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Neal Brown gives Troy championship ring to family of deceased player

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Every now and then you are given a reminder that college football is often about establishing meaningful relationships on the recruiting trail. Troy head coach Neal Brown is responsible for the latest example of that.

Troy finished the 2017 season with a record of 11-2, earning a split of the Sun Belt Conference championship and ending the year with a victory over North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl. Recently, as the team has been getting their championship rings for winning a share of the Sun Belt title, Brown made sure to let the family of one former player know he was thinking of them.

Brown sent a championship ring to the family of Nathan Harris, a former Troy football player who passed away two years ago after getting into a motorcycle accident in Alabama at the age of 19. Brown sent the ring with a note to the parents of Harris.

“Thinking about you all. Nate’s impact is still being felt in our program,” Brown said in his note, which was shared via an Instagram post by Harris’s high school football coach, Ben Blackmon. “I’ve enclosed a championship ring that he earned. You all are very much a part of our Troy football family.”

Harris may be gone, but this gesture by Brown proves he has not been forgotten.

Alabama’s starting RT in 2017 re-injures foot, undergoes surgery

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It was already uncertain whether Matt Womack would retain his starting job when Alabama opens up the defense of its 2017 national championship. Given the most recent development, it’s now a certainty.

As first reported by 247Sports.com and subsequently confirmed by al.com, Womack suffered a broken bone in his foot during practice Thursday. It’s the same bone in the same foot the offensive lineman broke that knocked him out of all of spring practice earlier this offseason.

Womack, who underwent surgery Friday to repair the damage, is expected to miss in the neighborhood of six weeks. At the long end of that timeline street, Womack would be sidelined for the opener against Louisville Sept. 1, as well as games against Arkansas State (Sept. 8), Ole Miss (Sept. 15) and Texas A&M (Sept. 22). Based on the six-week timeframe, which could obviously shift one direction or another, Womack could possibly return for the Sept. 29 non-conference matchup with Louisiana-Lafayette.

Womack started all 14 games at right tackle in the Tide’s run to its 17th national championship last season. As a redshirt freshman the year before, Womack, a three-star member of UA’s 2015 signing class, played in nine games.

While Womack was the starter throughout 2017, Alex Leatherwood has been running with the first-team offense for most of summer camp.

Highest-rated 2018 Louisiana Tech signee leaves Bulldogs

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This isn’t exactly optimal, either for now or on into the future.

Maureese Wren announced on his personal Twitter account Friday that he is “moving on from Louisiana Tech working on myself first to be a better person and hopefully do what I can to help another program.” Wren also apologized to Skip Holtz and his coaching staff for unspecified false claims he had made about the program.

“I just wanted to say to all the coaches I am truly sorry for making statements about the coaching staff that was not true,” the early signee wrote. “[T]hey were always honest with me and did everything they could to try to make my situation better at LA Tech.

“I made some unwise decisions through the recruiting process and a lot of mistakes at LA Tech to try to overcome the decision.”

Wren was the highest-rated member of Tech’s 2018 recruiting class, listed as a three-star prospect on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. Coming out of Mesquite, Tex., that same composite board had the 6-3½, 216-pound Wren listed as the No. 26 athlete in the country and the No. 58 player at any position in the state.

Prior to signing with Tech in December of last year, Wren held Power Five offers from, among others, Arizona, Arkansas, Baylor, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Purdue, Texas Tech, Utah and Washington. In early August of 2017, he committed to Arkansas; nearly two months later, he decommitted from the Razorbacks.

Maryland regents take control of football program investigations

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The University System of Maryland Board of Regents is taking over control of two investigations related to the Maryland football program, a statement from the regents said Friday evening. That decision was made following a unanimous vote by the regents on Friday.

“Earlier today, the Board of Regents was fully briefed by UMCP President Wallace Loh about the circumstances of [Maryland football player Jordan McNair]’s tragic death, about the actions that have been taken since, and finally about the alarming allegations that have emerged in the last week related to the football program,” Board of Regents Chair James Brady said in a released statement. “After a long and robust discussion, the board voted unanimously to assume responsibility for the investigations into these two separate issues. Our goal is to ensure that all system universities, including UMCP, are actively working to protect the health and safety of every student and to foster a supportive culture in which everyone can flourish.”

The two investigations currently ongoing at Maryland are connected to the response to the death of McNair and about the culture of the Maryland football program following a report detailing alleged intimidation by a now former strength coach working for head coach D.J. Durkin.

No decisions on the status of Durkin or any others within the Maryland football program or university have been announced at this time. More details about the board’s plans moving forward will be announced sometime in the next week, according to the released statement from the board of regents.

Urban Meyer investigation to be completed Sunday; report shared with Ohio State regents next week

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Around this time next week — or shortly thereafter — we should know whether or not Urban Meyer has a future as the head football coach at Ohio State.

In a statement released Friday evening, the university announced that the independent working group conducting the investigation into Meyer will wrap up its probe of the coach Sunday. That day falls directly in line with the expected 14-day timeline given by the university earlier this month.

Meyer’s fate won’t be known this weekend, however, as the investigators will compile a report based on the results of their investigation. When that report is complete, it will be shared with the university’s Board of Regents; the report is expected to reach the regents at some point next week.

From the university’s statement:

Following receipt, the working group will share the report with the Board of Trustees in an executive session to be held next week. As required by law, public notice of the meeting will be released at least 24 hours in advance. Following deliberations with the board, and appropriate time for consideration, President Michael V. Drake will announce his decision.

The decision will likely come down to either Meyer being fired or Meyer being suspended for X number of games to start the 2018 season, but staying on as the head coach. There’s a growing sense that there’s a much greater chance for the latter to happen than the former. Still, the board is expected to give significant weight to the investigative team’s findings, which will influence the direction in which the president goes.

Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 1 as questions into his handling of domestic abuse allegations made against his now-former assistant coach, Zach Smith, surfaced.  The university launched an investigation into Meyer’s actions the day after the head coach’s leave was announced.

Zach Smithfired by Meyer as OSU wide receivers coach July 23 in the wake of allegations that he abused his ex-wifeCourtney Smith, during their marriage, met with the investigative team on Tuesday of this week.  Courtney Smith, along with her attorneys, met with investigators the day before her ex-husband.

In a statement Aug. 3, Meyer claimed that he has “always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels.” Allegations of domestic abuse stemmed not only from Zach Smith’s time at OSU, but while he was on Meyer’s Florida staff in 2009 as well.

Meyer’s boss in Gainesville, former UF athletic director Jeremy Foleydeclined comment on that 2009 incident earlier this month.  Meyer’s current boss in Columbus, OSU athletic director Gene Smith, could also be in the university’s crosshairs as Zach Smith alleged that the AD contacted him about the allegations in October of 2015.

As of late last week, Gene Smith was on vacation but “available to speak with the investigative team.” Whether that happened or not hasn’t been confirmed either way.