NCAA on realignment? It's none of our business

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Much like they were when the ACC began in 2003 what would ultimately become a three-school raid of the Big East, the NCAA has been completely and totally silent when it comes to the latest — and what will arguably be the most historic shift when it’s all said and done — round of expansion.

So, if you’re expecting the governing body of collegiate sports to step at any point in the near or distant future, you’re likely wasting your time.

The NCAA did release a statement late last night regarding the expansion issue, and made it perfectly clear — they’re watching this one on the sidelines, right along with you, me and everyone else.

Here’s the statement, in its entirety, from NCAA interim president Jim Isch:

Much has been and will be written regarding conference realignment. Some “experts” have questioned where the NCAA is in this process. The answer is the NCAA is exactly where it should be–not directly in the discussion but standing ready to work with the conferences when realignment is finalized.

In reality there is neither historical precedent nor legislative authority for the NCAA to be involved in conference matters such as these. Realignment and conference expansion is solely between the individual institutions and the conferences. Over the last two decades there have been about 30 conference realignments and none involved direct discussions with the NCAA. However, we are closely monitoring the developments and potential impacts. By doing so we ensure the most appropriate and responsive support to our membership.

This same philosophy was exhibited in the last round of major conference movement seven years ago when Miami (Florida), Virginia Tech and Boston College left the Big East for the ACC and set off a chain of movement that affected four other conferences.

The NCAA’s core mission — to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of higher education and to ensure the student-athlete is at the forefront of everything we do remains unchanged. We believe that is a mission shared with conferences and our member institutions. As the conference landscape unfolds in the near future, the NCAA will be an active partner with our member schools and conferences to ensure maximum participation and education opportunities and a fair playing field for more than 400,000 student-athletes who compete in NCAA sports.

Clemson QB Tucker Israel enters his name in graduate transfer market

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Tucker Israel has yet to see significant action during his time at Clemson. With Kelly Bryant coming back and No. 1 quarterback recruit Trevor Lawrence joining the roster, that wasn’t likely to change.

So Israel (the non-Deshaun Watson player pictured above) is leaving.

“My time here at Clemson will always hold a special plate in my heart,” Israel said in a Twitter post released by the school. “I enjoyed every minute being here & thank Coach Swinney for believing in me. After much consideration, I plan on transferring upon getting my degree from this amazing university.”

A former 3-star recruit, Israel redshirted in 2015, threw four passes in 2016 and did not play in 2017. The Orlando, Fla., native will have two years of eligibility remaining upon arriving at his new destination.

Shane Beamer reportedly leaving Georgia for Oklahoma

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After you beat them, join them? Georgia special teams coordinator Shane Beamer is on his way to Oklahoma to become an offensive assistant coach at Oklahoma, according to multiple reports on Monday.

At Georgia, Beamer held the role of special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. At Oklahoma, it is reported Beamer will take on an assistant head coach title and assist head coach Lincoln Riley in preparing the offensive game plan for the Sooners. Beamer was with the Georgia staff for two years under Kirby Smart after leaving Virginia Tech to join the coaching staff in Athens.

Beamer is the son of former Virgina Tech head coach Frank Beamer. Georgia defeated Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, which was a semifinal game for the College Football Playoff last season.

There is no update on how Smart will replace Beamer on his coaching staff at this time, but Dawg Nation notes Georgia has already lost special teams advisor Scott Fountain to join the coaching staff at Mississippi State.

 

Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Saquon Barkley among Lombardi Award finalists

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The list of Lombardi Award candidates has been whittled down to a list of seven select finalists for this year’s award. A week after a list of 21 candidates was unveiled, only seven remain after a panel of voters cast their initial ballots for the award.

2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love of Stanford, and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville highlight the list of finalists for the Lombardi Award. Other finalists include Saquon Barkley of Penn State, Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama, Shaquen Griffin of UCF and Joel Lanning of Iowa State.

The Lombardi Award has a new trophy and criteria this season after opening the award up to any position after previously being reserved for the top lineman or linebacker in the nation. The award is based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency on and off the field.

Lombardi Award Finalists for 2017 Season

  • Saquon Barkley, Penn State (RB)
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama (S)
  • Shaquem Griffin, UCF (LB)
  • Lamar Jackson, Louisville (QB)
  • Joel Lanning, Iowa State (LB/QB)
  • Bryce Love, Stanford (RB)
  • Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (QB)

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen won the award for the 2016 season. Carl Nassib of Penn State won the award in 2015, meaning Barkley and Fitzpatrick are attempting to win another Lombardi Award for their school. Oklahoma is the only other school with a Lombardi Award among the schools represented by the finalists for this season’s award. Iowa State, Louisville, Stanford and UCF are all looking for their first Lombardi Award winner in school history. Oklahoma has three all-time Lombardi Award winners, and Alabama and Penn State each have two.

QB Wilton Speight holding off graduate transfer decision

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Former Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight is going to take his time evaluating all of his options before making a final decision. After previously announcing his decision to leave Michigan behind, Speight will reportedly not enroll at a new school until the summer, which gives him more time to decide where exactly he would like to continue his college football career.

According to a report from The Detroit News, Speight felt rushed to make a decision on a transfer between graduating from Michigan and January enrollment periods at potential landing spots. It would have been an ideal situation to be able to enroll in January and be eligible to participate in spring practices with his new program if possible, but it is also wise to not rush to a decision that Speight may end up regretting.

Because Speight will not be available for spring practices anywhere, The Detroit News reports Speight plans to stay in shape and train in Los Angeles. Joining a new program in the summer should still allow him an opportunity to step in and compete for a starting job, depending on where he ends up.

Speight announced his decision to transfer from Michigan as a graduate transfer in late November, and he later confirmed there would be some restrictions placed on his pending transfer. Per Speight, Michigan has blocked any potential transfer to another Big Ten program and any non-conference opponent on Michigan’s 2018 schedule (Notre Dame, Western Michigan, SMU). At the time, Speight said he was not joining the Wolverines for the bowl game because he was intending to enroll in January. With January nearly over, the next window for a transfer will have to wait until the summer.

As a graduate transfer, Speight will be eligible to play with his new football program this fall.