Mariota, Ducks wrap up Pac-12 title, Heisman Trophy, playoff appearance


It’s been a banner year for the Oregon Ducks, and it’s only going to get better.

The first goal was checked off the list Friday when the No. 2 Ducks (12-1) claimed their second Pac-12 championship in four years with a 51-13 victory over the No. 7 Arizona Wildcats (10-3).

Each year, the primary goal for any team isn’t to win a national championship. It must first secure a conference championship. And Oregon effectively did so while rectifying the team’s only loss of the season.

Team success often comes with individual success.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is the heart and soul of the Ducks program. For three years, he’s led the program while shattering school and conference records.

Mariota posted a monster junior campaign and only added to it Friday with 313 passing yards and five total touchdowns. His performance this year is one of the record books, as FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman illustrated:

Mariota successfully threw a pass in every single game he’s played in as a member of the Oregon Ducks. He’s thrown 101 career touchdowns compared to only 12 interceptions. He broke the Pac-12 career record for most touchdowns accounted for. According to Oregon senior associate athletic director Craig Pintens, Mariota’s 53 total touchdowns are more than any of the previous four Heisman Trophy winners prior to their bowl games.

Just hand Mariota the Heisman Trophy now. Go on.

He’s ready and everything…

But a Pac-12 championship and even the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner — eventually, that is — aren’t the ultimate goal.

With their dominant victory Friday, the No. 2 Ducks clinched a spot among the final four teams in the first College Football Playoff.

The primary discussion heading into this weekend’s slate of games is whether or not Oregon deserves to be ranked No. 1 overall. The Ducks have the best non-conference win against the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans and completely controlled the Wildcats during the Pac-12 Championship Game.

The College Football Playoff committee supposedly resets the rankings each week based on what they saw during the previous weekend’s results. The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide could slide slightly if it struggles against the No. 16 Missouri Tigers in the SEC Championship Game.

In the end, it may not be all that important for the Ducks to be ranked first or second overall.

Oregon still needs two more wins to check off all of the boxes on this year’s wish list.

If the Ducks continue to play like they have over the last five games, the program could lay claim to its seventh Pac-10/12 conference championship, first Heisman Trophy and only national championship.

Miami fires offensive coordinator Josh Gattis after 1 season

josh gattis fired
Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Miami fired offensive coordinator Josh Gattis on Friday, ending the former Broyles Award winner’s time with the Hurricanes after only one season.

The school announced the move in a one-sentence press release, with no other detail: “Josh Gattis has been relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator, Miami head football coach Mario Cristobal announced Friday,” read the release, sent from a university spokesman.

The Hurricanes went 5-7 in Gattis’ lone season. He was brought in by Miami only a few weeks after winning the 2021 Broyles Award – given to the nation’s top assistant coach – while serving as Michigan’s offensive coordinator and helping the Wolverines reach the College Football Playoff.

But Miami’s offense, for a number of reasons, failed to meet expectations in 2022. Part of that was injuries; starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke battled a shoulder injury, and the Hurricanes turned to Jake Garcia – who has since transferred – and Jacurri Brown for much of the season.

Miami scored 100 points in its first two games last fall, overpowering Bethune-Cookman and Southern Miss. The Hurricanes averaged only 18.3 points the rest of the way, and finished the year 5-0 in games where the defense allowed no more than 14 points – but 0-7 when opponents scored more than 14.

Miami was 86th nationally in total offense last season, averaging 367.1 yards per game, and 97th in scoring offense.

Gattis played at Wake Forest and worked at North Carolina, Western Michigan, Vanderbilt, Penn State, Alabama and Michigan before coming to Miami.

Audit: LSU discovered $1M overpayment to Kelly in 2022

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU accidentally overpaid Tigers football coach Brian Kelly by $1 million during the first year of a 10-year, $100 million contract, but discovered the error and has moved to correct it, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office said Wednesday.

Kelly was overpaid $1,001,368 in supplemental payments in 2022 because duplicate payments made both to Kelly’s LLC and to the coach directly.

The double payments began in May and continued until LSU officials detected the errors in November.

“LSU management and the head football coach have enacted an adjusted payment schedule so the amount of overpayment will be recouped by the conclusion of fiscal year 2023,” the Legislative Auditor’s report stated.

Kelly, who previously coached at Notre Dame for 12 seasons, was hired by LSU after the 2021 season, when the Tigers went 6-7 for its first losing season since 1999.

LSU exceeded expectations in Kelly’s first season in Baton Rouge, winning the SEC West Division and finishing 10-4 after a 63-7 victory over Purdue in the Citrus Bowl.