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Emails indicate LSU thought Florida was using hurricane to duck playing Oct. 8 game


Well, this has the potential to get mildly interesting.

With Hurricane Matthew bearing down on the area, the LSU-Florida game originally scheduled for Oct. 8 in Gainesville was initially postponed.  A week later, the SEC announced that the game had been rescheduled for Nov. 19 in Baton Rouge after South Alabama (LSU) and Presbyterian (UF) agreed to be bought out of their respective game contracts for that date.

Some, though, initially thought that UF was looking to duck playing LSU after the latter offered to host the Gators that October weekend; play in Gainesville either Sunday or Monday; or even having the game played at a neutral site.  In that vein, through a public records request, WRBZ-TV in Baton Rouge obtained interoffice emails from LSU which showed the athletic department staff, as well as regent R. Blake Chatelain, was “frustrated with the handling of the postponed football contest against Florida earlier this month.”

In particular, athletic director Joe Alleva intimated that Florida didn’t want to play, period, because it would potentially help the Gators in their divisional race.

From the television station’s report:

Although, in an exchange with Chatelain, Alleva suspected Florida knew avoiding a game with LSU secured their spot in a playoff.

“… If they lose they would lose the east. Their schedule is easier than Tennessee (sic) if they wanted to play we would be playing here or there,” Alleva wrote after Chatelain questioned why Florida would want to avoid a game with the Tigers.

Chatelain wrote, “Florida would want to play as much as us… Would they not?”

Alleva initiated the conversation with Chatelain by writing, “This is a joke” when he forwarded news of the SEC announcing the Georgia-South Carolina contest had been delayed a day for the storm.

“What a joke,” Michael Bonnette, the communications director for LSU Athletics, chimed in.

Around that time, it was thought that Florida could gain an advantage over SEC East rival Tennessee by playing one fewer conference game and potentially claiming the division and a spot in the conference championship game by virtue of a better winning percentage than UT despite losing in the head-to-head matchup.  However, in announcing the rescheduled game, the SEC revealed that both LSU and Florida would have been ineligible to compete for the SEC title this season had the game not been played.

Northern Illinois confirms Baltimore Ravens RBs coach Thomas Hammock as new head coach

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A familiar face has been handed the reins of the Northern Illinois football program.

Following up on reports that surfaced earlier in the week, NIU confirmed Friday that it has hired Thomas Hammock as its new head football coach.  Hammock, who played his college football for the Huskies, replaces Rod Carey, who left late last week to take the same job at Temple.

The past five seasons, Hammock served as the running backs coach for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

“This is a huge hire,” said athletic director Sean T. Frazier in a statement. “To be able to bring back a part of our tradition, particularly from the Novak era, and really unite all of our Huskies, and quite frankly, have someone who’s iconic in our history books, is fantastic. I’ve known Thomas for a while, even before coming to NIU. He’s always talked about NIU, The Hard Way, the tradition, the hard work, and the grit. All those things make it special to make this hire.”

Hammock began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Wisconsin (2003-04) before returning to his alma mater as running backs coach for two seasons (2005-06).  He then moved on to the same position at Minnesota (2007-10) and Wisconsin (2011-13).

With the Gophers, Hammock served as co-offensive coordinator his final season there; with the Badgers, he held the title of assistant head coach as well.

“I can’t describe it,” Hammock said about taking over at his alma mater. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to have the opportunity to come home to a place that I love, to the school that has meant so much to me. I can’t wait to get started with the players and have a chance to put a product on the field that the alumni and fans will be proud of.

With Hammock’s hiring, every head job at the FBS level has been filled.

Miami makes addition of Ohio State transfer Tate Martell official

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Now it’s officially official.

Very early Wednesday morning, Martell took to Twitter to announce that he has decided to transfer to Miami.  Two days later, his new school confirmed through the same social-media service the Ohio State transfer quarterback’s arrival.

The move comes a week and a day after reports first surfaced that Martell’s name was in the NCAA transfer database.

Martell has retained a lawyer and will be seeking a waiver that would grant him immediate eligibility.  That attorney, Travis Leach out of Arizona, confirmed to the Toledo Blade earlier this week that the coaching change at OSU will be a part of his “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” strategy.

“That definitely is part of it,” Leach told the Blade when asked about the turnover at Martell’s former school. “You try to throw as much against the wall as you can. I think the fact that there were some circumstances that happened, some personality clashes at the school — we want to be fair to everyone involved. That’s the approach we’re going to go down.”

If the redshirt freshman Martell wins the appeal for a waiver, he would eligible to play in 2019 and would compete with N’Kosi Perry, the returning favorite, and Jarren Williams, among others, for the starting job.  If he loses the appeal, he would have two years of eligibility beginning in 2020 that he can use.

Martell was a four-star member of OSU’s 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Martell threw for 269 yards and a touchdown on 23-of-28 passing this past season while also running for another 128 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.

Two hires complete Manny Diaz’s first Miami staff

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Nearly three weeks after returning to Miami, Manny Diaz has put the finishing touches on his first Hurricanes coaching staff.

The U confirmed Friday the hirings of Taylor Stubblefield and Stephen Field as the final two additions to Diaz’s 10-man on-field staff.  Stubblefield will coach wide receivers, while Field will handle tight ends.

Stubblefield, who played his college football at Purdue, spent the past two seasons as the receivers coach at Air Force.  Field, who was a graduate assistant with the Hurricanes in 2007-08, was recently hired as the recruiting director at Louisville before returning to The U.  He served in the same role at Oregon last season.

“We’re excited to welcome these coaches to the Miami family,” the new head coach said in a statement. “Taylor was a Biletnikoff Award finalist as a college receiver and he boasts a terrific track record coaching that position. He also has strong ties to our offensive coordinator, Dan Enos, which is significant as we begin to build and shape our offense.

“Stephen is an outstanding coach who has had great success at both the college and high school levels. He is a proven recruiter on a national scale, and also has strong ties to The U and to South Florida. They will both be excellent additions to our staff.”

After replacing the retired Mark Richt, Diaz swept out the entire offensive coaching staff and brought in all new assistants on that side of the ball, including Enos as offensive coordinator.

Tennessee expected to be new home for Georgia transfer Deangelo Gibbs

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Deangelo Gibbs may be leaving Georgia, but, as it turns out, he likely isn’t leaving the SEC East.

Citing sources close to the situation, is reporting that, “barring unforeseen circumstances,” Gibbs will be enrolling at Tennessee Friday and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Volunteers.  The website notes that “Friday is the final day to add classes for the spring semester at Tennessee.”

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Gibbs will have to sit out the 2019 season.  Beginning in 2020, he would then have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

A four-star member of UGA’s 2017 recruiting class, Gibbs was rated as the No. 4 safety in the country; the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 49 recruit overall on‘s composite board.

After playing in six games as a true freshman, Gibbs missed most of the last half of the 2017 regular season as well as UGA’s run to the national championship game because of unspecified issues. He also didn’t participate in spring practice last year as he wasn’t enrolled in classes, although he returned to the university in mid-May and enrolled in summer classes.

This past season, Gibbs, the cousin of current Vols safety Nigel Warrior, played in seven games for the Bulldogs.