Tennesee’s mental errors cost Vols in thrilling Music City Bowl

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How appropriate on so many levels.

First and foremost, like Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl, North Carolina absolutely, 100-percent earned this 30-27 win over Tennessee. All the credit should, and surely will, go to Butch Davis and his players.

It should also be pointed out that UNC quarterback T.J. Yates is one helluva gamer. For all the NCAA distractions from earlier this year, coupled with the criticisms of his inconsistencies and cries for a change at QB, Yates has persevered and led a dramatic 31-second comeback at the end of regulation.

And, for that, I applaud him wholeheartedly.

However, it should also be noted that North Carolina got a little help, too — and no, not from Big Ten officials. While the last 30 seconds of the game included a few more flags and official reviews than one would hope, none of the calls were really that egregious. If anything, Tennessee might have gotten away with a few unsportsmanlike conduct calls against quarterback Tyler Bray.

The personal foul, leading-with-the-helmet penalty on Tennessee  after Todd Harrelson caught a 28-yard pass from Yates on North Carolina’s final drive of regulation was justified, and there was no sufficient evidence to overturn the call on the field of a catch.

Arguably, there could have been another personal foul penalty on Tennessee for a late hit one play later on a 12-yard completion to UNC’s Dwight Jones.

And, yes, there was one second left on the clock when Yates spiked the ball, even though UNC had too many men on the field in what quickly became LSU 2.0 for Tennessee.

The personal foul penalty on Tennessee at the end of regulation, which was assessed 15 yards in favor of UNC in the first overtime, didn’t appear to be  fully explained, but it ultimately became part of a larger theme:

Simply put, Tennessee committed too many mental errors and allowed North Carolina to stay in the game.

With that said, there may not be a guy I feel for more than Vols coach Derek Dooley.

Dooley has had a lot thrown on him as a first-year coach at Tennessee, and all things considered, has done a really great job. He was handed a young team with not a lot of depth and a handful of NCAA probes, yet managed to get 6 wins in the toughest conference in college football.

And he wasn’t awarded any breaks, either. In many ways, Dooley was the anti-Les Miles.

All in all, though, North Carolina’s game-winning field goal in double overtime was a fitting end to what has been a tumultuous season for both the Tar Heels and the Vols.

Surely, it’s one that won’t be forgotten, either.

Oklahoma State punter Zach Sinor launches campaign for… Heisman Trophy

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Move over Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph, because it appears there is another college football player from the state of Oklahoma who has his eyes set on winning the Heisman Trophy.

Oklahoma State punter — yes, punter — Zach Sinor has officially launched his Heisman Trophy campaign with a fun video promotion from the Oklahoma State football social media team. In it, you get a real sense of what is motivating the Cowboys punter, who was left off the Ray Guy Award list a year ago.

I shouldn’t have to remind you that a punter has never won the Heisman Trophy award, but that does not mean we can’t have some fun and laughs along the way as Sinor looks to state his case this season.

Vanderbilt suspends three players connected to parking lot shooting incident

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Days after two Vanderbilt football players were shot in an incident involving a stolen phone, head coach Derek Mason has suspended three players connected to the incident. Defensive backs Tae Daley and Frank Coppet and wide receiver Donaven Tennyson have all been indefinitely suspended from all football activities in Nashville.

Daley and Coppet were shot outside a Nashville Target on Monday night. Neither player suffered what is considered a critical injury, which is good to hear, but the entire incident centering around a meeting in which Tennyson was attempting to recover a cellphone that had been stolen from him. Tennyson brought his teammates with him in what has been described by authorities as “an ill-conceived plan.”

Mason clearly agreed.

No arrests have been made, but police are continuing to work the case to identify the shooters.

NCAA considering changing transfer rules

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The NCAA’s Division I Council Transfer Working Group on Wednesday unleashed a set of suggestions that could either radically change or slightly tweak the way transfers are handled in college sports’ highest level.

Let’s start with the (possible) radical changes. The working group is considering a suggestion that would make all transfers immediately eligible, provided they hit certain academic benchmarks:

Establishing uniform transfer rules — which would require everyone to follow the same rules regardless of the sport they play — was a topic that the group agrees will likely take longer to resolve. While most members agreed the concept of uniformity would be positive, what the specific rules would be is less clear.

Members discussed two models: One model would require every transfer student to sit out a year to acclimate to a new school; the other would allow all transfers to play immediately provided they present academic credentials that predict graduation at the new institution.

Walking back from that, the working group did recommend changing the transfer process to where players seeking new destinations would no longer need their former school’s approval. Considering the NCAA formally argues its athletes are merely students, and there is no limit on normal students receiving financial aid upon transferring to a new institution, this change should pass without a word to the contrary. But, you know, the NCAA is the NCAA.

Group members believe financial aid should not be tied to whether a school grants permission to contact. They want to know if others in the membership feel the same way. The group also agreed that enhancements should be made to the formal process students use to notify a school of their desire to transfer. The group will seek input from the membership on appropriate enhancements.

To curb a possible spike in transfers, the working group suggested upping penalties for coaches caught tampering with scholarship athletes at other schools.

The group expressed interest in increasing the consequences for coaches who break recruiting rules to seek out undergraduate and potential graduate students. The working group will ask the Committee on Infractions and enforcement staff to review the concept and provide feedback.

Finally, the working group suggested adding academic accountability to the graduate transfer market by either making graduate transfers count against the 85-man scholarship limit for two years or tweaking the APR formula to up the impact graduate transfers’ academic progress has in the system.

One potential approach could be to require that the financial aid provided to graduate students count against a team’s scholarship limit for two years, regardless of whether the graduate student stays for two years or leaves when their eligibility is complete.

Another concept for increasing that accountability is through the Academic Progress Rate calculation, specifically the eligibility and retention points for which a student would be held accountable as they pursue a graduate degree. The Committee on Academics discussed the calculation and the working group plans to continue conversations on the topic.

“I am thrilled with the great progress made this week, and I’m confident we can move forward with some initial concepts for consideration in this year’s legislative cycle,” South Dakota State AD and working group chair Justin Sell said in a statement. “We are working toward academics-based, data-driven decisions that benefit student-athletes, teams and schools.”

Any changes proposed by the working group are merely suggestions. The earliest any proposals could be voted on would be April 2018.

Michigan WR Grant Perry pleads guilty to felony resisting of a police officer

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Michigan wide receiver Grant Perry on Wednesday pleaded guilty to resisting of a police officer in a Lansing, Mich., court, according to the Lansing State Journal. The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Perry also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault and battery, but did so to avoid two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and one alcohol charge.

The case stemmed from an October incident in which Perry was accused of groping a female outside an East Lansing bar. (The Wolverines were off that weekend.) A Michigan State student said Perry “started licking his lips and smiling and pushing his chest up against her chest” before groping her.

Police were called to the scene, and Perry attempted to escape.

“When (police) arrived on scene, we tried to grab onto him, and we had to chase him,” East Lansing P.D. spokesman Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth said at the time. “In the midst of that fracas, one of our officers suffered a minor hand injury.”

Prosecutor Christina Johnson said Wednesday she has not ruled out sentencing Perry under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which, pending Perry’s completion of certain requirements, would wipe Wednesday’s conviction from his record by his 24th birthday.

In the meantime, Perry has been suspended by Michigan but has since resumed practicing with the team. Jim Harbaugh has said Perry will not play for the Wolverines until his case is resolved, which it will be by the time Michigan opens the season against Florida on Sept. 2. Sentencing for the case is set for Aug. 2.