Associated Press

Oklahoma confirms hiring of Ruffin McNeill as DT coach

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One of the most influential mentors in Lincoln Riley‘s coaching career is officially coming to help out his protégé.

Wednesday afternoon, reports surfaced that Ruffin McNeill would be added to Riley’s first OU coaching staff. Not long after, the football program indeed confirmed that McNeill will fill the void in the staff.

McNeill will serve as the Sooners’ defensive tackles coach as well as carry the title of assistant head coach. OU’s defensive line coach the past two seasons, Calvin Thibodeaux, will focus his coaching attention on the defensive ends.

McNeill had been the line coach at Virginia since December of 2015. He also carried the title of assistant head coach with the Cavaliers.

“Ruffin McNeill is one of the best people, not only in the world of coaching, but also in the world, period,” UVa. head coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a statement. “I’ve really enjoyed his friendship, the exchange of ideas and the camaraderie that we’ve had together. Ruff has amazing relationships with anyone he’s met. He’s got a great football mind. I am appreciative of all the work he put in helping us to begin to make Virginia an excellent football program.”

Prior to his brief time in Charlottesville, he was the head coach at his alma mater, East Carolina, from 2010-2015 before being abruptly kicked to the curb shortly after the season ended. From 2000-2009, he was an assistant at Texas Tech. Riley and McNeill were on the same staff at Tech from 2007-09, then Riley served as McNeill’s offensive coordinator at ECU from 2010-14 before moving on to Norman.

The school noted in its release that Riley expects to finalize other coaching staff titles in the coming days.

LINCOLN RILEY
“I’m very excited that Ruffin McNeill is joining our coaching staff. Personally, I have a great history with him from our time together at Texas Tech and East Carolina. We’re getting an extremely high-quality person and coach. Our team and fans will love the personality and energy he’ll bring to our program.

“Ruffin possesses a distinguished record defensively, and I’m excited to see him work alongside defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and the rest of our staff on that side of the ball. I view the defensive line as one of the most important — if not the most important — position groups on the field, and he’ll be a big benefit to our student-athletes and to our program as a whole.”

RUFFIN MCNEILL
“I’ve been at every level and have done it a lot of different ways. I’ve been fortunate to work with great people. I’ve had the big-picture view of a head coach, I’ve been a defensive coordinator and I’ve been a special teams coordinator, so I think I have some things I bring to the table. I absolutely love coaching the players. I love that part. I’m excited to do that here. Can’t wait to get on the field, get in the meeting rooms, talk strategy, talk life. That’s what I’ve always been known for; being a hard worker and a team guy. I believe it’s team and family first, last and always. Lincoln and his wife, Caitlin, are family to me. I’ve known him since he was 18 years old when he was a freshman at Texas Tech.

“I believe in working players harder than they’ve worked before, but also loving them more than they’ve ever been loved. That’s my base. And I always am clear with my expectations. ‘Here’s what I expect and why, and here’s what we’re achieving.’ It’s not just the ‘what,’ but it’s also the ‘why’ and the ‘how.’ I treat the players like they’re my sons. Not just my particular group, but the entire team. I’m looking forward to building those relationships here at OU.”

SEC releases 2019 schedule

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We’re only a quarter of the way into the 2018 season, but who wants to break down the SEC’s 2019 schedule?

Okay, we’re not going to do that, because that would be insane, a waste of time, and an insane waste of time. But we will note that it has been released, and the full thing can be found here.

Considering the SEC refuses to budge from its inane 6-1-1 scheduling model, really the only thing to note is the one (1) rotating crossover game each team plays. The league rotates the home and away venues, and all the East teams will be at home in 2019:

  • Alabama at South Carolina (Sept. 14)
  • LSU at Vanderbilt (Sept. 21)
  • Auburn at Florida (Oct. 5)
  • Arkansas at Kentucky (Oct. 12)
  • Ole Miss at Missouri (Oct. 12)
  • Mississippi State at Tennessee (Oct. 12)
  • Texas A&M at Georgia (Nov. 23)

A few other observations, in no particular order:

– Texas A&M makes visits to Clemson (Sept. 7) and Georgia, in addition to playing its regular SEC West schedule. The Aggies are slated to play half of the current AP Top 10 in 2019.

– While not SEC games, notable SEC non-conference games in addition to Texas A&M at Clemson on Sept. 7: Alabama vs. Duke in Atlanta (Aug. 31), Auburn vs. Oregon in Dallas (Aug. 31), Florida vs. Miami in Orlando (Aug. 31), Ole Miss at Memphis (Aug. 31), South Carolina vs. North Carolina in Charlotte (Aug. 31), BYU at Tennessee (Sept. 7), West Virginia at Missouri (Sept. 7), LSU at Texas (Sept. 7), Vanderbilt at Purdue (Sept. 7) and Notre Dame at Georgia (Sept. 21).

– Missouri plays five consecutive home games from Sept. 7 through Oct. 12. The Tigers open at Wyoming on Aug. 31 and will not leave Columbia again until an Oct. 19 trip to Vanderbilt.

– Georgia plays five games in November: vs. Florida in Jacksonville, vs. Missouri, at Auburn, vs. Texas A&M and at Georgia Tech.

– Florida plays a four-game stretch that includes Auburn, LSU, South Carolina and Georgia (after a bye), the final three away from Gainesville.

– Alabama continues to catch breaks from the scheduling department. The Tide play Texas A&M and LSU after byes and Auburn after playing Western Carolina.

– As such, every team across college football will have two byes in 2019, as there are 14 Saturdays between Labor Day weekend and the first Saturday in December instead of 13.

The SEC Championship will be Dec. 7 in Atlanta.

South Alabama’s season-opening starting QB, Cole Gavin, arrested for being drunk in public

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Arizona Bowl - South Alabama v Air Force
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Yet again, it’s time for an in-season resetting of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.

The latest to trigger a move back to double zeroes is Cole Gavin, with the South Alabama quarterback arrested early Friday on a charge of public intoxication. No details of what led up to the arrest and charges have been divulged.

The football program has, though, confirmed that Gavin has been indefinitely suspended from the team as a result of the arrest.

Last season, Gavin started seven games as he split time with Dallas Davis, who transferred to UAB this past offseason. Gavin started the season opener as well against Louisiana Tech before giving way to backup Evan Orth, who started the Week 2 loss to Oklahoma State.

For the season, Gavin is 10-of-22 passing for 64 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Gavin didn’t play in the Week 3 win over Texas State, a game that kicked off a little over 24 hours after his arrest.

A year ago, Gavin had the same number of touchdowns as interceptions (seven) as well as 1,490 yards as he completed under 53 percent of his 232 passes.

Brian Polendey’s season-ending surgery leaves Miami with the two healthy scholarship TEs

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Already a concern entering the season, Miami’s depth at the tight end position has been chipped away yet again.

The U announced Tuesday that Brian Polendey (pictured, No. 88) suffered an unspecified injury to his right knee and be sidelined for the remainder of the 2018 season.  The release didn’t state how the injury occurred.

The sophomore will undergo surgery on an unspecified date to repair the damage.

Polendey, a three-star 2017 signee, played in six games as a true freshman.  He caught his first career pass, for 14 yards, in a 77-0 win over FCS Savannah State in Week 2.

In early August, Michael Irvin II suffered an MCL injury in his right knee and will be out for up to four months.  The injuries sustained by Irvin II and Polendey leave the Hurricanes with just two healthy scholarship tight ends — Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory, who are both true freshmen.

Jordan’s two receiving touchdowns are tied for the team lead, while his seven receptions are tied for second.

Arkansas pulls trigger on another change at QB

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Eastern Illinois at Arkansas
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With Arkansas set to open up SEC play this coming weekend, Chad Morris has made a change under center for the Razorbacks.  Again.

The first-year head coach confirmed Monday that Ty Storey will start at quarterback this Saturday against No. 9 Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Storey will replace Cole Kelley, who started the Week 1 win over FCS Eastern Illinois as well as the Week 3 loss to North Texas.

Storey had also replaced Kelley as the starter for the Week 2 loss to Colorado State.

“Regardless of the practice, regardless of the way things go,” Morris said of the decision to move back to Storey, “I wanted him to know straight up from [Sunday] that, ‘Look, we’re going to go with you, and let’s respond. Now instead of putting you in to where you’re in a tough situation with the momentum not in our favor, how would you respond?’”

This season, Storey has completed 17 of his 30 passes for 297 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.  In his other start, the first of his career, Storey went just five-of-13 for 36 yards and both of his picks before being yanked in favor of Kelley.

Through three games, the Razorbacks are 100th nationally in team pass efficiency (119.46).  Only one of the 129 teams at the FBS level (New Mexico State, nine) have thrown more interceptions than Arkansas’ eight.