Say What?

Strong hangs on as his players threaten boycott

The University of Texas administration wants to fire head football coach Charlie Strong. But he and his players are making such a heartfelt protest that Strong has a reprieve — of sorts. He will coach the Longhorns on Black Friday when the Austin school hosts another disappointed Big 12 team, TCU (5-5, to Texas’ 5-6). UT president Greg Fenves has soured on Strong in his third season with an overall record of 16-20. Fenves has been planning to wait until the end of the season to terminate Strong. But when the Longhorns on Saturday lost 24-21 to woeful Kansas, Fenves decided there was no point in waiting. When Strong’s players heard that the coach would be ousted before the season was over, they protested vigorously. Some said they’d boycott the TCU game if Strong was not on the sidelines. About 50 players showed up at the Centennial Room on campus to show their support for their coach as he spoke to media on Monday. Strong insisted he deserves “to be back,” that “the program is going and heading in the right direction.” At least one player, senior defensive tackle Paul Boyette Jr., had eyes full of tears. “I don’t think you can give a person just 36 months to turn a program around,” he told the Austin American-Statesman.

NotepadDear Charlie: The players appreciate how you’ve guided them and improved their lives and their future. But you’re not a good enough game coach to compete with the elite programs. So Longhorn Nation asks you to please step aside for Tom Herman.


Notre Dame forfeits games for cheating in academics

Notre Dame University, which prides itself more on academics than on its storied football program, took a hard hit in both areas when the NCAA slapped it with a one-year probation and expunged all its 21 victories in the 2012 and 2013 football seasons. All because an unnamed student trainer (no longer at Notre Dame) helped six football players cheat on classwork. Coach Brian Kelly quickly tried to separate himself from the malfeasance that occurred on his watch. “This matter has nothing to do with me and my status here,” said Kelly, who’s under fire from alumni disenchanted with a 4-7 season. “This obviously has been going on for a few years,” he added, implying perhaps more than seven years ago, when Kelly began his tenure.

NotepadDear Coach: The head coach must establish the culture of his program. You’re overly critical of how your players perform on the field, and you’re not vigilant about their behavior off it.


O’Brien has no regret on passing up Derek Carr

It’s often said that hindsight is 20-20. But sometimes it’s not. Bill O’Brien, head coach of the Houston Texans, will not acknowledge that his team made a monumental blunder in not drafting Derek Carr when he was available at the top of the second round of the 2013 NFL draft. “We chose who we chose, and we’re happy with who we chose, but Derek is having a good year,” O’Brien told the Houston Chronicle. Instead of Carr, a Pro Bowl selection who is now considered an MVP candidate with the Oakland Raiders, the Texans chose Xavier Su’a-Filo, who is their starting left guard but is not considered an elite player. Until now the blame for that selection has rested with Texans general manager Rick Smith. But O’Brien takes some ownership by saying, “When it comes to the draft, Rick and I, we just try to make the decision for the team, and that’s what we did.” Instead of drafting a quarterback, the Texans signed a veteran free agent, Brock Osweiler, to a $72 million contract. Carr and Osweiler faced each other on Monday night in Mexico City, and Oakland won 27-20.

NotepadBetween the Lines: The Texans shied away from Carr because his brother David failed so miserably for them as No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft. They wanted no reminders of that blunder, but they seem to have compounded it.


Deer crash college cross-country race, knock out a runner

During an NCAA regional cross-country race in Center Valley, Pa., a herd of deer crossing a field intersected with the human runners. Justin DeLuzio, a senior at Gwynedd Mercy University was competing in the 8K Division III Mideast Championship race when he heard someone yell, “Watch out for the deer!” Too late. A deer charged into him, hitting him in the stomach, and he fell to the ground. Two teammates helped DeLuzio to his feet, but he finished 294th, with the Gwynedd team losing significant time because of the mishap and finishing 46th out of 52 schools. DeLuzio was bruised but not seriously injured. “I know if that deer was a little bit bigger,” he said, “I would have been in serious trauma.”

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