NCAA Football News

Todd Gurley Applies for Reinstatement: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Todd Gurley may soon commence his domination of SEC defenses. After being suspended by the University of Georgia after allegedly taking impermissible benefits, the junior has applied for reinstatement. The school released a statement on the decision Wednesday:

Since completing its initial review of the eligibility matter involving UGA student-athlete Todd Gurley on October 9, the University has been supporting Todd and cooperating with his legal counsel as they review the matter.

Todd has confirmed his desire to seek reinstatement, and the University fully supports Todd's request. The University plans to file the necessary paperwork with the NCAA later today.

Gurley talked about the process in the statement, as did his attorney:

'I want to thank the University, coaches, teammates and the Bulldog Nation for their patience and support,' Gurley said. 'I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made, and I can’t thank the University, my coaches and teammates enough for supporting me throughout this process. I’m looking forward to getting back on the field with my teammates.'

Gurley’s attorney, William King, said, 'Todd has taken responsibility for his actions and is ready to rejoin his teammates. The University has been great throughout the past two weeks and has done everything it can to support Todd. I would especially like to thank President Morehead, Greg McGarity and Coach Richt for standing by Todd.'

Gurley, who was considered a Heisman favorite before his suspension, has been held out of two games due to the investigation. The school suspended him Oct. 9 for "an alleged violation of NCAA rules" to investigate claims he received a cash payment in exchange for autographing memorabilia. Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated reported Gurley was paid $400 for his signature on 80 items.

"I'm obviously very disappointed," Georgia head coach Mark Richtsaid in a statement at the time.

The situation drew comparisons to a similar case involving former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. In 2013, Manziel was investigated for allegedly signing autographs for brokers on multiple occasions, accepting thousands of dollars for his signature following his Heisman-winning freshman campaign. The NCAA ultimately found no proof of wrongdoing despite circumstantial evidence, though Manziel was suspended for a half for allowing his likeness to be improperly used.

Gurley's lengthier absence was mostly due to timing. The NCAA and Texas A&M had more than three weeks to investigate the claims and clear Manziel's name—all happening before the regular season began. Gurley was suspended midway through the season; in the two games he missed, the 6-1 Bulldogs took down Missouri (34-0) and Arkansas (45-32).

The standard suspension for accepting impermissible benefits in the $400 range is two games. 

In the season's first five games, Gurley rushed for 773 yards and eight touchdowns on 94 carries. He and Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott were viewed as co-favorites for the Heisman Trophy, with the victor likely being the one whose team had the most success down the stretch.

Gurley has no legitimate shot at winning the Heisman even if he is reinstated for Georgia's next game versus Florida; he's probably out of the running for every major collegiate award. Even if he has a stellar stretch run to the season, there will likely be a sect of voters who will outright refuse to award someone accused of wrongdoing. 

That said, Gurley's potential return would allow him to put his talents on display for pro scouts. Before the scandal, he was viewed as a contender to break the two-year streak of running backs not going in the first round—the first two such years in NFL history. While there will be a small sect of NFL teams that are turned off a bit by the ordeal, it's unlikely this situation will do much harm to his stock.

Manziel, after all, was the No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 draft despite character concerns. This is the only transgression on Gurley's record. Odds are, he'll recover from this. 

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Contender or Pretender: Which 1-Loss Teams Have the Best Chance to Make the CFP?

With the new College Football Playoff format established, one loss on your record doesn't necessarily have the same negative impact on your playoff hopes.  

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee sift through the one-loss teams to establish their contender and pretender status. 

Which one-loss team will make it to the College Football Playoff?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Football: Could a Win over Michigan State Save Brady Hoke's Job?

Brady Hoke is barely hanging on to his job in the midst of his team’s collapse that began last season with a 29-6 loss to Michigan State. Since then, the Wolverines are 4-9 as they prepare for another visit to East Lansing, thanks to an unkind scheduling quirk.

Hoke desperately needs a victory over Michigan’s instate rival to save his job.

The fates of the two teams stand in stark contrast since they last met. Michigan State went on to win the Big Ten Championship followed by a Rose Bowl victory—all goals that Hoke has striven for and failed to attain since returning to Ann Arbor.

Michigan went into a tailspin, finishing in the basement of the Big Ten and getting embarrassed in a minor bowl game. Hoke also had to answer uncomfortable questions about how he handled the suspension of kicker Brendan Gibbons and Taylor Lewan, whose temper got him in trouble both on and off-the-field.

This season, Michigan State picked up where it left off and is competing for another Big Ten title while fighting for a berth in the the inaugural College Football Playoff. Michigan also stayed on the same course, spiraling down as Hoke was once again forced to answer uncomfortable questions—this time about the team’s handling of backup quarterback Shane Morris’ head injury and his team’s failure to generate offense.

Hoke is under fire from all sides: Fans are disappointed in his team’s performance; the national media for his garbled response on the Morris injury; his own boss, athletic director David Brandon, even threw him under the bus, releasing a contradictory late-night statement less than 24 hours later after Hoke talked with the media about Morris.

But even as Hoke’s fate seems all but sealed, his current players seem united in defending him.

Statements to the press are nice, but Hoke needs victories and a bowl berth to have any chance of returning next season.

The Michigan offense came out strong in its first game versus Appalachian State but has stuttered and failed since. The offensive line that reeked last season has only marginally improved. Freshman phenoms Jabrill Peppers and Freddy Canteen have all but disappeared while injuries on both sides of the ball have taken a toll on Michigan’s depth.

The nation will be watching this game, expecting a Michigan State beatdown and waiting to gauge if the Spartans are worthy of making the playoffs despite an early-season loss to Oregon. The stage is set for Michigan to put on an old-school performance that Hoke has been promising since he took over as head coach.

The odds against Hoke saving his job are long; but any hope hinges on Michigan’s performance this Saturday. Unfortunately for him, Michigan State is too talented and too focused on a larger mission to get tripped up by a struggling Michigan squad.

Michigan will fight for Hoke, but just putting up a good fight won't be enough to save his job.

 

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations obtained firsthand

Follow
@PSCallihan

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Looking Down Proud: Dak Prescott's Late Mom Knew He Would Win Heisman

Dak Prescott has been opening eyes with his outstanding play this season for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The junior signal-caller has skyrocketed to the top of many Heisman Trophy boards. 

What many don't know is the story of his late mother, Peggy Prescott, and one of her wishes for her talented son. 

Bleacher Report took some time to sit down with Prescott and head coach Dan Mullen to hear his inspiring story.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Week 9 Schedule: TV and Live Stream Info for Every Game

College football pollsters certainly could use an upset-free weekend to help catch their breath. But if we've learned anything from the first two months of the season, it's not to count out the improbable even when it's not predictable. 

Spectacularly enough, only two matchups between Top 25 teams will hit viewers' television sets this weekend. There may not be Top 10 showdowns in the SEC or two College Football Playoff-caliber teams going at it, but that doesn't mean we're in for a boring weekend by any stretch now that the conference slate in full swing.

Will SEC elites Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Alabama continue pushing for a CFP spot, or will they fall victim to a conference upset? What about Kansas State's perfect Big 12 start? Will it be derailed by a Texas team looking to get Charlie Strong his first marquee win?

Florida State, Notre Dame, Auburn and more might be off this weekend, but plenty of questions are set to be answered in Week 9.

 

Note: Week 9 schedule courtesy of ESPN.com

 

Live Stream Note

More college football live streams may be available at the following websites. Subscriptions may be required for many of them:

WatchESPN.com

CBSSports.com

BTN2Go.com

Pac-12.com

NBC Live Extra

ABC Live

Fox Sports Go

 

Game of the Week

No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 24 LSU

The Ole Miss Rebels are new at being the hunted instead of the hunters, but they're not showing it, sprinting past every tough test in their way. Saturday, they'll visit an LSU team tired of being the punching bag in a SEC West that it used to rule.

It's not the marquee matchup of the weekend that we've grown accustomed to experiencing in October (see Notre Dame-Florida State or Auburn-Mississippi State). But on a weekend in which most of the nation's elite won't be tested, this game has the best chance to be a memorable one.

Fittingly, ESPN College GameDay will be there:

These two teams are in very different positions than last year. Hugh Freeze notched his first huge win at Ole Miss by topping then-No. 6 LSU. Now, it's Les Miles needing a win to generate some momentum for his fanbase, and Freeze is the one with his eyes set on a national title.

It's not really a secret as to why, either. LSU hasn't found continuity on offense, and its run defense has been a big problem after losing a heap of defensive talent to the NFL in recent seasons. 

On the other hand, Ole Miss' recent top recruiting classes are now sophomore and junior playmakers balanced out by experienced leaders such as quarterback Bo Wallace, cornerback Senquez Golson and defensive lineman Denzel Nkemdiche. 

Facing such a big-time team at home has the energetic Miles giddy for Saturday to come, per The News-Star's (Monroe) Glenn Guilbeau:

'This game here is one that you will enjoy,' said LSU coach Les Miles, who basically turned his press conference Monday into a promotional ad as he asked fans to attend, eat, stay late and be merry. 'I can tell you, it will be a magical place, and you will add to it. So to that crowd that will come in—come on! Let's have some fun!'

An Ole Miss letdown was almost expected after the Alabama win, but the Rebels instead trounced both Texas A&M and Tennessee. But even in what's been a down year, LSU has shown it can wear opponents down with a bruising run game.

And after all, those only two losses were to Auburn and Mississippi State.

Ole Miss has already shown it belongs in that category, but elite teams have to be at their best every week in the cutthroat SEC. The Rebels have shown they have the superior talent, but crazy things can happen in Death Valley. 

Another resounding win will have more clamoring that Ole Miss is deserving of the No. 1 spot over Mississippi State, but a loss will put the Rebels' CFP hopes on life support.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Khaylan Thomas to Arizona State: Sun Devils Land 4-Star LB Prospect

Todd Graham landed a major addition to his 2015 recruiting class Tuesday, securing the commitment of 4-star outside linebacker Khaylan Thomas.

A star out of Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California, Thomas chose Arizona State over Oregon, Oklahoma, UCLA and Arizona, among other top programs. He announced the news on Twitter:

He talked about his decision, via Scout.com's Greg Biggins:

I'm very excited to be a Sun Devil. I've honestly been leaning to ASU since the summer after my visit there. "I thought I wanted to take my trips and go through the process but the more I thought about it, the more I knew I wanted to be a Sun Devil. I woke up this morning and it just felt right to me so I decided now was the best time to go ahead and do it and get it over with.

Thomas is ranked No. 271 overall in the class of 2015 by the 247Sports' composite rankings. He is 20th in America among outside linebackers, and No. 35 in the state of California.

CronkiteSports.com's Adam Stites noted the positive effect on the class ranking for Arizona State, which also picked up a recruitment from the nation's top junior college linebacker, Davon Durant, on Tuesday:

Thomas is an explosive, instinctual talent who brings a physical, hard-hitting style. Biggins offered a comparison to former Sun Devils stud and current NFL standout Vontaze Burfict. It's high praise, but it's an understandable connection to make when you see Thomas' punishing hits:

At 6'2" and 210 pounds, he could stand to add some bulk, but that will come once he gets onto a college campus.

Arizona State has churned out some impressive linebacking talent—Burfict and Terrell Suggs, to name a few—over the years, and Thomas looks to be another tantalizing addition.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Davon Durant Flips to Arizona St: Sun Devils Land Former South Carolina Commit

First, the No. 14 Arizona State Sun Devils decisively beat the Stanford Cardinal at home. Now, they've added one of the top junior college players in the country to their class of 2015. All in all, it's been a good seven days.

According to 247Sports' JC Shurburtt, the Sun Devils captured the commitment of 4-star JUCO linebacker Davon Durant on Tuesday:

The nation's No. 1 JUCO inside linebacker, Davon Durant (Butler C.C.) has committed to Arizona State after backing out of a commitment to South Carolina.

Durant is a native of Greenwood, S.C. and is on track to enroll at ASU in January.

The versatile, athletic prospect could play any of the linebacker spots at Arizona State, including the "Devil" position.

Durant also confirmed the news on Twitter:

He's the second linebacker to pledge his future to ASU on Tuesday night, joining 3-star recruit Khaylan Thomas, per Doug Haller of AZCentral.com:

Durant is the seventh-best JUCO player in the 2015 class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He'd previously committed to South Carolina but decided to spurn the Gamecocks.

"It's nothing they did," said Durant, per Phil Kornblut of GoGamecocks.com. "I was thinking about it and I thought it wouldn't be the best choice for me. They've got a lot of linebackers and a lot of guys coming back. I'm going to give other people a chance."

At the time, Durant had yet to officially commit to Arizona State, but he talked about some of the positives about possibly joining the Sun Devils.

"I like their defense and they have a good scheme," he said. "Their coaches are great. We hit it off on my official. It's a good program and defensively I think I would fit well."

Over the years, Arizona State has had intermittent joy tempered with disappointment. John Cooper and Bruce Snyder took the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl, and the combination of Dirk Koetter and Dennis Erickson showed promise early in their respective tenures before bowing out after failing to take the program consistently forward.

ASU is undoubtedly making progress under Todd Graham, both on the field and the recruiting trail. With the commitment of Durant, the team jumped 15 spots into 23rd for the class of 2015, according to 247Sports.

Finding players like Durant is what will help Arizona State bridge the gap with the likes of Oregon and Stanford in terms of sustained success.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arkansas State Runs Failed Fake Punt from Own End Zone

This call is either gutsy or stupid—or both.

Let's set the scene. Arkansas State is down 34-23 to Louisiana-Lafayette with seven minutes left in the third quarter. On fourth down, it's backed up inside its 10-yard line.

So, what's the call? Fake punt!

Well, it didn't work out, and that is why we don't call fake punts from the 8-yard line.

[RedditCFB]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SMU Is the Worst Team in College Football, but Has Seen Tougher Days

These days, Southern Methodist might as well designate the “U” in SMU to stand for underdogs. No matter what college football team the Mustangs played right now, that would be their status.

SMU hardly is the first college team to start a season 0-6, but the scores have been so brutally bad this season they’ve created the illusion that football could disappear from the Dallas campus.

That happened there once before, in 1987-88, when repeated NCAA violations made SMU the only football team ever hit with the so-called “death penalty.”

But the reality is that it’s not going to happen again, even though SMU is world-class awful.

How bad are the Mustangs?

In six games they have scored only four touchdowns. The dreadful tally for total points is 39 for and 288 against. That ranks them dead last among FBS schools for points scored and also for points given up, and it pretty much defines Southern Methodist as the worst team in the nation.

Speculation about giving up on this disastrous team spiraled when the greatest running back in SMU history popped off and said maybe it would be the best thing to do.

That theory came from Eric Dickerson, the NFL Hall of Famer, who along with Craig James formed the “Pony Express” backfield that made SMU famous and feared before the NCAA hammer fell.

Reacting to the September resignation of coach June Jones—who quit after losing the opening two games by a combined score of 88-6—Dickerson told KRLD-FM in Dallas (via E.J. Holland of TheDallas Morning News) that:

I talked to four former players yesterday, and we all said if they don’t want to do anything, just kill the program. Just stick to academics and basketball and kill that program. It’s so frustrating for us to watch SMU become nothing but a laughing stock or almost non-existent. It’s almost like it doesn’t exist.

Why Jones walked away still hasn’t been explained. He invoked the ever convenient “personal reasons,” leaving some to wonder whether he had problems with the administration. Or whether, at the age of 61, Texas recruiting wars had taken a toll.

But it really doesn’t really matter what made the last coach of the run-and-shoot offense pack it in. What’s much more relevant is that SMU, despite its checkered history, did get back on its feet under Jones.

He took the Mustangs to four consecutive bowl games from 2009-2012, winning three, before dipping to 5-7 during the 2013 season. That ended a bowl drought that had stretched more than two decades for the most heavily penalized football team in NCAA history.

 

So SMU can field a winner, even if at the moment the only thing notable about the Mustang roster is that it includes wide receiver Deion Sanders Jr., son of "Prime Time."

One reason to believe that SMU can turn around the football program is what happened over at Moody Coliseum with the basketball team. Larry Brown was given a top-notch contract in 2012 and rewarded SMU’s generosity with a rapid turnaround.

The Mustangs might have been the best team left out of last year’s NCAA tournament and are projected as a top-10 team this season by CollegeFootballTalk.com. The irony is that Jones played a key role in getting Brown hired, even though he was 71 at the time.

Why would a coach want to take over SMU now? Lots of reasons. For one, the only direction it can go is up. Another is that the money probably will be excellent. Also, rapid success seems possible in the American Athletic Conference, where good-but-not-great East Carolina and Central Florida sit atop the standings.

And don’t underestimate the big-city recruiting allure of being in Dallas, as opposed to some of the Texas colleges that are out on the prairie.

SMU athletic director Rick Hart certainly doesn’t sound like he’s throwing in the towel.

After Jones’ resignation Hart told Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News that: “We won’t have a shortage of individuals from whom to select. This is a terrific job and the types of coaches we consider are going to know that. I’ll know when I sit down with people whether or not they’re the right fit. I’m not going to have to talk anybody into this.”

Given the pass-happy ways of college football in Texas, speculation about SMU’s next coach has focused on offensive coordinators who have roots or experience in the Lone Star State. They include Clemson’s Chad Morris, Texas A&M’s Jake Spavital, Baylor’s Philip Montgomery and Ohio State’s Tom Herman.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that whoever that new coach is, he won’t take over a team that goes winless in 2014. SMU still has a Nov. 8 date with 1-6 Tulsa and a Dec. 6 confrontation with 1-5 UConn. So there's hope for the underdogs.

And if any school has a history of digging its way out of the doghouse, it’s SMU.

 

Tom Weir covered college football as a columnist for USA Today.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Urban Meyer's Tough Love Pushing Ohio State to Be Great

Since stumbling in an upset loss to Virginia Tech in Week 2, Ohio State has looked unstoppable in routs over Kent State, Cincinnati, Maryland and Rutgers.

But according to Urban Meyer, his team isn't playing at the level he expects it to, and he hasn't been shy about voicing that opinion. 

On the heels of a 39-point beatdown of the Scarlet Knights last Saturday, a game in which the Buckeyes out-gained their opponent by 240 total yards, Meyer talked as if the performance was a letdown. 

So what would Meyer consider great? That bar hasn't been reached despite Ohio State piling up more than 500 total yards and at least 50 points in four consecutive games, which set and tied school records, according to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com.

It's clear that Meyer has high expectations for his team, but that also extends to individual players. 

Quarterback J.T. Barrett has been sensational during Ohio State's dominant four-game stretch, completing 71.7 percent of his passes while throwing for 17 touchdowns against one interception. A brilliant performance against Rutgers earned him Big Ten Player of the Week honors. 

What did Meyer think of the showing from his rising signal-caller, who currently ranks third nationally in passer efficiency? 

"He could have played a lot better," Meyer said, according to Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer.

But those comments aren't made to put his Buckeyes down. Meyer is looking to motivate and—to his credit—it's having a positive effect that's permeating through the team. 

Linebacker Joshua Perry knows why Meyer is pushing so hard, according to Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch.

We all know we’re not as good as we could be right now. That’s kind of the interesting thing. We’ve been playing really well and beating teams by a lot, but we still have got a way to go on offense, defense and in the kicking game. 

I think that’s what [Meyer is] excited about, and that’s why he’s grinding us so hard. That’s what our leaders recognize, and that’s why we’re grinding so hard.

Fellow linebacker Darron Lee echoed that sentiment after Ohio State's thrashing of Rutgers.

The Buckeyes will need that hunger on the road this week when they travel to Happy Valley for a matchup against Penn State. One of the nation's most hostile environments will challenge a team stocked with first- and second-year players. 

But Meyer has made sure his players will go into Beaver Stadium with the right attitude.

“I love coaching this team,” Meyer said, according to Eric Seger of The Ozone.  "If our expectations are higher than the player’s themselves, that’s a problem.”

 

All stats via NCAA.com.  

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arkansas State RB Tackled on Defender, Gets Up to Score 70-Yard TD

Arkansas State faced Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday night, and Red Wolves running back Michael Gordon took a handoff and was seemingly tackled on what should have been a decent gain. 

But Gordon was on top of a defender and, therefore, was never ruled down. So he got up and took off for the 70-yard touchdown while the Ragin' Cajuns stood around and watched. 

Always play till the whistle, kids. 

[Reddit CFB, h/t College Spun]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Football: Position-by-Position Midseason Grades for the Bruins

The No. 25 UCLA football team hasn't quite lived up to the expectations placed upon the Bruins before the 2014 season began. 

At 5-2, Jim Mora's team is likely out of the mix for a potential berth in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Injuries and poor play at certain positions have contributed to the current state of the squad. 

This piece will give a letter grade for every position unit on the team. The marks will be based both upon the statistical output in 2014 and the perception of the unit heading into the year. 

Here's a look at the position-by-position midseason grades for the UCLA Bruins. 

Begin Slideshow

Jerome Baker Flips to Ohio State: Buckeyes Land Former 4-Star Florida Commit

The Florida Gators' 2014 season has been an embarrassment for many fans, but now it may be adversely affecting them on the recruiting trail.

Four-star athlete Jerome Baker, who had earlier committed to the Gators, announced on Twitter Tuesday night that he would instead be heading to Columbus to play for Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes:

In July, Baker announced on Bleacher Report that he was joining up with the Gators.

However, with Florida struggling mightily in the hyper-competitive SEC, and major questions as to head coach Will Muschamp's future, it's a tumultuous time in Gainesville at the moment.

Bucknuts' Bill Kurelic, however, believed that Baker's future wasn't tied directly with Muschamp (via Mark Neal of ESPN Radio in Dayton, Ohio):

With Baker's defection, Florida now has 10 players signed to its 2015 recruiting class, per Derek Tyson of ESPN.com:

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Baker, listed as an athlete/outside linebacker/running back, is the 46th-ranked recruit in the country and fourth-best athlete. He's also ranked No. 2 in the state of Ohio.

Baker's expected to play linebacker, of which Ohio State has gathered an impressive amount over the last two years, per Tom VanHaaren of 247Sports:

USA Today's Dan Wolken thought it was another twist of the knife from Meyer, who won two national titles at Florida before leaving abruptly after the 2010 season:

The Gators' loss is the Buckeyes' gain. Florida dropped 15 spots to 47th in 247Sports' team rankings for 2015 as a result of the flip, while OSU rose three places to 11th.

As Ohio State continues to close the gap on the elite of the SEC, it will need players like Baker to bridge the gap. He's a freakish athlete who could wreak havoc on opposing offenses if he fulfills his potential.

Meanwhile, a bad season for the Gators just got a little bit worse.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Top Florida Recruits Lobbying for Will Muschamp's Job on Twitter

Things haven't gone according to plan in Gainesville for Florida head coach Will Muschamp lately, leading to expansive speculation about his job stability. The Gators are 4-10 since October 2013 and just suffered an embarrassing 29-point home loss to Missouri.

Muschamp capped off the 2012 campaign with a trip to the Sugar Bowl, but that season appears to be an outlier at this point. His other three years have resulted in an 8-13 record against SEC opponents, and the team fell short of postseason qualification last fall. 

University athletic director Jeremy Foley released a statement Monday, saying school administration will "evaluate the season as it plays out," per Chris Low of ESPN.com. Despite vast assumptions that Muschamp's days as a Gator are numbered, two of America's top prospects came to his defense Tuesday on Twitter:

Top-ranked 2015 running back Damien Harris, who lists Florida among five finalists, voiced his opinion first. The 5-star Kentucky standout believes it wouldn't be a wise decision to fire Muschamp.

"He's such a good coach and great to his players," Harris tweeted. "Can't replace that."

Jacques Patrick responded just two minutes later. The coveted Orlando playmaker, scheduled to announce his collegiate commitment Oct. 27, was succinct.

"I agree with this 100 percent," he replied. 

Neither player is expected to become a Gator, but both have established relationships with Florida coaches and players during their respective recruiting processes.

Florida State is the strong consensus pick for Patrick's destination, while Harris is still considering Alabama, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Ohio State. The duo has combined to rush for more than 12,000 total yards and 200 touchdowns during illustrious high school careers.

Their statements aren't likely to sway Florida administration one way or the other when the time comes to make a decision, but they provide a reminder of how perception translates on the recruiting trail. Coaching staff bonds forged along the way to national signing day sometimes trump a team's win-loss record.

Florida currently holds 10 commitments in a 2015 class rated 47th nationally in 247Sports' composite rankings. Linebacker Jerome Baker, a 4-star recruit, flipped from the Gators to Ohio State on Tuesday night, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.

It's been a rough week for Muschamp, but at least he knows two of the nation's best players have his back. 

 

Recruit ratings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Lane Kiffin's Impact on the Alabama vs. Tennessee Rivalry

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek sent an email to students following a 10-9 loss to Florida on Oct. 4.

The UT student section had been caught on TV chanting, “F--k you, Florida.” Cheek obviously did not approve of the cheer coming through loud and clear on a national broadcast, so he sent the email admonishing the “totally unacceptable” chant.

His email, though, will probably largely be ignored this week, as Tennessee will host a homecoming as unwelcoming as any in recent memory.

Lane Kiffin, who was Tennessee’s head coach all of 14 months before bolting in the dead of night for his dream job at USC, will come back to Knoxville as offensive coordinator of No. 4 Alabama.

Kiffin, whose departure incited riots in the streets of Knoxville that included a burning mattress, has joined forces with Tennessee’s most hated rival and the fanbase's other most hated personality in college football: Nick Saban.

And in turn, it has cranked up the intensity on a rivalry that has fallen flat over a seven- (likely soon to be eight-) game winning streak by Alabama.

“That email and that request will probably fall on deaf ears by the time (the game) comes around,” said Zac Ellis, a Sports Illustrated college football writer and former editor of The Daily Beacon, Tennessee’s student paper, who grew up in Knoxville.

If you are a Tennessee fan or lived in Knoxville at the time, you knew where you were the night of Kiffin’s departure.

It came suddenly, around 9 p.m. local time. It didn’t take long for word to spread, and suddenly, Knoxville looked more like a war zone than a college town.

Among the memorable scenes from the night was Kiffin holding a press conference in Knoxville—almost unheard of for a departing coach.

“Students were out there burning mattresses and burning Tennessee T-shirts with Kiffin’s face on them,” Ellis said. “People were trying to get into the actual building where the press conference was taking place. It was a bunch of nonsense. Didn’t make the fanbase look very good, in my opinion, on a national level. But it was a pretty crazy night.”

The hatred toward Kiffin in that moment was twofold. The first part, Ellis said, is the way it cast Tennessee on a national level.

“Tennessee fans really have a tough time accepting that anybody would look at Tennessee as a stepping stone,” he said. “In fans’ minds, that’s what they think Kiffin did.”

The second is the fact that Kiffin was doing some good things in Knoxville. He was 7-6 in his lone season and recruiting at a high level. Seven wins don’t seem like a lot for a program like Tennessee, but the Volunteers haven’t hit that win total since.

“Most places that don't like him is because he left and they were mad because he left,” Saban reminded people after Kiffin’s Alabama debut. “They weren't mad about anything he did while he was there.”

The hatred toward Kiffin quieted down some, though, in the ensuing years. Derek Dooley took over, and as Kiffin had his ups and downs at USC, the vitriol subsided somewhat.

Then Saban came calling.

“Despite everything that’s happened in between, the hatred for Lane Kiffin with Tennessee fans is about as strong as it’s been,” said Josh Ward, host of Sports 180 on The Sports Animal WNML in Knoxville. “Not as much as the night he left, but since then, they’ve held that hatred at a really high level.

“It probably helped remind Tennessee fans that they hate Lane Kiffin and that they really want to see bad things happen to him. And they would love to be responsible for it with Tennessee taking on Alabama as a rival. Maybe for a short period of time they didn’t spend as much energy hating Lane.”

It’s hard to see Tennessee fans getting their wish for revenge this weekend.

The Crimson Tide looked like the best team in the country last weekend in a 59-0 dismantling of Texas A&M. Tennessee has yet to notch an SEC win, losing even to hapless Florida.

That doesn’t mean that fans will hold back their feelings, especially early on.

“There will be a chorus of boos,” Ward said. “It will be very loud, and it will be very obvious who they are pointing that anger towards. Alabama is going to be booed no matter what, so I don’t know what the difference will be. It’s fascinating to see that he’s on the sideline.”

Kiffin’s presence on the sideline—where he’s been all year, instead of the press box like previous offensive coordinators under Saban have been—will only ramp up the tension. The Tennessee student section sits right behind the visiting sideline, so it will be very easy for students to make their voices heard.

“You have to wonder if there will be a specific chant,” Ward said. “I wouldn’t be surprised—as much as Butch Jones and Jimmy Cheek, the chancellor, have said, ‘Hey we don’t want that at Tennessee’—I wouldn’t be surprised to see that at Tennessee this week.”

Saban, of course, is downplaying the Kiffin homecoming from his side of things.

“I think it's only a distraction if you allow it to be a distraction,” he said Monday.

But whether the team lets it be a distraction, whether players hear it or not, it will be there. And it will be a welcome injection of life into an otherwise stale rivalry.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter: @marctorrence.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida Fan Posts Craigslist Ad in Hopes of Finding Next Gators Coach

The University of Florida football program has gone downhill since Urban Meyer left, and Will Muschamp's days as Gators coach may be limited. The losing has at least one fan looking to speed up the search process for the next head coach.

Last year, Florida went 4-8 under Muschamp. Things aren't looking much better this year, as the Gators are off to a 3-3 start. Florida needed three overtimes to beat Kentucky at home and defeated Tennessee by a single point. Despite winning its first two games of the season, the team has lost three of its past four.

Florida's 42-13 loss to Missouri on Saturday was certainly a low point. When the score reached 41-0, a "Fire Muschamp" chant broke out at the Swamp.

Now, a Craigslist ad has been made by a fan who wants to see Muschamp replaced.

Here are some of the highlights:

Composure includes but is not limited to 1) not screaming at players and referees regularly, 2) resisting facial expressions suggesting you are ready to commit violent acts on the sideline, 3) taking personal shots at other fan bases on live tv after barely winning a game you should have lost, and 4) not looking like a deer in the headlights when things go wrong.

Must not have the last name of Zook. We tried you out once. Didn't work out. Sorry.

If you happen to have the last name of Spurrier, you can skip the interview process this time. Seriously. We're sorry. The job is yours. Please come back.

If you meet the criteria, feel free to apply for the job. However, if Steve Spurrier decides to leave South Carolina for Gainesville, your chances will take a huge hit.

[Craigslist]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 Quarterback Recruits Who Will Put Up Big Numbers in the Pac-12

The Pac-12 is widely viewed as a college football conference on the rise. Sustained institutional success, strong recruiting efforts and high-profile coaches have helped elevate the status of a 12-team group that currently includes just two sub-.500 teams. 

An incoming wave of top-tier quarterback talent should further enhance the Pac-12's national clout, as several West Coast standouts have opted to remain in the region.

California is home to eight of the country's top 15 passers in 247Sports' 2015 composite rankings, and six of them are committed to schools within the conference. 

Impressive prospects in earlier stages of their recruitment also warrant serious consideration. We review the promise of those youngsters and potential instant-impact abilities of a stacked 2015 quarterback class to project players primed to enjoy success as Pac-12 stars.

Begin Slideshow

Texas A&M Football: Position-by-Position Midseason Grades for the Aggies

The Texas A&M football team is 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the SEC as it enters its bye week. The Aggies have some major deficiencies at certain positions, which has inhibited them from playing at an elite level. 

With three conference losses, the Aggies are out of the running for the SEC title. They need to try to get better in every phase of the game in order to finish the season off right and create momentum for 2015. 

In order to win at a high level in the SEC, you need to have an elite defense. The Aggies do not have an elite defense because of their poor play at the linebacker position.

This is a look at how all the individual positions have performed during the first half of the season.  

Begin Slideshow

Current Stars with Best Shot to Be in College Football Hall of Fame Someday

It is difficult trying to put history into context as it happens. What separates a current college football star from a college football legend? Which household names will endure?

Predicting which current stars will make the College Football Hall of Fame gets even harder when you factor in the importance of tangible accomplishment. Predicting Hall of Famers is predicting future Heisman winners, conference champions, etc.

If I had all of those answers, I'd live in Vegas. 

Nevertheless, here is a list of eight current players who have put themselves in a position to make a run. Most of them are veterans—players who have already achieved some milestones—but I've also included some underclassmen who are off to fast starts.

Sophomores such as Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa and Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche were tempting to include because I think they have a shot to make the All-America team this season, and if they returned next year looking for their second All-America season, they would have a great case to make the Hall of Fame.

However, neither of those players would have a great case if they don't make the All-America team this season, especially since they both look good enough to declare early for the 2016 NFL draft.

Cases such as that were omitted, but perhaps I'll make an updated projection after the season, when we have more information.

For now, chime in below and tell me whom else you'd add.

Begin Slideshow

Texas vs. Kansas State Complete Game Preview

The Texas Longhorns will hit the road to face No. 11 Kansas State in a stadium that has not been good to the Longhorns in recent history.

Manhattan, Kansas, is Kryptonite to Texas football. The Longhorns have not won a game in Manhattan since 2002. Kansas State is the only Big 12 team to hold a winning series record over Texas, and the Longhorns have only won one game in Manhattan in program history.

Can Texas end its losing streak in Manhattan? Let's take a look.

When: Saturday, Oct. 25, 12 p.m. ET

Where: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kansas

TV: ESPN

Austin radio: KVET 98.1/1300

SiriusXM satellite radio: XM 202; Sirius 117; Internet 969; Spanish 550

Last meeting: Sept. 21, 2013, Austin, Texas

Last meeting outcome: Texas 31, Kansas State 21

Opening spread: Kansas State (-13), via OddsShark.com

Begin Slideshow

Pages