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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

College Football

Hugh Freeze has a new vantage point to coach Saturday’s Liberty game

Hugh Freeze

Hugh Freeze’s recovery from a staph infection continues to have him coaching Liberty games from all kinds of unique places.

Freeze underwent back surgery last month and has not been able to coach from the sideline since then as he works his way back physically. On Saturday, he got a lot closer: he now has his own sideline platform to oversee the action.

It’s a pretty good view of the field, even if Freeze can’t be very mobile. At least he’ll have a rolling chair. Plus, it beats coaching from a hospital bed in the press box, so this is a huge upgrade either way.

Arkansas State coach responds to Georgia fans’ ‘Pink Out’ honoring late wife

Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson got quite the display of support from Georgia fans during Saturday’s game.

On Saturday, Anderson coached his first game since his wife Wendy died of breast cancer in August. In recognition of that, many Georgia fans planned to wear pink in support of the opposing coach. That plan came to fruition on Saturday, with large swaths of pink seen in the stands.

After the game, Anderson tweeted his appreciation to Georgia fans.

In an emotional postgame press conference, Anderson paid tribute to the Georgia fans, stating that the pink in the stands was “one of the classiest moves I’ve ever seen.”

It’s a pretty awesome move from Georgia fans, and one that Anderson was clearly appreciative of. They certainly didn’t have to do that, as he noted.

Michigan State blows game with 12 men on the field penalty

Michigan State 12 men on the field

Michigan State blew their game at home against Arizona State on Saturday largely because of a 12 men on the field penalty.

The Spartans were up 7-3 on the Sun Devils but allowed ASU to score a touchdown in the final minute. Michigan State, whose offense had mostly been missing for the game, rose to drive down the field in the final 50 seconds. They got the ball to the Arizona State 24 and had kicker Matt Coghlin attempt a 42-yard field goal. He made it, but the kick was erased because of a 12 men on the field penalty.

Michigan State was pushed back five yards, and you can guess what happened — Coghlin hooked the next kick and the Spartans lost 10-7.

Michigan State fans couldn’t believe it.

This is the second year in a row that Michigan State has lost to Arizona State.

The Spartans actually put up 404 yards but were penalized 10 times for 91 yards and lost a fumble. That’s enough to give the game away. That, and a pathetic too many men on the field penalty did it.

Clay Helton’s job security in question again after OT loss to BYU

Clay Helton USC

Clay Helton entered the season on the hot seat, and USC’s loss to BYU in overtime on Saturday is enough to cause questions about the head coach’s job security.

A week after rallying to beat Stanford at home 45-20 behind backup quarterback Kedon Slovis, the Trojans traded leads with the Cougars most of the game. An unbelievable 52-yard field goal with under two minutes left helped USC tie the game at 27 and send it to overtime, where they lost 30-27 after being intercepted.

Immediately, top college football reporters recognized that Helton’s job status was even shakier.

Helton is in his fourth full season as the program’s head coach after taking over for Steve Sarkisian in 2015. He rode Sam Darnold to a pair of double-digit win seasons until dropping to 5-7 last season. They’re now 2-1 this year and have a tough schedule ahead. Making matters worse, Helton no longer has a big figure in the athletic department behind him.

Why Chip Kelly is not running the ‘blur’ offense at UCLA

Chip Kelly UCLA

Chip Kelly was known for running an extremely fast-paced offense at Oregon called the “blur.” He emphasized speed and tempo, and he rode that offense to a 46-7 record over four seasons leading the Ducks. Kelly’s success at Oregon helped him land the Philadelphia Eagles job, which lasted for three years, and then he went to San Francisco for a season before being fired.

Now in his second year at UCLA, Kelly is looking much more like the guy who went 8-23 over his final two NFL seasons than the innovative offensive mind at Oregon. His Bruins went 3-9 last year and have begun this season 0-2, which includes the school’s first loss ever to San Diego State. What’s worse is the offense looks nothing like the schemes Kelly ran at Oregon.

So why isn’t Chip running the fast-paced “blur” offense at UCLA? At the open of FOX’s telecast for Saturday night’s Bruins game against the Oklahoma Sooners, analyst Brock Huard explained why.

“(UCLA fans are) getting an offense that’s not explosive. They’re getting an offense that Chip told us yesterday doesn’t have the personnel to play at the tempo and speed I think many of us thought he would.”

There you go. It isn’t necessarily that the blur offense is outdated, it’s that Kelly does not think he has the players to play at that speed.

Beyond not running the blur offense, Kelly just isn’t using his offensive personnel well. Sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was a dual-threat quarterback entering college, yet Kelly hardly uses him as a rushing threat. Kelly was even ripped by Thompson-Robinson’s father last year.

Last week Chip defended his slow start at UCLA. Now he’s saying he doesn’t have the players to run his offense. He’s really trying hard to buy time.

Is this the reason why Lynn Swann suddenly resigned as USC AD?

Lynn Swann’s sudden resignation as USC’s athletic director on Monday caught many people by surprise. After all, Swann managed to hang onto the gig for 3.5 years despite being terrible at it, by most accounts.

So why did he resign from his position? What was the impetus? It may have been the result of Swann being exposed as hired despite his lack of qualifications due to cronyism from the school’s biggest donor.

The Los Angeles Times’ Harriet Ryan and Matt Hamilton published a lengthy exposé on Sept. 5 on billionaire B. Wayne Hughes Sr., the founder of Public Storage. The Times said Hughes had donated around $400 million to USC, mostly anonymously. They reported Hughes donated $360 million to the school from 2010-2015. His donations reportedly have been focused on the athletic department.

Hughes attended USC and was close with many of the Trojans’ football players, such as OJ Simpson, Al Cowlings, and Swann.

When Pat Haden stepped down as USC’s athletic director in April 2016, the school reportedly retained a search firm to help identify candidates. They whittled down a list of 200 to around seven candidates, according to the LA Times.

From the Times:

Multiple rounds of interviews winnowed 200 prospects to about seven finalists. One person knowledgeable about the search process said Hughes indicated to (Former USC president Max) Nikias that he preferred Swann for the job. Hughes’ attorney said it would be “wholly inaccurate” to say he had lobbied Nikias to appoint Swann.

Swann had never run an athletic program, let alone worked at a university, and he had scant management experience beyond serving on the boards of companies and charities. USC’s athletic director would oversee a budget of $100 million, 21 varsity teams and at least 650 student-athletes.

Some of Swann’s moves included announcing he was keeping Clay Helton despite fans calling for the football coach’s job; banning the USC Song Girls from performing at basketball games; and generally being absent amid a school scandal.

Swann kept the job despite all that. But two business days after the LA Times exposed Swann’s relationship with Hughes, and a quote in the story said Hughes might be the most powerful figure at USC — more powerful than the school president — Swann resigned. Perhaps USC believed that they needed to flex some muscle to show who’s in charge after new president Carol Folt had her power called into question. She may have called for Swann to resign, which he did. And perhaps USC felt comfortable firing Swann because they’ve already gotten so much money from Hughes in donations from 2010-2015.

There is a saying in journalism — also popularized by “All the President’s Men” — to “follow the money.” In this case one need only follow Hughes’ money and relationships to understand how Swann got the job and why he remained in it until recently.

H/T Sports by Brooks

Feleipe Franks suffers nasty ankle injury, gets carted off

Feleipe Franks injury

Feleipe Franks was carted off the field after suffering a bad ankle injury during the third quarter of Saturday’s game at Kentucky.

Florida had a 4th-and-1 at the Kentucky 38 late in the third. Franks faked a hand off and tried to run for the first down, but he encountered a wall of defenders and was pushed backwards. Franks’ left leg appeared to be planted as he was pushed backwards.

The entire Florida Gators team came onto the field to wish Franks well as he was placed on the cart and taken away.

ESPN’s announcers said immediately that Franks had dislocated his ankle. The junior quarterback held a towel over his face and could be seen crying as he was being carted away.

Redshirt junior Kyle Trask was set to replace the injured Franks at quarterback.