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.

Mean Green DC Mike Ekeler formally announced as Tar Heels’ LBs coach

SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 30:  Linebackers Coach Mike Ekeler of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers looks on from the sideline during the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl against University of Arizona Wildcats on December 30, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Cornhuskers defeated the Wildcats 33-0. (Photo By Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

North Carolina’s reported poaching of North Texas’ coaching staff is officially official.

UNC acknowledged in a press release Friday that Mike Ekeler has been hired as the Tar Heels’ new linebackers coach.  Ekeler will take over the job previously held by John Papuchis, who was promoted to defensive coordinator after Gene Chizik abruptly stepped down to spend more time with his family.

“We’re thrilled to add Mike to our coaching staff,” said head coach Larry Fedora in a statement. “He’s a well-respected, energetic coach who has worked with other members of our defensive staff in the past, which will make the transition to Carolina that much easier. He’s an outstanding coach and recruiter who will be a great fit for our program. We look forward to having Mike and his wife and kids join the UNC family.”

Ekeler spent the 2016 season as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Mean Green. Prior to joining UNT, he spent two seasons as inside linebackers coach at Georgia.

He’s also worked on coaching staffs at USC (2013), Indiana (2011-12), Nebraska (2008-10), LSU (2005-07) and Oklahoma (2003-04).  At the latter two stops, Ekeler served as a graduate assistant.

Top Syracuse DB Antwan Cordy gets medical redshirt for 2016 season

TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 31:  Wide receiver Travis Rudolph #15 of the Florida State Seminoles looks to maneuver by safety Antwan Cordy #8 of the Syracuse Orange on October 31, 2015 at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL.  (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Not surprisingly, Syracuse’s top returning defensive back will get to spend a little additional time with the Orange.

On social media Thursday, Antwan Cordy announced that the NCAA has granted him a medical hardship waiver for his 2016 season. Because of the medical redshirt, the safety will have two seasons of eligibility at his disposal instead of just the one prior to the decision.

Should he choose, Cordy could play for the Orange in 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Cordy started the first two games last year, but sustained what turned out to be a season-ending arm injury in a Week 2 loss to Louisville.

In 2015, Cordy started all 12 games for the Orange, with the 5-8, 175-pounder’s 12 tackles for loss leading the team and setting a school record for defensive backs. That total was also second in the ACC amongst secondary players (Duke’s Jeremy Cash, 18).

Former Wisconsin offensive coach returning… as defensive assistant

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 15:  Helmets are raised by the Wisconsin Badgers before the start of the game between the Utah State Aggies and the Wisconsin Badgers September 15, 2012 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Paul Chryst is certainly taking a unique approach in reconstituting his Wisconsin coaching staff.

Earlier this month, Chryst hired Jim Leonhard as his new defensive coordinator despite the latter having just one year of experience as a coach at any level. Now, reports have surfaced that Chryst is bringing Bob Bostad back to Madison to fill a vacancy on the staff.

While Bostad was an offensive assistant during his first tour of duty with the Badgers, he’ll be a defensive coach in this latest stint. Specifically, he’ll serve as UW’s inside linebackers coach.

Bostad would technically replace Justin Wilcox, the coordinator Leonhard replaced after Wilcox took the head-coaching job at Cal last month.

From 2006-11, Bostad was an assistant for the Badgers — the first two seasons as tight ends coach, the last four as offensive line coach. After spending four seasons as the line coach for two NFL franchises — Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-13), Tennessee Titans (2014-15) — Bostad spent the 2016 season as tight ends coach at Northern Illinois.

In a coaching career that spans 27 seasons, this would be Bostad’s first job on the defensive side of the ball.

UPDATED 12:59 p.m. ET: Wisconsin has confirmed the hiring of Bostad.

Amidst medical mystery, Georgia’s Trenton Thompson withdraws from spring semester classes

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 19: Anthony Jennings #11 of the Lousiana-Lafayette Rajin' Cajuns is pursued by Trenton Thompson #78 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

While the details are very hazy at the moment, a member of the Georgia football team has apparently suffered a health scare recently that calls into question his short-term future with the football program.

First reported by WSB-TV, defensive end Trent Thompson suffered an unspecified medical emergency very early Thursday morning and was rushed to an Athens hospital. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution subsequently confirmed the initial report.

Thompson was released from the hospital Thursday morning, his mother confirmed to the television station. No specifics have been released publicly, although the Journal-Constitution, citing sources with knowledge of the situation, is reporting that no drugs or alcohol were involved. It’s also believed that the issue isn’t related to football.

In the wake of those reports as well as others that indicated he had a run-in with Athens police immediately prior to the hospitalization, UGA released the following statement, which reveals that Thompson will be withdrawing from classes this semester because of the unspecified medical issues:

Based upon recent events, Trenton Thompson’s family has authorized UGAAA to release the following information. Trenton has been dealing with a significant medical issue which required emergency hospitalization and extended hospital stay. Trenton was recently discharged from the hospital and remains under close medical care. With respect to last night’s incident, the physical appearance and behavior described in the UGA PD report is solely related to an adverse reaction to medications prescribed specifically for his medical condition. The adverse reaction required emergency transport to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released. Toxicology tests performed at the hospital were negative for OxyContin. We cannot release any further information at this time due to federal privacy laws. Due to the medical issues, Trenton is withdrawing from classes this semester, and his family requests privacy during this time.

As a sophomore last season, Thompson started seven of the 13 games in which he played. His 9.5 tackles for loss led the Bulldogs, while his five sacks were tied for the team lead and the 56 tackles with which he was credited were tops among linemen.

Capping off that breakout season, he was named MVP of UGA’s Liberty Bowl win over TCU.