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Beebe’s ouster, LHN tweaks could keep Sooners in Big 12

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What was the old saying attributed to Mark Twain, that reports of his death have been exaggerated?

Unbelievably, that late-19th century quote may — may — very well be apropos for the current state of the Big 12 — provided the conference’s most powerful member and the conference itself make some significant concessions.

Citing a high-ranking Big 12 source, the Daily Oklahoman is reporting that Oklahoma is open to remaining as a member of the Big 12 as long as two major conditions are met.

The first condition is the immediate removal of Dan Beebe as commissioner of the Big 12 and the appointing of an interim conference head.  Beebe has long been considered by many observers and those associated with the conference as being nothing more than a puppet whose strings are pulled by Texas and Texas alone.  As the Oklahoman notes, Beebe’s desire to appease Texas as the best hope for long-term stability in the conference is viewed by many as “the wrong decision” and has paved the way for the current mess the league is facing.

“The perception is, he answers only to one school,” the source told the paper. “That does not work. …

“The best commissioner’s a consensus builder. We need a consensus-builder commissioner.  You take the Big Ten, SEC, the Pac-12, their conference office runs circles around our conference in capability, not to mention bias. This commissioner totally cost us Texas A&M.”

And, some believe, Nebraska as well.

The second condition involves, of course, Texas and its beloved Longhorn Network.

The other reform the Sooners demand is Texas and ESPN retreating on some its plans for the Longhorn Network. The UT/ESPN partnership angered Big 12 members on two counts: 1) the network reached an agreement with Fox Sports to move a conference game to the Longhorn Network; and 2) The Longhorn Network announced it would show high school highlights even after the conference voted to keep televised high school games off school-branded networks.

The source said that OU could even push for revenue-sharing of individual networks. Texas is reaping more than $12 million a year from its ESPN contract with the Longhorn Network.

The source also makes a good point in regard to the LHN: UT, if it’s to go west with OU to the Pac-12, would be forced to tweak its network in order to fit into that conference’s regional network model; if that’s the case, why not just remain in the Big 12 with a tweaked LHN as well?

It remains unclear whether Texas would be willing acquiesce on the LHN as part of keeping the Big 12 together, or if the chancellors and the presidents of the member institutions would be willing to oust Beebe in order to prevent OU/OSU from bolting for the Pac-12.

Speaking of the Pac-12, Oklahoma is expected to decide sooner rather than later, perhaps by the end of this week, whether to pursue membership in another conference.  If that happens, Oklahoma State — T. Boone Pickensprotestations notwithstanding — is expected to follow suit.  There’s also the possibility, if OU and OSU do indeed pull the trigger on a move, UT and Texas Tech could follow suit.

The Pac-12 is reportedly expected to vote on whether or not to undergo further expansion this Friday.

That vote may very well be moot before it’s even taken — provided Texas does the unexpected and cedes a significant chunk of the power its been allowed to grab over the past few years.

ECU transfer QB Kurt Benkert moves on to Virginia

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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On April 25, East Carolina announced that Kurt Benkert had decided to transfer out of the Pirates football program.  Less than a week later, the quarterback has found himself a new football home.

On Twitter Sunday afternoon, Benkert confirmed that he will be enrolling at Virginia and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Cavaliers.  Beckert also acknowledged his decision in a text message to 247Sports.com.

“I’m really excited to be here,” Beckert said in a portion of the brief text.

As Beckert is headed to UVa. as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Hoos immediately in 2016.  Not only that, but he will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Beckert was named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, but sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  In Charlottesville, Beckert will join a competition that includes returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

Mark Richt continues to be the classiest of acts in college football

Mark Richt gestures after being introduced as the new University of Miami NCAA college football head coach, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015,  in Coral Gables, Fla.  (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
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In my seven-plus years at CFT, I’ve never been shy in expressing my absolute and utter respect for Mark Richt, whether it was for an honorable against-the-grain stance on transfers or honoring a high school football player who tragically drowned before he could become a walk-on at Georgia or myriad other things.  Sunday, Richt solidified that respect.

As you may know, Richt and UGA parted ways this offseason, with the head coach ultimately moving on to Miami to take over his alma mater’s football program.  As expected, his departure from Athens was classy.

Just as expected, one of Richt’s returns to his old stomping grounds further showed his class.

Not to be outdone, Richt’s replacement showed his class as well.

Bravo to both head coaches.  Sometimes, most times, being classy is the absolute right move — even as Richt’s successor could take some lessons from his predecessor when it comes to transfers.

Ohio State draftees to sign contracts worth in excess of $110 million

Urban Meyer
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Forget about going shirtless at a satellite camp or a sleepover or climbing up a tree or any of the like; this is what you call a recruiting pitch.

During the course of the three-day NFL draft, a dozen former Ohio State Buckeyes were drafted.  While OSU failed to break its own record for most picks in a single draft, the 12 selections in the first four rounds were the most ever.

And, not surprisingly, those players are going to get paid.

According to PennLive.com‘s David Jones, those players will sign contracts that could be worth a total of $120 million.  Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch has the number pegged slightly lower at $111,462,707.  Either way, that’s a lot of cash — and a lot dollar signs for Urban Meyer to flout in front of potential recruits.

Of course, not all of that money is guaranteed, although the guaranteed dollars involved aren’t too shabby either.  From the Dispatch:

Just the signing bonuses alone, which range from Bosa’s projected $17,017,226 to Jones’ $383,393, have an expected total of $60,526,660. Unless a player does something to cause his contract to be voided, signing bonuses are theirs to keep.

Regardless of how you spin it, former Buckeyes did quite well financially the last couple of days.  And, as Jones alludes to when it comes to James Franklin and Penn State specifically and the Big Ten in general, Meyer and the Buckeyes are in an entirely different zip code than the rest of the conference — a fact that will no doubt come up on the vast expanses of the recruiting trail.

The good news for Franklin and Penn State: They had three of those 11. The bad news for them and everyone else in the league: Urban Meyer is probably preparing a recruiting flyer right now with a 9-figure dollar amount printed in big bold numbers.

Veteran NFL assistant reportedly to fill Alabama’s coaching vacancy

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Buffalo Bills
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On the same day some details emerged on an Alabama assistant’s “resignation,” that assistant’s potential replacement has been identified.

Citing unnamed sources, al.com is reporting that Karl Dunbar is expected to be hired as the Tide’s new defensive line coach.  Dunbar would replace Bo Davis, who “resigned” Friday amidst allegations of potential NCAA violations.

Dunbar served as Nick Saban‘s strength & conditioning coach at LSU from 2001-02, and then returned to Baton Rouge as Les Miles‘ line coach in 2005 after spending two years (2003-04) in the same position at Oklahoma State.

Most of Dunbar’s coaching career, though, especially recently, has come at the NFL level.

From 2006-11, Dunbar was the line coach for the Minnesota Vikings, and then held the same job with the New York Jets from 2012-2014.  Hired by Rex Ryan to coach the Buffalo Bills’ line in 2015, Dunbar was fired in March of this year.

Dunbar is a former NFL defensive lineman who played for Arizona in 1994-95, when Ryan was one of his Cardinals assistant.