Report: Big 12 media partners had concerns over BYU; UL, WVU perk up

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The Big 12’s decision to invite TCU as the league’s 10th member late last week came very suddenly after reports surfaced that the conference would look to expand in earnest. The move to acquire the Horned Frogs from the Big East was rumored to be a favorable one by many in the Big 12, but it left a question mark as to why TCU, which does not expand the conference’s geographical footprint or bring in any new TV sets, would be chosen over BYU. The Utah school was long considered to be the favorite for the Big 12 if/when the conference needed to replace Texas A&M, which will now join the SEC in 2012.

Last month, Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com reported that TCU”s stock was rising in the Big 12, and BYU’s was falling. Now, we may know why.

The Salt Lake Tribune writes that they have confirmed that the Big 12’s media partners — ABC/ESPN and FOX — were, at the very least, concerned over adding BYU, citing the school’s no-play-on-Sunday policy. An Oct. 7 report by the Tulsa World stated negotiations between BYU and the Big 12 were becoming complicated.

From the Tribune:

“The Tribune has learned that the television partners had concerns with BYU’s no-play-on-Sunday policy and how it might impact television plans as they related to televising non-football sports on Sundays — particularly the Big 12 conference basketball tournament championship game. That game has not been played on Sunday since 2008, but the television partners wanted to retain the Sunday option.

“Additionally, BYU — which left the Mountain West Conference for more national television exposure as a football independent — apparently wanted assurances from the Big 12 that it would appear on national television a minimum, unspecified, number of times per season. The Cougars also were said to want permission to show their football games not picked up by Big 12 television partners on their own television network, BYUtv, which is available in more than 60 million homes nationwide.”

So, for the immediate future, it doesn’t appear that BYU will be on the Big 12’s expansion radar — if the Big 12 decides to expand beyond 10 teams, of course. Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas has stated that the Big 12 plans to proceed as a 10-team league — Missouri included — for 2012.

If the Big 12 does expand, though, the absence of BYU means a greater focus could be placed on Louisville and West Virginia out of the Big East. Just a short while ago, reports surfaced that the Big East has extended invitations to Boise State, Air Force, Navy and UCF; Houston, SMU and Temple are also in the mix. Additionally, the Big East is looking to raise its exit fees to somewhere in the $15 million range.

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.