D-Day at hand for A&M, SEC?


It’s been rumored since last week that Tuesday/Wednesday could be the day Texas A&M and the SEC finally and officially consummate their months-long flirtation.

Tuesday came and went without an announcement.  Wednesday, however, appears to be a different story.

The first step after announcing in late August that it was “in the best interest of Texas A&M to make application to join another athletic conference” was to apply for membership into the SEC.  That’s already happened.  The next big step for A&M was a full vote of the SEC’s presidents/chancellors; that reportedly happened at some point Tuesday evening in Atlanta, with some outlets calling it a unanimous vote in favor of A&M’s inclusion while another had the tally at 10-2 in favor; yet another had the vote at 11-0 in favor, with Vanderbilt, long believed to be an opponent of further expansion, abstaining.

Suffice to say, the SEC has neither confirmed nor denied that a vote was taken on the A&M membership issue, let alone that they have approved.

The Big 12 is planning a public response for today to A&M’s imminent departure, CFT has confirmed.

Public pronouncements, or lack thereof, notwithstanding, the SEC has indeed formally approved A&M as the 13 member — nine “yea” votes from the 12 current school members was needed — although that thumbs-up may have come with a proviso.  Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com wrote Tuesday night that A&M’s membership has been approved pending “each individual member of the Big 12 waiv[ing] its right to litigation against the SEC.”

That could at least put a temporary fly in the realignment ointment as Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News posted on Twitter very early this morning that Baylor, which yesterday launched a “Don’t Mess With Texas Football” campaign, “is still suggesting “tortious interference” claim as a possibility against both the SEC and Mike Slive personally.”  The fear on Baylor’s end is that, if A&M bolts from the Big 12 to the SEC, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech would do the same for the Pac-12, leaving BU with a conference in utter shambles and on the brink of extinction.

Despite BU’s scrambling and last-ditch Hail Mary to save the conference, all signs point to an official announcement from A&M sooner rather than later, likely as early as today.  MR.SEC.com among others reported that a press conference has been tentatively scheduled for College Station, with a significant chunk of the Zone Club at Kyle Field blocked off for the ceremonies.  The San Antonio Express-News also reports that the Zone Club has also been reserved for Thursday, presumably on the off-chance that last-minute legal wrangling delays the inevitable.

With the Aggies’ bags packed and the car warming up in the driveway, it appears the SEC’s attention will now turn to a 14th member to even out its conference roll.  Indications are conference commissioner Mike Slive has been authorized to commence discussions with West Virginia and Missouri — another current Big 12 member — as that 14th team.  Speculation connecting those two schools to the SEC have been bubbling just below the surface for weeks, although the Big Ten may have something to say in regards to Mizzou if a significant shift in the conference landscape is in the offing.

And what of the Big 12?  By all appearances, Oklahoma will have the fate of that conference in its hands.  If A&M leaves… if Missouri does the same… the Sooners, and by extension their in-state brethren Oklahoma State, may have no choice but to pull the trigger on a move west, a move they’ve heavily intimated is a real possibility in recent days.  If all of that were to come to fruition, Texas and Texas Tech would seem very likely to do the state’s patented two-step out the Big 12’s door and hitch a ride with the Oklahoma schools to the Pac-12.

Of course, A&M is the first domino.  Until that one tips, everything else remains very much fluid.  By all accounts, however, there could be a whole helluva lot of tipping going on, perhaps as early as today.

UPDATED 8:34 a.m. ET: Hold off on blowing up the party balloons.  Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has posted a couple of notes on his Twitter account that the legal wrangling spoke of earlier — mainly on the part of Baylor — has at least temporarily tapped the brakes on A&M’s announcement they will be moving to the SEC.

Source: A&M announcement on SEC bid on hold because of litigation threats from Baylor. SEC bid contingent on B12 schools not suing.

Big 12/A&M had indicated mutual waivers of legal action in prior correspondence. But BU now considering suit against SEC, Mike Slive.

Incidentally, Ken Starr — yes, that Ken Starr — is Baylor’s president.  Feel free to insert your own jokes at your leisure.

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa injures thumb on throwing hand in spring practice opener

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This is not exactly the most optimal way to open the spring for Nick Saban and Alabama.

Shortly before seven p.m. ET this evening, grad transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew, who originally committed to play his last season of college football at Alabama, announced on Twitter that he will instead move on to Washington State.  Not long after that, after the Crimson Tide had completed their first practice of the spring, Saban confirmed that Tua Tagovailoa sustained an injury to the thumb on his right (throwing) hand.  Specifically how he sustained the injury wasn’t clear.

The rising sophomore will be taken to Birmingham for further evaluation; just how long he’ll be sidelined remains to be seen.

Jalen Hurts started every game but one at quarterback the past two seasons, guiding the Crimson Tide to a 26-2 record in that span.  He was under center for the national championship game loss to Clemson, and was in the same spot for this year’s title game against Georgia until a 13-0 halftime deficit compelled Saban to pull the trigger on a change.

And the rest, as they say, is history, as Tagovailoa played a significant role in a second-half comeback that was capped by the true freshman’s game-winning touchdown pass in the first overtime.  Even as it seems obvious to those on the outside that this is Tagovailoa’s team moving forward, given how much more advanced the backup is in the passing game than the erstwhile starter, Saban is not quite ready to pull the trigger on a full-time change at the position.  In fact, the head coach even stated that he’s open to playing both quarterbacks.

Minshew, who started five games at East Carolina last season, was viewed as experienced insurance in case Hurts decided to transfer.  Or, if Tagovailoa suffered an injury.

After committing to Alabama, grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew tweets flip to Washington State

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So much for the implementation of the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™.

In late February, Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer quarterback from East Carolina, confirmed that he had committed to play for Alabama and would enroll at the university in May.  Nearly three weeks later, Minshew shifted his course significantly, announcing on Twitter that he is “[p]roud to say that I’ll be playing my last year of college ball at Washington State.”

At least when it comes to the opportunity for playing time, the Cougars, looking to replace Luke Falk, make much more sense than the Crimson Tide, who has, in addition to a two-year starter in Hurts, national championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa.

As a graduate transfer, Minshew will be eligible to play immediately for Wazzu in 2018 and could be in line to win a starting job at the Power Five school.

Minshew started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.

The news of Minshew’s initial commitment to UA came a little over a week after Minshew visited the Tuscaloosa campus.  Earlier in February, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.

WATCH: Amazon releases trailer for ‘All or Nothing’ season following Michigan

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“All or Nothing” has been Amazon’s answer to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with one clear distinction — “All or Nothing” actually follows its subject throughout the season. The first two seasons followed the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams, and has now expanded into the college game. Amazon on Tuesday unveiled the trailer for its upcoming season with Michigan, in which its cameras followed Jim Harbaugh‘s Wolverines through an 8-5 campaign where the maize and blue won no games of consequence.

This is not the first such documentary series to follow a college team. Showtime’s “A Season With” has chronicled seasons of Florida State, Notre Dame and Navy.

The upcoming season will hit all Amazon Prime streaming devices on April 6.

Report: Auburn WR Eli Stove undergoes surgery for torn ACL

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A significant development has gone under the radar at Auburn, until now. Junior wide receiver Eli Stove tore his ACL during Auburn’s first spring practice and underwent surgery last Tuesday, according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover.

As a sophomore in 2017, Stove caught 29 passes for 265 yards and rushed 30 times for 315 yards and two touchdowns, which made him the Tigers’ third-leading rusher.

Stove was expected to increase his portfolio heading into 2018, but now he’ll spend the foreseeable future working simply to get back on the field. No timetable has been set for Stove’s return.

Though Stove is one of Auburn’s most talented pass-catchers, the Tigers aren’t hurting for depth even in his absence. Nine wideouts caught a pass for Auburn last season, and not one of them was a senior.