Sonny Dykes began Wednesday full of optimism thanks to the early National Signing Day and the initial crop of recruits in his first SMU recruiting class. The new head coach on the Hilltop ended Wednesday night full of despair however, as his old team of Louisiana Tech laid an absolute beatdown on his new one in the Frisco Bowl by a 51-10 margin that really didn’t indicate how lopsided the game was.
All told, the Mustangs turned the ball over six times in the game — five in the first half, including two pick-sixes and a fumble on the very first play. It was a theme that was repeated early and often and probably a reminder that there’s a reason that new head coaches don’t coach their new team in a bowl game after a week on campus for good reason.
About the only thing that didn’t go the way of the Bulldogs came on their first drive as they squandered the opening fumble by shanking a field goal attempt in the red zone. That didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things as quarterback J’Mar Smith played nearly perfectly on all those short drives, throwing for 216 yards and a trio of touchdowns while also running one in on a fourth down sneak. Not a bad little performance with a school legend like Terry Bradshaw looking on from the sidelines.
Wideout Teddy Veal was the top target in the passing game and recorded five catches for 118 yards and a pair of scores as he got behind the defense numerous times. He formed a pretty hefty one-two punch with running back Boston Scott, who added another 110 yards on the ground to round out the offensive attack that simply took what SMU gave them up-and-down the field.
Skip Holtz’ defense was the real star of the show though, looking a good two steps faster than their opponents despite limping in with a .500 record as a team. Amik Robertson hauled in a 45 yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter while teammate Darryl Lewis followed things up with a 23 yard pick-six of his own in the second quarter as the Tech defense would have nearly won the game on their own even without their offense putting up points a plenty.
On the flip side, it appeared that SMU starter Ben Hicks spent too much of the bowl prep explaining the offense to his new head coach and not enough time getting ready for the game itself. The quarterback would up with three interceptions on the night (after tossing just nine all year) and needed several late drives to finish with 127 yards and a score. His inability to throw the ball to the right team hampered the send off of star wideout Courtland Sutton before he left for the NFL, though the latter did manage 68 yards on the night against some pretty tight coverage.
Louisiana native Trey Quinn also caught eight passes for 45 yards and a touchdown while Xavier Jones ran for 56 yards to lead the team on the ground in a very forgettable postseason return.
It wasn’t how any of them imagined things unfolding just up the road in the Dallas suburb of Frisco on Wednesday night though. Instead, just about everything went the way of Louisiana Tech as they gave their old coach from just a few years ago a rude introduction to his SMU tenure after a wild day of emotions for many in college football.
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 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.”
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.
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.