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Monday, August 19, 2019

College Football

Dabo Swinney has simple explanation for why Kelly Bryant won’t get championship ring

Dabo Swinney

Dabo Swinney has a very simple explanation for why Kelly Bryant won’t be receiving a ring for Clemson winning the national championship last season: Bryant left the program.

Bryant played four games at Clemson last season and split the quarterback reps with true freshman Trevor Lawrence pretty evenly. After four games, Lawrence had proven that the team was far better off with him at quarterback than with Bryant. Bryant had spent the beginning of his career at Clemson behind Deshaun Watson and was understandably upset to lose the job as a senior, so he ended up quitting the team. After Lawrence got hurt, Swinney said he would welcome Bryant back to the team, but the quarterback stuck to his plans to go elsewhere.

Bryant eventually transferred to Missouri as a graduate so that he would be eligible to play this fall.

Swinney told ESPN’s Chris Low why Bryant wasn’t getting a championship ring.

“He wasn’t on the team. You’ve gotta be on the team to get a ring,” Swinney told ESPN. “I love Kelly and appreciate what he did for us, but he decided to move on.”

Bryant told ESPN that he would accept a ring if offered by Clemson, but Swinney is not offering one.

In other sports, players who play a partial season with an eventual champion often get rings even if they are traded elsewhere or demoted. But this case is different, because Bryant quit and left.

Do you think Bryant should still get a ring for being a part of the program and helping the team win its first four games, even though he eventually quit?

10 best quarterbacks in college football

Trevor Lawrence

Since 2000, 16 of the 19 players to win the Heisman Trophy were quarterbacks. In other words, the best player in college football is usually adjudged to be the nation’s top signal-caller, underlining the importance of the position if a school wants a chance at claiming a conference or national title. Just ask the Oklahoma Sooners, who boast back-to-back Heisman-winning quarterbacks, both of whom played in the College Football Playoff.

Which quarterbacks are going to be the ones competing for those honors this season? Here are the ten best quarterbacks in college football in 2019.

10. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska

Any rebirth of Nebraska football is tied to Martinez, who was handed the quarterback job as a freshman and acquitted himself well. He threw for 2,617 yards and 17 touchdowns while adding 629 rushing yards. A better supporting cast should help those numbers go up, and some have even mentioned him as a potential dark horse Heisman candidate. That may be premature, but given Martinez’s natural talent and Scott Frost’s reputation for developing players, it may be realistic eventually.

9. D’Eriq King, Houston

King suffered a knee injury toward the end of 2018, and his recovery and health will be paramount to him reaching his potential. If King does reach his potential, he’ll easily become one of the country’s most dynamic quarterbacks. As a junior, King threw 36 touchdown passes and added 14 more rushing scores, bringing him to an even 50 on the year despite playing in only 11 games. Dana Holgorsen’s offense has the chance to make him one of the most prolific stat-producers in the entire nation.

8. Jordan Love, Utah State

After passing for 32 touchdowns and 3,567 yards last season, there’s no reason to believe Love won’t be able to turn in a repeat performance in 2019. Ranking as one of the Group of Five’s top quarterbacks, Love had a pair of 400-yard passing games in 2018, and nearly beat Michigan State in East Lansing. He has a new coach in Gary Andersen, but don’t expect that to slow him down as one of the best returning quarterbacks.

7. Shea Patterson, Michigan

Michigan was likely headed for a College Football Playoff appearance last season had they not lost to Ohio State, and that defeat largely was not Patterson’s fault. The senior enters 2019 with a lot of pressure on his shoulders given the prevailing narrative that Michigan is long overdue for a Big Ten title and has the talent to win one. They certainly have the quarterback to do it, as Patterson was good for 2,600 yards last season. The hope is that a more expansive offense will boost Patterson’s numbers and make the team even better.

6. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

After an up-and-down Alabama career, Hurts has moved to Oklahoma. Coach Lincoln Riley has made clear that Hurts is expected to compete with Tanner Mordecai for the starting job, but most expect Hurts to win it. Known primarily for his mobility, the key for Hurts will be to show improvement as a passer. However, Riley and Oklahoma’s high-powered approach to offense could make Hurts yet another Oklahoma Heisman candidate. He’d love to make it three years in a row for the Sooners.

5. Sam Ehlinger, Texas

It’s comical to now think that Ehlinger was once part of a quarterback controversy at Texas. Nobody is questioning him now. He racked up 41 total touchdowns in 2018 — 25 passing and 16 rushing — while quarterbacking the Longhorns to their first ten-win season since 2009. The junior is only getting better, and as long as there are no injuries or other issues, a Big 12 title and Heisman consideration is not out of the question for Ehlinger.

4. Justin Herbert, Oregon

Herbert surprised many when he passed on the NFL Draft despite the fact that scouts are said to be drooling over his pro potential. The beneficiary of that decision is Oregon, which will subsequently be able to play one more season with one of the nation’s best quarterbacks. Herbert is a classic pocket passer with size and a big arm, as evidenced by his 63 touchdown passes in three years with the Ducks. Don’t be surprised if he has a 30-touchdown, 3,000-yard season in the pipeline.

3. Jake Fromm, Georgia

Georgia’s second season with Fromm under center wasn’t quite as successful as the first, but it certainly wasn’t down to the quarterback, who continues to develop at an elite level. Fromm posted a 30-touchdown season and improved his completion percentage as a sophomore despite falling short of 3,000 yards. There’s no reason to believe Fromm’s development won’t continue as a junior. A higher national profile could follow if the Bulldogs can make the College Football Playoff.

2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

Tua was everything the Crimson Tide hoped for and then some until a poor performance and injury in the SEC Championship helped derail his Heisman hopes. His season ended with two interceptions against Clemson, where he was outplayed by Trevor Lawrence. Losing that game gives Tagovailoa something to prove, which Nick Saban knows. Tua is entirely capable of making another run at the Heisman, and it’s worth remembering that he fell just 34 yards shy of 4,000 and added 43 passing touchdowns despite the fact that he was rarely playing the entirety of Alabama blowouts.

1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

For the bulk of the 2018 season, Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray were dominating the college football quarterback conversation. Lawrence proceeded to make the title game his personal coming out party. The freshman capped off a 3,000-yard season by throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns against a shell-shocked Crimson Tide defense. With no questions about his starting job and a talented team around him, Lawrence has the chance to surpass those numbers and win a Heisman Trophy as a sophomore. Another national title isn’t out of the question either.

Watch: Mike Leach executes belly flop during Wazzu pool day

Mike Leach

Mike Leach is adept in the water as you would expect from a pirate.

Leach’s Washington State Cougars football team got to enjoy a pool day on Monday. Many of the team’s players showed off their skills jumping off the diving board. The players of course called on Leach to show everyone what he could do, so he broke out a belly flop:

We like the fearless, arms-out start but were a little disappointed by his right knee bending just before he hit the water to break the fall. Leach hedged at the last second. But he still gets major points for giving his players what they want.

Swing your sword, Mike. Swing your sword.

Jim Harbaugh: Players skipping bowl game hurts their legacy

Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh won’t stop a player from skipping a bowl game, but he does think such a decision could tarnish a player’s legacy.

The Michigan Wolverines head coach joined the “Pardon My Take” podcast on Barstool Sports for an episode published on Monday. During his interview with hosts Big Cat and PFT Commenter, Harbaugh was asked for his thoughts on players skipping bowl games. While he understands such a decision, he thinks it goes against the competitive nature of being an athlete.

“Yeah, I do, and I think it hurts somebody’s actual legacy, too, just what they’re about,” Harbaugh said when asked whether players skipping bowl games hurts the sport. “A competitor is going to compete; they’re going to go out there and compete. Everybody talks about it — they’re a competitor, I’m a competitor, ‘I’ll compete at everything. I’ll compete at golf or I’ll compete at Tiddlywinks.’ You hear people say that all the time, but then they don’t go actually play in a football game.”

Harbaugh then brought up the Ted Williams 1941 story to augment his point. Williams is the last MLB player to bat .400 in a season and did so by batting .406 in 1941. Part of the legend of the story is how Williams did it. Williams was 179-for-448 on the season entering the final day, which was a .39955 batting average — barely rounding up to .400. He could have sat out the final day and entered the books as a .400 hitter rounded up. Instead, Williams played in both games of a doubleheader on the final day and went 6-for-8 to raise his average to .406.

“To me that’s a problem that you have a problem now with who you are as a competitor and your legacy. I put it this way: Ted Williams, you gotta love Teddy Ballgame. Ted Williams goes into the last day of the season hitting .3996. Everybody tells him ‘don’t play. Don’t play tomorrow. You’re already at .400 rounded up. You got it, you don’t have to do it.’ People would have agreed with that. But he said no, went out and played, it was a doubleheader and he went 6-for-8, and he ended up hitting .406 for the season. Now you’re a legend. Not .3996 rounded up to .400 with an asterisk by it. You went out and hit .406. That’s how you get legendary legacy status.”

This is a point I’ve been making on the subject, though the Williams story shared by Harbaugh really helps hammer it home. Fans love and watch sports because of what athletes do on the field. That’s how memories and legends are created, not by players sitting out and skipping games. Jaylon Smith, who got injured playing in a bowl game, recognizes that. The year after his injury, guys like Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette passed on their bowl games, which started a trend. Just last season four Michigan players — Devin Bush, Rashan Gary, Karan Higdon and Juwann Bushell-Beatty — all skipped the team’s bowl game.

Harbaugh may understand his players’ reasoning for skipping bowl games, but he doesn’t agree with it.

Young Tennessee fan just wanted to see someone ‘ran over’

Tennessee Vols logo

Tennessee was supposed to hold an open practice on Sunday so fans could attend, but unfortunately Mother Nature forced the event to be cancelled. One young fan summed up the disappointment for Vols Nation perfectly.

After the outdoor practice was called off due to thunderstorms in the area, one young Tennessee fan told a local news station that he was bummed out because he was hoping to see someone “get ran over.”

If that’s not SEC Football in a nutshell, we don’t know what is.

Tennessee is coming off two disappointing seasons and is hoping for vast improvement in its second year under Jeremy Pruitt, though there were some positive signs last season. That youngster isn’t the only one who is itching to see someone get ran over, though. With the NBA and NHL seasons behind us, football is just around the corner. We can feel it, too, little guy.

Mike Leach discusses his love of cargo shorts

Mike Leach

Cargo shorts may no longer be in fashion in 2019, but don’t tell that to Mike Leach.

The unconventional college football coach remains a huge fan of cargo shorts. He was asked at the end of Washington State Cougars practice on Saturday about some of his clothing items, such as his fitted hat and cargo shorts. He told the Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson that he wears the cargo shorts because he loves the pockets. Also, he doesn’t like how free his “stuff” is in nylon shorts.

Amen Mike, amen. Can’t argue with him on that point.

Whether he’s talking about his shorts preference or how he avoids halftime interviews, Leach never fails to deliver a good quote.

Lane Kiffin’s music choices at Florida Atlantic fall camp are hilarious

Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin is one of the biggest trolls in all of sports, and he continues to prove it every chance he gets.

The Florida Atlantic coach opened Sunday’s session of fall camp with a pair of inspired music choices, both referencing his former employers. First, he broke out “Sweet Home, Alabama” as a reference to his time as the Crimson Tide offensive coordinator, and then he played “Rocky Top,” which is, of course, famously associated with Tennessee.

No sign of the USC fight song, unfortunately, to complete the trolling trifecta.

The Alabama reference might get a chuckle in Tuscaloosa, but given the mutual hostility between Kiffin and the Vols, this probably won’t go over well in Knoxville. For Kiffin, that’s almost certainly the point.