Making the morning rounds.
• We hardly knew ye? Part one. "A source inside the Oregon football program" told The Oregonian Wednesday that — as expected — All-American tailback LaMichael James has decided to skip his senior season for April's NFL Draft. At 195 pounds, questions about James' size at the next level may drop him out of the first round. But he's not getting any bigger, and there are certainly no doubts about his production: He goes into the Rose Bowl with school records for rushing yards and touchdowns and as the career rushing leader among active players, all in just three years.
Size notwithstanding, there should also be few questions about James' durability. He's averaged more than 22 touches per game for a team that routinely wins by huge margins, and has missed a grand total of two games to injury — both on the heels of a ghastly elbow dislocation in October that everyone assumed would end his season, until he showed up as usual at the postgame press conference to shrug it off. [The Oregonian]
• We hardly knew ye? Part two. Another Pac-12 star who looks like he's on his way out: USC defensive end Nick Perry, a first-team all-conference pick who led the league in sacks and has now reportedly signed with an agent, according to Sports Illustrated draft analyst Tony Pauline. If Perry opted to return next year — not an option if he's already signed with an agent — he'd give the Trojans nine returning starters on defense opposite an offense scheduled to return ten, pending the decisions of the Big Two, left tackle Matt Kalil and quarterback Matt Barkley. [Orange County Register, @Tony Pauline]
• Let me know if you need anything else. As expected, Fresno State introduced Tim DeRuyter as its new head coach Wednesday, and his goals are clear: a) Build a championship team, b) Win over the hearts and minds of the San Joaquin Valley, c) Play tough, physical, fundamental football, and d) Install an up-tempo spread offense. Got that? Good. In the meantime, DeRuyter is going to be back in the Lone Star State to finish his stint as Texas A&M's defensive coordinator/interim head coach in the Car Care Bowl of Texas. [Associated Press, TheBulldogReport.com]
• I was only joking… unless you're into it. To hear him tell it, Gus Malzahn had no intention of selling himself for the Arkansas State job last week when he called his old friend, ASU athletic director Dean Lee, to offer a little advice about the position. And Lee had no intention of selling Arkansas State to Malzahn. So how did Malzahn end up taking a pay cut to become Arkansas State's new head coach? It just… well, it just sort of happened. "Initially, I was planning on giving some feedback," Malzahn said Wednesday. "Then, I don't know, the conversation just went the other way. In a hurry." [ArkansasSports360.com]
• Flattery will get you everywhere. There's still no indication which way newly minted superstar Robert Griffin III is leaning re: staying for another year of ceaseless adulation at Baylor or moving on to the systematic humiliation of the NFL meat market. Three guesses which path Baylor fans advised him to take during Wednesday night's basketball game against Bethune-Cookman:
Griffin then proceeded to score 23 second half points against the Wildcats, punctuated by a 360 dunk at the end of a fast break, just because he likes goofing around like that. [BaylorAthletics]
Quickly… South Carolina issues a 111-page response to the NCAA. … Turner Gill is named the new head coach at Liberty University. … Charlie Weis will be making $2.5 million a year in Gill's old job, plus incentives. … Weis tells the Chicago Tribune he'd been "offered multiple head coaching jobs" before accepting the Kansas job. Not one. Multiple. … One year after blowing up the West side, TCU begins demolishing the East side of Amon G. Carter Stadium. … And for his next attempt to remedy a dysfunctional locker room, Randy Edsall is expected to hire Mike Locksley as Maryland's new offensive coordinator. I don't see any way that could possibly go wrong.