Handing Over the Keys

Texas will authorize president to decide conference affiliation

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At least as far as Texas is concerned, it will officially be on come Monday.  Reportedly.

Both Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com and Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman are reporting that the UT Board of Regents will authorize president William Powers to, as Bohls writes, “act in [the school’s] best interest in picking its conference.”

It was announced Friday that a special meeting of the UT Board of Regents had been scheduled for Monday, with the main item on the agenda being the “discussion and appropriate action regarding delegation to act on matters related to athletic conference membership.”  Oklahoma’s regents have a meeting earlier the same day with a very similar agenda, and could authorize its president to pursue a similar conference tack.

Brown reports that OU will indeed give their president, David Boren, a similar directive as UT will give Powers

As far as UT is concerned, they appear to have four options when it comes to their future conference affiliation:

  • Stay in the Big 12 and help rebuild the beleaguered conference after the departure of Texas A&M and the possible withdrawal of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State for the Pac-12.  The Longhorns have publicly stated their desire to remain part of their current conference, but are obviously and rightfully leaving all of their league options open
  • Along with Texas Tech, follow the Oklahoma schools to the Pac-12, forming the first BcS superconference.  Such a move would effectively end the Big 12 as it would also set the wheels in motion for Missouri to leave for either the Big Ten or SEC, with such a move leaving the Big 12 with just four members.
  • Go the opposite direction and become a member of the ACC.  Bohls had previously reported that a move by the Longhorns to the ACC should not be dismissed, and that the two sides have already held informal discussions on potential membership.  An alliance with the ACC would also allow UT to continue their beloved Longhorn Network unchanged; a move to the Pac-12, for example, would likely result in LHN being “folded into” that conference’s collection of regional networks.
  • Eschew a conference alliance altogether for football and become an independent.  This appears to be the least likely option for the school, if for nothing more than the era of superconferences could very well be upon us with the crumbling of the Big 12, and UT would not want to be left behind in the conference arms race.

As we’ve stated on multiple occasions the past few days, we all should have a clearer picture of which direction both UT and OU may head come Monday.  Whether that will be a good or bad thing for the Big 12 remains to be seen, although all the signs are pointing to a funeral in the not-too-distant future for the 15-year-old conference.

Wisconsin extends head coach Paul Chryst’s contract through 2022

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 2: Corey Clement #6 of the Wisconsin Badgers points toward head coach Paul Chryst  as the two celebrate following the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. Wisconsin defeated Western Michigan 24-16. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
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Winning a New Year’s Six bowl and outperforming nearly every preseason expectation typically results in a nice boost to a head coach’s bank account and that is the case at Wisconsin this year.

The Badgers announced on Friday that the school’s athletic board had extended head football coach Paul Chryst another year, running through January 31, 2022. Additional contract terms such as a potential raise or incentives were not announced, meaning this was likely just tacking another year onto the former Wisconsin quarterback’s original deal in Madison.

The move isn’t new for the program, which pulled the same extension almost to the day a year ago after Chryst led the Badgers to a 10-3 year in 2015 that was capped off with a Holiday Bowl victory over USC. The coach one-upped that performance in 2016, winning the Big Ten West title and getting selected for the Cotton Bowl, which the team won over previously undefeated Western Michigan.

Chryst’s original contract he signed two years ago was for a term of five seasons through 2020. He originally made around $2.3 million a year but should be hitting the $2.5 million mark heading into 2017 with various increases incorporated.

Vol legend Peyton Manning reportedly advising alma mater Tennessee on AD search

COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 08:  Former Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Peyton Manning walks across the field prior to the start of their game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on October 8, 2016 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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New College Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning is staying busy with various ventures now that he’s retired from the NFL and apparently the Vol legend doesn’t mind returning to Tennessee to add another thing to his plate.

According to a report from the Knoxville News Sentinel, Manning will be part of a search committee for the school’s chancellor as she attempts to find a new athletic director following the retirement of Dave Hart at the end of June. Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is also expected to be part of the six-person strong committee, which will assist recently hired search firm Turnkey Sports and Entertainment in finding the right candidate to lead the department.

Hart’s retirement has known for some time and the fact that Alabama surprisingly hired Greg Byrne away from Arizona without as much as a sniff from the Vols have made many in the fan base a little anxious about the state of the on-going  (and lengthy) search. Manning’s former head coach Phillip Fulmer has reportedly been mentioned as a candidate for the gig but the hire of a search firm and advisory committee suggests that a hire may be a few weeks or months away.

There are few folks connected to Tennessee football more fondly remembered around Knoxville than Manning and you can’t help but wonder if Vols fans longing for some stability and a big name in the AD chair wouldn’t mind pushing the quarterback’s name for the position. If so, perhaps joining the search committee is the first step toward that path and a move that would certainly make a lot more sense than bringing somebody like Fulmer back into the fold.

All Oregon football players released from hospital after offseason workouts

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 29: defensive back Tyree Robinson #2 of the Oregon Ducks dives into the crowd before the game against the Arizona State Sun Devilsat Autzen Stadium on October 29, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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All three Oregon football players hospitalized this week as the result of grueling offseason workouts have been released.

The news, first reported by The Oregonian,  concludes a dramatic week for the program and their new coaching staff after revelations surfaced on Monday that the three were sent to a nearby Springfield, Oregon hospital with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis. The condition primarily affects soft tissue and is triggered by overwork and can eventually lead to damage of the kidneys.

Senior offensive linemen Doug Brenner was actually released on Tuesday per the report, but it took until Friday morning for redshirt freshmen tight end Cam McCormick and offensive lineman Sam Poutasi to be sent home from the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center.

As a result of the workouts, Oregon suspended new strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde for one month without pay and changed the structure on the staff so that Oderinde, who came over from South Florida with Willie Taggart, no longer reports to the Ducks’ coach but the school’s director of performance and sport science.

While you never want to hear about football players going to the hospital, it’s great to hear that the three players who were injured as a result of the workouts have been cleared and sent home.

Former Syracuse coach Scott Shafer hired as Middle Tennessee’s defensive coordinator

Scott Shafer
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Middle Tennessee is giving former Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer a chance to get back in the game. Shafer has been hired to be the new defensive coordinator for the Blue Raiders, the school announced Friday.

“We are all very excited about Scott and his wife Missy joining the Blue Raider family,” said MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill in a released statement. “Scott brings a wealth of experience as a defensive coordinator and we can’t wait until he gets started and puts his plan in place. He will have a positive impact on the program and university as our defensive coordinator.”

Shafer was out of coaching during the 2016 season after being fired by Syracuse after the the previous season. Shafer coached Syracuse to a record of 14-23 in his three years on the job. Now, he returns to a familiar role as defensive coordinator. Shafer has held the title of defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Stanford (under Jim Harbaugh), Michigan (under Rich Rodriguez) and Syracuse (under Doug Marrone; Shafer replaced Marrone once the coach was hired by the NFL’s Buffalo Bills).

Middle Tennessee ranked 96th in the nation in total defense in 2016, allowing 449.5 yards per game. The Blue Raiders also allowed an average of 35.8 points per game (which ranked 109th in the nation).