UNLV fires Marcus Arroyo after 7-23 record

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LAS VEGAS — When UNLV began this season 4-1, coach Marcus Arroyo‘s job security wasn’t in question.

Then the Rebels lost six games in a row to seemingly fall out of bowl contention, and even a victory over their biggest rival wasn’t enough to save Arroyo’s job.

Just two days after UNLV defeated Nevada 27-22, athletic director Erick Harper announced his decision to move on from Arroyo, who went 7-23 over three seasons.

Arroyo had two years left on his $7.7 million contract. Harper said Arroyo would be paid a $2.3 million buyout over the remainder of that term. UNLV spokesman Andy Grossman said the money for the buyout would be privately raised.

“Anyone coaching Division I football, Division II, Division III, it does not matter, the ultimate goal is to win and win consistently,” Harper said.

Arroyo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Associate head coach and linebackers coach Kenwick Thompson will serve as the interim coach if UNLV, which is 5-7, is invited to a bowl. The Rebels could play in the postseason because there might not be enough six-win teams to fill all the bowl slots.

Harper said he would not use a firm to conduct the search, and that he prefers a candidate with head coaching experience.

“That is a big key to the learning curve,” Harper said.

Such a criteria could make Bryan Harsin an attractive candidate. Harsin was fired in just his second season at Auburn, but he went 69-19 over seven seasons at Mountain West rival Boise State and was ranked in the final AP poll four times.

No matter who follows Arroyo, that coach will be the latest to try to turn around a program that has made just four bowl appearances in its history, the last in the 2013 season at the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

UNLV has undergone consistent turnover because of the lack of success, though Arroyo’s three-year tenure ties for the program’s shortest since Ron Meyer in 1973-75. Meyer left to become the coach at SMU after going 27-8.

Arroyo was the 12th coach in the history of the program, which dates to 1968.

“There’s been turnover at the athletic director’s position,” Harper said. “There’s been turnover in the (university) presidential position. There has been turnover in other areas of this department. That revolving door has to stop, and to do that, we have to be in lockstep together at all times.”

Harper said UNLV now has something substantial to offer candidates with the $35 million Fertitta Football Complex where the team trains to the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium where it plays.

“There is a lot of interest across the board, and we’re going to pick the best person possible for our program,” Harper said.

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

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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.