The college football world was stunned when Pittsburgh running back James Conner, who missed the bulk of the 2015 season due to a knee injury, announced he is battling cancer. Despite his ongoing bout with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his neck and chest, Conner is said to be in great physical shape and looks he could even be ready to play for the Panthers this fall once he beats cancer.
“I saw him yesterday in the hallway and he’s been working out with our kids to keep his sanity and he’s having fun doing it,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said recently to ESPN.com reporter James Shanker. “That’s the key is he’s having fun beating cancer and he’s got a great attitude and he looks good right now. He’s doing well and looks well. Doesn’t look like he lost weight. Looks like he could still play. He doesn’t look like he has cancer.”
Conner declared his intention to play football again when he announced his cancer to the world last December.
“I will play football again,” Conner said in early December. “I will be at Heinz Field again. I have the best coaches and teammates in the country. I thank God I chose Pitt because now I also have the best doctors in the country and together we will win. I know this city has my back.”
The former ACC Player of the Year is receiving financial support from Pitt to handle the costs of the treatments, which is allowed by the NCAA for special circumstances. This is certainly a special circumstance. Per NCAA rules, Conner and his family are required to have personal insurance but schools may pick up the tab for remaining costs not covered by the student’s insurance coverage. Pitt is able to lend its support because cancer is affecting Conner’s ability to play football.
The college football world will continue to root for Conner as he works his way back to the football field.
Last September, Kasim Hill‘s season came to a premature end thanks to a torn ACL in his right knee. During Saturday’s loss to Indiana, Hill suffered what appeared to be a significant injury to his other knee.
In fact, in an Instagram post Monday, the Maryland starting quarterback intimated that it was yet another torn ACL as he alluded to “attacking the process all over again.”
Tuesday, acting head coach Matt Canada confirmed that Hill had indeed suffered another torn ACL. Obviously, the sophomore’s season has come to an end.
Hill had started all 10 games under center for the Terrapins this season. He completed under 50 percent of his 170 passes for nine touchdowns and four interceptions. His passing efficiency rating of 115.7 is 10th in the Big Ten and 100th nationally.
Sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome is expected to take over for Hill as the Terps’ starting quarterback.
With its reputation battered earlier this year because of the Zach Smith imbroglio, Ohio State has come out swinging at a new report that surfaced Tuesday morning involving the former wide receivers coach.
In a story posted by college football reporter Brett McMurphy to WatchStadium.com, the father of former OSU wide receiver Trevon Grimes claimed that Smith called his son a “bitch ass [N-word]” during practice in late September of last year. In the report, McMurphy intimated that head coach Urban Meyer attempted to cover-up the incident by flying down to Grimes’ home in Florida in October of 2017 and promising the player OSU would allow him to transfer anywhere if he didn’t go public with the allegations; conversely, OSU officials claimed that the trip was made solely to support the player and his mother, who was going through a serious health issue at the time.
Appearing on Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches’ teleconference hours after the report surfaced, Meyer described himself as “irate” when he first learned of the allegations made in the report. The head coach called the report “the most preposterous thing” he’s witnessed during his time as a college football coach.
Additionally, Meyer stated that legal action is an option he and the university are considering.
Current and former Buckeyes football players spent Tuesday morning lashing out at the report, claiming there is no racism in the OSU program. In very strong statements, both OSU president Michael Drake and athletic director Gene Smith vehemently defended Meyer, with the former calling the allegations of racism “outrageous and false” and the latter labeling the accusations “unequivocally false.”
Given the opportunity to refute a report regarding the future of his football program, Colorado athletic director Rick George instead poured gasoline on the situation with his choice of words.
Overnight, a report surfaced that CU would part ways with head football coach Mike MacIntyre at season’s end. In response to the report, George stated that no decision on the football program’s has been made.
We do comment on speculation or unsubstantiated rumors with anonymous sources. Let me just say I have made no decisions regarding the future of our football program.
Based on a new deal agreed to in January of last year and approved five months later, CU would owe MacIntyre a buyout in excess of $10 million if he’s fired without cause.
In five-plus seasons with the Buffaloes, MacIntyre has posted a 30-43 record overall and 14-38 in Pac-12 play. Coming off a 5-7 season in 2017, the Buffs won their first five games of the season and climbed to 19th in the Associated Press Top 25. However, they’ve dropped five straight since then, with three of the five losses coming by 10 or more points.
Colorado will play its home finale this weekend against Pac-12 South leader Utah before closing out the regular season at Cal a week later. The Buffaloes need to win at least one of those games to reach bowl eligibility.
Another bowl game. Yippie???
Tuesday afternoon, the MAC and Conference USA announced the creation of the Myrtle Beach Bowl, which will first be played following the 2020 regular season. The postseason game will be owned and operated by ESPN and will be played at 21,000-seat Brooks Stadium, home of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.
There will be three conference tie-ins to the bowl game: the two already mentioned as well as the Sun Belt. Each league will play in the Myrtle Beach Bowl four times over the six years of the current contract.
“Myrtle Beach will be a great addition to the Mid-American Conference bowl line-up, and a destination we have been actively pursuing to develop a bowl game,” said MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher in a statement. “A family-friendly destination with outstanding facilities for competition, entertainment, and lodging, Myrtle Beach is very accessible by ground or air transportation from throughout our geographic footprint. I have no doubt our student-athletes, staff, and fans will have a unique and exceptional experience at the Grand Strand. The Mid-American Conference is appreciative of the efforts of ESPN Events and the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau in bringing this exciting new bowl game to fruition.”
At the moment, it’s unclear if this new bowl will replace an existing bowl or if it’ll simply be added to a lineup that currently consists of 782 postseason games.