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The 2022 NCAA Tournament has consumed most of the sports world’s attention over the last few weeks. As a result, there are probably a few stories from the college football news cycle that you may have missed.
While it’s been relatively quiet in terms of big college football news, the sport never sleeps. Some head coaches earned extensions, a few teams landed big-time recruits and Congress is looking into NCAA reform.
Let’s run through the biggest college football stories that may have slipped by you while watching March Madness.
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Tennessee got a big boost to its 2023 recruiting class on March 21 when 5-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava, the No. 7 overall prospect for 2023, committed to the Vols. Iamaleava is the fourth-best quarterback in the country, as well.
As a junior for Warren High School in Downey, California, he threw for 2,244 yards, 33 touchdowns and just one interception.
It is a huge get for Vols head coach Josh Heupel, who now has the No. 11 class nationally for next season.
“This decision, because of what they’ve done with all the quarterbacks they had before them, just coming in seeing the numbers that [QB Hendon] Hooker had as opposed to the previous years,” Nico’s father, Nicholaus Iamaleava, said via ESPN. “They have a breakdown of every quarterback that starts when he first came in and how they looked at season end.”
Iamaleava will have stiff competition as a true freshman when he arrives on campus, though, as Hooker, who threw for 2,945 yards, 31 touchdowns and three interceptions last season, will return as a super-senior next fall.
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It looked like the Gators were set to have an intriguing quarterback battle this fall between Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson. However, thanks to Jones entering the transfer portal on March 19, new head coach Billy Napier’s decision might’ve just gotten a little easier.
Jones, who started in 12 games for Florida last season, struggled with consistency last year. He threw for 2,734 yards and 19 touchdowns but had 13 interceptions.
He had reportedly intended to enter the transfer portal in December, but he remained with the team through the start of spring practice.
Now, Richardson is in the driver’s seat to become the next starting quarterback in Gainesville. The redshirt sophomore appeared in seven games last season and started in Florida’s 34-7 loss to Georgia.
Richardson will compete with Ohio State transfer Jack Miller III for the starting job. Florida’s quarterback room also includes redshirt freshman Carlos Del Rio-Wilson, a former 4-star QB prospect from Florida’s class of 2021, former 3-star QB Jalen Kitna and 3-star 2022 QB Max Brown.
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National Signing Day was a couple of months ago, but Texas A&M hasn’t stopped adding to its 2022 class. On April 1, 5-star defensive lineman Lebbeus Overton committed to the Aggies. Although Overton was supposed to be a prospect in the 2023 class, he announced last month that he’d be reclassifying to the 2022 class.
Overton is the No. 5 defensive lineman in the class of 2022 and the No. 3 overall prospect out of the state of Georgia. Overton picked the Aggies over some of the premier programs in the country, including Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson
The 5-star’s addition to TAMU’s 2022 class makes it an even more historic one. Texas A&M’s 2022 class was not only the No. 1 overall class per 247Sports, but it’s also the highest-rated class in 247Sports history.
Per Chris Hummer of 247Sports, Fisher’s 2022 class included a top-eight player from each position and seven out of 247’s 34 composite 5-stars—up to 8-of-35 with the signing of Overton. Texas A&M will feature an especially fearsome defense, too, as they now have four 5-star defensive linemen from the class of 2022.
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Just last week, Senators Cory Booker and Marsha Blackburn introduced the NCAA Accountability Act of 2021 to the U.S. Senate. The bill is aimed at streamlining the NCAA’s infractions process, as well as tweaking other aspects of how the NCAA currently handles investigations. Here are some of the biggest things included in the bill, via Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated:
- The bill requires NCAA inquiries to be completed within eight months of a school receiving a notice that an investigation has opened.
- The NCAA, the bill says, cannot investigate violations that were alleged to have happened more than two years before the notice of investigation was sent to a school. The current statute of limitations is four years.
- The bill would prohibit the NCAA from using “confidential sources” as evidence for a decision.
- And a school can appeal punishments by using a three-arbiter panel, different from the NCAA’s current appeals committee.
Obviously, there’s no guarantee that the bill will pass, but this adds even more pressure on the NCAA. President Mark Emmert and other administrators have been called to testify in hearings recently regarding name, image and likeness.
We’ll see if the bill gets passed. If it does, it would massively shift how the NCAA investigates programs and doles out penalties for infractions.
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No, David Cutcliffe won’t be on the sidelines in 2022. But after mutually agreeing to part ways with Duke last November, the former head coach will be back working with the SEC. On March 24, the conference announced that Cutcliffe will be a special assistant to the commissioner for football relations in the SEC.
Before spending 14 seasons at Duke, where he compiled a 77-97 record, he was the head coach at Ole Miss from 1998-2004. The Rebels went 44-29 under Cutcliffe, and he won SEC Coach of the Year in 2003 while leading the Rebels to a 10-3 record with Eli Manning as his quarterback.
Per Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports, Cutcliffe will offer guidance in “on-field aspects of the game such as game management, communications, playing rules, national policies and scheduling” in his new gig.
“I am thrilled to return to the Southeastern Conference where I have spent much of my life,” Cutcliffe said in a statement. “It is rewarding to be joining an amazing team at the SEC Office led by Commissioner Sankey and his staff. I look forward to working with the coaches and administrators across the league to continue to further advance football in the SEC.”
Not having Cutcliffe roaming the sidelines will take some getting used to, but at least he will be staying in the sport, just in a different capacity.
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We may be outside the usual coaching carousel season, but a few big-name head coaches still received extensions last month.
Oklahoma State made head coach Mike Gundy the highest-paid coach in the Big 12. The school’s board of regents approved an increase of his salary by $1 million per year.
Gundy, who is entering his 18th year as head coach of the Cowboys, will also receive an additional $1 million retention bonus over each of the next five years. Per Jacob Unruh of the Oklahoman, Gundy’s annual salary jumps to $7.5 million in 2022, giving him the highest compensation in the conference. Oklahoma State finished the season 12-2 last year, beating Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
Pitt also extended head coach Pat Narduzzi’s contract, with the two sides reaching a deal that would keep him with the Panthers through the 2030 season. While the financial details were not released, Narduzzi was set to make $4.81 million in 2022 before signing the extension. Narduzzi led the Panthers to an ACC Championship last season and has gone 53-37 since he arrived at Pitt in 2015.
Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen also agreed to a new six-year extension worth $26.7 million. The new deal keeps the Cougars head coach through 2027, and Holgerson will make $4.2 million next season. Houston finished 12-2 last year and made an appearance in the AAC Championship game against Cincinnati.
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The Wolverines will have a new graduate assistant coach working with the Michigan quarterbacks this fall. On March 15, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh announced that his team hired Milan (Mimi) Bolden-Morris, the first female assistant hired in the Big Ten:
“Mimi reached out and expressed an interest in our graduate assistant positions when we had multiple openings this spring. We had some great conversations and I came away extremely impressed with her desire and ideas for coaching, and for making us better as a team. Mimi is a very bright, intelligent and competitive young woman who will be a great addition to our program and offensive coaching staff. We look forward to having Mimi transition into this role working with our quarterbacks.”
Bolden-Morris, the sister of Michigan defensive end Mike Morris, just wrapped up a basketball career at Georgetown. She averaged 35 minutes per game and 12.6 points per game last season, both of which led the Hoyas. Prior to arriving at Georgetown in December 2020, she spent three seasons at Boston College.
Her historic hiring follows in the footsteps of two recent trailblazers in Callie Brownson and Heather Marini.
Dartmouth made Brownson the first full-time female D-I football coach when it hired her as an offensive quality control coach in 2018. Heather Marini joined Brown in 2019 as an offensive quality control assistant coach before becoming the first female position coach in D-I football when she was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2020.
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The Bennett generation at Georgia won’t be stopping with quarterback Stetson Bennett. Stetson’s younger brother, Luke, has committed to Georgia as a preferred walk-on.
Stetson walked on at Georgia in 2017 but left the program to play for Jones College in Mississippi in 2018. He returned the following year on a scholarship and was named UGA’s starter in 2020.
However, the elder Bennett brother was benched for JT Daniels shortly thereafter. He took over for an injured Daniels early last season, though, and helped lead the Dawgs to a 14-1 season and their first national championship in 41 years.
Luke, who played high school football at Pierce County High School in Blackshear, Georgia, will be joining the Bulldogs this fall as a wide receiver. He’ll join his brother, who returns for one last season in Athens with a chance to defend UGA’s national title.