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  • CFB notebook: Ole Miss' Patterson to transfer to Michigan
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 11, 2017

    University of Mississippi quarterback Shea Patterson announced on Twitter Monday that he will transfer to Michigan, where he might be eligible in 2018 due to NCAA sanctions against the Rebels' program.

    • Patterson, a former five-star recruit, completed 166 of 260 passes for 2,259 yards, with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions in seven games as a sophomore this season. His campaign was cut short by a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

      Because Ole Miss was recently hit with an additional year of a bowl ban, amid other sanctions, seniors can transfer and be immediately eligible in 2018. Other transfers out of Ole Miss must apply for a waiver in order to play in 2018, but those seem likely to be granted.

      Either way, Patterson is a nice addition for coach Jim Harbaugh, who has struggled at the quarterback position in his three seasons in Ann Arbor. Patterson (6-foot-2, 203 pounds) is a pro-style passer who should fit into Michigan's style of offense.

      --Pittsburgh junior safety Jordan Whitehead announced on social media that he will enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

      Whitehead (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) has been listed as the No. 1 free safety for the 2019 NFL Draft, according to NFLDraftScout.com.

      Whitehead, who was suspended for the first three games this season because of a violation of team rules, made 60 tackles and broke up four passes in nine games this season. Those totals didn't live up to his previous seasons.

      --Florida A&M has tabbed Willie Simmons to be the next head coach of its football team, multiple outlets reported.

      Simmons has served as the head coach at Prairie View A&M for the last three seasons. The 37-year-old native of Tallahassee, Fla., posted a 21-11 mark during that span, with a 6-5 record this past season.

      Simmons will replace Alex Wood, who resigned on Nov. 25 after going 8-25 in the previous three seasons. The Rattlers recorded a 3-8 mark this season and were 2-6 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

  • Ole Miss QB Patterson to transfer to Michigan
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 11, 2017

    University of Mississippi quarterback Shea Patterson announced on Twitter Monday that he will transfer to Michigan, where he might be eligible in 2018 due to NCAA sanctions against the Rebels' program.

    • Patterson, a former five-star recruit, completed 166 of 260 passes for 2,259 yards, with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions in seven games as a sophomore this season. His campaign was cut short by a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

      "Thank you to the wonderful people, teammates and coaches at Ole Miss," Patterson wrote. "It is a special place and I will always have great memories of experiences in Oxford. I am now excited to announce my commitment to continue my athletic and academic career at the University of Michigan.

      "It's time to go to work. #GoBlue."

      Because Ole Miss was recently hit with an additional year of a bowl ban, amid other sanctions, seniors can transfer and be immediately eligible in 2018. Other transfers out of Ole Miss must apply for a waiver in order to play in 2018, but those seem likely to be granted.

      Either way, Patterson is a nice addition for coach Jim Harbaugh, who has struggled at the quarterback position in his three seasons in Ann Arbor. Patterson (6-foot-2, 203 pounds) is a pro-style passer who should fit into Michigan's style of offense.

      Last year's primary starter, Wilton Speight -- whose season ended early because of a vertebrae injury -- decided after the season to leave as a graduate transfer.

      Brandon Peters, who will be a redshirt sophomore in 2018, is the only quarterback on the roster with playing experience, as he took over late in the season after fifth-year senior John O'Korn struggled. Another possibility for 2018 is Dylan McCaffrey, who redshirted as a freshman this season. He is the brother of former Stanford All-American running back Christian McCaffrey.

      Patterson made his college debut late in the 2016 season as a true freshmen, starting the final three games for an injured Chad Kelly. He completed 72 of 132 passes for 880 yards and six touchdowns.

  • Pittsburgh S Whitehead to enter NFL draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 11, 2017

    Pittsburgh junior safety Jordan Whitehead announced on social media Monday that he will enter the 2018 NFL draft.

    • "It has been an honor and a privilege to play for this university, Coach (Pat) Narduzzi, and this coaching staff for the past three years," he wrote. "I would like to thank them for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime, but feel I am ready to take the next step in achieving my dreams."

      Whitehead (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) has been listed as the No. 1 free safety for the 2019 NFL draft, according to NFLDraftScout.com.

      Whitehead, who was suspended for the first three games this season because of a violation of team rules, made 60 tackles and broke up four passes in nine games this season. Those totals didn't live up to his previous seasons.

      He was a consensus Freshman All-American in 2015, when he led the Panthers with 109 tackles and earned third-team All-ACC honors. He was a second-team all-conference pick in 2016, when he started a game at safety and wide receiver.

      Whitehead is the second Pitt player to declare early for the draft. Wide receiver/returner Quadree Henderson did so last week.

  • Florida A&M picks Simmons as head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 11, 2017

    Florida A&M has tabbed Willie Simmons to be the next head coach of its football team, multiple outlets reported on Monday.

    • Simmons has served as the head coach at Prairie View A&M for the last three seasons. The 37-year-old native of Tallahassee, Fla., posted a 21-11 mark during that span, with a 6-5 record this past season.

      Prairie View A&M released an official statement on Saturday declaring that Simmons had left the program.

      Simmons will replace Alex Wood, who resigned on Nov. 25 after going 8-25 in the previous three seasons. The Rattlers recorded a 3-8 mark this season and were 2-6 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

  • Aggies suspend DT Henderson after arrest
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, December 10, 2017

    Texas A&M starting defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson was suspended indefinitely after being arrested on multiple felony assault charges on Sunday.

    • Henderson, a senior, was charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence and possession of marijuana in an early Sunday morning incident at an apartment complex in College Station, Texas.

      A school spokesman confirmed Henderson's suspension.

      Henderson, 23, pointed a firearm from a car at several people in the complex and threatened to kill them around 2:30 a.m. CT, according to College Station police.

      Henderson and one other person, Terry Lechler Florez Jr., were arrested at the scene. Florez, 24, was charged with marijuana possession.

      Officers found a rifle in the nearby woods that matched the description given by eyewitnesses of the weapon Henderson pointed at them.

      Henderson had 35 tackles and 2.5 sacks this season.

      The Aggies complete their season on Dec. 29 against Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl.

  • Washington State WR Martin no longer with program
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, December 10, 2017

    Washington State dismissed leading wide receiver Tavares Martin Jr. for an undisclosed violation of team rules on Sunday, though there are conflicting accounts of what happened.

    • Martin claimed in a twitter post that he asked for his release from the program, which resulted in the dismissal.

      "I was dismissed from the team because I asked for my release." Martin said on Twitter. "I never knew me asking for my release was a violation of the team rules."

      Cougars coach Mike Leach told reporters after practice Sunday that he cut Martin and that the junior did not ask for his release beforehand.

      Martin led the Cougars with 70 catches, 831 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season. He also was suspended for Washington State's 28-0 win against Colorado on Oct. 21 for a violation of team rules.

      In three seasons with Washington State, Martin has 150 receptions for 1,683 yards and 17 touchdowns.

      Martin became the second receiver to leave the program since the regular-season ended.

      Isaiah Johnson-Mack, who was second on the team with 555 yards, announced last week he plans on transferring from the school to be closer to his family in Florida. Johnson-Mack later said Leach refused to grant his release.

      Washington State (9-3) will play Michigan State (9-3) in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28

  • Oklahoma's Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, December 10, 2017

    NEW YORK -- Baker Mayfield's college career began with him being introduced as a walk-on quarterback. Now the Oklahoma quarterback has Heisman Trophy winner attached to his name.

    • Mayfield claimed college football's biggest individual honor Saturday night at the Marriott Marquis near Times Square when he totaled 732 first-place votes and 2,398 points.

      "It's unbelievable for me," Mayfield said. "It's a dream come true. It's an honor, that's for sure."

      Last year, Mayfield placed third with 361 points and lost to the eventual winner -- Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson -- and finished behind Clemson's Deshaun Watson. This year, he beat Stanford running back Bryce Love and Jackson.

      He claimed the honor with at least one remaining game in his college career, against No. 3 Georgia in the upcoming College Football Playoff. It's the culmination of a journey that began in 2013 when he walked on to Texas Tech after not getting any scholarship offers from any Big 12 programs. He also became the first Heisman winner whose career began as a walk-on since athletic scholarships were created in the 1950s.

      Mayfield left Texas Tech due to communication issues with the coaching staff and then enrolled at Oklahoma in January 2014. He joined the Sooners as a walk-on a month later and was named the starting quarterback for 2015.

      "It's been a tough journey," Mayfield said during his acceptance speech while he choked back tears.

      He placed fourth in the Heisman voting in 2015 by finishing the season with 3,700 passing yards and 36 touchdown passes. This year, under first-year coach Lincoln Riley, he was even better as a fifth-year senior.

      This season, Mayfield completed 262 of 369 passes for 4,340 yards, with 41 touchdown passes and five interceptions. He led the nation in passing efficiency at 203.8, which is ahead of the FBS-record 196.4 mark he posted last season.

      "For any coach to have a chance for your guy to be standing here with the Heisman trophy and just to do it kind of at the end of such a long journey that we've had together, it's very special," said Riley, who was Oklahoma's offensive coordinator in the previous two seasons. "We're obviously very close. We've been through a lot together. That's a proud moment. That's certainly a moment that I'll never forget."

      Those numbers made him the overwhelming favorite heading into Saturday and the results reflected it.

      Mayfield's first-place votes were the fifth-best in Heisman history and he received 86 percent of the total possible points -- the third-highest of all-time. Only Ohio State's Troy Smith (2,540 points, 2006) and Oregon's Marcus Mariota (2,534 points, 2014) received higher percentages.

      Mayfield's win was solidified with the moments he enjoyed in big performances during victories over Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma State and twice over TCU. Those showings helped the Sooners get the No. 2 seed in their second appearance in the College Football Playoff.

      Of course, those were slightly overshadowed by Mayfield planting the Sooner flag at midfield after winning at Ohio State and him taunting Kansas fans last month. Those actions were preceded by a Feb. 25 arrest in Fayetteville, Ark., on charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fleeing, which resulted in a plea deal.

      Ultimately when it came time to decide the Heisman, numbers won out for Mayfield, who can now turn his focus toward getting Oklahoma its first national championship since 2000.

      Mayfield became the third Sooners quarterback to win in the last 15 seasons. Jason White won in 2003 and Sam Bradford won it five years later.

      "There's a tradition at OU that's second to none and I've enjoyed playing for them because of tradition and the standard set so high," Mayfield said. "For me, I've loved it, I've loved every second of it and just to be in consideration for it and in the discussion with those guys is pretty special."

      He also continued a recent trend of signal-callers to win the award. Mayfield became the 14th quarterback to win in the last 17 years, though he was the first senior to win since Smith in 2006.

      Love was bidding to become the second running back to win in three years but could not join former Alabama running back Derrick Henry (2015). Love, who rushed for 1,973 yards despite being hampered by a high ankle sprain late in the season, finished with 75 first-place votes and 1,300 points.

      Jackson was trying to join Ohio State running back Archie Griffin (1974 and 1975) as the second repeat winner of the award. The junior finished with better numbers than last season, but Jackson ended up with 47 first-place votes and 793 points.

      Jackson lacked a signature victory after beating Florida State and losing a close game to Clemson last season and, along with Mayfield's numbers, that likely cost him more first-place votes.

      Nine players received first-place votes, including Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley finished fourth with 15 first-place votes and 304 points, while San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny (seven first-place votes, 175 points) rouinded out the top five. Overall, 43 players received votes.

  • Oklahoma's Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, December 9, 2017

    NEW YORK -- Baker Mayfield's college career began with him being introduced as a walk-on quarterback. Now the Oklahoma quarterback has Heisman Trophy winner attached to his name.

    • Mayfield claimed college football's biggest individual honor Saturday night at the Marriott Marquis near Times Square when he totaled 732 first-place votes and 2,398 points.

      "It's unbelievable for me," Mayfield said. "It's a dream come true. It's an honor, that's for sure."

      Last year, Mayfield placed third with 361 points and lost to the eventual winner -- Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson -- and finished behind Clemson's Deshaun Watson. This year, he beat Stanford running back Bryce Love and Jackson.

      He claimed the honor with at least one remaining game in his college career, against No. 3 Georgia in the upcoming College Football Playoff. It's the culmination of a journey that began in 2013 when he walked on to Texas Tech after not getting any scholarship offers from any Big 12 programs. He also became the first Heisman winner whose career began as a walk-on since athletic scholarships were created in the 1950s.

      Mayfield left Texas Tech due to communication issues with the coaching staff and then enrolled at Oklahoma in January 2014. He joined the Sooners as a walk-on a month later and was named the starting quarterback for 2015.

      "It's been a tough journey," Mayfield said during his acceptance speech while he choked back tears.

      He placed fourth in the Heisman voting in 2015 by finishing the season with 3,700 passing yards and 36 touchdown passes. This year, under first-year coach Lincoln Riley, he was even better as a fifth-year senior.

      This season, Mayfield completed 262 of 369 passes for 4,340 yards, with 41 touchdown passes and five interceptions. He led the nation in passing efficiency at 203.8, which is ahead of the FBS-record 196.4 mark he posted last season.

      "For any coach to have a chance for your guy to be standing here with the Heisman trophy and just to do it kind of at the end of such a long journey that we've had together, it's very special," said Riley, who was Oklahoma's offensive coordinator in the previous two seasons. "We're obviously very close. We've been through a lot together. That's a proud moment. That's certainly a moment that I'll never forget."

      Those numbers made him the overwhelming favorite heading into Saturday and the results reflected it.

      Mayfield's first-place votes were the fifth-best in Heisman history and he received 86 percent of the total possible points -- the third-highest of all-time. Only Ohio State's Troy Smith (2,540 points, 2006) and Oregon's Marcus Mariota (2,534 points, 2014) received higher percentages.

      Mayfield's win was solidified with the moments he enjoyed in big performances during victories over Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma State and twice over TCU. Those showings helped the Sooners get the No. 2 seed in their second appearance in the College Football Playoff.

      Of course, those were slightly overshadowed by Mayfield planting the Sooner flag at midfield after winning at Ohio State and him taunting Kansas fans last month. Those actions were preceded by a Feb. 25 arrest in Fayetteville, Ark., on charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fleeing, which resulted in a plea deal.

      Ultimately when it came time to decide the Heisman, numbers won out for Mayfield, who can now turn his focus toward getting Oklahoma its first national championship since 2000.

      Mayfield became the third Sooners quarterback to win in the last 15 seasons. Jason White won in 2003 and Sam Bradford won it five years later.

      "There's a tradition at OU that's second to none and I've enjoyed playing for them because of tradition and the standard set so high," Mayfield said. "For me, I've loved it, I've loved every second of it and just to be in consideration for it and in the discussion with those guys is pretty special."

      He also continued a recent trend of signal-callers to win the award. Mayfield became the 14th quarterback to win in the last 17 years, though he was the first senior to win since Smith in 2006.

      Love was bidding to become the second running back to win in three years but could not join former Alabama running back Derrick Henry (2015). Love, who rushed for 1,973 yards despite being hampered by a high ankle sprain late in the season, finished with 75 first-place votes and 1,300 points.

      Jackson was trying to join Ohio State running back Archie Griffin (1974 and 1975) as the second repeat winner of the award. The junior finished with better numbers than last season, but Jackson ended up with 47 first-place votes and 793 points.

      Jackson lacked a signature victory after beating Florida State and losing a close game to Clemson last season and, along with Mayfield's numbers, that likely cost him more first-place votes.

      Nine players received first-place votes, including Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley finished fourth with 15 first-place votes and 304 points, while San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny (seven first-place votes, 175 points) rouinded out the top five. Overall, 43 players received votes.

  • Missouri giving Barry Odom 2-year extension
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, December 9, 2017

    Missouri extended the contract of head football coach Barry Odom for two years, the school announced Saturday. The new agreement runs through the 2022-2023 season.

    • The contract extension has not yet been formally approved by the university board and president, but that is not expected to be an issue.

      Odom is in his second season as Missouri's head coach. The Tigers went 4-8, including 2-6 in the Southeastern Conference, last year, but won six straight games to improve to 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the SEC this season.

      Odom's salary will not change with the extension, but he will receive a percentage of ticket sales if Missouri makes a certain amount of money.

      "According to the (memorandum of understanding), in any season during the agreement that ticket revenue from Mizzou home football games exceeds $11.7M, Odom will receive an amount equal to 20 percent of that amount," the school said in a statement.

      Odom is losing offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who left to become the head coach at Central Florida.

      "I am excited for the future of this program, as we have made positive steps over the course of the last two years," Odom said. "I am so appreciative of my team and staff; they continually work together to make Mizzou Football a great representative of our University."

      The Tigers will face the Texas Longhorns in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl on Dec. 27.

  • Mayfield heads to Heisman ceremony as favorite
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    Baker Mayfield, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting last season, is a near-lock on Saturday night to become the sixth Oklahoma player to win the award.

    • Mayfield checks all the boxes: He's a quarterback. His team is among the best in the nation, seeded No. 2 in the College Football Playoff. He has record-setting stats. He has name recognition. He's had Heisman "moments," such as big performances in wins over Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma State and twice over TCU.

      Mayfield, a senior, was in New York City for the ceremony last season, when he finished behind winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.

      This year's award will be announced near the end of the hour-long the presentation show that begins at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

      "People want to say, 'favorite this and that,'" Mayfield told reporters on Friday. "No, I'm just trying to enjoy it. It's an honor just to be here around these people and be a part of this process."

      Two other finalists were invited to New York City -- Stanford junior running back Bryce Love and Jackson, a junior who is trying to join Ohio State running back Archie Griffin (1974 and 1975) as the only two-time winner of the award.

      Mayfield would become the third Oklahoma quarterback in the past 15 seasons to win the Heisman. Sam Bradford took home the stiff-armed trophy in 2008; Jason White won in 2003.

      Other Sooners to win the award as college football's most outstanding player are running back Billy Vessels (1942), running back Steve Owens (1969) and running back Billy Sims (1978).

      Notre Dame has the most Heisman winners in history with seven. Ohio State has also won seven times with six players. USC officially has six winners, since Reggie Bush's 2005 award was vacated due to NCAA sanctions.

      Other than Oklahoma, no other school has produced more than three Heisman winners.

      Mayfield has completed 262 of 369 passes for 4,340 yards, with 41 touchdowns and five interceptions. He leads the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 203.8, which is ahead of the FBS-record 196.4 mark he posted last season.

      Mayfield won two major awards Thursday night -- the Maxwell, given to the top player in college football, and the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the best quarterback.

      "It's going to be a long list of thank yous, because a lot of people helped get me to this point," Mayfield said.

      The other two finalists have had historic seasons, too.

      Love has rushed for 1,973 yards in 12 games, playing through a high ankle sprain in the second half of the season. His absence against Oregon State -- when Stanford had to rally to win 15-14 after gaining just 222 total yards -- highlighted his value to the team.

      Love set an FBS record with 12 runs of at least 50 yards this season.

      Jackson's numbers are similar to last season -- 3,489 passing yards, 1,443 rushing yards -- but he lacked a signature victory. He still became the first player in college football history to reach the 3,000/1,000 marks in back-to-back seasons.

      Jackson leads the nation with 411.0 yards of total offense per game and could eclipse last season's numbers (3,543 passing yards, 1,571 rushing yards) during Louisville's appearance in the TaxSlayer Bowl vs. Mississippi State.

  • Oregon promotes Cristobal to head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    Oregon promoted co-offensive coordinator and interim coach Mario Cristobal to head coach, the school announced Friday.

    • The deal with the 47-year-old Cristobal was being finalized Friday morning, a source told ESPN.

      "I'm excited and honored to be the head football coach of the Oregon Ducks," said Cristobal. "The rich tradition combined with the incredible wave of momentum that has been created throughout the season and the recruiting process is something we believe will be unstoppable, and this will lead us to fulfill the great expectations of our great University and our fan base."

      Cristobal also was the team's run-game coordinator and offensive line coach. He had been named interim head coach earlier in the week for the Ducks' bowl game after Willie Taggart left after one season to accept the job at Florida State on Tuesday.

      The Ducks went 7-5 this season and will face Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 16.

      "Mario's leadership skills, work ethic, and experience makes him a perfect fit to lead the Oregon football program," said Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens. "He has a passion for Oregon and a vision for our future success, and has made a significant impact on our student-athletes during his time here. We look forward to a great future on the horizon for Ducks under Mario's leadership."

      On Thursday night, Oregon senior left tackle Tyrell Crosby, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection, tweeted: "Had an 70+ players signed petition to keep Cristobal as head coach. We are all fighting so hard for him to be HC, because we all know he'd fight just as hard for us."

      Cristobal joined the Ducks a year ago with Taggart after spending four seasons at Alabama, where he was an assistant head coach and the Crimson Tide's recruiting coordinator.

      Cristobal was head coach at Florida International from 2007-12, compiling a 27-47 record in six seasons and taking the Panthers to their first two bowl games.

  • Oklahoma QB Mayfield cleans up at awards show
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, December 7, 2017

    Oklahoma senior quarterback Baker Mayfield took home plenty of hardware Thursday night, winning four major awards in what is expected to be a precursor to hoisting the Heisman Trophy.

    • Baker won the Maxwell Award as the national player of the year and the Davey O'Brien Award, which goes to the country's top quarterback, to highlight the College Football Awards Show.

      He also was named the Associated Press national player of the year, earning 51 of 56 first-place votes.

      Earlier in the day, Mayfield was selected as the Walter Camp Player of the Year by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

      The Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Mayfield is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night.

      Mayfield passed for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns to lead the Sooners (12-1) to the No. 2 national ranking and into the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma will face No. 3 Georgia in a semifinal matchup at the Rose Bowl.

      The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Mayfield beat out a pair of running backs -- Penn State's Saquon Barkley and Stanford's Bryce Love -- to become the third Oklahoma player to claim the Maxwell Award.

      Love and Louisville's Lamar Jackson each earned two first-place votes for the AP award. Mayfield, Love and Jackson are the three finalists for the Heisman, which was won last year by Jackson.

      Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph were beaten out by Mayfield for the O'Brien Award.

      Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick earned two major honors, claiming the Bednarik Award as the top defensive player in the country and the Jim Thorpe Award that goes to the nation's top defensive back.

      Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver won the Outland Trophy emblematic of the nation's best interior lineman. Oliver is the first defensive player to win the honor since current Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald in 2013 at Pittsburgh.

      The Lou Groza Award for the top kicker went to Utah's Matt Gay, while the Ray Guy Award for the top punter was won by Michael Dickson of Texas.

      Scott Frost, who led Central Florida to a perfect 12-0 season that led to his hiring at Nebraska, was named the national coach of the year.

  • CFB notebook: Oklahoma's Mayfield wins Walter Camp award
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, December 7, 2017

    Oklahoma senior quarterback Baker Mayfield was selected as the Walter Camp Player of the Year, the Walter Camp Football Foundation announced Thursday.

    • Mayfield, the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year, is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday.

      The other finalists were Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and three running backs -- Penn State's Saquon Barkley, Stanford's Bryce Love and San Diego State's Rashaad Penny. Jackson was the 2016 winner.

      Mayfield has passed for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns while leading the Sooners (12-1) into the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma will face Georgia in a semifinal matchup.

      --Tennessee hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as its new head coach, the school confirmed.

      Pruitt, 43, officially will be introduced as the Volunteers' 26th head coach on Thursday night.

      "Six days ago, I mentioned several attributes that I sought to find in the next leader of our football program, and Coach Pruitt meets all criteria," new Tennessee athletic director and former coach Phillip Fulmer said in a statement. "I'm certain he appreciates the unique opportunity to lead a program of Tennessee's caliber. He's driven to win at the highest level. He will honor our university's values, operate with integrity and be a role model for our student-athletes."

      Pruitt has been the defensive coordinator with the Crimson Tide for the past two seasons. Alabama is ranked first nationally in scoring defense this season and second in total defense.

      --Mike Riley is back at Oregon State -- this time as an assistant head coach.

      Riley's appointment was announced by new coach Jonathan Smith, who played one season (1998) under Riley and later was a graduate assistant (2003) on Riley's staff.

      Riley served two stints as Oregon State's coach -- from 1997-98 and 2003-14 -- and is the school's all-time winningest coach. Riley had a 93-80 record with the Beavers before spending the past three seasons at Nebraska, where he was fired with a 19-19 record.

      Smith also announced the additions of Brian Lindgren (offensive coordinator), Jim Michakczik (run game coordinator/offensive line coach) and Jake Cookus (special teams coordinator).

  • Oklahoma's Mayfield wins Walter Camp award
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, December 7, 2017

    Oklahoma senior quarterback Baker Mayfield was selected as the Walter Camp Player of the Year, the Walter Camp Football Foundation announced Thursday.

    • Mayfield, the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year, is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday.

      The other finalists were Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and three running backs -- Penn State's Saquon Barkley, Stanford's Bryce Love and San Diego State's Rashaad Penny. Jackson was the 2016 winner.

      Mayfield has passed for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns while leading the Sooners (12-1) into the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma will face Georgia in a semifinal matchup.

      Mayfield is the fourth Oklahoma player to win the prestigious award, joining quarterback Josh Heupel (2000) and running backs Billy Sims (1978) and Steve Owens (1969).

  • Riley returns to Oregon State as assistant coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, December 7, 2017

    Mike Riley is back at Oregon State -- this time as an assistant head coach.

    • Riley's appointment was announced Thursday by new coach Jonathan Smith, who played one season (1998) under Riley and later was a graduate assistant (2003) on Riley's staff.

      Riley served two stints as Oregon State's coach -- from 1997-98 and 2003-14 -- and is the school's all-time winningest coach. Riley had a 93-80 record with the Beavers before spending the past three seasons at Nebraska, where he was fired with a 19-19 record.

      "Current and former players thriving in the NFL and in life are proof of Coach Riley's tremendous ability to recruit outstanding young men," Smith said on the school's website. "He understands what it takes to win in this (Pac-12) conference, and how to evaluate and develop student-athletes. There is no one better to have represent OSU in the homes of recruits as we build this program."

      In between his two Oregon State head-coaching stints, Riley spent three seasons with the NFL's San Diego Chargers, going 14-34 before being fired.

      Smith also announced the additions of Brian Lindgren (offensive coordinator), Jim Michakczik (run game coordinator/offensive line coach) and Jake Cookus (special teams coordinator).

  • Tennessee hires Alabama DC Pruitt as head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, December 7, 2017

    Tennessee has hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as its new head coach, the school confirmed on Thursday.

    • Pruitt, 43, officially will be introduced as the Volunteers' 26th head coach on Thursday night.

      "Six days ago, I mentioned several attributes that I sought to find in the next leader of our football program, and Coach Pruitt meets all criteria," Tennessee new athletic director and former coach Phillip Fulmer said in a statement. "I'm certain he appreciates the unique opportunity to lead a program of Tennessee's caliber. He's driven to win at the highest level. He will honor our university's values, operate with integrity and be a role model for our student-athletes.

      "I know Coach Pruitt will hit the ground running and go to work restoring our program to a championship level."

      Pruitt has been the defensive coordinator with the Crimson Tide for the past two seasons. Alabama is ranked first nationally in scoring defense this season and second in total defense.

      ESPN reported that Pruitt intends to stay with the Crimson Tide through the College Football Playoff. Fourth-ranked Alabama plays No. 1 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.

      A two-time Broyles Award finalist as the top assistant coach in college football, Pruitt served as a defensive backs coach in Tuscaloosa from 2007-2012 before being named as the defensive coordinator at Florida State in 2013. He then was the defensive coordinator at Georgia in 2014-15 before returning to his alma mater.

      Pruitt becomes the fifth head coach at Tennessee in the past 11 years. He replaces Butch Jones, who was fired after posting a 34-27 overall mark, including 14-24 in SEC play, during a five-year span.

      The move to hire Pruitt ends a chaotic stretch in which Tennessee came close to hiring Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano in late November. The school and Schiano agreed to a deal on Nov. 26, but the Volunteers backed out after fan backlash.

      Tennessee's coaching search then ranged from Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, Duke's David Cutcliffe, Purdue's Jeff Brohm, North Carolina State's Dave Doeren and Washington State's Mike Leach until athletic director John Currie was fired last week.

      The school hired Fulmer to take Currie's place on Friday.

  • Emotional Taggart set for 'dream job' with Florida State
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, December 6, 2017

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- As Willie Taggart sat in his home Monday night, weighing the offer with his wife from Florida State to leave Oregon and become the Seminoles' next head football coach, in walked his 16-year-old son, Willie Taggart Jr., with a piece of advice for his dad.

    • "He said to me ... and I'm sorry if I get a little emotional here, folks," Taggart said Wednesday, wiping away tears. "He said, 'Dad, you've always told me to chase my dreams. Well, I don't want to leave (Oregon), but if this is your dream, then I'm gonna ride with you.' "

      Forty-eight hours later, Taggart's dream became a reality.

      The 41-year-old Taggart was formally introduced as the new leader of the Seminoles on Wednesday during a press conference at Doak Campbell Stadium. Florida State lost former head coach Jimbo Fisher last Thursday to the head coaching vacancy at Texas A&M after he spent eight years at the helm.

      Following Fisher's abrupt departure, it took less than a week for Florida State to find its man. Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox said Wednesday that he knew right away that Taggart was the one they wanted for the job.

      "When (Willie) told me, 'This is my dream job,' that sealed it for me," Wilcox said of Taggart, a Bradenton, Fla., native who grew up as a Seminoles fan. "I knew we had found our guy."

      Taggart, who has amassed a 47-50 record in three head coaching stops before Florida State, becomes the school's 10th head coach in history. Taggart, however, is just the third Florida State head coach since 1976, which was the first season for former Seminoles coaching legend Bobby Bowden.

      Taggart's previous head coaching stints came at Western Kentucky, South Florida and Oregon, where he spent just one season and went 7-5 this year before accepting the job at Florida State.

      He said Wednesday that when he got the call about Florida State's interest, it was a "dream come true" for him.

      "If you live in the state. If you're born and raised here, it's hard not to grow up a 'Nole," Taggart said. "That's what it was like in Bradenton. We watched the 'Noles. We watched the 'Noles first, then everyone else."

      Florida State went 6-6 this year -- its worst record during the Fisher era -- and barely made a bowl game, winning its final three games of the season just to finish with a .500 record. The Seminoles will play Dec. 27 against Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl, where interim head coach Odell Haggins will coach the team.

      Taggart didn't announce any assistant coaching hires Wednesday, but he did say the evaluation of the current Florida State staff will begin immediately. He also said he doesn't see Florida State's 6-6 year as a sign it's in a rebuilding phase -- but rather a "realignment."

      "This is not a rebuild, it's a realignment. It is exciting to know we have really good players here. We want to bring people together to win championships," Taggart said. "We're not going to blame anyone. We're not going to make excuses. We're going to go out and do something (about it)."

      Prior to going into coaching, Taggart was a quarterback at Western Kentucky, where his head coach was the legendary Jack Harbaugh -- father of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. Taggart finished his college career as a Walter Payton Award finalist twice and eventually became one of only four players in Western Kentucky history to have his jersey retired.

      Taggart ended his first meeting with the Florida State media and fans by apologizing to Oregon fans, while also explaining why he just couldn't say no to Florida State.

      "I apologized (to everyone at Oregon) before I left. I know I let them down. I feel bad about that," Taggart said. "But this job was a dream for me. And you have to be from Florida to really understand. I wanted to come up and play here, but I wasn't good enough. But no matter where I went, the Seminoles were still always a part of me."

  • South Carolina fires OC Roper
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, December 6, 2017

    South Carolina fired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, head coach Will Muschamp announced Wednesday.

    • Co-offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon will now call offensive plays for the Gamecocks in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 against Michigan.

      "After much deliberation, I have decided to go in a different direction with the offensive coordinator position on our football team," Muschamp said in a statement. "We appreciate Kurt's contributions to our program and to the university and wish him all the best."

      Roper spent the past two seasons at South Carolina and coached with Muschamp at Florida in 2014.

      McClendon, also the wide receivers coach, shared the co-offensive coordinator title with Roper since both were hired two seasons ago.

      Roper was among the top candidates for the head-coaching vacancy at Rice, his alma mater. Rice is expected to hire Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren, according to ESPN.

  • Arkansas hires SMU's Morris as head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, December 6, 2017

    The Arkansas Razorbacks hired SMU's Chad Morris to become their next head coach, the school announced Wednesday.

    • Morris will be paid $3.5 million per year after agreeing to a six-year, $21 million contract.

      Arkansas hired Houston's Hunter Yurachek as its athletic director on Monday and he made the announcement of the new head coach two days later.

      "The future is tremendously bright at the University of Arkansas with the addition of Chad Morris," Yurachek said in a statement. "I am confident that Chad will bring an exciting brand of football, phenomenal student-athletes and championships to Fayetteville, and do it all with high integrity."

      The 49-year-old Morris will formally be introduced on Thursday.

      Morris had a 14-22 record in three seasons rebuilding the program at SMU. The Mustangs went 2-10 in his first season in 2015, 5-7 in 2016 and 7-5 this season.

      The Razorbacks fired Bret Bielema last month after the team finished 4-8 in his fifth season.

      Morris played a key role in helping Clemson become a national power when he was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2011 to 2014.

      Other candidates for the Arkansas job included Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Memphis coach Mike Norvell, who agreed to a contract extension Tuesday to remain at the school.

      The Mustangs will play Louisiana Tech in the DXL Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20.

  • CFB notebook: Florida State hires Oregon's Taggart
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    Less than a week after Jimbo Fisher resigned from Florida State to take the head coaching position at Texas A&M, the Seminoles hired former Oregon coach Willie Taggart as their new coach, the school announced on its website Tuesday.

    • Taggart, 41, replaced Mark Helfrich at Oregon last season and guided the Ducks to a 7-5 record and an upcoming trip to the Las Vegas Bowl to face 25th-ranked Boise State.

      A Florida native, Taggart spent four seasons as the coach at South Florida from 2013-16, going 24-25, and was the coach at Western Kentucky (16-20) for three seasons prior to that.

      Oregon made an attempt to retain Taggart even before the Florida State job opened up, offering a one-year extension on his contract that runs through the 2020 season to boost the value of his five-year deal to $18 million, former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy reports.

      McMurphy also cited sources saying returning to his home state of Florida was a factor in Taggart's decision.

      --Florida State safety Derwin James has declared for the NFL draft and will not play in the Seminoles' upcoming Independence Bowl matchup against Southern Mississippi, the redshirt sophomore announced.

      James is projected as a first-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com.

      --Central Florida hired Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel as its head coach.

      The 39-year-old Heupel, who is finishing his second season at Missouri, replaces Scott Frost at the position. Frost, a former Nebraska quarterback who coached UCF to a 12-0 record and an American Athletic Conference championship, was named the Cornhuskers' coach last weekend.

      The Knights are expected to have Frost and his staff on the sideline for the team's game in the Peach Bowl against Auburn on Jan. 1.

      --Rice is finalizing a deal to hire Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren as its next head coach, multiple outlets reported.

      Bloomgren has coached the offensive line for the Cardinal since 2011 and been the team's offensive coordinator since 2013. Before coming to Stanford, Bloomgren, 40, spent four seasons coaching with the New York Jets.

      Rice finished 1-11 overall and 1-7 in Conference USA this season.

      --Memphis coach Mike Norvell agreed to a five-year, $13 million extension, the university announced.

      The new deal runs through the 2022 campaign. According to USA Today, the $2.6 million average salary will make Norvell the highest-paid coach of the non-power conference programs.

      Norvell, 36, is 18-7 in two seasons with the Tigers, including 10-2 this year.

      --An emergency protective order was issued against Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson on Monday in Cleveland County (Okla.) District Court, accusing him of rape.

      No charges had been filed as of Tuesday morning, but a hearing was scheduled for Dec. 18.

      Anderson, through a statement issued by his attorney, said the allegation is "patently false."

      According to The Oklahoman, the accuser, who wrote in her statement that she is "scared" for her safety because Anderson knows where she lives, is a University of Oklahoma employee.

      Anderson, a redshirt sophomore, has a team-leading 960 yards and 11 touchdowns.

  • Memphis locks in coach Norvell to extension
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    Memphis coach Mike Norvell agreed to a five-year, $13 million extension, the university announced Tuesday.

    • The new deal runs through the 2022 campaign. According to USA Today, the $2.6 million average salary will make Norvell the highest-paid coach of the non-power conference programs.

      Norvell, 36, is 18-7 in two seasons with the Tigers.

      Norvell addressed the new deal on his Twitter account complete with a picture of him signing the contract while in the company of Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen.

      "So excited about the future of Memphis Tiger football and to announce that I have signed an extension to continue to lead this great program!," Norvell wrote.

      Norvell's name had recently arose as a possible candidate for the Arkansas coaching vacancy.

      The Tigers are 10-2 this season and will play Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl. Memphis went 8-5 in Norvell's first season.

  • Florida State lands Taggart as new coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    It didn't take long for Florida State to replace Jimbo Fisher.

    • Less than a week after Fisher resigned to take the head coaching position at Texas A&M, the Seminoles hired former Oregon coach Willie Taggart as their new coach, the school announced Tuesday.

      Taggart, 41, replaced Mark Helfrich at Oregon last season and guided the Ducks to a 7-5 record and an upcoming trip to the Las Vegas Bowl to face 25th-ranked Boise State.

      A Florida native, Taggart spent four seasons as the coach at South Florida from 2013-16, going 24-25, and was the coach at Western Kentucky (16-20) for three seasons prior to that.

      Taggart has an overall coaching record of 47-50 over eight seasons. He has helped his teams become bowl-eligible in four of those seasons, including three straight between South Florida and Oregon.

      Oregon made an attempt to retain Taggart even before the Florida State job opened up, offering a one-year extension on his contract that runs through the 2020 season to boost the value of his five-year deal to $18 million, former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy reports.

      McMurphy also cited sources saying returning to his home state of Florida was a factor in Taggart's decision.

      Florida State finished 6-6 in 2017, winning its regular-season finale against Louisiana-Monroe to extend its bowl streak to 36 consecutive seasons.

      Fisher went 82-23 in eight seasons at Florida State, leading the Seminoles to eight straights bowls and a BCS National Championship Game victory against Auburn in 2013.

  • Florida State RB James declares for NFL draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    Florida State safety Derwin James has declared for the NFL draft and will not play in the Seminoles' upcoming Independence Bowl matchup against Southern Mississippi, the redshirt sophomore announced Tuesday.

    • James is projected as a first-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com.

      "On to the next chapter of my life I will be entering the 2018 NFL Draft and will not participate in the bowl game, FOREVER NOLE NATION #dj3," James wrote on his Instagram account.

      James was Florida State's lone All-Atlantic Coast Conference First Team selection this season after being the Seminoles' second-leading tackler with 84 stops. He also has two interceptions and one sack.

      Thanks in part to James, Florida State (6-6) won its regular-season finale against Louisiana Monroe to become bowl eligible for a 36th consecutive season. James led the Seminoles with 12 total tackles and a quarterback hurry.

  • Central Florida tabs Heupel as head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    Central Florida hired Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel as its head coach on Tuesday.

    • Heupel, who is finishing his second season at Missouri, replaces Scott Frost at the position. Frost, a former Nebraska quarterback who coached UCF to a 12-0 record and an American Athletic Conference championship, was named the Cornhuskers' coach last weekend.

      While the coaching staff is in a state of flux, the Knights are expected to have Frost and his staff on the sideline for the team's game in the Peach Bowl against Auburn on Jan. 1.

      Heupel, however, is looking forward to the task ahead.

      "I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to represent UCF," the 39-year-old Heupel said in a press release.

      "What makes this opportunity so unique is the vision of the leadership from President John Hitt, Provost Dale Whitaker and Director of Athletics Danny White. Their vision for this becoming one of the premier programs in the country makes this an exciting opportunity."

      Central Florida also announced former Florida defensive coordinator Randy Shannon to the same position with the school. Shannon served as the Gators' interim head coach after Jim McElwain was fired.

      Before joining Missouri, Heupel was with Utah State in 2015 after spending nine seasons as an assistant at Oklahoma, including the final four as co-offensive coordinator. His first full-time coaching job was coaching tight ends at Arizona under then-head coach Mike Stoops.

      UCF hired a head coach with a similar background as Frost's. Heupel is a former quarterback -- he played two seasons at Oklahoma, leading the Sooners to the 2000 national championship and finishing second in the Heisman race -- and is a young, rising star in the profession with a resume filled with prolific offenses.

      "I believe we've identified one of the brightest offensive minds in college football," White said in a statement.

      "His offensive system is very similar to what we've been running. I know he's going to utilize all the great talent on our roster and continue to add to it. He's no stranger to success, winning a national championship as a quarterback and leading a number of extremely high-powered offensive teams."

      Under Heupel's watch, Missouri improved from 124th nationally in offense to 13th in 2016. Tigers quarterback Drew Lock set an SEC record with 43 touchdown passes this season, earning first-team all-conference honors.

  • Reports: Rice to hire Stanford OC Bloomgren as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    Rice is finalizing a deal to hire Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren as its next head coach, multiple outlets reported.

    • Bloomgren has coached the offensive line for the Cardinal since 2011 and been the team's offensive coordinator since 2013. Before coming to Stanford, Bloomgren spent four seasons coaching with the New York Jets.

      The 40-year-old will replace David Bailiff, who was fired Nov. 27 after 11 seasons at the school. He posted a 57-80 mark overall, but his best seasons were 10-3 in 2008 and 10-4 in 2013.

      Rice finished 1-11 overall and 1-7 in Conference USA this season, only winning the second game against winless UTEP.