Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin is beginning to be the sum of all fears for Wildcats skeptics bearing down on his credentials.
Not long after his firing at Texas A&M, a place he once helped Johnny Manziel win a Heisman Trophy, the 54-year-old Sumlin was scooped up in January by Arizona with a five-year, $14.5-million deal. The school received 6,000 new season-ticket orders, the most since 2010.
A listless 0-2 start for the first time since 1981, and with an injured Khalil Tate, Arizona officials might consider an emergency refund contingency plan.
In a return to Houston for the first time since he abruptly left after the 2011 season, Sumlin heard a smattering of boos as he brought the Wildcats onto the field Saturday. Houston proceeded to run off to a 31-0 halftime lead en route to a 45-18 victory.
“We didn’t start fast, we got behind and it took too long to get things going,” Sumlin said about Saturday’s loss but could also be saying about the season so far. “The number of plays we’re running [100 on Saturday] doesn’t equate to the point production and we have to examine that piece.”
Washington State flies Hilinski flag
Tyler Hilinski was supposed to make his first home start as Washington State’s quarterback Saturday night against San Jose State.
Instead, his parents, Mark and Kym, honored the memory of their late son by raising not the crimson Washington State flag before the game, but they also strung up a flag for the Hilinski’s Hope Foundation.
In January, 21-year-old Hilinski, a graduate of Upland High after attending Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High, committed suicide in his campus apartment. Medical examiners found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease.
The final game that Hilinski played was the Holiday Bowl in December, starting for the injured Luke Falk, completing 39 of 50 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns in the Cougars’ 42-17 loss to Michigan State.
After his death, his parents started the Newport Beach-based Hilinski’s Hope Foundation to address mental health issues among Division I athletes. Their oldest son, Kelly, played quarterback at Weber State and their youngest, Ryan, a senior at Orange Lutheran High, is committed to playing at South Carolina.
Fans waved small red towels with a white “3,” Hilsinki’s number at Washington State, during the game.
Cost of doing business
According to USA Today information that was retrieved through the Freedom of Information Act, about $175 million will exchange hands between the haves and the have-nots to pad nonconference schedules in 2018, most notably during the first few weeks of September.
Kent State, for example, will extract $3.65 million in appearance fees by traveling to, and almost winning at, Illinois in Week 1, then trekking to Penn State next week and Mississippi after that.
A Week 2 schedule dotted with far more David-versus-Goliath matchups included these bank deposits:
-- Arkansas State, which received $1.3 million to open at USC in 2016 and take a 55-6 beating, collected $1.7 million to go to Alabama and become bowling pins during a 57-7 folly.
-- Western Michigan took $1.2 million from No. 21 Michigan for participating in a 49-3 recreation of an actual game. Michigan, by the way, will give away $4.6 million for its nonconference schedule.
-- New Mexico pocketed $1.2 million for letting No. 5 Wisconsin to record a 45-14 stomping, allowing the Badgers to preserve a 41-game home nonconference winning streak, the longest streak active in the FBS.
Then there’s Portland State, part of the FBS’ Big Sky Conference, a program that the school president once warned could be dropped if it wasn’t self-sufficient.
Portland State coach Bruce Barnum seemed more than OK going to Eugene, Ore., to fill a value menu item for Oregon and absorb a 62-14 thrashing.
After losing 38 games in a row against Big Ten Conference opponents, Eastern Michigan has posted two victories in a row after a 20-19 escape at Purdue on a last-second 25-yard field goal by freshman Chad Ryland.
The Eagles also ran home with a $550,000 payout.
Last September, Eastern Michigan outlasted Rutgers 16-13. Warning to the rest of the Big Ten: The Eagles’ future schedules include visits to Illinois next season and Wisconsin in 2021.
Ball State, which received $1.1 million for becoming NBC national TV cohosts for No. 8 Notre Dame, instead showed that a 34-point spread didn’t make them a not-ready-for-prime-time Saturday night player in the schools’ first meeting.
The Irish required two interceptions by Jalen Elliott that were converted into touchdowns to provide the cushion in a 24-16 win at South Bend, Ind., over the Mid-American Conference foes from nearby Muncie, Ind., who have only nine seniors on their roster.
A wrap for Reynolds
USC can lionize John Wayne. UCLA will embrace Mark Harmon.
When it comes to a college football program repped on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Florida State is blessed with Burt Reynolds.
In a game against FCS Samford at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., delayed by dangerous weather, the Seminoles team wore a “BAN ONE” sticker on their helmets – a reference to the license plate on the Trans Am that Reynolds drove in the 1977 movie “Smokey and the Bandit.”
Reynolds, who died at age 82 this week in Florida, ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries in his 1954 freshman season, and also had four catches for 76 yards. He suffered a knee injury that cut the season short, and he missed the ‘55 season after surgery. He went back to play in ’57 but another injury aggravated the knee issue. So he dropped out of FSU and became a drama major at Palm Beach Junior College.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports that Miami’s 77-0 win over Savannah State covers the largest point spread in college football history – the Hurricanes were 64-point favorites. Miami also defeated Savannah State 77-7 in 2013, also covering a 60-point spread …
South Florida’s 5-foot-7 freshman Terrence Horne scored on first-quarter kickoff returns of 98 and 97 yards against Georgia Tech, tying an NCAA record held by 19 others. He ended up with five returns for 264 yards …
During Liberty’s 38-14 loss at Army, Flames freshman redshirt punter Aidan Alves was ejected for targeting after leading with the crown of his helmet on a tackle against the Black Knights’ Mike Reynolds on a first-quarter return. Liberty’s Austin Lewis was also ejected for a fourth-quarter targeting call. …