t.

Leading rusher at FCS level declares for 2020 NFL Draft

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For the first time this year here at Ye Olde CFT, there’s an FCS player involved in a 2020 NFL Draft declaration.

On Twitter this week, Pete Guerriero announced that he will be foregoing his fifth year of eligibility and entering the 2020 NFL Draft. Guerriero said he came to his decision “after careful consideration [and] speaking with family and the people close to me.”

“This has been a dream of mine since I was a child and I look forward to what’s to come,” the Monmouth running back wrote.

This season, Guerriero led all FCS players with a school-record 1,995 yards rushing. He also set an FCS playoff record with a 93-yard touchdown run in a loss to James Madison this past postseason.

Guerriero came in third in the voting for the 2019 Walter Payton Trophy, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman. He was also a consensus All-American and two-time first-team all-conference honoree.

Guerriero will finish his collegiate playing career with 3,974 yards and 35 touchdowns on 610 attempts (6.5 yards per carry). The 5-10, 190-pound back also caught 69 passes for 551 yards and another three touchdowns coming out of the backfield.

“The impact he’s had been on our program has been tremendous,” said Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan. “His explosiveness and big-play ability and game production has helped to get us where are as a team and a program, and because of it we’re appreciative and support [his] decision.”

Former four-star Oklahoma LB Levi Draper enters transfer portal

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It appears the Oklahoma Sooners football team will have some depth in its linebacking corps pared.

Thursday, it was reported that Levi Draper is entering his name into the NCAA transfer database, the first step in leaving OU.  An Oklahoma Sooners football official subsequently confirmed that Draper will be entering the portal.

The linebacker’s time in Norman hasn’t officially come to an end, however, as he could always pull his name from the portal and return.

A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Draper was rated as the No. 5 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma.  On the 247Sports.com composite, he was the No. 118 prospect overall.  Only three signees in the Sooners’ class that year were rated higher than Draper.

Injuries helped lead to Draper take a redshirt as a true freshman.  The past two seasons, Draper played in 28 games.  Most of that action came on special teams.

When Draper does find a new school, it should be as a graduate transfer.  That would then leave him with two years of eligibility to use.

Draper is one of a handful of Sooners who have entered the portal of late. From the school’s student newspaper:

This is the second Sooner linebacker to enter the portal in the last two days, as Ryan Jones reportedly entered it on Wednesday. Along with the two linebackers, wide receiver Mykel Jones, safety Ty DeArman, defensive linemen Coby Tillman and Troy James will all be transferring.

It’s not all attrition at OU, however. Earlier this week, the program confirmed the addition of UCLA transfer wide receiver Theo Howard.  The receiver was honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2018.

Howard graduated from UCLA in December, giving him immediate eligibility at OU this coming season.

Texas A&M transfer Kellen Diesch lands at Arizona State

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The Arizona State football roster is the latest to benefit from a player coming in from a Power Five program.

In early December, Kellen Diesch entered the NCAA transfer database, the first step in a move away from Texas A&M. A month later, Diesch has taken the next step as 247Sports.com has reported that the offensive lineman will transfer to the Arizona State football team.

In fact, the website notes that Diesch is in Tempe and already enrolled in school at ASU.

As a graduate transfer, Diesch will be eligible to play for the Sun Devils immediately in 2020. The upcoming season will serve as his final year of eligibility.

A four-star member of A&M’s 2016 recruiting class, Diesch was rated as the No. 11 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 17 player regardless of position in the state of Texas. The only signee in the Aggies’ class that year rated higher was strongside defensive end Justin Madubuike.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Diesch has played in 21 games the past three years. A dozen of those appearances came this past season.

Despite the recruiting pedigree, the 6-6, 298-pound lineman didn’t start a game for the Aggies.