In a statement released shortly after it was confirmed Pittsburgh and Syracuse would be moving from the Big East to the ACC, UConn president Susan Herbst said that while her school is “a proud charter member of the Big East… it is my responsibility as President that we stay in constant communication and be actively involved in discussions with our counterparts from around the country to ensure the successful long-term future of our university’s athletic program.”
Apparently, she wasn’t joking about the constant communication and staying actively involved in discussions with other conference officials.
According to ESPN.com, “Herbst is aggressively pursuing membership in the ACC to become the 15th or 16th member institution” of the conference. Pittsburgh and Syracuse became the 13th and 14th members earlier today, although it remains unclear exactly when they officially join.
At a media teleconference conducted Sunday morning, commissioner John Swofford said that while his conference is comfortable with 14 members, it’s not philosophically opposed to moving to 16. Such a stance would certainly leave the door open for additional expansion; hell, Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said in a statement today that his school is “look[ing] forward to discussions about the future of the league and would encourage a future expansion.”
As an aside, and as it pertains to UConn, the final paragraph of Herbst’s three-paragraph statement released Sunday morning deserves to be highlighted.
“To my mind, the conference realignments and incessant national gossip is distracting many presidents and athletic directors from the real conversations we should be having, about academics, the distorting role of money in sports and what it means to support student-athletes. I hope all settles soon, and we can change the national focus away from profiteering and back to student-athletes, where it belongs.”
Hypocrite much, Ms. Herbst? Apparently it’s fine to take the focus off academics and the distorting role of money in sports and shift it to expansion and profiteering in another conference when it benefits your institution.
People wonder why college sports, football in particular, are in the shape they’re in today? Look no further than the leaders charged with decision-making.
No. 21 Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC) rushed for more yards against No. 17 Arkansas (5-3, 1-3 SEC) than any team has since before the turn of the century en route to a smashing 56-3 victory over the Razorbacks Saturday evening in Jordan Hare Stadium. When all was said and done, the Tigers racked up 543 rushing yards.
Kamryn Pettway led the ground attack with 192 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Eli Stove had a 78-yard touchdown run to boost his 94-yard day and Stanton Truitt rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns to add to Auburn’s wildly productive day on the ground. Quarterback Sean White was a part of the fun too, with 61 rushing yards and a score to go with his 77 passing yards and passing touchdown.
On the other side, Auburn’s defense never allowed Arkansas to get a running game going. The Razorbacks ran 31 running plays and managed just 25 rushing yards in the game. A combined loss of 14 yards were credited to Arkansas quarterbacks Austin Allen and Ty Storey. Allen was forced to leave the game in the first half due to an apparent knee injury but he returned after a brief absence. Rawleigh Williams III was the leading rusher for the Razorbacks with 22 yards on 13 carries.
Auburn also played a pretty clean game with just two penalties for 10 yards and no turnovers (Arkansas had two turnovers). The Razorbacks are going to have to think long and hard about this one, or simply put the game film in the trash and forget about it. Either way, there was no denying this was one of the worst losses Arkansas has experienced under Bret Bielema.
Arkansas will get a little extra time to prepare for their next game. The Razorbacks have a much-needed bye week coming up next weekend, giving them an extra week to prepare for a home game against Florida.
OK, so time to look forward for Auburn. Before you start looking to the end of the year with the Iron Bowl matchup with Alabama, Auburn has to go on the road next week to play Ole Miss. Yes, the Rebels may be a fringe top-25 team this season, but there is no question they can be a dangerous opponent. However, Auburn’s defense has been playing very well the past month and has now held each of their past four opponents to fewer than 15 points. Doing that against Ole Miss may be difficult, especially on the road, but Auburn is playing with confidence.
Alabama’s win over Texas A&M came at a steep cost to both its defense and special teams.
Early in the fourth quarter of the 33-14 win, Eddie Jackson sustained an injury to his left leg and did not return. Following the game, head coach Nick Saban confirmed that Jackson had suffered a broken leg.
As a result, both the senior’s season and his career have come to an abrupt end.
“Eddie was a fantastic player for us and a great leader,” the coach said in quotes distributed by the school. “I think he was an All-American player as a safety, at least in my book. We’re certainly going to miss him, but what a great player, what a great competitor, and what a great guy to have in this program for the time he’s been here.
“He’s done a fantastic job for us and I’m just sick for him and his family. I hate it that it’s one of the things about sports, all sports, and that we have to deal with sometimes as injuries. It’s unfortunate, especially when it happens to a great guy and a very, very good player. We’re certainly going to miss him.”
The loss of Jackson, who some consider the heart and soul of a very talented Tide defense, is a huge one.
Jackson had started the last 23 games at safety after starting 14 games at cornerback his first two seasons with the Tide. The past two seasons, Jackson has returned three interceptions for touchdowns. He’s also one of the best punt returners in the nation, having returned two for touchdowns this season.
Entering the 2016 season, Jackson was widely viewed as a likely first- or second-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
Apparently the grass can indeed be greener on the other side of retirement.
Two games into the 2016 season, Joe Williams announced his retirement from the sport because of unspecified health issues. Less than four weeks later, the senior running back returned to a Utah squad just last week because of a backfield decimated by injury.
In his first game post-retirement, Williams ran for 179 yards in a win over Oregon State last Saturday. A week later, Williams trumped that effort.
In the Week 8 win over UCLA, Williams ran for a career-high 332 yards and four touchdowns as Utah kept pace with Colorado in the Pac-12 South. Williams had entered his brief retirement with 549 career rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns; the past two games, the senior has totaled 511 yards and five touchdowns.
Not surprisingly, Williams’ Week 8 performance set a couple of school records.
The win allowed Utah to keep pace with Colorado, with both the Utes and Buffaloes, thanks to a 10-5 win over Stanford, sitting at 4-1 in Pac-12 South play. Those two teams will meet in the regular-season finale in a game that could very well determine which team represents the division in the conference championship game.
USC, which handed Colorado its lone league loss, could also be factor in the divisional race as they sit at 3-2 on a bye this weekend.
It took one play for Auburn to put some points on the scoreboard, and the Tigers have yet to look back on Arkansas. Auburn holds a decisive 28-3 lead on the Razorbacks at the half. Auburn has run for 268 yards to just 26 yards on the ground by Arkansas.
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen left the game in the first half with an apparent knee injury. He was helped off the field and replaced with redshirt freshman Ty Storey. Allen did return to the game.
Eli Stove (85 yards) took off for a 78-yard touchdown run on the first offensive play Auburn got to run after Arkansas was forced to punt on the game’s opening possession. Auburn’s second touchdown drive took a little longer (10-plays, 91 yards). Kamryn Petway (117 yards) finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead. Arkansas fumbled away the ensuing possession after just three plays, and Auburn capitalized with a Stanton Truitt touchdown run from 20 yards out.
It’s just been a mess of a first half by Arkansas, and the bad news is there is a second half to play.