Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

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

Leave a comment

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

Report: Nick Saban to stay in-house, promote Dan Enos to OC

Getty Images
Leave a comment

And for his fifth offensive coordinator since the beginning of the 2016 season, it appears Nick Saban will stay in-house.

Exactly one week ago, Maryland announced that Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley had been named as the Terrapins’ next head football coach.  While Locksley will remain with the Crimson Tide through the playoffs, Saban has apparently gone about the business of replacing him as FootballScoop.com is reporting that Dan Enos will be the team’s coordinator moving forward.

Enos spent the 2018 season, his first in Tuscaloosa, as the Tide’s quarterbacks coach.  He also carries the title of associate head coach.

Enos, who was a candidate for the Kansas job that ultimately went to Les Miles, was the head coach at Central Michigan for five seasons (2010-14).  After posting a 26-36 record with the Chippewas, which included a 7-6 mark in 2015, Enos abruptly left the MAC school to take the offensive coordinator job at Arkansas in January of 2015.  With Bret Bielema fired shortly after the end of the 2017 season, the 50-year-old Enos took a job on Jim Harbaugh‘s coaching staff in early January of this year… only to leave less than three weeks later for Alabama.

The coordinator job at Arkansas was Enos’ first at the FBS level.  And, as previously noted, Enos would be Saban’s fifth coordinator in less than three full seasons.

One week before the national championship game for the 2016 season, and after he was initially expected to remain in his job through the playoffs, it was announced that Lane Kiffin would be leaving Alabama for the head-coaching job at Florida Atlantic, effective immediately.  Kiffin was replaced by Steve Sarkisian, who called plays in the title game but then left a month later for a job in the NFL.  Brian Daboll replaced Sarkisian and lasted one season coordinating the Tide’s offense before he too left for the NFL.  Daboll remained with the Tide through their playoff run last season.

Tim Brown’s 1987 Heisman fetches record price at auction

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tim Brown has registered another entry on his record-setting résumé, albeit indirectly.

Last month, it was reported that Brown’s 1987 Heisman Trophy, which he sold to a private collector a year ago, would be going up for auction.  After online bidding began on Nov. 19 and closed Dec. 5, Sports Collectors Daily has reported that the stiff-armed trophy won by the former Notre Dame wide receiver sold for $435,763 over the weekend.

It’s believed it’s the highest amount ever paid for a Heisman.

“We believe this is one of the most significant trophies to ever be offered at auction and collectors agreed as the bidding was fierce,” said Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions. “It’s rare when a Heisman becomes available and even more unusual for it to be from an NFL Hall of Famer who played at the most storied college football program.”

Earlier this year, the Heisman Trophy of the late Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam sold for nearly $400,000, a record number for such an award at the time.

The family of Yale running back Clint Frank sold his 1937 trophy in October of this year for $317,000.  O.J. Simpson’s 1968 Trophy sold for $255,000 in 1999, while another former USC running back, Charles White, sold his Heisman for $184,000 in 2000.

Beginning in 1999, winners of the Heisman Trophy have been barred from selling their trophies by the trust that oversees the honor.

Report: Butch Jones leaving Alabama for job at Maryland

Getty Images
2 Comments

College Park is taking on a decidedly Tuscaloosa feel to it.

Earlier this month, Maryland confirmed that it had hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as its next head football coach.  Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, 247Sports.com is now reporting that Butch Jones is leaving Nick Saban‘s program for a spot on Locksley’s Terrapins coaching staff.

Jones, who met with Locksley earlier this month before agreeing to take the job, is expected to serve as the Terps’ tight ends coach.  He’ll also carry the title of associate head coach for the Big Ten program.

In March of this year, Saban added Jones to his Alabama football staff as an offensive analyst.  Jones, of course, was the head coach at rival Tennessee for nearly five seasons before he was summarily dismissed in mid-November of last year.

Jones last served as a tight ends coach in 1998 at Central Michigan; he was last a position coach at West Virginia (2005-06).

Per the terms of his UT contract, Jones will be paid just north of $8 million in the form of a buyout, minus whatever he was to make at future jobs through February of 2021.  He made $35,000 as an analyst at Alabama this year.

Ex-Texas Tech lineman Justin Murphy gets sixth season at UCLA

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After originally ending his collegiate career prematurely, Justin Murphy has now seen it extended.

Murphy took to Twitter on Monday to announce that he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. “None of this could’ve been possible if it weren’t for the amazing job done by [UCLA’s compliance department],” the offensive lineman wrote.

In the middle of the 2016 season, Murphy, then at Texas Tech, announced that he was taking a medical retirement because of knee injuries.  In April of 2018, however, Murphy revealed that he would be moving on from Tech to UCLA as a graduate transfer.

Murphy played in the first four games of his first season with the Bruins this year before going down with a knee injury.  That issue kept the lineman sidelined for all but the final two games of the year.