BARNEStorming: Thoughts Around the College Football World
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin’s first impression of kicker Jonathan Cruz was a lasting one, although not a good memory.
The new Rebels’ kicker transferred to Oxford for this season from Charlotte, and on Nov. 24, 2018, in Boca Raton, Fla., Cruz nailed a game-winning field goal to beat Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic Owls.
“I’ve talked to him about maybe twice about it and it was pretty cool,” Cruz said of his 56-yarder with less than three minutes remaining to give the 49ers a 27-24 win. “When I first got here, it was one of the first things we talked about, just a good laugh, but I don’t think he took it very lightly.”
If Cruz kicks a few game winners this season, Kiffin will probably forgive him for 2018.
STAR BACKS, THE NEXT GENERATION
The 2022 Watch List for the Doak Walker Award that goes to the best running back in college football was recently released.
Two names stood out on the list, but not just for the players’ talents. It was because of their family ties.
Frank Gore, Jr., is on the list. The Southern Miss star is the son of former San Francisco 49er’s back Frank Gore.
Stanford’s E.J. Smith is also on the list. Yes, that is kind of a generic name, but his given name is Emmitt James Smith III. His dad is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith.
Oddly enough, the duo of fathers played their college ball in the state of Florida, Gore at Miami and Smith at Florida, but the sons ventured to Mississippi and California to further their careers.
IS ERIC DICKERSON JEALOUS OF THIS SMU PAYDAY?
It was recently announced the Southern Methodist football players will all be earning money through their Name, Image, and Likeness.
As in $36,000 a year, paid in $3,000 monthly installments by a group called the Boulevard Collective.
To put this in perspective, according to public records, a graduate assistant coach at SMU makes $17 per hour which equates to $32,640 per year.
A sergeant in the U.S. Army with four years’ experience earns a base pay of $36,702, out-earning a second-string deep snapper by about 700 bucks.
SPEAKING OF THE MILITARY
Fans should be rooting for Coby McNeal, a defensive end at Colorado State this season.
After finishing his tour in the Marine Corps, McNeal, 26, walked onto the Rams’ football team. But that is only part of the story. When he got to Fort Collins, he did not know how to go about arranging a tryout. So, he went to the stadium each day and walked around until he could find someone who looked like they belonged in the football program.
He finally met a graduate assistant who hooked him up with a tryout. McNeal was one of 12 walk-ons for the Rams last spring. He is the only one that made the team.
Semper Fi, kid.
GO EAST TO GO WEST?
Western Kentucky lost quarterback Bailey Zappe to the NFL Draft and the Hilltoppers dipped into the transfer portal for a couple of possible replacements.
But to do it, WKU headed east, but technically west.
Jarret Doege has joined the program from West Virginia. The graduate transfer is the NCAA’s active leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns after playing at WVU and Bowling Green.
West Florida’s Austin Reed also is headed to Western Kentucky. While at UWF, he led the Argonauts to the 2019 Division II national championship while throwing for 4,089 yards and 40 touchdowns during his time there.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.