'Worst of the Weak' — Michigan back at No. -1

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No. -10 The Oh-for-Nines . . . Eastern Michigan, Rice, Western Kentucky and New Mexico are all still streaking toward perfection! Eastern Michigan made quick work of itself in a 50-6 loss to Northern Illinois. Rice actually held a first-quarter lead at SMU, before handling its business and losing 31-28. Western Kentucky embarrassed Troy, trailing by just a point at halftime, but eventually got doubled up, 40-20, and finally got head coach David Elson (pictured) BLOUNTlegarrette.jpg

No. -6 The reinstatement of LeGarrette Blount . . . Everyone was in full agreement over the season-long suspension handed to the Oregon running back, who coldcocked Boise State defensive end Byron Hout in addition to other acts of mayhem following an embarrassing season-opening loss to the Broncos. We didn’t hear any opinions to the contrary when that whole thing went down. Therefore, it has to make this list when Blount is back for the final three games of the regular season and possibly the Rose Bowl. Time usually heals all wounds in this forgiving society and that’s a good thing, but the revision of the original decision is fundamentally weak.

No. -5 Wyoming . . . The Cowboys experienced their worst loss since 1985 last Saturday, getting blown up by BYU, 52-0, in Laramie. It was Wyoming’s second shutout loss in its current three-game slide. The Cowboys’ new head coach Dave Christensen, who was previously the offensive coordinator at Missouri, doesn’t seem to have many answers. Wyoming has beaten three FBS teams this season, but the combined record of those teams (UNLV, Florida Atlantic and New Mexico) is 6-21.

No. -4 SEC officials . . . Yes, it’s the same old story every week and we’re tired of it too. But these guys are so crooked we can’t ignore them even though we desperately want to. The shameless way they denied LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson his fourth-quarter interception boggles the mind. The officials on the field thoroughly botched the call, not making a decision immediately and then were unable to fully communicate to the crowd what they had determined before turning it over to the replay officials upstairs. The bozos in the booth fouled things up even worse, somehow discounting clear evidence, showing that Peterson did indeed have possession of the football while having, not just one, but two feet inbounds. At this point, we are left to assume that the SEC may eventually resort to shaving points off the scoreboard when nobody’s looking if a game might somehow jeopardize a $17 million check.

No. -3 USA Today Coaches’ Poll . . . Enough is enough. Make the ballots public (like the AP Top 25), so that we can see all of the idiots coaches who contributed to USC (No. 10) being ranked six spots ahead of Oregon (No. 16), which destroyed the Trojans, 47-20, two weeks ago in Eugene. We’re aware that the BCS Standings, Harris Interactive Poll and AP Top 25 also got those two Pac-10 teams mixed up by four, four and three spots, respectively (No. 9 USC, No. 13 Oregon; No. 10 USC, No. 14 Oregon; No. 11 USC, No. 14 Oregon). But at least we’re able to identify the dopey media people who voted that way and we know the BCS computers didn’t stay up late to see how horrible the Trojans looked during their dreary 14-9 victory at Arizona State last Saturday night.

No. -2 Notre Dame . . . Absorbing an embarrassing upset at home doesn’t get you a free pass into this ranking of the truly rank. If it did, we wouldn’t have weekly room for the latest crime committed by shady SEC officials or clueless poll voting coaches. What does automatically qualify a team for inclusio
n are instances when a service academy openly treats a tradition-rich national power as “just another team.” Navy did just that last weekend, walking into Notre Dame Stadium like it owned the place and waltzing out with a routine victory. As long as bowling over the Fighting Irish in South Bend is far easier than beating Temple in Annapolis, Charlie Weis’ boys have a spot reserved here.

And finally, the absolute “Worst of the Weak” . . .

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No. -1 Michigan . . . Easily retaining the top-ranking they earned last week, the Wolverines are now a lock to go bowl-less for the second year in a row thanks to their loss at home to lowly Purdue last Saturday. Michigan hasn’t beaten a FBS team since September, and that was Indiana, so that barely counts as its only Big Ten victory. Allowing the Boilermakers to rack up 38 points and 494 total yards was absolutely incomprehensible. In a 37-0 loss at Wisconsin the previous week, Purdue gained only 141 yards. Since we already know that defensive coordinator Greg Robinson (pictured) is done in Ann Arbor, where is he going to get fired from next year?

Texas JUCO reported landing spot for former four-star Auburn DT

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A little over a month after leaving The Plains, Antwuan Jackson has reportedly settled on a new college football home.

Citing multiple sources familiar with the situation, 247Sports.com is reporting that Jackson has signed with Blinn Community College in Texas.  The defensive tackle will play for the JUCO this season, with his eyes set on a return to the FBS level, perhaps as early as December.

On his Twitter account earlier Monday, Jackson hinted at an unspecified development regarding his football future.

In mid-May, Jackson announced his decision to transfer from Auburn. AU blocked him from transferring to a handful of schools he had requested, including Ohio State. It’s believed the Buckeyes have emerged as the favorites to land the lineman when he jumps back to the FBS level.

Jackson was a four-star member of AU’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 7 defensive tackle in the country; the No. 5 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 49 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only three players in the Tigers’ class that year were rated higher.

As a true freshman last season, Jackson took a redshirt.

Nova, Auburn’s live eagle mascot, grounded for 2017 season

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Auburn will be forced to go to a backup when it comes to its famed pregame mascot flights.

The university announced Monday that’s live eagle mascot, War Eagle VII, has ben grounded for the entire 2017 season.  The university stated that its College of Veterinary Medicine faculty diagnosed the 18-year-old golden eagle with cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease of the heart.

The diagnosis was made following what was described as a routine checkup.

Below are the comments of the veterinarians in charge of the care of an eagle who has been a part of gamedays on The Plains since 2004.

Nova has been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, indicated by an enlarged left ventricle, decreased systolic function and supraventricular premature complexes (arrhythmia),” said Dr. Seth Oster, an avian veterinarian at the raptor center and the college’s Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital.

“These areas of constriction can increase the systolic pressure of the heart so that Nova’s heart has to pump harder to move blood around his body,” said Oster. “This type of problem could have multiple causes, the most common of which in birds is atherosclerosis.”

“Vessels that are constricted, like those that are seen in Nova’s scan, can have dangerous complications when put under increased stress from exercise,” said Dr. Seung-Woo Jung, an assistant professor of cardiology in the Department of Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine. “This includes aneurysm or clot formation that could lead to vascular rupture, stroke, aortic thromboembolism or heart attack.

The release added that due to “the risk of severe medical complications, veterinary medical staff decided that Nova should not be placed in situations that cause his heart to work harder than usual, including flying in the stadium before each game.”

With War Eagle VII sidelined, pregame duties will fall to Spirit.

Spirit is the only bald eagle that has ever flown in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Her first game flight was in 2002, and she is recognizable by her bright white head and tail feathers. In 1995, Spirit was discovered as an injured fledgling in Florida. She came to Auburn in 1998 and joined the educational collection at the Southeastern Raptor Center. Her damaged beak makes her non-releasable.

Report: Baylor set to release information on sexual assault reports

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Apparently, transparency is no longer such a four-letter word in Waco.  Somewhat.

Citing a brief filed in court Friday by attorneys representing Baylor, the Waco Tribune is reporting that “[g]eneral information behind every alleged sexual assault reported to Baylor University since 2003 will soon be released by the school.” The university is currently in the process of putting together spreadsheets that will shed light on the incidents over the last decade and a half.

Per the Tribune, below are the parameters of the information that will be included in the spreadsheets.

  • Date of alleged assault
  • Date alleged assault was reported to Baylor employee
  • Whether alleged victim was Baylor student
  • Gender of alleged victim
  • Gender of alleged assailant
  • Whether Baylor knew the identity of alleged victim
  • Whether Baylor knew the identity of alleged assailant
  • Whether alleged victim asked Baylor to keep the alleged assailant’s identity confidential
  • Location of alleged assault
  • How Baylor learned of alleged assault
  • Specific offices or type of Baylor personnel who were made aware of alleged assault
  • Disposition of complaint

Information that appears will be noticeably absent?  Whether or not the assailants were Bears football players at the time..

In mid-May of this year, BU was served notice that it is being sued by a former BU volleyball player, only identified as “Jane Doe,” who claims that she was gang-raped by as many as eight then-Bears football players in 2012.  That was at least the seventh Federal Title IX lawsuit filed in connection to the sexual assault scandal that rocked the university and cost several high-profile officials their jobs, including head football coach Art Briles, nearly a year ago.

That latest filing came a little over two months after the Texas Rangers confirmed that it had commenced a preliminary investigation centered on how the university, the football program and campus police handled allegations of sexual assault made against student-athletes, most notably members of the football team.  The confirmation of that probe came a little over a month after details in one of the handful of federal lawsuits the university is facing emerged, with that suit alleging 31 Bears football players had committed 52 acts of rape over a period of four years beginning in 2011; in late March, BU sought to have that suit dismissed.

Outside of the federal lawsuits and Department of Education Title IX investigation, two former Bears football players have been convicted of sexual assault that were committed while they were members of the football team.  Several other players were accused of committing either sexual assault or violence — or both — while playing for Briles.

None of Briles’ assistants were dismissed along with the head coach as a result of the scandal even as an independent review into the football program’s handling of sexual assault accusations showed that “members of the Baylor coaching staff chose not to report incidents of sexual violence involving football players, [instead] meeting directly with those filing complaints of sexual abuse and handling their own investigations outside of university policy to discredit the complainants, thus denying them the right to a fair investigation by the university.”

In early February of this year, the Big 12 announced that it will withhold 25 percent of future revenue payments to BU, only releasing the monies “pending the outcome of third-party verification review of required changes to Baylor’s athletics procedures and to institutional governance of its intercollegiate athletics programs, among other matters.”

In the same brief filed late last week, the university again confirmed that it is the subject of “an ongoing, pending investigation” by the NCAA.

Florida makes signings of ex-Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire, former Clemson OL Jake Fruhmorgen official

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Two Power Five transfer players are officially Florida Gators.

Monday, the Gators confirmed that offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen and quarterback Malik Zaire have enrolled in classes at the university.  Zaire was given his unconditional release from Notre Dame in late November and, after awaiting the SEC’s tweaking of its graduate transfer policy, confirmed his move to UF earlier this month, while Fruhmorgen left Clemson in mid-January before two months later revealing that Gainesville would serve as his next college football home.

As Zaire is coming to the Gators as a grad transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017 and is looked upon as a potential, or even likely starter under center.  Fruhmorgen will have to sit out the 2017 season, but will then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.

Zaire started three games during his time with the Fighting Irish — the first in the Music City Bowl win over LSU following the 2014 season then the first two games of the 2015 season before an ankle injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.  He played in eight games last season as the backup to DeShone Kizer.

Fruhmorgen didn’t play another game last season after suffering a shoulder injury in late October. While the injury kept him out of a couple of games, he missed the latter quarter of the regular season, as well as the postseason, dealing with unspecified personal issues that kept him away from the team.

Prior to all of that, the true sophomore had started the first eight games of the 2016 season at right tackle.

A four-star 2015 signee, Fruhmorgen was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Florida. As a true freshman, the 6-5, 290-pound lineman played in 11 games, starting one of those contests.