COUNTDOWN TO THE SEASON

Del Olaleye: The weekly college football update includes UNC, Ohio State

Urban Meyer -- and his fans -- are in the news. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Not the way to start fall camp

If you’re UNC’s Larry Fedora you had to think the worst was behind you when last season ended. The 2017 season was a disaster. Injuries destroyed the depth across his football team and he finished the season 3-9. When you’re depending on LSU transfer Brandon Harris at QB to start the year things probably aren’t going in the right direction. A new season usually brings new hope. That is until your team is hit with mass suspensions because multiple starters sold exclusive Jordan brand shoes. North Carolina is one of a few football programs to wear the Jumpman logo on their uniforms and the players thought selling Jordan brand shoes wouldn’t be a bad way to make some some extra cash.

Tar Heel fans found about the suspensions this week but Fedora and his assistant coaches had this hanging over their heads since January when the violations were self reported. One the suspensions handed down just so happens to affect the most important position in their program. North Carolina entered fall camp hoping to settle a quarterback battle. That battle has some clarity now that potential starter Chaz Surratt has been suspended for four games for his entrepreneurship.

The NCAA has their rules and until they are changed they must be followed but multiple Tar Heels players will miss a third of the season for essentially selling stuff they own. They were given these things only because they play football so making money off them is considered an impermissible benefit. The NCAA calls these secondary violations. The same way they classify a coach seeing a recruit at the wrong time of year or calling a player during a “dead period.” Coaches get a slap on the wrist for secondary violations. They definitely wouldn’t be forced to miss a fourth of the season. UNC is an ACC opponent so I’m not crying that some of their players won’t be available for their game against Miami. I hope the Canes blow them out. Just  know that if actual paid employees of the North Carolina program did the same thing nothing would come of it.

More on Ohio State and Courtney Smith

It turns out Ohio State never met with Courtney Smith despite her allegations that their former employee and her ex-husband Zach Smith was physically abusive to her. This is according to Ms. Smith’s lawyer, Julia Leveridge.  As their six-person committee attempts to get to the bottom of who knew what and when, that factoid might be something Ohio State needs to answer for.

We’re not done with the Buckeyes

If you didn’t know college football fans are weird and borderline nuts just take a look at any video from the Urban Meyer rally. I guess the petition to save Meyer’s job that has 30,000 signatures wasn’t enough. They all wanted to look other crazies in the face. As simply as it can be put, the people in Columbus wanted to get together to try save the job of alleged enabler of domestic abuse. One person at the rally was the father of former Buckeyes and current Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. It just so happens the younger Elliott has had his own issues in regards to treating women in the correct manner.

We didn’t need Ohio State fans showing up en masse in front of a building to point out the obvious. We all know they value a great football coach over anything else. Urban Meyer left Florida because he couldn’t control the monster he had created. No one talks about that very much because he won multiple titles in Gainesville. The people in Columbus certainly didn’t care about all that after having to deal with a 6-7 season under interim coach Luke Fickell. Fickell was promoted to the position after Jim Tressel resigned following previously being suspended for five games for lying about his players getting free tattoos. There are people that haven’t forgotten about Meyer’s time at the University of Florida. His former players are talking about their time at Florida with Meyer and isn’t at all complimentary. I’m sure Buckeyes fans will blame Brett McMurphy for that too.

 

Ed Oliver skips bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft. Houston Cougar Football Facebook

The regular season is over for Houston football, but a lot has occurred since last week. Let’s take a look at what to expect for UH:

The Armed Forces Bowl

Houston (8-4, 5-3 in AAC) will face Army (9-2) at Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas on Dec. 22. The Black Knights are ranked No. 22 in the Top 25 AP Poll, mostly due to their prolific triple option rushing attack which ranks third in the nation. They are on a seven game winning streak since losing to Oklahoma. The Big 12 Conference Champion struggled at home against Army, but would later win in overtime. Army averages 300 yards per game on the ground this year, making them the third team (Navy, Memphis, Army) that Houston will face that is ranked within the top five in rushing. The matchup is not good for a depleted Houston defense. The Black Knights will play Navy this weekend, a conference foe of the Cougars who has had a terrible season. Army vs Navy will be the only college football game this weekend, where you can get a sneak peak of what to expect if you haven’t seen the Black Knights play all season. Plus, the uniforms for this game are always pretty cool.

King vs Milton

Houston comes into this bowl game with their heads hung low after what most consider to be a disappointing season. Injuries, most notably those to D’Eriq King and Ed Oliver, sidetracked the Cougars from heading into the AAC Championship game after Memphis blew them out in Week 13. King and UCF QB McKenzie Milton were both nominated for AAC Offensive Player of the Year, of which Milton took home for a second straight season. Milton humbly gave King an honorable mention by saying, “Shout out to D’Eriq King who is just as, if not, more deserving of this honor. Promise we’ll both be back better than ever!” King played only 11 games, where he reached 50 total touchdowns, 14 of which came from the ground, threw for 2,982 passing yards, and rushed for 674 yards.

Ed Oliver Denies Bowl Game

The All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver decided to sit out his final bowl game to begin preparing for the NFL draft. He announced his decision via twitter where he thanked the University of Houston, the coaching staff, and his teammates. He finished by saying, “To all the fans, thank you for your relentless support. Forever I will be a Coog!” Oliver’s decision came about a week after he publicly announced that he will be playing in whatever bowl UH was assigned, even after he had to be benched for tweaking his knee in Week 13 vs Memphis. He missed four games this season after suffering from an uncalled chop block against Navy. In his three years in Houston, Oliver accounted for 193 total total tackles, 54 of which were tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, 14 passes defended, six forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one blocked kick. He was the first underclassmen to win the Outland Trophy in 2017, which is awarded to the best college interior lineman. This season, Oliver won AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Coaching Changes/Extensions

Houston still doesn’t have a defensive coordinator. Mark D’Onofrio was fired after the Memphis game for managing one of the worst defenses in college football, and also one of the worst defenses in the history of the program. The UH defense allowed a total of 412 points, being the fifth most allowed points in a season in school history, while also allowing 5,862 total yards. It seems like Houston is in no rush in finding a replacement.

Kendal Briles accepted a contract extension from UH after interviewing with Texas State for the head coaching job vacancy. He was also widely considered for a SEC offensive coordinator position of which was not disclosed by sources. The new three-year deal is worth $2.1 million, making Briles one of the highest paid assistants in the nation. Offensive line coach Randy Clements also enjoyed a new three-year extension. Consider both a package deal. The Houston offense averaged 46.4 points per game, rushed for 2991 yards, and passed for 3611 yards, making it one of the best offenses in the nation.

AAC Bowl Matchups

Armed Forces Bowl- Houston vs Army

Military Bowl- Cincinnati vs Virginia Tech

Gasparilla Bowl- USF vs Marshall

Birmingham Bowl- Memphis vs Wake Forest

Independence Bowl- Temple vs Duke

Cure Bowl- Tulane vs Louisiana Lafayette

Most Notable AAC Bowl Matchup

Fiesta Bowl- UCF vs LSU

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