Ten Stories of the Week: A CFB News Recap
1. Let us open this space with news of the bizarre, this time in the form of Utah wideout Cory Butler-Byrd. The Utes hit Butler-Byrd with an indefinite suspension for what HC Kyle Whittingham deemed “personal issues.” That is one way of putting it. The senior was charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief after, according to police documents, officers came upon him preparing to throw a “large white sign” outside of a campus station. A smashed-in rear windshield on one patrol car and a broken building window were also discovered. Butler-Byrd was then taken into custody, at which point he “admitted damaging the patrol vehicle and breaking the patrol room window,” per the charging documents.
So all of that happened. If there is a motive here, it hasn’t been reported yet.
2. What’s a week without Baylor news? This time, interim head coach Jim Grobe was at it, telling reporters that he might not be long for the Bears coaching gig after 2016. "I could fall in love with the players,” Grobe said, “and the university might like what I do and we could have that discussion, but my whole plan the whole time is to help and get out of the way.” He said that he considered the idea of a one-and-done run this season “fun.”
Prior to tackling the monumental task of keep Baylor afloat, Grobe had last been a head coach at Wake Forest in 2013. At age 64, a long-term coaching gig at the university looks like it was never realistically in his thought process.
3. Speaking-ish of Baylor, former head coach Art Briles -- whose termination led to Grobe’s hiring in the first place -- is setting his sights on a return to coaching in 2017. Briles was hanging out at Cowboys training camp when he broke his mostly-successful media blackout. He said that he was “dumbfounded and trying to process everything as it goes” adding “but it is what it is.” He spoke to the idea of “start[ing] a new chapter” in his life.
That will come, Briles explained, in November or December, when he begins his coaching search in earnest. The 60-year-old is of the opinion that the fallout from the sexual abuse scandal at Baylor will not have an impact on his opportunity to draw another job.
4. Everybody at LSU is injured. More or less. The major body blows came in the form of reported torn ACL’s suffered by defensive lineman Christian LaCouture and linebacker Isaiah Washington. As if that plague of locusts wasn’t enough, linebacker Corey Thompson suffered a fracture near his ankle. At least Thompson should have a chance to play this season -- his injury is expected to keep him out 6-8 weeks. Not so lucky for LaCouture and Washington, who will likely miss the season.
On a worry scale of 1-to-10, Les Miles at least outwardly seemed to be at about a 3, saying “we think we’re in pretty good shape.” Miles pointed to the Tigers’ depth as a reason for his confidence and specifically named checked “the new guy, Travonte Valentine” (who has joined the Tigers this month after academic ineligibility forced him to enroll at a junior college last season), Ed Alexander and Rashard Lawrence as potentially stepping up along the line.
A final LSU loss to report, though not to injury this time. Instead, former five-star WR Tyron Johnson is transferring out. Johnson’s contributions during 2015 were minimal, but his is a hearty recruiting profile. He almost cracked Rivals’ top-10 for the 2015 class, just missing out at No. 11.
His father Tyrone said that the only reason Johnson has chosen to transfer is that LSU’s offense isn’t dynamic enough for his liking. Yikes.
5. Sticking on the injury front, Minnesota’s Shannon Brooks is expected to miss 3-4 weeks after he injured his foot -- Mitch Leidner just involuntarily shivered -- during practice. He could be sidelined for the Gophers’ season-opener against Oregon State on September 3, but that won’t be determined until he is further along the road to recovery. The sophomore is an expected starter for the coming season and while he only recorded two games of more than 100 yards rushing in 2015, those went for 176 yards (good work, Purdue) and 174 yards (you, too, Illinois)
6. Jerrod Heard will always have that one game against Cal to tell his grandchildren about. He never again rose so high as in a record-setting loss to Cal in which he compiled 527 total yards of offense (364 passing, 163 rushing). Outside of a few potential gimmick plays in the coming campaign, we have probably seen the last of Heard as a quarterback in this world. According to teammate Kevin Vaccaro, Heard is switching over to wide receiver for the coming campaign.
Entering August camp, he was already trailing behind Shane Buechele and Tyrone Swoopes on the quarterbacking depth chart. This is shaping up to be Buechele’s show, but Heard could make his first cameo appearance at receiver when the Longhorns kick off against the Fighting Irish on Sunday, September 4.
7. In a delightful recruiting twist, four-star gunslinger Jack Sears, an Elite 11 participant in Beaverton last month and Rivals’ No. 11 dual-threat QB prospect in the country, committed to Duke for the 2017 cycle. He turned down overtures from UCLA and USC in the process. What are the Blue Devils getting in Sears? They are getting Andrew Luck. Maybe not quite that, but Elite 11 instructor Yogi Roth told Bleacher Report back in June that he “just had this vibe when [Sears] came on all of a sudden, and it’s like, ‘Does he kind of look like what Andrew Luck looked like?’ He has such a wide base, such a great arm and he’s a great athlete.”
In addition to the athleticism, Sears has posted some mind-melting numbers at the high school level. Playing for San Clemente in California last season, he sported a 37/2 TD/INT ratio while throwing for 2,697 yards. We should all feel blessed to have future showdowns between Clemson commit Hunter Johnson and Sears to look forward to in the ACC down the road, assuming both young gentlemen stick to their commitments.
8. Arizona is working through the grieving process after senior center Zach Hemmila passed away in his sleep on Sunday night. Linebacker Cody Ippolito, one of Hemmila’s best friends, spoke at length about the offensive lineman’s stupendously positive outlook on life. “I could walk past him,” Ippolito said, “maybe not having that good of a day and he'd be like, 'What's wrong?' I'd be like, 'Nothing. I'm good.' He would say, 'Man, put a smile on your face. You're walking around here hating life.'” Jason Alsadek, a fellow offensive lineman, remembers Hemmila in the same light. “That is just something I loved about him,” he explained. “He was just so happy, no matter what was going on.”
9. When the Big 12 first announced plans for expansion, everything seemed gumdrops and roses for the conference. Apparently, the handling of the issue has been all over that map. Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy made that very clear. He didn’t quite raise his rhetoric to “Come after me, I’m a man, I’m 40” levels -- few men have ever raised their rhetoric to such lofty heights -- but offered an honest enough assessment of the expansion situation nonetheless. Said Gundy, “I don't understand expansion right now. I don't know what we're doing. I think right now we're pretty much clueless.”
Of course, cluelessness does not necessarily prevent progress (it just makes progress more difficult) and on Friday, ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported that Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be holding video conferences with 17 teams as the conference tries to put this whole thing together. McMurphy additionally reported that it is more likely that they add two teams, as opposed to four.
As briefly mentioned in the item about LSU’s team currently being held together by chewing gum and gumption, defensive tackle Travonte Valentine has achieved academic eligibility with the team. He played JUCO ball last season due to his prior academic issues.
Auburn QB battle remains Auburn QB battle. Jeremy Johnson, Sean White and John Franklin III all split first- and second-team reps and head coach Gus Malzahn subsequently said, “All three of those guys had solid days.”
While Auburn’s competition outwardly hasn’t moved since the spring, the same can’t be said for Florida State’s. FSU QB Deondre Francois is beginning to build a legitimate case to start and took first-team reps over Sean Maguire earlier this week.
Missouri hired San Diego State AD Jim Sterk to replace former AD Mack Rhoades, who took the same gig at Baylor last month.