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Arkansas fires head coach Chad Morris

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Losing to both a Conference USA and a Mountain West team at home is going to make life difficult for any Power Five head coach and it appears that was the final straw that Arkansas needed to judge the tenure of the head coach.

The Razorbacks fired Chad Morris on Sunday after just 22 games in charge of the program following a blowout loss to Western Kentucky. KFSM was the first to report the firing.

“As part of my continued evaluation, I have come to the conclusion that a change in leadership is necessary to move our football program forward and position it for success,” athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a release. “It is clear that we have not made the progress necessary to compete and win, especially within the Southeastern Conference. Throughout our history in football, as well as with our other sport programs, we have demonstrated that the University of Arkansas is capable of being nationally competitive. I have no doubt that as we move forward, we will identify a head coach that will help lead our program to that benchmark.

“I want to express my personal and professional regard to Coach Morris and thank him for his investment in the lives of our student-athletes.”

Morris departs with a 4-18 overall record, which includes going winless in SEC play during his two years as head coach. When including his tenure leading SMU, the former Clemson offensive coordinator is just 18-40 overall as a head coach with just one winning season.

The Texas native was expected to be a breath of fresh air for the program who could bring a spread offense to town and reenergize recruiting links to the Lone Star State that had faded away under previous coach Bret Bielema. However he and his staff never seemed to be able to get things together between the lines, generally becoming uncompetitive in league play and losing to the likes of North Texas, WKU and Colorado State didn’t help matters one bit.

Morris is expected to receive a buyout just over $10 million as a result of his firing, which might have been made easier for the school to swallow after they stopped paying Bielema’s own large buyout earlier this year as part of some legal wrangling. Former Razorback quarterback and tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. will serve as the interim head football coach for the remainder of the 2019 season.

Yurachek, who was hired after Morris in December of 2017, is expected to conduct a quick search and will undoubtedly focus on somebody with ties to the state like Memphis head coach Mike Norvell or perhaps somebody along the lines of Louisiana-Lafayette’s Billy Napier. While the job is an SEC gig, its placement in the West division with heavyweights like LSU, Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M make life difficult on a yearly basis in league play but it wasn’t long ago at all that Bobby Petrino was winning double-digit games in Fayetteville and earning a top 25 ranking.

Either way, the writing was on the wall this weekend after the team lost to another Group of Five opponent and the end result was a parting of ways with Morris that nearly everybody saw coming at some point.

Auburn’s Derrick Brown named Lott IMPACT Trophy winner

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Finally, one of the top defensive players in the nation has been recognized with a significant hardware win.

Sunday night, it was announced that Auburn’s Derrick Brown has been named as the winner of the 2019 Lott IMPACT Trophy.  This award, named for one of the game’s all-time greats, highlights a player’s performance on the field as well as off of it.

Not only does this award honor defensive excellence on the field but the player who most represents the qualities of the honor’s namesake, former USC All-American Ronnie Lott, off of it — Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.

Brown is the first-ever player from Auburn to win the award.  The defensive tackle is also the second-straight player from the SEC to claim it, with Kentucky’s Josh Allen serving as the 2018 winner.

In addition to Brown, the other finalists for this year’s Lott IMPACT Trophy were Ohio State safety Jordan Fuller, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons and Cal linebacker Evan Weaver.

Mizzou confirms Eli Drinkwitz will retain Brick Haley

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After a run on bringing in assistants from Boone, Eli Drinkwitz has gotten about the business of retention in Columbia.

In a press release, Missouri confirmed that Drinkwitz has decided to retain Brick Haley as part of his first coaching staff with the football program.  Haley wil continue on as the Tigers’ defensive line coach, and will carry the title of assistant head coach as well.

“In my short time of being around Brick I know him to be a man of high character who gets the most out of his players,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “His wealth of knowledge with the defensive line is exactly what we’re looking for to motivate young men.”

Haley has spent the past three seasons with the Tigers.  Prior to that, he was the line coach at Texas (2015-16), LSU (2009-14) and Mississippi State (2004-06) at the collegiate level.

From 2007-08, Haley was the line coach for the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue at Mizzou and I’m excited to work with Coach Drink and his staff,” said Haley. “Our family loves Mizzou and being part of the Columbia community, so we’re thrilled to keep stakes in the ground here and I’m looking forward to getting to work on doing great things.”

Alex Hornibrook no longer with Florida State

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It seems Alex Hornibrook‘s college career is complete.

Florida State interim head coach Odell Haggins said on Saturday that Hornibrook is no longer with the Seminoles as the club prepares for the Sun Bowl

He will join (former) teammate Cam Akers in that regard.

A graduate transfer from Wisconsin, Hornibrook appeared in five games this season. His peak as a Seminole came on Sept. 28, when he completed 29-of-40 passes for 316 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. For the year, Hornibrook hit 84-of-122 throws for 986 yards with seven scores versus two picks.

In three years at Wisconsin, Hornibrook threw for 5,438 yards and 47 touchdowns.

SMU WR Reggie Roberson, Jr., to return for senior season

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SMU wide receiver Reggie Roberson, Jr., will return for his senior season in 2020, he announced earlier this week.

Roberson did so through a statement that at first read as if he would leave the Hilltop. “In the past couple of weeks, it has come to my attention that I am able to forgo my senior year and enter the NFL draft. I want to thank Coach Dykes for giving me the opportunity to come to SMU, and play the game I love in my hometown in front of my family and friends,” it began.

However, like a a classic Roberson open field move, he quickly changed directions and sprinted toward opportunity. “I have decided to come back and play my senior year at SMU. There is a lot of unfinished business that I left on the field that I need to take care of next season.”

A native of DeSoto, Texas, just south of Dallas, Roberson was one of SMU’s top players before he was lost to a foot injury in October. He caught 11 passes for 180 yards in the Ponies’ opening week win over Arkansas State and hauled in eight passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-21 drubbing of Temple on Oct. 19.

For the year, Roberson caught 43 passes for 803 yards and six touchdowns over seven-plus games. Spread over a 13-game season, he was on pace to end the year in the neighborhood of 80 receptions for 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Roberson originally signed with West Virginia out of high school.