After losing its athletics director to another school, the University of Pittsburgh has a new athletics director ready to get to work. Heather Lyke , previously of Eastern Michigan, will reportedly take on the job at Pittsburgh according to multiple reports including The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Detroit Free Press and Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com.
Lyke, a Michigan alum and former senior associate athletic director at Ohio State, will replace Scott Barnes, who left to take on the same role at Oregon State. She will be the first woman to be an athletic director in Pitt’s history.
Lyke was a trailblazer during her time at Eastern Michigan. She was the first ever MAC Cartwright Award winner for all-around athletic department excellence in the 2013-2014 academic year. Among the accomplishments at EMU under Lyke’s tenure include the highest overall athletic GPA in school history and the highest graduation rates for athletes in school history. Last season saw the most successful football season in school history in decades leading to the first bowl trip for the program since 1987.
Lyke will leave EMU at a time the school is potentially set to invest in improving athletics facilities in a big way, and her leadership will be a big part of the reason why the university feels it appropriate to even consider spending so much money to improve the athletics programs even if students and faculty on campus have concerns about such budget proposals.
As for the future of the Pitt football program, the hiring of Lyke seems to have no drawbacks. Pat Narduzzi has done well since being hired to be the head coach, so there is little reason for Lyke to be looking to make a change on the sideline to hire her preferred coach. Narduzzi was actually on the selection committee for finding a new AD, so it stands to reason the new AD has the support of the football coach. This is not a situation where the new AD will be asked to make a quick change, so that’s good for Narduzzi and the football program. Whether Lyke has any desire to figure out a long-term stadium solution on Pitt’s campus might be worth watching, although that might be a reach.
Expect one of the football-related questions to Lyke be about the non-conference scheduling plans. Among those first questions will be Lyke’s thoughts about the Penn State series. The two in-state schools (now with two women athletic directors), resumed their previously abandoned series last fall and will meet again for the next three seasons. As is custom, new ADs tend to draw their line in the sand on such in-state rivalry questions.
And if she says the football team is going to bring back the mustard-yellow helmets on a full-time basis, then she may be the best hire Pitt has made in years right out of the gate.
One of the baker’s dozen scholarship players who have left Nebraska has found a new college football home. Unofficially.
Citing struggles with mental health and depression, Darien Chase entered the NCAA transfer database in mid-February. That was the first step in leaving the Nebraska football program.
On Twitter this week, the wide receiver took the next step. By committing to FCS Portland State.
“First I would like to thank God for getting me through these difficult times,” Chase wrote, ” and my family’s amazing support while being home. I’ve chosen to stay off social media when it came to my recruiting process so I could make a clear decision on my next steps and commit to the school that makes the most sense for me.
“Thank you to all the universities who gave me the opportunity to play at their program. I’ll forever be grateful.
“With that being said I’m proud to announce that I will be staying home and attending… Portland State University.”
Chase was a three-star 2019 signee. He was the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Washington.
Prior to committing to, then signing with Nebraska football, Chase had received scholarship offers from, among others, Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah and Boise State. He took official visits to the latter two schools.
As a true freshman, Chase played in four games for the Cornhuskers. That will allow him to take a redshirt for the 2019 season.
In that limited action, Chase caught one pass for 13 yards.
Nick Saban has one of the most powerful voices in college football. Some would argue the most powerful voice. Sunday, he’s using that voice as the nation careens deeper into crisis.
In the aftermath of the despicable, abhorrent, unconscionable murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, at the knee of a white police officer, myriad FBS head coaches have spoken out and spoken up. In fact, nearly six dozen of them have done so as of this posting.
Sunday evening, Nick Saban added his voice to the burgeoning call for change. Below is the Alabama head football coach’s statement, in its entirety:
I am shocked and angered by the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. We’re at an important moment in out country, and now is the time for us to choose kindness, tolerance, understanding, empathy, and most importantly … it’s time to love each other. Every life is precious, and we must understand we have so many more things that unite us than divide us.
I’ve always been inspired and encouraged by examples set by those who came before us like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and so many others who devoted their lives to find peaceful ways to rid our society of social inequities. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We are all part of this and we must banish these types of injustices in not just our country, but our world. The ultimate future of our nation is in our hands, and like the teams I’ve been privileged to coach, we must depend on and respect each other no matter our differences. We must come together as a society and treat one another with respect and dignity.
Cal football is the latest to benefit from a Power Five-to-Power Five transfer.
Bradrick Shaw announced in January that he had been granted a sixth season of eligibility. Instead of using that added year at Wisconsin, however, the running back opted to enter the NCAA transfer database.
Four months later, Shaw revealed on Twitter that he will be transferring into the Cal football program.
Suffice to say, Shaw will be eligible to play for the Bears in 2020. Just as obviously, this will be his final season of eligibility.
One final academic postscript: Shaw earned two degrees from the University of Wisconsin. As for athletically?
Shaw came to the Wisconsin Badgers football team as a three-star 2015 signee. He was rated as the No. 16 player regardless of position in the state of Alabama. The back took a redshirt as a true freshman, then missed the entire 2018 season because of a knee injury. All of that helped lead to the sixth season.
In 2016, Shaw was third on the Badgers in rushing with 457 yards and tied for second in rushing touchdowns with five. The following season, his 365 yards and four scores were both second behind Jonathan Taylor‘s 1,977 and 13 as a true freshman.
Coming off the knee injury, Shaw ran for 116 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in 2019. All told, Shaw carried the ball 202 times for 938 yards and 10 touchdowns during his time with the Badgers.
Shaw’s initial social-media announcement came exactly three weeks after Taylor confirmed he will be leaving UW early for the 2020 NFL Draft. With the departures of Taylor and Shaw, the Badgers’ leading returning rushers in 2020 will be freshman Nakia Watson (331 yards) and junior Garrett Groshek (194). UW also has a commitment from four-star 2020 running back Jalen Berger.
A Tennessee football player would be the latest to trigger a reset of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker. If it were still a thing, of course.
Multiple media outlets reported overnight that Tim Jordan was arrested Saturday on multiple charges. The Vols running back is facing one count each of carrying a concealed firearm, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. The firearm charge is a third-degree felony. The other two are misdemeanors.
According to the Knoxville News, the Tennessee football player was seen speeding and swerving into the bicycle lane. From the News:
The officers stopped the vehicle and reported smelling “a strong odor of cannabis emanating from inside.” Jordan, 20, was behind the wheel, and a 17-year-old male was in the passenger seat. Both seemed “extremely nervous,” the warrant reads.
Jordan told the officers he was carrying a gun in his back pocket without a concealed carry permit, according to the warrant. The handgun, a Ruger LCP pistol, was found in his back pocket, loaded and unholstered.
Inside the vehicle the detectives reported finding a small bag containing about 9.25 grams of marijuana, as well as a scale and several small plastic bags.
Thus far, the Tennessee football program has not commented on the development.
Jordan was a four-star member of the Class of 2017 for the Volunteers.
The past three seasons, Jordan has appeared in 36 of UT’s 37 games. This past season, Jordan’s 428 yards were third on the Vols. The year before, he was second on the team with 522 yards on the ground.
All told, Jordan has rushed for 1002 yards and four touchdowns during his time in Knoxville. The Florida native has also added 26 receptions for another 227 yards coming out of the backfield.