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.

East Carolina grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew will reportedly visit Alabama this weekend

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It appears the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™ is close to being implemented.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Gardner Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.  That interest has ramped up since as al.com is reporting that Minshew will be visiting the Crimson Tide’s campus this weekend.

As a graduate transfer, Minshew would be eligible to play immediately this season at UA, or any other FBS program for that matter.

Alabama’s interest in a grad transfer at the position will do nothing to quell the rumors that Hurts, the starter for each of the last 29 games over the past two seasons, is a potential candidate for a transfer. Hurts was benched in favor of Tua Tagovailoa in the national championship game, with the true freshman’s comeback heroics signaling a likely changing of the guard under center.

As for Minshew, he started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.

Wake Forest WR Greg Dortch cleared for spring practice

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Unlike how his 2017 season ended, Greg Dortch‘s 2018 offseason is trending much more positively.

In Wake Forest’s late-October win over Louisville, Dortch went down with what turned out to be a season-ending abdominal injury. Four months after sustaining the injury, and with spring practice right around the corner, the wide receiver has been medically cleared to fully participate in practice.

Despite missing the last month of the regular season as well as the postseason, Dortch still led the Demon Deacons in receiving yards with 722. His 53 receptions and nine receiving touchdowns were tied for tops on the team as well.

In the game in which he was injured, he set the school record with four touchdown catches.

Jeff Brohm stays in-house for new Purdue assistant

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When it came to filling out his Purdue coaching staff, Jeff Brohm didn’t have to look very far.

Kevin Wolthausen, the football program confirmed in a release, has been hired as the 10th of Brohm’s allotted 10 Boilermakers assistant coaches.  Per the school, Wolthausen will be working with the team’s special teams and defense.

This marks a positional homecoming of sorts for Wolthausen as he spent the 2012 season as the defensive line coach at Purdue.  Last season, Wolthausen served as a quality control coach for both special teams and defense for the Boilermakers.

In between his two stints in West Lafayette, Wolthausen was the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at UConn in 2016; the two years prior, he was the Huskies’ defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.

In 2013, Wolthausen was the special teams coordinator at Florida International.  The 60-year-old long-time college football assistant has also spent time on staffs at Louisville, Arizona, USC, Arizona State and Oklahoma.

Neal Brown completes Troy staff with FCS co-DC

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For the most recent addition to his Troy coaching staff, Neal Brown has dipped into the Football Championship Series.

The Sun Belt Conference program confirmed Tuesday that Brandon Hall has been hired by Brown as his new linebackers coach.  Hall had spent the past four seasons as the co-defensive coordinator at FCS Jacksonville State.

“Brandon is an outstanding defensive coach and has experience coaching at a lot of different levels,” a statement from Brown. “He is relentless on the recruiting trail and already has developed strong relationships in the areas that we believe are key. Looking at his track record, it comes as no surprise that Brandon helped build one of the top defenses in the FCS at Jacksonville State over the last four years.”

Prior to JSU, Hall had spent time at Arkansas State, Auburn and Oklahoma.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to join this program and coaching staff,” Hall said in his statement. “You can’t help but get excited as a coach when you look at what Coach Brown and the rest of this staff has done over the past three years with the Troy program. My family and I are looking forward to becoming part of the Trojan Family and continuing the strong tradition of Troy football.”