Pac-12 suspends 10 involved in Thursday night brawl

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Well, that certainly didn’t take long.

Roughly 24 hours after a bench-clearing brouhaha ruined a perfectly good faux referee striptease, the Pac-12 has brought the hammer to a handful players from both UCLA and Arizona.

In a release, the conference announced Friday night that a total of 10 players have been suspended for periods ranging from a half game to two full contests.  A total of six Bruins have been suspended by the league, while four Wildcats will sit for varying periods of time.

The harshest suspension went to UCLA defensive tackle Cassius Marsh, who will be sidelined for the next two games.  UCLA senior wide receiver Taylor Embree (no relation) and Arizona sophomore cornerback Shaquille Richardson were each ejected following the brawl that erupted with four seconds left in the first half and missed the final two quarters.  Additionally, each player has been suspended for another game.

Here are the remainder of the sanctions levied by the conference:

UCLA
Sophomore guard Alberto Cid – Half-game suspension
Sophomore wide receiver Randall Carroll – One-game suspension
Sophomore wide receiver Shaq Evans – One-game suspension
Sophomore wide receiver Ricky Marvray – One-game suspension

Arizona
Senior cornerback Lyle Brown – Half-game suspension
Junior strong safety Mark Watley – Half-game suspension
Freshman nickelback Jourdon Grandon – One-game suspension

Each player will be suspended for their respective team’s next game.  The Bruins face Cal next weekend, while the Wildcats travel to Washington.

“The Conference is extremely disappointed in the actions of the student-athletes involved in this incident,” commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “It is unacceptable behavior and violated Conference rules, as well as NCAA fighting rules. I have taken these actions today because it is imperative that we hold our student-athletes and coaches to the highest standards of sportsmanship.”

Marsh and Evans were listed as starters on UCLA’s latest depth chart, while Richardson is the only starter Arizona will lose.

“I’m disappointed for Arizona and UCLA,” interim Arizona head coach Tim Kish said in a statement. “The altercation was a black mark on what was a good game for us. We know that players get excited and driven during games, but composure has to be maintained throughout. We’ll learn from this and grow.”

As of this posting, UCLA has yet to issue a statement on the suspensions.  Although, in fairness to the Bruins, they could be too busy lining up their next head coach to deal with such matters.

UPDATED 11:56 p.m. ET: UCLA has released a statement from head coach (for now) Rick Neuheisel addressing the suspension.

“On behalf of the entire UCLA football program, I respect the Pac-12’s decision to suspend six of our players after the unfortunate incident in the second quarter of yesterday’s Arizona game,” said Neuheisel. “As a program, we certainly do not condone the actions of our student-athletes involved, no matter what circumstances they found themselves in at the time. As the head coach, I am very disappointed with their actions. I told each and every one of our players as much in the locker room, both at halftime, and at the conclusion of the game. Everyone here understands the expectations and responsibilities we share, and that representing UCLA on the field of play is a privilege.”

BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

California’s state-funded travel ban to discriminating states raises mild football scheduling concerns

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The state of California is banning state-funded travel to the states of Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Those states are added to the previous state-funded travel bans that included Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee due to what California lawmakers say are laws that allow for discrimination against gay and transgender people.

So what does this have to do with college football? My colleague, Bryan, notes this latest decision from the state means scheduling any potential road games for a handful of schools just got a tad trickier.

This development poses a couple of issues for some California schools to address moving forward.

San Jose State is the school affected by this latest news right off the bat. San Jose State has a road game scheduled at Texas on September 9 this season. San Jose State may have to rely on some of that guaranteed money from Texas to cover the expenses, which would put a dent in the total takeaway from playing the game in the first place.

Cal is also scheduled to play at North Carolina on September 2. Cal also plays at TCU in 2021 and at Auburn in 2024. If the ban is still in operation at those times, then Cal will have to budget ahead of time to tackle the expenses. UCLA will play at Memphis on September 19.

The state-funded travel ban to these states may not be an issue for the postseason, as bowl game expenses tend to be carried by the conference and their revenue shares.

Fresno State has a road game at Texas A&M scheduled in 2020. San Diego State has no future scheduling hassles to worry about for the time being.

When ‘physically, mentally ready,’ door wide open for Keyshawn Johnson Jr.’s return to Nebraska

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Keyshawn Johnson Jr. has yet to play a down for Nebraska, but, if it’s up to Mike Riley, he will at some point down the road.

Earlier this month, the son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  This past week, the younger Johnson decided to take a leave of absence, with his father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and will not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.

Left open at the time was the question of whether Johnson Jr. would ever play for the ‘Huskers, period.  Friday, Riley left the door wide open for a return.

“We’re disappointed that he’s not here with us right now today,” the head coach said according to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “I think there’s kind of a wellness factor for Keyshawn going home. We talked to him about the possibility of maybe enrolling part time and taking care of his progress toward his degree, and also getting in great shape.

“And we opened the door for return, which is just kind of left open that we’ll deal with at the time that he is physically and mentally ready to do that.”

A three-star 2017 signee who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, the younger Johnson had been expected to be an immediate contributor for the Cornhuskers this season.