It has been a dismal season for Northwestern football but fans were at least treated to a double-helping of good news to conclude the 2019 campaign.
Following Saturday’s surprise win over in-state rival Illinois, Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald announced a move many supporters were calling for: offensive coordinator/QB coach Mick McCall will not return to Evanston in 2020.
“Mick was one of the first hires I made when given the honor of leading this program, and has been a trusted colleague and loyal friend for almost my entire tenure,” said Fitzgerald in a statement. “He’s guided our offense through unquestionably one of the most successful periods in Wildcats history, with four bowl championships and nine postseason appearances. Mick recruited and coached great student-athletes and exceptional young men who have made the Northwestern community proud in so many ways after graduation.”
McCall spent a dozen years leading Northwestern’s offense, highlighted by 2018’s trip to the Big Ten Championship Game and a division title behind Clayton Thorson. However his unit essentially fell off a cliff this season despite the addition of highly touted five-star transfer Hunter Johnson from Clemson. The Wildcats ranked No. 128 in FBS in yards per play and were the statistically worst Power Five offense in the country.
Fitzgerald has been one of the few head coaches who has resisted making staff changes (or had the need to) but that does not appear to be the case now as NU will be re-tooling with a new OC in 2020.
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.
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.”
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 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.