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Former Georgia Tech, Kansas, UCLA head coach Pepper Rodgers dies at 88 after being hospitalized following a fall at his home last week

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Pepper Rodgers, one of the more colorful characters in college football history, has died at 88.

The family of Pepper Rodgers confirmed that the long-time college coach died Thursday at the age of 88.  Rodgers had been hospitalized following a fall at his home last week.

Rodgers played his college football at Georgia Tech, with the quarterback helping lead the Yellow Jackets to the 1952 national championship.  Rodgers would go on to be the head coach at his alma mater from 1974-79.

“I am devastated to learn of the passing of Pepper Rodgers,” Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury said in a statement. “He was a Georgia Tech legend, having won a national championship as an outstanding player and going on to compile four winning seasons in six years as head coach. On a personal note, he was the coach that recruited me to Georgia Tech, and I am eternally grateful to him for bringing me here. If it weren’t for Pepper, I would have never had the opportunity to live out my dreams as a Tech student, football player, alumnus and, now, athletics director. He has also been a mentor and friend throughout my professional career and I will miss him greatly. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Livingston, his family and his many, many friends. We have lost a great Tech man.”

In addition to Tech, Rodgers also served as the head coach at Kansas (1967-70) and UCLA (1971-73).  The Atlanta native also spent time as an assistant with the Bruins from 1965-66.

In his three head-coaching stints, Rodgers went 73-65-3.  Tech noted in its release that “[h]e was a six-time coach of the year in his 13 seasons as a collegiate head coach – two-time Big Eight Coach of the Year at Kansas, two-time Pac-8 Coach of the Year at UCLA and two-time Southern Independent Coach of the Year at Georgia Tech.”

Prior to that, Rodgers was selected in the 12th round of the 1954 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts.  Instead of playing professional football, Rodgers served five years as a pilot in the Air Force.  He began his coaching career as an assistant at the service academy in 1958.  From there he moved on to Florida from 1960-64 before leaving for UCLA the first time.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including Ohio State releasing its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations

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The sports world, including college football, had essentially screeched to a halt in the spring as countries around the world battled the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there was a dearth of college football news as the sport went into a COVID-induced hibernation.  Slowly, though, the game is coming back to life.  Hopefully.

That being said, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 8, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Urban Meyer to debut new podcast about leadership, culture, behavior
THE SYNOPSIS: For some reason, some readers thought this was a headline ripped from the pages of The Onion.  It wasn’t, though.  Seriously.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Vandy TE charged after landing drone in Fourth of July crowd
THE SYNOPSIS: College kids, y’all.  Dobbs went on to catch 15 passes for 136 yards in 2017 and 2018.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Oprah getting in on the Jerry Sandusky story with new interview
THE SYNOPSIS: As if the Penn State scandal wasn’t covered enough by college football scribes.  Two years after his sentencing, the Big O got in on the Sandusky scandal by interviewing the convicted pedophile’s oldest son.

2013

THE HEADLINE: LSU’s leading RB formally charged with simple battery
THE SYNOPSIS: From our post on Jeremy Hill declaring for the draft a year later:

In late April, Hill was arrested and (ultimately) charged with simple battery following a bar altercation.  A video of the incident subsequently surfaced, which showed Hill punching the victim and celebrating.  The attorney for Hill, who was suspended following the arrest but was reinstated prior to the opener, claimed that the physical altercation was preceded by the victim heckling his client over the player’s past.

That past came in 2011 as Hill was arrested on charges of oral sexual battery and later pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile, a misdemeanor.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Ohio State vacates 2010 wins, doesn’t self-impose bowl ban, scholarship losses
THE SYNOPSIS: OSU acknowledged unethical conduct on the part of former head coach Jim Tressel.  The NCAA ultimately banned the Buckeyes from appearing in a postseason game in 2012.  And Tressel was given a five-year show-cause.

Illinois WR Jordan Holmes states on social media his time as a Fighting Illini football player has come to a close

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Illinois has been on the right side of the football portal throughout the offseason.  Now, Lovie Smith‘s crew finds themselves on the wrong end.  Maybe.

On social media, Jordan Holmes announced that he is no longer a member of the Illinois football team.  The wide receiver gave no indication as to the reason behind his impending departure.

Holmes also didn’t indicate whether or not he would be entering the NCAA transfer database.

Below is Holmes’ entire social-media statement, via 247Sports.com:

This will be a surprise for many of you but my time as a football player at the University of Illinois has come to a close. I want to say thank you to everyone who made living out my dream possible. The game of football has brought me so many friendships, experiences and memories that I’ll cherish forever.

First off, I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to play at the Division 1 level in the B1G. Thank you to my parents and the rest of my family for all the constant love and support you gave me throughout this entire experience. I couldn’t have done this without you all by my side. To everyone from my small town of Columbia, IL, this is where it all started for me and you all helped me stay the course to get to where I am today and I can’t thank you all enough.

To my teammates, I love you all from the bottom of my heart and the bonds we created will stay with me forever. You all pushed me every single day to be my best and helped me through the times that got tough. Thank you for all the lifelong memories we created, I won’t forget the times we had together at practice, on road trips, in the locker room and on game days, those are all things that will stay with me forever.

Illini Nation, THANK YOU. You are the best fans in the nation and I won’t forget the 2 years I had playing in front of y’all.

This is the end of my journey, thank you to everyone who made this experience so special to me, I will always bleed Orange & Blue.

So, if Holmes does continue his playing career and enters the portal?  Here we go…

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Holmes, a junior, appeared in 19 games for Illinois football.  In his time with the Fighting Illini, Holmes caught four passes for 39 yards.  He also returned 13 punts for 75 yards.  His 10 returns for 73 yards were tops on the team this past season.

On the positive side for the Illini? Illinois has added seven transfers to its football roster this offseason.  Five of those come from Power Five programs.

In mid-March, ex-Alabama linebacker Christian Bell tweeted that he was moving on to the Illini. Shortly thereafter, we noted that an FCS All-American offensive lineman had opted to transfer into the Illinois football program. New Mexico State wide receiver Desmond Dan did the same.  As did Miami wide receiver Brian Hightower.  And Mississippi State offensive lineman Brevyn Jones as well in early May  And Louisville defensive back TreSean Smith last week mid-May.  And Cal defensive tackle Chinedu Udeogu that same month.

LSU’s ‘best-ever’ season nets players, staffers three times the ring bling

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LSU had a football season for the ages.  Now, the Tigers are pulling in the bling befitting collegiate royalty.

By any and all measures, the season LSU football posted in 2019 was a historic one.  LSU turned in a 12-0 regular season, with just three games — Texas (45-38), Auburn (23-20), Alabama (46-41) — decided by fewer than 14 points.  And just one other game — Florida (42-28) — was decided by fewer than 21 points.

The postseason, though, was where the Bayou Bengal machine kicked it into high gear.

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: LSU 37, Georgia 10
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF SEMIFINAL: LSU 63, Oklahoma 28
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF CHAMPIONSHIP: LSU 42, Clemson 25

In bullying its way to a perfect 15-0 record, LSU outscored its opponents 726-275.  A slew of records, most of those on the offensive side of the ball, fell along the way.  Joe Burrow claimed the Heisman Trophy, the first for a Tiger since Billy Cannon in 1959. Ed Orgeron received several Coach of the Year honors.  And when it came to the next level?

In the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, LSU saw five of its former players selected.  That was one away from tying the record set by Miami in 2004.  Friday night of the NFL draft, another five LSU football players were taken.  The 10 Tigers selected tied the record Ohio State set in 2016 for most players selected through the first three rounds. When the dust finally settled Saturday evening, a record-tying 14 LSU football players had been drafted.

All of which, of course, leads us to the bling.  Tuesday night, LSU unveiled not one.  Not two.  But three rings that will be distributed to its players and staff.  One ring is LSU-issued.  Another is for winning the SEC championship.  The third is for winning the national championship.

Uber driver charged with murder in death of ex-Tennessee player Jeremy Shadrick

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The Tennessee Vols are mourning the death of one of its former football players.

According to Tulsa World, 44-year-old Jeremy Shadrick was killed when an Uber driver ran over him following an argument very early on the morning of June 26. Omar Baabbad, 32, was subsequently arrested and charged with one count of first-degree murder.

The argument between the two men began in Baabbad’s vehicle.  From the Knoxville News Sentinel:

Police said that after Shadrick left the vehicle and began walking away, Baabbad ran him over in a parking lot. Police said Baabbad claimed Shadrick had threatened him with a gun. No gun was found at the scene.

Shadrick was taken to a local hospital where he later died.

The World wrote that “[w]itnesses told police the victim was trying to leave and said he felt threatened, telling Baabbad he had a gun.”

Shadrick actually began his collegiate playing career as a walk-on at Nebraska before, after a junior college pitstop, transferring into the Tennessee football program in the mid-nineties.  According to the News Sentinel, Shadrick suffered an injured kidney prior to his first season with the Volunteers.  He received a kidney transplant in 2010.

Shadrick is survived by his wife, LeAnne, daughter, Reese, and son, Thorton.