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Contradicting Mark Dantonio, Michigan State says QB Brian Lewerke was checked for concussion vs. Illinois

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It’s not often that a school comes out firing to directly contradict their head coach on a subject but we’ve long since passed normal at Michigan State this season.

In the wake of the team’s dreadful collapse against Illinois last week, starting QB Brian Lewerke took a knee to the head from a defender and then subsequently was planted on the turf while trying to make a tackle the next play — after he threw an interception that was eventually turned into a momentum-swinging pick-six. The signal-caller told reporters after the game that he got his bell rung but he still stayed in the game.

While that sequence should have prompted Lewerke to go through the standard concussion protocol, head coach Mark Dantonio said at his Tuesday press conference that neither trainers nor coaches thought about pulling him from the game to do that because the player himself said he was fine despite the hits.

“Just I asked him and he said he’s good, and he motioned that to our trainers, as well, so he just went on with it,” Dantonio said.

That, however, is not exactly what happened and the general disregard seemingly shown over putting Lewerke through proper protocols prompted the university to issue a statement later on Tuesday clarifying the situation.

“The safety of student-athletes at Michigan State University is our No. 1 priority. Decisions on whether a player returns to competition after potentially suffering an injury are made by our medical staff, which does not report to our coaching staff or through the Athletics Department,” Michigan State health care chief medical officer and interim director of athletic medicine Dr. Anthony M. Avellino said in a statement released by the school. “Upon returning to the sideline late in the fourth quarter with under five minutes remaining in the game, Brian Lewerke was given a symptom assessment by our medical staff. After not showing signs of a concussion, he was cleared to play.

“As a precautionary measure, Brian was given further testing the following day, and was once again determined not to have a concussion.”

It’s good to know that the signal-caller didn’t get a concussion on the sequence in question but it was still a little bizarre to hear the head coach of the team imply that standard procedures were skipped simply because Lewerke said he was good. Almost all college football programs have a spotter in the press box to keep an eye on hits that may lead to players going through the protocol in addition to trainers on the sidelines.

It sounds like the Spartans did follow through with doing everything they should have but it does appear as though the head coach was the last to find out about it. It’s understandable that Dantonio might have gotten caught up in the heat of the moment of an epic collapse against the Illini but to not have his story straight three days later is a bit concerning.

At least the head coach knows his job isn’t in jeopardy from the incident (or others) because more than a few others in his position would not get quite the kind of pass that Dantonio gets on such a serious subject in college football nowadays.

Reports: Arkansas closing in on hiring Sam Pittman as head coach

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It appears we’re only steps away from the Hogs getting called.

According to a number of reports surfacing on Sunday, Arkansas has pivoted from hiring now-Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin to bringing in Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman as the team’s next head coach.

Pittman is widely regarded as one of the best assistant coaches in the SEC and developed a quality reputation for both recruiting and teaching along the offensive line. He was in Fayetteville from 2013-2015 under Bret Bielema and spent time at Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas and Northern Illinois and others over the years.

The Oklahoma native was recently elevated to associate head coach in Athens and was one of the few position coaches to come close making $1 million a year without a coordinator title.

Pittman will replace Chad Morris, who was fired in early November after going winless in conference play and posting a 4-18 overall record with the Hogs in less than two seasons.

Matchups, TV times and dates for 2019-20 bowl lineup announced

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The games have been played. The wins have been tallied. The touchdowns have been counted. The championship trophies have been hoisted.

Now it’s time for the college football postseason to commence.

So where is everybody going bowling? Here’s a look at the full lineup of games and who’s in them. All times ET, games on ESPN unless otherwise indicated.

College Football Playoff Semifinals

Bowl Teams
Peach Bowl – Dec. 28, 4pm No. 1 LSU No. 4 Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl – Dec. 28, 8pm No. 2 Ohio State No. 3 Clemson

New Year’s Six

Bowl Teams
Cotton Bowl – Dec. 28, Noon Memphis Penn State
Orange Bowl – Dec. 30, 8pm Florida Virginia
Rose Bowl – Jan. 1, 5pm Wisconsin Oregon
Sugar Bowl – Jan. 1, 8:45pm Baylor Georgia

2019 FBS Bowl Games

Bowl Teams
Bahamas Bowl – Dec. 20, 2 pm Buffalo Charlotte
Frisco Bowl – Dec. 20, 7:30pm** Kent State Utah State
New Mexico Bowl – Dec. 21, 2pm San Diego State Central Michigan
Cure Bowl – Dec. 21, 2:30pm^^ Georgia Southern Liberty
Boca Raton Bowl – Dec. 21, 3:30pm* SMU FAU
Camellia Bowl – Dec. 21, 5:30pm Arkansas State FIU
Vegas Bowl – Dec. 21, 7:30pm* Washington Boise State
New Orleans Bowl – Dec. 21, 9pm Appalachian State UAB
Gasparilla Bowl – Dec. 23, 2:30pm Marshall UCF
Hawaii Bowl – Dec. 24, 8pm Hawaii BYU
Independence Bowl – Dec. 26, 4pm Miami Louisiana Tech
Quick Lane Bowl – Dec. 26, 8pm Pitt Eastern Michigan
Military Bowl – Dec. 27, Noon UNC Temple
Pinstripe Bowl – Dec. 27, 3:30pm Michigan State Wake Forest
Texas Bowl – Dec. 27, 6:45pm Texas A&M Oklahoma State
Holiday Bowl – Dec. 27, 8pm++ USC Iowa
Cheez-It Bowl – Dec. 27, 10:15pm Washington State Air Force
Camping World Bowl – Dec. 28, Noon* Iowa State Notre Dame
First Responder Bowl – Dec. 30, 12:30pm Western Michigan Western Kentucky
Music City Bowl – Dec. 30, 4pm Louisville Mississippi State
RedBox Bowl – Dec. 30, 4pm+ Cal Illinois
Belk Bowl – Dec. 31, Noon Virginia Tech Kentucky
Sun Bowl – Dec. 31, 2pm^ Arizona State Florida State
Liberty Bowl – Dec. 31, 3:45pm Navy Kansas State
Arizona Bowl – Dec. 31, 4:30pm^^ Georgia State Wyoming
Alamo Bowl – Dec. 31, 7:30pm Texas Utah
Citrus Bowl – Jan. 1, 1pm* Alabama Michigan
Outback Bowl – Jan. 1, 1pm Minnesota Auburn
Birmingham Bowl – Jan. 2, 3pm Boston College Cincinnati
Gator Bowl – Jan. 2, 7pm Tennessee Indiana
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Jan. 3, 3:30pm Ohio Nevada
Armed Forces Bowl – Jan. 4, 11:30am Tulane Southern Miss
LendingTree Bowl – Jan. 6, 7:30pm Miami (OH) Louisiana

ABC

** ESPN2

Fox

++ FS1

CBS

^^ CBS Sports Network

Justin Fuente announces Bud Foster’s replacement as Virginia Tech DC

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While most of the focus on the Sunday after the regular season is reserved to teams finding out their postseason destination, Virginia Tech took the time to focus on the future beyond the next month.

Hokies head coach Justin Fuente confirmed that the was staying in-house to find Bud Foster’s replacement as the program’s defensive coordinator, tapping safeties coach and former player Justin Hamilton for the role.

“Justin has earned this opportunity to lead our defense and our football team,” Fuente said in a statement. “Everyone in our program has a great deal of respect for him and his abilities. Coach Foster has reiterated to me on several occasions that Justin is ready for this next step in his coaching career. I feel the same way and am convinced he’s exactly the right fit for this role at Virginia Tech. Coach Hamilton is a talented coach and recruiter with a deep passion for both the game and Virginia Tech. He possesses a great knack for connecting with our players. His voice carries tremendous weight on the field and in the locker room because he’s worn that helmet and experienced many of the same things the young men in our program are going through.”

Hamilton returned to Blacksburg last year in an off the field role before joining the coaching staff. He was a player at a number of spots under Frank Beamer and Foster from 2002-05 before spending some time in the NFL. Hamilton’s coaching career began at Virginia Military Institute and Virginia-Wise from 2011-2017.

There had been plenty of speculation that Fuente would tap ex-Missouri head coach Barry Odom as DC after the two had the same arrangement together at Memphis but it appears those rumors did not bear fruit.

Fuente also confirmed that running backs coach Zohn Burden and cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell will not return to the Virginia Tech coaching staff.

Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons wins 2019 Butkus Award as college football’s best linebacker

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It’s a pretty good day for Isaiah Simmons.

The Clemson linebacker woke up Sunday as an ACC Champion, found out later he was going to the College Football Playoff as the No. 3 seed and was also was named the winner of the 2019 Butkus Award as the best linebacker in the country.

“Simmons is one of the most versatile athletes to play the linebacker position. He’s an exceptional athlete with unique length and makes plays at all three levels, with terrific rush ability, blitz timing, cover skill and tackling range. He’s a modern-day linebacker with special match-up skills. For as good of a football player as he is, he’s a better person and will represent the Butkus Award with class,” a release confirming the news said.

The Kansas native has 93 tackles, seven sacks, a fumble and two interceptions on the season.

Simmons beat out Cal’s Evan Weaver, Wisconsin’s Zach Baun, Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks and Penn State’s Micah Parsons for the award.

LSU linebacker and top 10 pick Devin White won the trophy last year.