D-Day at hand for A&M, SEC?

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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 announces hiring of UTSA defensive coordinator

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In early January, new NCAA legislation will officially allow FBS football programs to add a 10th on-field assistant to their coaching staffs.  Friday, Alabama, not surprisingly, became the first Power Five program to officially dip into that particular coaching pool.

The Crimson Tide confirmed in a press release that Pete Golding has been added to Nick Saban‘s staff as an ambiguous defensive assistant.  Golding will not be permitted to assume an on-field role until Jan. 9, the day the 10th assistant rule officially goes into effect.

The 2017 College Football Playoff championship game is scheduled to be played Jan. 8 of next year, for what it’s worth.

“We are pleased to have Pete and his family join our staff at Alabama,” Saban said in a statement. “Pete is an exciting young coach, who has an outstanding reputation as both a teacher and recruiter. He will be a great fit in our organization with his knowledge of the game and his ability to relate to student-athletes. We are thrilled to welcome Pete and his family to Alabama.”

Golding, who will be permitted to work with his new program in an off-field capacity for now, has spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at UT-San Antonio.  Prior to that, Golding spent two seasons as the safeties coach at Southern Miss, his first job at the FBS level.

Saban will still need to fill the hole created by defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt‘s hiring as the head coach at Tennessee.  Pruitt will remain at Alabama through its playoff run, however long it lasts.

As accuser blasts DA’s office, protective order against Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson dismissed

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Thursday, Cleveland County (Okla.) District Attorney Greg Mashburn announced in a press conference that his office would not pursue charges related to allegations of rape made against Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson. A day later, there were a pair of developments in connection to the situation.

In a statement released Friday, the accuser who claimed Anderson raped her in mid-November released a blistering statement blasting the prosecutors, stating that her faith in the justice system has been diminished by the actions of the district attorney’s office. Specifically, she decried, in part, “inaccurate statements” from Mashburn at the Thursday press conference and hopes that his office’s “unorthodox, erroneous and egregious release of detailed information does not affect and/or deter future victims from coming forward.”

My choice to stay silent to the media was an intentional decision. I held full faith that the Oklahoma criminal justice system would achieve due process with a thorough investigation. Yesterday’s press conference, held by the Cleveland County District Attorney’s office, diminished my faith in our local judicial system. I was speechless when I heard inaccurate statements, a disregard for addressing my inability to give consent, and a projected perceived bias. I was led to believe that the case details provided to the media would be a vague overview of the investigative process. I truly hope their unorthodox, erroneous and egregious release of detailed information does not affect and/or deter future victims from coming forward.

In the press conference, the prosecutor noted several text messages between the accuser and Anderson after the alleged assault that were described as friendly in nature. Anderson’s attorney claimed that the accuser only went to the authorities with her claims after Anderson had rejected several of her advances in the weeks following the alleged assault.

Earlier this month, the 23-year-old woman filed for an emergency order of protection against Anderson; additional details subsequently emerged, with the woman describing the player in a written statement to the court as the “alleged rapist” and herself as the “victim of rape.” A hearing on the protective order had been scheduled for Dec. 18.

That hearing three days from today has since been canceled. From the accuser’s statement:

Despite my adamant fight for justice, I have chosen to dismiss my Victim Protective Order upon receiving military orders two days ago to begin training. I look forward to starting this next chapter of my life as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

The woman, who signed her statement “Courtney J. Thornton, OU Class of 2017,” closed the missive with the following paragraph:

In the future, I ask you to consider all sides of every story before resorting to absolutes. Coming forward was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but I never wanted to regret not reporting what happened that night. In the humble words of Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘What you don’t do can be a destructive force.’

Ohio State assistant coach Larry Johnson takes to Twitter to deny retirement rumors

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The addition of an early signing period in college football has altered the sport in many different ways this year, from super quick coaching searches to an ever changing recruiting calendar and process. While you can debate the merits of the new Dec. 20th date all you want, there’s no denying that the entire process has been accelerated much more so than in past seasons.

That is also very true when it comes to ‘crootin rumors.

Apparently there have been a few such rumors floating around that veteran Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson was set to retire at some point in the not too distant future (i.e. after the season). The coach is one of the best in the business and highly regarded for his recruiting abilities so naturally he made things very clear on Twitter Friday morning that he will be in Columbus and wanted to set the record straight that he would not be leaving the staff.

You could probably chalk up the rumors and grumblings to a bit of negative recruiting from some rivals given that the coach is in his mid-sixties but it’s great news for the Buckeyes that he will indeed be the team’s line coach for the forseeable future.

Missouri hires former Florida coach Brad Davis as Tigers new offensive line coach

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Missouri has their new offensive line coach and they didn’t even have to look outside their own division to find one.

The Tigers announced on Friday that they had hired Brad Davis to be the team’s new offensive line coach after he spent the past season at SEC East rival Florida coaching the same position group

“I’m very pleased to have Brad and his family join our program,” head coach Barry Odom said in a statement.  “He’s a tremendous teacher and mentor, and he’s been lights out on the recruiting trail with his approach to building true relationships with kids.  Brad has experience in the SEC and he has worked hard to earn a great amount of respect among his peers.  I’m excited to have him with us, and I know he is going to do a great job helping us move forward offensively and continue building,”

Davis was not retained by new Gators coach Dan Mullen but the former Oklahoma offensive lineman has experience from prior stops at East Carolina and North Carolina over the years. He replaces Glen Elarbee, who left as Missouri’s offensive line coach to follow Josh Heupel to UCF.