Covered Wagon

OU to jump to Pac-12 Sooner rather than later?

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Welcome to Game Day 2011 y’all!

On the same day a new season is officially upon us, and just a day after Texas A&M made its biggest jump yet in the latest game of conference leapfrog, the demise of the Big 12-ish is — again — reportedly upon us.

In a piece he penned for the Austin American-Statesman titled “One more move and Big 12 is over”, venerable columnist Kirk Bohls puts the onus for the survival of the conferences squarely on the shoulders of the Oklahoma Sooners. And presumably, based on those he’s spoken to, the Norman school is ready to put its current conference out of its misery and head west.

Should Oklahoma act upon its earnest desires and seek an invitation to join the Pacific-12 Conference — something I’m fully expecting to happen within days, if not hours — that decision could well be the killing blow to the Big 12 while also providing Texas the political cover to follow suit and ask for admission as well.

“Oklahoma owns all the cards,” a Big 12 source added.

But wait.  There’s more says television infomercial guy.  Bohls continues painting a landscape-shifting picture of Texas privately hoping that their Red River rivals make the first in a series of moves — thus ensuring that “the Longhorns’ hands would be politically clean” — in what would result in, “probably before the calendar turns to October… [y]our new Pac-16 members: Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.”

That’s right.  On the first official day of the 2011 season, one of the most respected writers in Big 12 country if not all of college football is not only very publicly seeing the end of the conference — presumably from a source or sources he’s developed from within the conference itself — he’s also saying that all of this will unfold in less than a month’s time.

As if to add a tanker full of fuel to the fire of speculation, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott issued a statement to Suzanne Halliburton of the American-Statesman that does not dismiss Bohls’ scenario.  At all.

“While I cannot predict if and when this (Pac-12 expansion) might make sense for us, we will listen to and evaluate any scenario that would benefit our member institutions, our student-athletes and our fans,” Scott trolled told the paper.

And what of The Longhorn Network, the television elephant in the room that prevented the Pac-16 from being formed last year and played a prominent role in the Aggies departing this year? “The Longhorn Network gets folded into the Pac-16 as a downsized regional network, joining the six regional networks that already exist within the conference,” Bohls writes.

Of course, if Bohls’ apocalyptic scenario were to come to fruition — and obviously that’s a very, very big if right now — it would be a monumental shift for both the future of the game and for the 2011 itself.  Instead of both eyes being focused squarely on the playing field for the foreseeable future, at least one would be trained squarely on the offices of the SEC and the Big Ten.  Make no mistake; if the Pac-12 makes the first real leap into the super-conference stratosphere, the two power conferences will respond in kind — very forcefully, very emphatically.

So, again, welcome to Game Day 2011 y’all!

Or, as Bohls’ put it…

“In the end, these Big 12 schools should have gone their separate ways last summer and avoided all this unnecessary drama and hand-wringing.”

Amen, brutha.  Amen.

Gophers’ leading sacker ruled out of game vs. Nittany Lions

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 01: Tai'yon Devers #92 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers forces a fumble on Darell Garretson #10 of the Oregon State Beavers in the first quarter at TCF Bank Stadium on September 1, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Gophers recovered the fumble setting up a touchdown.(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
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With injuries decimating its own linebacking corps, Penn State may have caught a break on the other side of the ball.

With the Week 5 game against Minnesota still three days away, the Gophers have already announced that Tai’yon Devers has been ruled out against the Nittany Lions.  Devers is dealing with an ankle injury that will sideline the freshman through at least this coming Saturday.

The defensive end currently leads the Gophers in sacks with three, including one in last week’s game against Colorado State.  That one proved to be an absolute smothering of the Rams’ unfortunate quarterback.

In addition to the sacks, Devers also leads the Gophers with three forced fumbles in three games.  According to head coach Tracy Claeys, Dever being more aware of his on-field surroundings could’ve allowed him to add to those totals this weekend.

From the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:

The Rams tried to cut Devers, who has wreaked havoc off the edge.

“He has to learn to protect himself,” Claeys said. “He’s going to see that a little more.”

Ex-LSU AD repeats claim Les Miles turned down Michigan, more money in 2011

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 03:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers leads the team on to the field at Tiger Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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One of the biggest open secrets in all of college football has been confirmed (?) by a person who purportedly had a front-row seat to the spectacle.

Shortly after Rich Rodriguez was fired following the 2010 season, Michigan put on the full-court press to land Les Miles as his replacement.  It was known at the time that then-UM athletic director David Brandon and other school officials flew down to Baton Rouge to meet with Miles, who played his football for the Wolverines in the mid-seventies and was an assistant at his alma mater a decade later.

The open secret many still swear by?  That on that trip south Brandon had offered the job, along with a significant raise to what he was making at LSU, to Miles, who ultimately decided to turn it down and stay with the Tigers.

During a radio interview Wednesday, Skip Bertman, LSU athletic director from 2001-2008, confirmed that version of events

“Les Miles turned that job down for more money at Michigan. He turned it down,” Bertman told the ESPN Radio affiliate in Baton Rouge. “He would never say that because he’s a very humble guy. But I was there; he turned it down.”

Renowned Michigan historian John Bacon, however, disputes not only the 2011 claim, but the 2007 claim by Kirk Herbstreit and one made in 2014 as well.

The football program hired Rodriguez in 2007 and Brady Hoke in 2011, then stuck with Hoke through a rough 2014 season that had Miles-to-Ann Arbor speculation flying yet again. Ultimately, though, the university finally landed its Michigan Man in Jim Harbaugh.  I’m thinking that’s working out just fine for the program, regardless of how exactly things transpired with Miles in the past.

Big Ten to use commemorative coin to honor Sam Foltz, Mike Sandler

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Tributes to Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler have seemingly been a weekly occurrence across college football the first four weeks of the season, and the players’ conference will get on board in Week 5.

A commemorative coin will be used to honor both Foltz and Sadler at all seven Big Ten games this weekend, the league announced Wednesday.  As this is the first full weekend of conference action, the coins, with Foltz on one side and Sadler on the other, will be used for the coin flip prior to each league matchup.

The Cornhuskers have decided to use the coins for the remainder of the season.

Folks and Sadler were killed in a July car accident on their way home from a kick camp in Wisconsin. LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was injured in the wreck, but is kicking this season for the Tigers and honoring both by wearing special cleats.

Below are the coins that will be used, courtesy of the Big Ten:

sam-foltz

mike-sadler

Nick Saban would ‘love’ for Blake Barnett to stay at Alabama

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Blake Barnett #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws before the Advocare Classic against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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At least from Alabama’s side of it, the door’s not completely shut on Blake Barnett‘s future being in Tuscaloosa.

Earlier Wednesday, a report surfaced that Barnett had decided to leave the football program and transfer out.  In meeting with the media a short time later, Nick Saban confirmed that Barnett had “expressed some concern about his future” at a meeting earlier in the day.

The head coach said he “didn’t know” when asked if Barnett, who lost the starting quarterback job to true freshman Jalen Hurts earlier this year, was still a part of the team, although he made it clear that the redshirt freshman was still welcome in the locker room if he changes his mind.

“Blake is a fine young man,” Saban said. “He’s done a great job with his program, and we’d love to see him be a part of the program in the future, but we also want him to do what’s best for him.”

Barnett, who started the opener against USC but held on to the job for just tw series, was a five-star 2015 recruit who 247Sports.com rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country.  The California high school product originally committed to Notre Dame in November of 2013 before decommitting from the Irish in June of the following year.