If WVU leaves, C-USA/MWC alliance could be option for Big East

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A few weeks ago, commissioners from Conference USA and the Mountain West announced that the two conferences would merge into a 22-member, football-only alliance in an effort to protect membership in the ever-shifting world of college football realignment.

However, the Big East had the potential to slim the non-AQ “superconference” down by as many as five members. Just days before the football agreement, the Big East announced its intentions of expanding to 12 members following the losses of Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC; news that TCU would move on to the Big 12 came later that day. Big East commissioner John Marinatto never directly stated which schools were on the expansion list, the rumor mill churned out names such as Air Force, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Navy and SMU. A report surfaced last night from the Houston Chronicle that UH was preparing to make a jump to the Big East.

But the biggest hurdle for Big East expansion has come in the form of raising the conference’s exit fees. Big East presidents have unanimously voted to raise the penalty for departing members to $10 million from $5 million, but Marinatto has stated it will do so once it can add new members.

That was before.

Now that it appears all but signed and sealed that West Virginia will leave the Big East for the Big 12, the conference plucking could be shifting in a way that favors the Big East less, and the C-USA/MWC merger more. Andy Katz reports that  commissioners of the Mountain West Conference, Conference USA and the Big East Conference will meet in New York to discuss a nation-wide football conference that would consist of anywhere between 28-32 teams.

The ultimate goal of forming the super-duper conference would be to gain admission into the BCS (good luck with that).

Such a move by the Big East likely wouldn’t be an option as long as West Virginia and Louisville were part of the conference, especially the former. But if WVU bolts and Boise State chooses not to join the Big East, the five remaining Big East football schools may not have much of a choice. Katz reports that if Louisville remains a member of the Big East, the possibility remains that the league can survive, although its inclusion in the BCS discussion would in serious jeopardy.

C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said on the teleconference earlier this month that the football-only alliance considered adding more than the 22 teams that currently would make up the alliance. Marinatto stated in his own teleconference that he had no intentions of disbanding the Big East. Obviously, that was before news broke that West Virginia could be the latest to wave goodbye.

You can Bet Marinatto will try with great desperation to do everything he can to keep the Big East alive. Considering it just lost its four best members in the process of sitting on its hands, though, it might be too late.

UPDATED 6:24 p.m. ET: Big East spokesman John Paquette tells CBS Sports that Marinatto WILL NOT meet with commissioners from C-USA and the MWC over joining the football-only league.

Again, it appears Marinatto will fight to keep his conference alive to the bitter end, as if we could expect anything else.

Jalen Jelks eschews leaving early for NFL, will return to Oregon

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We haven’t yet reached the first-ever early signing period, and Oregon has already bolstered its 2018 defense.

Jalen Jelks confirmed to The Oregonian that he has decided to push off the NFL and will instead return to Oregon for another season.  The redshirt junior indicated that he needs to work on his game before he takes it to the next level.

“I’m back for sure,” the redshirt junior defensive end told the newspaper. “I talked to my parents and my family and everything and just probably the best decision for me is to make the best out of next season and make a lot more plays than I did this season.

“I missed a lot of plays, and if I can capitalize on that and translate it to next season I could contribute a lot to the draft.”

This season, Jelks led the Ducks in tackles for loss with 15; in sacks with 6.5; and in quarterback hits with four.  The tackles for loss were second in the Pac-12 to Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa‘s 21.5.

Rashaan Salaam’s 1994 Heisman up for auction, could fetch $300K

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A little over a year after his death, one of the most noteworthy pieces of Rashaan Salaam‘s athletic career finds itself up for sale to the public yet again.

According to the Denver Post, the former Colorado star running back’s 1994 Heisman Trophy will be auctioned off next month and is expected to sell for upwards of $300,000. A portion of whatever the trophy fetches will be donated to CTE research.

Salaam, who took his own life at the age of 42 last December, was diagnosed with CTE symptoms postmortem.

After rushing for more than 2,000 yards, Salaam in 1994 became the first, and thus far only, Buffaloes football player to win the most prestigious trophy in college football.  In 2013, Salaam sold the trophy to a sports memorabilia dealer who subsequently sold it to the unnamed individual who is selling it at auction. “The trophy also includes a letter from Salaam, acknowledging the 2013 sale,” the Post wrote.

Based on what we’ve found, the largest amount a Heisman Trophy has ever brought in was the $395,000 a California businessman paid for Minnesota’s Bruce Smith‘s 1941 award in 2005.

Nick Saban, other write-in votes may have helped decide Alabama’s contentious Senate election

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Could Nick Saban have inadvertently played a role in the outcome of a historic election?  Believe it or not, that may actually be a valid question.

As this is a college football site, we won’t go into the background of the contentious U.S. Senate campaign waged between Democrat Doug Jones and scandal-plagued Republican Roy Moore in the state of Alabama.  In the run-up to the special election in the state Tuesday, however, one Democrat-leaning political action committee urged Republican voters who couldn’t vote for a Democrat and were leery of voting for Moore to use a write-in vote, specifically using the name of the Alabama head football coach to illustrate that option.

With 99 percent of the vote tabulated, NBC News reported earlier this morning that Jones held a lead of just under 21,000 votes.  It has since been reported that, with 100 percent of the votes in, there were nearly 23,000 write-in votes cast, with Jones’ lead still holding at just under 21,000 votes.

Because of a new state law, some are saying it’s likely we’ll know exactly how many of those write-in votes were for Saban.  From fivethirtyeight.com late Tuesday night:

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Jones has a margin of 0.7 points over Moore, and the share of write-in votes is more than double that, at around 1.7 percent. Who were people writing in? If that difference holds, we’ll know in due time. In 2016, the Alabama state legislature passed a law requiring the write-in votes to be tallied if the share of write-ins exceeds the margin between the first- and second-place candidates — exactly the situation we’re in now.

“I’m a life-long Republican,” voter Gary Dobbins told MSNBC by way of al.com. “This is the first time in my entire life that I haven’t voted for the Republican candidate.

“I wrote in Nick Saban instead. The reason why is at first I was going to vote for the other guy. Then, I had a crisis in the voting booth and started thinking about what Richard Shelby had said and Condoleezza Rice. I just wrote in Nick Saban.”

West Virginia the landing spot for ex-Michigan DB Keith Washington

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After a brief pit stop at the junior college level, Keith Washington has found his way back to the FBS level.

The defensive back announced via Twitter that he has committed to West Virginia and will continue his collegiate playing career with the Mountaineers. As Washington spent the 2017 season at a Mississippi JUCO, he will be eligible to play for WVU immediately in 2018.

Washington held two other Power Five offers in this second round of recruitment, and both were from fellow Big 12 programs — Kansas and Texas Tech. East Carolina, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, Toledo and UAB had extended offers as well.

Washington was a three-star member of Michigan’s 2015 recruiting class, Jim Harbaugh‘s first with the Wolverines, coming out of high school in Alabama. After redshirting as a true freshman, he played in nine games during the 2016 season.

Before the start of this past season, he decided to transfer from the Wolverines.