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As speculation swirls around Clay Helton, USC fans push for change

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To change or not to change, that is the question facing the USC administration when it comes to its head football coach. If they were to ask a growing segment of the fanbase, though, the answer would be resounding “yes!” to change.

In the days leading into this past Saturday’s rivalry game with UCLA, Clay Helton outwardly expressed confidence that he would return as head coach next season.  After coughing up a fourth-quarter lead in the loss to a Bruins team that came in at 2-8, Helton stated “that’s a great question for [athletic director Lynn] Swann” when asked if he thought he’d be returning in 2019.

The fanbase, on the other hand, is making its feelings loud and clear.

A petition appeared on Change.org earlier this week calling for the firing of Helton, although that one hasn’t gotten much traction.  Another, this one a fundraiser on GoFundMe.com, has started to take off as fans are looking to fly a banner over the USC campus before the Notre Dame game this weekend calling for the firing of Helton.  Additionally, the same group is seeking to take out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times calling for the same thing.

The $2,000 needed for the airplane and banner has easily been raised already; the newspaper ad will cost the group $20,000 and, as of this posting, they have raised just over $8,000 toward that goal.

“This is not designed to publicly humiliate Clay Helton,” the fundraising page stated. “The vast majority of USC fans like him as a person and wish it had worked out for him here and we will be rooting for him enthusiastically at his next destination. However, this job is beyond his capabilities at this point in his career and we are not doing anyone any favors by retaining him, including Clay himself. This is about bringing the USC administration’s attention to that fact.”

With the loss that dropped them to 5-6, USC now needs to beat third-ranked Notre Dame next week to become bowl-eligible.  The last time the Trojans failed to qualify for a bowl, outside of the NCAA-administered two-year bowl ban in 2010-11, was in 2000.  Following that 5-7 season, Paul Hackett was fired and Pete Carroll ultimately hired to replace him.

Prior to this year, Helton had won 10 and 11 games in his first two full seasons with the Trojans.

It remains unclear in which direction Swann and other USC administrators — and big-money boosters — will head, but one report has them keeping the status quo.

Should USC ultimately move on from Helton, James Franklin has already been mentioned as a possible replacement.  Tuesday, the current Penn State coach was asked about the potential opening.

“It’s that time of year where all this stuff happens,” Franklin said. “It’s that time of year. It’s the crazy, mad time of the year when these types of things happen. …

“As you guys know, like always, we’re focused on Maryland completely, 100 percent. I don’t think it’s even fair or right to be even talking about that job from everything I understand about it, but we’re completely focused on Maryland.”

BYU starting QB Zach Wilson on schedule to be 100-percent healthy for start of season

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Earlier this offseason, Zach Wilson underwent surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder and, as a result, was sidelined for all of spring practice at BYU. With the start of the 2019 season a little over two months away, the quarterback gave a very positive update on his rehabilitation at the football program’s Media Day.

“Recovery is going good,” Wilson, who threw a football for the first time earlier this month since undergoing the surgery, told the assembled media. “I’m 100 percent on schedule for where I’m supposed to be.” Wilson’s head coach, Kilani Sitake, added that he “think[s] he’s on schedule and will be ready to roll.”

BYU will open up the 2019 campaign at home by playing host to in-state rival Utah Aug. 29 in the 100th renewal of the Holy War.

When Wilson started the Oct. 13 Hawaii game this past season, he became the seventh true freshman in Cougars history to start at quarterback. At 19 years, two months, he was also the youngest ever under center for the football independent.

Wilson went on to start a total of six games in 2018, capping off that rookie effort by pitching a perfect game in BYU’s bowl rout of Western Michigan.

Michigan QB Brandon Peters transferring to Illinois

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For the second time this week, Illinois is on the receiving end of a Power Five transfer.

Late last month, it was reported that Brandon Peters was set to visit Illinois as well take trips to a pair of MAC schools in Bowling Green and Miami of Ohio.  On Instagram Tuesday evening, the quarterback confirmed that he will be continuing his collegiate career with the Fighting Illini.

In early May, it was confirmed that Peters had signaled his intent to leave Michigan by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.

Peters will graduate from U-M later next month, which allows for immediate eligibility for the Indiana native.  He would also have another season of eligibility he can use the following year.

A four-star member of the Wolverines’ 2016 recruiting class, Peters was rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Indiana; and the No. 61 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only two signees in Jim Harbaugh‘s first full class in Ann Arbor were rated higher than Peters.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Peters started four of the six games in which he played in 2017 and appeared to be the Wolverines’ quarterback of the future before Shea Patterson transferred into the program from Ole Miss.  With Patterson starting all of last year, Peters attempted just one pass in five appearances this past season.

Peters’ decision to transfer from the Wolverines came a few of months after Patterson opted to return to U-M for another season instead of leaping early in the 2019 NFL Draft.

USF debuts new, lightweight Adidas threads

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I’m not sure if you knew this, but it can get hot in Tampa in the early fall. Humid. Steamy. Muggy. Downright uncomfortable. Sweat is a part of life there, especially if you’re spending your Saturday afternoons running around in full pads and a helmet.

As such, South Florida figured it’d be to their advantage to wear lightweight, breathable uniforms, and Adidas has produced.

On Tuesday, USF debuted a brand new WVN A1 uniform, the German-based manufacturer’s lightest uniform. USF was certain to point out they will be the only team in the threads this season.

“We are very excited that in the second year of our partnership with adidas our football team will be the only one in the country wearing their lightest weight uniforms,” USF AD Michael Kelly said in a statement. “We look forward to the Bulls looking great and feeling great in the new lightweight, breathable material.”

The design itself is slightly different from what the Bulls wore previously, solid green or white with green shoulders, cresting into golden bull horns on each side, above a solid color pant. The metallic material that comprises the golden Bull horn on each shoulder was developed in Israel.

Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to uniforms, but in this set of eyes these kits are a massive step up from the chainmail-style Adidas template South Florida wore previously, shown above.

The new, lightweight uniforms will take the field for the first time on Friday, Aug. 30 vs. Wisconsin (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

K-State WR Hunter Rison, formerly at Michigan State, reportedly pursuing second transfer

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Kansas State wide receiver Hunter Rison will pursue a second transfer in as many years, according to reports Tuesday from GoPowercat and the Wichita Eagle.

The son of Michigan State great Andre Rison, Hunter signed with his father’s alma mater in 2017 and caught 19 passes for 224 yards as a freshman before transferring to Kansas State. After sitting out the 2018 season, as per NCAA transfer rules, Rison shined in spring practice, but his career as a Wildcat was instantly derailed when he was arrested for domestic battery in April.

Rison was immediately suspended from the team, though he maintains his innocence. Charges have not been filed, and his first court appearance in the civil case related to the charge is scheduled for July 16.

“This will be my only response,” Rison wrote on Twitter at the time. “I will continue to be myself … A man of God, as well as a great student-athlete at this university. I have done nothing wrong.”