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Saturday, July 22, 2017

College Football

Lane Kiffin trolling Ole Miss with Twitter follows?

Lane Kiffin FAU

With Hugh Freeze having abruptly resigned as the head football coach at Ole Miss on Thursday, there has been some speculation that Lane Kiffin would love to have the job. As you might expect, Kiffin seems to have no problem perpetuating that talk.

On Friday, Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports noticed that at least four of the Twitter accounts Kiffin has followed since Freeze stepped down are Ole Miss accounts.

Is Kiffin trolling? Is he extremely interested in what’s going on at Ole Miss? With Lane, you never really know.

Kiffin hasn’t even coached a game at FAU yet, and he makes little sense for Ole Miss. Between Freeze supposedly contacting an escort service from a university-issued phone and the extensive NCAA investigation into numerous alleged rule violations, Ole Miss has enough drama to deal with at the moment.

Even if it means having to tweet at Kim Kardashian, Kiffin loves keeping the spotlight on himself. Don’t be surprised if he knew how much buzz his recent Twitter follows would create.

Todd Graham: Blake Barnett needs to win ASU starting QB job

Blake Barnett ASU

Blake Barnett transferred from Alabama to Arizona State ostensibly for a better chance of starting, but he’s not exactly being handed the gig in Tempe.

Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham spoke with the media Thursday at a facilities tour and was asked about the team’s quarterback competition.

“We have a returning starter and he’s the starting quarterback until someone beats him out,” Graham said.

That indicates Manny Wilkins is the team’s starter as of now, though things could change.

“Right now, we have a starting quarterback and Blake (Barnett) knows he has to beat him out. I’m looking forward to see that competition and a very physical, Sun Devil tough training camp,” Graham said.

Graham also made mention of Brady White, who is returning from a foot injury, as someone who has impressed him. White beat UCLA in his first career start last year but suffered a season-ending injury during the game.

Barnett is the most hyped quarterback of the group. He opened the season as the Crimson Tide’s starter but lost the job to Jalen Hurts and quickly declared his intent to change programs. He still has his work cut out for him to become a starter.

Hugh Freeze resigns amid reports he contacted escort service

Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigned Thursday amid reports that he used a school-issued cell phone to contact an escort service.

The school confirmed the resignation, with assistant Matt Luke taking over in the interim.

Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports initially reported Thursday that “explosive new information” could cost Freeze his job.

According to Forde, phone records showed that Freeze had made a one-minute phone call with his school-issued cell phone to a phone number linked to a Florida-based escort service. Freeze told Yahoo! Sports that he had no recollection of the call, chose not to redact it from his public records, and believes it may have been a misdial.

“I’ve got no idea, to be honest,” Freeze said. “It was an 813 area code and that was a 313 number, I think that might have been a misdial. I don’t think there was even a conversation. There’s nothing to it.

“If I was trying to hide something, I would have. That call shows up nowhere else on my records. There is no story to that one.”

Ole Miss has been the subject of an extensive NCAA investigation alleging numerous rules violations, including offering money to recruits and players and fixing test scores. Freeze adding this scandal to the pile is not optimal.

Tom Herman blames himself for prevalence of Texas out-of-state recruiting

Tom Herman

Schools not based in Texas never used to have a chance to poach the state’s top football recruits, but that has changed in recent years — and Texas coach Tom Herman thinks he had something to do with it.

Herman blamed himself for the state of Texas opening itself up to national recruiting, as he extensively recruited the state while working as an assistant under Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

“I think the doors to out-of-state recruiting have been opened a little bit, and I kick myself every day, because at Ohio State, I think we had a little bit of something to do with that,” Herman said at Big 12 Media Day, via Chris Vannini of “When I came down here and signed J.T. Barrett and Dontre Wilson and Demetrius Knox and Mike Mitchell, I think that was a little bit different than what had been done in the past here in the state of Texas.”

Herman also blames technology for the shift.

“It has to do with (phones),” Herman said. “Twenty years ago, before these things existed, when would a kid from Houston be exposed to Ohio State football? One time on national TV? When they played Michigan? That’s it. Now, they’re scrolling through their feed and seeing videos, graphics, all this stuff, and they’re being immersed in this program that is 2,000 miles away, all from the palm of their hand. That has done more for de-regionalizing recruiting than any team going to any conference. You can bring your program to the recruit now.”

Herman has had to be brutally honest about Texas’s recruiting prowess these days. It’s interesting to see that he thinks it’s partially his fault.

Gus Malzahn says NFL needs to better protect Cam Newton

Cam Newton helmet

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn remains close with quarterback Cam Newton, and Newton remains close to the Tigers’ program that helped spur a National Championship and a successful NFL career.

When his schedule permits, Newton still returns to Auburn and takes some of the younger players under his wing. He interacts with the team, attends the games he can and helps Malzahn when the opportunity presents itself. Accordingly, it’s no surprise that Malzahn sung Newton’s praises during SEC Media Day on Thursday.

“Cam Newton is one of the better players to ever play college football. Obviously MVP of the league and took him to the Super Bowl and all that. Cam’s a great person,” Malzahn said via AU Now. “I’m very fond of Cam, not just what he’s done on the field, but off the field. The example he’s been for younger kids, he’s got a great heart for youth and the things that he does off the field.

“Cam will come back from time to time. He was at two of our games, I believe, last year. And when he has off time, he likes to come back to Auburn. It feels like home to him, but I’m very proud of Cam.”

Malzahn also chimed in on a relatively hot topic — the physical beating Newton takes on a week-to-week basis and whether or not the NFL should do more to protect him.

Spoiler: Malzahn doesn’t believe the NFL is doing a good enough job.

“With all the referees in the NFL, and all that, they need to protect him like they do the rest of the quarterbacks,” Malzahn said.

Newton has been publicly critical of the league and their referees over some of the hits he’s taken, and at one point last season, he even sat down with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss it.

In total, Newton was sacked 36 times and hit 93 times last season. That does not include the hits he took on his 90 rushing attempts, which could help explain why the Panthers prefer he not rush as often in 2017.

Mark Stoops was caught off-guard by brother Bob’s retirement

Bob Stoops

Bob Stoops’s sudden retirement as Oklahoma Sooners head football coach caught pretty much everyone by surprise — including his own brother.

Mark Stoops, who coaches the Kentucky Wildcats, said at SEC Media Day that even he had little advance warning of Bob’s decision.

“I had really no idea it was coming, but he called me and told me what was going to happen in the very near future,” Mark Stoops said, via Bryan Fischer of College Football Talk. “And it was a bit of a shock to me to be honest with you. I had to walk out of my office and walk around the practice field. And that’s where I had that conversation with him away from everybody. So I was shocked. Mixed emotions, I guess you would say from myself. Very proud of him, what he’s done, and very happy for him and Carol and his family, to be able to step away when he wants, how he wants. And that’s Bob.

“I think it was very important for him to walk away with a good football team with a chance to win his league and get in the playoffs and hand off a program that he took so much pride in building. So I have mixed emotions about it still, but proud of him and hope the very best for him.”

Bob Stoops’s retirement caught everyone off guard. The fact that his own brother didn’t see it coming tells you just how quietly the decision was made.

Ed Orgeron defends Leonard Fournette sitting out bowl game

Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette was at the center of a bit of controversy last December when he sat out LSU’s Citrus Bowl appearance, with detractors arguing that he could have played, but didn’t want to get hurt and damage his NFL Draft stock.

Fournette’s college coach, Ed Orgeron, thinks that narrative is nonsense.

Orgeron said Monday at SEC Media Day that there was nothing Fournette could have done to play as he battled an ankle injury.

“That last game, going into the bowl, Leonard could not play. Leonard came to me in tears. He said, ‘Coach, I can’t go, I can’t play,'” Orgeron said, via Chase Goodbread of “I said, ‘Leonard, I understand, we will not put you in jeopardy, son, don’t worry about it. I will tell the media.’ Things you heard that he may have skipped the game or whatever, that has nothing to do with anything. In fact, against Florida, he didn’t practice all weekend. He wasn’t supposed to play. He tried to play. He wanted to play.”

Fournette had a pretty clear response to the criticism at the time, too. All involved firmly believe that he couldn’t have played due to injury, and in the end, it didn’t negatively impact his perception among NFL teams, as the Jacksonville Jaguars took him fourth overall.

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