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#pounditSaturday, October 1, 2022

College Football

Radio call of Appalachian State Hail Mary is incredible

Appalachian State pulled off a big win for the second week in a row, and nothing captured the excitement surrounding Saturday’s victory better than the home team’s radio call.

Appalachian State beat Troy 32-28 on a Hail Mary they completed from their 47-yard line with no time left. It wasn’t just a Hail Mary pass that was caught in the end zone; they actually executed a tip-and-block perfectly!

Take a listen to the radio call from Adam Witten on Learfield Sports and tell me it didn’t put a big smile on your face:

“A miracle on the mountain part two!” Witten said in his call.

The excitement, the elation, the celebration. That was awesome.

This Hail Mary win came a week after the school upset Texas A&M, which led to a huge celebration on campus. It also resulted in ESPN coming to the school for “GameDay.”

Troy Aikman absolutely rips into UCLA

Oct 21, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; NFL Half of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Denver Broncos at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Aikman absolutely ripped into his alma mater on Saturday after UCLA had terrible attendance for their game against South Alabama.

UCLA allegedly drew 29,344 fans for Saturday’s 32-21 win over South Alabama, which was the second-smallest crowd ever for a UCLA football game at the Rose Bowl.

A photo of the game’s attendance was shared on Twitter and drew Aikman’s attention.

Aikman responded on Twitter, calling the attendance an “embarrassment.”

“This is an embarrassment but we couldn’t fill the Rose Bowl in 1988 when we were the #1 team in the country. Anyone else at UCLA think it’s time for an on-campus 30,000 seat stadium? Of course, if we can’t play better than we did today, it would be half-empty too,” Aikman wrote on Twitter.

Aikman, 55, spent half his childhood in Southern California, not far from the Rose Bowl. He spent the second half in Oklahoma, which is where he initially went to college. Aikman transferred to UCLA and was there from 1986-1988. He led the team to a 20-4 record in his two seasons, and he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2014. So the lack of attendance bothers him personally as a former star quarterback for the team. And despite his comments, the attendance at his games was still strong and much better than this.

As a fellow UCLA alum and fan of the team, this issue is personal to me, and I can share my take.

First off, the Rose Bowl is located in Pasadena, and it can easily take over an hour to get there from campus. It’s just not very friendly for students to attend. This has long been an issue, and it will always result in lower attendance from students than some other schools. But building a stadium on campus does not seem feasible due to space issues, and problems with the homeowners in Westwood.

Second, UCLA is on the academic quarter system rather than semesters, so school hasn’t even begun when the first few games of the season take place. The lack of student attendance at the early games in the season has long been a problem.

Third, UCLA’s non-conference schedule is atrocious. They’re facing a murderer’s row of Bowling Green, Alabama State, and South Alabama. Who the heck wants to see UCLA play those three schools? Nobody, and it shows.

Fourth, the team isn’t good and hasn’t been good for a while. They had five straight losing seasons from 2016-2020. Chip Kelly stunk when he began his tenure. There were a lot of people who didn’t want Jim Mora fired to begin with (myself included), and then Kelly just obliterated any credibility the program had left. Who wants to go watch a losing team? UCLA barely squeaked by South Alabama. Aikman played under Terry Donahue, who coached from 1976-1995. Donahue took the Bruins to a bowl game regularly and finished in the top 20 in the country 11 times in 20 years. Since 2000, UCLA has only finished ranked three times. The losing has taken its toll.

Fifth, UCLA has treated its fans like crap, and the fans are turning on the school. UCLA completely deprioritized sports during COVID, and seemed to take pride in that fact. They didn’t allow fans to attend any games in 2020. The athletic department outright canceled their bowl game hours before kickoff last season, spitting in the face of fans who had traveled to the game. They didn’t allow fans at basketball games for a portion of last season, and sometimes canceled games with very little advanced notification to the fans. Fans who have DirecTV haven’t been able to watch many of the games, which are televised on Pac-12 Network, which DirecTV does not air. UCLA is also leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, destroying decades of tradition the fans are accustomed to. Is it any surprise the fans have in turn lost interest in the teams?

UCLA has made it harder and harder to be a fan of their athletic teams. Citing COVID issues, the school willingly blocked fans from attending games, with little regard for the inconvenience and ill-feelings they were causing the fans. Remember, these are the diehard fans they treated this way, the ones who travel to a bowl game and who tough LA traffic on a weeknight to attend a basketball game. You can’t repeatedly tell fans they’re not allowed to come — or that ‘we’re not playing’ — and then wonder where all the fans went and why they won’t come back when you ask them to.

Lastly, and this is an anecdote, but the school has done a poor job selling tickets. I live pretty close to the Rose Bowl and have some neighbors who have two young kids. Our neighbors told me they called the ticket office last year to try and get season tickets because they thought it would be a fun Saturday activity in the fall for their family. They said nobody picked up, so they left a message. Nobody answered, nobody called back. They basically told me they begged UCLA/the Rose Bowl to take their money, and the school dropped the ball. Maybe UCLA didn’t want to sell the tickets because they were planning to play another fanless season?

If Aikman wants to point the finger, he should look first at the school’s leadership, the UC Board of Regents, the school president and athletic director, and also Kelly, who wanted a cupcake schedule. At every turn, the school has proven they don’t care about football. You can’t really blame the fans for responding the way they have.

South Alabama wrecks upset bid with awful trick play attempt

The South Alabama Jaguars could have and probably should have beaten UCLA on Saturday. The fact that they did not is largely down to some incredible overthinking on their part.

The Jaguars had a 31-29 lead with less than three minutes left, and were set up with a 4th-and-2 from the UCLA 22-yard line. South Alabama looked like they were setting up for a 40-yard field goal try, which could have extended the lead to 34-29 and forced UCLA into needing a touchdown to win.

Instead, the Jaguars got way too cute. They ran a designed fake which put the ball in the hands of holder and third-string quarterback Tanner McGee, and the play was snuffed out by the UCLA defense.

UCLA wound up driving for a game-winning field goal and won 32-31.

South Alabama coach Kane Wommack was behind the call, and he said he was worried about leaving time for UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson to put together a drive.

“We had a little trick play on the field goal,” Wommack said, via Creg Stephenson of al.com. “I thought we needed to go up two scores against a quarterback like this. … They adjusted well to it. We thought we had them right there with the fake field goal.”

There’s nothing wrong with shying away from kicking a 40-yard field goal in that spot. If you were not going to kick, though, there is no reason to run a convoluted trick play as opposed to just putting the offense back on the field to try to gain two yards. Either that or they should take notes from some high school teams and run a better play.

Report: Nebraska contacted Urban Meyer amid coaching search

Photo Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Urban Meyer has been a very popular name in relation to the Nebraska coaching job. Apparently the Huskers have contacted the veteran coach.

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported on Saturday that Nebraska has contacted Meyer. However, Dodd’s report indicated he was not sure whether Meyer was contacted as a consultant or candidate.

Meyer, 58, is the biggest and best name available. But the big question is whether he has the desire to coach again and win at a high level. His failed stint as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach likely took a lot out of him. His reputation took a big hit both on and off the field.

Does he have a desire to jump back into coaching and try to rebuild Nebraska? Or does he realize he’s more content serving as a broadcaster for FOX? And if he’s merely serving as a consultant to give his advice, hopefully he has a better pick in mind than what he gave to Colorado State.

Shane Beamer gets ticked off at reporter after blowout loss

South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer saw his team fall behind early on Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.
Kns Tennessee South Carolina Football Bp

South Carolina coach Shane Beamer seemed to lose his cool a bit in an exchange with a reporter following Saturday’s loss to Georgia.

Phil Kornblut of South Carolina SportsTalk asked Beamer if he sensed any “give up” from his players in a 48-7 loss to Georgia. Beamer bristled at the question and was quite clearly disgusted at the suggestion.

“Hell no. What kind of question is that, Phil?” Beamer said. “We’re 1-2. We’ve got a bunch of fighters in that room. Give up, that’s not a part of this football program. Get out of here.”

To be fair to Beamer, getting crushed by Georgia is entirely understandable with the amount of talent on that team. A 14-point loss to Arkansas last week is a bit less encouraging, though by no means unforgivable.

Beamer definitely pays attention to what the writers have to say about him and his team. In this instance, it really rubbed him the wrong way, even though it was a fairly innocuous question.

Video: Tommy Rees lit into QB Drew Pyne amid Notre Dame struggles

Notre Dame’s offensive struggles continued on Saturday, and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees definitely looked like one of those who was feeling the pressure.

NBC cameras caught Rees berating quarterback Drew Pyne from the coaches’ box during Saturday’s game against California. Pyne looked quite sullen as Rees absolutely lit into the senior quarterback.

It did not take an expert lip-reader to figure out what Rees was saying based on this camera view, either.

“Do your f—ing job. The whole f—ing team is counting on you,” Rees appeared to say.

One can sympathize with Pyne, at least to a degree. He was pressed into duty after Week 1 starter Tyler Buchner suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Marshall last Saturday. He and the offense struggled mightily again in the first half against Cal, with the quarterback going 7/12 for just 57 yards, though he did throw a touchdown pass.

Rees is a former Notre Dame quarterback himself, so it is not as if he is unaware of the pressure here. Still, after the school made retaining him such a priority, he might come under scrutiny over the lack of results so far in 2022.

Manti Te’o has emotional reaction to Notre Dame return

Sep 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Manti Te’o (50) warms up before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego won 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Manti Te’o was welcomed back to Notre Dame on Saturday and got quite the response from the home fans.

Te’o on Saturday made his first public appearance at a Notre Dame game since 2012, when he last played for the Fighting Irish. He was welcomed back to present the colors prior to the team’s game against California, and was warmly greeted by fans.

The reception was even more rousing inside the stadium when he was introduced. Te’o was given an enormous reception, and appeared to be wiping away tears over the crowd’s reaction.

Te’o was a star linebacker for Notre Dame from 2009 to 2012, and was the anchor of the 2012 team that played in the National Championship game. Ultimately, the end of his career was overshadowed by the infamous fake girlfriend hoax that he was still hearing about years later. A recent Netflix documentary about the hoax revived interest in the story, however, and painted a more sympathetic picture of Te’o’s role in the fiasco.

Notre Dame is off to an 0-2 start, so perhaps Te’o’s return will help get the team moving in the right direction.

Kirk Herbstreit has strong criticism for one college football team

Dec 2, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; ESPN personality Kirk Herbstreit walks down the field prior to the game between the Clemson Tigers and the Miami Hurricanes in the ACC championship game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit delivered a fairly stinging criticism of one college football team that he clearly sees as overrated.

On Saturday’s edition of ESPN’s “College GameDay,” Herbstreit had a rather blunt take on the Texas A&M Aggies following their upset loss to Appalachian State last Saturday. Herbstreit said the Aggies had fallen victim to “unwarranted preseason hype” and did not deserve to be ranked No. 6 in the first place.

“Unwarranted preseason hype! No. 6, high expectations for a team that did not deserve that,” Herbstreit said, via Sydney Hunte of Saturday Down South. “They beat Alabama last year, they have all these great recruits, and all of a sudden, everybody thinks they’re Alabama. It doesn’t work like that.”

Herbstreit is undoubtedly correct. Though the Aggies did beat Alabama in 2021, they had yet to show the consistency to make that look like more than a one-off. There are clear issues on offense as well, as evidenced by the team making a very early quarterback change after the defeat.

On the other hand, this is year five for Jimbo Fisher, and for some there is a feeling that his program should be a bit further along. His recruiting class was so good that it became a legitimate source of controversy prior to the season. Expecting that class to dominate immediately is certainly asking too much, but a bit of consistency would be welcomed at A&M at this point.

Nebraska fans send clear message to Urban Meyer about coaching job

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Nebraska Cornhuskers are in need of a new head football coach, and their fans clearly have one person in mind for the job.

FOX’s “Big Noon Saturday” pregame show traveled to Lincoln on Saturday for the game between the Cornhuskers and Oklahoma Sooners. That meant Urban Meyer was on set, and was serenaded by chants of “we want Urban” from the assembled Nebraska fans.

Those certainly came across loud and clear on television, and there was no question that Meyer knew what the crowd was saying. He did not directly respond, though he did seem fairly amused by the scene.

The Cornhuskers are looking for a replacement for Scott Frost, who was fired on Sunday after a shocking home loss to Georgia Southern.

There are a lot of reasons Meyer would actually be a good fit for the Nebraska job. On the other hand, there is no clear indication that he would be interested in the position, though it is not as if he has ruled it out, either.

Notable coach says he is not interested in Nebraska job

Photo Credit: John Silks/Wikimedia

Following a 1-2 start to the season, Nebraska opted to pull the plug in short order. They fired head coach Scott Frost last week and are now on the hunt for a new lead man. But it’s not going to be legendary Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops.

Before speculation even gained momentum, Stoops shut the entire notion down.

“No one is looking for me to have to say it but no,” Stoops said on his own YouTube channel. “That is not a job that I am going to be interested in. I think it’s a heck of a job, great job. They got an incredible following. So, somebody will be lucky to have that great job but that won’t be me.”

After announcing his retirement in 2016, Stoops stepped away from the game for a few years. He returned in 2019 to coach the XFL’s Dallas Renegades and will re-join the league in 2023, again to coach the Dallas franchise.

Stoops also briefly returned to Oklahoma in 2021, serving as an interim head coach for Oklahoma during their bowl game after Lincoln Riley left for USC. The Sooners defeated the Oregon Ducks in that game, 47-32.

Perhaps almost fittingly, Nebraska will take on Oklahoma this Saturday.