For Duke, spring has sprung

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(As I’m typing this, The Great American Race is being delayed — for a second time — by a pothole in the middle of the track.  Yeah, that’s exactly what NASCAR needs right now, and there will be no jokes made at their expense.  As an aside, I believe my township’s road crew has been assigned to Daytona track maintenance this year.)

It may be more than a month before winter actually turns into spring, but it hasn’t stopped at least one school from getting an early jump on the annual rite known as spring practice.

And by “an early jump”, we mean today.  As in, they started spring practice in the middle of February.

Whatever the reasoning, and regardless of whatever head-scratching comes from it, Duke is the first Div. 1-A school to officially commence their spring practice.  Again, in the middle of February.

Anyway, here’s the official release from the school chronicling the Blue Devils’ first day of spring practice.  In the middle of February.

DURHAM, N.C. – With an uncharacteristic mid-February start, the Duke football team opened spring drills on Sunday afternoon with a two-hour session in shorts and helmets at the Brooks Practice Facility.

“I was really, really thrilled with our enthusiasm, energy and body demeanor,” Cutcliffe said following the workout. “You could tell they really wanted to be out here.”

With Thaddeus Lewis lost to graduation and Sean Renfree sidelined while recovering from knee surgery, Duke is operating with two first-year quarterbacks in Sean Schroeder and January enrollee Brandon Connette. In addition to Connette, running back Josh Snead and tight end Cooper Helfet joined the Duke program for the spring semester.

“The two young quarterbacks managed practice well,” Cutcliffe noted. “I was proud of all three of our new additions. I thought that Connette, Snead and Helfet all contributed to make it a better practice.”

The Blue Devils were not fazed by the early beginning to spring practice, which saw temperatures in the low 40s on Sunday afternoon.

“It was good to get out here,” Schroeder said. “It was a good first practice. We have a lot of areas to improve on, but it was a good first day.”

Duke’s annual Spring Game is set for Saturday, March 27 at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Report: NCAA finds 13 violations against Ole Miss football, nine under Hugh Freeze

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 25:  Head coach Hugh Freeze of the Mississippi Rebels reacts to a call during the game against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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When word first broke of NCAA violations against Ole Miss, word from the Rebels’ football program was one of caution, for it was uncertain how many were targeted against football versus women’s basketball and track and field.

It appears we now know.

On Tuesday evening, the Associated Press reported the NCAA levied 13 allegations out of a possible 28 against the Ole Miss football team, nine of which occurred under the watch of head coach Hugh Freeze. However, it appears the most serious violations were either already know or took place during the Houston Nutt regime.

Included in the allegations are Laremy Tunsil‘s improper benefits, for which the left tackle already sat seven games. Also included are accusations former Nutt assistant David Saunders participated in a scheme to produce fraudulent test scores for recruits — the same allegations currently levied against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The remaining allegations, as detailed by the AP, include run-of-the-mill violations such as having the wrong people provide transportation on recruiting visits or assistant coaches making improper contact with recruits, many of which Ole Miss has already self-reported.

Half of all FBS signees lived between Texas and North Carolina

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 29: Johnny Jefferson #5 of the Baylor Bears carries while defended by Dominquie Green #26 and Des Lawrence #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first half of the Russell Athletic Bowl game at Orlando Citrus Bowl on December 29, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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ESPN recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton provided a massive public service through his Twitter account on Tuesday, releasing a data dump of fascinating information about the signing class of 2016.

In short, Texas was the most popular breeding ground for FBS prospects, but half of all signees came from a clean sweep from Texas, across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida and up to North Carolina.

The Lone Star State produced 359 players, with nearly half of those heading to Power 5 institutions. In fact, Hamilton reports, 72 of 128 FBS programs and 38 of 64 Power 5’s signed at least one player from Texas.

Florida trailed with 327 players, followed by California with 248 players and Georgia with 225. For what it’s worth, Ohio was not included in the study.

Data dump, begin!

AAC releases 2016 conference schedule

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The American Athletic Conference released its 2016 conference schedule highlighted by, oddly enough, non-conference games that pit league gem Houston against Oklahoma (on opening day at Houston’s NRG Stadium) and Louisville (in Houston on Nov. 19).

Those two games, more than any others, will sink or swim the conference’s chances of not only grabbing the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six, but a spot in the College Football Playoff itself.

The 2016 conference slate kicks off with Navy meeting Connecticut on Sept. 10 and concludes with the second annual AAC title game on Dec. 3 at a to-be-determined campus site.

The AAC led the way in scheduling Power 5 opponents — highlighted by a Week 3 schedule that will see the entire East Division punching up a weight class — and includes the likes of Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia, Syracuse, Kansas, TCU and Oklahoma (for all intents and purposes) visiting AAC campuses.

View the full AAC slate here:

 

Former Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees hired as Chargers offensive assistant

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 02: Tommy Rees #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish passes against the Navy Midshipmen at Notre Dame Stadium on November 2, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Just like we all thought when watching him play at Notre Dame, Tommy Rees will be in the NFL in 2016. Just not as a quarterback.

The San Diego Chargers announced his hiring as an obnoxiously vague offensive assistant, assisting with the club’s offense in some form that they aren’t inclined to elaborate on.

After completing a career in which he threw for 7,670 yards with 61 touchdowns against 37 interceptions from 2010-13, Rees was cut by the Washington Redskins in 2014, then spent the 2014-15 seasons as a graduate assistant at Northwestern.