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ROTFL: Big Ten confirms it will remain “Legends & Leaders”

New Big Ten Logo I

Apparently, E. Gordon Gee isn’t the only member of the Big Ten who enjoys making a mockery of himself and the institution he represents.  In fact, it appears the whole conference enjoys basking in the knowledge that they will be a  laughingstock off the field for at least the next year.

The Big Ten announced in mid-December that the names of its two six-team divisions would be (giggle) “Leaders” and (chuckle) “Legends” (rotflmao).  Rightly so, the conference was eviscerated for their insufferable and pretentious choice of names.  So much so, in fact, that commissioner Jim Delany acknowledged less than a week later that the fan and media reaction was “surprising” and “humbling”.

Not humbling enough for a change, however.

A Big Ten spokesperson told Brett McMurphy of AOL Fanhouse Thursday that the conference will revisit the division names after the football season.  For now, however, the league fully intends to walk around with a “kick me” sign taped firmly to their collective backs.

Short term there is no plan to change,” assistant commissioner Scott Chipman said. “They will definitely be utilized for the 2011 football season. It would be impossible to measure their sustainability without using them as they were intended to be used. But like any of our branding or marketing efforts, we will continuously review all aspects, conduct market research, and test sustainability.”

Regardless of whether they are used as intended, we can measure the sustainability of “Leaders” and “Legends” right now: they’re not.  And it’s laughable for the conference to turn a blind eye to that fact.

We don’t know what’s more embarrassing, the names themselves or the conference’s stubborn refusal to admit a mistake and move on from it.

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Four football players earn Big 12’s highest academic honor

Fifty-seven athletes were honored with the Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award on Tuesday, the conference’s highest honor for work in the classroom. Of those 57, four were football players.

Now in its fifth year, the award was named in honor of Dr. Gerald Lage, who served as Oklahoma State’s faculty athletic representative to the NCAA and Big 8/Big 12 from 1983 until his death in 2007.

From the conference release: “In order to be eligible for the accolade, student-athletes must have lettered at least once in their career while maintaining residence at their institution for at least one academic year. The honoree, which can only be recognized once, should have 100 hours of earned credit with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.80 at the time of the nomination.”

And the gridiron winners are….

Jared Weaver, Iowa State – Aerospace Engineering
Stanton Weber, Kansas State – Accounting
Ty Darlington, Oklahoma – A&S Planned Program
Ryan Lester, Oklahoma State – University Studies

A senior in 2014, Weaver saw action in eight games but did not record any statistics. Weber played in all 13 games at wide receiver and caught one pass for 21 yards while also recording eight tackles on special teams.

The only returning member of the group, Darlington started all 13 games at center and was named a Capital One All-Academic First Team member. Lester did not record any statistics at linebacker for the Cowboys.

The group will be honored at the Big 12 basketball tournament next week in Kansas City.

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Ole Miss QB hopeful Chad Kelly to join Hugh Freeze on Haiti trip

Chad Kelly, Dabo Swinney

Ole Miss opened spring practice on Tuesday looking to find a replacement for two-year starter Bo Wallace at quarterback. Among the three signal callers vying for the job is Chad Kelly, a Clemson transfer by way of East Mississippi Community College with a – to put it lightly – a checkered past.

Kelly’s temper is the only reason he’s at Ole Miss in the first place, and that trait nearly cost him his scholarship before he even arrived in Oxford. Arrested in December after a standard-issue bar fight morphed into a scuffle with police, head coach Hugh Freeze hasn’t taken action on his new quarterback.

But Freeze revealed Tuesday he’s bringing Kelly along for the now-annual Ole Miss football Haiti trip, which departs later this month. A group of 30 people with ties to the Rebels program work to provide access to fresh water in the third-world Caribbean nation, and Freeze has used it as a mentoring opportunity of sorts. Former linebacker Serderius Bryant joined the excursion last year under similar circumstances.

“The responsibility that comes with that position, it never stops. It’s 24 hours a day,” Freeze told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. “He knows that. I share with him every single day insight that I see and how he can improve himself in that regard. … I look forward to spending time with him there (in Haiti later this month), in an environment that challenges leadership skills and even helps develop them.”

Hey Coach, whose idea was this?

Ok, then.

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Jim Harbaugh, U-M staffer aid crash victims in Ann Arbor

Jim Harbaugh

When he’s not sitting in the audience of a “Judge Judy” taping, Jim Harbaugh just can’t help but keep making news.

According to Michigan State Police, a 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee hit the median on Interstate 94, slid up a snow embankment and landed on the eastbound side of the highway on Tuesday afternoon. Waiting for emergency crews to respond, the 53-year-old driver and her 73-year-old passenger were aided by none other than the new head football coach at the University of Michigan and his director of operations Jim Minick.

Wolverines spokesman Dave Ablauf told MLive.com that the pair administered first aids and provided coats to the two women until the professionals arrived.

The highway was closed for more than an hour to care for the victims and clear the debris. The victims were transported to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.

Harbaugh, presumably, went back to the office to catch the 4 p.m. taping of “Judge Judy.”

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Report: Former FSU, WVU QB Clint Trickett lands JuCo coaching job

Clint Trickett

It was only a matter of time.

After concussions forced an early retirement from football, former Florida State and West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett has reportedly joined the family business. According to FoxSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, Trickett will be the quarterbacks coach at East Mississippi Community College.

Clint’s father, Rick, is a longtime offensive line coach at West Virginia, Auburn and Florida State (where he currently coaches), and his older brother Travis is the co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at FCS Samford.

The elder Trickett told the Tallahassee Democrat in December that Alabama, Kentucky and West Virginia about joining their respective support staffs. “More than the rest of them he’s always had a ball in his hands. From Day 1,” Rick said. “And he wants to coach quarterbacks. I think he’ll be good at that. With his mindset and temperament. And his experiences. … I think he’ll be a really good coach.”

In 19 career games, Trickett completed 404-of-652 passes for 4,890 yards with 25 touchdowns against 17 interceptions.

Trickett joins arguably the most successful JuCo program in the country. The Lions posted a 12-0 record in 2014, toppling Iowa Western Community College in the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship. EMCC has won three NJCAA championships in four years.

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SEC sets schedule for 2015 media days

Gus Malzahn

It’s March 3, but the 2015 college football season is (sort of) just around the corner.

The SEC, always the first out of the box with these things, announced its 2015 media days slate on Tuesday. The festival of football and frivolity begins July 13 (I swear it’ll be before July 4th by 2020) and ends July 16. That’s nearly two full months before the first games.

Most of the procedures are the same – Birmingham’s Wynfrey Hotel, SEC Network and ESPNU with 870 hours of live coverage – but the person unofficially kicking off the season will not be.

Monday, July 13
To-be-determined SEC commissioner
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Jim McElwain, Florida
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

Tuesday, July 14
Steve Shaw, coordinator of officials
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Butch Jones, Tennessee

Wednesday, July 15
Nick Saban, Alabama
Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Gary Pinkel, Missouri

Thursday, July 16
Les Miles, LSU
Mark Richt, Georgia
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss

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Report: Auburn LB Swain and punter leave program

BCS National Championship - Florida State v Auburn

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has yet to confirm the news, but multiple outlets are reporting he will be missing a couple of players for good. Linebacker Anthony Swain and punter Jimmy Hutchinson have reportedly left the team.

“I’m going to update our spring roster next Tuesday, so I’m going to wait until then and I’ll give you all the updates — not just with him, but with other people, too,” Malzahn said in a report by Al.com.

Both Swain and Hutchinson played mostly reserve roles on the Auburn roster. Swain put together 18 tackles and a sack during the 2014 season. Hutchinson was passed over for punting duties in favor of Daniel Carlson. His 22-yard punt against Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl in January seems to be the last we will see of Hutchinson in an Auburn uniform. Why either player is leaving the program is unknown, or at least unconfirmed, at this time.

Swain had previously been in Malzahn’s doghouse for an undisclosed reason in the spring of 2014. He would eventually be reinstated by Malzahn after missing some spring practices.

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Idaho’s bowl ban has been lifted

Paul Petrino, Taylor Davis

The Idaho Vandals will be allowed to go to a postseason bowl game in the 2015 season, if they manage to reach the six-win minimum. The school released a statement confirming the football program has met the NCAA’s academic minimum in order to be eligible for postseason play. Idaho was banned from playing in the postseason last year for not meeting an academic progress report minimum as a program.

Idaho claims the football program’s latest APR score has been in the 950s and is projected to be in the 960s this year. The minimum APR score to participate in the postseason is 930 over a four-year period or 940 over a two-year period. Perhaps more costly to Idaho was the loss of practice time last season. The program was stripped of four hours of practice on a weekly basis as a result of the low APR scores. With the ban lifted, Idaho will also get back its ability to use a full practice schedule.

“We never make excuses, but that hurt. That’s big,” Idaho head coach Paul Petrino said.

Now Idaho just has to find a way to get to six wins in the fall in order to go to a bowl game. The program has not won more than one game in a season since 2011 and has not reached the six-win mark since 2010. Conference realignment has taken a toll on Idaho as well, stripping it of WAC membership as the conference crumbled and leaving the program to float as an independent before landing in the not so geographically friendly Sun Belt Conference. Now at least there is something to shoot for with the chance to play in a bowl game sitting there waiting to be taken by Idaho.

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Tressel says recruiting is key to keeping Michigan and Harbaugh in OSU’s rearview mirror

Michigan v Ohio State

Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel knows a thing or two about the rivalry between the Buckeyes and Michigan, and he knows just how valuable having an edge in the series can be to a coach. With Jim Harbaugh taking over at Michigan this year the expectations are high for the Wolverines to start clawing back in the Big Ten, and perhaps lead Michigan to a more level playing field against their rivals across the state line.

“I think Jim Harbaugh will bring something to the Ohio State-Michigan storied rivalry,” Tressel said at a Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club event, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. “He’s been successful wherever he’s been. He’s extremely hard-working. He has great pride in his alma mater.”

While the future may be bright for Michigan with Harbaugh leading the way, Tressel says Michigan should not be expected to catch up to Ohio State right away.

“Personally, I think they’re a ways away from being at the level where there’s going to be a Ten Year War. I think they’ve got some work to do to get to that. But if anyone can do it, Jim Harbaugh can. He’ll do a great job.”

Tressel also said the key to Ohio State maintaining an edge over the Wolverines (and anybody else in the Big Ten for that matter) is to lock down the top high school talent from within the state borders. Ohio is a state rich with football talent, and Ohio State tends to have the upper hand in those recruiting battles. That was the case when Tressel was head coach of the Buckeyes, and is the area Tressel thinks Ohio State needs to focus on to keep Michigan in the rearview mirror.

“How far behind (is Michigan)? It (depends) on how long that door stays closed,” Tressel said. “That’s the key. [Urban Meyer] will do a great job, they know how to win, they’ve got a great staff. But you’ve still got to keep it closed.”

Can Meyer lock the doors to Ohio’s recruits, or will Harbaugh have a key?

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Jim McElwain wants to turn Georgia into Gator Country

University of Florida Introduces Jim McElwain

You just have to love when a new coach takes over at a program and starts to try redrawing the recruiting borders. Of course, there are no boundaries when it comes to college football recruiting, but once a program crosses state lines things can get pretty tense, especially between rival schools.

As you might suspect, Florida head coach Jim McElwain is looking to win some more recruiting battles in the state of Georgia, and he and his staff have the connections to do just that. Florida added five players from the state of Georgia in the Class of 2015. Given how fertile the recruiting soil is in the state of Georgia, it only makes sense for Florida to try to tap the state whenever possible to add to the haul in can bring in from the sunshine state. In recruiting, it is all about having the connections in place.

“I think (it was due to a) couple of things,” McElwain told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week. “There were pre-existing relationships with some guys on our staff who recruited that area in the past. That obviously helps.”

McElwain is focused on setting up shop around Gainesville, and the net is fairly wide. Is it wide enough to turn Georgia into Florida territory? McElwain hopes that is the case.

“But for us, our thought is a five-hour radius of Gainesville,” McElwain said. “And with that being said, that (radius) goes up into Georgia, and that will be something that we’ll try to continue to make Gator Country.”

That should add some spice to the rivalry between Georgia and Florida.

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Seven cities ready to bid for future College Football Playoff championship, seven more interested

College Football Playoff Announces The College Football Playoff Selection Committee - News Conference

Atlanta, Charlotte, Jacksonville, South Florida, Minneapolis, San Antonio and Santa Clara are among the cities expressing a desire to host a future College Football Playoff national championship game, but they may not be alone. According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, Arlington, Houston, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Orlando and Pasadena are other cities currently undecided but evaluating whether or not to place a formal bid. New Jersey has also expressed an interest.

The current games that are available for host bids are the 2018, 2019 and 2020 national championship games. Rather than designate the hosting duties to one specific host bowl game, as was the case under the BCS system, cities place bids for the title game similar to NFL Super Bowl bids. Cities have until late May to submit a bid proposal to the College Football Playoff. The cities winning the bid for one of the three championship games will be announced in October.

Cities can bid for a specific year’s championship game. South Florida reportedly will place a bid for the 2018 and 2020 games. The Orange Bowl in Miami is the host bowl for one of the College Football Playoff semifinal games in 2019. Minneapolis intends to apply for the 2019 and 2020 national championship games.

Last season’s national championship game was played in Arlington, Texas. This season’s championship game will be played in Glendale, Arizona. The 2017 championship game will move to Tampa, Florida.

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Toddler’s text among Ohio State’s 47 self-reported violations

Cute kid playing with cell phone

Many schools self-report numerous minor infractions to the NCAA on a regular basis. Ohio State has reported a total of 47 rules violations to the NCAA over the last year, and one of them may show just why parental controls on cell phones is a good idea.

Among the 47 violations reported by Ohio State to the NCAA is a text message to a recruit sent from the phone of wide receivers coach Zach Smith. But Smith says it was not he who sent the text, but his four-year old son. As the claim goes, Smith’s son picked up his phone when a recruit allegedly called the receivers coach. Upon picking up the phone, Smith’s son allegedly sent an automatic text reply.

Fortunately, the NCAA actually showed a good sense of humor about the whole incident and decided not to bother reviewing the case. But perhaps this should serve as a lesson about the importance of locking your phone and enabling any child-proof features on a phone for college football coaches.

The violations reported by Ohio State span all sports. According to The Lantern, just two are tied to the football program. In addition to the toddler text message, Ohio State reported a violation of impermissible on-campus contact in late September. Head coach Urban Meyer reportedly had contact with a junior college athlete on campus.

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Penn State, Wisconsin and Nebraska could gain advantage with Big Ten stipends

businessman with a burlap money bag

A new age in collegiate athletics is upon us with power conferences making a power play to provide more for student-athletes. That means power conference members handing out stipends to college athletes on top of a full scholarship to take care of other financial needs and obligations. How much each school will be able to provide to players will vary by school, and it is believed the divide within power conferences could widen between the top programs and the rest of the pack.

David Jones of The Patriot News dug into the numbers to see what the expected stipends for each Big Ten member could total. Based on the information made available by CollegeData.com, Penn State came out on top with a stipend of $4,788. Wisconsin’s stipend amount came out to $4,265 and Nebraska’s total added up to $3,544. Indiana ($3,036) and Maryland ($3,024) were the only other schools to have stipends over $3,000. By comparison, Ohio State’s stipend total is calculated to be $2,454. Michigan’s is $2,054 and Michigan State is at the bottom of the Big Ten with a stipend total of $1,872.

These numbers are subject to change and, as noted by Jones in his column, you should probably expect people like Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh and Mark Dantonio to push internally for some adjustments in order to allow more stipend funds where possible. Otherwise, programs like Penn State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and even Indiana and Maryland are going to have a nice recruiting chip up their sleeves that could have an impact with certain recruits.

Of course, Texas Athletics Director Steve Patterson previously went on record suggesting the Texas Longhorns could potentially hand out $10,000 stipends if it came to that point.

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BYU to discipline “10-ish” players for role in Miami Beach Brawl

Latanoa Pikula

The last we heard out of BYU regarding the ugly incident at the end of the Miami Beach Bowl against Memphis, BYU was not expected to release names of players serving suspensions or facing discipline for their role in a postgame melee in Miami. That has not changed, although BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall has suggested the number of players facing some form of discipline will be in the double digits.

According to a report by Desert News, Mendenhall opened BYU’s spring practice by writing the word “discipline” on the whiteboard. The head coach of the Cougars later told reporters “10-ish” players will be disciplined for their actions following a bowl loss to Memphis. Specific suspensions may not be announced until the week of BYU’s season opener at Nebraska.

“We’ll try to maintain a competitive advantage as long as we can, and protect the kids as much as we can,” Mendenhall said in the report by Desert News. “I think everyone knows I thrive on accountability and don’t back away from it, especially at BYU. So I’m comfortable with who we’re disciplining and how. I’d like to protect our players as much as we can.”

For what it is worth, Memphis has suspended 12 players for their part in the brawl although names and length of suspension terms have not been disclosed to the public at this time. The disciplinary actions taking by Memphis have been endorsed by the American Athletic Conference as well.

BYU opens the 2015 season on September 5 at Nebraska of the Big Ten. It will be the first meeting between the two programs.

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Oregon State has fresh new helmets for spring practice

Oregon State v Hawaii

When Oregon State opens up spring practice tomorrow they will do so wearing a brand new helmet. Could this be a preview of a new look in 2015? If so, it’s not bad at all.

Oregon State will have black helmets with the word “Beavers” scripted across the side. The look is reminiscent to a helmet design previously worn by the program in 1979 (with an orange helmet) and again from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s (with a white helmet). The same basic design elements were used on a black helmet since 1999, although with the Beaver logo on top of the script. Oregon State has also mixed and matched different helmets with uniforms the past few seasons. Now the beaver logo is gone, at least with this helmet.

I’m giving this one two thumbs up. What about you?

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Kennesaw State opened program’s first spring practice today

A total of 91 players went through the first spring football practice of the year on Monday. Ordinarily this would not be of much significance, but this was no ordinary spring football practice. This was spring football practice at Kennesaw State, the first in program history.

“It was a good day. It’s our first time back on the field and it was the first-ever spring ball practice,” Kennesaw State head coach Brian Bohannon said. “The great thing about it is our kids are in pretty good shape. They had a really good offseason.  We had a group of guys who actually knew what to do versus the last time we came out.”

This was the first spring football practice for Kennesaw State, but the program was able to practice in the fall as they go through the motions of operating a football program in season.

“It was a great start and I think the big thing for this group right now is that in the fall we had three segments of 15 days apiece and now we have one,” Bohannon explained. “Now we’re down to 14 and they are going to have to maximize every minute of these opportunities before we get ready to play.”

As noted by Kevin Causey of The Student Section, Kennesaw State will be joining the Big South Conference this season in the FCS and the offensive identity will likely be based on the option that has become the norm at places like Georgia Tech and Navy. The Owls have 52 players on scholarship right now as it builds up to the FCS maximum of 63.

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