Let’s get this out of the way upfront: The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award is awarded annually to quarterbacks who are either college seniors or fourth-year juniors who are scheduled to graduate with their class. Thanks in advance for your cooperation in this matter.
With that out of the way, the winner of the Unitas Golden Arm Award was announced Tuesday afternoon, with the 2015 honor going to Michigan State’s Connor Cook. The senior was one of five finalists for the award, the other four being TCU’s Trevone Boykin, USC’s Cody Kessler, Memphis’ Paxton Lynch and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott.
Cook is just the second Big Ten player in the 29-year history of the award to win it, joining Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien in 2010.
“Connor Cook is a proven winner,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. “His 34-4 record as a starter is a tremendous statistic, and he’s played well on the big stage throughout his career. He has a big arm, quick release and good presence in the pocket. Connor has been very patient with his reads and has displayed remarkable accuracy in critical situations. He remains cool under pressure, and he has the knack for making plays when the game is on the line. Most importantly, he has been an outstanding game manager and leader. Connor is consistently playing at a high level, and he gives us a chance to win every game.”
Cook’s 34 wins are the second-most of any current quarterback, behind only the 35 of Stanford’s Kevin Hogan. Cook and his Spartans will get the opportunity to add to that total as they face Alabama in one of the two playoff semifinals New Year’s Eve.
For the time being, there will be no Pac-12 Just After Breakfast.
The conference confirmed last month that preliminary discussions about having an undetermined number of league games kicking off at 9 a.m. PT/noon ET were underway, and could possibly be implemented as early as the 2019 season. Some head coaches in the conference were for the idea; at least one who has experienced early kickoffs in another conference isn’t exactly a fan of the idea.
According to the esteemed Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, Chris Petersen and others can rest easy for now as the talk of league games in that noon ET time slot has been tabled.
The conference has opted against scheduling games this season at 9 a.m. PT/10 a.m. MT as a means of gaining exposure on the new FOX broadcast window.
Andrew Walker, head of communications for the Pac-12, said several schools are interested in playing early, but the conference couldn’t find “good options” over the coming three months.
The plan, Walker added, is to monitor whichever Big 12 and Big Ten games are slotted into the 9 a.m. window, then re-assess for next season.
How this early-morning scheduling tack tracks will be fascinating to watch play out in the coming months, especially as it pertains to fans on the West Coast embracing the idea of showing up on a Saturday morning at a stadium an hour or two before a football game that starts at nine in the morning their time (or 10 Mountain Time).
Finally, there’s some positive personnel news for the Georgia Tech football program.
Following rumors of his future at Notre Dame, Derrik Allen confirmed nearly two weeks ago that he would be leaving the Fighting Irish and transferring to the Yellow Jackets. In a press release Thursday morning, Tech confirmed that the defensive back has enrolled in classes and has been added to the team’s roster.
Not surprisingly, the school also confirmed that Allen will have to sit out the 2019 season because of NCAA transfer regulations. Beginning with 2020, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility to use.
“We’re excited to welcome Derrik home to Atlanta and into our organization,” head coach Geoff Collins said in a statement. “He’s a great addition to our football program, both on and off the field, and our campus community.”
A four-star member of Notre Dame’s 2018 recruiting class, Allen was rated as the No. 9 safety in the country and the No. 14 player at any position in the state of Georgia. He didn’t see the field as a true freshman and took a redshirt.
Blacksburg has become quite the fertile recruiting ground for Mike Locksley’s first-year Maryland football program.
In January, wide receiver Sean Savoy completed his transfer from Virginia Tech by moving on to Maryland; four months later, Savoy’s former teammate, Josh Jackson, became his current teammate yet again as the quarterback moved to the Terrapins from the Hokies. Wednesday, Dejuan Ellis indicated that he will join those former teammates as he too has decided to transfer to the Terps.
The wide receiver had opted to transfer from the Hokies earlier this offseason.
Ellis was a three-star member of Tech’s 2018 recruiting class. The Owings Mills, MD, native took a redshirt as a true freshman.
It’s believed the receiver will be forced to sit out the 2019 season, leaving him with three years of eligibility moving forward.
Here we go. Again.
Quite the kerfuffle was kicked up earlier this month when Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell and the family of James Hudson, who transferred from Michigan to UC late last year, accused the offensive lineman’s former school in general and its head football coach specifically of not doing enough — or doing the absolute bare minimum — when it came to an immediate-eligibility waiver being sought by the player. Despite the citing of mental health issues, that appeal was denied.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Myles Sims had his appeal for a waiver for immediate eligibility at Georgia Tech denied as well. The defensive back had transferred to Tech from Michigan earlier this offseason.
In a conversation this week with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sims’ parents laid the onus for their son’s denial squarely at the feet of the University of Michigan, intimating, as Hudson’s family did, that U-M did the absolute bare minimum when it came to the waiver process. Even worse, Sims’ family claimed U-M misled the NCAA by providing inaccurate information.
From the Journal-Constitution:
They also believe that a statement from Michigan regarding his transfer – a required part of the application process for a waiver – included inaccurate information about his reasons for leaving that could have damaged his chances for receiving a waiver.
“The disappointment is in knowing that they included just a few words outside of what we said to mislead the NCAA in their decision-making,” Katrina Sims, Myles’ mother, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “Whether that weighed in heavily or not on the documentation that we provided, we take issue with that.
The newspaper also wrote that “[a] Michigan team spokesman stated that the school, as is the case with all transfers leaving the school seeking waivers, did not oppose Sims’ waiver request and followed standard policy.”
I don’t know who’s right or who’s wrong in these situations, but I do know it’s something that will be discussed on the recruiting trail and used by rival schools in luring and/or flipping potential prospects. So, do the bare minimum in such situations at your own peril.