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Hugh Freeze Phone Records Show Hundreds of Calls with Booster in NCAA Probe

college football news

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The headlines in college football…

Bleacher Report – Hugh Freeze Called Escort Service While on Ole Miss Recruiting Trip

Bleacher Report – Hugh Freeze Phone Records Show Hundreds of Calls with Booster in NCAA Probe

ESPN – Nick Saban: Did the best I could in communicating QB roles

Sporting News – College football Top 25: Best, worst case for every team

AL.com – Bobby Bowden: ‘Wouldn’t surprise me for Florida State to eke it out’ against Alabama

Saturday Down South – Which QBs will exceed expectations or fall short in Year 2? SEC Network analyst makes his picks

Saturday Down South – Ole Miss has nothing to play for in 2017, which should make rest of SEC nervous

Saturday Down South – Ranking 10 most important people in Alabama’s decade-long dynasty

Saturday Down South – ESPN gives Alabama slim chance of entering CFP undefeated

Saturday Down South – Give them the ball: 1 player on every SEC team who needs more touches in 2017

Associated Press – Plenty of running backs, receivers could produce immediately

Associated Press – Lawyer: Baylor settles with woman who said rape was ignored

SEC Country – Notre Dame AD would ‘love to figure out’ how to schedule future game with Auburn football

Bleacher Report – 50 Names You Need to Know for the 2017 College Football Season

Associated Press – Georgia Tech kicks running back Dedrick Mills off team

Associated Press – Ex-Vanderbilt football player gets minimum 15 years for rape

ESPN – After Tebow and Dak, who’s next for QB guru Dan Mullen?

Curated by Steven Stiefel

The Kickoff: Thoughts on the College Football Season Ahead

college football preview

Our patience is nearly rewarded as we get ready for the start of another exciting season of college football action. Kickoff Editor Tommy Duff offered a few thoughts while preparing Issue One of the college football newsletter, arriving August 28th. The new and improved newsletter is adding two additional pages to the PDF version this year, available for a limited time as a Buy One Get One Free Subscription Special online.

The early lead to the College Football Playoff starts on September 2nd at Mercedes Benz Stadium. That game will be one of our Games of the Week, along with Florida vs Michigan and West Virginia at Virginia Tech.

“We will know quickly whether Alabama will live up to the high expectations as the Tide play FSU on a neutral field in their opening game,” Duff said. “It will be interesting to see as that game should tell us whether FSU is ready to take the next step and/or if years of recruiting at an elite level gives the Tide an advantage of filling holes with seasoned talent.”

Duff said defending National Champions Clemson could be right back in the playoff picture for 2017, but “they’ll need for their young talent to mature fast. Kelly Bryant is expected to take over at the QB position. On defense, Clemson will be strong up front with 5 of their front 7 back. They have an extremely tough early schedule, with Auburn and Louisville in the 2nd and 3rd weeks.”

An embarrassing loss to Clemson in the playoffs should give Ohio State’s 15 returning starters motivation, which they may need going into an early season matchup against Oklahoma. “It is always very difficult to project how a program will respond to the loss of a head coach as respected as Bob Stoops, but Oklahoma returns a load of talent, including All American Quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Oklahoma State game on the road becomes a lot more interesting with Stoops retired.”

Duff expects much from Southern Cal as they build upon a 9-game win streak and a victory in a Rose Bowl Classic. “Though their schedule isn’t easy, they play all their toughest matchups at home,” he said.

Penn State’s success last season surprised many. “Nobody saw them making it to the Rose Bowl Game, but now the faithful expect them to build upon that success, and the pieces are in place for them to do just that. Their most challenging games are in late October, though having Michigan and Ohio State in consecutive weeks is never ideal,” he said.

Other question marks heading into the new season:
• Can Ed Orgeron continue to right the ship at LSU with QB Danny Etling and RB Marion Guice as his main weapons?
• Will Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham finally give Auburn a proven efficient passer with a cannon under center who can make Gus Malzahn’s offense finally produce again?
• Can we expect some significant improvement in Mark Richt’s 2nd year at the helm in Miami?
• Will Richt’s old team, Georgia, be able to capitalize on a wealth of returning talent and avoid the last second meltdowns?
• How will the suspension of 7 players, including star WR Antonio Callaway, affect the Florida Gators in their opener against Michigan?
• Will defending Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson — the most electrifying college football player in the country last year – make Louisville one of the hottest teams in the country again after 3 losses to end the year left a sour taste?
• Will Michigan be able to replace the talent lost from their 10 win squad of last year before facing off against Penn State on October 21?
• Has Stanford’s rising junior Keller Chryst fully recovered from the ACL injury from last season’s Sun Bowl?
• Can Boise State prevail in week two, when they travel to Washington State, and enjoy one of those type years they perfected during the BCS era?
• What will Charlie Strong be able to do with a South Florida team with one of the country’s most manageable schedules and led by one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Quinton Flowers?
• What will be the impact of all of the turmoil on Ole Miss?
• Where will teams like Tennessee, Oregon, Texas A&M, and Arkansas end up after teams in the Top 25 start to fall?

Catch more of Duff’s Analysis of college football news and statistics in Issue One of The Kickoff, coming August 28th. Our prognosticator-in-chief gives his opinions each Friday from noon to 1 pm Eastern on WAAK 94.7 FM radio in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You can listen online at https://www.waakradio.com/listen-live/

The long wait for a new season officially ends at 1:30 pm Eastern on Saturday, August 26th as Oregon State and Colorado State clash at Sonny Lubick Field. Stanford, Rice, Hawaii, UMass, South Florida, San Jose State, Portland State and BYU also have games that day before the majority of FBS teams play on Thursday, August 31-Saturday, September 2nd.

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Just don’t wait because the season is almost underway!

UAB fans celebrate program’s return in spring scrimmage

UAB fans celebrate program’s return in spring scrimmage
Michigan St holds spring game under cloud of investigation
Oklahoma, Tennessee agree to matchups in 2020, 2024
The biggest workout warrior on every Way-Too-Early Top 25 football team
Can Las Vegas become a new destination in college football?
The ACC’s most versatile man, Derwin James, is back
How Michigan is working to replace Jabrill Peppers
Big Ten Backs Off Plan for Friday Football Games for Northwestern
QB Emory Jones ‘110 percent’ committed to Ohio State but visiting Southern powers
New Tennessee AD John Currie says Butch Jones ‘on the right trajectory’
Why 4-star Tyneil Hopper calls Auburn ‘a great fit’
4-star defensive line recruit Alfred Thomas has Georgia on top
2017 NFL mock draft: Big changes in the top 5
Six players with plenty to prove in spring practice

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Photo by Steven Stiefel

Coaches’ Seats Getting Warmer in Texas, Oregon

Texas Longhorn footballThe coaching carousel is accelerating in college football.

LSU fired Les Miles in week four after starting the season 2-2, including a loss to an Auburn team that began the year 1-2 but has since prospered. Interim coach Ed Orgeron has helped the Tigers regain their confidence with wins, including a 38-21 win against Ole Miss, but the real test is Nov. 5th against Nick Saban and Alabama.

Tommy Duff, Editor of THE KICKOFF, said, “To be honest, I have no idea what will happen at LSU. They should hire Orgeron, but I don’t think the administration wants to. If they beat Florida, Arkansas, and A&M, I don’t see how they don’t hire him. They won’t beat Alabama. The school administration wants more of a marquee name for recruiting purposes. However, LSU recruits itself because of the large amount of in-state talent, so I personally don’t think it matters.”

The SEC West picture has gotten more interesting with the wins by LSU and Auburn, signaling to Bama that it will have to actually earn the West after putting away Texas A&M last week. Auburn thrashed Arkansas 56-3, yet Duff doesn’t think Gus Malzahn’s job is safe just yet despite the dramatic turnaround.  “It’s Auburn. He’ll never be completely off the hot seat there,” Duff said. “They better stick to a coach for a while. But they have roared back to life and into SEC West contention.”

Texas Coach Charlie Strong is all but gone after the Longhorns are struggling for a third straight season. “Strong’s gone. They’ll get (Tom) Herman from Houston,” Duff predicted. Texas lost to Kansas State last week while Houston lost to SMU. “All Strong can do is just keep working hard to try and salvage the season. Houston was the toast of the football world after week one, now they are a playoff afterthought.”

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick expressed “complete confidence” in Brian Kelly despite the Fighting Irish being 2-5 as they go into Saturday’s game against Miami. The Oregon Ducks are also floundering at 2-5 after a double overtime loss at California, but will Mark Helfrich have had enough recent success to avoid the hot seat after losing five in a row this season? Duff doesn’t think so if they continue to lose.

“Oregon will fire Helfrich,” he said. “Notre Dame won’t fire Kelly.”

In addition to Miles at LSU, Florida International fired Ron Turner after an 0-4 start and Darrell Hazell got canned at Purdue. Fresno State fired Tim DeRuyter after a 1-7 start to the season and a six-game losing streak. Going forward, besides Strong and Helfrich, Steve Addazio at Boston College (3-4), Georgia Tech’s (4-3) Paul Johnson and UCLA’s (3-5) Jim Morrow may all want to dust off their resumes. Duff said the injury to UCLA QB Josh Rosen has put the Bruins on the back foot.

No one is questioning the security of Urban Meyer’s job at Ohio State despite the Buckeyes falling to Penn State and tumbling from #2 to #6 in the AP Top 25 and #8 in the Coaches Poll. They fell from #2 to #9 on the Kickoff Top 25.

On the other side of football fortunes, Duff said #10 West Virginia and unranked Syracuse are trending up on the Kickoff Thermostat. “The Orange have their first back-to-back wins of the season (against then #17 Virginia Tech and Boston College), with one major upset while the undefeated Mountaineers look like a Big 12 Title contender.” Syracuse faces Clemson on Nov. 5th while West Virginia plays Oklahoma State this weekend.

Like everyone else, Duff’s eyes will be on these games and the huge contests ahead this week. The Kickoff’s Games of the Week are #3 Clemson at #12 Florida State, #14 Florida vs Georgia, and #7 Nebraska at #11 Wisconsin.

As we make our way through the second half of the season, The Kickoff continues to accept entries for the FANtastic Football Sweepstakes. On December 2nd, we’ll draw a random entry to win a 48-inch HDTV (retail value: $349.99). Weekly winners are also winning annual subscriptions to THE KICKOFF as well as Polar Bear Coolers. Make sure your name is in the hat: https://thekickoffstore.com/the-kickoffs-fantastic-football-sweepstakes/

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