Notre Dame mourns the passing of Ara Parseghian

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Ara Parseghian, who took over a flailing Notre Dame football program a half-century ago and brought it back to national prominence, passed away very early Wednesday morning at the age of 94, the university announced in a release.

Parseghian had been hospitalized last month because of an infection in his hip.  He only recently returned to his home in Granger, Ind., as he continued battling the infection.

“Notre Dame mourns the loss of a legendary football coach, a beloved member of the Notre Dame family and good man — Ara Parseghian,” university president Rev. John L Jenkins said in a statement. “Among his many accomplishments, we will remember him above all as a teacher, leader and mentor who brought out the very best in his players, on and off the field.

“He continued to demonstrate that leadership by raising millions of research dollars seeking a cure for the terrible disease that took the lives of three of his grandchildren. Whenever we asked for Ara’s help at Notre Dame, he was there.

“My prayers are with Katie, his family and many friends as we mourn his passing and celebrate a life that was so well lived.”

In the eight years prior to Parseghian’s arrival in 1964, the Fighting Irish finished at or below .500 in six of those years; in 1963, they went 2-7.  They hadn’t won a national champion ship in more than 15 years.

The turnaround under Parseghian was immediate as they went 9-1 in his first season and finished the year ranked third in the country. In 11 seasons with Parseghian as coach, the Irish went 95-17-4 and won two national championships, 1966 and 1973.

Just twice in those 11 seasons did the Irish finish outside the Top 10, an 8-2 1971 season that left them 13th in the final Associated Press poll and 8-3 the following year that had them 14th.

In his final season, which was capped by a win in the Orange Bowl, they were sixth in the country after finishing 10-2.

“As a student, I enjoyed the thrill of being on campus for Ara’s last three years as head coach, including the 1973 championship, and saw firsthand the profound impact that he had on my classmates who played for him,” said athletic director Jack Swarbrick. “When I returned many years later as athletics director, Ara was unfailingly generous with his time, and his counsel proved to be invaluable.”

In addition to his time at Notre Dame, Parseghian served as the head coach at Northwestern (36-35-1, 1956-63) and Miami of Ohio (39-6-1, 1951-55).  Overall, he went 170-58-6 as a head coach.

In 1980, Parseghian was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Arkansas transfer Maleek Barkley moves on to the FCS

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Another of the five Arkansas players to leave the football program has found a new college home.

Exactly eight days after announcing on Twitter that he was leaving Chad Morris‘ first-year squad, Maleek Barkley took to the same social media website to announce that he has decided to transfer to Montana State. As the Big Sky Conference school plays at the FCS level, the running back-turned-wide receiver will be eligible to play for the Bobcats immediately in 2018.

Including the upcoming season, Barkley will have four years of eligibility that he can use.

Barkley, a three-star 2017 signee, began his Razorbacks career as a running back before moving to wide receiver this offseason by new head coach Chad Morris this offseason. He took a redshirt his true freshman season.

In addition to Barkley, four other UA players on scholarship have transferred this offseason — tight end Will Gragg (to Pitt), tight end Jake Hall (to SMU), defensive back Korey Hernandez (to Iowa Western) and safety Reid Miller (to Montana).  Additionally, center Zach Rogers opted to give up his football career with the Razorbacks to pursue a job in law enforcement.

South Carolina’s Javon Charleston suspended after arrest on assault, burglary charges

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If you had the SEC in “next conference to reset the Days Without An Arrest ticker” pool, go ahead and collect your winnings.

According to the Columbia State, South Carolina’s Javon Charleston was arrested earlier this month on one count each of assault and burglary.  The charges stem from an incident that occurred during the early-morning hours of June 17.

The alleged victim claims that Charleston, after she stopped responding to his text messages, broke into her house and, after finding her in bed with another male, engaged in a verbal altercation with the man and ultimately chased him out of the residence.  It was after that when the woman claims she was physically assaulted by Charleston, who allegedly referred to her as a “dirty slut” in the process of the alleged assault.

Charleston, the newspaper wrote, “told the police he knew the woman and the code to get into the residence and that he went to check on her when she stopped texting him, believing that she was drunk.”

As a result of the arrest, Charleston has been indefinitely suspended by the football program.

Charleston was initially a walk-on to the Gamecocks who was placed on scholarship during summer camp last year. The wide receiver/defensive back appeared in 13 games last season, with most of those appearances coming on special teams.  He has been competing for a starting safety job throughout the offseason.

Chad Morris finally finalizes $3.5 million contract with Arkansas

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Chad Morris was hired in early December and has already gone through his spring practice at Arkansas but just signed that big new contract with the school this week.

The practice of working for a new program but not formally signing a contract isn’t new (just ask Texas A&M and Jimbo Fisher) but all the parties in Fayetteville finally got pen to paper in recent days to finalize the deal, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. The deal runs through the end of the 2023 season and will pay Morris roughly $3.5 million in base salary with plenty more available for the head coach to collect in bonuses:

Morris will be eligible for up to $1 million in competition-based bonuses and $200,000 in academic-based bonuses each year, and is eligible for three retention payments of $500,000 apiece, contingent that no “significant” NCAA violations have occurred and the program is not on NCAA probation at the time the payments are due in February of 2019, 2021 and 2023.

(AD Hunter) Yurachek said he signed the contract last Friday and it was executed with the signatures of University of Arkansas, Fayetteville chancellor Joseph Steinmetz and UA system president Donald Bobbitt this week.

Thankfully, there’s no complicated buyout structure like there was with former head coach Bret Bielema. If Morris wants to leave for another job, he’d owe $3 million prior to Dec. 31, 2019 and decreasing amounts each year afterward. If he’s fired by the school before the final day of 2022, he will receive 70 percent of his $3.5 million annual salary until the end of 2023. If he is fired on or after Jan. 1, 2023, he will take the full $3.5 million he’s owed.

Funny enough though, according to the Democrat Gazette, his boss still hasn’t signed his own deal with the school despite being formally hired the day before Morris was last December. One down, one to go we guess.

Clemson AD Dan Radakovich rules out alcohol sales at Memorial Stadium

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Death Valley is staying dry.

Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich spoke to the Post and Courier this week and pretty flatly rejected joining the burgeoning bandwagon in college athletics and allowing beer and/or alcohol sales at the Tigers’ football stadium.

“It hasn’t been a huge topic here because we really don’t look at that as something moving forward inside Memorial Stadium that is on our list of things to get done,” Radakovich said. “There’s a different atmosphere at our games.”

Alcohol is not sold anywhere at the stadium for Clemson home games though there are some unique cases where fan can bring some to specific areas prior to game day for consumption after kickoff.

The policy stands in stark contrast to some of their fellow ACC schools, as everybody from Pitt to Louisville to Wake Forest have begun sales. There’s been significant debate in the SEC on opening things up on the same front and major programs like Penn State to smaller ones like Fresno State are cashing in on the new revenue stream.

It doesn’t sound like the Tigers will be joining them anytime soon.

“Our people in the parking lot have a good time. There’s no question about that,” Radakovich added. “But inside the stadium, I think it’s a little different.”