OU president’s comments cast further doubt on Big 12’s future

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Earlier Friday, Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel fired a shot across the bow of both Texas and the Big 12, saying that “[w]ithout question there’s some issues that other leagues don’t have… [and] we all know where it starts.”

A short time later, another, more influential conference official drove a tanker truck full of fuel onto the scene and started hosing down the fire currently roaring around the Big 12.

Speaking at the groundbreaking for a new student housing center, Oklahoma president David Boren said his university’s conference affiliation would likely be determined at some point between Monday and sometime around the middle of September.  What he left open, and what further illustrates the uncertainty swirling around the Big 12, is exactly which conference the Sooners will be in when his personal “deadline” comes and goes.

“My experience is that, in these kinds of things, it might be a matter of 72 hours, it might be a matter of two weeks,”  Boren said by way of Travis Haney of the Daily Oklahoman. “I don’t really think this is something that’s going to linger on beyond two or three weeks. …

It’s too early yet to know exactly what the outcome will be. Our main responsibility will be protecting the interest of the University of Oklahoma, do what’s in the best long-term interest of the university and our athletics department and the fans. …

“At this point in time, I’ll be very honest with you in saying I do not know with certainty, or perhaps even can’t hazard a totally intelligent guess as to what our final decision will be. But we are carefully looking over all the options.”

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman reported earlier this week that, presumably based on conversations with his sources, he’s fully expecting OU to seek an invitation to the Pac-12 “within days, if not hours.”  While Boren did not specifically confirm Bohls’ report, the president did confirm that his university has drawn “interest from other conferences and other universities.”  It’s interesting that Boren chose the plural of the word conference; thus far, OU has only been mentioned in connection to the Pac-12.

Boren added he’s disappointed that Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M have left or are on the verge of leaving the Big 12 in the past 15 months, and “disappointed… that we face the challenge that we do today.”

The events of the past few weeks, and the last couple of days in particular, leads one to believe there are just two certainties when it comes to the Big 12 in general and OU specifically.  One, OU, even without an definitive declaration from Boren, is looking at/sending out feelers to other conferences, most certainly the Pac-12 and quite possibly even the Big Ten if some of the rumors we’re hearing have any validity to them.  Secondly, the Big 12 can survive the loss of Colorado easily, or even the difficult losses of Nebraska and Texas A&M.  What the Big 12 can’t survive, and as Ben hinted at earlier today, is losing either Texas or Oklahoma — or both if OU’s departure would lead to either independence or UT following their Red River rivals west.

Either way, and based on Boren’s comments this evening, we should know at some point this month whether the Big 12 will remain a viable conference with OU as a member, or if the league will implode from within less than two decades after it was formed.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

California’s state-funded travel ban to discriminating states raises mild football scheduling concerns

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The state of California is banning state-funded travel to the states of Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Those states are added to the previous state-funded travel bans that included Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee due to what California lawmakers say are laws that allow for discrimination against gay and transgender people.

So what does this have to do with college football? My colleague, Bryan, notes this latest decision from the state means scheduling any potential road games for a handful of schools just got a tad trickier.

This development poses a couple of issues for some California schools to address moving forward.

San Jose State is the school affected by this latest news right off the bat. San Jose State has a road game scheduled at Texas on September 9 this season. San Jose State may have to rely on some of that guaranteed money from Texas to cover the expenses, which would put a dent in the total takeaway from playing the game in the first place.

Cal is also scheduled to play at North Carolina on September 2. Cal also plays at TCU in 2021 and at Auburn in 2024. If the ban is still in operation at those times, then Cal will have to budget ahead of time to tackle the expenses. UCLA will play at Memphis on September 19.

The state-funded travel ban to these states may not be an issue for the postseason, as bowl game expenses tend to be carried by the conference and their revenue shares.

Fresno State has a road game at Texas A&M scheduled in 2020. San Diego State has no future scheduling hassles to worry about for the time being.

When ‘physically, mentally ready,’ door wide open for Keyshawn Johnson Jr.’s return to Nebraska

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Keyshawn Johnson Jr. has yet to play a down for Nebraska, but, if it’s up to Mike Riley, he will at some point down the road.

Earlier this month, the son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  This past week, the younger Johnson decided to take a leave of absence, with his father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and will not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.

Left open at the time was the question of whether Johnson Jr. would ever play for the ‘Huskers, period.  Friday, Riley left the door wide open for a return.

“We’re disappointed that he’s not here with us right now today,” the head coach said according to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “I think there’s kind of a wellness factor for Keyshawn going home. We talked to him about the possibility of maybe enrolling part time and taking care of his progress toward his degree, and also getting in great shape.

“And we opened the door for return, which is just kind of left open that we’ll deal with at the time that he is physically and mentally ready to do that.”

A three-star 2017 signee who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, the younger Johnson had been expected to be an immediate contributor for the Cornhuskers this season.

Ex-K-State WR involved in release imbroglio transfers to Appalachian State

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After public pressure helped get him out of the Little Apple, Corey Sutton is going to resume his collegiate playing career on the East Coast.

On his personal Twitter account Friday night, Sutton (pictured, No. 12) announced that he is “[b]lessed to say I will be continuing my collegiate career at Appalachian State University.” The rising sophomore will have to sit out the 2017 season because of arcane and one-sided NCAA transfer rules.

Beginning in 2018, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

The move comes three weeks or so after a very noisy exit from his first college football home.

In early June, the transferring wide receiver revealed in an interview that Kansas State had denied a release to all 35 schools he requested, including FCS and Div. II programs.  Bill Snyder both confirmed the accuracy of Sutton’s accounting of events and defended his decision, then inexplicably ratcheted up the public rhetoric by revealing Sutton had failed a pair of drug tests.

Facing a maelstrom of criticism, Snyder subsequently apologized publicly while the football program granted Sutton a “full release” from his scholarship that still restricted him from transferring to any Big 12 school or one that’s on K-State’s future schedule while he still has eligibility. It’s unclear if the Sun Belt Mountaineers were on Sutton’s original list of 35 schools that was denied by the university.

In his lone season with the Wildcats, Sutton played in 11 games, catching four passes for 54 yards. Sutton came to K-State as a three-star 2016 signee after playing his high school football in North Carolina.