Kansas rewards Leipold with extension through 2027 season

Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas added an additional year to football coach Lance Leipold‘s contract Thursday that will keep him on the sideline through the 2027 season, a reward for a two-win first year that raised hopes for a long-awaited turnaround.

Leipold was hired last year, shortly after the Jayhawks parted with Les Miles following a winless season and amid sexual harassment allegations from his time at LSU. And despite never having an opportunity to put together a full recruiting class or working with his team in spring football, Leipold’s progress was evident in a late-season upset of Texas.

Leipold’s original contract was a $16.5 million, six-year pact that paid him $2.2 million in its initial season with annual $200,000 increases. He also would earn $50,000 for finishing in the Top 25, earning Big 12 coach of the year or winning seven regular-season games; $75,000 for reaching a certain academic benchmark; $100,000 for qualifying for a bowl game; and $500,000 if the Jayhawks would play for a national title.

“This is a statement about our exceptional confidence in Lance, his outstanding staff and the unlimited potential of Kansas football,” said Jayhawks athletic director Travis Goff, who was hired shortly before he chose Leipold as his coach.

“When you consider he and his staff did not arrive until May (2021), and therefore did not have a chance to coach our guys until August last year, the 2021 season could be considered `Year 0,”‘ Goff explained. “Given the progress that’s been made both on and off the field in such short order, I could not feel more strongly about the trajectory of this program.”

Kansas opens this season Friday night against Tennessee Tech.

Leipold was a popular pick among Kansas fans because of his Midwest pedigree, small-town roots and ability to build a program. He won six Division III national championships in eight seasons at Wisconsin-Whitewater, then proved he could win at the Division I level when he spent three years rebuilding Buffalo, followed by three straight bowl games.

Along with upsetting the Longhorns last season, the Jayhawks put a scare into Oklahoma and lost one-possession games to TCU and West Virginia – further evidence that the culture Leipold was trying to build had taken root.

Earlier this week, Leipold showed his affinity for the Jayhawks by announcing an endowment fund established along with his wife to provide financial support for an on-field graduate assistant for the football program.

“It shows, I think, our commitment and our appreciation,” Leipold said. “We’re going to need a lot from everybody and you have to do it yourself sometimes. We’ve tried to do certain things at each stop because we think it’s important. The timing of the year, that didn’t play a part in our thought process at all. We’re just happy we could do it.”

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.