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.

Oregon reportedly poaches Wazzu assistant Jim Mastro as Ducks’ new running backs coach

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Alex Grinch isn’t the only member of Mike Leach’s staff who is ticketed out of Pullman this offseason.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman, Oregon had poached Washington State assistant Jim Mastro to be the Ducks’ new running backs coach and run game coordinator.

Mastro has been with the Cougars since joining Leach’s initial staff at Wazzu back in 2012 and has quite a bit of experience out west, including 11 seasons at Nevada and a year at UCLA. He replaces Donte Pimpleton, who followed former Oregon coach Willie Taggart to Florida State several weeks ago.

Interestingly, this is the third straight offseason that the Ducks have poached an assistant from their Pac-12 North rivals. Quarterbacks coach David Yost left for Eugene back in 2015 while Taggart hired defensive line coach Joe Salave’a last year. Mastro should have plenty to work with upon arrival with senior Tony Brooks-James and youngster Darrian Felix likely leading the way on the ground.

Kevin Sumlin brings familiar Texas A&M face with him to Arizona’s coaching staff

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Kevin Sumlin is still sorting out his new staff at Arizona but reportedly has his special teams coordinator locked up and it’s a familiar face from his previous stop in College Station.

While Texas A&M’s former special teams coordinator Jeff Banks was hired for the same position at Alabama, Sumlin has hired his No. 2 in Jeremy Springer to be the Wildcats’ new special teams coordinator, a source told Sports Illustrated this week. The trio worked together for three years with the Aggies as Springer assisted Banks in the crucial third phase of the game.

Springer was originally ticketed to join another former Sumlin assistant in David Beaty as a staffer at Kansas but instead will head west to the desert. His most recent formal title was quality control special teams/tight ends assistant at Texas A&M but he’ll be an on-field coach in Tucson.

Springer played linebacker for UTEP and is still pretty fresh-faced in the coaching profession having graduated from the school in 2011.

Tennessee still trying to remove Butch Jones billboard at Neyland Stadium… months after he was fired by the Vols

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It’s been nearly two weeks since the national championship game which means that Jeremy Pruitt has been in Knoxville as the new Tennessee head coach for some time now leading the program. Despite that fact, there’s still a visible reminder every day when he drives into work of the previous regime that was in charge of the Vols.

That’s because there’s a giant 35-by-30-foot picture of former head coach Butch Jones still up on the outside of Neyland Stadium… over two months after he was fired by Tennessee. According to the Times Free Press, the picture could even be up past signing day in February as the rather slow change is made for an item that isn’t as easy for the school to alter as the media guide is.

“That’s not an easy process,” athletic director Phillip Fulmer told Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR. “There’s mechanical things involved to get that done. It’s not just, ‘Let’s take down a picture off the wall or a graphic.’ We’re working through that.

“It is important to us, because it is important to reflect what we’re doing. It’ll be done in due time. I’ve heard the same thing from the chancellor. She wants me to speed it up, too. We will. We’ll get there.”

Funny enough, the giant picture of Jones (flanked by UT legends Reggie White and Robert Neyland) replaced an image of Fulmer from when the team won the BCS title 20 years ago. Something says they might revert back to that look with their now-AD until Pruitt can establish himself with the program over the next few years to prevent a repeat of this fiasco.

As the Times Free Press notes, it took Florida State just a week to scrub Jimbo Fisher‘s likeness from Doak Campbell Stadium but it might be three months before the Vols can do the same with their coaching change. It may not delight the fan base to see Jones some more but this is clearly one area on Rocky Top that is decidedly not moving at SEC-speed at the moment.

Arkansas DC John Chavis deal with Razorbacks reportedly includes expensive option after 2018

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Chad Morris’ first big hire upon taking over the head coaching spot at Arkansas was to bring in veteran SEC defensive coordinator John Chavis. If the pair is still together beyond the 2018 season though, it will be an expensive combination for the school based on the contract of the latter.

USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz obtained the details of Chavis new deal with the school on Friday night and notes that the longtime coach will make $995,000 for the 2018 season in Fayetteville.

While that figure for the 2018 campaign is down sharply from the $1.6 million figure he made in 2017 in the same role at Texas A&M (third highest for an assistant in the country), it should be noted that the Aggies are still on the hook for nearly $700,000 as a result of a one-year extension he signed prior to last season — resulting in the six-figure salary at Arkansas instead of hitting the million dollar mark.

If Chavis exercises the option for 2019 though, he’ll be back in the top 10 highest paid assistants once again but with Arkansas ponying up the full amount. Not bad work if you can get it after allowing 30.7 points per game the prior season.

Hopefully for the Razorbacks though, the results are more in line with the salary for Chavis and company going forward.