Updated: Louisville behind WVU-to-Big 12 snag?

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What started as a hiccup for West Virginia’s seemingly inevitable invite to the Big 12 has now turned to reports that the Mountaineers have been blocked (so to speak) for Big 12 entry by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

What we know is that West Virginia MetroNews, citing multiple sources, reports the Big 12 contacted West Virginia yesterday and the two sides agreed to an informal verbal “invite and acceptance”, and that a press conference with the two sides was set for today (Wednesday) to announce that agreement. This had also been reported by Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports.

In the reports of Dominion Post reporter Drew Rubenstein and MetroNews, WVU felt the deal was indeed “done”.

But late last night, as has already been reported, WVU sent out a press release stating there would be no press conference for Wednesday. “Contrary to media reports, there is no press conference scheduled for Wednesday concerning WVU’s athletic conference affiliation.  There are no further comments at that time,” the statement said.

From MetroNews’ original story (before updates):

As of late yesterday afternoon, WVU had received a verbal invitation to the Big 12 and had accepted. Plans were in the works for a news conference Wednesday to make the announcement.

But sources say the process hit a “bump in the road” last night.  WVU was apparently notified by the Big 12 that it needed “more information” from WVU and that there would be a vote by the Big 12 Board, perhaps on Monday.

Pete Thamel of the New York Times reports that Louisville made a late, 11th hour surge to get back into the discussion as the 10th member of the Big 12.

Two people with direct knowledge of the situation said that lobbying by the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, including to David Boren, the president of the University of Oklahoma and a former senator, helped slow West Virginia’s admittance to the Big 12.

McConnell is a 1964 graduate of the University of Louisville.

Where the speculation begins is if there was political pressure employed by McConnell to Boren, and potentially, other members of the Big 12 to re-evaluate Louisville as a potential candidate to replace Missouri if they leave for the SEC as they are expected to do.

When that announcement will come is still unknown.

Additionally, West Virginia senator Jay Rockefeller has released the following statement:

“The Big 12 picked WVU on the strength of its program — period. Now the media reports that political games may upend that. That’s just flat wrong. I am doing and will do whatever it takes to get us back to the merits.”

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (previously Gov.) has also called a 6 p.m. press conference to discuss conference realignment issues.

Political pressure, if indeed the driving force behind this latest round of conference shifting, is nothing new; frankly, it doesn’t matter if it’s from McConnell, Rockefeller, Manchin or all of the above. It is, however, a prime example of how far away college football has deviated from logic and rational thinking.

Kirk Ferentz adds Derrick Foster as 10th Iowa assistant

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As head coaches across the country continue to take advantage of the new 10th assistant rule, Kirk Ferentz is the latest to bolster the size of his staff.

Derrick Foster, the football program announced Tuesday, has been hired by Ferentz. While the school didn’t specify what position or positions for which Foster would be responsible, it did state that the hiring would allow tight ends coach/special teams coordinator LeVar Woods to concentrate on special teams.

That would seem to indicate Foster will be in charge of tight ends, which would mark his first on-field job at the FBS level.

“Derrick is an outstanding person and has built an impressive resume with experience at multiple levels of college football,” said Ferentz in a statement. “He has an impressive record of success on the recruiting trail that will strengthen and expand our existing efforts.”

Foster has spent the past two seasons as the running backs coach and running-game coordinator at FCS Stamford.  Prior to that, he was the running backs coach (2013) and wide receivers coach (2014-15) at Northwestern State.

“My wife, Bianca, and I are excited to be afforded this wonderful opportunity to become a part of the Iowa family as well as the Iowa City community,” said Foster. “Our journey is continuing, as this provides us with the opportunity to be part of a great staff and a University that is committed to excellence. I have a lot of respect for the stability and commitment of coach Ferentz and his longevity with the program. I feel fortunate and look forward to working with coach Ferentz and his dedicated staff.”

RB Abdul Adams leaves Oklahoma, lands at Syracuse

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‘Tis the season for transfers, with a Big 12 school the latest to feel its effect — and an ACC program the latest to benefit.

Syracuse confirmed in a press release Monday that Abdul Adams has joined Dino Babers‘ football program.  The running back had spent the past two seasons at Oklahoma, and offered a social media shoutout to Sooner Nation for the time he spent in Norman.

Adams will have to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws; beginning with the 2019 season, he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining.

This past season, Adams, a four-star 2016 signee, was third on the Sooners in rushing with 542, including a 99-yard touchdown run.  On his 59 rushes, Adams led the team at 9.2 yards per carry.  With OU’s top two rushers in Rodney Anderson (1,161 yards) and Trey Sermon (744) returning, though, Adams thought his best course was to take his leave of what’s seemingly an always-crowded Sooners backfield.

For his two-year career, Adams has run for 825 yards and a touchdown in 112 carries.

UCF’s undefeated team to be honored by NFL at Pro Bowl

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Now even the NFL is in on the gag.  Sort of.

As you no doubt know by now if you’re even a peripheral fan of college football, UCF kicked up quite the ruckus by very proudly and extremely loudly proclaiming themselves national champions after capping off a perfect 13-0 season by defeating Auburn, which beat both of the College Football Playoff game participants.  The football program went so far as to pay its assistants, now at Nebraska after following head coach Scott Frost out the door, the title bonuses they were entitled to contractually, with Disney World throwing the team a championship parade and even the state’s legislature egging the movement on.

Fast-forward to the here and now, and the NFL is getting set for this season’s Pro Bowl, which will be played in Orlando; the Knights, of course, play their home games in the same city. So, naturally, the NFL will honor the team during the game, although it’s expected the league will stop short of officially crowning their asses.

“When we thought about UCF and the amazing season they had going undefeated and their bowl game win, we thought there was really no better way, especially in the city of Orlando, to do something for that college celebration of football than to honor the UCF team in stadium on Sunday,” said Matt Shapiro, director of events strategy for the NFL, told the Orlando Sentinel. “I think we’re going to focus on their undefeated season. I don’t know that we’re going to get into the business of labeling them national champions. But we’re just excited to honor them and celebrate them.

According to the Sentinel, the players in attendance will be invited to walk on to the field at the end of the first quarter to be feted.  Just which players will be in attendance is unclear.

Ohio State promotes Ryan Day to offensive coordinator

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One Ohio State assistant remaining on Urban Meyer‘s coaching staff will apparently come at the expense of another, at least responsibility-wise.

After speculation surfaced over the weekend that Ryan Day was being wooed by an NFL team, it was reported Monday that the assistant would be staying with the Buckeyes.  Tuesday, OSU announced that Day, who just completed his first season as quarterbacks coach and c0-offensive coordinator, has been promoted to offensive coordinator.

That will no doubt raise some eyebrows as Kevin Wilson held the title of coordinator in 2017.  In explaining the move, the football program wrote that “Day will continue to coach the Ohio State quarterbacks and work with Kevin Wilson to lead the Ohio State offense with additional adjustments to [Wilson’s] responsibilities forthcoming.” It would seem those adjustments would at least partially revolve around play-calling, a responsibility that fell to Wilson on gamedays this past fall.

“Ryan is clearly a very talented coach who has been an outstanding addition to our program,” Meyer said in a statement. “He has been approached by other schools numerous times this off-season for coordinator and head coach opportunities, and by the National Football League for a coordinator opportunity. I am pleased that he has elected to continue to work on this staff and to lead, mentor and coach the terrific young men we have in this program.”

Day has been a solo coordinator twice in his coaching career — at Temple in 2012 and then again in 2013-14 at Boston College.

Prior to coming to OSU, Day was the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 and spent the 2015 season in the same job with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Those were his first two stints at the NFL level.