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Brad Kaaya thinks Miami will be playoff contender in 2017, “no doubt”

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In his second season as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, Mark Richt has some believing this may actually be the time Miami turns a corner and fulfills the expectations place don the program when they joined the ACC from the Big East. Despite a few flashes in the pan with good starts to a season here and there, Miami has long struggled to be the football power the ACC thought it was adding, but could 2017 be different? Former Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya seems to think so.

In Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, Kaaya says he has no regrets over making his decision to turn pro with a year of eligibility remaining at Miami, even though he feels he could have been a part of something truly special with the Miami Hurricanes had he stuck around fo the 2017 campaign. How special? How about College Football Playoff contention?

“I thought of both scenarios, but at the end of the day it was an opportunity that I’ve wanted since I was six years old — to play in the National Football League,” Kaaya said in a story by former college football reporter Joe Schad, who currently covers the Miami Dolphins for Palm Beach Post. “And while I think I could have won a national championship and a conference championship had I stayed at Miami, it’s always been a dream of mine to play in the Super Bowl — and play in an NFC Championship or AFC Championship.”

The thought of Miami winning a national championship may be a bit of a reach influenced by close ties to a program, so you can excuse Kaaya for thinking so highly of the once-mighty Miami program. But he does have faith Richt could be on the verge of getting Miami to stay on the right track.

“I think they’ll be in good hands,” Kaaya said. “Coach Richt will have them back on the right page pretty soon. I think next season they’ll be a playoff contender, no doubt.”

Miami went 9-4 in Richt’s first season with the program, complete with the first bowl victory by the program since winning the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl under Larry Coker. Since that 2006 season, Miami has had four different head coaches (including two interim coaches) before landing Richt and has finished in the AP top 25 just twice. The last time Miami hit double digits in the win column was in the 2003 season, Miami’s curtain call in the Big East that ended with a No. 5 ranking and an Orange Bowl victory. The program has since had to crawl through NCAA issues and has not been able to keep pace with ACC powers Florida State and Clemson and has yet to win one ACC Coastal Division championship.

But hey, maybe this is the year the “Is Miami back” question will be able to be answered affirmatively for more than a month.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.