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.
At the moment, BYU is looking at one hellacious start to the 2019 season.
Thursday afternoon, BYU announced tat it has added a future home-and-home series with Tennessee. The Volunteers will serve as the host for a Sept. 7, 2019, matchup at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, with the second game set for Sept. 1 or 2, 2023, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.
The 2019 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.
“There’s something about those orange and white checkerboard end zones that shouts ‘Tradition!’,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. “When the opportunity to play a series with Tennessee presented itself, we didn’t blink. They’re a storied football program with a winning tradition, national championships, a classic stadium, incredible fans and hall of fame coaches.
“It will be a great experience to visit SEC country and play in Neyland Stadium, and later host Tennessee in Provo.”
BYU will kick off the 2019 season against Utah, followed by games against Tennessee, USC and Washington the next three weeks. They also have a pair of mid-October games against Washington State and Boise State.
UT’s other non-conference games that season include Georgia State, Chattanooga and UAB.
Lovie Smith is not a big fan of fighting amongst his Illinois players, a lesson he shared with his aptly nicknamed Fighting Illini squad Wednesday evening.
According to the Decatur Herald & Review, Illinois’ spring practice session yesterday came to an abrupt and premature end after a fight between players broke out. The names of those involved in the fisticuffs are not known as the media hadn’t been permitted to view practice.
From the Herald & Review‘s report:
…a source said Smith wanted to send a strong message about how he hates fighting and considers it an inexcusable transgression that robs the rest of the team of a chance to concentrate on getting better.
The field was cleared at about 5:35 p.m., nearly an hour before practice was scheduled to end. The players were sent to the locker room and the field was quickly cleared of equipment. Reporters were told there would be no interviews and were told to vacate the Memorial Stadium facility.
The Illini, which finished 3-9 in their first season under Smith last year, kicked off spring practice feb. 14 and will conclude it March 10 with the annual spring game.
With spring practice getting set to kick of en masse all across the country, there’s more of the expected personnel attrition settling in and coming to light.
On his Twitter account Wednesday, Andy Dodd announced that it is in his “best interest” to transfer from LSU and continue playing college football elsewhere. “This decision was not an easy one, but it is what’s best for me moving forward,” the offensive lineman wrote.
Dodd was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 17 guard in the country.
After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, the lineman played in eight games the next two seasons. He played in six games, with one start, in 2016.
Another graduate transfer has made a move, albeit with a slightly different bent than most others.
Auburn confirmed Wednesday that Casey Dunn has been added to Gus Malzahn‘s football roster. The center comes to The Plains as a graduate transfer, which makes him eligible for the 2017 season.
He also comes to Auburn from Jacksonville State, an FCS school that would’ve made him immediately eligible aside from the grad transfer exception. Oh, and his new position coach is excited to have him in the personnel fold as well.
The past two seasons, Dunn was an FCS All-American. While Dunn comes to the Tigers as a center who started 27 games at that position for the Gamecocks, he could play anywhere along the interior of the Tigers’ offensive line.
Malzahn is also very familiar with Dunn’s talent as the lineman started for the JSU squad that took him to overtime in 2015.