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Injuries, ejections and penalties the story of the first half of Music City Bowl

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Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson was taken off the field for further medical examination after appearing to injure his right leg on a trick play. Not long after that, an official tossed Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. from the game after making contact with an official. It’s been quite a first half in the Music City Bowl, where Northwestern leads Kentucky by a score of 17-7 at the half.

After Thorson hauled in a pass from Jeremy Larkin, Thorson appeared to injure his right leg before contact was made by the nearby Kentucky defender. The 23-yard gain was the result of a brilliant play call from the Northwestern sideline, but the loss of starting quarterback put the game on pause for a few moments before play resumed after Thorson was carted off.

Justin Jackson scored a touchdown on a five-yard run shortly after the Thorson injury. The run gave Northwestern a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. Earlier in the drive, Jackson became the 10th all-time leading rusher in college football history, passing Damion Fletcher of Southern Miss and Anthony Thompson of Indiana to move to No. 10 among FBS players. Jackson would add a second touchdown later in the second quarter to extend the Northwestern lead to 17-7. Matt Alviti came in to play quarterback for the Northwestern Wildcats.

On the ensuing possession, Kentucky’s top running back was ejected from the game after making contact with an official. The call, however, has left many wondering if the ref went a tad overboard with his decision. You decide for yourself if Snell should have been ejected for this?

The ref show once again popped up late in the second half when Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops and the Kentucky sideline appeared to want a late hit out of bounds call against Northwestern when quarterback Stephen Johnson was taken down on the sideline. No flag was called, until a ref decided to throw one on the Kentucky sideline for unsportsmanlike conduct. Johnson was taken off the field for possible medical attention, and he was seen jawing at a ref on his way off the field.

The officials didn’t just have all of their controversial calls on the Kentucky side. Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fisher was tossed from the game late in the first half for targeting, although it was one of many very questionable targeting calls we have seen in college football. It has not been a great day for this officiating crew, to say the least.

As the Music City Bowl goes to the second half, it is still up for grabs between the Wildcats of the Big Ten and SEC, if there are enough players to actually finish this game. Kentucky is looking for their first bowl victory since 2008. Northwestern is looking for back-to-back bowl wins

Arizona State LB Tyler Johnson returns from medical retirement

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Arizona State linebacker Tyler Johnson announced after the Sun Devils’ Sun Bowl win that he planned to retire from football for medical reasons. On Tuesday, Sun Devil Source reported Johnson has changed his mind.

A 6-foot-5, 258-pound junior defensive lineman, Johnson collected 22 tackles, 5.5 TFLs and 2.5 sacks in 2019 while battling injuries throughout.

Johnson recorded four sacks in the final seven games of his redshirt freshman season of 2018.

Considered one of Arizona State’s best pass rushers when healthy, Johnson is expected to move from linebacker to defensive end as the Sun Devils move from a 3-3-5 to a 4-3 scheme.

 

Mike Gundy says season should start on time because ‘we need to run money’ through state of Oklahoma

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In arguing that coaches should get back to work on May 1 and the season should start on time, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy inadvertently argued that college football players are professional athletes. That, or indentured servants.

In an hourlong teleconference Tuesday that began with a 20-minute monologue, Gundy said, though he’s not 100 percent, the season should begin on time because players are young and, thus, “have the ability to fight this virus off” and because “we need to run money through the state of Oklahoma.”

He also said there are “too many people that are relying on” college football the sport not to be played.

Gundy floated the idea that games could be played without fans in the stands and students on campus.

Others can debate about Gundy’s thoughts on testing and antibodies and the ability of a 22-year-old to “fight off COVID-19” — though I’d add Boise assistant Zac Alley, a 26-year-old, said his bout with the disease was like breathing with a knife in his ribs — but I’d like to talk about the economic implications of Gundy’s comments.

Gundy is not wrong at all that plenty of families depend on college athletics to put food on the table and that Cowboy football is an important economic engine of the state of Oklahoma. He’s exactly right, of course.

But to argue that a college scholarship is appropriate compensation for risking exposure to the virus while fans and students remain home — “We’re trying to find a way to pay everybody’s salary and keep the economy going.” — then either the players deserve a cut of that economy, or they’re nothing more than indentured servants whose labor belongs to others.

“I’m not taking away from the danger of people getting sick,” Gundy said. “You have the virus, stay healthy, try to do what we can to help people that are sick, and we’re losing lives, which is just terrible. The second part of it is that we still have to schedule and continue to move forward as life goes on and help those people.”

Boise State assistant reveals bout with COVID-19

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Boise State assistant coach Zac Alley revealed to reporters on Tuesday that is among the 392,000 and counting Americans to test positive for COVID-19. And he said it was terrible.

“I had no symptoms, no anything, and in about a 24-hour period I went from 0 to 100,” Alley told the Idaho Press. “I just had some sharp pains in my chest and all that. It got to a point that night where I was pretty short of breath and couldn’t breathe, and thankfully my girlfriend was like ‘we’re going to the ER’. When we got there they were saying thank God you came in.

“Every breath was kind of like taking a knife and sticking it through your ribs.”

Alley, 26, is in his second year on Boise State’s staff, where he coaches the Broncos’ outside linebackers and co-coordinates the special teams. He spent his previous eight years at Clemson as an undergraduate and graduate assistant.

He said he and his girlfriend quarantined at home as all good citizens have, and the only place he’d ventured out was the grocery store, where he theorizes he contracted the coronavirus from a shopping cart.

“As a young healthy person I didn’t think it would affect me as drastically as it did,” Alley said. “I mean my health deteriorated so fast and really I didn’t show any traditional symptoms of what they were saying other than the shortness of breath.”

Alley spent one day at the hospital but was discharged the same day. He is now symptom free.

Two ex-Nebraska football players accused of sexual assault expelled from the university

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Not surprisingly, two former Nebraska football players have found themselves s former students as well.

Citing a document obtained by ESPN, Paula Lavigne is reporting that redshirt freshmen Andre Hunt and Katerian LeGrone have been expelled from the University of Nebraska.  The expulsion was effective April 3 of this year.

In late August of last year, Nebraska confirmed that the two football players, Hunt, a wide receiver, and LeGrone, a tight end, had been indefinitely suspended by the program for unspecified reasons.  A little over three months later, it was reported that both of the players have been “found to have violated the school’s sexual misconduct policies and face a 2½-year suspension from the university.”

The extended suspension stemmed from an alleged rape of an NU student on Aug. 25 and, even as a police investigation remained open, no criminal charges had been filed.  There was a development on the legal front in mid-December, though, as LeGrone and Hunt were arrested on one count of suspicion of first-degree sexual assault and one count of suspicion of aiding and abetting first-degree sexual assault, respectively, even as neither had been formally charged at the time.

Yet another disturbing development surfaced around that same time as local media reported that an additional six sexual assault reports have been filed with the Lincoln Police Department that “are connected to either one or both of the former Husker players accused of sexual misconduct.” Four of the new reports involved non-consensual sexual penetration, three of which were designated as rape, while two included allegations of inappropriate touching of private parts.

“The additional six reports date back to the summer of 2018, with three of the alleged assaults occurring in the same UNL dorm room,” the Omaha World-Herald wrote.

As it relates to the incident that resulted in their arrests, Hunt and LeGrone have claimed that any sexual activity was consensual.  The alleged victim claimed it was non-consensual.

Hunt’s hearing on the two sexual assault charges was continued from April to May.  LeGrone’s hearing is scheduled for June.  Whether those court appearances go off as planned is uncertain because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In early December, Hunt and LeGrone entered the NCAA transfer database.  An attorney for Hunt, Carlos Monzon, told ESPN that his client is “already at a different university, and he’s playing.” Monzon declined to specify to which school Hunt had transferred.  LeGrone, meanwhile, is still listed in the portal.

A three-star 2018 signee, Hunt appeared in just two games as a true freshman and didn’t catch a pass.  Because he played in four or fewer games, he was able to use a redshirt for that season.  Prior to the suspension, he had been running with the first-team offense.

Legrone, also a three-star 2018 signee, caught one pass in three games for the Cornhuskers last season

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