On Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee, the NFL Draft will kick off a three-day event that bridges the gap between college football and the NFL on an annual basis. The Arizona Cardinals will have the No. 1 pick in the draft and there is a possibility Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray could be the top pick of the draft. If that proves to be the case, then the Sooners will pull off one of the rarest feats in the NFL Draft by having the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft two years in a row.
Last year saw Baker Mayfield leave Oklahoma to be the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft of the Cleveland Browns. If Murray is selected as the first player overall by the Cardinals (or any other team that moves up to the top spot), it will mark the first time since 1968 and 1969 when the top pick in the draft was selected out of the same school in consecutive seasons. USC’s Ron Yary was the top pick of the 1968 draft by the Minnesota Vikings, and running back O.J. Simpson was the top pick of the draft by the Buffalo Bills the following season. That remains the first and only time the top picks in consecutive drafts have come from the same school.
If Murray does go first overall, some history will also be made that will separate this feat from the one previously accomplished by USC. This would also mark the first time two Heisman Trophy winners from the same school have been selected with the top pick in the draft in consecutive seasons. Granted, it hasn’t been too often the same school had back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners, to begin with, not to mention having two within the same four or five-year period, but it’s been a good couple of years for the Sooners with Mayfield and Murray.
It’s also worth a reminder both Mayfield and Murray were transfer players as well, adding another layer to the improbability of the rare milestone Oklahoma is potentially in line to pull off this week. Naturally, this would be quite a piece of recruiting propaganda for Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, who was named head coach of the Sooners just two years ago following the retirement of Bob Stoops.
Southern Miss and Troy on Tuesday jointly announced a four-game series to be spread across the next decade.
Troy will visit Hattiesburg on Sept. 18, 2021, but Southern Miss will not make a return visit until Sept. 14, 2024. The teams will then take the next three years off before resuming in Troy again on Sept. 16, 2028, and the series will conclude on Sept. 1, 2029 in Hattiesburg.
“We are excited to announce these future games for our football program,” Southern Miss AD Jeremy McClain said. “Our scheduling philosophy moving forward will continue to include regionally based opponents that provide great opportunities for fans to enjoy Golden Eagle football.”
Southern Miss and Troy have met nine times previously, first in 1937 and most recently 2016. The Trojans won both of those games, while Southern Miss took the seven in between.
As of today, Southern Miss has its entire 2021 non-conference slate lined up against teams from the state of Alabama. The Golden Eagles open at South Alabama, then visit Tuscaloosa a week after hosting Troy. The Trojans stand as USM’s only non-conference opponent on the books for the 2024, ’28 and ’29 seasons.
Troy, meanwhile, hosts Liberty on Sept. 11, 2021, and visits South Carolina a week after the trip to Hattiesburg. The Trojans will visit Memphis a week before hosting USM in 2024, and have no other games scheduled in 2028 or ’29.
Wyoming has hired Willie Mack Garza as the club’s safeties coach, the program announced Tuesday.
Garza is a new name to Cowboys fans but not new to head coach Craig Bohl. Garza worked for Bohl at North Dakota State from 2005-08. That stint led him to join Lane Kiffin‘s staffs at Tennessee (2009) and USC (’10). At Tennessee, Garza committed a show-cause penalty for violating a recruiting rule.
“I do want to make one thing clear, Willie Mack has acknowledged a mistake he made 10 years ago that resulted in him being disciplined by the NCAA for a recruiting violation,” Bohl said. “Since then, he has been reinstated by the NCAA. We have a reputation of holding ourselves to high ethical standards here at the University of Wyoming, and I expect Coach Garza to follow those high standards.”
Garza spent the past two seasons at Dixie State, a Division II school in Utah, including one as defensive coordinator. He left Dixie State earlier this year to become the co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Texas A&M-Commerce, another Division II school.
“First and foremost this is a blessing that Coach (Craig) Bohl and the University of Wyoming Athletics Department has provided me this opportunity to come coach here,” said Garza. “I love coaching. It is in my blood. I love being around the players and the other coaches, going into the WAR Room and preparing. This is also an opportunity for me to provide a platform for young men to be successful on and off the football field in the four to five years that they are here and for the rest of their lives.”
With Garza aboard, Cowboys defensive coordinator Jake Dickert will now transition to linebackers coach in addition to his coordinator duties.
The transfer train has made frequent stops in Columbia throughout the offseason, and the month of May has been no exception.
Cole Cubelic of the SEC Network was the first to report Monday that the name of safety Jonathan Gipson is now listed in the NCAA transfer database. Additionally, 247Sports.com is reporting that wide receiver-turned-running back Joe Thomas has entered the portal as well.
After coming to the Gamecocks as a three-star 2018 signee, Gipson played in two games as a true freshman. Because he played in fewer than four games, Gipson can take a redshirt for 2018, which would leave him with four years of eligibility. However, barring something unexpected, Gipson would have to sit out the 2019 season if he moves on to another FBS program, meaning he’d have three years to play three seasons beginning in 2020.
Thomas, a walk-on, played in two games this past season as well.
Gipson and Thomas are at least the eighth and ninth players to transfer from the Gamecocks this offseason, joining, among others, defensive end Shameik Blackshear (HERE), linebacker Zay Brown (HERE), quarterback Darius Douglas (HERE) and running back Ty’Son Williams (HERE).
In late November of 2017, Mississippi State confirmed that Joe Moorhead would replace Dan Mullen as its head football coach. One season into his tenure, and Moorhead’s already being rewarded with a reworked deal as MSU announced Tuesday the university and the coach have reached an agreement on a four-year contract extension through the 2022 season.
Moorhead is set to make an average of $3.2 million annually under the terms of the new deal, compared to the $2.6 million he earned in 2018. The new figure would make him the 11th-highest-paid head coach in the SEC, up from 13 (out of 14 schools) a year ago.
“We are excited about the leadership of Mississippi State football under Coach Moorhead,” athletic director John Cohen said in a statement. “He is a man of integrity, loyalty and humility. His love for his players and our program is evident. He is driven by elevating our program to a championship standard on and off the field. We look forward to watching the continued growth of our football program under his watch.”
“It’s a privilege to be the head football coach at Mississippi State,” a statement from Moorhead began. “I want to thank John, President (Mark) Keenum and this wonderful University for believing in me. My family and I love Starkville. For me, it’s about building a championship program our Bulldog fans can be proud of and helping our players maximize their potential on and off the field, while walking away with a meaningful degree from Mississippi State University. Our team is excited about the season ahead, and I look forward to continuing to elevate our program in everything we do.”
In his first season in Starkville, Moorhead guided the Bulldogs to an 8-5 record, a mark that included an Outback Bowl loss to Iowa. According to the school, Moorhead is the second MSU head coach to win eight or more games in his debut season and the first since College Football Hall of Famer Allyn McKeen in 1939.