Mizzou's Pinkel talks expansion, chastises Big 12 economics

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Whenever the conversation turns to Big Ten expansion, it’s inevitable that a majority of the words on the subject will revolve around the Big East generally and Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse specifically.

Then there’s the green elephant in the room — Notre Dame — whose lips say “no, we’re not shedding our football independence” but whose thighs seem to be opening ever so slightly as the inevitability of super-conferences and the reality of Big Ten money continues to dance around their heads.

Those are seemingly the four schools everyone focuses on when it comes to an expanded Big Ten.  And, to lend a level of credence to the talk, they were also four of the five schools utilized in an expansion feasibility study commissioned by the Big Ten that ultimately resulted in a recommendation to expand.

Of course, if the conference moves to 16 teams — and there’s a growing sentiment that that’s exactly where this is headed — there’d be a need for another school, assuming for this particular post the Big Ten wants and could convince the four already mentioned to jump ship.  That need brings us back to the expansion study and the fifth of the five schools utilized by the study.

Ever since the Big Ten announced way back in December it’s intentions to explore the expansion issue, Missouri — along with Nebraska and their “don’t forget about us” mantra — has been a school mentioned more times than any university other than the current “Big Four” expansion candidates.  To add further fuel to the speculative fire, neither school officials nor state government types have been the least bit shy about publicly stating they would have an interest if the league came a callin’.

Of course, the member of the football program who would be most affected by the Tigers jumping conferences would be head coach Gary Pinkel.  While lamenting what such a move would do to his ability to recruit in the state of Texas — ” You’d make it work, but it would be difficult.” — Pinkel also had pointed words for how the Big 12 doles out revenues to member schools, and hints that a move to the Big Ten might just be in the best interests of the program.

“I love the Big 12,” Pinkel told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “But there are issues, no question. The TV package (without revenue sharing), that is staggering. … It’s the right thing to do; it makes your league stronger.

“And for some reason, there are people in our league who can’t figure that out. And so that’s a problem.”

To further drive home the point, Pinkel points to Illinois, a Big Ten member and season-opening opponent for the Tigers.

“With their TV package, they’ll get $11 million more dollars this year than Missouri does in the Big 12, so the value is what it is,” Pinkel said of the Illini, emphasizing that the money is vital not merely to football but the entire athletic department. “We’ve got four more years of this contract, so Illinois, as they’re building their athletic department, that’s $44 million more. So that’s not very good for our league. For the life of me, it’s hard to understand [why the Big 12 does it this way].”

As the BcS commissioners meetings commence today, both the Big 12 and the Big East are on the verge of understanding what an economic behemoth such as the Big Ten and its TV network is all about.  And how it will very likely change the landscape of college football in very short order.

Former LSU QB Brandon Harris announces commitment to UNC

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Former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris has found himself a new home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Harris announced via Facebook and Twitter he has chosen to commit to North Carolina.

“Obviously, it has been an important time for me, looking for a great situation and another opportunity to grow as a young man and as a student as well as a football player,” Harris said in his statement. “After my [official] visit this weekend to the University of North Carolina, I’m going to get that opportunity. With that being said, I’m fully committed to UNC this upcoming year and I look forward to the opportunity to play for coach [Larry Fedora] and UNC.”

Harris will be eligible to play for UNC immediately this fall after graduating from LSU this summer, and the timing may not be better for Harris. UNC is losing its starting quarterback (Mitch Trubisky) to the NFL and has a wide open spot to fill in the starting lineup as a result. But the job will not automatically go to Harris upon his arrival at UNC after missing out on spring practices at North Carolina.

Harris played in just four games last season, in which he passed for 139 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Since the season-opener against Wisconsin, Harris was reduced to backup duty and did not play in any of LSU’s seven final games of the 2016 season, including the bowl game against Louisville. Harris announced his decision to transfer in February, which was pretty much expected given how last season played out amid a coaching change.

Report: Foot injury puts Georgia WR Riley Ridley on sideline for spring

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Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley has not been practicing this spring, but it has nothing to do with his offseason misdemeanor from a couple of weeks ago. Instead, a foot injury appears to have sidelined Ridley for the spring.

According to a report from Gridiron Now, Ridley has been out due to the foot injury. When the foot injury occurred is not reported. Even if his foot was not injured, it remains unknown if Ridley would be participating int he spring, at least at this point. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has said Ridley will be internally disciplined for his misdemeanor pot possession from earlier this month.

“He’ll receive discipline,” Smart said. “We are very disappointed in his decision. We do not condone that behavior. I think Riley is going to learn a valuable lesson from this mistake.”

When Ridley may be available again remains unknown, as does what exactly the punishment to him will be from Smart. A one-game suspension is the expected result for Ridley according to the university’s student-athlete handbook.

USF DB Hassan Childs in stable condition after overnight shooting incident

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USF defensive back Hassan Childs was injured in a shooting incident overnight. Fortunately, Childs is currently said to be in stable condition, according to USF.

“We are deeply concerned that an incident occurred overnight in which one of our guys, Hassan Childs, was injured in a shooting,” a statement from USF head coach Charlie Strong said. “Thankfully, Hassan is in stable condition and being well cared for, and no one else was injured. There is an ongoing investigation of the incident and we are in the process of gathering further information.”

The shooting took place off campus, but details about the incident have not been reported.

Childs played in eight games for the Bulls last year. He recorded 16 tackles and returned two punts for three yards in a backup role.

Turner Field on schedule to be ready for Georgia State season opener

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The Atlanta Braves opened the doors to their brand new baseball stadium over the weekend to fans as the baseball team gets ready to open the 2017 season in their new digs. Meanwhile, at the old home of the Braves, Georgia State University is moving along according to schedule in downsizing and renovating Turner Field to serve as the permanent home of the football program. So far, so good, as the university fully anticipates the stadium will be ready to go for the season opener on August 31 against Tennessee State.

The job that’s being done is incredible,” Athletic Director Charlie Cobb told 11Alive. “Each and every time I walk in, I see something new being done.”

Renovation and construction at Turner Field got started in February. The entire project will be done in phases as the university plans to develop around thew football stadium for an expanding university. As far as the stadium goes, the seating capacity will be retrofitted to hold a capacity of 23,000 fans. That will be the first phase of the master plan, with a second phase to complete building the rest of the stadium and add additional seating for fans.

“We plan on doing some unique things capturing the history of the stadium, but also creating a football facility that speaks to Georgia State,” Cobb said. “One of the stories we want to tell is the fact that it went from being an Olympic venue, to the home of the Braves, and now to the home of Georgia State. I think we can write that third chapter.”

Georgia State previously played its home games in the Georgia Dome, the now former home of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. The Falcons are also moving into a new football stadium this season. The Falcons’ new home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will also welcome some college football action to the stadium this season with the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff will move to the new stadium from the Georgia Dome. This year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff features Alabama and Florida State on September 2 and Georgia Tech and Tennessee on September 4. The SEC Championship Game and the Peach Bowl will also be hosted in the new stadium and the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played there on January 8, 2018.

Georgia State may have their new home, but perhaps one day they will get to play in the new stadium too.