Associated Press

Snell No: Sputtering offense sees No. 13 Kentucky take first loss of season

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There was absolutely no secret about how Kentucky won its first games, rocketing from the realm of the unranked to No. 13 in the AP poll: play defense and run Benny Snell, Jr., over and over and over again. The junior entered Saturday night’s trip to College Station leading the SEC in rushes (115), yards (632) and touchdowns (8).

But one question remained: what would happen to Kentucky if Snell couldn’t get going?

We found out Saturday night, and it wasn’t pretty. With Snell limited to 60 yards on 13 carries, the Wildcats did not run a single play in Texas A&M until overtime, which was forced by a shocking 40-yard fumble return with four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Kentucky accepted the ball to open the extra frame and gained eight yards on their first two plays, but quarterback Terry Wilson took a 5-yard sack on third down and Miles Butler‘s 43-yard field goal doinked off the cross bar. Snell did not touch the ball in the extra frame.

Texas A&M made no such mistake, feeding Trayveon Williams four straight times, including a soaring 14-yard touchdown run out to give Texas A&M a 20-14 overtime win over the previously unbeaten Wildcats.

The Wildcats actually jumped to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter after Wilson flipped the ball to Lynn Bowden, Jr., who raced 54 yards for a touchdown.

That was it for Kentucky’s offense for the night, though. The Wildcats (5-1, 3-1 SEC) punted 10 times and registering six three-and-outs, including three consecutive in the second half.

The Aggies (4-2, 2-1 SEC) dominated the ball for most of the night, and so it was really just a matter of time until they broke through to take the lead. After a 48-yard drive ended in a turnover on downs at the Kentucky 27 early in the second quarter, the Aggies notched the equalizer on a 3-yard Kellen Mond toss to Quartney Davis with 1:14 left in the first half, capping a 12-play, 70-yard drive.

Texas A&M threatened more without scoring in the second half, but one drive ended in a 40-yard Seth Small field goal that was no good, and another ended in a tipped interception by Kentucky’s Darius West.

After yet another Kentucky three-and-out, another Mond tipped pass worked out in A&M’s favor, as a deflection landed in the hands of tight end Jace Sternberger, who dashed 46 yards for a touchdown, handing the Aggies a 14-7 lead with 10:13 to play.

That 14-7 lead appeared like it would hold as Texas A&M took over with 7:47 to play until, facing a 3rd-and-1 from their own 43, Mond bobbled a rare snap from center, regained control only to fumble it again. West recovered the ball and raced it 40 yards for a touchdown, forging a shocking tie with 4:17 left.

An intentional grounding call on Mond to open the A&M drive essentially ended it before it began, and Kentucky, who appeared dead to rights two minutes ago, took over in a tie game at its own 9 with 2:07 to play.

Kentucky pushed all the way to its own 41, but the drive sputtered from there — with Wilson actually losing the ball in his own backfield before it was recovered by an offensive lineman — and a short Max Duffy punt, his 10th of the night, gave Texas A&M the ball at its own 41 with eight seconds left. A 15-yard Wilson burst allowed Mond to launch a Hail Mary as time expired from the Kentucky 44, but the rainbow landed incomplete.

Wilson finished the game 13-of-20 for 108 yards and a touchdown; 54 of those yards were gained on one pass, while the other 19 also went for 54.

Mond hit 18-of-29 yards for 226 yards with two touchdowns and two turnovers, while Williams carried 24 times for 138 yards and the game-winning score.

The win snapped a 7-game losing streak against ranked teams for Texas A&M. The Aggies’ last win came in 2016 over No. 9 Tennessee in double overtime.

Former Arizona head coach Dick Tomey being treated for lung cancer

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Sad news out of Tucson this week as Dick Tomey and his family has issued a statement that the former  Hawaii, San Jose State and Arizona head coach was undergoing treatment for lung cancer.

“Coach Dick Tomey was recently diagnosed with a type of lung cancer at Tucson Medical Center and is currently undergoing further tests this week at MD Anderson Medical Center in Houston, Texas,” the statement, obtained by the Arizona Daily Star, read. “We (Coach and his family) greatly appreciate all the people who have reached out to help in so many ways and all the expressions of love and well-wishes being sent our way from so many people. Following Coach Tomey’s example, our family is feeling very grateful and hopeful for a positive outcome.”

Tomey, now 80 years old, had an impressive resume after several stops out West, including a long stint at UCLA as an assistant before taking over as head coach of the Rainbow Warriors. He eventually became Hawaii’s winningest head coach by the time he left for Arizona, where he revived the program and became famed for being the architect of the ‘Desert Swarm’ defense. His best season with the Wildcats resulted in a 12-1 mark that included a top five finish in 1998.

Per the Daily Star, Tomey had moved back to Tucson in recent years to live full-time in retirement.

Count school presidents on board with renewing Texas-Texas A&M rivalry game

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Do you hear that? Could it actually be the start of détente in the Cold War between Texas and Texas A&M after realignment split the two bitter rivals apart?

Well, as usual in these cases, it’s best to be very cautiously optimistic about the most recent series of words coming out of both Austin and College Station. But make no mistake about it, there is at least some optimism that the Aggies and Longhorns could meet once again on the gridiron.

“It’s a storied rivalry of a hundred years or so,” UT President Gregory L. Fenves told the Austin American-Statesman. “We’ve told our ADs (athletic directors) to figure out a plan and bring it to us.”

“We’re supportive’ of renewing it.” A&M President Michael K. Young said. “Absolutely. We have been from Day One.”

The talk is good but it did come with some demurs about scheduling, such as the fact that both have games already on the non-conference docket for most of the next decade and other issues related to when they could actually get onto the field.

Young and Fenves are far from the only ones to call for the historic rivalry to be renewed in recent years. We’ve seen state legislators get involved, regents from both sides, head coaches like Tom Herman, both athletic directors and even the Texas governor call for the two teams to play each other again… mostly to no avail.

The Longhorns have a major opponent already on the schedule through 2029, including A&M’s fellow SEC opponents LSU, Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia (plus Ohio State and Michigan). The Aggies, meanwhile, have an extra non-conference slot available but also have big names on the docket until 2027, including Colorado, Miami, Notre Dame and Arizona State.

As is typically the case, these two old rivals could renew their series if they really wanted to no matter what either side wants to say. They can claim scheduling conflicts all they want but it seems like it will still be another generation before the burnt orange clashes with the maroon white once again.

Despite taking big pay cut from being head coach, Urban Meyer still making six-figures with Ohio State going forward

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We’re approaching a month into Ryan Day’s tenure as the new head coach at Ohio State but the guy he  replaced just can’t seem to stay out of the headlines.

That would be one Urban Meyer, who is officially known by another title nowadays by being the Buckeyes’ “Assistant AD, Athletics Initiatives and Relations.” What exactly does that entail? Well Eleven Warriors put in an open records request to find out more and discovered it’s mostly a fundraising/public relations/development role that comes with a lovely $100,000 per year salary.

“The Assistant AD, Athletics Initiatives and Relations is responsible for fundraising and community relations initiatives and is committed to excellence and advancing Department of Athletics through its strategic plan,” a statement to the site said. “In alignment with the department’s mission and values, and in conjunction with the Executive Associate Athletics Director for Development, this position provides leadership and supports fundraising strategies for the Department of Athletics.  The Assistant AD, Athletics Initiatives and Relations will serve as an ambassador through numerous speaking engagements, service events, donor events, corporate events and engagements.”

While the $100k is notable, it’s a far cry from the over $7 million Meyer was supposed to make in 2019 had he remained in charge of OSU football. The six-figure salary isn’t all that he’ll be taking home either, as Meyer is reportedly signing on with Fox Sports to be a TV analyst for the network going forward.

Tennessee confirms Tee Martin is officially back on Rocky Top as an assistant

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Who says you can’t go home again? Tee Martin is certainly glad you can.

Tennessee confirmed reports on Saturday afternoon that the former Vols legend was indeed returning to Rocky Top as an assistant coach, set to fill an unspecified role on the offensive staff.

“I’m excited to welcome back Tee Martin as one of our assistant coaches,” head coach Jeremy Pruitt said in a statement. “He coordinated some of the nation’s top offenses at USC, and he develops and identifies players as well as any coach in the country. He’s an excellent recruiter, and he is terrific at building relationships with his players. He cares about developing young men on and off the field. Tee was the quarterback on one of the greatest teams in school history, winning a national championship. He knows what it take to win here, and I’m excited to have him on our staff.”

Martin was an assistant at New Mexico and Kentucky before spending the past seven years at USC, rising all the way up to become the Trojans’ offensive coordinator. However he was first stripped of play-calling duties this past season by head coach Clay Helton and then not retained after the team failed to make a bowl game in 2018.

It’s not known what specific position group he will handle under new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney but Martin was highly regarded for his time as a recruiter and for developing wide receivers. However he could be going back to his roots to handle quarterbacks at Tennessee given that Brian Niedermeyer is on staff and coaches tight ends while David Johnson handles the Vols’ receivers.

Either way, the homecoming is a welcome one for many fans in orange and white who have to feel a bit like the band is getting back together to lead the program back into contention. Phillip Fulmer is of course athletic director and now Martin is back in the fold, returning to the place where he has a street named after him for his heroics in leading UT to the national championship some 20 years ago.