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Marshall, O’Leary and Smith selected to UCF athletics hall of fame

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Brandon MarshallGeorge O’Leary and Kevin Smith have been selected to the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame, the school announced Friday. The trio will join the remainder of the 6-member 2019 class for an induction ceremony on April 12 and a public recognition at the Knights’ spring game on April 13.

Marshall played wide receiver for the Knights from 2002-05. He did not become a full-time wide receiver until his senior campaign of ’05, where he snagged 74 passes for 1,195 yards and 11 touchdowns. That season was good enough to garner him a Second Team All-Conference USA selection and, more importantly, a fourth-round selection by the Denver Broncos, where his NFL exploits have outshined his accomplishments in Orlando. Closing in on 1,000 career catches, Marshall was a First Team All-Pro wideout in 2012, a Second Team All-Pro selection in 2015 and has appeared in a half-dozen Pro Bowls across his 13-year career.

Smith’s career trajectory was the opposite of Marshall’s. UCF’s starting running back from the day he stepped on campus in 2005, he toted 905 carries for 4,679 yards and 45 touchdowns during his three seasons in Orlando. As a junior in 2007, he rushed 450 times for a national-best 2,567 yards and a then-Conference USA record 29 touchdowns, making him the first Knight to ever become a consensus First Team All-American and the second to receive Heisman Trophy votes. He declared for the NFL draft after his junior campaign, where he became a third-round pick of the Detroit Lions and rushed for 2,346 yards in five seasons with the club.

Smith moved into coaching in 2015 and is now the running backs coach at Florida Atlantic, where in 2017 he helped Devin Singletary break his own C-USA record with 32 rushing touchdowns.

O’Leary was UCF’s head coach from 2004-15, where he shepherded the program (and, ultimately, the university) from the MAC, to Conference USA, to the American. His 12-year tenure saw the Knights go 81-68, book four 10-win seasons and win or share four conference championships, along with the building of an on-campus football stadium and a brand new football facility. O’Leary’s tenure was oddly bookended by winless seasons; UCF was 0-11 in the MAC, then went 0-12 in 2015 (the Knights were 0-8 when O’Leary resigned), a season that led to the Scott Frost hiring and the program’s FBS-best 25-game winning streak in 2017-18.

Three former Pac-12 refs blast Larry Scott in private letter over Woodie Dixon scandal

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Eventually, the Bad News Train tearing a hole up and down the West Coast will eventually come to a stop. Until that day arrives, though, that train just keeps on truckin’.

The latest incident arrives from the San Jose Mercury-News, where Jon Wilner — the Woodward to The Oregonian‘s Bernstein, with embattled commissioner Larry Scott serving as Richard Nixon in this metaphor — has the published a letter written by three former Pac-12 officials blasting the commissioner over his handling of the Pac-12’s officiating scandal.

As you’ll recall, last fall it was revealed that Pac-12 general counsel Woodie Dixon remotely intervened to incorrectly overturn a targeting call in favor of USC during the Trojans’ 3-point win over Washington State in late September. Scott said the incident was an isolated one and then triggered a comprehensive review of the league’s officiating process, but three refs have stepped forward to rebuke Scott, saying he’s looking at the wrong people.

The trio — Chuck CzubinFred Gallagher and Mack Gilchrist — have more than a century as Pac-12 refs between them, and in December they sent a letter to Scott and Pac-12 vice president of officiating David Coleman. They then sent the email to Wilner last month and to Pac-12 ADs Ray Anderson (Arizona State), Rob Mullens (Oregon), Scott Barnes (Oregon State), and Rick George (Colorado) three days after they sent it to Wilner; Wilner published it today. On the Dixon incident, the group writes:

Mr. Scott, you know from personal experience this is not the first time he has overstepped his bounds…. Woodie singlehandedly caused the exit of the former Supervisor of Officials, and it is well known that several years ago he wanted to fire the gentleman who is now your Replay Supervisor. After the latest incident there is no question the Conference was far more interested in covering this up and finding the source of the info, rather than dealing with Woodie. You did so by removing a very valuable training tool for IR (instant replay). In your blind and bumbled approach you hid our reports and grades. This info had previously been transparent, which allowed IR to confer within itself…. Instead of dropping the hammer on Woodie you dropped it on IR. 

The Pac-12 declined to comment on the letter, but Scott himself responded to Czubin, Gallagher and Gilchrist on March 5. “[W]e are always seeking new ways to improve our program, and have recently made the decision to hire an outside expert to initiate a review of our football officiating program. The review will include assessments of many of the areas you highlight in your letter, and will definitely take into account feedback from officials,” he wrote. The conference announced it had hired Sibson Consulting to examine its refereeing program on Feb. 23.

If further reporting details that Dixon has intervened on more games than just last year’s Wazzu-USC game and Scott was aware of it, it would call into question the integrity of Pac-12 football itself under Scott’s watch, and the commissioner’s tenure may then follow the footsteps of Nixon’s all the way out the door.

Injured former Southern WR Devon Gales lands job as Georgia HS coach

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Devon Gales is back in football. The Southern wide receiver, who was paralyzed during a 2015 game at Georgia, will join the staff as an assistant coach at Jefferson High School in Georgia, according WDUN-AM.

Gales has remained in Georgia since the injury, transferring from an Athens hospital to an Atlanta rehabilitation facility soon after the collision that left him unable to move his extremities. He was released from the hospital five months later, and Georgia fans helped fund a handicapped-accessible home for him and his family in Jefferson, Ga., a town 20 miles north of Athens, where the family has lived since July.

Gales spoke to the Jefferson High School senior class, which led Jefferson superintendent Dr. John Jackson to invite Gales to join the staff.

“It was brought to our attention upon meeting this wonderful family that Devon missed the game and practices and being part of a football team in the game he still loved so much,” Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart told WDUN. “Dr. John Jackson had the idea of getting him involved in our program in some way and how our young men would benefit from his living example, character, strength in facing adversity and perseverance.”

 

Mississippi State offensive lineman arrested for numerous traffic violations

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In the SEC, it just means more… traffic tickets.

At least that’s the case for Mississippi State offensive lineman Tommy Champion, who was arrested by the school’s police department for a litany of traffic violations that far exceed his accomplishments on the field.

Per the Clarion Ledger, Champion hit the trifecta of driving with an expired tag, an expired license and no insurance. He faces as much as six months-worth of jail time as a result, a $1,000 fine and his license further being suspended for up to a year according to the paper.

A backup offensive tackle, Champion arrived in Starkville after a stop in junior college and redshirted his first year with the team. He was a reserve last season and was expected to add depth along the line for Joe Moorhead’s squad again in 2019.

The news of Champion’s arrest comes just as the Bulldogs were starting spring practice back up this week.

Tennessee DB Kenneth George Jr. arrested after reportedly punching police officer

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Attention in Tennessee is largely focused on the Vols basketball team this month but somehow the Power T’s football squad managed to find a way to steal more than a few headlines on Thursday.

And not in a good way for those back in Knoxville.

Redshirt junior defensive back Kenneth George Jr. was arrested in Miami Beach early on Thursday morning according to local station WPLG 10. However he wasn’t just picked up by police for anything you would normally associate with spring break in South Florida…no, he was arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, resisting an officer without violence and disorderly conduct.

Per WPLG:

“Police said George was cursing at one of the officers and ignoring his commands. As the officer tried to get him out of the street, George punched him and knocked the police radio out of his hands, the report said.

George then ran away before other officers caught up with him near Espanola Way and Washington Avenue, the report said.

According to the report, once in custody, George said, “He hit me first. Why can’t I hit him back?”

So far the school has not made any concrete statement beyond saying they are gathering facts on the story but we’re guessing that George’s days with the Vols are limited as a result of his actions. The Louisiana native is a junior college transfer into the program but missed most of last season with an injury.