Report: Big 12 has West Virginia lined up to replace Mizzou

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The Big 12 has yet to officially lose Mizzouri to the SEC, but the conference has already reportedly lined up a replacement should the expected move happen.

Take it with whatever size grain of salt you deem necessary, but the New York Post is reporting that the Big 12’s plans for expansion/holding steady entail keeping Missouri for the 2012 season and then adding West Virginia the following year.  How the Big 12 plans to bypass the Big East 27-month requirement for schools leaving the conference is unknown; earlier this month, commissioner John Marinatto made it clear that the Big East will hold Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which have announced their plans to leave for the ACC, to the timeline contained in the league’s bylaws.

It’s assumed the Mountaineers, if the report is accurate and they decide to move on from the Big East, would be held to the same 27-month wait, which would mean the 2015-2016 school year before an exit could occur.  Of course, money always talks in these types of situations, so all three schools will likely end up paying significant financial penalties in order to get out earlier.

As noted by an unnamed source to the Post, WVU’s departure would be a crippling blow to a conference that’s already lost three members — TCU reneged on a commitment to the Big East in favor of a Big 12 invite — in less than two months, leaving the beleaguered league with just six football-playing members.

“Of all the schools the league has lost, from a football standpoint losing West Virginia would be the most damaging,” a source told The Post. “Despite what anyone says, that’s the program the league has hung its hat on.”

It has previously been reported that the Big East will invite Boise State, Air Force and Navy as football-playing members and UCF, SMU and Houston as members in all sports.  It’s unclear how the uncertainty over the Mountaineers’ longterm viability in the Big East would affect those schools’ mindset in signing on to such an unstable environment, especially Boise State, whose concerns about the conference about the conference losing its automatic qualifier status in the BcS have been duly noted.

If Boise State decides to remain in the Mountain West… if West Virginia leaves… if the Big 12 decides to expand to 16 members and adds Louisville and Cincinnati as the Post reports is a possibility in such a scenario, the Big East as a football conference, let alone as an automatic qualifying conference, will cease to exist.

Of course, this is all predicated on Missouri and if/when they decide to make a decision on their future conference affiliation.  Based on how that school’s chancellor parsed his words Monday, it now appears to be only a matter of when not if they announce a move to the SEC.

“[The Big 12 is] making some of the right moves, now, that are necessary for the Big 12 to do, and I wish them the best and all of that. So we’ll see where that goes,” Brady Deaton said following a meeting of the Big 12 Board of Directors Monday night.

UPDATED 12:39 p.m. ET: Both the New York Times and CBS Sports.com are confirming the Post‘s report, that West Virginia is the Big 12’s target should Mizzou do the expected and leave.  The former writes that WVU has “applied and are accepted” into the Big 12; the latter reports that an official invitation will be extended to WVU within 24-48 hours after Mizzou notifies the conference of its intent to withdraw.

As for when Mizzou will spit or get off the expansion pot, Deaton said today that a public decision will be forthcoming in “days or possibly a week or two“, although again his words point to the SEC being in his school’s future.

“We’ve reached firmness in where we are headed,” Deaton said, “where we want to analyze and focus our attention.”

Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis potentially out for spring

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Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.

“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”

It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.

In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.

Penn State announces three captains for 2017 season

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With Penn State just about to get started with spring football practices, head coach James Franklin wasted no time in naming his captains for the 2017 season. Quarterback Trace McSorley, linebacker Jason Cabinda, and safety Nick Scott have been voted captains by their peers on the team.

“These three young men have been leaders in our program, on and off the field,” Franklin said in a released statement. “They live our four core values and act with the program’s best interest in mind. Our team is in good hands with these guys!”

McSorley took over the offense as Penn State’s starting quarterback in 2016. A bit of a mystery to most entering the season after being the backup to Christian Hackenberg, McSorley ended his 2016 season with a Big Ten-leading 3,614 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes with eight interceptions and played a key role in guiding Penn State to a late run to a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the Rose Bowl. He enters the 2017 season as one of the top quarterbacks returning to the Big Ten, along with Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett.

Cabinda, an All-Big Ten third team player in 2016, was Penn State’s third-leading tackler last season with 81 tackles. He accumulated that many tackles despite missing five games due to injury. He is slated to be the leader in the middle of the Penn State defense with a starting role already locked down and will look to help guide some younger linebackers stepping into key roles in the defense this upcoming season, such as Manny Bowen and Koa Farmer.

Scott has been a special teams leader for Penn State and is expected to continue to lead the special teams effort once again this season.

New Arkansas house bill will allow some concealed guns at football games

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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill regarding a person’s ability to carry a concealed handgun into various buildings at a public university or college into state law. However, House Bill 1249 will not allow all legal gun owners to carry a gun to a football game in the state of Arkansas.

Football games will be considered a “sensitive area,” which require enhanced training in order to be allowed to carry a gun into a football stadium. The law supposedly trumps any provisions already in place to prevent guns from being allowed on the premises.

“The enhanced level of training is very important, and I am convinced the public will be more safe,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This bill, in my view, reflects the view of the general assembly.”

The bill has received praise from Arkansas Republican state representative Charlie Collins and the NRA.

While the bill has now become an act in the state, it will not go into effect until January 2018, so guns will still not be allowed in football games where Arkansas, Arkansas State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, or Central Arkansas during the 2017 season.

The news of the new Arkansas state law comes on the same day the SEC has just unveiled a new clear bag policy for football games in the 2017 season. How the SEC handles this latest state law within its footprint remains to be seen (as well as the Sun Belt Conference). The bigger question will be where the SEC stands on this law considered the law is designed to overrule any stadium policies. The way the law is written, the SEC may not be able to do much to stand in the way, but the conference has those clear bag policies hammered down, rest assured.

Kentucky hands Mark Stoops a two-year contract extension

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After guiding Kentucky through its best season in nearly a decade, Mark Stoops has been rewarded.

Kentucky announced Wednesday afternoon that Stoops’ contract has been extended by two years.  The head coach’s previous deal had been set to run through June 30, 2020; the extension pushes that date out to June 30, 2020.

Stoops will earn $3.5 million in 2017, with the new contract calling for annual $250,000 raises.  In the last year of the contract extension, and barring any additional tweaking, Stoops could earn $4.75 million.

Additionally, if the Wildcats win at least seven games but no more than nine in a season, the contract automatically extends by one year.  If the team wins 10-plus games, it extends by two years. “Stoops will continue to receive $250,000 for each win beginning with the seventh win of each season and $50,000 per semester in which the team grade-point average is 2.75 or higher,” the release stated.

Participation in an SEC-affiliated bowl will net Stoops a $100,000 bonus, provided the Wildcats win at least six games that season.  There’s also a $50,000 bonus for earning a spot in a non-SEC bowl game, with the same six-win threshold.  Last season, UK qualified for a bowl game for the first time under Stoops and the first time under anyone since 2010.

“The last four years have been a grind for Mark and his staff, but he has never wavered in his commitment to building Kentucky football into a consistent winner,” a statement from athletic director Mitch Barnhart began. “While the work isn’t close to finished, we believe Mark is the coach to take us there. We are thankful to Mark and Chantel for all they have done to this point and we look forward to our program’s bright future under his leadership.”

The Wildcats’ 7-6 record last season was the program’s best since hitting the same mark in the last season under Rich Brooks in 2009.  The first three seasons with Stoops in control, UK posted a 12-24 mark.

In SEC play, they are just 8-24 since 2013, although they were 4-4 in conference play this past season.  The Wildcats have finished seventh (2013), sixth (2014), tied-fourth (2015) and tied-second (2016) in league play with Stoops as head coach.

“I want to thank Dr. (Eli) Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and the Board of Trustees for their continued support,” Stoops said. “When we came here, doing a rebuild in a challenging situation, I said that full support from everyone involved was imperative and we have always received that. We needed great commitment, we’ve had great commitment and we’re continuing to get great commitment.”

If Stoops is fired by UK, he’s entitled to receive 75 percent of the remaining guaranteed compensation on the contract.  If Stoops leaves of his own accord, he’d owe the university $1 million regardless of how many years are left on the deal.