Getty Images

One report has Hugh Freeze coaching Liberty’s next game from a dental chair; school calling it a medical chair

5 Comments

College football, y’all.

Because of ongoing medical concerns, Hugh Freeze coached last Saturday’s opener at home against Syracuse from the coaches box while laying in a hospital bed.  With a road trip to Louisiana up next for the football independent, it had been unclear whether Freeze would travel to Lafayette and coach the Flames against the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Friday, Liberty officials confirmed to Yahoo! SportsPat Forde that Freeze will travel to Louisiana for the game, although he’ll travel separately from the rest of the team.  The best part?  He’ll be coaching from what one person described to Forde as “a dental chair” set up in the press box.

A Liberty spokesman told Yahoo Sports on Friday that bedridden football coach Hugh Freeze does plan to make the trip to Louisiana for the Flames’ game Saturday, and that the school has purchased what it calls a “medical chair” for him to use in the press box. A source with knowledge of the situation had previously characterized the chair as a dental chair.

“We’re not calling it a dental chair,” Todd Whetmore said. “It’s a medical chair that allows him to be elevated.

The fact that the football program is parsing words, that it’s medical instead of dental?  College football, y’all!

Liberty University announced Aug. 22 that Freeze was released from the hospital the day before after a nearly one-week stay.  The school had announced Aug. 13 that its head football coach was dealing with severe back spasms and had been unable to participate in practices since the previous Sunday.  As it turns out, there was a significantly more serious underlying issue than simple back spasms as Freeze subsequently revealed that he underwent emergency surgery at the University of Virginia Medical Center Aug. 16 because a potentially life-threatening strand of staph infection entered his bloodstream.

Hired by the Flames in December of last year, Freeze is set to enter his first season as the head coach at the football independent.  Freeze had been out of coaching for two full seasons following his unceremonious ouster as the head coach at Ole Miss in July of 2017.

Mississippi State suspended seven players for opener

Getty Images
2 Comments

The Mississippi State Bulldogs have kicked off the 2019 season with a little less depth than previously expected.

Ahead of its noon kickoff with Louisiana Saturday afternoon, Mississippi State announced that seven players have been suspended for the non-conference affair.  The most noteworthy of the seven are a pair of starters — placekicker Jace Christmann and linebacker Willie Gay Jr.

The other five on the receiving end of a suspension are defensive tackle Lee Autry, wide receiver Devonta Jason, offensive lineman Kwatrivous Johnson, safety Marcus Murphy and offensive lineman Michael Story.

The only explanation given for the punitive measure was a violation of unspecified team rules.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the NCAA had sanctioned MSU for academic misconduct related to a department tutor taking classes for some football players.  Additionally, Story pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in mid-August while Christmann was arrested for driving under the influence in February.

Gay started six games as a sophomore last season.  Christmann served as the Bulldogs’ primary kicker the past two seasons, converting on 80 percent of his 30 field-goal attempts and all 83 point-afters.

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list includes 2018 finalist Shea Patterson, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
5 Comments

And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).

Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).

2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith

  • Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
  • Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
  • Woody Barrett, Kent State
  • Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
  • Anthony Brown, Boston College
  • Kelly Bryant, Missouri
  • Joe Burrow, LSU
  • Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
  • Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
  • K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
  • Jacob Eason, Washington University
  • Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Mason Fine, North Texas
  • Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
  • Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
  • Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
  • Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
  • Quentin Harris, Duke University
  • Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
  • Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
  • Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
  • Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
  • Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
  • D’Eriq King, Houston
  • Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
  • Jordan Love, Utah State University
  • Jake Luton, Oregon State University
  • Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
  • Justin McMillan, Tulane
  • Steven Montez, University of Colorado
  • James Morgan, FIU
  • Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
  • Kato Nelson, Akron
  • Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
  • Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
  • Malcolm Perry, Navy
  • Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
  • Armani Rogers, UNLV
  • Nathan Rourke, Ohio
  • Anthony Russo, Temple University
  • J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
  • Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
  • Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
  • Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
  • Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
  • Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
  • Brady White, University of Memphis
  • Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
  • Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida

Billy Napier institutes new rule ‘encouraging’ his Ragin’ Cajun football players to donate to school’s athletic fund

Getty Images
3 Comments

NCAA: College football players receive pennies on the dollar compared to the money they bring into our member institutions. I think we’ve exhausted every means of squeezing money out of them.

RAGIN’ CAJUNS: Hold my beer…

According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, Louisiana head football coach Billy Napier has instituted a new rule, effective at the beginning of this school year, that requires “encourages” all scholarship players to donate at least $50 to the Ragin’ Cajun Athletic Foundation (RCAF).  The donations will be optional for walk-on players.

“That’s probably a little bit unheard of and a little bit unique, but I think this is a place where that would be appreciated,” Napier said according to the Advocate. “I think it’s part of the type of program that we want to have. We want our players to be educated and understand the benefits that come with being a student-athlete and that is not something that should be taken lightly — the effort and time and investment that the people that support athletes at UL have put in into this program.”

So, what happens if a player balks at making the donation?  Will he be stripped of his scholarship?  How can any football program in good conscience require “encourage” football players who have no right to their name/image/likeness subtly require them to pay to play?

CFT has reached out to the NCAA for comment on the bizarre and wholly inappropriate stipulation, which will certainly do nothing but help Napier and his coaching staff on the recruiting trail.

As an aside, and apropos of nothing, the Lafayette Daily Advertiser wrote in July of this year that “Napier’s current contract went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and was valued at $756,960 guaranteed in the first year of the deal, including a $500,000 contingent premium benefit funded by the Ragin’ Cajun Athletic Foundation.”

So, yeah, there’s that.

Louisiana-Lafayette suspends 13 players arrested on felony charges

Louisiana-Lafayette athletics
6 Comments

This’ll certainly leave a mark on the ol’ depth chart.

Louisiana-Lafayette announced Tuesday night that a total of 13 players have been indefinitely suspended by head coach Mark Hudspeth.  Those 13 are tight end Matthew Barnes, defensive end Joe Dillon, left guard Robert Hunt, defensive back Denarius Howard, defensive end Jarvis Jeffries, defensive tackle LaDarrius Kidd, linebacker Terik Miller, defensive back Damar’ren Mitchell, running back Trey Ragas, defensive back Simeon Thomas, defensive back Levarious Varnado, left tackle D’Aquin Withrow and running back Jordan Wright.

While the school attributed the suspensions to a violation of unspecified team rules, KATC-TV is reporting that all 13 of the players were arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy to commit felony theft stemming from an incident earlier this month.

From the television station’s report:

According to investigators, surveillance video shows the 13 players going to a room on the fourth floor of the Huger Hall dormitory and stealing around $2,400 worth of items from the room. Police say the students surrendered after warrants for their arrests were issued.

Seven of those suspended started games last season — Hunt (13), Withrow (13), Mitchell (11), Dillon (eight), Jeffries (seven), Thomas (seven) and Howard (two).  Dillon was named a Freshman All-American by several organizations after leading the Ragin’ Cajuns with 12.5 tackles for losses and seven sacks in 2016.

Wright (pictured, No. 27) wasn’t a starter, but he was fourth on the team last season with 192 yards rushing.  With the departure of leading rusher Elijah McGuire (1,127 yards), Wright, Ragas and Darius Hoggins (281 yards last season) are expected to compete or the starting running back job this season.

UL-L is scheduled to open the 2017 season Sept. 2 against Southeastern Louisiana.