Nebraska’s Frost says he and new OC Whipple on same page

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Embattled Nebraska coach Scott Frost said there is no tension between him and new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple following the Cornhuskers’ season-opening loss to Northwestern in Ireland.

Frost, 15-30 over five seasons, said in his remarks minutes after the 31-28 loss that the Huskers need to be more creative on offense and the coaching staff must work together better.

His comments were interpreted in some quarters as criticism of Whipple, who took over the play-calling duties from Frost when he was hired away from Pittsburgh.

Asked at his weekly news conference if he and Whipple were at odds, Frost said, “No, not at all. He’s really smart. Really good at what he does. We have a lot of other coaches who are really smart and good at what they do. We need to find our rhythm of putting all the best stuff together. I thought it was good on Saturday. It can be better.”

Whipple is scheduled to meet with the media Wednesday. The Huskers play North Dakota this weekend.

Frost had called plays for nearly a decade, since his time as an assistant at Oregon, and he understands the singular focus the task requires.

“Simply said, if I was calling a game, I wouldn’t want somebody else shoving a lot of stuff down my throat,” he said. “You get in a rhythm as a play-caller. That’s the approach I took. Whip’s an elite play-caller. I think that showed up in the first two-and-a-half quarters. You see what can be done with this offense.”

In the first half, the Huskers’ offense was as sharp as it’s been at any point in the Frost era. But it bogged down in the middle of the third quarter and never recovered, and the running game did next to nothing besides Anthony Grant‘s 46-yard touchdown run.

Frost has taken full blame for his ill-advised call for an onside kick when the Huskers led Northwestern 28-17 in the third quarter. The Wildcats recovered at the Nebraska 44, seized the momentum and scored two touchdowns while the Huskers’ offense went dormant.

Frost raised eyebrows with two postgame comments. First, he said, “I think we’re going to have to learn as an offensive staff that you’ve got to be a little creative in this league.”

Later, he acknowledged it’s been difficult for him to give up play-calling.

“I’ve said this, there’s no one way to do things, but I think we can cooperate a little bit more,” he said.

The Huskers rushed for only 110 yards, mostly on plays run between the tackles.

“In the Big Ten it’s hard to just turn around and hand it to a back and think you’re going to be real consistent,” he said Tuesday. “I think I was referring (in the Saturday postgame) to having a few more things in the run game that are schemed for the particular opponent.”

There was one designed run for quarterback Casey Thompson, his 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and backup Logan Smothers entered for one play and carried for 7 yards.

Asked if he would have liked to run the quarterback more, Frost said, “We did run some of it. If I was calling it, maybe we’d call a little more, but I also wouldn’t have been able to call the things (Whipple) did to score us the first 28 points. It’s going to have to be a marriage of different things and I think we’ll continue to get better at that.”

The Huskers finished with 465 yards, but they netted just 84 on their last six possessions.

“It was 75 plays on offense, and not a lot of complaints about the play calls from my end,” said Thompson, who passed for 355 yards. “I think every run and pass play we could have executed. We have to make a few changes and adjustments.”

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.