Coach Brees: Purdue brings back QB to assist at bowl game

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Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — When Ryan Walters was a high school quarterback, he wanted to replicate Drew Brees’ trailblazing career path.

Now, Brees seems to be following Walters’ lead.

One day after the 36-year-old Walters was introduced as Purdue’s coach, athletic director Mike Bobinski announced Brees would return to the campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, as an assistant coach to help the Boilermakers prepare for their Jan. 2 Citrus Bowl game against No. 17 LSU.

“I am extremely excited to work with our team over the next few weeks as we prepare for the Citrus Bowl,” Brees said in a statement. “I see it not only as an opportunity to coach and mentor this group of young men but to represent all the former Purdue players.”

Bobinski said Brees will be a countable assistant coach under NCAA rules, allowing him to work with players on the field and help on the recruiting circuit, even though the job is, for now, temporary.

Brees is one of the most recognizable alumni of the “Cradle of Quarterbacks,” leading the Boilermakers to their last Big Ten title in 2000 before embarking on a record-breaking NFL career with the Chargers and New Orleans Saints.

Following his retirement after the 2020 season, a 20-year career that included one Super Bowl title, Brees worked briefly as a broadcaster. Saints running back Alvin Kamara, a former teammate, thinks Brees took the job for another reason.

“I think Drew’s bored. Drew, you’re bored!” Kamara joked Thursday. “I think he’ll do good.”

Brees is a familiar figure at Purdue, where he has attended games and donated millions of dollars to the athletic department, which culminated in the renaming of the athletes’ academic facility as the Brees Academic Performance Center. He’s also at the forefront of the school’s funding effort for name, image and likeness compensation for athletes.

Now, he’s moving back to campus to help the short-handed Boilermakers (8-5) after a season that saw them win their first Big Ten West Division crown and play for their first conference crown since he graduated. No. 2 Michigan beat Purdue 43-22 in the conference title game. Four assistant coaches have already followed former Boilermakers coach Jeff Brohm to Louisville.

Brohm’s younger brother, Brian, will serve as interim coach for the bowl game and co-defensive coordinator Mark Hagen will call the defensive signals against LSU (9-4). The first meeting between Purdue and LSU now features a quarterback-turned-coach who was wildly popular in Louisiana.

“When I first heard about Drew coming back to help coach our guys for the bowl game, I was hoping the rumors were true,” Walters said. “Our players have the opportunity to learn from one of the greatest leaders in football history, a valuable experience that they will never forget. I cannot wait to see him on the sidelines.”

The 12-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl 45 MVP held NFL records for completions, completion percentage, yards passing and touchdown passes when he retired and was the first quarterback in league history with 12 consecutive 4,000-yard seasons and five 5,000-yard seasons.

Now he’s trying to help the Boilermakers close out their first back-to-back nine-win seasons since 1997-98, his freshman and sophomore years.

“Being able to talk about what he’s done, talking about that with these players, I think that’ll be a big part,” Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. said. “Then, I’m sure guys hearing from Drew Brees, I’m sure that’ll be a good thing for recruiting.”

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff


CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.