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Arkansas dismisses Bret Bielema as head coach

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Well, that didn’t take very long at all. Or, for some Arkansas fans, maybe it took too long.

Arkansas has officially parted ways with Bret Bielema as head coach of the Razorbacks. The official announcement was made minutes after Arkansas ended their regular season with a home loss to Missouri, with a press conference scheduled for Friday evening.

“Shortly after the completion of today’s game, I met with Coach Bret Bielema and informed him of our decision to move forward with new leadership in the Razorback Football program,” interim athletic director Julie Cromer Peoples said in a statement. “During the course of the past five seasons, we have not been able to sustain the success on the field that is expected and required at the University of Arkansas.

“There is no question that Coach Bielema has been a valued and respected member of our department and has made a positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes, including supporting them in their pursuit of graduation. We are grateful for his contributions to our program and most importantly his investment in the lives of our student-athletes. We wish him the very best both personally and professionally.

“Our goal has been and will always be to compete and win in the SEC and nationally. I firmly believe that with all that the University of Arkansas has to offer, including our history and tradition, our facilities, our passionate fan base and competing in the nation’s best conference, we will attract the interest of many of the top coaches in the nation.”

Bielema came to Arkansas with as solid reputation as you could find at the time at the end of the 2012 season. After guiding Wisconsin to a third-straight Rose Bowl appearance (Bielema left Wisconsin prior to coaching the third Rose Bowl in that run), Bielema was expected to be able to bring a model of consistent winning to the Arkansas program. Bielema claimed he made the decision to leave Wisconsin for Arkansas because he would have a better chance to compete for a national championship with the Razorbacks, but the wins never piled up the way he and Arkansas leaders and fans envisioned.

In five years at Arkansas, Bielema was 29-24 with an even more lopsided result in SEC play over the years. In 2017, Arkansas finished the year with a second losing season under Bielema, and late in the season the school also fired the man who originally hired Bielema, former athletics director Jeff Long.

Arkansas joins Florida, Tennessee, and Ole Miss among SEC schools now looking for a new head coach.

Kansas JUCO the landing spot for Oregon transfer LB Ge’mon Eaford

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An erstwhile member of the Oregon football program has decided on a new collegiate home.  And at a much lower level of the sport.

According to James Crepea of The Oregonian, Ge’mon Eaford has elected to transfer to Fort Scott Community College in the great state of Kansas.  An Oregon football official subsequently confirmed that the linebacker left the Ducks for the JUCO.

Crepea wrote that Eaford “left Oregon to return to his native Deerfield Beach, Florida two weeks ago [and] posted several cryptic messages to Instagram alluding to playing in Kansas.” It’s expected that Eaford will spend the 2020 season (if there is one) at that level before moving back to the FBS.

Eaford was a four-star member of the Oregon football Class of 2019. The Sunshine State native was the No. 10 outside linebacker in the country on the 247Sports.com composite.  Only three defensive signees in the Ducks’ 26-man class that year were rated higher than Eaford.

As a true freshman, Eaford appeared in 10 games.  Most of that action, though, came on special teams.  He did, however, see 28 snaps on defense and was credited with a tackle in that limited action.

Eaford is one of the few Ducks who have flown the Oregon football coop the past few months.  Running back Darrian Felix opted to enter the NCAA transfer database following the Pac-12 championship game last year.  He transferred to USF, where he was granted immediate eligibility.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott tests positive for COVID-19

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It was quite the eventful day for the Pac-12 on the news front.  Not exactly the kind of headlines the conference wants, though.  At all.

Earlier this evening, the Pac-12 announced that, like the Big Ten, it will be going with a conference-only schedule for fall sports, including football.  Not long after, the conference announced that its commissioner, Larry Scott, has tested positive for COVID-19.

After experiencing mild flu-like symptoms late this week and out of an abundance of caution, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott was tested for COVID-19.  The test for Commissioner Scott came back positive, and as a result he is self-quarantining at the direction of his physician.  Commissioner Scott is continuing to carry on his duties remotely as normal.

The 55-year-old Scott took over as the commissioner of the conference in July of 2009.  Prior to that, he was the chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association.

His current contract is set to expire in 2022.  However, there is talk that league leaders are discussing buying out Scott’s contract prior to that.

There’s serious talk amongst the Pac-12 CEO Group,” said one high-level conference administrator, “to end his contract ahead of the expiration date to have a fighting chance to save the (conference) Networks.

PAC-12 joins Big Ten in going conference-only for 2020 football season

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Thanks to the Pac-12, the Big Ten has football scheduling company.

Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed reports that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  All other fall sports are impacted in the same way.  It was expected that the ACC and Pac-12 would quickly follow suit.  The ACC, though, released a statement earlier Friday in which that conference revealed it won’t make a decision on. Fall sports until late July.

The Pac-12, however, isn’t waiting as that league announced Friday evening that it too will be going to a conference-only football schedule.  As was the case with the Big Ten, this will apply to all fall sports as well.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in a statement. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”

“Competitive sports are an integral part of the educational experience for our student-athletes, and we will do everything that we can to support them in achieving their dreams while at the same time ensuring that their health and safety is at the forefront,” said Michael Schill, Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and President of the University of Oregon.

According to the conference, “student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics during the coming academic year because of safety concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.”

The Pac -12 expects to announce its conference-only schedules, including for football, no later than July 31.

Among the games impacted by this decision are Alabama-USC and Texas A&M-Colorado. It had previously been discussed that Alabama could replace USC with TCU for the opener. Whether that is still in play remains to be seen.

Both the Big 12 and SEC are expected to announce its plans by the end of the month.

Toledo announces creation of GoFundMe page to assist the family of Jahneil Douglas, the Rockets DL who was shot and killed earlier this week

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Toledo is doing what it can for those close to one of its fallen football players.

According to reports coming out of the area Wednesday, a man was shot dead following an argument outside of a pizza joint in the city.  It was subsequently confirmed that the victim was Rockets defensive lineman Jahneil Douglas.

“The University and all of Rocket Nation mourn the death of junior football player Jahneil Douglas, who was shot in an incident in Toledo last night,” UT’s athletic department wrote in a tweet.

Subsequent to that, Toledo head coach Jason Candle issued his own statement on the 22-year-old Douglas’ death.

“The Toledo football family is heartbroken by the loss of Jahneil,” the fifth-year coach wrote. “He was a bright and hard-working young man who was loved by all his teammates and coaches. Our sincerest condolences go out to Jahneil’s family and friends during these difficult times. Jahneil will forever be a part of the Rocket football family.”

Thursday, the Toledo football program announced that a GoFundMe page has been created to support Douglas’ family.  Below is the school’s release:

The fund will help pay for funeral costs, as well as assist Douglas’ children.

The page was started by former teammate Mitchell Guadagni, the Rockets’ starting quarterback the past two seasons.

“We all loved Jahneil and we loved his family,” said Guadagni. “(Former Rocket teammate) Nate Childress and I were talking about Jahneil and decided we wanted to do something to help his family and his beautiful children. Jahneil will always be a Rocket and he will always be in our hearts.”

Toledo Head Football Coach Jason Candle said he is proud of the way the players have come together to help their teammate’s family.

“Yesterday was a terrible day for the Rocket Football family,” said Candle. “We are still reeling from the loss of JD. Coming together as a family is important during these trying times, and I am happy to see our Rockets step up like this. JD’s impact will be forever felt on Toledo Football.”

UToledo Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien added that a scholarship fund in Douglas’ name will be forthcoming.

“This has been such a tragic loss for Jahneil’s family and for our football program,” said O’Brien. “Jahneil was a fine young man and a great Rocket, so we felt it was only fitting to create some kind of lasting legacy to honor his memory.”

Click HERE to access the link to the GoFundMe page for Jahneil Douglas’ family or go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/22ey4h9x6o