Preseason camps are opening across the country in the next week or so but one ACC team will do so without several key contributors.
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi announced on Friday afternoon a slew of player-related discipline decisions and all four significantly alter the outlook for the Panthers during their upcoming non-conference slate to begin the season. Senior defensive end Rori Blair received the harshest punishment as he was dismissed from the program for “conduct detrimental to the program.”
As big of a loss as Blair is along the defensive line though, the team will also be without junior safety (and perhaps best defender on the team) Jordan Whitehead and starting middle linebacker Quintin Wirginis for the first three games of the year after unspecified violations of team policy. Starting offensive lineman Alex Bookser is also suspended for the season opener for “his involvement in an offseason legal situation involving a motor vehicle.”
“Our program’s foundation will always be built on discipline and personal responsibility,” Narduzzi said in a release. “These are highly disappointing situations but I am hopeful that each of these young men will be better, stronger and wiser after taking accountability for their actions.
“In addition to sitting out multiple games, Quintin and Jordan will continue to be held accountable to internal standards of conduct.”
The Panthers open against Bo Pelini’s Youngstown State squad before facing in-state rival and defending Big 10 champion Penn State in State College. Whitehead and Wirginis will also miss out on the team’s other non-conference game in Week 3 as Oklahoma State comes to Pittsburgh.
Narduzzi’s defense wasn’t all that good last season and the loss of so many key contributors for the opening three games will make life even tougher given the high-powered offenses they’ll see from the Nittany Lions and Cowboys.
As expected, Deondre Francois’ winding college football journey won’t be leading him to one Conference USA school as his next stop.
In late May, it was reported that Francois would be walking on at Florida Atlantic and playing for Lane Kiffin‘s Owls; a month later, it was reported that Francois likely wouldn’t be joining the Owls as a walk-on, scholarship player or otherwise. In officially putting this particular subject to bed, Kiffin confirmed late last week that the quarterback will not be transferring into his FAU program.
Instead, it’s still expected that Francois will continue his playing career at the FCS level, although that has yet to be confirmed.
Earlier this offseason, Florida State announced that Francois had been dismissed from the football program after a social media post brought to light an alleged domestic incident between the quarterback and his ex-girlfriend. A day later, the alleged victim in that incident posted an apology on her Instagram account, stating that the release “of the video was to scare him” and that she was seeking “closure and attention from him after we broke up but I couldn’t get it from him. The only way to get his attention was through Instagram and spiteful actions.”
Not long after that apology was released, however, the alleged victim’s Instagram account was deleted. Shortly after that, the woman’s sister took to the same social media site and claimed that her sibling’s Instagram account had been hacked, intimating that the apology that was posted was fake.
The Tallahassee Police Department subsequently determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue domestic-violence charges against Francois. The one-time starting quarterback for the Seminoles went on to enter his name into the NCAA transfer database not long after his dismissal was confirmed.
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy can drop some good zingers at any given moment. But his son, Gunnar Gundy, was on the receiving end of one of the all-time lines that is incredibly difficult to respond to.
When asked about the possibility of coaching his son at Oklahoma State, the head coach of the Cowboys stressed he would coach Gunnar just as he would any other player in the program. That means no preferential treatment even though there is a family bond in place. That is when Riley took the idea to another level.
As transcribed by The Oklahoman;
“When asked how he would coach his son, Gunnar, if the situation arose: “I told him, if you come to Oklahoma State, I’ll coach you like I do everybody else… If you’re the best player, you’ll play. If not, you won’t play — even though I’m sleeping with your mom.”
That is quite the classic recruiting sales pitch from the head coach of the Pokes. It’s certainly not a recruiting pitch that would work any other recruit. Or is it? We’ll stray from traveling down that path for now.
Gunnar Gundy is entering his senior year of high school football. As you would probably suspect, Oklahoma State is considered to be one of the favorites to land the quarterback. Gunnar could potentially follow in his father’s footsteps in Stillwater, as the current head coach is also a former quarterback for Oklahoma State.
Helmet sticker to Pistols Firing.
Baylor head coach Matt Rhule had a rough weekend. The head coach of the Bears had his truck stolen from the parking lot of a hotel. But rest assured, Rhule made it known that would not prevent him from getting to where he needed to be.
Rhule took to Twitter with a message to the party responsible for his stolen truck, confirming he would still find a way to attend an event organized by the Texas High School Coaches Association at Rice University.
As promised by Rhule, he made it to the event in Houston.
But it wasn’t just a truck that was stolen from Rhule either. Inside the truck was a set of golf clubs that didn’t belong to him, as noted by Baylor assistant coach Joey McGuire.
There is no indication at this time if the truck has or will be recovered. The same goes for the golf clubs. In the meantime, Rhule will have to keep on going about his business as he prepares for a new college football season with Baylor.
DJ Durkin has rarely been seen, at least in the football sense, since Halloween, when he was fired by Maryland’s board one day after being reinstated. He briefly appeared as a consultant at Alabama, a move Nick Saban was forced to immediately defend, and not a peep has been heard from Durkin sense.
The Atlanta Falcons have brought the disgraced coach aboard as a guest coach for training camp, the team has announced.
Durkin and Falcons head coach Dan Quinn worked together at Florida, where the latter was Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator and Durkin the special teams coordinator. Quinn coached with Durkin in 2011-12 before leaving for the same job with the Seattle Seahawks; Durkin was promoted to serve as Quinn’s replacement.
Asked by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution if he had any reservations about brining in Durkin, Quinn said, “I didn’t probably because I know who the person is having coached with him before. So, I knew his background as a defensive coach and special teams. By doing our due diligence from there. … An unfortunate situation, of course, but as far as eyes to look at the defense to help us, I definitely knew the advantage of that.”
The team said Durkin will watch practice for 10 days and consult with the Falcons’ coaching staff; he will not have any direct interaction with players.
“I know DJ first hand,” Quinn said. “I know what he is as a coach. I know what his character is. We did all of our due diligence, calling everybody at Maryland and had our own follow up.”