Max Duggan exceling for No. 13 TCU after he lost starting QB job

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

FORT WORTH, Texas — Max Duggan has certainly surprised new TCU coach Sonny Dykes, who has even gotten emotional talking about the fourth-year quarterback who went from losing his job to being one of nation’s most efficient passers.

The coach’s feelings aren’t really about the impressive numbers Duggan is now putting up for the undefeated 13th-ranked Horned Frogs. They are for how he responded – or, more accurately, didn’t respond – after the new coaching staff went into this season with a different starter than the guy who had been QB1 for TCU most of the past three seasons.

“Yes, he has surprised me, and not as a player, but I just think the entirety of kind of his experience” Dykes said this week. “There’s all this stuff that typically happens when a guy loses a job, and especially someone who’s played as much football as Max. Well, none of that happened.”

While Duggan was disappointed in himself when he didn’t win the starting job through spring and preseason practice – redshirt freshman Chandler Morris started the opener before getting hurt – he was unlike so many other Power Five quarterbacks in that position. Duggan didn’t jump into the transfer portal.

“Everybody wants to play, everybody wants to be the guy. But, you know, I got over it,” said Duggan, who is on track to graduate from TCU’s business school in December. “I didn’t feel sorry for myself, I didn’t pout. I knew that wasn’t going to help the team, so I didn’t really worry too much about it.”

With the Frogs (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) preparing to host eighth-ranked Oklahoma State (5-0, 2-0) in a matchup of the league’s only undefeated teams, Duggan has completed 93 of 127 passes (career-best 73%) for 1,305 yards with a league-best 14 touchdowns and one interception. His 194.35 passing efficiency rating is second only to Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, an early Heisman Trophy favorite.

“I would say he’s throwing the ball way better. His intermediate, his quick game and his deep ball has gotten more accurate,” third-year Oklahoma State cornerback Jabbar Muhammad said.

Duggan trails only Cowboys senior Spencer Sanders in the Big 12 for total yards per game (327 to 301.8) and passing yards (278.8 to 261). Those numbers include Duggan’s 68 total yards when he took over after Morris sprained his left knee late in the third quarter of the opener at Colorado. In his four starts, the TCU senior has averaged 360 total yards and 319.5 yards passing with all 17 of his TDs (14 passing, three rushing).

“Everybody feeds off his energy,” senior receiver Taye Barber said.

While staying focused in the moment, a level-headed Duggan isn’t ready yet to reflect on how his senior season has gone, or a career with 33 starts so far. The Iowa Gatorade player of the year and a four-star recruit before joining the Frogs, he became their starter the final 10 games as a true freshman in 2019.

“I just want to win. … I want to see the guys have a good time, make sure we finish the season on top,” he said.

Dykes said Duggan just keeps getting better in practice and games, continually making throws the coach has never seen him make in the system that encourages smart and aggressive plays.

Still, that isn’t what Dykes was talking about when he got emotional after the Frogs wrapped up non-conference play with a win at SMU, the team he coached the past four years. He expressed being as proud of Duggan as any player he has ever had.

“He loses his job, which is really hard. He’s getting ready to be a senior, it’s his last year. Then he never blinks. He never had a bad practice, he never pouted, he never thought of himself one time,” Dykes said. “How many people can you say that about, that you know in your life? I mean truly, how many people can say that about? And you can say it about Max Duggan, that’s for sure. … I’m incredibly indebted, incredibly proud.”

Dykes went to explain his reaction as being because Duggan acted “the way you would want your son to handle that situation.”

TCU basketball coach Jamie Dixon, preparing his own team for what is expected to be a pretty good season, has also been impressed.

“I think the quarterback’s story is just unbelievable,” Dixon said. “Guys transfer when they’re second string, and this guy stayed. And to play this well, it’s a great story of Max.”

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields

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ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.