One of the most heartwarming stories you’ll ever see continues to give, even after the first week of the 2017 college football season has been put to bed.
In 2009, the Pete Carroll-led USC Trojans football team essentially adopted Jake Olson, a teenage fan at the time suffering from cancer of the retina in his right eye (he lost his left eye when he was less than one year old). It was subsequently determined that Olson would need the right eye removed; on his final day of sight prior to the surgery that would leave him blind for the rest of his life, he chose to attend a Trojans football practice.
Fast-forward a few years, and Olson walked on to the USC football team as a long-snapper in 2015. He took his first live-drill reps with the Trojans in September of that year, then snapped for the team in the 2016 spring game. While he didn’t see any real-game action either year, Saturday, at the end of USC’s closer-than-expected win over Western Michigan, Olson finally got to take his place on the field in an actual game with the rest of his special teams teammates as the long-snapper on an extra point — thanks in large part to a very classy assist from WMU head coach Tim Lester.
Watching from afar was Carroll, now the head coach of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Following practice Monday, Carroll spent a significant period of time discussing just what it meant for Olson to play in a college football game, saying in part that he “couldn’t stop crying” because of what he had witnessed.
From the team’s official website:
That was an incredible moment. I’m so glad that (USC) Coach (Clay) Helton figured out a way to create the opportunity for Jake to show what he could do. This is just an extraordinary young man. Jake has done stuff throughout his life. From the time he was 10 years old, he has been doing remarkable things—he wrote his first book at 10—and onward. For a guy to out there and play in a college football game, snap a ball, they kick the extra point and make it, that’s just something, that’s just something about Jake. Jake’s a huge story. He’s one for all of us about courage and character and grit and vision and special qualities that few people would be able to hold onto. …
“He’s going to be a big factor. We’re all going to see him do a lot of stuff in this world. There’s nothing holding Jake back. I was so excited to see it, I couldn’t stop crying. It was thrilling. It was good to see a Trojan win too, but it was really something. …“I would have imagined that Jake would have been dreaming about playing for the Trojans, but the fact that it could ever come true, I would have not have thought that was possible. But then again, it’s Jake, so anything’s possible
“I would have imagined that Jake would have been dreaming about playing for the Trojans, but the fact that it could ever come true, I would have not have thought that was possible. But then again, it’s Jake, so anything’s possible.
On his Instagram account over the weekend, Olson gave a heartfelt thank you to Carroll for taking him in and embracing him as a 12-year-old.
“To Coach Carroll, none of this would have been possible without you,” a portion of Olson’s post read. “If you hadn’t made me a member of the Trojan Family when I was 12, I don’t know where my life would be. You are a special person, and I will be forever thankful for your generosity.”
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to achieve a lifelong dream and snap in a game for the USC Trojans. I cannot possibly thank all the people who have played a role in making this happen, but there are some people who I feel deserve special shout-outs. Mom, Dad, and Emma, none of this would have been possible without you guys. You have always been there for me, and there is simply no way I would be where I am today without your love and support. I am beyond blessed to have such an amazing family. Coaches Helton and Baxter, thank you for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to show what I can do. You push me every day on the field, and I am lucky to have you as coaches and mentors. To all my teammates, especially my special teams unit, thank you for being there for me and allowing me to feel so comfortable as a member of the team. To my friends, thank you for always supporting me and helping me get where I need to go. To Coach Carroll, none of this would have been possible without you. If you hadn’t made me a member of the Trojan Family when I was 12, I don’t know where my life would be. You are a special person, and I will be forever thankful for your generosity. Yesterday was a big day in my life, and I am hoping it’s the first of many, so stay tuned. Thank you everyone. It means the world to me knowing that I can and have inspired many through this experience. #fighton
As Miami was closing out the first spring under new head coach Manny Diaz, former Miami head coach Mark Richt was close by keeping an eye on things with his former program. On Saturday, it was announced Richt will be heading to a role in television and he said what so many coaches in similar positions have suggested before; he is content away from coaching and not planning a comeback.
Not yet, at least.
Richt was officially announced to be the newest member of the college football TV crew being put together by ESPN for the upcoming ACC Network. With plenty of experience in and around the ACC in his coaching career, not to mention his extended period of time in the SEC, Richt should fit right in with the target audience for the ACC Network, which will launch later this year.
“I was able to coach for 12 seasons in the ACC, and so, I’m very excited about the opportunity to join ACC Network as a football analyst,” Richt said in a released statement. “I’m not only looking forward to helping tell the story of one of the greatest football conferences in America but also staying close to the game that I love so much.”
The obvious question is just how long will Richt remain in a TV role? Maybe he truly is ready for life after coaching, but history has shown many coaches using TV jobs as temporary placeholders before the next coaching opportunity comes along. Urban Meyer spent one year in the booth calling games for ESPN after retiring from Florida before heading to Ohio State (Meyer, of course, is back in TV as an analyst for FOX Sports this season). Rich Rodriguez spent a cup of coffee with CBS Sports Network after losing his job at Michigan before he eventually returned to coach at Arizona. Even Mack Brown is making his long-awaited return to the sideline this season at North Carolina after spending years with ESPN after retiring from Texas.
Richt may still have some coaching gears in him that will get him to come back at some point, but for now, that’s not the plan he is putting out there. If the right offer comes along, who knows. For the 2019 season, at least, we’ll get to see how Richt does on TV.
Helmet sticker to Sports Illustrated.
Could a new in-state rivalry be about to form in the state of North Carolina? Though it will take decades to rival the intensity of the Duke-UNC rivalry, perhaps the seeds are being planted for a budding rivalry between Appalachian State and Charlotte. The two schools have agreed to a four-game scheduling agreement that builds off a current two-game series in the midst of being played.
Appalachian State and Charlotte will exchange home dates between 2026 and 2029 on an annual basis. Appalachian State will host the 49ers on Sept. 19, 2026 to begin the four-game set. The series will shift to Charlotte on Sept. 18, 2027 and return to Appalachian State’s campus on Sept. 16, 2028. Charlotte will host the final game in the agreement on Sept. 15, 2029.
“This is such a natural rivalry, and I am excited for our program to be able to compete against App on a more regular basis,” Charlotte athletics director Mike Hill said in a released statement. “I appreciate [Appalachian State AD] Doug Gillin for working with us to schedule this series. We would have liked to have started the series sooner but several long-term contracts on both sides prevented us from doing so. We are looking forward to our trip to Boone this fall as well as this future rivalry series.”
The two schools met last season for the first time, with the Mountaineers winning by a score of 45-9. Appalachian State will host Charlotte this season on Sept. 7.
Oregon State has pulled back the curtain on their new Nike football uniforms for the 2019 season, and the casual observer probably won’t notice much of a difference from most of the looks the Beavers have worn in recent seasons. Or should that just be the Beavs?
All three uniforms to be worn by Oregon State this season will have the abbreviated nickname of the Beavers, “Beavs,” slapped across the front of the uniform just above the uniform number. The uniform set comes with a traditional white uniform and two solid-color combinations of black or orange to be worn at home. All three uniforms are topped with a black helmet with an orange stripe down the middle and the orange Beaver logo on the side of the helmets.
From top to bottom, these are fine looks for the Oregon State football program. And the different combinations that can be thrown together should keep things interesting and refreshing on a weekly basis for the program in the fall. The best combination may be one with the orange pants and black jersey. And although the only helmet shown off is the black helmet, never count Oregon State out from throwing in an alternate helmet at some point in time.
The internet was blazing with reactions to a poor showing by new Miami quarterback Tate Martell during a recent spring scrimmage, and it seemed as though we could be in for a sub-par follow-up as the Hurricanes closed out their spring with a scrimmage in Orlando. Martell was not one of the top two quarterbacks to start the spring game. N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams were the first passers to get some work in.
As the afternoon continued, however, Martell seemed to provide some highlights with his new teammates at Miami, suggesting there still could be a positive outlook moving forward for the Ohio State transfer. Martell ended the spring on a positive note by throwing for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
So maybe Martell just had a rough day in the previous scrimmage that was scrutinized heavily and maybe he showed to new Miami head coach Manny Diaz the ability to shrug that off his shoulder pads to come back strong the next time out. There could be some positive to be drawn from this performance, but whether that means Martell will elevate himself above Perry for the starting job is a bit of a reach right now.
With the spring in the books, Diaz and his staff will now be able to spend some time digging into everything that observed in the spring practices and scrimmages and determines what needs to be done in the summer leading up to the start of the new season. Martell is eligible to play for the Hurricanes this season after receiving approval from the NCAA for his waiver request after leaving Ohio State. Unlike some transfer quarterbacks, Martell didn’t walk into a spot where he is going to be given the starting job right away. If the spring is any indication, he needs to prove he is worthy of the starting job in Miami.