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Gary Pinkel to step down as Mizzou’s HC over health concerns

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In a week of tumult that included the school’s president and chancellor stepping down, Missouri’s football team has now seen its leader step down as well.

In a stunning turn of events, Mizzou confirmed in a press release Friday evening that Gary Pinkel has decided to step down from his post as the Tigers head football coach.  According to the school, and unbeknownst to the public, Pinkel was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer of the blood in May of 2015.

Pinkel received multiple treatments in May and June, with doctors indicating that the treatments wouldn’t interfere with his coaching duties.  At that point, Pinkel decided to coach the Tigers in 2015; however, Pinkel reassessed his situation during Mizzou’s bye week and opted to step down following the 2015 season.

“I made the decision in May, after visiting with my family, that I wanted to keep coaching, as long as I felt good and had the energy I needed,” said Pinkel, who informed his staff and players this evening, in a statement. “I felt great going into the season, but also knew that I would need to re-assess things at some point, and I set our bye week as the time when I would take stock of the future. After we played Vanderbilt (Oct. 24), I had a scheduled PET scan on Oct. 26th for reassessment, and then visited with my family and came to the decision on October 27th that this would be my last year coaching.

“I still feel good physically, but I decided that I want to focus on enjoying my remaining years with my family and friends, and also have proper time to battle the disease and give full attention to that.”

The 63-year-old Pinkel will remain on as the Tigers’ head coach through December of 2015 or until a new head coach is in place. The two sides will look for a role that will keep him connected to Mizzou athletics.

“It’s been an honor working with Gary since I joined the Mizzou family,” said athletic director Mack Rhoades. “Gary is truly a coaching legend as the winningest coach at two Division I institutions while leaving a profound impact on a countless number of young men. We are extremely appreciative of all that he has done for Mizzou. It’s tough emotionally knowing that his fight with cancer is bringing his run to an end sooner than any of us thought. I want to commend Gary with how open he’s been with me the whole time, from the first day he came to my office in May and told me about his diagnosis, all the way to now and when he met with me personally on October 28th to tell me he’d made up his mind. He’s been nothing but first class in how he’s handled the situation the whole way.”

Pinkel is in his 15th season as Mizzou’s head coach, posting a 117-71 mark at the school.  The Tigers are 4-5 this season.

Where Pinkel really made his mark, though, was in Mizzou’s move to the SEC.  After a rough 5-7 mark in the Tigers’ inaugural SEC campaign, Pinkel led Mizzou to back-to-back East division titles.

All told, Pinkel’s squads won five division titles across the SEC and Big 12.   In the 17 years prior to Pinkel’s arrival, Mizzou posting just two winning seasons; in the his first 14 seasons, the Tigers were above .500 10 times.

Including his time at Toledo, Pinkel has a career record of 190-108-3.  He’s also one of a handful of coaches who are the all-time winningest head coaches at two FBS programs.

“I want to make very clear that I’m not doing poorly, and that this is a manageable disease, but it’s one that will never go away,” Pinkel said in continuing his statement. “So many people have bigger struggles with other forms of cancer and other serious diseases, and I feel blessed that I’ve got something I can fight and still enjoy a good quality of life. I don’t know how many years I have left, but I want to turn my focus to life outside of the daily grind of football,” he said.

“Words can’t express how grateful I am to the University of Missouri and all of the amazing people who make it up, from the administration to the students and our fans. Obviously, I’m so appreciative to all of my coaches and athletes. Leaving them makes this decision so tough, but I do so feeling good that the Mizzou Football program is in a better place than it was when we came in 15 years ago. I feel that Mizzou is a great job at a great school and has so much going for it that they’ll find an outstanding coach to move the program forward.”

When it comes to a replacement for Pinkel, one name to keep in mind is Tom Herman. Herman is in his first year as Houston’s head coach, and was hired by… you guessed it, current Mizzou AD Mack Rhoads.

Herman will be in high demand, though, as, with Pinkel’s resignation, there are 10 FBS head-coaching openings.  Including Mizzou, seven of those are Power Five jobs: Illinois, Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, USC, Virginia Tech.  The other three openings are Hawaii, North Texas and UCF of Group of Five conferences.

Clemson likely to lose a starter to… the military

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Oklahoma isn’t the only Power Five program to see a player weighing a football-or-military life choice this offseason.

According to The State, Dabo Swinney has acknowledged that Garrett Williams is “probably not going to be back” with his Clemson football program next season. “[H]e really wants to go into the military,” the Tigers head football coach stated as the reason behind the tight end’s likely move on from the defending national champions.

“He’s around this spring and is going to be out there helping us, but he’s dealing with his health issues. He’s getting his knee back right and he’s got a lot of things he’s dealing with,” Swinney said of Williams.

In April of 2017, Clemson announced that Williams had suffered a torn ACL that sidelined the then-rising junior for the entire season.  Williams came back to start 13 games in the Tigers’ run to the College Football Playoff title.

In the past, Williams, whose father and grandfather served in the military, has stated a desire to either enlist in the Marines or become a Navy SEAL.

As a rising redshirt senior, Williams still has one season of eligibility he could use.

Jalen Hurts has seen Heisman odds shorten since transfer to Oklahoma

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I guess that’s what happens when the school to which you moved has produced back-to-back Heisman winners at the position you play, eh?

In mid-January, as he was in the midst of transferring from Alabama, Jalen Hurts was listed by BetOnline.ag as a 9/1 shot to stake his claim as the winner of the 2019 Heisman Trophy.  Very shortly thereafter, Hurts’ move to Oklahoma was confirmed; a month later, in the latest odds released by the same online sportsbook, Hurts now sits at 13/2 to win this year’s version of the most storied trophy in college sports.

As was the case a month ago, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the way-too-early 2019 Heisman favorite at 7/2, although those odds have lengthened a bit from the initial 3/1.  The quarterback whose play on the field pushed Hurts out in Tuscaloosa, 2018 Heisman runnerup Tua Tagovailoa, also saw his odds lengthen a smidge from 4/1 to 5/1.

Most of the other odds remained relatively steady from that initial release, although USC quarterback JT Daniels and Clemson-to-Missouri transfer Kelly Bryant did both make a move from off the board to part of a mini-pack at 25/1.

For perspective given the fact that we’re still nearly seven months from the 2019 season kicking off, the 2018 Heisman winner, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, wasn’t among the two dozen or so college football players listed wagering-wise as potential winners around this time a year ago.  The top three Heisman odds at this time last year?  Stanford running back Bryce Love, Wisconsin running back Johnathan Taylor and Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, none of whom were finalists for the trophy won by Murray.

2019 signee who left Oklahoma for the military will instead transfer to another school

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Never mind, I guess.

Earlier this month, Derek Green, a member of Oklahoma’s 2019 recruiting class, revealed that he would be pursuing a career in the military instead of a career in college football.

“I don’t want to waste anybody’s time,” Green said at the time, “because Oklahoma has a great group of guys on that defense that’s there and coming in and I want them to be successful and they can spend more time developing them while I try to serve my country.”

Green also confirmed at the time that he would be placing his name into the NCAA transfer database, although “that’s just in case I want to go back to it later, but as of right now I’m going to serve my country.”

Fast-forward a few days, and Green announced via Twitter that he will be putting his military career on hold and transferring to a football program other than the one with which he signed back in December.

Green was a consensus three-star signee for the Sooners who enrolled in classes at the university earlier this month.  He was the only signee listed as a defensive tackle in OU’s class this year.

Virginia Tech transfer QB Josh Jackson tweets move to Maryland

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For the third time this offseason, first-year head coach Mike Locksley has pulled in a Power Five transfer to his Maryland program.

On his personal Twitter account Monday night, Josh Jackson announced that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career for Locksley at Maryland.  Nearly four weeks ago, it was confirmed that Jackson would be leaving Virginia Tech as the quarterback had placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.

As Jackson is expected to graduate from Tech in May, he would be eligible to play for Maryland this coming season.  Not only that, but he will have another year of eligibility he can use in College Park in 2020 as well.

After going through a tumultuous offseason, Jackson began 2018 as the Hokies’ starting quarterback only to suffer a season-ending injury in mid-September.

As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Jackson started all 13 games for the 9-4 Hokies. He passed for 2,991 yards and ran for another 324 yards while accounting for 26 touchdowns — 20 passing, six rushing.  The passing yards were the most for an FBS freshman that season, while the touchdowns passes were the second-most at this level.

Given the fact that he’ll be immediately eligible, Jackson will head into summer camp as the favorite to lay claim to the Terrapins’ starting job under center.

In addition to Jackson, Maryland has landed transfers from wide receiver Sean Savoy and linebacker Keandre Jones.  The former comes to College Park from Virginia Tech, the latter from Ohio State.