Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Team Jack Foundation Gala raises nearly $455,000 for childhood brain cancer research

By Press Release  | 
Posted: Tue 7:07 PM, Feb 25, 2020

LINCOLN, Neb. - 700 guests came together at the 7th Annual Team Jack Foundation Gala and raised nearly $455,000 for pediatric brain cancer research at the Lincoln’s Marriott Cornhusker Hotel on Saturday.
The event, presented by Elkhorn, Nebraska business, Fat Brain Toys, was filled with touching moments and was emceed by Nebraska native and NBC NASCAR announcer, Rick Allen, for the third straight year.
Amy Robach of ABC News’ 20/20 and Good Morning America delivered the keynote. She shared her journey with breast cancer and about when she was deciding whether to do the on-air mammogram to promote October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Robyn Roberts told her that she might save a life. She went ahead and did the mammogram and it ended up being her own life that she saved, as she learned of her breast cancer diagnosis as a result of the mammogram. Robach quoted a famous Charlie Brown cartoon, “We only live once, Snoopy”, said Charlie Brown, to which Snoopy answered, “Wrong! We only die once. We live every day!”
Of those in attendance were over 20 families that have been affected by the disease, two of whom shared their stories with the crowd. The first family was the Bill and Jodi Simants family of North Platte, NE. The Simants’ 11-year old son, Grady, was the Spotlight Story sponsored by The Home Agency and the Jim and Sharri Baldonado family.
Grady was diagnosed in 2015, underwent surgery, received treatment and then was considered cancer free until September of 2018 when they learned that his cancer had returned. After traveling to St. Jude’s in Memphis, Tennessee countless times, they are currently looking for another treatment option as his last clinical trial failed.
“St. Jude’s is amazing, but we want to be close to home, where our support system is, to fight this fight,” said Jodi Simants.
The Brent and Kathryn Gehring family was the second family that shared their story. Their daughter, Emma, was diagnosed at age 7 months and is now 7 years old and still battling.
Late in 2019, after several months on a new trial drug called TAK580, which was funded by Team Jack, Emma took a terrible turn which had her fighting for her life. Brent Gehring explained, “the tumor was dying, because of TAK580. The problem with medicine and the reason we can’t give up and we can’t quit is the tumor was dying too fast. And because it was shrinking too fast, it was bleeding which caused the seizures.” Emma is currently receiving inpatient rehabilitative services to try to regain much of what she lost during that time including her sight and her ability to sit up and to talk.
The live auction powered by Proxibid featured 14 items including a pair of Super Bowl Champion Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs jerseys, a Napa Valley Wine Trip and dinner for eight with Nebraska’s Governor, Pete Ricketts. Glass Solutions, Inc and Glass Solutions Foundation out of Itasca, Illinois was the Silent Auction Sponsor this year. Over 130 items were offered to bidders ranging from experience packages to autographed memorabilia and beyond. Guests took the inspiration and ran with it as the two auctions together totaled over $100,000 raised!
Some of the special guests in attendance were Rex Burkhead, Jeremiah Sirles, Kenny Bell, Brent Qvale, Matt Slauson, Johnny Rodgers, and Joba Chamberlain as well as Nebraska Athletic Director, Bill Moos and his wife Kendra.
A special highlight each year at the Gala is the bonding that occurs between the families affected by child brain cancer and the former Husker athletes as well as just among the families themselves.
The Teammate of the Year Award, presented by NCR, was given to Cody Thomas for his outstanding volunteer efforts in producing the Team Jack Radiothon since 2013. He has helped the Foundation raise over $540,000 and immeasurable amounts of awareness through the annual Radiothon held each September.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry named FedEx Ground Player of the Year

February 23, 2020

Nashville, TN – Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry finished 2019 with a league-high 1,540 yards on 303 rushing attempts (4.8 avg.). His 16 rushing touchdowns put him in a tie with Green Bay Packers’s Aaron Jones atop the league leaderboard and placed second in franchise annals.

Over the final six weeks of the regular season plus three playoff appearances, Henry totaled seven 100-yard games.

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs with the ball during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

From the regular season final through the divisional round, he became the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 180 yards in three consecutive regular season and/or postseason games.

In addition to being selected to his first Pro Bowl, Henry’s postseason honors included second-team Associated Press All-Pro recognition and the FedEx Ground Player of the Year award.

RB Derrick Henry 2019 Accomplishments

  • Selected to his first career Pro Bowl.
·        Named the NFL’s FedEx Ground Player of the Year.
·        Named second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press.
·        Named to the PFWA’s All-NFL team.
·        Led the NFL with a career-best 1,540 rushing yards. He also established career highs with 303 carries and 16 rushing touchdowns (tied for the NFL lead).
·        Recorded his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season.
·        Added 18 receptions for 206 yards with two receiving touchdowns, all of which set career-highs.
·        Led the AFC, ranked third in the NFL, and led the team with a career high 18 total touchdowns.
·        Ranked second in the AFC and fourth in the NFL with a career-high 1,746 yards from scrimmage.
·        Finished the season with the fourth-best rushing yardage total in franchise history, and ranked second in franchise history with 16 rushing touchdowns.
·        Recorded eight total 100-yard rushing performances in 2019 (six regular season and two postseason games).
·        Moved into fourth place on the franchise’s all-time rushing touchdowns list (38).
·        Named AFC Offensive Player of the Week after his performance at Houston (12/29), where he rushed a season-high 32 times for a season best 211 yards with three touchdowns to secure the NFL’s rushing title.
  • Became the sixth player in franchise history with at least 12 touchdowns in two or more consecutive seasons.
·        Joined Napoleon Kaufman (1997-99) and Robert Smith (1997-2000) as the only players in NFL history to record a rushing touchdown of at least 70 yards in three consecutive seasons.
·        Passed Steve McNair (3,439 career rushing yards) for sixth place on the team’s all-time rushing list, and later passed Hoyle Granger (3,514) for fifth place on the team’s all-time rushing list.
·        Has posted 24 rushing touchdowns in his past 20 regular season games, which leads the NFL in that time period.
·        Started all three playoff games and finished the postseason with 83 carries for a league-best 446 yards and two touchdowns, all of which set career highs.
·        His 446 rushing yards in the postseason ranked second in franchise playoff history behind Eddie George’s 449 rushing yards during the 1999 playoffs.
·        At the New England Patriots (1/4/20), set a then-franchise playoff record with 182 rushing yards on 34 carries with a touchdown, which marked the second-most yards on the road in an NFL playoff game since 1950.
·        At the Baltimore Ravens (1/11/20), set a franchise playoff record with 195 rushing yards on 30 carries.
·        Threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis in the playoffs, marking his first career touchdown pass.

Texas nearly doubled OC Mike Yurcich’s salary to lure him from Ohio State

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Everything’s bigger in the state of Texas and that includes more than a few football contracts as well.
As noted by the Austin American Statesman’s Brain Davis, school regents in Austin are set to approve a slate of new contracts for Longhorns staff members following a number of changes made by Tom Herman this offseason. Among the biggest moves the embattled head coach made was undoubtedly saying goodbye to OC Tim Beck and eventually bringing in Mike Yurcich from Ohio State.
Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day said in the wake of the move at the time that he didn’t want to lose Yurcich but that the money was a significant factor. We’ll say. 
It seems that UT will pay Yurcich $1.7 million over the next three seasons as part of his deal — roughly doubling what he was making at OSU. That was already a robust $950,000 in Columbus — among the top 30 coaches in the country in 2019 as is according to USA Today. 
That will make Yurcich, at least temporarily, the highest paid offensive coordinator in the country in 2020. Clemson OC Tony Elliott has a larger overall deal and will see his annual salary jump higher in 2021. Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian is expected to receive an amount bigger than either in the weeks ahead after agreeing to stay in Tuscaloosa and not become the head coach at Colorado.
Still, that’s quite the exclusive club Yurcich is joining just a few years removed from him coaching in the Division II ranks before he joined Big 12 rival Oklahoma State in 2013.
Interestingly, despite the massive salary Texas is paying, the school isn’t actually spending any more on their two new coordinators in 2020 than they did in 2019. Ex-DC Todd Orlando made roughly $1.7 million and Beck’s $800,000 salary is almost exactly what Chris Ash (who is also getting millions from Rutgers) will be taking home to run the Horns defense.
Other assistants who recently joined the staff are set to see some six-figure pay raises so it’s not all even from last year to this one.
If there’s any athletic department in the country who doesn’t bat an eye over it all though, it’s Texas.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Coach Pep Hamilton's culture of accountability has DC Defenders off to hot start

After a 2-0 start, the DC Defenders are the hottest team in the XFL and head coach Pep Hamilton's no-nonsense approach is one of the main reasons.
The former NFL coordinator preaches the importance of accountability and leads by example. On Tuesday, Hamilton was seen running side by side with his team post-practice.
“We are a team. Everybody will be held to a certain standard," Hamilton said. "Accountability is the foundation of teamwork. A lack of focus at times is on me, it’s on the coach. We have to come out here everyday and understand that every play can be the difference in a game.“
Quarterback Cardale Jones describes the culture Hamilton is building within the locker room as “a tough one, one that is uncomfortable. A tough hardnose blue collar culture.”  
Seeing his coach run with the team, Jones believes, sends a clear message: “We will be held accountable for our actions and everything matters. That's why we run extra after practice. We can’t get complacent as a team.”
The former Ohio State quarterback has not only become one of the faces, if not the face, of the XFL but also a leader on the Defenders, according to Hamilton.
“He’s making plays on gameday. He’s helping the team win, and the guys recognize he’s ultimately going to play a major factor into whether we win or lose a game, and he’s done his job up to this point,” Hamilton said.
Despite the hype surrounding his name, Jones humbly describes himself as “a player trying to get better each and every week.”
This week, the Defenders are aiming to go 3-0 as they head across the country for their first road game against the 0-2 Los Angeles Wildcats on Sunday. LA's record doesn't reflect the kind of team Hamilton is preparing to go up against.
“We are getting ready to play a really good LA Wildcats team," he said. "Their record is not indicative in the leadership they have in their head coach and/or in the players they have on their team. They have a really good team.”
Jones continued, “We have to be able to run the football. We have to continue to challenge ourselves and honor our technique. Doing the little things right.”

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Kentucky’s Vince Marrow will likely be highest-paid non-coordinator in college football this year

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For Vince Marrow of Kentucky, it paid to be wooed by Michigan State.
After an initial denial, Mel Tucker reversed course and left Colorado to become the Michigan State head coach. Not only will Tucker be doubling his salary in East Lansing, but his salary pool for assistant coaches will be nearly double what he had to work with in Boulder as well.
Marrow was one of the assistants Tucker had hoped to bring to Michigan State, wooing the longtime Kentucky coach and close friend into his new fold. Instead, he opted to eschew the chance to move to Michigan State and remain at Kentucky.
In a non-coincidental move, UK Monday released the details of a new contract agreement signed last Thursday by Marrow. Per that new deal, Marrow, who is tight ends coach while also serving as recruiting coordinator and associate head coach, will be paid $900,000 annually as part of the three-year contract. This past season, Marrow was paid $600,000 in guaranteed compensation.
With Mike Yurcich ($950,000) taking over as Texas’ offensive coordinator after spending 2019 as Ohio State’s quarterbacks coach and Sam Pittman ($900,000) leaving as Georgia’s offensive line to take the head job at Arkansas, Marrow is currently the highest-paid non-coordinator in college football. That statement is based on the USA Today coaches salary database.
Marrow will also have a salary on par with UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and slightly above the $875,000 set for defensive coordinator Brad White.
The 51-year-old Marrow has spent the past eight seasons at Kentucky.  He was retained when Mark Stoops took over the Wildcats in November of 2012.

7 things we learned in Week 2 of the XFL

Barry Werner

14 hrs ago

The XFL is through two weeks, there has been some good, bad, and, of course, ugly.

McGloin may not be built for this league

Matt McGloin taking on anyone and everyone around the New York Guardians may have made for great television. However, it did show the quarterback has brought an NFL attitude to the XFL. And that doesn’t work. Hard to believe Kevin Gilbride will want to keep him around. For sure, Winston Moss of the LA Wildcats would have shipped him out. In general, with a few exceptions, quarterback is the weakest position in the league.

Jones earning another NFL look

© Provided by Touchdown Wire

Cardale Jones has had two solid games for the DC Defenders. P.J. Walker has made some spectacular plays. Jones was nothing short of amazing on the play below. It will be interesting to see if a solid XFL season earns Jones a look from the NFL.

Pep Hamilton has got DC going

© Provided by Touchdown Wire

Don’t be surprised if an NFL team makes a move on Pep Hamilton of the Defenders after the XFL season. He is sharp and brings a great attitude to the sidelines. DC appears to be one of the top teams in the league after a couple games. Hamilton has an impressive resume. Somehow, it didn’t include head coach until this gig. Would be a great coup for the XFL to be a showcase for a coach to earn himself a shot in the big league. Oh, and Hamilton and the Defenders made a great move swindling Anthony Johnson from LA. Despite being jet-lagged, the edge rusher Edge rusher recorded 1.5 sacks and two tackles for a loss.

Olsen should retire from the NFL

Greg Olsen was under the weather Sunday when doing analysis for the St. Louis-Houston game. One never would have known it except for the Pro Bowl TE’s voice. He brings great insight to the game and is going to be a star in the broadcast booth, unlike another tight end. Olsen’s talent was in full display when he noticed the officials missed an offsides call on Houston when the St. Lous QB Jordan Ta’amu threw an interception. He has been injured frequently recently in his NFL career. Rather than putting his body through more, Olsen is primed to take a big spot in a network broadcast booth.

Andrew Luck helped out his dad

P.J. Walker has been the league’s clear-cut star through two weeks. And it helped the Houston Roughnecks immensely that Commissioner Oliver Luck’s son, Andrew, played for the Indianapolis Colts. The retired Andrew Luck tipped his dad to the talent of Walker and that is how he wound up in the XFL. Andrew Luck seems to have a future as a scout.

Los Angeles is going to be challenged

The Wildcats are 0-2 and everyone knows Los Angeles loves to back a winner. The crowd at the stadium was announced at better than 14,000, which seemed like a mirage. Empty seats were everywhere. Maybe the Wildcats and Chargers should bond and move to San Diego.

Todd Gurley also could be a scout

There was an in-game interview with Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley. The Rams’ running back spoke of how he was in attendance to support former teammate Nelson Spruce. After that discussion with Molly McGrath, Spruce went on to catch a pair of TD passes. He leads the league in receiving yardage.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Vince Marrow's new contract shows dramatic increase in football spending for Kentucky

Jon Hale, Courier Journal | Published 2:04 p.m. ET Feb. 17, 2020 | Updated 2:13 p.m. ET Feb. 17, 2020

LEXINGTON - Vince Marrow’s decision to remain at Kentucky instead of accepting a job at Michigan State will make him one of the highest-paid position coaches in college football.
Marrow’s new contract, signed on Feb. 13 and released by UK’s Office of Legal Counsel on Monday, will pay him $900,000 per year through the 2022 season. Only three football assistant coaches without an offensive or defensive coordinator title were paid at least $900,000 by public universities last year, according to a USA TODAY database.
One of those coaches, former Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman, has since been hired as Arkansas’ new head coach. Another, former Ohio State quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich, was recently hired as offensive coordinator at Texas.
Per the terms of Marrow's new contract, he would owe UK $150,000 per year left on the deal if he accepts another coaching position. That buyout would be waived though if his new job was an FBS or FCS head coaching position or any NFL coaching position.
“I talked to one of the top coaches in college football last night and he said he watched all of this and said, ‘You guys have really got that thing going,’” Marrow said Saturday, one day after announcing he would stay at UK. “And, for Kentucky to make the investment to keep me here, he said, ‘You guys are really going in the right direction, it says a lot about your administration.’”
Marrow, UK's recruiting coordinator, tight ends coach and associate head coach, will be paid the same salary as offensive coordinator Eddie Gran next season. Gran’s contract calls for his salary to increase to $925,000 in 2021 and $950,00 in 2020. He will be paid slightly more than defensive coordinator Brad White, whose salary is $875,000 in 2020 then escalates to $900,000 in 2021 and $925,000 in 2022.
The raise for Marrow is the latest sign of the significant investment in football spending by UK during the Stoops era.
The Courier Journal recently reported Kentucky increased its football recruiting spending by 30.7% to $1.035 million in 2018-19, the most recent year data is available. The university opened at $45 million training facility in 2016, one year after unveiling a $120 million stadium renovation.
The USA TODAY database reveals a dramatic increase in assistant coach spending during the Stoops era.
In 2013, Stoops’ first year as head coach, the program used an assistant coach salary pool worth $2.4 million. Marrow’s salary that year was $175,000.
UK’s salary pool for the 10 full-time assistant coaches for the 2019 season was $5.15 million. (The NCAA added a 10th full-time assistant to football staffs before the 2018 season). The program has already committed $5.07 million in salaries to the eight full-time assistant coaches under contract for 2020.
A new contract for quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Darin Hinshaw’s contract has yet to be released by the university. His current deal is set to expire in June. Stoops has one opening on his staff to fill following the departure of special teams coordinator Dean Hood to Murray State.
UK awarded contract extensions to Gran, White, defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale and linebackers coach Jon Sumrall earlier this offseason. It also signed new defensive line coach Anwar Stewart to a two-year contract worth $300,000 per year.
Spending on support staff positions like the strength and conditioning staff and quality control coaches, who do not count toward the 10 full-time assistant positions, has also increased.
UK’s most recent available financial report to the NCAA listed total football staff spending at $5.7 million in 2018-19, up from $3.35 million five years earlier.
Marrow and Stoops seem likely to point to that investment in recruiting the next wave of players for the program.
Turning down a recruiting rival with deep pockets – new Michigan State coach Mel Tucker’s contract calls for a $6 million staff salary pool – can only help sway prospects from Ohio and Michigan, two states where Kentucky has found great success in recent years, as well.
“(Tucker) really wanted me, and they really made an effort, so it was hard,” Marrow said. “The last three days, yes I got a raise, but I wouldn't wish that situation on anyone, especially when it is two friends (to work for).
“Now I know how recruits feel when they're down to two schools and one day it's this school and the next day it's this school. Anything can trigger (a decision). But, I just have to say, the eight years I've spent here, they've really invested in me and it really meant something. That really played a big part. … I'm not just throwing that out. This is a really great administration to work for.”


Offensive coordinator/RBs coach Eddie Gran: $900,000
Recruiting coordinator/TE coach Vince Marrow: $900,000
Defensive coordinator/OLB coach Brad White: $875,000
Inside linebackers coach Jon Sumrall: $650,000
Defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale: $500,000
Offensive line coach John Schlarman: $490,000
Wide receivers coach Michael Smith: $450,000
Defensive line coach Anwar Stewart: $300,000
Jon Hale:; Twitter: @JonHale_CJ. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today:

Nick Saban serves as advisor in Michigan State’s coach search

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Mel Tucker’s bank account might want to consider sending a thank you note to Nick Saban.
After a couple of swings and misses, Michigan State confirmed Wednesday that it had flipped Tucker away from Colorado as Mark Dantonio‘s replacement. The university, of course, utilized a search firm to help guide it through the process of finding Dantonio’s successor. They also utilized a future Hall of Famer in an unofficial capacity.
Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, the Detroit News has reported that Nick Saban served as an advisor for Michigan State in its search. The News added that Saban was a strong proponent of Tucker throughout the process.
From the report:
‘I’m very interested in Michigan State having the right person,'” Saban said in the phone call, according to the source. “And they weren’t bashful about asking Nick.
Nick Saban, of course, has a history with the Michigan State football program. From 1983-87, Saban was MSU’s defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. Then, from 1995-99, he served as the Spartans’ head coach.
Saban and Tucker also have a working relationship that goes back decades. Tucker’s first job was as a graduate assistant for Saban at MSU from 1997-98. In 2000, he was Saban’s defensive backs coach at LSU. In 2015, Tucker was Alabama’s defensive backs coach. He also held the title of assistant head coach.
According to the News, MSU athletic director Bill Beekman confirmed that he had spoken to Nick Saban during the search.
“Mel has made a name for himself as one of the best and brightest coaches in our profession,” Saban said in a statement after Tucker’s hiring. “I believe he will do a tremendous job as head coach of the Spartans. MSU is getting a guy with infinite class and a great personality, who is smart, works hard, and does it with an incredible amount of enthusiasm and positive energy.
“Mel is a tireless recruiter who knows the game of college football and understands what it will take to be successful in East Lansing.”

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