The Big East conference is set to renegotiate its first-tier television rights with ESPN — initially rumored to be in the $110-$130 million ballpark annually — during a 60-day period beginning in September, 2012. By that time, conference commissioner John Marinatto hopes to have a definitive number of attractive football members to help the league add value to the sports network.
“That’s our goal. We need to [expand] before we go into that discussion, know what it is we are. We have to have an identity. We have to obviously have our membership squared away. And we will,” Marinatto told the Orlando Sentinel. Big East league meetings are currently taking place this week in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida.
Which programs will be part of that possible expansion, as well as exactly when they will come aboard, is still undecided — as it has been since the bold move to add TCU late last year.
“I’m not in a position to talk specifically about any schools,” Marinatto continued. “We won’t make any further comments on that until it’s appropriate… What I can tell you is that we had a more global and general discussion [Monday] both in regard to media rights moving forward as well as potential expansion.”
The speculations as to who the newest members will be — if the Big East does, in fact, move to add one or more members — have been about the only consistent portion of the possible expansion. Villanova, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, Southern Miss and East Carolina have all had their name tossed around as part of a 10-or-12-team league.
Villanova was extended a formal invitation by the Big East last September, but concerns about the program’s capability to actually house a 1-A program have caused a delay in Villanova’s vote until June.
Recently, South Florida coach Skip Holtz cast his vote for his former employer, East Carolina, although the university itself reportedly has a superiority complex when it comes to possibly adding in-state “rival” Central Florida.
An offseason of upheaval on Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has apparently come to an official end.
Early Thursday afternoon, the Crimson Tide announced the additions of two new assistant coaches as well as the promotions/new responsibilities for others on the staff last season. As previously reported HERE and HERE, the new hires are Dan Enos as quarterbacks coach and Craig Kuligowski as defensive line coach. Both coaches, who come to Tuscaloosa from Michigan and Miami, respectively, will also carry the titles of associate head coach.
“We are pleased and happy to have Dan Enos joining our coaching staff at The University of Alabama,” Saban said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of knowledge with five years of head coaching experience and numerous stops as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Dan is a bright football mind and an outstanding recruiter who will strengthen our coaching staff and give our players the best chance to be successful.”
In addition to those hirings, Saban also confirmed that Mike Locksley (HERE) has been promoted to offensive coordinator and Tosh Lupoi (HERE) has been promoted to defensive coordinator. Locksley replaces Brian Daboll, who left after one season in Tuscaloosa for the same job with the Buffalo Bills last month, while Lupoi takes over for Jeremy Pruitt, who left after Alabama’s win in the national championship game to take over as the head coach at Tennessee.
As had previously been announced, Jeff Banks will serve as special teams coordinator while also being in charge of the Tide’s tight ends. Josh Gattis, who was confirmed as the new wide receivers coach late last month, will also carry the title of co-offensive coordinator, while Pete Golding, in addition to his duties as inside linebackers coach, has been given the title of co-defensive coordinator.
And, finally, Burton Burns will step away from his longtime role as running backs coach and take on an unspecified off-field position. Replacing Burns in his on-field role is Joe Pannunzio, who had been in charge of tight ends.
As it turns out, Houston will have the services of Austin Robinson a little while longer than originally expected.
The football program announced Wednesday that the NCAA has granted Robinson a sixth season of eligibility. While the school wrote in its release that the linebacker “received a legislative relief waiver” from The Association, the specific reasoning behind the waiver being granted is unclear.
With the NCAA’s decision, Robinson will now have eligibility he can use in both 2018 and 2019.
Robinson began his collegiate career at UT-San Antonio in 2014, playing in eight games as a true freshman before transferring to UH and sitting out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. He then played in 11 games in 2016 and 12 this past season, starting four contests in 2017.
This past campaign, Robinson was credited with 33 tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack. He also had a pair of quarterback hurries on his statistical resume.
Heading into spring practice, Minnesota will find its defensive secondary a bit thinner than it was when the curtain fell on the 2017 season.
A school spokesperson confirmed to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Ken Handy-Holly has been granted a release from his scholarship. 247Sports.com had previously reported that the safety was looking to transfer to be closer to family in Jackson, Ala.
A three-star member of the Gophers’ 2017 recruiting class, Handy-Holly was rated as the No. 38 safety in the country and the No. 28 player at any position in the state of Alabama. Only one signee in Minnesota’s class that year, offensive tackle Blaise Andries, was rated higher than Handy-Holly.
Because of injuries, Handy-Holly was pressed into action as a true freshman. He made his collegiate debut in a Sept. 30 loss to Maryland, and went on to play eight games total this past season.
In that action, Handy-Holly was credited with 12 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
An off-field situation for one playing member of the Arkansas football program that began during the 2017 regular season has taken yet another step toward winding its way to a conclusion.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Cole Kelley pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while intoxicated. While the quarterback was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 89 of those days were suspended while he was given credit for time served for the other. Additionally, the Democrat-Gazette wrote, the 20-year-old Kelley “was also ordered to complete an alcohol safety class and pay $720 in fines and court costs.”
Kelley was arrested for DWI and reckless driving in November of last year. A day after the arrest, Kelley was indefinitely suspended by the football program and missed UA’s Week 12 game; he was subsequently reinstated after serving what amounted to a one-game suspension.
Austin Allen started the first five games of the 2017 season before going down with a shoulder injury. Kelley replaced him and started the next four, with a healthy Allen returning to his starting role for the remainder of the year.
On the season, Kelley completed almost 58 percent of his 151 passes for 1,038 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. The rising redshirt sophomore is expected to compete for the starting job in 2018 under new head coach Chad Morris.