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    Downs & Distance

    Coast Guard coach dodges furlough penalty

    Jim McBride’s four items of interest on this week’s college football landscape:

    Dirty laundry

    This federal government shutdown is a complete mess, with scores of employees forced to take furlough days (which are a slap in the face) while Congress tries to get its act together. Among those affected are the hundreds of players at Army, Navy, and Air Force, who were in limbo all week. One team that hasn’t been affected is the Coast Guard Bears, who will play their game against Western New England because coach Bill George teaches at the school so he’s exempt from furloughs. But George has had to take on additional duties, including washing the team’s uniforms. “I told the team, ‘Too many of you guys are putting your own stuff in there.’ My top receiver had five pairs of skivvies in there.” Maybe George would have preferred a furlough.

    Bye week

    A couple of Division 1 coaches lost their jobs in the past week, and while neither move was stunning — honestly, smarmy Lane Kiffin might have worn out his welcome at Southern Cal moments after arriving on campus — it was a mild surprise to see Connecticut send Paul Pasqualoni packing in midseason. If only the Huskies had held that late lead and pulled off an upset of Michigan (a 24-21 loss Sept. 21), Pasqualoni might still be roaming the sidelines at Rentschler Field. There’s another big change on tap at UConn as interim coach T.J. Weist will install prized freshman Tim Boyle at quarterback (supplanting Chandler Whitmer) for the next game, Oct. 12 vs. South Florida. Boyle, who starred at Xavier High in Middletown, Conn., was originally a Boston College commit.

    Cheap trick

    Purdue receivers B.J. Knauf and Jordan Woods got themselves some ink this week. Unfortunately, it was on the police blotter and not the sports section. The two, apparently not happy with the current “lowest sale price of the season” campaign at Kohl’s, allegedly stole two tie bars worth a whopping $20 apiece. The two were charged with theft and released after posting $505 bail (no word on whether they tried to use Kohl’s Cash for the transaction). Boilermakers coach Darrell Hazell originally said he would let the legal process play out before doling out any punishment. But he has since suspended them indefinitely. Can’t imagine Hazell wants to keep two guys who think it’s a good idea to risk their futures over a $20 tie bar.

    Review these calls


    Every once in a while, you hear a story about overzealous fans wreaking havoc on the college football landscape — you know, like the tales of the crazies who slap up a makeshift “For Sale” sign on the coach’s lawn after a tough loss (we hear Mack Brown has enough of them in his garage to build a Texas-sized bonfire). But there was a particularly disturbing story out of Blacksburg, Va., where Virginia Tech kicker Cody Journell received threatening calls and tweets after his team beat Georgia Tech, 17-10. The threats — which Journell wouldn’t elaborate on other than to say he was “freaked out” that somebody tracked down his cell number — are reprehensible acts of cowardice; the callers blocked their own number. Here’s hoping law enforcement can trace the number and justice can be served.

    Jim McBride can be reached at