Associated Press

Troy makes Big Easy work of North Texas in New Orleans Bowl

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Troy jumped out to a big lead early, watched it dwindle to two points by halftime, then jumped out to another large lead to begin the second half and held onto it this time, exploding for a 50-30 win over North Texas in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

After watching a potential 29-7 lead in the second quarter turn into a 22-20 lead with North Texas getting the ball to open the second half, Troy intercepted North Texas quarterback Mason Fine at the Mean Green 27, which Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers capitalized on by hitting Damion Willis for a 24-yard fade and then scored one play later on a 1-yard keeper, giving Troy a 29-20 lead at the 13:33 mark of the third quarter.

The Trojans forced a three-and-out on UNT’s next drive, then moved 92 yards in just five plays, scoring on a 59-yard strike from Silvers to Tevaris McCormick. North Texas attempted to climb back in the game with a 13-play march, but Fine was sacked on a 3rd-and-3 play from the Troy 6-yard line and Mean Green head coach Seth Littrell elected for a 24-yard Trevor Moore field goal rather than a do-or-die fourth-down conversion, pulling the score to 36-23 at the 4:26 mark of the third quarter.

North Texas forced a three-and-out and accepted the ball at its own 33 with a chance to climb back in the game, but Tyler Murray effectively ended it by sacking Fine and forcing his third turnover inside UNT territory. The Trojans hopped on the ball at the Mean Green 13 and, after a penalty, scored on a 20-yard strike from Silvers (24-of-31 for 306 yards) to John Johnson, putting the game out of reach at 43-23 with 2:02 left in the third quarter.

The dagger came when North Texas coughed up its fourth minus-territory turnover of the game, a Michael Lawrence fumble at the UNT 47, and Silvers hit Willis for his fourth passing touchdown of the game and fifth total score, a 10-yard strike with 4:07 left in the game.

Fine completed the scoring with a 17-yard cosmetic touchdown pass to Turner Smiley with 28 seconds left. The Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, Fine completed 30-of-54 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns while getting sacked six times and turning the ball over four times. Playing without leading rusher Jeffrey Wilson, North Texas mustered only 50 yards on running plays. Overall, Troy won the turnover battle 5-2 and out-gained the Mean Green 437-295.

The win allows Troy to conclude its best season since joining the Sun Belt in 2004. The Trojans claimed their first SBC crown since 2009, won their fourth bowl game ever and registered their first 11-win season since doing so as an FCS member in 1999. North Texas (9-5) dropped to 1-4 in its five New Orleans Bowl appearances, slunk to 2-7 all-time in bowl games, missed a shot at its first 10-win season since 1947 and fell to 2-9 all-time against Troy.

Troy accepted the ball to open the game and promptly rolled 80 yards in nine plays, capped by a 1-yard Josh Anderson scoring run. The Trojans immediately pushed the lead to two scores when North Texas quarterback Fine was sacked and fumbled at his own 14, setting up Anderson’s second touchdown run of the first half of the first quarter. Silvers hit Johnson for a 2-point conversion to stake the Trojans to a 15-0 lead at the 9:21 mark of the opening frame.

The Mean Green went three-and-out on their next possession but, facing the prospect of getting buried for the game in just the first quarter, the North Texas defense rose up when Joshua Wheeler sacked Silvers on third down at the Troy 39. The UNT offense awoke with an 11-play, 75-yard drive culminating in a 12-yard pass from Fine to Rico Bussey, Jr.

Anderson immediately responded with a 55-yard run on the final play of the first quarter, and Silvers completed the drive four plays later with a 7-yard strike to Willis at the 14:24 mark of the second quarter. North Texas attempted to return service with another touchdown, but Fine under-threw a wide open Bussey on 3rd-and-2 from the Troy 31 and his fourth down pass to Michael Lawrence was dropped.

Troy threatened to push its lead to three touchdowns on its next drive, moving to the North Texas 22, when disaster struck — a snap went over Silvers’s head and was scooped up by the Mean Green’s Colton McDonald, who returned the loose pigskin 56 yards for a touchdown. Fine’s 2-point conversion rush failed, but North Texas was still within 22-13 with 5:49 left in the first half.

North Texas had a golden opportunity to pull within one score of the Trojans when Kishawn McClain intercepted Silvers at the UNT 46 on Troy’s first play of the ensuing possession, but the Mean Green were forced to punt after just one first down.

But North Texas forced its third straight stop, this drive ended by another Wheeler sack, and Fine capitalized with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Lawrence with 49 seconds left before the break to pull the Mean Green within two.

Attorney: Dozens of former Buckeye football players among ex-Ohio State team physician’s victims

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An attorney preparing a lawsuit against Ohio State says that most of his 50 clients victimized by former Buckeye team Dr. Richard Strauss were former Buckeye football players.

Dayton-based attorney Michael Wright told the Associated Press some of his clients, all of whom remain anonymous at this time, went on to play in the NFL. “Clearly they had good relationships with the university, and they believe the university will either retaliate or significantly distance themselves from these athletes,” Wright said.

Strauss’ abuse of Ohio State athletes has been in the news lately, but his actions have been primarily focused on the Buckeyes’ wrestling program. Former wrestler Mike DiSabato met with Ohio State in March 2018 to discuss the abuse he says he and other athletes suffered at Strauss’ hands, prompting the school to hire the Seattle-based Perkins Coie law firm. That firm released a 232-page report on Friday that found Strauss abused at least 177 male students; the report made one specific reference to football, and said three former football players were interviewed.

“We find that University personnel had knowledge of Strauss’ sexually abusive treatment of male student-patients as early as 1979, but the complaints about Strauss’ conduct were not elevated beyond the Athletics Department of Student Health until 1996,” the report stated.

Strauss worked for Ohio State from 1979 through 1998. He committed suicide in 2005.

“Although a weight has been lifted off my back, I am deeply saddened to hear and relive the stories of so many others who suffered similar abuse by Dr. Strauss while Ohio State turned a blind eye,” DiSabato’s said in a statement.

Part of the reason the public discourse has centered on Ohio State’s wrestling program is because Jim Jordan, a U.S. Representative from Ohio’s fourth district, served as an assistant coach for the Buckeyes’ wrestling team from 1987 through ’95. Jordan maintains he knew nothing of Strauss’ actions.

But Wright’s lawsuit could broaden the scope and discussion of Strauss’ abuse and Ohio State’s knowledge therein, particularly if any of the victims come forward. Wright told the AP he plans to file his lawsuit late next week.

Former Oregon WR Keanon Lowe thwarts potential school shooting

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Former Oregon wide receiver Keanon Lowe performed an all-too-common act of heroism on Friday when he thwarted a potential school shooting before it could begin.

The incident occurred at Portland’s Parkrose High School, where witnesses saw 18-year-old Angel Granados Dias dressed in a dark trench coat and brandishing a shotgun in the doorway of a classroom. Students immediately began fleeing the room, but Lowe managed to tackle Dias before he fired any shots. Dias did not fire any shots or point the gun at anyone, according to the Portland Police Department. He was taken into police custody early Sunday morning, according to The Oregonian.

“Incidents such as the one that occurred today strikes the worst fear in the hearts of students and parents,” Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a statement. “The officers and school staff worked together to respond quickly and ensure the safety of all involved. I commend the school staff member who displayed quick actions and bravery when he confronted the subject.”

“At some point, a staff member at the high school confronted him,” police said in a statement. “A Portland Police School Resource Officer and other officers arrived and immediately entered the school and found the staff member detaining the subject in the hallway.”

Lowe played wide receiver for the Ducks from 2011-14, where he caught 68 career passes for 891 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a member of the 2014 Oregon squad that won the Pac-12 championship and the Rose Bowl and reached the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship, Lowe hauled in 28 grabs for 414 yards and five touchdowns. Lowe worked as an analyst for the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers before joining the Parkrose staff. The 2018 campaign was his firs at the school.

“I think (Lowe) deserves a lot of credit for his bravery,” Parkrose student Elijah Reginald told The Oregonian. “If it wasn’t for him, someone could have gotten hurt or potentially lost their life.”

Iowa, Iowa State football accounts knocked off Twitter

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If you’re in charge of communications for a major college football program, the third Saturday in May should be one of the rare times in the year when you can relax. Spring football is over, and the season is still months in the distance.

Except if you’re in charge of messaging for a major program in the state of Iowa. Then you’ve had quite a Saturday.

Both Iowa and Iowa State saw their football programs’ official Twitter accounts shut down on Saturday. Both accounts, @HawkeyeFootball and @CycloneFB, were suspended, with a standard note saying, “Twitter suspends accounts that violate the Twitter Rules.” Each account remains shut down as of this writing, hours after they were originally knocked offline.

Twitter’s landing page for suspended accounts says accounts are commonly shut down for one of three reasons:

Spam: Most of the accounts we suspend are suspended because they are spammy, or just plain fake, and they introduce security risks for Twitter and all of our users. These types of accounts are against our Twitter Rules. Unfortunately, sometimes a real person’s account gets suspended by mistake, and in those cases we’ll work with the person to make sure the account is unsuspended.

Account security at risk: If we suspect an account has been hacked or compromised, we may suspend it until it can be secured and restored to the account owner in order to reduce potentially malicious activity caused by the compromise.

Abusive Tweets or behavior: We may suspend an account if it has been reported to us as violating our Rules surrounding abuse. When an account engages in abusive behavior, like sending threats to others or impersonating other accounts, we may suspend it temporarily or, in some cases, permanently.

Since neither account was engaged in spam or abusive behavior, the most likely factors are that a rogue actor was attempting to hack the accounts, or that they were unwittingly posting copyrighted material. The fact that both programs in the state of Iowa were the only ones among the 24 combined Big Ten and Big 12 programs is certainly suspicious.

Both programs told the Des Moines Register they are looking into the matter.

 

EA Sports would be interested in reviving ‘NCAA Football’ franchise if rules change

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College sports is a big business, as everyone including Dabo Swinney knows. So big, in fact, that it served as the inspiration for a major video game franchise you may have heard of: NCAA Football, by EA Sports.

EA Sports began producing college football titles with Bill Walsh College Football in 1993, an obvious companion to the NFL’s Madden series. The franchise rebranded to NCAA Football in 1997 and continued until the final edition, NCAA Football 14, which hit shelves on July 9, 2013.

And then it all stopped.

The Ed O’Bannon suit ended the gravy train, when a federal court ruled EA Sports had illegally licensed college football players’ likenesses without compensating them. EA paid out $60 million in settlements and promptly stopped licensing the game from the NCAA.

But that could change, maybe.

With Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) launching separate crusades against the NCAA’s amateurism model, the NCAA announced last week it has formed a committee to review its NLI rules before the federal government does it for them. And if the NCAA grants NLI athletes to its athletes? Hello, NCAA Football 21. Said former NCAA Football executive producer Ben Haumiller to 247Sports:

“We loved making college football games. If the opportunity ever presented itself we’d be very interested in potentially getting back into that space.”

Now, we’re still a long way from the NCAA opening the floodgates on NLI payments. Amateurism is the core tenet of the NCAA until it’s not.

But if and when the day comes when college sports no longer demands its players play something other than cash, well, college sports is a big business and EA would like to cash in just as much as everybody else.