Report recommends expansion for Big Ten

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Is an expanded Big Ten closer to becoming a reality than anyone had imagined?

Based on an article in the Chicago Tribune this morning, it certainly is.  Or, at the very least, could be.

According to the Tribune, and citing a source inside the Big Ten, an initial report commissioned by the conference recommends that the presidents should give two big thumbs up to expansion. And the reason for the recommendation is quite simple — mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money.

“The point was: We can all get richer if we bring in the right team or teams,” the source told the paper.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez stated last month that 15 schools he refused to identify were part of the initial study, but the Tribune reports that five universities were analyzed — Missouri, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Rutgers.  The Tribune wrote that the source ” called those five “‘the obvious suspects’ and cautioned that other universities could earn consideration.”

That would seem to leave the door open for the likes of Nebraska and Kansas to possibly push their way into the piles and piles of Big Ten Network money, especially if the conference were to expand beyond just 12 teams.

In an interesting side note, a separate article from the same paper lists Rutgers as offering the best package out of all of the schools involved in the initial study, followed Missouri and Pittsburgh.  Those “rankings” came from a consensus of Big Ten sources, officials from other conferences and TV executives.

Speaking to the UW athletic board on Feb. 19, Alvarez stated that a recommendation of either one or multiple schools for expansion could be made to university presidents as early as this summer.

Based on this latest report, Alvarez is looking very much Nostradamus-like these days.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.

Unitas Award whittles watch list in half down to 15

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks for an open receiver against the Texas Longhorns in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season?  Watch lists are being whittled.

The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior.  The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.

The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten.  The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).

Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah