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UCLA relieves Jim Mora of head coach duties effective immediately

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UCLA has announced it has relieved head coach Jim Mora of his coaching duties effective immediately. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch will take over as the team’s interim coach for the remainder of the season.

“Making a coaching change is never easy, but it’s an especially difficult decision when you know that a coach has given his all to our University,” UCLA athletics director Dan Guerrero in a released statement. “Jim helped reestablish our football program, and was instrumental in so many ways in moving the program forward. While his first four seasons at UCLA were very successful, the past two seasons have not met expectations. We thank Jim and his family for his service to our school and his unquestionable commitment to our student-athletes.”

Mora was in his sixth season as the head coach of the Bruins and it was largely a run that had some promise at times but never fully took advantage of a division that included a USC program held back by NCAA sanctions. Mora coached UCLA to two 10-win seasons in 2013 and 2014 and has seen his win totals hit 8, 4 and 5 wins in the three seasons since. What makes the Mora legacy so frustrating is he had talent to work with. Among solid recruiting classes during his time at UCLA, Mora coached two NFL quarterbacks in Brett Hundley and Josh Rosen as well as one of the top defensive players in recent years (Myles Jack) still failed to deliver a Pac-12 championship. Mora was 46-30 as UCLA’s head coach, but the trends were heading in the wrong direction at a time when crosstown rival USC continues to be rising, thus increasing the pressure for UCLA to keep up.

UCLA’s loss on Saturday night to the Trojans dropped UCLA to 5-6 on the season, leaving the Bruins in need of a win this week against Cal in order to become bowl eligible (without hoping for vacancies needing to be filled by 5-win teams). USC will play for the Pac-12 championship a year after going winning the Rose Bowl in the stadium UCLA calls home.

The UCLA job is one that should be expected to draw some interesting names to the rumor mill. Among them could end up being Chip Kelly, who doesn’t feel like a great fit in the SEC and has past success in the Pac-12 while at Oregon. UCLA’s release confirms the school will begin a national search for a new head coach.

Tua Tagovailoa’s injury means little brother won’t be able to redshirt at Alabama this season

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Tua Tagovailoa‘s Injury Heard ‘Round the College Football World last Saturday, as it turns out, won’t just impact Alabama’s push for a sixth consecutive playoff berth.

Prior to Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury, Alabama had planned on redshirting Tagovailoa’s younger brother, Taulia Tagovailoa, who had been serving as the Crimson Tide’s No. 3 quarterback as a true freshman this season.  As the third-string quarterback, the younger Tagovailoa had played in four games in 2019, the threshold of appearances for a player to still maintain the ability to redshirt.

Because of the injury to his brother, however, Nick Saban confirmed Thursday that Tagovailoa will play Saturday against FCS Western Carolina, meaning a redshirt will officially be off the table.

We’re gonna play him this week in this game some kind of way regardless of how the game goes to try to get him some experience, some playing time and hopefully some confidence,” the head coach said on his weekly radio show. “When we had the unfortunate injury last week to Tua, that kind of negated the opportunity to be able to redshirt to Taulia. …

“With him being now the backup quarterback, we thought we needed to play him, because if something happens to this quarterback, Mac Jones, he’s going to be the guy that’s got to go in the game and try to win the game for us.”

A four-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2019 recruiting class, Tagovailoa was rated as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Alabama (he and his family moved to Tuscaloosa when his brother joined the Tide in 2017).  In limited action this season, Tagovailoa has completed seven-of-nine passes for 72 yards.

Tagovailoa will now serve as the redshirt sophomore Jones’ primary backup moving forward, and those two will compete for the starting job next year if the older Tagovailoa brother does the expected and enters the 2020 NFL Draft.

DB Deon White leaving Cal as a grad transfer

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After a stellar spring game, the stage seemed to be set for Deon White to shine in what would’ve been his last season at Cal.  Instead, the defensive back will finish his collegiate career at an undetermined elsewhere.

Via Twitter earlier this week, White announced that he has decided to leave the Golden Bears and transfer to another school.  As White would be departing with a bachelor’s degree in hand, he would be eligible to play at another FBS school in 2020.

Next season would serve as White’s final year of eligibility as he will take a redshirt for the 2019 campaign.

After beginning his career at a California junior college, White played in a dozen games during his first season with the Bears in 2018.  During this year’s spring game, he totaled a team-high seven tackles and two tackles for loss.

Despite all of that, White had played in just one game this season prior to his decision to enter the portal.

Broken jaw leaves Pitt’s top WR a game-time decision

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If Pitt is to keep its ACC Coastal hopes alive this weekend, they may have to do so (again) without a very productive piece of its offensive puzzle.

Maurice Ffrench suffered a broken jaw in Pitt’s Nov. 2 win over Georgia Tech, then was sidelined for this past week’s win over North Carolina.  With a trip to Blacksburg on tap for this Saturday, Ffrench is official a game-time decision for the matchup with Virginia Tech.

“He’s practiced this week,” head coach Pat Narduzzi said, noting that the senior was in non-contact mode. “His jaw is better than it was before.”

Ffrench had a steel plate inserted into his broken jaw, which will give him a better chance of seeing the field this weekend.

Ffrench currently leads all ACC players in receptions (75) and receptions per game (8.3).  The receptions per game are also third nationally.

Pitt is 4-2 in ACC play entering Week 13, tied with Virginia Tech for second place in the Coastal and a half-game behind first-place Virginia (5-2).  The Panthers have already lost the Cavaliers this year, meaning they would need UVa to lose its last conference game of the regular season (Nov. 29 against rival Tech) in addition to winning each of their last two games (at Tech, home vs. Boston College) in order to earn a spot opposite Clemson in the ACC championship game.

Dismissed by South Carolina, ex-USC DB Jamel Cook enters transfer portal

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Jamel Cook‘s roller coaster ride of a collegiate career officially includes a stop at the portal; whether it’ll include a third stop at an FBS school remains to be seen.

Late last month, following an arrest on one count of second-degree domestic violence, Cook was dismissed from the South Carolina football program.  Following up on speculation from earlier in the week, an East Coast USC official has confirmed that the defensive back’s name is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.

Cook was originally a four-star member of the Left Coast USC’s 2016 signing class, rated as the No. 17 player at any position in the state of Florida.  He played in three games in two years for the Trojans before transferring to the Gamecocks following the 2017 season.  Because of NCAA transfer rules, the defensive back was forced to sit out the 2018 season.

This year, Cook had appeared in one game prior to his off-field issue.