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

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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.

Danny Etling holds off true freshman, named LSU’s starting QB

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Myles Brennan is, more than likely, the future at the quarterback position for LSU.  In the here and now, however, the precocious true freshman will have to bide his time — at least for now.

After a significant, and maybe unexpected, push from the true freshman Brennan, Danny Etling Tuesday was officially named as the Tigers’ starting quarterback in a battle that Ed Orgeron described as “very close.”  Etling, a transfer from Purdue, came into the competition as the incumbent, starting the last 10 games of the 2016 season after taking over the job from Brandon Harris.

“We believe in Danny. We hope he has a great year,” the head coach said according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

In his first season at LSU, Etling completed 160-of-269 passes (59.5%) for 2,123 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.  In his 10 starts, the Tigers went 7-3 in a season that saw them finish 8-4.

Brennan was a four-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country.

Etling’s first start in his second season with the team will come Sept. 2 against BYU in the neutral-site opener.

UTSA-Texas State series rebranded H-E-B I-35 Showdown

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For those not familiar with HEB Grocery Company, it’s a grocery giant founded in Kerrville, Texas, in 1905 by a man named Florence Butt. H-E-B now owns nearly 400 stores stretching across south and central Texas and central Mexico. H-E-B essentially owns the San Antonio area and leases back to its million-plus residents, so it makes sense that when UTSA and Texas State wanted to brand their rivalry, they turned to H-E-B.

Starting this season, the UTSA-Texas State series will now be known as the H-E-B I-35 Showdown

Cue the AD boilerplate!

“We’re thrilled that H-E-B has become the title sponsor for the I-35 rivalry football games between UTSA and Texas State,” UTSA Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey said. “No matter the sport, both fan bases always show up in strong support when the Roadrunners and the Bobcats get together on the playing fields. This newly-branded name for the football games this season and next will only add to the rich history between the two schools.”
 
“It is great to have H-E-B supporting the I-35 football series between Texas State and UTSA,” Texas State Director of Athletics Larry Teis said. “H-E-B has a great relationship with the state of Texas and both universities. We have continued to play UTSA in other sports and the rivalry is strong for our student-athletes and fans.”

The two schools are natural gridiron rivals. They sit just 50 miles apart — connected by Interstate 35, of course — and compete for athletes and regular students alike. The Roadrunners and Bobcats have been Olympics sports rivals for years, primarily as members of the Southland Conference. Each football program is (obviously) in FBS now and have met only once, a 38-31 UTSA win in 2012, since the Roadrunners’ program launched in 2011.

The series will resume Sept. 23 in San Marcos, with Texas State making a return visit to San Antonio on Sept. 22, 2018.

Hugh Freeze reportedly made at least a dozen calls to escort services as Ole Miss coach

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Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze dialed “at least 12” numbers associated with escort services through online advertisements, according to a review of open records obtained by ESPN.com. The calls took place over a 33-month period, stretching from April 2014 through January 2017, and typically lasted two minutes or less.

Those calls appear to be what Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter referenced as “a pattern of personal misconduct” on the night he resigned. The calls are the second phone related-issue connected to Freeze’s dismissal. He also made at least 200 calls to a booster that is under NCAA investigation.

There are two puzzling aspects to Freeze’s calls to escort services: A) that he made the calls on a university-owned cell phone in the first place, and B) that Freeze did not redact the calls from the records request, since other private calls were removed from the public review of his 39,000 calls as the Rebels’ head coach.

“Any personal calls having no relation to UM business are not public records,” Ole Miss attorney Robert T. Jolly wrote in an email to ESPN. “Personal calls will be clearly marked and redacted from the documents released.”

Freeze went 39-25 in five seasons as the Ole Miss head coach, peaking with back-to-back wins over Alabama and a long-awaited Sugar Bowl victory to close the 2015 season but ending with a 5-7 mark and a self-imposed bowl ban for the 2017 season, which will be coached by interim Matt Luke. Ole Miss will sit before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Sept. 11, with Freeze’s character and strict adherence to NCAA recruiting rules a cornerstone of the school’s defense.

Reports: Oklahoma State RB Jeff Carr to transfer

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Jeff Carr is planning to transfer from Oklahoma State, according to a report from Pokes sidelines reporter Robert Allen. That report has since been confirmed by the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman. Carr has since been removed from Oklahoma State’s online roster.

A junior, Carr was Oklahoma State’s most experienced running back but was passed on the depth chart by sophomore Justice Hill. Hill ran the ball 206 times for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns a year ago, while Carr rushed 12 times for 83 yards and one score. His 6.92 yards per carry average led the team. Carr rushed 36 times for 142 yards and one score as a freshman in 2015. Carr also saw his touches as a kickoff returner (29 returns to three) and a receiver (11 catches to one) fall from 2015 to ’16.

After losing the Temple, Texas, native, Oklahoma State will have five running backs on scholarship — four freshmen and one sophomore, Hill.

Multiple outlets have reported Carr is headed to Texas A&M-Kingsville, a Division II school that will permit Carr to play immediately.