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Nick Saban takes jab at UCF’s “self-proclaimed” national title, but Gus Malzahn stays out of it

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban added another national title to his ever-growing list of achievements last January when the Crimson Tide rallied from behind to stun Georgia in overtime of the College Football Playoff national championship game. At the same time, UCF was busy celebrating their claim to a national title even if critics shrugged it aside. Although Saban offered some praise for what UCF accomplished last season, including beating an Auburn team that Saba’s Tide could not, Saban suggested that UCF’s claim to a national title carries little weight.

“I guess anybody has the prerogative to claim anything,” Saban said to USA Today, commenting on UCF’s claim to a national championship for the 2017 season. “But self-proclaimed is not the same as actually earning it. And there’s probably a significant number of people who don’t respect people who make self-proclaimed sort of accolades for themselves.”

Saban has a legitimate point, of course. Alabama may not have won their own division but they were selected by the College Football Playoff selection committee to participate in the four-team playoff to determine a true national champion. And to Alabama’s credit, they took advantage of that opportunity by dominating ACC champion Clemson in the national semifinal and then coming from behind to upset SEC champion Georgia. UCF may have gone undefeated last season, with wins against USF, Memphis and Auburn to close out their undefeated campaign, but years from now it will be widely accepted that Alabama was the national champion while UCF is still free to claim their national title as well. College football is loaded with claimed national titles, including some by Alabama of course, so what UCF is doing is nothing out of the ordinary for the history of the sport.

Of course, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn isn’t about to get caught up in the drama despite playing a key role into the Alabama-UCF national title debate.

“They played extremely well that day (in the Peach Bowl),” Malzahn said at a golf tournament, according to Al.com. “We didn’t play our best, but give those guys credit. They played extremely well and got after us.”

Realizing Malzahn didn’t exactly answer the question regarding the national championship claim by UCF, Malzahn stood his ground when asked again.

“They played real well that day,” Malzahn said, “and we didn’t play that well.”

It must be a tough spot for Malzahn seeing as Alabama is his top rival and the other team claiming a national title is using his Auburn team to help support the argument.

Former UCF head coach and current Nebraska head coach Scott Frost has no regrets over his comments about likely not standing behind UCF’s national title claim the way the school has gone about it.

Former Maryland, Kent State DB Qwuantrezz Knight will transfer to UCLA

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It’s not exactly a state secret that the UCLA football program has seen an abnormal amount of personnel attrition in the past few months.  The past couple of days, though, there’s been a mini reversal of that trend.

On Twitter Tuesday evening, Duke transfer running back Brittain Brown announced that he would be transferring into the UCLA football team.  Prior to that, however, Qwuantrezz Knight announced on his Twitter machine late last week that he too will transfer to UCLA football as well.

It had been confirmed earlier this month that Knight would be transferring from Kent State.  The cornerback began his collegiate career at Maryland before leaving that Big Ten school.

During the 2019 regular season, Knight led the Golden Flashes in tackles for loss with 10.5.  In Kent’s first-ever bowl win this past season, Knight was named as the game’s defensive MVP.

The move away from Kent was odd, if for nothing more than the struggle Knight went through just to see the field in 2019.

Leaving the Maryland Terrapins football program shortly after head coach DJ Durkin was fired amidst scandal in the midst of the 2018 season, Knight ultimately transferred to Kent State in January of last year.  Four months later, Knight filed an appeal with the NCAA for a waiver that would’ve granted him immediate eligibility, a waiver that cited “depression symptoms”; in early June, that initial waiver was denied.

Armed with the ability to appeal the original decision, Knight did as much and it proved successful as the MAC program confirmed in June of last year that the appeal was successful and the waiver granted.

Presumably, Knight will be leaving Kent and heading to UCLA as a graduate transfer.  That would allow him to play immediately at a third FBS school in 2020.

Stanford, BYU add four games to future series

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As we trudge deeper into the postseason, there’s some Stanford football scheduling news on which to chew.  And BYU, for that matter.

Way back in October of 2013, Stanford football and BYU announced a future four-game series that was set to begin in 2020.  With the first game in that series set to kick off 10 months from now, it was announced Wednesday that the same two football programs have agreed to another four-game series.

So, with today’s announcement, below is a look at what is now an eight-game series between Stanford football and BYU:

  • Nov. 28, 2020, at Stanford
  • Nov. 26, 2022, at Stanford
  • Sept. 13, 2025, at BYU
  • Nov. 28, 2026, at Stanford*
  • Nov. 25, 2028, at Stanford*
  • Sept. 1, 2029, at BYU
  • Aug. 30, 2031, at BYU*
  • Sept. 1, 2035, at BYU*

(*Games added through today’s extension)

As BYU noted in its release, kickoff times and television plans for the games will be determined and announced during the scheduled seasons.

The two schools have met twice previously in football.  The Cardinal beat the Cougars 18-14 in Provo in 2003, then beat them 37-10 at home on The Farm the following season.

Excluding the eight-game series with Stanford football, BYU now has 15 future games with Pac-12 schools scheduled through the 2028 season:

  • Utah (2020, 2021, 2024, 2026, 2027, 2028)
  • Arizona State (2020, 2021)
  • Arizona (2021, 2026, 2027)
  • Washington State (2021)
  • USC (2021, 2023)
  • Oregon (2022)

The 2021 game against Arizona, it should be noted, will be played in Las Vegas.

TCU transfer QB Justin Rogers tweets move to UNLV

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A prized former signee of the TCU football program has unofficially found a new collegiate home.

In very early November, it was confirmed that Justin Rogers had entered the NCAA transfer database, the first step in a move away from the TCU football team.  Nearly three months later, Rogers took the second step by announcing on his personal Twitter account that he has committed to continuing his playing career at UNLV.

Rogers’ announcement came after he took a visit to the UNLV campus this past weekend.

Barring something unexpected, Rogers will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  That would then leave him with two years of eligibility, starting with the 2021 season.

However, that 2020 door isn’t completely closed as Rogers is expected to pursue a waiver from the NCAA.  Just what that waiver appeal would entail is unclear.

A four-star 2018 signee, Rogers was rated as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country; the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Louisiana; and the No. 43 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  He was the highest-rated member of the Horned Frogs’ class that year.

Rogers suffered a severe knee injury during his senior year of high school that ultimately led to a case of drop-foot for the player as a true freshman in college.  The recovery from those ongoing issues contributed to Rogers’ positioning deep down on the depth chart, which, ultimately, triggered his decision to enter the portal.

Rogers did make one appearance as a true freshman, completing his only pass attempt in TCU’s Cheez-It Bowl win over Cal.  He hadn’t seen the field at all this past season.

Pitt mourns passing of Chris Doleman following ‘prolonged and courageous battle against cancer’

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The extended Pitt football family is grieving the loss of one of its own.

Late Tuesday night, it was confirmed that Chris Doleman, 58, had passed away following “a prolonged and courageous battle against cancer.” Two years ago this month, Doleman had undergone surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Doleman played his college football at Pitt from 1981-84.  From the school’s release:

Doleman finished his college career third all-time at Pitt with 25 sacks, a total that still ranks eighth nearly four decades later. He played in the Sugar, Cotton and Fiesta bowl games, while helping the Panthers earn three Top 20 finishes, including a No. 2 ranking in 1981 and No. 9 finish in 1982.

As a senior, Doleman was elected a Pitt tri-captain with linebacker Troy Benson and offensive tackle Bill Fralic. In addition to his immense athletic gifts, the 6-foot-5 Doleman also set a standard with his desire and relentless play.

The late Foge Fazio, Doleman’s defensive coordinator in 1981 before serving as head coach from 1982-85, said: “Sometimes we’ll stop the game film just to point out to the team Chris’ desire and hustle to get there.

In December of 2018, Fralic passed away at the age of 56.

“I had only been at Pitt for a few months when I first met Chris and he could not have been more supportive and enthusiastic about the University of Pittsburgh,” said Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi in a statement. “It was obvious that he took great pride in being a Panther. I remember we had him as our honorary captain when we played at Georgia Tech one year and he was so energetic with our kids. You know he wanted to put on that Pitt helmet one more time. Our deepest sympathies to the Doleman family. His passing is a great loss for all of us, but his memory and legacy, on and off the field, will never be forgotten.

The fourth-overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Doleman was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.