No matter what happens this weekend, UCLA will not be going to a bowl game in the first season with Chip Kelly as a head coach. At 2-8, that end result was determined weeks ago. Despite taking a while to get things seemingly together, UCLA will meet with their crosstown rivals from USC this week, and the timing could not have been better for Kelly and the Bruins.
USC was officially ruled out of the running for the Pac-12 South Division last week as they fell to 5-5 this season. The pressure on head coach Clay Helton has seemed to be on the rise as frustrations about the Trojans continues to build this season. The possibility of a coaching change has become a bit of a popular talking point for some as college football gets the coaching carousel greased up and ready to go at full force. And with Notre Dame coming to Los Angeles next week with their own College Football Playoff hopes potentially on the line, this week against the Bruins feels like it could be a must-win game for USC.
That alone makes this a pretty important game for Kelly and UCLA as well, even more so than it already was destined to be by default. Kelly will have an opportunity to really stick it to his new rival with an opposing head coach under an increasing amount of pressure by putting USC’s own bowl hopes on the edge of a cliff, with the Irish coming to town to give the final nudge.
A win for Kelly would help give UCLA’s recruiting efforts an extra sales pitch to make. As UCLA is looking to build something, they could be responsible for potential changes going on at USC. USC is rarely going to lose out in the recruiting battles and the Trojans will always have quality recruiting hauls, but Kelly would benefit by having a head-to-head win against USC, and this year would be a great way to end his first season at UCLA.
It appears as though Jimbo Fisher won’t have a vacancy on his Texas A&M coaching staff to fill this postseason.
In the days after Geoff Collins left Temple to take the head job at Georgia Tech, Mike Elko has been mentioned prominently as a potential replacement. Wednesday, however, multiple reports have surfaced that Elko has decided to remain in College Station as the Aggies’ defensive coordinator.
Elko just completed his first season as Fisher’s coordinator after spending the 2017 season in the same job at Notre Dame.
In 2018, Elko was paid $1.8 million, making him the fourth-highest-paid assistant coach in the country. While it’s not listed in the USA Today coaching salary database, it’s believed that Collins was working under a five-year, $10 million contract while the head coach of the Owls.
With Elko now out of the mix, a new report has surfaced that puts Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown squarely in the mix. Another defensive coordinator, Miami’s Manny Diaz, has also been mentioned as a possibility at the AAC school and has already interviewed for the job.
C.J. Fuller died suddenly the afternoon of Oct. 3 after the former Clemson running back suffered chest pains as well as a suspected seizure. Nearly 10 weeks later, a cause of the 22-year-old’s death has been released.
According to the Charleston Post & Courier, the Pickens County (SC) Coroner’s Office has determined that Fuller died as the result of a pulmonary thromboembolism and deep vein thrombosis stemming from a football injury. A pulmonary thromboembolism is essentially a blood clot that breaks free and ultimately becomes lodged in the lungs.
Fuller had suffered a knee injury playing flag football in August of this year and underwent surgery the following month. On the day of his death, he attended his first physical therapy session, one that reportedly went off without an issue.
“Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies are with C.J.’s family,” Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement at the time of Fuller’s death. “I’ve known C.J. a long time and watched him grow up through the Easley rec leagues all the way through Easley High School. I’m proud of what he accomplished as a Clemson Tiger, most of all, his accomplishment of being a Clemson graduate. Our deepest condolences and the thoughts of our program are with his family this evening. May he rest in peace.”
Following the 2017 season, Fuller left the team as a would-be graduate transfer. In late March, Fuller, who was expected to continue his collegiate playing career at another program, was one of three individuals charged in connection to an alleged armed robbery in downtown Clemson.
In 2017, Fuller, who began that season as the starter, was fifth on the Tigers with a career-high 217 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the Tigers portion of his playing career with 599 yards and four touchdowns on 147 carries, as well as 18 receptions for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
One of those touchdown catches came in the College Football Playoff semifinal win over Ohio State in 2016. The Tigers went on to win the national championship that season.
Fuller earned a degree in sociology from Clemson in August, the same month in which he sustained the injury that preceded his death.
It’s unclear at this point to where Jalen Harris will ultimately transfer, but the list of potential landing spots has been significantly whittled down.
In mid-September, Harris announced that he would be transferring from Auburn. On Twitter Tuesday, the tight end revealed his list of five finalists that will serve as possible transfer destinations, including a pair of SEC schools in Georgia and Vanderbilt.
The other three schools include a pair of Power Five programs (Colorado, Kansas State) as well as one from the Group of Five (Troy).
A decision from Harris is expected at some point next week.
Harris did not play in more than four games this season, meaning he preserved a year of eligibility under the new redshirt rule. He will also head to his new college football home as a graduate transfer, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2019.
As a fourth-year senior this past season, the 6-4, 257-pound Harris played in three games before opting to transfer. The previous three seasons, the Montgomery, Ala., native played in 39 games, with most of that action coming on special teams and as a blocking tight end.
Harris did, though, catch a pair of touchdown passes among his four career receptions. Both touchdowns came during the 2016 season.
Sadly, tragedy has yet again struck the college football community.
Tuesday, Richmond confirmed that Spiders football player Augustus “Gus” Lee had passed away earlier in the day. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Virginia Department of Health’s Central District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner declined to provide details on the cause of the redshirt freshman defensive back’s death.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Augustus Lee,” Richmond head football coach Russ Huesman said in a statement sent out by the FCS program. “Gus was a terrific young man and a great member of our Richmond family. His loss is a true tragedy to those who knew and loved him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gus’ family. This is a very difficult time for everyone in the Richmond Spider family.”
“I have been in touch with Gus’s family to express our deepest condolences on behalf of the entire University,” a statement from president Ronald Crutcher began. “Gus was a sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia, who played on our football team. He was an undeclared pre-business major and a good friend, especially to his teammates and his fellow student-athletes. We extend our deepest sympathies to Gus’s family, his teammates, professors, and many friends on our campus.”
Lee played in 11 games this past season, with most of that action coming on special teams. He was named Defensive MVP of the Spiders’ spring game earlier this year.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Lee’s passing.