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UAB, Bill Clark reach agreement in principle on new contract

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Not once but twice Bill Clark has helped to resurrect UAB football.  This time, and after a couple of years of lip service, he’s being rewarded financially.

Friday night, the university announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with its head football coach to extend and enhance his current contract.  The new agreement is subject to the approval of the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, which is expected to happen at some point in the next couple of weeks.

“UAB football is enjoying great success on and off the field under Coach Clark’s leadership,” athletic director Mark Ingram said in a statement. “We are very optimistic about our future and look forward to Coach Clark being here for a long time.

“I want to thank Dr. Watts and his team and the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees for their unwavering support during this process.”

In his first season in 2014, Clark took over a Blazers team that had won eight games the previous three years combined and turned it into one that went 6-6 in that inaugural campaign.  In December of that year, president Ray Watts announced the controversial decision to axe the football program; six months later, the same administration reversed course and announced that the program would (ultimately) be reinstated for the 2017 season.

In this first year back, the Blazers are 5-3 and in line for the program’s second-ever bowl bid and first since the 2004 season.

“[Wife] Jennifer and I want to thank the Blazer students, fans, the Birmingham community, Dr. Watts, Mark Ingram, the UAB administration, the University Board of Trustees and the Athletics Foundation for their support of the return of UAB Football,” Clark said in his statement. “We also want to thank our players, coaches and staff for the hard work and commitment they have made for our program to be successful in the classroom, in life and on the football field.

“We appreciate the opportunity we’ve been given at UAB. The commitment UAB is making to us with this contract extension will allow us to continue the work that we’ve begun with this football program for many years to come. GO BLAZERS!”

Clark’s new five-year contract would extend him through the 2022 season.  The first year of the deal will pay him $900,000, up from the $630,000 he was scheduled to earn in 2017. That new figure will, along with FIU’s Butch Davis, make him the fourth-highest paid head coach in Conference USA (per USA Today) behind UT-San Antonio’s Frank Wilson ($1.14 million), North Texas’ Seth Littrell ($991,400) and FAU’s Lane Kiffin ($950,000).

In the last year of his contract, Clark right now is scheduled to be paid $1.015 million.

Report: Baylor LB DeMarco Artis, WR Rajah Preciado leave team

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Baylor linebacker DeMarco Artis and wide receiver Rajah Preciado have left the team, according to a report from SicEm365The site reports that the pair leave the program on good terms; both players are still on the online roster as well as the paper roster that was distributed at Big 12 media days on Monday.

Artis was a rising sophomore from Sanford, Fla. He appeared in six games as a true freshman in 2017, recording one tackle and one hurry.

Preciado was a junior from College Station, Texas. Appearing in 18 games over his freshman and sophomore seasons, Preciado did not record a catch but posted 14 career tackles and returned one kickoff for 10 yards.

 

 

Former Ohio State defensive MVP Mike Kudla passes away

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Former Ohio State defensive end Mike Kudla passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, according to a Facebook post from his high school alma mater, Highland High School in Medina, Ohio. Kudla was 34.

Kudla signed with Ohio State in 2002 and immediately helped the Buckeyes to their first national championship since 1968. He would go on to become one of the top 15 sack artists in Ohio State history, a First Team All-Big Ten performer and Ohio State’s defensive MVP in 2005. He recorded 41 tackles, 11.5 TFLs and 9.5 sacks.

Kudla worked in business after football and eventually returned to Ohio State in 2012 as managing director of development for the Fisher College of Business. At the time of his death, Kudla worked as the owner of Core Plex, which “built medical facilities all over the country.”

“Despite his success on and off the football field, Mike remained humble and was extremely generous with his time and resources,” Highland school district director of communications Dawn Marzano wrote in the Facebook post. “He was always willing to share his experience and mentor youth. He was loved and respected by many and will be missed terribly.”

Lincoln Riley suggests there is a competition for QB that nobody should believe

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It’s a standard procedure for a head coach to suggest there is an open competition for any number of positions on a football team, but nobody seems to be buying the idea there is a competition at Oklahoma to replace Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. And when one of the players supposedly in the running for the job has a lucrative baseball career on the table, the idea is a little more comical.

Kyler Murray was drafted by the Oakland A’s with the No. 9 overall pick in the recent amateur MLB amateur draft. His contract with the A’s guarantees him $5 million and still allows for him to play one more year of football, which Murray has stated is his plan at Oklahoma. Still, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley addressed the quarterback situation at Big 12 media days on Monday and suggested Murray will have to win the job against redshirt sophomore Austin Kendall.

“Kyler’s not the quarterback yet,” Riley said when asked how the offense will change with Riley at the position following the departure of No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Mayfield to Cleveland. “There’s a really good competition going on and Kyler’s gonna have to fight like crazy to win this job.”

Sure. OK. Whatever you say, Riley.

It is worth noting Murray appeared in seven games for the Sooners last season with 18-of-21 for 359 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in backup duty for Mayfield. Kendall redshirted last season and was named one of the team’s Offensive Scout Team Players of the Year. Kendall did make appearances in two games in 2016 in a back-up role. While Kendall may have a bright future in Norman, few are willing to accept Oklahoma is welcoming back Murray to potentially be a back-up quarterback when he could jump right into his pro baseball career right now.

But this could just be nothing more than the latest example of a coach simply setting the tone for the offseason and holding the bar high for even the most talented of players on the roster. Riley may be blowing smoke, but it could also pay off in the long run of the 2018 season.

Tennessee DL Ryan Thaxton suspended, charged with domestic assault

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Tennessee defensive lineman Ryan Thaxton has been suspended by the football program after being arrested and charged for an alleged domestic assault of his girlfriend. The incident leading to the arrest and charge occurred over the weekend.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Thaxton was arrested Sunday night and charged with domestic assault and false imprisonment. According to police records, Thaxton is accused of pushing his girlfriend to his dorm room while she refused to follow him. It is reported Thaxton than carried the unidentified woman to his dorm room and blocked the door so she could not leave as an argument continued inside the room.

“We are aware of the incident,” a statement from Tennessee read. “The student-athlete has been suspended from all team activities while law enforcement and the university investigates.”

Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt is scheduled to address the media at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.