Bret Bielema

Bielema won’t anoint Russell Wilson, would hammer cheaters

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When it comes to being unfiltered, Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema is one of the few head coaches that will pretty much tell a member of the media what’s on his mind.  While that was the case for the most part at the Big Ten’s media days Thursday, he did wander into the Land of Coach Speak when it came to one of the subject matters put before him.

After he was given his release from North Carolina State and following an extended courtship by multiple schools, Russell Wilson ultimately decided on the Badgers over Auburn — and football over baseball — and automatically upgraded UW’s quarterback position exponentially.  Given the fact that Wilson was a long-time starter at his former school, it’s widely expected/assumed that he will be the Badgers’ starter in 2011.

While that will, barring an injury of course, absolutely be the case, Bielema refused to anoint the transfer.  In his opening remarks, the coach mentioned the addition of Wilson, labeling him as “our potential starting quarterback.”  Later, Bielema twice was asked about Wilson as the starter, and twice he deflected the questions.

“What Russell brings to the table is an opportunity for us as coaches to see what we can do,” Bielema said the first time he was asked about the new presumptive starter. “We’ll get him in fall camp, like every one of our players. We have 105 players coming to campus. We’ll see who can give us the best chance to win football games in the fall and figure it out from there.”

After a question about Northern Illinois, Bielema was asked if there was seriously a chance Wilson wouldn’t be the starter.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Bielema said, which I know was stated with a straight face as I watched it live. “I was very open with Russell during the recruiting process, You will have an opportunity to come in and show us what you can do. I think that’s one of the things that attracted him to our program. We were honest, truthful. My parents said if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said. That’s what we said, come in, have this opportunity, take full advantage of it, you’ll be the guy that reaps the rewards.

“I haven’t seen Russell Wilson compete one snap competitively in practice. I think I might know what will happen, but until it happens, that’s where we’re at.”

Bielema may have equivocated when it came to just who would be his starting QB, but he reverted to the real Bielema when it came to negative headlines in college football.  Asked what it would take to get the college game back into a positive light, Bielema jumped at the opportunity to answer.

“You know what, that’s a great question,” Bielema said. “If I had a dream world, I would say hammer the guys that don’t do things right. To me in my profession, the only thing I get very frustrated about is when I know things go on that aren’t right, mainly in recruiting. That’s the biggest thing that comes across my desk. People are willingly and knowingly abusing rules and breaking things. To me, when you are consciously aware of abusing a rule, there’s no excuse for that. … But when you consciously break an NCAA rule, to me the only way to deter that is to get rid of people, or seriously hold programs accountable. That’s probably the number one thing I would love to see happen in the world of college football.”

Certainly Bielema wasn’t referring to a certain former Big Ten coach during the course of his answer, was he?

Report: NCAA finds 13 violations against Ole Miss football, nine under Hugh Freeze

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 25:  Head coach Hugh Freeze of the Mississippi Rebels reacts to a call during the game against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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When word first broke of NCAA violations against Ole Miss, word from the Rebels’ football program was one of caution, for it was uncertain how many were targeted against football versus women’s basketball and track and field.

It appears we now know.

On Tuesday evening, the Associated Press reported the NCAA levied 13 allegations out of a possible 28 against the Ole Miss football team, nine of which occurred under the watch of head coach Hugh Freeze. However, it appears the most serious violations were either already know or took place during the Houston Nutt regime.

Included in the allegations are Laremy Tunsil‘s improper benefits, for which the left tackle already sat seven games. Also included are accusations former Nutt assistant David Saunders participated in a scheme to produce fraudulent test scores for recruits — the same allegations currently levied against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The remaining allegations, as detailed by the AP, include run-of-the-mill violations such as having the wrong people provide transportation on recruiting visits or assistant coaches making improper contact with recruits, many of which Ole Miss has already self-reported.

Half of all FBS signees lived between Texas and North Carolina

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 29: Johnny Jefferson #5 of the Baylor Bears carries while defended by Dominquie Green #26 and Des Lawrence #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first half of the Russell Athletic Bowl game at Orlando Citrus Bowl on December 29, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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ESPN recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton provided a massive public service through his Twitter account on Tuesday, releasing a data dump of fascinating information about the signing class of 2016.

In short, Texas was the most popular breeding ground for FBS prospects, but half of all signees came from a clean sweep from Texas, across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida and up to North Carolina.

The Lone Star State produced 359 players, with nearly half of those heading to Power 5 institutions. In fact, Hamilton reports, 72 of 128 FBS programs and 38 of 64 Power 5’s signed at least one player from Texas.

Florida trailed with 327 players, followed by California with 248 players and Georgia with 225. For what it’s worth, Ohio was not included in the study.

Data dump, begin!

AAC releases 2016 conference schedule

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The American Athletic Conference released its 2016 conference schedule highlighted by, oddly enough, non-conference games that pit league gem Houston against Oklahoma (on opening day at Houston’s NRG Stadium) and Louisville (in Houston on Nov. 19).

Those two games, more than any others, will sink or swim the conference’s chances of not only grabbing the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six, but a spot in the College Football Playoff itself.

The 2016 conference slate kicks off with Navy meeting Connecticut on Sept. 10 and concludes with the second annual AAC title game on Dec. 3 at a to-be-determined campus site.

The AAC led the way in scheduling Power 5 opponents — highlighted by a Week 3 schedule that will see the entire East Division punching up a weight class — and includes the likes of Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia, Syracuse, Kansas, TCU and Oklahoma (for all intents and purposes) visiting AAC campuses.

View the full AAC slate here:

 

Former Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees hired as Chargers offensive assistant

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 02: Tommy Rees #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish passes against the Navy Midshipmen at Notre Dame Stadium on November 2, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Just like we all thought when watching him play at Notre Dame, Tommy Rees will be in the NFL in 2016. Just not as a quarterback.

The San Diego Chargers announced his hiring as an obnoxiously vague offensive assistant, assisting with the club’s offense in some form that they aren’t inclined to elaborate on.

After completing a career in which he threw for 7,670 yards with 61 touchdowns against 37 interceptions from 2010-13, Rees was cut by the Washington Redskins in 2014, then spent the 2014-15 seasons as a graduate assistant at Northwestern.