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Mark Richt announces retirement at Miami

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Oh, how it all came crashing down for Mark Richt at Miami.

Fired at Georgia in 2015 for the sin of going 9-3 one too many times, the former Miami quarterback was quickly scooped up by his alma mater. He had planned to sit out the 2016 season and take a long-awaited breather, but The U had just fired Al Golden and it all just made too much sense to pass up. Richt was re-energized by his return to South Beach, where the climate was warmer (literally and politically) without the fire-breathing SEC boosters coming for his head. He was even going to call plays again.

Richt went 9-4 in 2016, then everything clicked in 2017. Buoyed by back-to-back destructions of No. 13 Virginia Tech and No. 3 Notre Dame — both of them before a raucous Hard Rock Stadium crowd, in front of primetime ABC audiences — Miami started 10-0 and rose to No. 2 in the polls. The Hurricanes were upset 44-28 at Pittsburgh on the final Friday of the regular season, but a win over Clemson would hand them the ACC championship and a College Football Playoff berth.

Instead, the Hurricanes were out-classed, falling 38-3. Playing in front of a home crowd in the Orange Bowl, Miami lost to Big Ten runner-up Wisconsin, 34-24. A 10-0 start became a 10-3 finish, with three straight double-digit losses.

Still, 2018 began with South Florida sunshine. Miami started the year at No. 8 in the AP poll, with a showcase game against No. 25 LSU.

However, the 2018 opener quickly showed that the off-season hadn’t fixed The U’s woes, only prolonged them. LSU scored the game’s fist 27 points en route to a 33-17 win, Miami’s fourth straight loss to a Power 5 opponent by 10 or more points.

Miami recovered to win their next five games, rising to No. 16, but that was just foreshadowing for a 4-game losing streak, all to unranked teams. Miami failed to top 14 points in three of those losses.

The final straw came in Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl, a 35-3 drubbing at the hands of the same Wisconsin team from last year’s Orange Bowl. Those Badgers also suffered through a similar season, beginning the year at No. 4 before falling out of the rankings, and even they were a class above Richt’s Hurricanes.

Miami AD Blake James released a tepid statement supporting Richt after the game, but on Sunday Richt released a statement of his own — his retirement announcement.

Dear Hurricane Family:

A few hours ago, I informed UM Director of Athletics Blake James that it is time for me to retire from coaching so I am stepping down as the Head Coach of UM Football.  The decision came after a great deal of thought, discussions with my family, and prayer.  This was my decision.

The University of Miami has been a part of my life for more than three decades.  It shaped me as a young man and provided me with the coaching opportunity of a lifetime.  My love for The U is simply great.  My true desire is for our football program to return to greatness, and while terribly difficult, I feel that stepping down is in the best interests of the program.

I want to express my sincere appreciation to the entire Hurricane Family for welcoming me back home and for supporting the outstanding young men in our program.  I only wish that we could have achieved greater things in return.  I also want to thank President Frenk and Blake for their incredible support, as well as the outstanding men and women in UM Athletics.  Most importantly, I want to thank the incredible coaches, staff, and their families who gave their all to The U each and every day, and our student-athletes, who wore The U jersey with pride and who worked hard towards their degree.

Katharyn and I will be cheering on the Canes in the years to come and The U will never leave our hearts. 

Sincerely,

Mark Richt

Richt exits stage left as one of the most successful coaches in college football history to be considered a disappointment. He was 145-51 with two SEC championships, a share of six SEC East crowns and seven AP top-10 finishes in 15 seasons at Georgia and 26-13 with one ACC Coastal title and two AP top-25 finishes in three seasons at Miami. Still only 58, Richt is young enough to coach again if he so desires, but the last season and a quarter of his team’s performance showed his desire is gone.

With a 171-64 career record, Richt is a profoundly good, respected man who will be in the College Football Hall of Fame someday, a coach defined more by what he didn’t do than what he did, a man with plenty of friends but few fans.

Somehow that seems terribly unfair but perfectly fitting.

West Virginia loses ex-Alabama LB VanDarius Cowan to season-ending injury

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Suffice to say, VanDarius Cowan‘s second season in Morgantown after leaving Tuscaloosa hasn’t gone as planned.

In late August, it was confirmed that Cowan would have to sit out the first four games of the 2019 season because of unspecified eligibility issues.  After serving that suspension, Cowan made his WVU debut in the Oct. 5 loss to Texas; a week later, the linebacker suffered a knee injury in the loss to Iowa State.

Tuesday, first-year head coach Neal Brown announced that Cowan underwent surgery and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.  The specific nature of the injury wasn’t divulged.

Cowan was originally a four-star member of Alabama’s 2017 recruiting class.  In July of last year, he was dismissed by the Crimson Tide after being charged with misdemeanor assault.  A month later, he landed at West Virginia.

The Florida native sat out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.

In less than two full games this season, Cowan was credited with six tackles and a sack.

Weather postpones Game 4 of Astros-Yankees, leaves airing of Ohio State-Northwestern in limbo

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This isn’t exactly optimal.

Due to the forecast of inclement weather, Major League Baseball announced that Game 4 of the American League Championship Series Wednesday night between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees has been moved to Thursday night.  That means Game 5 of the ALCS, originally scheduled for Thursday night, has been pushed to Friday night and will be televised on FS1, with first pitch set for 7:08 p.m. ET.

So, why is news on the postseason of a stick-and-ball sport appearing on a college football website?

Ohio State is scheduled to travel to Evanston to square off with Northwestern Friday.  On FS1. With kickoff set for 8:30 p.m. ET.

The ALCS is airing on FS1 because FOX is televising its newly-acquired WWE Friday Night Smackdown franchise, so a network broadcast won’t be possible for the Big Ten matchup.  More than likely, the game will air on either the Big Ten Network or FOX business.

As of this posting, neither the conference nor FOX has offered up exactly where the game will air.

Regardless of how it ultimately plays out, this will be a huge black eye for a league that shouldn’t be hijacking high school football’s night in the first place, regardless of how few games there are on Fridays (for now).

Wake QB Jamie Newman’s status for Week 8 to be determined

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The defense wasn’t the only side of the ball that ran into injury issues during Wake Forest’s first loss of the 2019 campaign.

An injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder knocked Jamie Newman out of the Week 7 loss to Louisville. An on-site X-ray, as well as other further testing, showed no significant structural damage to the joint.

As Wake looks to bounce back from that loss against Florida State Saturday, though, the sophomore’s status is officially to be determined.

“He’s kind of day-to-day,” head coach Dave Clawson said. “He got hurt at the end of the second quarter. We had X-Rays to try and eliminate the worst thing that could have happened to him and that was eliminated. He was able to return. He’s sore and we’ll just take it day-by-day and see how he feels later in the week. It’s been one practice and we’ll have a better feel later in the week.”

“And we won’t share that when we know it. I don’t have to,” Clawson added, presumably in a middle-school-boy-at-recess voice.

This season, Newman leads the ACC in passing yards (1,772), passing touchdowns (17) and passer rating (160.7).  He’s ninth, tied for sixth and 17th nationally in those respective categories.

Should Newman be unable to go against the Seminoles, Sam Hartman would get the nod.  In relief of Newman this past weekend, the sophomore threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as the Demon Deacons nearly pulled off a stunning comeback on the Cardinals.

Last season as a true freshman, Hartman started the first nine games before going down with an injury, opening the door for Newman to take over the job.

Big 12 admitted error in Texas Tech-Baylor game, fines AD Kirby Hocutt for publicly pointing it out

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An officiating error involving what was ruled an illegal snap but shouldn’t have been during the first possession in the first overtime of Saturday’s Texas Tech-Baylor game could very well have cost the Red Raiders a win.  In a statement Sunday night, Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt revealed that the university had “been in constant communication with the Big 12 Conference office from the immediate end of the game and throughout Sunday regarding the illegal snap call in the first overtime” and that it had “been confirmed that the ruling on the field of an illegal snap was incorrect.”

Instead of an illegal snap, it should’ve been ruled a fumble that was recovered by Tech, which would’ve given the Red Raiders possession of the ball and a golden opportunity to win the game during their first drive in the initial overtime.

Also, instead of allowing the blunder to die right there, the Big 12 has kept the officiating boner in the headlines by announcing Wednesday morning that the conference has, in accordance with the league’s sportsmanship policies, fined Hocutt $25,000.  Additionally, the AD was issued a public reprimand.

For publicly acknowledging that the conference had privately admitted its officials were wrong.

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby addressed the development in a statement.

The Big 12 Conference members have developed policies governing the officiating of our contests. It is vital that senior administration officials, especially the Directors of Athletics, adhere explicitly to these policies. It is very difficult to balance support for an institution’s teams while fully complying with the imperative created by schools acting together to manage athletics competition. On this occasion, the required discipline was not exercised. Kirby Hocutt is one of the very best athletics administrators in the nation, and I am grateful for his assistance and support in resolving this matter.

It should be noted that, in an email obtained by RedRaiderSports.com, Big 12 executive associate commissioner Ed Stewart reminds Hocutt that, “[c]onsistent with past practice, we typically do not publicly address judgment issues.”