Adventures-of-Pinocchio

Mizzou AD writes letter reassuring school’s commitment to Big 12

10 Comments

With Texas A&M’s official announcement that it would withdraw from the Big 12 to pursue another conference affiliation (i.e. the SEC) earlier today, many have already wondered/speculated/fantasized about how the move would affect the college football landscape over the course of the foreseeable future.

In other words, would the conference realignment apocalypse that never quite came to fruition last summer begin to take shape now?

Regardless of what may or may not happen elsewhere in the country, the now nine remaining members of the Big 12 conference have pledged — even throughout this entire A&M drama — that their loyalty remains in their current home. To reinforce that notion, a search committee has already been established to find a replacement for A&M; Notre Dame, Arkansas and BYU are reportedly on the shortlist.

But one member of the current Big 12 is still a question mark: Missouri.

Yes, yes, we know they’ve denied talking to the SEC. There’s even a nice letter below written by Mizzou AD/professional rumor debunker Mike Alden about the commitment the Tigers have to the Big 12.

And, in case you were wondering, yes, we’re talking about those Tigers.

But Missouri is one of the few remaining Big 12 members who are valuable enough to be plucked by another conference. They have a presence in both the St. Louis and Kansas City media markets, they’re a good academic institution and they field a competitive football team.

But, Alden insists MU is content on staying right where they are. Here’s his letter below:

Dear Tiger Fans:

As you are likely aware, Texas A&M has informed the Big 12 Conference that they will be making application to another league for their future athletic conference affiliation. That announcement was made this morning in a letter to the Big 12 from President R. Bowen Loftin of Texas A&M.

With the impending departure of the Aggies, where does the Big 12 Conference stand on its future? Dan Beebe, as our Commissioner, is focused on maintaining the Big 12 as a strong and viable league in college athletics. Dan and his leadership team at the Conference Office are working to expand the schools in our league and they have taken an aggressive approach in this manner. As you might imagine, those workings by the league offices are highly confidential and require a great amount of research, coordination and focus.

Dr. Brady Deaton, who is our Chancellor at Mizzou, is the current Chair of the Board of Directors of the Big 12. I know that Dr. Deaton, myself and all of us at Mizzou are committed to working hard to keep the Big 12 a strong and successful conference*. We look to Commissioner Beebe and the Big 12 staff to develop and implement the plans necessary for the future.

Rest assured that the Mizzou “brand” is extremely strong nationally**. We are the flagship institution of the State of Missouri with nearly 6 million residents who passionately follow our University and the Tigers. As a proud member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, we are equally proud of the national recognition Mizzou Athletics has received for our academic, social and competitive accomplishments. Our success wouldn’t be possible without the great support of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans.

The landscape of college athletics continues to evolve, and we will collaborate with the Big 12 staff leadership to guide that direction of our league. Thanks for your patience, understanding and support.

Go Tigers!

(*note: unless the SEC calls)

(*note: strong enough for the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-38, whoever wants us!)

I’ll give Alden credit, though. Even in writing he kept a straight face longer than I did.

Florida AD Jeremy Foley suggests no long-term revival of Gators-Hurricanes

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 07: Quinton Dunbar #1 of the Florida Gators is tackled by Stacy Coley #3 of the Miami Hurricanes during a game  at Sun Life Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
7 Comments

The Florida Gators play Florida State every year, and that appears to be the only school from the ACC Florida will continue to play annually. Sorry, Miami.

Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley was a guest on WRUF in Gainesville, where he was on to discuss a number of various Florida sports topics. Among them, of course, was a question about the future of the Florida-Miami series, if you can even call it a series these days. Foley did not leave much room for the possibility of a long-term series with the Hurricanes.

“No, I do not see them on our schedule on a regular basis,” Foley said. “I think when you’re asking your football team to play eight games in this league and Florida State? That’s a tough slate. This league is obviously as good as it gets, and Florida State is as good as it gets.”

SEC schools are locked to an eight-game conference schedule and must schedule one opponent from another power conference each year. The ACC has a similar rule, and Florida and Florida State each meet their respective conferences’ scheduling rules with their annual series at the end of the regular season. Miami has no such power conference rival to work with, so the Hurricanes are forced to look elsewhere to satisfy their scheduling requirements.

Florida and Miami are scheduled to open the 2019 season against each other in Orlando, but that is the only game in the foreseeable future for a pair of power conference programs that once played on an annual basis until 1987. Since 1987, Florida and Miami have played just six games, including a pair of postseason bowl games.

Helmet sticker to Gridiron Now.

Michigan’s epic summer of satellite camps is here

Jim Harbaugh
2 Comments

Here’s hoping Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff are getting plenty of rest and relaxation this Memorial Day weekend, because the next month is going to be very busy for them. With the start of June just days away, Michigan’s month-long tour of satellite camps is about to begin with 38 stops over 21 states and two countries.

And yes, this is going to cost Michigan a few pennies, but it will be a small price to pay in the long run if it means Michigan will build the kind of dominant program they expected when they hired Harbaugh for the kind of money they did. Michigan already spent $350,000 for the spring break spring football trip to IMG Academy, and now that the trip to Australia is back on for Michigan, the cost will continue to soar. The Detroit Free Press mapped it all out and suggested the satellite camp tour will cover roughly 50,000 miles between stops in the United States, Australia and American Samoa. Of course, not even Harbaugh is making every stop on that tour. For example, he will not be heading to Australia, while a pair of assistants will.

Harbaugh and company will be spanning the nation to work at camps in Connecticut, New Jersey, Alabama, Florida, California, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and many more. Among the programs Michigan coaches will work alongside include Georgia, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Baylor is also hosting one of the camps Michigan will be represented. In March, now former Baylor head coach Art Briles was the guest keynote speaker at a coaching clinic hosted by Harbaugh and his brother, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

One thing we do suspect is this. Wherever Harbaugh goes will generate buzz and draw interest. It could be a very fun month.

Mike Riley bringing rape victim at Oregon State to speak to Huskers

Mike Riley
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
7 Comments

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley is taking an interesting approach to addressing the impact of sexual abuse to his football players in Lincoln. Riley will bring in a former victim of a gang rape incident at Oregon State, which occurred under Riley’s time at the Pac-12 program. Brenda Tracy

Brenda Tracy was allegedly raped in October 1999 during her freshman year at Oregon State by four men, two of which were football players at Oregon State. The charges were later dropped and the two Oregon State players served one-game suspensions by Riley.

Doing the right thing is the key,” Riley said on Thursday, according to Sports Illustrated. “What I’ve learned is that some things that are not negotiable about the opportunity to be on a team. One of those is certain kinds of assault, and one of them is anything to do with guns.”

Considering no charges were ever pursued and the players each served a simple one-game suspension, it stands to reason Tracy would have some animosity toward Riley, who she also blames to an extent. Riley previously invited her to speak to his team while at Oregon State and is now coming through on his promise to allow Tracy to share her story with his new football program at Nebraska.

I despised that man,” Tracy told The Oregonian, speaking of Riley. “I hated him with every cell in my body. This is a coach who victimized me, and now I’m going to stand in front of his football team and tell them how I felt.”

It should be a very powerful message, and it sounds like one that every college football program should consider hearing if possible. In the wake of recent findings at Baylor and a disturbingly growing list of sexual assault cases involving college football players, why not hear how a victim’s life can be impacted by the poor decisions of young men?

“I think kids have to always understand it’s about choices,” Riley said. “The other basic thing to understand is how you treat people. It’s one more piece. I really appreciate Brenda reaching out, stepping out to do this. I think it will be a real-life thing. I think that’s what players need to know about. There’s people’s lives involved here and how it affects them.”

Last November saw a trio of Nebraska players (Tommy Armstrong, Trey Foster and Jordan Westerkamp) connected to an alleged rape incident, but no charges were filed following an investigation by officials due to a lack of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Four-star OL JP Urquidez says he will not enroll at Baylor

during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium on January 1, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images
3 Comments

Continuing an unfortunate trend for the Baylor football program over the course of the last week, Class of 2016 offensive lineman JP Urquidez announced he will not be enrolling at Baylor tomorrow morning as originally planned. Urquidez made the announcement via Twitter.

Rivals rated Urquidez as a four-star prospect out of Copperas Cove, Texas. The recruiting service ranked him the ninth-best offensive tackle in the country in the Class of 2016 and the 24th top player overall from the state of Texas. Urquidez sent a message of support to the recently indefinitely suspended (with the intent to terminate) Art Briles once the news became official.

Urquidez joins fellow Class of 2016 recruits of Baylor Patrick Hudson (another four-star offensive lineman) and four-star running back Kameron Martin in deciding not to enroll in the first summer session at Baylor. Others could soon join them as reports suggest four-star wide receiver Devin Duvernay already wants to move on to another program as well.

Baylor’s Class of 2016 ranked 17th in the nation according to Rivals, but in the wake of this latest scandal news the Bears are already seeing key ingredients of that class looking elsewhere at the final hour.There is not a whole lot that can be done by Baylor other than allowing those players a release from their

National Letter of Intent and offering them best wishes on their way out.