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Luke Del Rio heads to locker room with trainer

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A week after being steamrolled at home by Alabama, Vanderbilt appears to be much more competitive this week on the road against Florida with the teams tied 17-17 at halftime. If Florida is going to avoid taking a loss at home, the hopes may have to be placed in the hands of quarterback Feleipe Franks after Luke Del Rio headed off to the locker room a few minutes before halftime with a trainer.

After three back-and-forth three-and-outs to start the game by both offenses, Florida finally got the ball rolling with a 10-play touchdown drive capped by Lamical Perine scoring the first rushing touchdown by a Gators running back in a year. But Vanderbilt answered with a touchdown drive of their own. The Commodores marched 75 yards in seven plays with Kyle Shurmur completing a 13-yard pass to Kalija Lipscomb for the game-tying score.

The teams again exchanged touchdown drives a few possessions later to keep the game tight at 14-14. Vanderbilt took the 17-14 lead with a 42-yard field goal by Tommy Openshaw in the final minute of the half.

After taking over the offense, Franks tossed a deep ball down the field to Tyrie Cleveland for a 49-yard gain, but the Gators could not get in the end zone from a 1st and Goal from the nine-yard line in the time remaining in the half. The Gators settled for a field goal to tie the game heading to halftime.

Missouri WR Khmari Thompson makes move to the transfer portal

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After a couple of additions from the transfer portal, Missouri football has seen attrition via the same personnel vehicle.

On Twitter Monday, Khmari Thompson confirmed that he is leaving the Missouri football program.  Or, at least, entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.  The wide receiver also ran track at Mizzou.

“It’s been a blessing to attend, play football and run track for the University of Missouri the last two years,” Thompson wrote. “I’ve made some friendships and family bonds that will last a [lifetime]. I love my teammates here at Mizzou and wish nothing but the best in the future to come.  I wanna thank both the current coaching staff of Coach Drinkwitz and Coach Hamdan and also the former staff of Coach Odom for allowing me to grow not only as a better player but as a man. …

“I’ve received nothing but love from the fans and locals from the state of Missouri. After many conversations with my family concerning my future as a student-athlete, I have decided to enters the transfer portal to seek out the best place to utilize my remaining eligibility and pursue my education.  God bless everyone and I pray that my decision is respected.”

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Thompson was a three-star member of the Missouri football Class of 2018.  The Georgia native didn’t catch a pass for the Tigers.

Barring an unexpected development, Thompson would have to sit out the 2020 season if he transfers to another FBS school.  He would then have two years of eligibility starting in 2021.

Alabama announces OC Steve Sarkisian underwent heart surgery, expected to make full recovery

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A member of the Alabama football coaching staff is recovering from a non-coronavirus-related health issue.

In a release Tuesday, Alabama revealed that football assistant Steve Sarkisian underwent an annual physical last week.  During the course of the procedure, “it was determined that he needed a procedure to correct a congenital cardiovascular anomaly before it became an issue.” The specific heart issue wasn’t detailed.

Surgery was performed last Thursday, the school stated.  The offensive coordinator is back at his residence in Tuscaloosa and is expected to make a full recovery.

The health hiccup is the continuation of what’s been a bumpy last few years for Sarkisian.

In mid-October of 2015, USC announced that Sarkisian had been dismissed as the Trojans’ head football coach, one day after he was given an indefinite leave of absence because of alleged and ongoing alcohol issues.  It was alleged that USC had instituted a zero-tolerance policy when it came to Sarkisian and alcohol use.  Leading up to his dismissal, Sarkisian allegedly showed up to meetings intoxicated.

From 2009-15, Sarkisian was a head coach in the Pac-12 — at Washington (2009-13) and USC (2014-15).  He went 46-35 during his time in that league.  He also spent two separate stints totaling seven seasons (2001-03, 2005-08) as an assistant at USC.

Following his ugly exit from USC, Sarkisian joined the Alabama Crimson Tide football program as an offensive analyst for the 2016 season. When Lane Kiffin took the head job at FAU prior to the national championship game that year, Sarkisian served as the play-caller in the loss to Clemson.

Expected to take over as the Crimson Tide’s coordinator, and after reports that his relationship with Saban had deteriorated surfaced, Sarkisian instead left a month after the title game for a job in the NFL as the coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.  Sarkisian lasted two years in that job before he was fired in December of 2018.

A month later, he rejoined the Tide as offensive coordinator.

Utah State suspends unidentified football player over ‘inappropriate racial comments’

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Utah State is the latest college football program in the Beehive State dealing with a racially-charged issue.

Suspended over a 2013 text that contained racist language, Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley was allowed to keep his job but his salary was sliced in half.  Additionally, a verbal agreement to be the head coach-in-waiting for the Utes was rescinded last week.  A few days later, Utah State announced that one of its football players has been suspended because of inappropriate racial comments.

The name of the player was not divulged.  It’s also unclear as to just how the comments were delivered, whether via social media or otherwise.  There is, though, this from the Logan Herald Journal:

Several social media posts, including screenshots containing snippets of an exchange between the Aggie player in question and a former high school teammate, can be found on Twitter. The conversation revolved around the celebration of the 4th of July, with the former teammate commenting he would not be observing the holiday because of racial injustices involving the Founding Fathers.

Below is the statement from Utah State, attributed to head football coach Gary Andersen and athletic director John Hartwell.

We have been made aware of inappropriate racial comments made by a current student-athlete on our football team. This will not be tolerated and we have suspended the individual immediately, and pending an investigation will take appropriate action.

The Aggies are coming off a 7-6 record in their second first season under Andersen.  Anderson also served as the USU head coach from 2009-12.  In his final season in Logan during that first stint, Andersen led Utah State to a school-record 11 wins. That mark was matched six years later by Matt Wells.  That season helped Wells land the Texas Tech job.  And led Andersen back to USU.

State Fair of Texas canceled; both ADs hopeful Oklahoma-Texas game will be played

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Will the annual Oklahoma-Texas rivalry matchup go off this year? One data point would suggest it’s less likely today than yesterday.  The two schools, though, are still holding out hope.

Tuesday, the board of directors for the event announced that the State Fair of Texas will not be held this year.  The board stated it came to its decision “[a]fter extensive consideration of the current landscape related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health and safety of all fairgoers, staff, business partners, and overall community.” This marks the first time since Worl War II that the fair has been has been nixed.

Of course, the highlight of the State Fair of Texas, at least for college football fans, is the annual Oklahoma-Texas rivalry tilt at the Cotton Bowl.  The cancellation of the fair will have no impact on the game; the fate of that matchup will be decided by local and state authorities.

The respective athletic directors on both sides of the rivalry — Joe Castiglione of Oklahoma, Chris Del Conte of Texas — issued statements addressing the development.  Castiglione expressed ‘hope” that the game will be played.  Del Conte, meanwhile, stated that the UT side “fully anticipate[s]” the Red River Shootout being played as scheduled.

Below are the ADs statements, in their entirety.

CASTIGLIONE
We understand and respect the decision made by the State Fair of Texas and acknowledge that it was an extremely difficult one. Our hope remains that we can play the OU-Texas game at the Cotton Bowl, but obviously every aspect of our season requires constant monitoring and planning.  The best thing all of can do at this time is closely follow CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus.

DEL CONTE
Though we certainly respect and understand the decision of the folks on their cancellation of this year’s State Fair of Texas, we fully anticipate that our annual Red River Showdown with Oklahoma will be played in the Cotton Bowl and are continuing to prepare for that. We know the decision to cancel the fair was an extremely difficult one for everyone involved and that we are all dealing with a very fluid situation during these unprecedented times. But, as we’re doing with all of our fall season planning, we will continue to monitor the situation closely, work through contingencies and make the best possible decisions we can with the health, safety and well-being of everyone involved as a number one priority.

The Sooners have won the last two meetings and four of the last five, including a 34-27 win last season. This year’s game is scheduled for Oct. 10.