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#pounditMonday, January 24, 2022

College Football

ESPN announcers for Chiefs-Broncos game had fans so confused

Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

Sports fans welcomed having an NFL game played on a Saturday. But many were thrown off by the announcing team for the game.

ABC/ESPN aired Saturday’s Week 18 contest between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. The announcing team was Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, who form ESPN’s No. 1 announcing team for college football.

Fans are used to hearing the duo call the big Saturday evening college football game each week, so hearing them on an NFL game was odd. Take a look at some of the reactions:

Though it was strange hearing the biggest voices in college football calling an NFL game, many fans agreed that the two still sounded great. Even if we’re not used to them calling NFL games, that doesn’t change that Fowler and Herbstreit still form an excellent duo for football games.

The two men will be on the call for the national championship game on Monday night between Alabama and Georgia.

Deion Sanders sends message after landing another top recruit

Deion Sanders on the sidelines

Deion Sanders sent a clear message to the rest of the college football world after bringing another top recruit to Jackson State.

Kevin Coleman Jr., a four-star recruit considered one of the top ten wide receivers in the 2022 class, announced during Saturday’s All-American Game that he was committing to play for Sanders at Jackson State. Coleman Jr. also had interest from blue-blood programs such as Florida State, Miami, Oregon, and USC.

Coleman Jr. marks another coup for Sanders and Jackson State, who continue to recruit well above their perceived weight. Sanders celebrated the wide receiver’s decision on Twitter, and sent a clear message to those who had questioned the program he is building.

This comes on the heels of Sanders landing the top-rated recruit in the country. There is every indication that Coach Prime will keep trying for top recruits, and he’ll probably keep landing some of them. The attraction goes beyond his fame and reputation, too: it looks like the guy can really coach and win the respect of his players.

Gene Chizik set for surprise return to North Carolina

Gene Chizik on set

Gene Chizik is making a surprise return to college football with the program he left five years ago.

The North Carolina Tar Heels announced Saturday that Chizik would return to the program with the title of assistant head coach for defense. Chizik will essentially serve as co-defensive coordinator along with Charlton Warren, another new addition who was previously the defensive coordinator at Indiana.

Chizik’s ties to North Carolina head coach Mack Brown are certainly in play here. Chizik was the defensive coordinator at Texas under Brown in 2005 and 2006, when the Longhorns won a national title. Chizik later won another title as head coach at Auburn, and also served two seasons as defensive coordinator for the Tar Heels under Brown’s predecessor Larry Fedora.

Chizik has worked for ESPN since resigning from North Carolina in 2017, where he has occasionally bemoaned the state of the sport. His return certainly makes for an interesting fit.

Trevor Etienne spurns Clemson to commit to SEC school

Trevor Etienne

Trevor Etienne will not be following the path of his brother Travis by committing to Clemson. Instead, the younger Etienne has opted to try his hand in the SEC.

Etienne, a consensus four-star running back recruit, announced prior to Saturday’s All-American Bowl that he would commit to Florida over LSU and Clemson. The Louisiana-based running back said the choice came down to Florida and Clemson, but he fell in love with Gainesville on his official visit there. He added that he wanted to do “something new” instead of following in his brother’s footsteps.

“It’s something new,” Etienne said, via Jeremy Johnson of On3 Sports. “I wanted to see myself doing something new and doing something I haven’t experienced. My brother went to Clemson. I’ve been to LSU a couple of times. I’ve never really been to Florida. That’s something I want to experience.”

Etienne said he had “nothing but love” for Clemson, having spent a good deal of time around campus watching his older brother play.

Notably, Etienne could factor early at Florida, with top running backs Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis poised to graduate. The path to snaps early may have helped Florida beat out Clemson for the running back.

It will no doubt sting for Clemson to see the brother of one of the program’s most iconic players turn them down to go elsewhere. It may bother LSU just as much given how the school’s former coach felt after losing out on the older Etienne, too.

Lane Kiffin humorously one-ups Hugh Freeze

Lane Kiffin holds his headset

Lane Kiffin cannot help but stir the pot a bit, especially when it comes to one of his predecessors at Ole Miss.

On Tuesday, Liberty coach Hugh Freeze posted a picture of himself on social media showing off a rather impressive fish he caught. That wasn’t enough to impress Kiffin, who responded to the post with an impressive flex of his own.

Point to Lane on this one.

There’s a fun little underlying rivalry going on here. Freeze coached Ole Miss from 2012 to 2016 before resigning amid a series of scandals. He took the Liberty job in 2019 and has made them quite successful. The two teams faced off in 2021, a game in which Ole Miss made things a bit personal on social media after winning. This is a lot less mean-spirited, and Kiffin is just having a lot of fun.

Photo: Sep 18, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffen at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia star makes surprising admission about first matchup with Alabama

Jordan Davis after a game

The Georgia Bulldogs were embarrassed by the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship, and one Georgia player made a fairly surprising admission about that game.

Georgia nose guard Jordan Davis admitted on Saturday that the Bulldogs did not have the proper conditioning coming into their 41-24 loss, and that Alabama took advantage.

“I’d say we wasn’t as conditioned as we should have been, especially on my part,” Davis said, via Michael Casagrande of AL.com. “And definitely this week we’ve been working hard. Coach Smart has been working us hard. And actually I’m about to go run right now after this meeting.”

That’s not something you typically hear from any athletes, though the candor is appreciated. It does suggest that Georgia wasn’t prepared for the first Alabama matchup, or at least not as much as they should have been. Combine that with the “rat poison” Alabama fed off of and you have a recipe for an upset.

Georgia and Alabama will face off again Monday for the National Championship. Do not expect the Bulldogs to make the same mistakes again.

Sep 18, 2021; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) reacts as he leaves the field after defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Gary Patterson is strong candidate for staff role at 1 major program

Gary Patterson watching warmups

Former TCU coach Gary Patterson is poised to return to college football at a very prominent program.

Patterson met Friday with Texas coach Steve Sarkisian about a possible role with the Longhorns, according to multiple reports. Jason Suchomel of Orangebloods reported that Patterson was a “strong candidate” to join the staff in some role.

Patterson was in his 21st season coaching TCU when he abruptly left last season under some curious circumstances. Joining Texas would allow him to remain close to his roots while simultaneously getting back into college football. The 61-year-old is also known as a great defensive mind, which could be a very good complement to Sarkisian’s reputation as a good offensive coach.

The only real issue here is whether Texans fans might have some lingering distaste toward Patterson from when the two programs clashed in Big 12 play. In all likelihood, they’ll get over it.

Photo: Oct 2, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson before the game against the Texas Longhorns at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Starting Pac-12 QB enters transfer portal

Jayden de Laura with a helmet on

There has been a tremendous amount of movement in the transfer portal in the college football world. Now a starting Pac-12 quarterback is on the move.

247 Sports’ Chris Hummer reported on Friday that Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura has entered the transfer portal.

De Laura passed for 2,802 yards and 23 touchdowns as a sophomore for the Cougars. He led them to a 7-6 record.

De Laura’s transfer may be related to Washington State’s recruitment of another QB. Cameron Ward was recruited to Washington State by the program’s new offensive coordinator, Eric Morris, who coached Ward at Incarnate Word.

Ward passed for 47 touchdowns this season and could very likely be Morris’ preference for a QB.

De Laura should be able to find a new home fairly easily.

De Laura is among several quarterbacks from Pac-12 schools who have transferred in or out of the conference. Former USC QB Kedon Slovis transferred to Pitt; former UCF QB Dillon Gabriel transferred to UCLA but then switched to Oklahoma; former Auburn QB Bo Nix transferred to Oregon; and Washington was set to land Jake Haener until that didn’t happen.

Photo: Nov 26, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura (4) walks to the locker room following pregame warmups against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Texas QB Casey Thompson announces transfer destination

Casey Thompson at Texas

Texas quarterback Casey Thompson will not have to go too far in the grand scheme of things after making his transfer decision.

Thompson announced Friday on Twitter that he will transfer to Nebraska for the 2022 season.

Thompson had visited Nebraska earlier in the week and the decision came together quickly. The Cornhuskers had a starting job available after Adrian Martinez departed for Kansas State.

Thompson played in 12 games for the Longhorns last season, throwing 24 touchdown passes to nine interceptions. He had considered a transfer in the past, but it became inevitable he failed to convince Steve Sarkisian that he was the answer for the Longhorns. That became even clearer when a top transfer quarterback opted to join Texas.

Photo: Oct 9, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson (11) before the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh hinted to recruit that he could leave Michigan?

Jim Harbaugh in a Michigan hat

Jim Harbaugh just led Michigan to its most successful season since he was hired by the school seven years ago, but there has been some talk about him potentially leaving for a new job. Apparently the coach has not ruled it out.

A report earlier this week claimed Harbaugh is considering a potential return to the NFL. According to one recruit’s father, Harbaugh recently admitted that is a possibility.

Larry Clemons, the father of four-star wide receiver Darius Clemons, told Sam Webb of The Michigan Insider that Harbaugh admitted to the Clemons family that he will “entertain” conversations with NFL teams.

“He said that he’ll entertain (it),” Larry Clemons said. “He was up front with us about that. I had Coach Harbaugh speak to my pastor. They had a good conversation. Our pastor asked him about that, and that’s just that’s the (reply) that he gave him.”

Darius Clemons committed to Michigan last month, so he must not have been too concerned. If anything, he probably appreciated the honesty from Harbaugh.

There are two schools of thought with Harbaugh. One is that he actually is contemplating a return to the NFL, where he enjoyed plenty of success as a head coach. He went 44-19-1 in four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014 before being forced out over issues with the team’s front office. He took the team to the NFC Championship Game three straight years and Super Bowl in 2012.

Harbaugh also could be trying to create leverage with Michigan. He signed an extension at a discounted rate last season, so he may want a raise after winning the Big Ten and taking the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff. College coaches use offers from other programs and NFL teams all the time to secure new contracts. It is certainly possible Harbaugh is taking that approach.

Harbaugh seems to genuinely love Michigan. He was swatting away NFL coaching rumors even when things were going poorly in Ann Arbor. We doubt he’ll leave, but you never know.

Photo: Aug 31, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh before the game against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports