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Oregon, Willie Taggart being sued by ex-Duck for $11.5 million

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If either Oregon or Willie Taggart thought they were done with each other, at least off the field, both parties can think again.

In January of 2017, three Oregon football players were hospitalized following a workout in the weeks after Willie Taggart, now the head coach at Florida State, was hired as the Ducks’ head coach. One of those players, Doug Brenner, The Oregonian is reporting, is suing Taggart, the University of Oregon, UO’s former strength & conditioning as well as the NCAA for $11.5 million in connection to the incident.

Brenner, along with fellow offensive lineman Sam Poutasi and tight end Cam McCormick, was ultimately diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle cells break down and its byproducts are released into the bloodstream. According to Brenner’s lawsuit, his life span has been shortened by upwards of 10 years as a result of “severe injuries, some of which are permanent, permanent renal injury… increased susceptibility of kidney failure, kidney disease, and death, severe physical and emotional pain.”

The strength & conditioning coach in charge of the workout that preceded the players’ hospitalization, Irele Oderinde, was suspended by the University of Oregon but reinstated a month later. Oderinde is now a member of Taggart’s support staff at Florida State and is currently listed as the football program’s head strength & conditioning coach.

“The well-being and safety of our students are our top priorities at the University of Oregon,” a statement from the university began. “We have been advised of the litigation filed today but have not been served a copy of the complaint, at which point we will respond appropriately in the court proceedings. In light of the pending litigation, we don’t have any additional comment at this time.”

Neither Taggart nor Florida State has issued a response to the filing of the lawsuit.

UMass announces 10-game series with Army, rescheduled Mississippi State game, road trip to Penn State and more

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As an independent program, UMass has plenty of room to fill on the future football schedules. Because slots fill up quickly and well in advance these days, UMass has been busy trying to secure games for the Minutemen well into the future. On Thursday, UMass rolled out details about a number of scheduling plans including long-term home-and-home deals with Army and Liberty, a rescheduling of a game against Mississippi State, new home-and-home deals with Missouri, Eastern Michigan, New Mexico, and Northern Illinois, and a future road game at Penn State.

UMass and Army will begin a 10-year home-and-home series this fall with the Minutemen hosting the Black Knights this fall and again in odd-numbered years; 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027. Army will host UMass in 2020, 2022, 2024, 2026, and 2028. UMass will also continue their series with Liberty, which started with a meeting last fall, in another 10-game series. The two had previously arranged for an eight-game scheduling agreement that ran through 2025. Two more games have been tacked on for 2026 at UMass and 2027 at Liberty.

A game at Mississippi State originally scheduled for 2020 has now been rescheduled to be played in 2024 instead. In that 2024 season, UMass will also host Missouri in the first part of a home-and-home deal that will conclude at Missouri in 2025.

A home-and-home deal with New Mexico will begin on the road against the Lobos in 2020 and conclude in 2023 at UMass. Home-and-home deals with former MAC opponents Eastern Michigan (2021-2024) and Northern Illinois (2024-2025) are also on the books.

UMass will visit Penn State on Nov. 11, 2023 as part of an agreement that also includes a home-and-home men’s basketball series beginning in 2021 at UMass. UMass will only get the one game against the Nittany Lions in State College as part of the agreement.

The exact dates for all of these new game son the schedule, along with other games previously scheduled by UMass, can be found HERE.

Georgia Southern extends contract of Chad Lunsford through 2023

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After a complete turnaround season in his first season as head coach, Chad Lunsford has received a contract extension at Georgia Southern. The program announced today an agreement has been reached between the athletics department and Lunsford on a one-year contract extension that will keep the head coach in place through the 2023 season. All that is needed to make it officially official is a vote of approval from the Board of Regents.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity and this platform at Georgia Southern,” Lunsford said in a released statement. “God has blessed my family and I’m honored to represent Georgia Southern University. Being the head football coach at Georgia Southern is something that I don’t take lightly and look forward to continuing to work to help our team and university go from good to great. It’s a dream to work with a program that has so much tradition and a fan base with so much passion.”

“This football team, led by Coach Lunsford and his staff, had incredible success this season,” Georgia Southern athletics director Tom Kleinlein said in a statement. “It was important that we continue to build on the success of this team by maintaining the current leadership of the program.”

Lunsford took over the program as an interim coach following the in-season dismissal of Tyson Summers in 2017 after a 0-6 start to the season. Lunsford finished the second half of the season by picking up a record of 2-4 and had his interim tag removed. The Eagles went 10-3 in the 2018 season for one of the biggest turnaround seasons in the country. The season ended with a victory over Eastern Michigan in the Camelia Bowl with a game-winning field goal as time expired. It was the best season since the program moved up to the FBS in 2014.

Utah lands former four-star QB Cameron Rising from Longhorns

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Just days after making an official visit to Utah, it appears Cameron Rising liked what he saw. Rising announced he has decided to transfer to Utah after previously deciding not to return to Texas, as first reported by UteZone.

Rising was a four-star pro-style quarterback recruit in the Class of 2018 for the Texas Longhorns. He had committed to the Longhorns in 2017 after previously committing to Oklahoma, but it did not appear he was going to get a chance to play much for Texas with Sam Ehlinger standing in the way. Ehlinger’s role in the Texas offense also led to the decision of Shane Buechele to enter the NCAA transfer portal as well.

Rising did not play for the Longhorns in 2018 and used a redshirt to preserve four years of eligibility. However, he will still have to sit out the 2019 season due to NCAA transfer rules and will not be eligible to play again until 2020. At that time, Rising will have three years of eligibility at his disposal. That timing could work out for the Utes as Tyler Huntley will be back for his senior season in Salt Lake City this fall.

Before Rising steps right into the starting role, however, he may have to beat out Jason Shelley for the job in 2020. Shelley had an up-and-down freshman season in relief of Huntley that didn’t inspire a tremendous amount of confidence in the future of the passing game for Utah. That may have been why Kyle Whittingham pursued the transfer of Rising once the former four-star recruit became an option.

Urban Meyer reportedly heading back to TV as FOX Sports college football analyst

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This probably to be expected. Just as he did the last time he retired from coaching college football, it appears Urban Meyer could be heading back to covering the sport in front of a TV camera.

According to a report from Sporting News, Meyer is working on closing on a deal to join FOX Sports as an analyst. It is not yet determined if that means Meyer will be working in a broadcast booth as he did previously with ESPN following his retirement from coaching at Florida or if he will be a studio analyst for FOX broadcasts.

FOX has been feverishly working the past few years to improve its overall college football presentation. FOX has been a broadcast partner for the Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12 and has been the only network to air the Big Ten and Pac-12 conference championship games. However, FOX has yielded its rights to the Big 12 championship game for 2019, 2021 and 2023. FOX also has rights to broadcast Conference USA games as well as the Sun Bowl. While ESPN continues to be the leader in the college football broadcast game, FOX has come along nicely and continues to find ways to improve their coverage.

The possible addition of Meyer would be a good one, whether it places him in a booth or in a studio to breakdown the games for pregame, halftime and postgame coverage. His first year in the broadcast game in 2011 went fairly smoothly, and he may be able to have a smooth transition back into the game in either role if he closes the deal with FOX.

Meyer retired as head coach of Ohio State following Ohio State’s Rose Bowl victory over Washington, although he remained a part of the athletics program with a role still to be ironed out in full. However, if Meyer does return to TV, that may be the official end of his time with Ohio State completely. Of course, Meyer only spent one season in the booth after his last retirement before accepting a job offer from Ohio State. Will this be another short-term gig for Meyer? We’ll see.