Big East confirms upped exit fees, no invites sent yet


With speculative reporting bouncing off every corner of the Internet the past week or so, the Big East held a teleconference Tuesday afternoon to address potential expansion in the conference.

After a half hour of listening to commissioner John Marinatto answer questions, however, we don’t really know much more than we did coming in, other than listening to the piano version of “Winding Road” while waiting on hold for the call to start makes one seriously contemplate jamming an uncapped Sharpie into one or both ears.

Arguably the biggest news to come out of Marinatto’s half hour with the media involved invitations to potential members.  Specifically, Marinatto said that, contrary to multiple reports — including one last night involving Houston — no official invitations have been sent to any potential members.  That official stance buttresses a New York Post report over the weekend that no invitations will be sent until after the conference’s basketball media days, which will be held Wednesday.  The conference’s concern, and something which Marinatto alluded to during the teleconference, is that the expansion talk will overshadow the bedrock sport of the league.

Marinatto also confirmed reports from Monday night that the conference had unanimously voted to raise the exit fees from its current number of $5 million to $10 million.  The one caveat is that the increase in exit fee will be triggered as progress is made in signing new members.

“This development is a significant step forward, as well as a positive demonstration and acknowledgement of the continued benefits of being in the Big East Conference,” said Marinatto in a statement. “It sends a message to those institutions we are talking to about joining us. In addition, our members have given us their support to move towards a 12-team football model. Each of our member schools is behind this effort, and we are confident we can achieve it.  We hope to have an announcement soon concerning new members.”

On at least two occasions, Marinatto addressed questions concerning the timing of Pittsburgh and Syracuse leaving the Big East for the ACC.  Current conference bylaws state that schools must wait 27 months after notifying the league of its intentions before moving to another league.  Marinatto said both schools will be held to that timeline, even if the conference gets to the 12 members the current expansion plan calls for.  Such a timeline would mean neither school would be able to join their conference until the 2014-2015 academic year.

Finally, Marinatto confirmed that the Big East has undertaken preliminary discussions with several schools regarding potential membership, although he refused to get into any specific names.  In addition to Houston, it’s believed that invitations are forthcoming for UCF and SMU in all sports, and Boise State, Air Force and Navy as football-only members.

Despite Marinatto’s reticence to specifically address which schools are under consideration, it’s believed all six schools mentioned above will receive invitations to join the conference before the end of the work week.

Report: Alabama working on scheduling home-and-home with Notre Dame

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Two of the most successful programs in all of college football may be set to renew their rivalry on the gridiron.

In a tidbit that can make every fan of the sport giddy with excitement, the Tuscaloosa News is reporting that Alabama is negotiating with Notre Dame about a potential home-and-home series in football. Nick Saban‘s program is also apparently pursuing a home-and-home with another big name as well in a somewhat stark scheduling philosophy change from the school after years of big neutral site games at places like AT&T Stadium in Texas and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

“I’ll say that we are exploring some home-and-homes,” Crimson Tide athletic director Greg Byrne told the paper.

That’s not exactly denying the story…

Of course the Tide and Irish have a lengthy history in the sport, famously playing back in the 1970’s during several key bowl games and most recently contesting the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against each other (which both sides probably can’t forget about in two very different ways). Amazingly, Alabama has only played two home-and-home series since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa and let’s just say that a trip to Duke isn’t exactly the same as going to South Bend.

As for the Irish, they’ve shown an increased appetite toward playing SEC teams in recent years. Notre Dame hosted Georgia last season and has also recently added Arkansas and Texas A&M to the docket in future years. Given how schedules are locked in so far in advance it seems doubtful we’ll be able to stage a rematch between Saban and Brian Kelly but, either way, these two programs getting together is a welcome bit of offseason news.

Georgia fires associate equipment manager after being charged for illegal eavesdropping

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A quiet offseason is a good offseason for college head coaches but that does not appear to be the case at Georgia for Kirby Smart.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s DawgNation site, the school has fired associate equipment manager Kevin Purvis after he was arrested and charged on Friday night for four felonies (three of which were for “illegal eavesdropping or surveillance”) and a misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

“As soon as it learned of the incident, the Athletic Association notified the University of Georgia Police Department, who began their investigation,” a statement from the program to the AJC said. “The University took immediate action, and the employee was terminated early in the investigation. Based on the findings of the police investigation, no student-athletes were victims in this incident.”

Purvis had worked for the program since 2006. The paper later said that he was “accused of using a hidden camera to capture images of at least one individual showering in the Bulldogs locker room” and was being held on a $8,500 bond. The incident that led to an investigation apparently happened in late February, with the arrest being executed by police on Friday night.

Needless to say, this is not the kind of headline that the Bulldogs would like to see just as spring practice gets going.

Nebraska, UCLA among teams interested in Arizona grad transfer QB Brandon Dawkins

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One thing’s for certain: Brandon Dawkins won’t be lacking suitors, including Power Five ones, in his quest to find a new college football home.

According to Adam Rittenberg of, Florida Atlantic, Indiana, Nebraska and UCLA have all expressed interest in the quarterback. Rittenberg adds that Dawkins has plans to visit the campuses of FAU and IU in the coming weeks.

On Twitter late last month, Dawkins announced that he would be transferring from Arizona.

Dawkins is set to graduate from UA this coming May, which will make him eligible to play immediately in 2018 at wherever he lands. The upcoming season will serve as Dawkins’ final year of eligibility at the collegiate level.

Dawkins started nine games in 2016 and the first four games this past season before the force of nature known as Khalil Tate took over. All told, he played in 23 games during his four seasons in the desert. The 13 starts previously mentioned were the only ones of his UA career.

For the Wildcats portion of his playing career, Dawkins completed just over 56 percent of his 334 passes for 2,418 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He ran for another 1,582 yards and 20 more touchdowns.

Fractured foot will sideline Michigan’s Tyrone Wheatley for all of spring practice

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Michigan kicked off its on-field spring season Friday, and they did so without a legacy on the practice field.

Jim Harbaugh confirmed that Tyrone Wheatley Jr. will be sidelined for all of U-M’s spring practice because of injury.  Specifically, the tight end “fractured the (metatarsal) in his foot” during that first spring practice session.

Just how Wheatley sustained the injury wasn’t detailed by the head coach.

The good news is that Wheatley, the son of former U-M running back great Tyrone Wheatley, should be fully healthy for the start of summer camp in early August.

The younger Whitley came to the Wolverines as a four-star member of U-M’s 2015 recruiting class.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Wheatley has caught three passes each of the last seasons.  On those six catches, he has totaled 61 yards and a touchdown.