Mizzou board grants Deaton autonomy in deciding conference future

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Inevitable and imminent indeed.  Probably.

Following a path blazed by Texas A&M in September, and after what some perceived as the institution dragging its feet on a decision, Missouri is on the verge of joining their conference brethren in leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.

A couple of month’s worth of speculation continued to trudge toward a conclusion Friday as Mizzou’s Board of Curators gave president Brady Deaton sole power to determine the school’s future conference affiliation, which is academia code for “send an application to the SEC”.  The latest announcement comes after two days of curator meetings and one back-door exit.

The decision was unanimous among the board members to empower Deaton to make a unilateral decision — pending legal approval by the school’s attorneys — on whether to move to another conference or remain in the Big 12.  In other words, if Deaton decides to move to another conference, which is expected, he would not have to go back to the board for approval.  This move comes exactly 17 days after the curators gave their president limited power to look into moving into another conference.

In addition to the board giving Deaton autonomy on deciding the school’s future conference, the curators passed another resolution that involved keeping an MU sports presence in Kansas City, specifically future football games — i.e. continuing the Kansas rivalry — as well as hosting an invitational basketball tournament.  It’s believed boosters of the school are concerned about those issues if Mizzou were to leave the Big 12, particularly as it involves the Big 12’s hoops tourney.

Once Deaton officially decides on the school’s conference course he will chart, the next two step for Mizzou would be to inform the Big 12 of its decision to withdraw from the conference and officially apply for membership to another conference, which, barring an unexpected development, will be the SEC.  It’s highly unlikely Mizzou would have taken this latest step, or any of the other steps they’ve taken since last month for that matter, unless they had received back-channel assurances from the SEC that they have enough votes for membership approval.  SEC bylaws state that nine of the current 12 members — the Aggies will not have a vote as they won’t officially become a member until July 1, 2012 — must vote in the affirmative for a new school to officially enter the conference.

Perhaps the biggest unknown is when exactly Mizzou would join the SEC, if that’s indeed the culmination of this process.  Schedule-wise, the SEC would like nothing more than to add Mizzou for the 2012 season, giving the conference 14 members and a balanced slate of football games.  During the press conference this afternoon, Deaton indicated that any actions he takes would result in Mizzou playing in that conference in 2012.

Another unknown?  The division in which the Tigers would reside.  Some assume that would be the West — with Auburn moving to the East — although at least one current member favors sending Mizzou to the East.

As for the Big 12, it’s operating under the assumption that Mizzou will be in the conference in 2012 regardless of their future SEC intentions and that the league will have 10 members next year.  Irrespective of Mizzou’s timeline for a departure — again, we’re operating under the assumption that there will be a departure — the Big 12 will look to add a replacement for MU.  Or, as the case may be, replacements if the conference decides to get back to 12 members.

It appears that a school from the Big East would be the Big 12’s top target for a new 10th member, with some reports suggesting West Virginia is that school while most others point to Louisville as the likely candidate.

Tennessee hires College Football Playoff CFO for administrative role

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Tennessee might not be a favorite to make the College Football Playoff in 2017 but the school is doing their best to bring a little bit of the sport’s postseason to Knoxville.

Athletic director John Currie announced on Tuesday that the Vols would be hiring the College Football Playoff’s Chief Financial Officer Reid Sigmon as Tennessee’s new Executive Associate Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer. The hire isn’t too surprising considering the two worked together for several years at Kansas State in very similar roles.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Reid Sigmon to the Tennessee Athletics family,” Currie said in a statement. “He has earned national credibility as part of a visionary leadership group creating the College Football Playoff organization for the last four years, and his tremendous integrity and understanding of college athletics make him a perfect addition to our Tennessee leadership team.”

Sigmon served in a variety of roles in college athletics as well as the NFL before eventually landing with the College Football Playoff. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he starts at Tennessee on May 15 with a salary of $285,000 per year.

Oklahoma CB P.J. Mbanasor will transfer to Louisville

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That certainly didn’t take long.

A little over a week ago, P.J. Mbanasor was one of two cornerbacks who had decided to transfer from Oklahoma.  Tuesday morning on his personal Twitter account, the defensive back announced that he “will be attending the University of Louisville in the fall.”

For what it’s worth, the Cardinals have yet to announce Mbanasor’s addition to the roster.

Mbanasor will likely have to sit out the 2017 season. He would then have two seasons of eligibility at his disposal beginning in 2018.

A four-star member of the Sooners’ 2015 recruiting class, Mbanasor was rated as the No. 19 corner in the country; the No. 17 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 132 player on 247Sports.com’s composite board. After playing in 10 games with two starts as a true freshman, Mbanasor took a redshirt for the 2016 season.

Northwestern, Pat Fitzgerald agree to lengthy contract extension

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It appears Pat Fitzgerald will still be stalking the sidelines in Evanston deep into the next decade.

Tuesday afternoon, Northwestern announced that it has reached an agreement with Fitzgerald, the program’s Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Coach, on a multi-year contract extension.  The 42-year-old Fitzgerald’s extension would keep him as the coach of the Wildcats through the 2026 season.

Fitzgerald will be entering his 17th season as a coach at the school, 11 of those as head coach.  From 1993-96, Fitzgerald was an All-American linebacker for the Wildcats and ultimately inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player.

“This is home for me and my family, and I love this University,” a statement from Fitzgerald began. “I’m extremely privileged to coach the exceptional young men we invite here to earn the best education in college football and compete at the highest level in the Big Ten Conference. The best is yet to come, and we’re excited for the future.”

In his 11 seasons, Fitzgerald has guided NU to a 77-62 record overall and a 41-48 mark in Big Ten play.  Fitzgerald has accounted for two of NU’s four 10-win seasons the program has produced, with both of those coming in the the last five seasons.

He is the winningest football coach in the school’s history.

Tommy Tuberville won’t run for governor in Alabama

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Well, it was fun while it lasted.

In late February, reports surfaced that Tommy Tuberville was giving serious consideration to running for governor in the state of Alabama.  Earlier this month, the former Auburn head coach had loaned his newly-formed campaign $100,000 as he filed the paperwork to form a principal campaign committee ahead of a potential gubernatorial run.

According to a report from 247Sports.com, the run has stopped before it ever really got started.  Citing a person familiar with the situation, AuburnUndercover.com writes that “Tuberville will not run for governor in Alabama after two months of exploring the possibility in 2018.”

Other media outlets have subsequently confirmed the initial report.

Tuberville himself has yet to make an official announcement, although that could come as early as today.  A Tuberville aide did confirm the news, however, telling the ABC affiliate in Montgomery, Ala., that “Mr. Tuberville decided this morning the timing for him to enter governor’s race is not right,” with Tripp Skipper adding, “He feels led to pursue other opportunities.”

Whether those other opportunities include a continuation of his long-time coaching career remains to be seen.

The 62-year-old Tuberville spent 10 seasons as the head coach at Auburn, famously guiding the Tigers to a six-game winning streak over the rival Alabama Crimson Tide during his tenure. “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have Nick Saban,” Tuberville said in a late-March radio interview when asked why Alabama football fans should vote for him.

A head coach most of the past two decades, Tuberville has a 159-99 record in stops that included Ole Miss (1995-98), Texas Tech (2010-12) and Cincinnati (2013-16) in addition to his time on The Plains.