WV senator speaks on rumors of Big 12 lobbying by Louisville

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Things turned ugly — and fast, too — today when word began spreading today that Louisville, not West Virginia as it was thought not 24 hours ago, could become the Big 12’s 10th member.

West Virginia had received a verbal invitation from the Big 12 yesterday, and the two sides were all but set to announce their marriage today via press conference. But, a late push from Louisville has sent the Big 12 into a mode of reconsideration, as it’s now being reported that the conference is “50-50” on which school to accept.

Pete Thamel of the New York Times reported today that Louisville’s sudden burst back into the Big 12 discussion was courtesy of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a former Louisville graduate and political acquaintance of Oklahoma president David Boren.

Naturally, West Virginia’s own political body wasn’t happy about the reports. West Virginia senator Jay Rockefeller issued a statement saying “The Big 12 picked WVU on the strength of its program — period… I am doing and will do whatever it takes to get us back to the merits.”

At 6 p.m. ET, fellow WV senator Joe Manchin (pictured) held a press conference to discuss matters pertaining to WVU’s conference destination.

“Don’t fault politicians for lobbying for their school,” Manchin said. “[But if a] U.S. senator intervened after the Big 12 picked WVU, I will ask for investigation.”

Manchin added that the US Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation would be the ones leading an investigation if it was believed McConnell — or anyone else — intervened with conference expansion.

“I’m not accusing Senator McConnell,” Manchin explained. “I would expect McConnell to lobby for Louisville, but not after the Big 12 makes its decision.

“The Big 12’s commitment was stronger than just verbal to WVU.”

Louisville and West Virginia appear to be in a dead-heat to the finish line as they scramble to get out of the beleaguered Big East, despite the conference’s best efforts to close the deal on such schools as Boise State. Although it’s believed that WVU holds the key to the Big East’s future as a BCS conference, grabbing the Broncos would be a significant addition football-wise to a conference that so desperately needs quality teams.

The Big 12 doesn’t have that problem, but its preference is to remain at 10 teams if Missouri leaves for the SEC. Getting that 10th team has, obviously, been an issue.

I literally don’t know what’s going to happen,” a Big 12 source told the Dallas Morning News.

There’s been outside influences for every school,” another Big 12 source told the Associated Press. “Everybody’s politicians are calling. I don’t mean that in a negative way. They’ve all been positive and no one has tried to coerce anybody into anything.”

“Those two [WVU and Louisville] certainly have been discussed a lot,”  the official said. “And I wouldn’t rule out other schools just yet.”

(Quotes courtesy of John Kirkhoff from WV MetroNews) 

Arkansas starting QB Austin Allen could miss another couple weeks

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It appears Arkansas will be without its starting quarterback for a while longer than just one week.

An injury to his right (throwing) shoulder in the Week 6 loss to South Carolina knocked Austin Allen out of the game.  After some initial uncertainty in the week leading up to the Week 7 game against top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Allen was indeed ruled out for what turned into a 41-9 loss.

With No. 21 Auburn up next, Bret Bielema all but ruled the senior out of the Week 7 matchup.  Additionally, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has reported that Allen could miss up to three more weeks after being sidelined last weekend.

“If it came to a point later in the week where he could practice Thursday, I think there’s merit to (Allen returning this week),” Bielema said. “Where he’s at right now, I’d say we’re still a couple of weeks away, but Austin is a guy who surprises a lot of people and if he can go and do things, it’s a positive for us.”

Should the three-week timeline come into play, he would miss the AU game as well as contests against Ole Miss and Coastal Carolina before returning for the road trip to LSU Nov. 11.

If Allen is indeed sidelined, Cole Kelley (pictured) would again take his place.  Making his first career start, the redshirt freshman completed 23-of-42 passes for 200 yards, one touchdown and one interception on the road against the vaunted Crimson Tide.

Butch Jones says the most Butch Jones quote of all time

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It’s become a theory among some in the media that Butch Jones is conducting a social experiment or participating some sort of performance art. While that’s the more charitable and fun interpretation, I tend to think the Tennessee head coach is just frighteningly insecure and, thus, fighting for every inch of public approval he can in a likely doomed attempt to keep his job.

That approach has backed him into some verbal corners that, in the long run, make his job more difficult on himself.

I’m talking about the “Champions of Life” quote of last season or, in February, actually stating that he didn’t want 5-star players, he wanted 5-star hearts.

This season has seen Jones go on an odd rant blaming the media for negative recruiting and saying Tennessee had one of the best bye weeks ever last week.

It wasn’t one of the best bye weeks ever, because Tennessee lost at home to South Carolina, 15-9. And you’re not going to believe Jones’s explanation for why Tennessee loss. Scratch that. You will believe his explanation, and that’s the problem here, isn’t it?

Here’s the full quote.

Jones is 33-24 in his four-plus seasons in Knoxville, and 14-21 in the SEC. Those numbers will likely fall to 33-25 and 14-22 after Saturday, when the Vols face No. 1 Alabama. The end is likely near.

And here’s the grand irony of Jones’s everything’s-sunny-here p.r. strategy: his attempt to keep his job by stating blatantly cliche quotes in the state of the obvious will live on much longer than Jones’s actual tenure. Two and three years from now, when Jones is working on someone else’s staff or sitting on his buyout money, the next time an on-the-hot-seat coach says his team won the game everywhere except the scoreboard, we’ll see he Pulled a Butch.

Houston Nutt settles lawsuit with Ole Miss

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Houston Nutt wanted money and an apology from Ole Miss. He’ll have to settle for the second of the two — and a largely different future for the program he used to lead.

It was Nutt’s lawsuit, remember, which exposed the documents that led to a Mississippi State fan finding Hugh Freeze‘s call to a Tampa escort service, which led to Freeze’s resignation, which led to… we have no idea what it will lead to, but, whatever that future is, it will be wildly different than if Freeze was still the Rebels’ coach.

Nutt amended his lawsuit in August to seek simply an apology from Ole Miss, and that apology finally came on Monday.

Each side released their own bitter, short statements.

Nutt will go on, with his apology but without any monetary compensation, while Ole Miss will play out the string of this season, hire a new coach, and move into a future that will be immeasurably different that the one it would have lived had it apologized to Nutt in the first place.

Washington loses LT Adams, CB Miller for the season

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No. 12 Washington’s loss to Arizona State was a disaster on the field — for more reasons than one.

The Huskies not only put their College Football Playoff hopes in danger — they’ll need to sweep their next six games, including a finishing kick that calls for games against No. 22 Stanford, No. 15 Washington State and, presumably, No. 11 USC, two of them away from Seattle. But the road to get there became noticeably more difficult after losing two starters.

Left tackle Trey Adams suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, and cornerback Jordan Miller sustained a broken ankle. Head coach Chris Petersen confirmed Monday that both will be lost for the season. Miller is the third Husky this season to suffer a broken ankle.

The Seattle Times noted that Washington is also without another starting corner in Byron Murphy, who is expected to return later this year from a broken foot. The Huskies are expected to replace Miller with either a pair of true freshmen or a converted running back.

But Adams may be the bigger loss for the Huskies. A junior, Adams was widely expected to be a first round pick in this spring’s NFL Draft. It’s the second straight season Washington has lost a key player in the trenches to a season-ending injury; a year ago, it was linebackers Joe Mathis, who finished one sack away from the team lead despite playing in only seven games, and third-leading tackler Azeem Victor.