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Pat Fitzgerald compares RPOs to communism

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RPOs are the latest toy in every offensive coordinator’s toy chest these days and Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, a College Football Hall of Fame linebacker, hates them, like all dogs naturally hate any advancements in the cat industry that tip the scales from canines to felines.

Asked about them on Tuesday, Fitzgerald compared them, jokingly, to communism.

“It’s communism,” he said. “RPO is the purest form of communism.”

Fitzgerald expanded on his line of thinking, explaining that RPOs allow offenses to bend the rules by getting linemen further down the field than they technically were allowed to and got away with it anyway. And, thus, they were bad.

“I don’t understand how offensive linemen can be downfield. It used to be when [an offensive lineman] tripped and fell down, it was illegal man downfield. Now if it’s just an uncovered lineman and you go 2.3 yards downfield, it’s not a penalty. But if you go three yards it is and nobody can see it until after the ball is thrown,” he said.

“It’s the rules. You can complain all you want. If I want to get it fixed I guess I can beg to get on the rules committee. It’s the most en vogue change, I think, in football. If you’re a purist of football, it’s not the game. It’s not. People downfield blocking and the ball being thrown should be illegal.”

Fitzgerald makes a good point, but any advantage afforded to opposing offensive linemen are by definition available to Northwestern’s linemen as well.

Considering that the Wildcats have ranked in the top 50 nationally in scoring once in the past decade (42nd in 2012) while placing 83rd or lower four times, and rank 111th in this young season, perhaps Fitzgerald should instruct his offensive staff to crack open some Karl Marx.

Report: Maryland AD signed off on DJ Durkin helping coaches, developing game plans during leave

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The cloud hanging over the University of Maryland in general and the football program specifically shows no signs of dissipating anytime soon.

Citing multiple sources, the Baltimore Sun‘s Jeff Barker is reporting that DJ Durkin told the task force investigating the culture of the football program in the aftermath of the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair that he “continued to communicate with assistant coaches and develop game plans for the team after being placed on administrative leave.” Most damning, at least for those still in place at the university, the then-head football coach alleged that athletic director Damon Evans approved the ongoing communication with his coaching staff.

Durkin further claimed that he had not been told by anyone at the university that he was to have no contact with his players or assistant coaches while on leave, a forced sabbatical that ultimately lasted nearly three months.

While the university declined to make Evans available for comment, a spokesperson did deny the allegations made by Durkin to the task force, of which the university system’s Board of Regents were also aware.  From the Sun‘s report:

But in a statement late Wednesday, a university spokeswoman said Durkin “was not to perform coaching duties while on administrative leave” and that neither Evans nor Loh had granted permission for him to do so.

“Matt Canada was performing all head coaching duties during this interim time and continues to lead the team,” spokeswoman Jessica Jennings said.

Durkin, two members of the training staff and then-head strength & conditioning coach Rick Court were placed on administrative leave in early August after a bombshell report alleged mishandling of the medical event that preceded McNair’s death as well as a toxic culture within the football program.  That report described the toxic culture under Durkin as one based on fear, intimidation, belittling, humiliation and embarrassment.  Players were, allegedly, routinely subjected to what was described as extreme verbal abuse that included, in part, obscenity-laced epithets meant to mock their masculinity.

On Oct. 30, it was confirmed that Durkin had been reinstated and would remain as the Terrapins head coach.  The next day, and amidst an avalanche of criticism from football playersstudent groups and high-ranking government officials, U of M, College Park president Wallace Loh announced that Durkin had been dismissed as the Terrapins head football coach.

Miami pays Arkansas State $400,000 settlement over canceled game

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A legal issue that arose between a Power Five school and one from the Group of Five has finally been resolved.

The Miami-Arkansas State game in Jonesboro last season was scuttled by Hurricane Irma, mainly because of The U’s concerns over traveling back to South Florida in the wake of the superstorm.  ASU sued Miami in February of this year, seeking financial damages as a result of a breach of contract; Miami had sued ASU two days earlier in an effort to void the contract because the effects of the hurricane were out of its control.

In mid-September, a judge set a Dec. 20 deadline for the two sides to resolve the dispute via third-party mediation.  Wednesday, ASU announced that a settlement has been reached, with each entity dismissing their lawsuits against the other as well as Miami paying the Sun Belt school $400,000.

ASU had been seeking $650,000 in damages.

“I am pleased that both lawsuits have been resolved and that this matter is now behind us,” Brad Phelps, general counsel for the Arkansas State University System, said in the statement. “I believe this is a fair resolution of these issues.”

As part of the settlement, the 2017 game, which was the back-end of a home-and-home series, will not be rescheduled.

Last year’s winner Ed Oliver one of eight semifinalists for Outland Trophy

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Another day (hour?), another award paring down its field of players eligible to win this year’s honor.

The latest to do as much is the Outland Trophy, with the award that is handed out annually to the nation’s top interior lineman on either side of the ball announcing the eight semifinalists for this year’s honor.  Headlining the most recent group is Houston’s Ed Oliver, who was the 2017 Outland winner.

Top-ranked Alabama (offensive tackle Jonah Williams, nose guard Quinnen Williams) and second-ranked Clemson (offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins) accounted for half of the eight semifinalists.  The other three semifinalists not already mentioned are North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury, Wisconsin guard Michael Deiter and Oklahoma guard Ben Powers.

Next week, this group of eight semifinalists will be pared down to three finalists.  The winner of the 2018 Outland Trophy will be announced during the Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPN in early December.

Ohio State LB Baron Browning ruled out for Maryland game

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For the second straight week, Ohio State will be down a man in its linebacking corps.

Earlier this week, Urban Meyer listed Baron Browning as probable for Saturday’s game against Maryland.  Wednesday night after practice, however, the head coach confirmed that the linebacker will not play against the Terrapins.

Browning is dealing with an unspecified injury that sidelined the sophomore linebacker for the win over Michigan State this past Saturday.

Through eight games in 2018, Browning has been credited with 22 tackles, 3½ tackles for loss and a sack.  As noted by ElevenWarriors.com, Browning has been rotating in with Tuf Borland at the middle linebacker spot throughout the season.

A five-star 2017 signee, Browning played in a dozen games as a true freshman last year.