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Jim Harbaugh fires back at Luke Fickell over James Hudson’s waiver denial

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The last Ohio State head coach to lose to Michigan and the current Michigan head coach who has never beaten Ohio State have found themselves entangled in a very public beef that, ostensibly, has absolutely nothing to do with The Game.

The very extended backstory, for those unaware:

After James Hudson transferred from Michigan to Cincinnati late last year, the offensive lineman cited “mental struggles” that arose at U-M as the basis for his appeal for an immediate-eligibility waiver that was denied by the NCAA, a denial that was in very large part based on Hudson never speaking up about the mental health issues while at U-M.  That could’ve been the end of it… except Jim Harbaugh decided to weigh in during the Big Ten Media Days on mental health claims by transfers seeking waivers through the NCAA.

“And the other piece that bothers me about it is, the youngster that says ‘this is a mental health issue, I’m suffering from depression.’ Or that’s a reason to get eligible,” the Wolverines head coach said in July. “And once that’s known that ‘hey, say this or say that’ to get eligible. The problem I see in that is you’re going to have guys that are ‘OK, yeah, I’m depressed.'”

The intimation that some transfers lie about mental health issues didn’t sit well with either the offensive lineman’s mother or his new head football coach Luke Fickell, with the latter very passionately stating in a very well-done piece that appeared in The Athletic this week that U-M could’ve gone to bat for its former player in the appeals process but chose not to.

“Here’s what I believe in the whole waiver process: the number one, most important thing, and all the power, comes from the school that a kid is leaving. No matter what,” Fickell told website. “(Michigan) didn’t back the waiver. They can say what they want to say, but the only thing they said that was positive was that if the NCAA chooses to make (Hudson) eligible, then they would accept it — that they didn’t have an angle. They are just trying to cover their ass. And I’m really, completely disappointed in it. …

“All the power is in the hands of the school a player is leaving. If they want to help, they can help them become eligible. … They can say they didn’t undermine it, but they didn’t work to help the kid out. ”

Tuesday night, Harbaugh fired back at his fellow head coach.  From mlive.com:

Unless I’m reading them wrong or mistaken, I believe [Fickell’s] under the impression that these waivers are decided coach-to-coach in some kind of deal fashion. That is not the understanding I’m under. I’m under the understanding that the NCAA decides these waivers.

“Unless he has something that he has and can bring forth and share, enlighten us and the entire football world, I would really like to know what that is. …

“And I told him, ‘Coach, I believe in telling the truth. Forthright, honest. What I told James, what I tell you, what I tell compliance is going to be the truth. I read the article. He asked the question in the article: ‘What’s most important, your personal beliefs or what’s in the best interest of the kid?’ And I can answer that: What’s most important is the truth.

“I’m astounded that he’s gotten to where he’s at by not knowing the answer to that question.

Bottom line?  Harbaugh and the U-M football program could’ve done something above and beyond to help Hudson in the waiver process but chose to do the absolute bare minimum, which is absolutely their right.

Juxtapose that, though, with Ohio State supporting and actively assisting Blue Smith‘s appeal for immediate eligibility at Cincinnati even as the wide receiver will potentially, after being granted a waiver, face his former team this coming season as the Buckeyes and Bearcats will square off in Week 2 of the 2019 campaign.  And then there was Alabama earlier this offseason supporting a run-off waiver for Kyriq McDonald, who was granted an immediate-eligibility waiver months after transferring from the Crimson Tide to the Bearcats.

“What Alabama did, what Ohio State did, they didn’t have to,” Fickell said in The Athletic piece.

There’s one way to handle these situations and there’s another way a classy program wouldn’t.  There is a right way and a petty way to do it.  Here’s to guessing that prospects on the recruiting trail, with the aid of rival coaches, will figure out which is which.

Miami lands commitment from three-star 2020 Washington State signee Keyshawn Smith

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The personnel roll on which the Miami Hurricanes football program has been on is showing no signs of abatement.

After some initial uncertainty, Houston quarterback D’Eriq King announced Monday that he will be transferring to the Miami Hurricanes football team.  Not long after, AAC Defensive Player of the Year Quincy Roche announced that he will be doing the same.  Hell, even the Florida International kicker who taunted Miami after beating them joined the Hurricanes.

A day after King and Roche hopped aboard, so did Keyshawn Smith — although his addition comes with a bit of a twist.

Writing “[m]y dream school is the University of Miami,” the Class of 2020 wide receiver announced on Twitter that he is committing to The U.  The twist comes in the fact that Smith had signed his National Letter of Intent with Washington State during the Early Signing Period last month.

Because Mike Leach subsequently left Wazzu to take the Mississippi State job, however, Smith’s old school released him from his NLI so he could join his new school.

“From the West Coast to the East Coast, I am ready to get it going in the 305!” Lewis wrote. “Let’s do this!

“Special thanks to everyone that supported me through this very long process.”

Smith is expected to enroll in classes at U-M this week.  That will allow him to participate in spring practice with his new Miami Hurricanes football teammates.

A three-star prospect, Smith was rated as the No. 152 receiver in the country and the No. 84 player in the state of California regardless of position.  Smith would be the third receiver added by the Hurricanes this cycle, the others being four-star recruits in Michael Redding III and Dazalin Worsham.  The former is the No. 28 player at the position, the latter No. 57.

Third NC State football player this month hits the portal

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Who does this NC State football team think it is, Clemson?

Citing an unnamed source, 247Sports.com has reported that defensive lineman Joseph Boletepeli (pictured, No. 99) has entered the NCAA transfer database.  The website did note that “Boletepeli is still on the active roster for the Wolfpack and can still return to the program despite entering the portal.”

No specific reason for the decision was given, although playing time certainly played a role.

A three-star member of the Class of 2018 for NC State football, Boletepeli was rated as the No. 27 player regardless of position in the state of North Carolina.  During his two seasons with the Wolfpack, Boletepeli played in seven games.  Four of those appearances came this past season.

Boletepeli started the first two games of his true freshman campaign.  This season, Boletepeli was a No. 2 defensive end who ultimately dropped further down on the depth chart.

Barring something unexpected, Boletepeli will have to sit out the 2020 season if he moves on to another FBS school.  That would then leave him with two years of eligibility he could begin using in 2021.

Boletepeli is the third NC State football player to enter the portal this month.  Jan. 7, linebacker Brock Miller announced on Twitter that he was leaving as a graduate transfer.  A week later, defensive end Jeffrey Gunter was reported to be making the same move.

Over the weekend, Miller announced that he would be transferring to Boise State.

Southern Miss co-DC Derek Nicholson moves on to Louisville

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A familiar face has returned to the Louisville football coaching family.

In a release, Louisville announced that ACC Coach of the Year Scott Satterfield has hired Derek Nicholson to his staff as inside linebackers coach.  Nicholson will take over the void left by Dale Jones‘ departure for the defensive coordinator job at Appalachian State.

“Derek has an infectious personality that will blend well within our staff,” the Louisville football head coach said in a statement. “He will bring great energy to our program and is an excellent recruiter. He has shown that he’s a great teacher of defensive football and will be a great addition to our defensive staff.”

This will be Nicholson’s second stint with the Louisville football team.  In 2014, Nicholson coached the Cardinals’ outside linebackers and defensive ends.

In between his time at the UofL, Nicholson spent four years at Southern Miss.  The first two he coached the defensive line.  He was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach the past two seasons.

Nicholson played his college football at Florida State.

“I’d like to thank Scott Satterfield, Bryan Brown, Cort Dennison and the rest of the Louisville football program for this amazing opportunity,” Nicholson said. “My family and I are extremely excited to be back at Louisville and in the Atlantic Coast Conference. I look forward to working with the coaching staff and coaching the inside linebackers. There is something special is brewing in Louisville and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Marshall WR Obi Obialo makes way into the portal

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One of the best names in the sport, and a Marshall Thundering Herd football player to boot, is the latest to hit the portal.

Over the weekend, Obi Obialo announced on his personal Twitter account that he has decided to place his name into the NCAA transfer database.  The move is normally the first step in a departure, although the wide receiver could always return to the Marshall Thundering Herd football team.

“I want to thank all of the coaches and staff at Marshall for the opportunity to grow into the person and player I am today,” Obialo wrote.

Obialo also confirmed in the same post that he will be leaving the Herd as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will serve as his final season of collegiate eligibility.

Obialo actually began his playing career at Oklahoma State as a three-star 2016 signee who was originally a walk-on.  In May of 2017, Obialo opted to transfer from OSU.  A month later, he moved on to Marshall.

In 2017 and 2018, Obialo started 16 games for the Thundering Herd, including all 13 in the latter season.  In that 2018 season, Obialo was second on the team in receptions (42), receiving yards (505) and receiving touchdowns (four).

A foot injury sidelined Obialo for all but one game this past season.  In that limited action, he caught 18 passes for 244 yards.

Because he played in just the four games, that will allow Obialo to take a redshirt for the 2019 season.  The move also preserved a year of eligibility that he will presumably use elsewhere.