SEC rebounds, Big Ten drowns in sea of New Year’s losses

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OK, who was the dolt chirping last night about the SEC tossing up a big doughnut thus far this bowl season?

Well, whoever it was should’ve remembered that the conference had three very winnable games New Year’s Day. Against the Big Ten, no less.

Less than 24 hours after putting the finishing touches on a less-than-tidy 0-3 start, the SEC roared back to an even .500 with a trio of impressive wins. OK, at least two of them were impressive but, as a whole, the SEC made the Big Ten look like, well, the Little Sisters of the Poor.

By far the most spectacular of the three wins was Alabama’s complete and utter evisceration of Michigan State.  The Tide, which finished fourth in the SEC West, took the Big Ten co-champions to the woodshed, dragged the battered body out and beat it with various heavy objects, then took it back into the woodshed in a resounding 49-7 butt thumpin’ for the ages.  Alabama outgained MSU 546-271, including a staggering 323 yard edge in rushing — 275 to -48.

Additionally, Mississippi State effectively ended Rich Rodriguez‘s longer-than-it-should’ve-been tenure at Michigan with a 52-14 pantsing in the Gator Bowl, while Florida handed Urban Meyer a retirement present in the form of a 37-24 win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl in the coach’s final game at the school.

Speaking of the latter game, what a great, great scene at the end, with Meyer surrounded by his family on the sidelines as time counted down on Meyer’s time at Florida.  Very powerful, very emotional stuff, and a fitting end to a phenomenal six-year run in Gainesville for Meyer.

On the flip side of the joy being felt in the Southeast, of course, was the Big Ten.  Wow.  The woeful, woeful land of Leaders and Legends not only suffered a trio of losses at the hands of the SEC, but Northwestern also fell to Texas Tech 45-38 in the TicketCity Bowl.

Add it all up, and the Big Ten has started the new year with an embarrassing 0-4 mark in bowls — combined scores of the losses to the SEC?  138-45 — and put the 2-0 start to the bowl season in the rear view mirror.

There is a shot at some face-saving later on today, though, as Wisconsin takes on TCU in the Rose Bowl.  Of course, the Badgers could also lose to the non-automatic qualifier and have another chunk of the conference’s manhood lopped off.

No pressure at all, Badgers.  None.

New contract for Florida-Georgia game finally set for approval by city of Jacksonville

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Crossing a few t’s and dotting a few i’s appear to be all that is left to be done on a new contract for one of the most well-known neutral site rivalry games in the country.

According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, a contract has been sent to the city for approval of a new five-year deal in the annual contest between Florida and Georgia. Terms of the agreement were actually agreed to by both schools last year but it is just now making its way to the city for the final signature.

Each side is set to receive as much as $2.75 million in incentives over the next five years for the series, which takes place annually in Jacksonville at the Jaguars’ home field, Everbank Field. The Gators and Bulldogs are expected to get a $125,000 payment once the contract makes its way through the city bureaucracy and a further $250,000 in guaranteed money each year through 2021.

Also interesting to note that both schools are also getting an increase in their travel budget in the form of a nice $10,000 bump over the amount from previous agreements. The city also covers Georgia’s air travel costs up to $350,000 each year per the Business Journal.

The series, colloquially known as the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, takes place annually in Jacksonville between the two SEC East rivals and often decides the division. Florida has won three straight in the rivalry with the next edition set to take place on Saturday, October 28, 2017.

Next up on Jim Harbaugh’s world tour? An overseas football game and South Africa

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Jim Harbaugh and Michigan recently wrapped up most of their activities in Italy over the weekend and it appears the grand world tour will continue in the coming years for the Wolverines.

Next up on the travel docket? Apparently it’s South Africa.

“We’ll get together as a team and decide, but I’d really like to go to Cape Town or Johannesburg,” Harbaugh told MLive.com in Rome. “One of those two.”

A trip to Brazil is reportedly under consideration as well. Given how the current trip has already ruffled some feathers across college athletics though, one wonders if the NCAA will move to prevent such trips before Michigan has a chance to go abroad once again in 2018 though.

Either way, one interesting tidbit Harbaugh mentioned was how neat it would be to play an actual college football game overseas at some point in the future, especially one in Italy. We’ve already seen Cal, Hawaii, Stanford and Rice schedule games in Australia so it’s not exactly out of the realm of possibilities that exporting Harbaugh’s game day tactics across the pond happens in the coming seasons.

Safe to say that Michigan fans better make sure their passports are up to date as a result of this week’s festivities over in Italy because the Wolverines show no signs of slowing down with the globetrotting.

After 2017 NFL Draft, Florida State assistant takes Orange Bowl shot at Michigan

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One of the big winners on the college football front when it came to the 2017 NFL Draft was Michigan. Jim Harbaugh‘s team had a draft-high 11 players taken by NFL teams and several more Wolverines signed as undrafted free agents.

While that’s an large number, it seems not everybody was all that impressed and no we’re not even counting Ohio State fans.

Florida State assistant and former Minnesota coach Tim Brewster is never afraid to mix things up on social media and unleashed this dig at Michigan after the draft on Saturday.

The coach is of course making a not so subtle reference to the Seminoles victory over the Wolverines in the Orange Bowl last season. It’s not a bad shot by any means but a little funny considering how many draft picks FSU regularly produces each year and how much that is a part of their recruiting pitch.

Harbaugh is still in Italy at the moment so perhaps he wasn’t aware of what Brewster sent on Saturday night. As a result, perhaps we should brace for a response from Ann Arbor in the coming days because we all know Big Blue’s coach loves to have the last word.

Former Baylor athletic director denies mishandling sexual assault claim, says he told Art Briles

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Baylor’s sprawling sexual assault scandal is increasingly starting to make its way through the court system and one major trial is already forcing several former school officials to defend themselves in their handling of the matter.

Ex-Bears athletic director Ian McCaw, who now holds the same position at FCS program Liberty, made a court filing in one such case on Friday according to the Associated Press. Not surprisingly, McCaw claimed that he properly handled the case of former player Tevin Elliott, who was convicted in 2014 of raping a woman and is currently behind bars.

McCaw told the court that upon learning of the allegations in one specific case at the time, he told then-head coach Art Briles about the matter and Elliott was subsequently suspended from the football team.

While Elliott was convicted on criminal grounds, former student Jasmin Hernandez has sued Baylor by accusing the university of violating Title IX as a result of keeping Elliott around despite multiple rape claims against him. It is one of several cases set to take place over the coming years in a scandal that led to the departures of McCaw, Briles and school president Ken Starr.