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#pounditTuesday, March 2, 2021

College Football

Mike Stoops hired as defensive coordinator at FAU

Mike Stoops

Mike Stoops has found a new home, and Texas fans are probably quite pleased about it.

Stoops has been hired as the defensive coordinator at FAU, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. He will work under head coach Willie Taggart.

Stoops, the brother of legendary Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, spent the last two seasons as an analyst at Alabama. He was a defensive assistant at Oklahoma from 2012-2018 and coached under Bob for many of those seasons.

A recent report indicated Stoops was going to be hired by new Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian, potentially as a linebackers coach. That move would have been unpopular among Longhorns fans because of their fierce rivalry with Oklahoma, so they should be happy to see Stoops land elsewhere.

Senior Bowl buses carrying players got in collision on way to practice

Some of the best football players from across the country are getting ready to showcase their skills in the Senior Bowl this weekend, and they had some unexpected excitement on Thursday morning.

Two buses that were transporting players to practice at the Senior Bowl in Alabama collided with one another. Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that there were no injuries and practice was not delayed.

Believe it or not, this is not the first time one team bus has rear-ended another. We saw it happen with the Texas State football team a few years back, and some people were sent to the hospital. Fortunately there were no injuries at the Senior Bowl.

Albert Haynesworth accuses Tennessee football of racism

Tennessee Vols logo

Albert Haynesworth has said for years that he believes his alma mater Tennessee engages in racist hiring practices, so it is hardly a surprise that he was unhappy when Josh Heupel was hired as the new head coach of the Vols on Wednesday.

After Tennessee hired Heupel, Haynesworth took to Facebook to urge people to boycott the program. He criticized Tennessee for not promoting assistant head coach Tee Martin, who was teammates with Haynesworth when both played for the Vols. You can read the text of the full post below:

“Obviously Tennessee Vols take Tee Martin for granted! Why do s— on him, hell he even reduce his salary to help the university out when he didn’t have to? Is it bc he’s black? UT won’t even interview him. I bring race into it bc UT has passed over good qualified black coaches like Kippy Brown and others in these past coaching searches. Majority of your players are African-American why not put a African-American coach to lead them especially the one that won Tennessee a championship? You guys give everyone except a black qualified man a chance! With this said I will not be attending any games or supporting until I see change in the university that I love so much! I hope my fellow black Tennessee alumnus will follow me in boycotting the university in showing how serious we are about not feeling the equality for our fellow qualified black coaches!!!”

Haynesworth, a former defensive tackle, won a national championship at Tennessee in 1998. Martin was the quarterback of that team. Martin was an assistant coach at USC from 2012-2018 before returning to Tennessee in a coaching role.

Former NFL wide receiver Peerless Price, another member of Tennessee’s 1998 championship team, said he spoke with Martin on Wednesday and that Martin is “hurting.”

Haynesworth also unloaded on Tennessee in 2017 when they didn’t hire Martin. You can read what he said at that time here.

Oklahoma lands Tennessee RB transfer Eric Gray

Oklahoma Sooners logo

Oklahoma has added a nice transfer to their backfield.

Running back Eric Gray announced on Twitter Wednesday that he has chosen to transfer to the Sooners. He did so with a one-word announcement that says it all: “Boomer!!!”

Gray rushed for 1,311 yards and eight touchdowns in two seasons at Tennessee. He also had 43 catches for 369 yards and three touchdowns.

Gray was among several players who decided to transfer from the Volunteers after Jeremy Pruitt was fired.

Oklahoma is losing Rhamondre Stevenson to the draft, while TJ Pledger transferred to Utah. That created an opening at running back that Gray is filling for Oklahoma.

Najee Harris had great reason for ignoring agents’ Senior Bowl advice

Najee Harris

Alabama running back Najee Harris has little reason to do much physically at the Senior Bowl, as his agents have pointed out to him. That didn’t stop him from doing something anyway.

Harris defied his agents by doing some work at the Senior Bowl, with the stated reason being that he couldn’t just not compete.

It’s a great attitude to have, even if his agents understandably want to reign it in. Harris getting hurt at the Senior Bowl would be an enormous setback. That said, via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, he only did some work on the side and did not actually participate in a full workout.

Harris is an ultra-competitive guy who knows the risks — he even experienced them during the College Football Playoff. Should he have done any work? Probably not. Teams might like to hear about the drive, though.

Josh Heupel reveals his recruiting strategy at Tennessee

Josh Heupel

Josh Heupel hinted at how he plans to approach recruiting at Tennessee after officially being confirmed as the school’s new head coach.

Heupel was introduced on Wednesday afternoon, and he made it clear that his ambition is to win titles at Tennessee. He also added one of his main priorities: dominating within the state on the recruiting front.

According to 247Sports’ recruit rankings, the state of Tennessee has nine four-star recruits in the 2021 class. Only one of them has committed to Tennessee, with the rest leaving the state for the likes of Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan.

A one-time Heisman Trophy runner-up, Heupel was successful at UCF, where he went 28-8. That’s a nice track record, and should at least deliver him some credibility upon arriving at Tennessee. That said, he has quite the rebuilding job ahead of him, so he’ll want to establish himself in recruiting as quickly as possible.

Miami QB Tate Martell once again enters transfer portal

Tate Martell

Tate Martell appears to be on his way to his third career school after once again entering the transfer portal.

Martell, who sat out the 2020 season after opting out in September following a suspension, has entered the transfer portal and looks set to leave Miami.

Martell essentially confirmed the news by posting a video on Twitter where he made clear that he intends to play quarterback again.

Martell’s college career has been quite the odyssey. After being featured on Netflix’s “QB1: Beyond the Lights,” he originally committed to Ohio State as a five-star quarterback recruit. He transferred to Miami after Justin Fields joined the Buckeyes, where Martell lost out on the quarterback job and was shifted to wide receiver. He stood little chance of playing quarterback for the Hurricanes in 2021 after D’Eriq King announced his decision to return to school.

The 23-year-old resurfaced on social media just last week, at the time seemingly preparing for his return to Miami. He will have at least two years of eligibility remaining wherever he lands.

Luke McCaffrey joins brother Dylan in pursuing college transfer

Nebraska Cornhuskers logo

Luke McCaffrey is pursuing a transfer just like his brother Dylan.

Luke, a quarterback, announced on Tuesday that he is going to enter the transfer portal and explore his options.

In two seasons at Nebraska, McCaffrey went 57/88 (64.8 percent) for 608 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions as a passer. He rushed for 530 and four touchdowns. He served as a backup to Adrian Martinez. Kade Warner and Will Farniok are other members of Nebraska’s offense who are entering the transfer portal.

Luke joins brother Dylan in the transfer portal.

Dylan was a quarterback at Michigan but opted out of the 2020 season, with plans to be a graduate transfer. He entered the transfer portal last week.

Neither Luke nor Dylan have come close to matching the impact their older brother, Christian, had in college at Stanford.

Lane Kiffin getting a kick out of the Tennessee rumors

Lane Kiffin

The Tennessee Volunteers are searching for a head football coach again, and their vacancy has led some to revive Lane Kiffin talks.

Kiffin was briefly the coach in Knoxville before ditching them after one season to head back to USC, where he took over for Pete Carroll in 2010. Over a decade has passed since then, and Kiffin has rebuilt his stock through his work at Alabama, FAU, and Ole Miss.

Some have wondered whether Kiffin would be open to a Knoxville return. There was even a fake rumor started on Twitter by someone who said Kiffin was returning to Tennessee.

Someone tagged Kiffin to see if he had seen the rumor. The Ole Miss coach enjoyed a laugh.

Kiffin just completed his first season at Ole Miss. If he’s learned anything, it’s probably that it’s not a good idea to leave a school after one season, like he did at Tennessee. Kiffin just went 5-5 at Ole Miss and needs to give himself some time to build up that program before he thinks about going anywhere else.

Plus, why would he want to go to Tennessee given their current situation.

Ole Miss fans! It’s time to jump aboard the Lane Train! This Lane Train shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here.

H/T Saturday Down South

Jeff Fisher campaigning for the Tennessee head coach job

Jeff Fisher

There are fair questions about how appealing the Tennessee Volunteers head coaching position is right now with the threat of looming NCAA sanctions. There has been a lot of talk that the cloud hovering over the program could scare some candidates off. However, there’s one veteran coach who is telling anyone who will listen that he’d love the job.

Former Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher continues to make it known that he’s ready to talk to the Vols. On Monday, he said as much on “The George Plaster Show,” even adding that he has a potential staff lined up.

Fisher made clear earlier in the month even before Jeremy Pruitt was fired that he would be very interested in the position. That clearly has not changed, even with some of the revelations about what’s happened at Tennessee, as well as the ensuing player exodus.

It’s not at all clear that Fisher is even a candidate for the job, which is probably why he’s campaigning so hard. All of his coaching experience is at the NFL level, and his last winning season there came in 2008. The Vols appear to be focused on different sorts of candidates than Fisher for the position.