Zach Barnett

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Alonzo Highsmith not returning to The U

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Alonzo Highsmith will not be walking through that door.

After speculation that the former national champion fullback and the Miami Sports Hall of Famer could leave his post as the Cleveland Browns vice president of player personnel would return to his alma mater, Canes AD Blake James released a statement Thursday confirming that would not happen.

James confirmed the two sides held discussion over a possible reunion, though they, obviously, could not come to an agreement on what Highsmith’s role would be. The rumored disagreement was whether Highsmith would work for Manny Diaz or with Diaz, specifically as to whether or not Highsmith would have a say in which players the Hurricanes recruited.

According to local reports, Highsmith joining the staff was always an idea among Miami’s donors and university higher-ups, not one generated by Diaz or Highsmith. And if that’s the case, it sounds like the type of leadership plan used by an organization like, well, like the Cleveland Browns.

Chase Brice portaling his way out of Clemson

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Joe Burrow is fresh off a season in which he completely conquered college football, and in a copy cat sport the hunt for the next Burrow is fully underway.

Enter Candidate 1: Chase Brice. The Clemson backup officially entered the transfer portal on Thursday.

After spending the last two seasons sitting behind Trevor Lawrence, Brice has decided he would rather try his hand elsewhere rather than sit behind Lawrence for one more year and DJ Uiagalelei for his senior year, mirroring Burrow’s plight behind JT BarrettDwayne Haskins and Justin Fields at Ohio State.

Like Burrow, Brice will leave Clemson a favorite son, given his honorable discharge with a new lease on life.

And, like Burrow, Brice will be that extra special type of graduate transfer, able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

In two seasons on the Tigers’ active roster, Brice went 75-of-124 for 896 yards with nine touchdowns against four interceptions while adding another 179 rushing yards. He memorably saved Clemson’s 2018 national championship run, stepping in for an injured Lawrence in the game immediately following Kelly Bryant‘s mid-season departure, leading the Tigers from a 23-13 fourth quarter deficit to a 27-23 win over Syracuse.

Dave Aranda to reportedly be next Baylor head coach

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It’s not just players who comprise the conga line making its way out the door of LSU’s football facility. After losing Joe Brady to the Carolina Panthers, multiple reports emerged Thursday afternoon indicating Tigers defensive coordinator Dave Aranda will be the new head coach at Baylor.

Interestingly, Aranda’s and Brady’s departures share a common thread in Matt Rhule. Rhule hired Brady away from LSU to join him in Carolina, and Aranda now fills the vacancy he created by leaving in the first place.

The wind had been blowing south and east out of Waco all day, and now it appears Bears AD Mack Rhoades has his man.

Aranda spent three years as a graduate assistant on Mike Leach‘s first staff at Texas Tech, but other than that he has no Big 12 experience. (Of course, that’s three more than Rhule had when he took the Baylor job.)

Aranda spent four years as LSU’s defensive coordinator, in that time becoming one of the hottest commodities in coaching, which, in turn, allowed him to become the highest-paid assistant in college football with a 4-year deal worth $10 million, guaranteed. Baylor will surely top that, though Aranda was also close to taking the UNLV job last month, so money apparently wasn’t the motivator here.

Though it has not been announced as of yet, it appears all we’re waiting on now is the press release and Aranda will be installed as the next Baylor head coach.

UPDATED 7:01 p.m. ET: Baylor has made the Aranda hiring official.

Frank Wilson lands as head coach at FCS McNeese

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When he was fired as the head coach at UTSA in December, speculation instantly ran rampant as to which SEC school Frank Wilson would work for next. Revered in the region as a recruiter, Wilson coached previously for Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU, and it seemed he would have his choice as to which SEC West school made room for him next.

A month and a half later, Wilson is indeed returning to the Deep South, but not the SEC.

He was announced Thursday as the head coach at McNeese (don’t you dare call it McNeese State) of the Southland Conference in FCS.

Wilson replaces former Texas, South Florida, et. al., offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, who left after a year to reunite with former boss Dino Babers at Syracuse.

Wilson went 19-29 as the head coach at UTSA. He led the Roadrunners to the New Mexico Bowl in 2016 and a 6-5 mark in 2017, but went just 7-17 in the two years thereafter. He’ll inherit a Cowboys team that went 7-5 in 2019.

McNeese mentioned “recruit” or “recruiting” five times in its brief release, so Wilson will be expected to land all the Louisiana, East Texas and West Mississippi players that LSU doesn’t want but the Louisiana-Lafayette and ULMs of the world do.

LSU: Cash ‘may have been given’ to players by OBJ

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In the latest edition of Dumb Story That Keeps Getting Dumber, LSU has now conceded that money given to Tigers players after Monday night’s title game win may have been actual money.

To recap: in the moments following Monday night’s win, former Tiger Odell Beckham, Jr., was videotaped giving LSU players the ol’ $100 handshake. (He also sent the entire team custom shoes before the Texas A&M game and Beats headsets before the title game, but one’s a big no-no and the other’s okay. Because NCAA.)

LSU initially pretended the cash was pretend, an explanation that blew up upon the tiniest bit of investigation, as John summarized earlier today:

 

“It was a joke,” LSU associate athletic director Robert Munson said Tuesday. “The bills were fake bills.”

A day after that claim, however, Scott Gleeson of USA Today wrote that “LSU was investigating to see if all the bills were indeed fake and planned to interview both players.” For what it’s worth, Joe Burrow answered the following when asked on a podcast if he was given cash by Beckham:

Umm… yeah. I’m not a student-athlete anymore, so I can say yeah.

Now, in a statement just released Wednesday afternoon, LSU said this:

We are aware of the situation regarding Odell Beckham Jr. interacting with LSU student-athletes and others unaffiliated with the team following the championship game Monday night. Initial information suggested bills that were exchanged were novelty bills. Information and footage reviewed since shows apparent cash may have also been given to LSU student-athletes. We were in contact with the NCAA and the SEC immediately upon learning of this situation in which some of our student-athletes may have been placed in a compromising position. We are working with our student-athletes, the NCAA and the SEC in order to rectify the situation. 

While it appears most players given the cash were players whose eligibility either expired the second the clock hit zero or guys who are leaving early, junior wide receiver Jontre Kirklin, not a draft prospect, was seen accepting cash.

Hopefully, this inanity highlights the absolute absurd status quo we have within big-time college football, where all the adults involved in Monday night’s game were getting rich but the actual players will be scapegoated if they accept so much as a $100 bill.