Big East expansion continues to be a mess

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Big East football on Saturday was largely unbearable (again) with games like a 16-10 victory by UConn over South Florida and yet another second-half collapse by Pitt in a 26-14 loss to a very average Utah team; a 21-20 come-from-behind win by Rutgers over Navy was the league’s only redeeming game.

The Big East’s conference expansion woes have been equally, if not more, frustrating than the on-the-field performances. The conference reportedly voted Friday to extend formal invites to Boise State, Air Force, Navy and UCF in either a football-only capacity or as a full-time member, and Temple, SMU and Houston were all in consideration for the final two spots.

Since then, it’s been a complete mess.

Big East presidents have yet to vote on raising exit fees to at least $10 million, a priority that was supposed to have been taken care of Friday and was seen as a trigger for acceptance from the likes of Boise State and Navy. Both programs reportedly had reservations about joining the Big East unless exit fees were raised beyond their current $5 million.

An ESPN report later stated that Navy was very skeptical about joining the conference and that the Big East’s increased exit fees were conditioned on acceptance from Houston, SMU, Boise State and Air Force.

Navy says that’s simply not true.

We’re still in the running, there’s no question,” said Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk Saturday to the Baltimore Sun. “All the media speculation, there’s no credibility to it… We’re not skeptical about joining.”

One candidate that is on edge teetering on the outside looking in is Temple. The Owls are reportedly being blocked by Villanova and other basketball members as a member of the Big East. Temple was kicked out of the Big East after the 2004 season and was thought to be a potential addition for the league’s new 12-team expansion plans.

So, just to be clear: Villanova, a basketball-only member with no means to move up to 1-A football has, with the help of other basketball-only members with no means to to move up to 1-A football, has successfully blocked Temple. The Philadelphia Inquirer states, though, that Big East basketball members were more open to the idea of bringing in the Philly school as a football-only member.

Speaking of which, what about Boise State? Mountain West athletic director Chris Thompson confirmed on a Friday night conference call over the MWC new “alliance” with Conference USA that Boise State had been in talks with the Big East about joining the conference. Whether they will remains to be seen.

At any rate, Boise and Navy still appear to be on the Big East’s radar. Pete Thamel of the New York Times reports the Big East’s expansion plans include “Air Force, Navy and Boise State as football-only members, as well as Central Florida, Southern Methodist and Houston as full members.”

On the same Friday conference call, Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said UCF was in talks with the Big East as well, but added he was unaware of any talks among Houston, SMU and the Big East.

Invites for new members, whomever they may be, may not come until Monday, the same day as when the conference is expected (again) to vote on exit fees. Big East bylaws state no invitations can be sent until after a 72-hour period from when member presidents are informed of plans to expand and/or restructure.

This delay could be for myriad reasons, but it’s still very possible that Louisville and West Virginia, especially the latter, are holding out as long as possible for an invite from another conference. The Big 12 is currently debating as to whether they would stay at 10 members or expand again to 12. BYU, thought to be off the Big 12’s radar, still remains the biggest obstacle for either of those Big East teams hoping to gain membership into the Big 12.

The official number of Big East football teams could be decided this week. However, the possibility remains very much alive that it will not stay at that number for even the immediate future, even with heightened exit fees.

Urban Meyer’s wife apologizes after taking Twitter shot at Colin Kaepernick’s choices

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The wife of one of the top head coaches in college football dipped her toes into an ongoing national controversy — and not long after attempted to un-dip them.

In reaction to news that Colin Kaepernick, who kick-started the anthem kneeling controversy last season, had filed a grievance claiming that NFL owners colluded to keep him out of the league, Shelley Meyer tweeted “What-ever, he made his choices.”  The tweet from the personal Twitter account of the wife of Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was quickly deleted.

She also tweeted, in response to one of her followers stating that “I would take Tim Tebow over him any day,” “A million times. No comparison.”

The original tweet gained enough traction pre-deletion, however, that Kaepernick’s mother used the same social media website to chide Mrs. Meyer.

Less than 24 hours after the mini social media maelstrom erupted, Mrs. Meyer offered up somewhat of an apology/further explanation for her original tweet.

Arkansas starting QB Austin Allen could miss another couple weeks

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It appears Arkansas will be without its starting quarterback for a while longer than just one week.

An injury to his right (throwing) shoulder in the Week 6 loss to South Carolina knocked Austin Allen out of the game.  After some initial uncertainty in the week leading up to the Week 7 game against top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Allen was indeed ruled out for what turned into a 41-9 loss.

With No. 21 Auburn up next, Bret Bielema all but ruled the senior out of the Week 7 matchup.  Additionally, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has reported that Allen could miss up to three more weeks after being sidelined last weekend.

“If it came to a point later in the week where he could practice Thursday, I think there’s merit to (Allen returning this week),” Bielema said. “Where he’s at right now, I’d say we’re still a couple of weeks away, but Austin is a guy who surprises a lot of people and if he can go and do things, it’s a positive for us.”

Should the three-week timeline come into play, he would miss the AU game as well as contests against Ole Miss and Coastal Carolina before returning for the road trip to LSU Nov. 11.

If Allen is indeed sidelined, Cole Kelley (pictured) would again take his place.  Making his first career start, the redshirt freshman completed 23-of-42 passes for 200 yards, one touchdown and one interception on the road against the vaunted Crimson Tide.

Butch Jones says the most Butch Jones quote of all time

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It’s become a theory among some in the media that Butch Jones is conducting a social experiment or participating some sort of performance art. While that’s the more charitable and fun interpretation, I tend to think the Tennessee head coach is just frighteningly insecure and, thus, fighting for every inch of public approval he can in a likely doomed attempt to keep his job.

That approach has backed him into some verbal corners that, in the long run, make his job more difficult on himself.

I’m talking about the “Champions of Life” quote of last season or, in February, actually stating that he didn’t want 5-star players, he wanted 5-star hearts.

This season has seen Jones go on an odd rant blaming the media for negative recruiting and saying Tennessee had one of the best bye weeks ever last week.

It wasn’t one of the best bye weeks ever, because Tennessee lost at home to South Carolina, 15-9. And you’re not going to believe Jones’s explanation for why Tennessee loss. Scratch that. You will believe his explanation, and that’s the problem here, isn’t it?

Here’s the full quote.

Jones is 33-24 in his four-plus seasons in Knoxville, and 14-21 in the SEC. Those numbers will likely fall to 33-25 and 14-22 after Saturday, when the Vols face No. 1 Alabama. The end is likely near.

And here’s the grand irony of Jones’s everything’s-sunny-here p.r. strategy: his attempt to keep his job by stating blatantly cliche quotes in the state of the obvious will live on much longer than Jones’s actual tenure. Two and three years from now, when Jones is working on someone else’s staff or sitting on his buyout money, the next time an on-the-hot-seat coach says his team won the game everywhere except the scoreboard, we’ll see he Pulled a Butch.

Houston Nutt settles lawsuit with Ole Miss

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Houston Nutt wanted money and an apology from Ole Miss. He’ll have to settle for the second of the two — and a largely different future for the program he used to lead.

It was Nutt’s lawsuit, remember, which exposed the documents that led to a Mississippi State fan finding Hugh Freeze‘s call to a Tampa escort service, which led to Freeze’s resignation, which led to… we have no idea what it will lead to, but, whatever that future is, it will be wildly different than if Freeze was still the Rebels’ coach.

Nutt amended his lawsuit in August to seek simply an apology from Ole Miss, and that apology finally came on Monday.

Each side released their own bitter, short statements.

Nutt will go on, with his apology but without any monetary compensation, while Ole Miss will play out the string of this season, hire a new coach, and move into a future that will be immeasurably different that the one it would have lived had it apologized to Nutt in the first place.