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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.

Former Bengals offensive coordinator reportedly joining Florida support staff

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Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is joining Florida’s staff as an analyst, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Benoit.

Zampese spent the 2016-17 seasons as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator after serving 13 seasons as Marvin Lewis‘s quarterbacks coach. Cincinnati went 13-18-1 in Zampese’s two seasons running the offense, which is why he spent 2018 as the Cleveland Browns’ quarterbacks coach and the first part of 2019 as the offensive coordinator for the AAF’s Atlanta Legends.

He is the son of former Chargers, Rams, Cowboys and Patriots offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese.

It is not immediately known what the younger Zampese’s role will be with the Gators, but his experience indicates he’ll work with Dan Mullen and coordinators John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales to develop Florida’s offensive plan and help Brian Johnson tutor the quarterbacks, or perhaps use his coordinator experience to self-scout Florida’s offense and scout Florida’s future opponents.

Arizona launched hostile workplace probe following sexual harassment claims against Wildcat football players

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Arizona launched a hostile workplace investigation into its football program following multiple claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment made by multiple female equipment managers against multiple former Wildcat football players, the program confirmed to the Tucson Daily Star.

Lawyers representing the university did not say when the probe took place, but did say it was sparked by two complaints made by female equipment mangers. From the paper:

In 2014, two UA students who worked as equipment managers separately reported incidents involving nonconsensual sex with football players. In August of that year, police were told that a 21-year-old woman working for the athletic department had sex at least twice with three UA football players while the she was heavily intoxicated. One of the players recorded at least one of the encounters and showed it to other students, the report said.

The woman told police that she lost her job after the recording was released, according to the report.

….

While investigating the woman’s claim, UA’s Title IX office approached former manager Jacquelyn Hinek, who had quit her job months before, citing pervasive sexual harassment. After speaking to UA investigators, Hinek told Tucson police that she had been sexually assaulted in April 2013 by several men associated with the football team while at an off-campus party. She said the incident was recorded on a cell phone and later shown to other students. 

“The Office of Institutional Equity conducted a thorough review of the football equipment manager program and there were no findings of sex discrimination as a result of that investigation,” UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson told the paper via email.

The probe was one of three major investigations into the football program.

Arizona is currently being sued for Title IX violations by an alleged victim of former Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford, whom the victim says hit, choked and imprisoned her over a 2-day period in September 2016. Bradford is currently serving a 5-year prison sentence, but the Title IX suit seeks to depose a number of key figures within the football program, including former head coach Rich Rodriguez, who himself was the subject of a hostile workplace investigation in 2017. Allegations of sexual harassment made by his former assistant led to his dismissal last January. Rodriguez has denied any sexual harassment claims, arguing instead they were an extortion attempt against him.

In total, Arizona said it investigated 27 athletes or athletic department employees for sexual harassment, sexual assault or domestic violence from 2012 through ’17 (the period coinciding with Rodriguez’s hiring and firing), eight of them involving the football program.

UConn reportedly looking to keep football program in FBS, not FCS

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All the reporting that came out since the bombshell reports saying Connecticut is looking to leave the American Athletic Conference to rejoin the non-football Big East have confirmed that, yes, this is really happening, likely in time for the 2020-21 athletic year. The reporting has also said that UConn’s soon-to-be-homeless football program will not drop down to FCS, but instead join a different conference or try to make it as an FBS independent.

On Saturday, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy tweeted that UConn has determined it will not return to FCS, where the program competed for most of its history before joining the then-power conference Big East in 2004.

On Sunday morning, NCAA.com’s Andy Katz followed with a note saying it looked like the Huskies will try to make a go of it as an independent, writing that UConn will attempt to schedule neighbors like UMass (a fellow independent), Boston College, Syracuse and Rutgers while honoring existing contracts for home-and-homes with Duke, Illinois, NC State and others.

For a check in with someone who might actually know something, let’s see what Huskies head coach Randy Edsall has to say.

Oh, well.

Either way, it sounds like the train is moving and we could hear something official sooner rather than later.

Steve Spurrier getting into the restaurant business

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Steve Spurrier hasn’t coached a college football team since 2015, but that doesn’t mean the Head Ball Coach has retired.

The former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and national championship head coach returned to his alma mater to serve as a brand ambassador in 2016, he’s appeared in commercials, and he won a self-proclaimed championship as head coach of the Orlando Apollos of the short-lived Alliance of American Football.

Now, he’s getting into the restaurant business.

On Friday, it was reported the 74-year-old Spurrier will announce that he’s seeking a partner to “operate his new American casual dining concept.”

Details are scarce at this point–that’s probably the point of the press conference–but I’m imagining Margaritaville with footballs. We’ll find out on Monday.