WV senator speaks on rumors of Big 12 lobbying by Louisville


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) 

Report: Former NC State QB Jalan McClendon Baylor-bound as graduate transfer

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When Ryan Finley announced he would put off the NFL Draft in order to spend his senior season at NC State, Jalan McClendon announced he would not spend his own senior year backing up Finley.

Now we reportedly know where McClendon will spend his final season.

According to Yahoo‘s Pete Thamel, McClendon will pursue a graduate transfer to Baylor.

A Charlotte native, McClendon appeared in 21 career games as a Wolfpack. He completed 26-of-47 passes (55.3 percent) for 262 yards with one touchdown against four interceptions while rushing 40 times for 156 yards and two touchdowns.

At Baylor, McClendon will step into a depth chart with a hole left by a transfer of its own. The Bears spent 2017 juggling their QB1 spot between Arizona graduate transfer Anu Solomon, sophomore Zach Smith and freshman Charlie Brewer. Solomon graduated and Smith has transferred to Tulsa, meaning McClendon will have to compete with the rising sophomore and brother of former Texas Tech and Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer. The younger Brewer was Baylor’s best signal caller in a downtrodden ’17 campaign, hitting 139-of-204 passes (68.1 percent) for 1,562 yards with 11 touchdowns against four interceptions.

American, ACC announce officiating alliance

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The ACC and the American have struck a deal for a football officiating alliance, the American announced Monday. The new program will see the two conferences cooperate on all things officiating, from training to scheduling to evaluation.

With the move, the ACC’s Dennis Hennigan will oversee the alliance, while the American’s Terry McAulay will step down as the league’s coordinator of football officiating and the American will hire a new supervisor of football officials.

“We are excited to partner with the ACC regarding the administration of our football officiating program,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “This alliance will provide both conferences with a deep roster of the best college football officials and will provide for greater efficiency and consistency in the training and evaluation of officials as well as enhanced opportunities for the recruitment of officials. We look forward to working with Dennis Hennigan, who was regarded as one of the top on-field officials in college football and has since become a leader on the administrative side. I also want to thank Commissioner John Swofford for his cooperation in reaching this mutually beneficial arrangement.”

The new alliance means ACC officials could oversee a Tulane-Tulsa game, while AAC officials would work a Clemson-Georgia Tech game. The ACC-AAC Alliance will go into effect for the 2018 season.

ACC, American team up to improve officiating oversight

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The ACC and American Athletic Conference are coming together with the intent on improving officiating oversight between the two conferences. According to an announcement from the AAC, ACC supervisor of officials Dennis Hennigan will serve as the lead administrator and take on the responsibility of hiring and training officials used in both conferences.

“We are excited to partner with the ACC regarding the administration of our football officiating program,” AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a released statement. “This alliance will provide both conferences with a deep roster of the best college football officials and will provide for greater efficiency and consistency in the training and evaluation of officials as well as enhanced opportunities for the recruitment of officials.”

The AAC reportedly removed Terry McAulay from his long-time role as the conference’s coordinator of football officiating, a role he held in the old Big East and carried over to the AAC amid conference realignment changes. The AAC confirmed McAulay will no longer be associated with the conference in that role. The statement from the AAC says the conference will hire a new Supervisor of Football Officials that will help manage the officiating in the AAC and act as a go-to contact for coaches around the league.

There is no word on whether or not this alliance will lead to a combined instant replay process with a central command hub for instant replay reviews. Instead, the alliance seems to focus on working with officials to ensure calls are being called consistently throughout each league. Having officials on the same page with calling penalties and managing a game has been a problem with few answers. This likely won’t guarantee a perfectly called game every week in each conference, but it may prove to be a step in the right direction.

Brother of five-star recruit walking on at Florida

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Surely this is all a coincidence and not at all a way to gain a recruiting advantage, but junior college linebacker Umstead Sanders will join the Florida Gators as a walk-on player this year. The Gators do have a need to boost the depth at linebacker, so the addition of a junior college player is a quick and easy fix to address that concern, but there is a little more to the story here. Sanders is also the older brother of Trey Sanders, a five-star running back in the Class of 2019 from Bradenton, Florida.

Umstead Sanders announced he will be joining the Florida program with a message on Twitter over the weekend. He will do so as a preferred walk-on, which will likely lead to him landing a scholarship later this year. Sanders is expected to enroll at Florida this summer, so he is not around for spring football practices already underway in Gainesville. While the addition of a 6′-2″ 240-lb linebacker is nice, the whole thing smells like a package deal pitch to lure Sanders’ younger brother into the program down the line.

Package deal commitments and recruiting strategies have long been a part of the game, so this would hardly be anything new if there is a wink and nod to the recruiting efforts going on at Florida. There are no recruiting rules that could prevent Florida from offering a scholarship to a junior college player with the hope of landing his brother in the next recruiting cycle. Other schools have gone so far as to hire the fathers of certain recruits to hopefully gain an advantage, and making sales pitches to high school teammates and family members with scholarships involved has been a trendy technique some schools have put to good use.

Dan Mullen certainly knows what it takes to revamp the Florida program, and taking advantage of all the recruiting angles he can is fair game.