Big 12 outlines exit procedures for A&M

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And now the legal processes are beginning to be implemented in the likely divorce between Texas A&M and the Big 12.

The Aggies took the first step toward shifting their conference affiliation last week when the school issued a notice to Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe indicating they were intent on exploring all options for a future home. Additionally, and in a more subtle way, it asked the Big 12 what the guidelines were associated with a potential move.

Earlier today, the Big 12 responded with a letter to A&M that reportedly “outlines the withdrawal procedures according to the financial provisions of the Big 12 bylaws and mutual waivers of legal claims.”

In other words, the letter expresses how A&M, the SEC and the Big 12 can avoid a tri-entity legal cage match. The full letter hasn’t been released yet (that we know of), but if we’re able to get our hands on it, we’ll definitely post it.

In the event that A&M joins the SEC in 2012 — and we’ve had plenty of reasons to believe that’s still the goal — the Aggies could be asked to relinquish at least 90 percent of their conference revenue payout to the Big 12, which is somewhere in the ballpark of $30 million.

Chances are, though, that number will be negotiated.

Also up in the air is, once again, when the Aggies plan on making a move, if* a move is coming. According to A&M president R. Bowen Loftin, who has been given complete control over this potential exit, that decision could come sooner rather than later, despite previous statements to the contrary.

(*note: sorry, we still have to say that)

“I certainly appreciate the discussion among the Big 12 presidents/chancellors and the expression of their desire for Texas A&M to remain in the conference,” Loftin said in a statement. “We all agree that Texas A&M is an extremely valuable institution; thus, it is incumbent upon me, as the president of the university, to ensure that we are in a position to enhance our national visibility and future financial opportunity.

“While this is a complex and long-term decision, it is not our intent to prolong our conference exploration for an extended period of time.”

And it shouldn’t be. Texas A&M has made clear their feelings on the Big 12, and barring some radical culture change in Beebe’s office (or a legal roadblock), they’re not going to change their mind. Likewise, the Big 12 has already put together a short list of replacement candidates, so it’s easy to see where their focus lies.

Now, it looks to be that sorting through the financial consequences of a split is the next — and perhaps last — item on the agenda for both parties.

UPDATED 8:24 p.m. ET: Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com reports that multiple sources have said A&M will formally announce a move to the SEC tomorrow (Tuesday). As Brown always concludes, stay tuned on this one.

Indiana freshman DB Bryant Fitzgerald ruled a non-qualifier after compliance error

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A key member of Indiana’s recruiting class won’t be able to play for the Hoosiers this season as a result of a serious compliance gaff at the school.

Freshman defensive back Bryant Fitzgerald was ruled by the NCAA to be a non-qualifier according to a statement released by the program and, as a result, will now be unable to play or practice for the team. A waiver was requested but both it and the appeal were denied.

At the heart of the matter seems to be the IU compliance office incorrectly advising Fitzgerald what classes to take in order to be eligible right away at the school in the eyes of the NCAA. As the above statement and a later one from athletic director Fred Glass make clear, this was a mistake on the school’s part that will cost the defensive back a full season and not about anything he did or didn’t do.

Fitzgerald was a three-star recruit coming out of high school in nearby Avon, Ind. but was expected to make a serious run at playing time given past comments by head coach Tom Allen. It certainly seems like a bummer all around for player, school and coach but the situation is what it is at this point.

Lane Kiffin lands yet another talented transfer in WVU wideout Jovon Durante

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We can joke about Lane Kiffin turning FAU into the real ‘Last Chance U’ in 2017 but… it’s kind of happening for real.

In addition to adding several alums from the Netflix show, the Owls have been stocking the roster left and right with FBS transfers this offseason and added yet another just before the season starts in West Virginia wide receiver Jovan Durante.

Durante has started 17 games in his first two seasons in Morgantown, racking up 331 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore in 2016. He was expected to assume a starting role once again this year but didn’t report to the Mountaineers preseason camp for what WVU coach Dana Holgorsen described as personal issues.

The South Florida native will have to sit out the 2017 season but will have two seasons of eligibility for the Owls after he redshirts this year.

BYU linebacker looking to transfer to Utah after being forced to redshirt

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When BYU announced this week that linebacker Francis Bernard was going to redshirt this season, only a few people seemed to think anything was really amiss. That does not seem to be the case anymore just a week before the Cougars start their season.

The Salt Lake Tribune talked with Bernard’s brother, James, about the matter and it appears the family is not too happy over the situation and is now looking to transfer. While that wouldn’t normally be much to write home about, the fact that the younger Bernard wants to move up the road to Holy War rival Utah is bound to raise some eyebrows.

“Just to be clear: My brother wants to transfer, regardless,” James Bernard told the paper. “We talk almost every day. He just doesn’t want to stay there any more.”

He went on to say that the reason that first prompted the redshirt announcement was not related to academics or playing time but a potential Honor Code issue with the school. What exactly that violation was however, is not exactly being made clear by the program to the family.

Bernard was suspended from the team’s bowl game last year for an unspecified violation of team rules but was given every indication that he would be back in the good graces of the team prior to preseason camp. That is obviously not the question and it appears a brewing transfer battle to move from Provo to Salt Lake City will soon be taking place between two bitter rivals over the junior linebacker.

Ohio State starting RB still dealing with hamstring injury but expects to play in opener

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Ohio State’s newish looking offense is expected to lean on the ground game early in 2017 but a key cog in that machinery might not be 100 percent healthy heading into the Buckeyes’ opener against Indiana.

Starting tailback Mike Weber has dealt with a lingering hamstring injury he suffered over the summer and hasn’t participated at all in the team’s preseason camp. Despite that bit of concerning news, it seems both the running back and the coaching staff is expecting him to be good to go in less than two weeks when the team kicks off the 2017 campaign.

“I’m getting close,” Weber said Friday, according to Cleveland.com. “They’ve been holding me back all camp to make sure I don’t have problems with it during the season. … I talk to the trainer a lot and it’s looking pretty good. I’m not at full speed yet, but I’m going to get there and I should be ready for the first game.”

Weber rushed for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns last year as a redshirt freshman and will see an increased load carrying the ball with Curtis Samuel off to the NFL. True freshman J.K. Dobbins has apparently slid into the backup role but running backs coach Tony Alford told reporters that the starting job is Weber’s when it comes time to go against the Hoosiers.

We’ll see if that eventually holds up given how finicky hamstring injuries are for tailbacks but at least the prognosis is good enough that Buckeyes fans can breathe a little easier as camp winds down in Columbus.