Big 12 introduces WVU, says no future expansion on horizon

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Representatives from the Big 12 and West Virginia held a teleconference this afternoon welcoming WVU as the 10th member of the league, and to answer questions about the decision-making process.

It’s been a hellacious week for WVU, who appeared to be on their way to the Big 12 as early as Wednesday. But reports that Louisville was making a late surge to overtake the Mountaineers caused the decision to be delayed until today. If you felt a breeze at all, it was probably the collective sigh of relief coming from the state of West Virginia, which wanted nothing more than to leave the sinking life boat that is the Big East conference.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous,” WVU AD Oliver Luck admitted.

Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas hardly made mention of Louisville this evening or indicated that there was political pressure from senator Mitch McConnell, a Louisville graduate, about the Cardinals becoming the Big 12’s 10th member. On the contrary, Neinas said the “mystery” surrounding Missouri and the possibility of an 11-game schedule caused the 72-hour hold-up.

“We were moving forward, and we came across the fact that if we were to add a new member, and if Missouri remained or delayed their departure, we would ahve to look at an 11 member conference,” Neinas explained. “As a result, the [expansion] Executive Committee shared that info with the Board of Directors.

“The athletic directors and the Board of Directors agreed to move forward with 10 members… Expansion is not on the horizon.”

Speaking of the Tigers, Neinas wouldn’t comment on Missouri’s status.

And what about the rumor that getting to Morgantown was a central problem for Big 12 teams? “Blown out of proportion,” answered Neinas.

Wherever WVU will be departing from — Neinas mentioned the airport in Bridgeport, a half hour away from Morgantown — they hope to be doing so in 2012. In fact, Luck mentioned twice that WVU looked forward to being a member of the Big 12 “beginning July 1, 2012.” That date would be contrary to the one mentioned in a press release by the Big East, which has maintained they will hold WVU to the same 27-month waiting period as Pitt and Syracuse, who are leaving for the ACC.

When asked about getting out of that waiting period, Luck said “Our team and their are in discussions about how to work that out.”

As far as finances are concerned, WVU confirmed they sent $2.5 million in a wire transfer to the Big East today as part of the $5 million buyout. They will send the rest upon leaving. One of the reasons WVU wanted to leave the Big East as soon as possible was to avoid paying any more in exit fees. Big East presidents agreed to raising exit fees to $10 million, but the amount hasn’t been enforced yet. What amounts WVU will have to pay for leaving before the 27-month waiting period — if they can get out before then — remains unclear.

When WVU does get into the Big 12, they’ll be a part of a revenue distribution model similar to TCU’s, despite previous reports to the contrary. The Big 12 needs to stay at 10 members in order to fulfill their obligation with the Big 12 Network and to stay viable with their TV partners, so getting WVU to the Big 12 ASAP is a priority.

“Our TV partners and bowl partners are elated about the addition of West Virginia,” Neinas said. “West Virginia’s going to be on any [conference’s] list.”

But, for a while, it looked like WVU might get left out in the conference realignment cold. The ACC showed no interest in WVU (they never have and never will), and West Virginia simply doesn’t have the TV market the SEC desires. It wasn’t until Pitt and Syracuse left for the ACC in September that WVU said they began evaluating their options.

“Clearly when Pitt and Syracuse chose to leave, all the remaining Big East schools had to take a step back and think about what was best for each individual school,” WVU president James Clements said.

Up until this week, WVU had remained one of the quietest programs in college football on the realignment front, and you can bet that was a premeditated approach. For having no natural TV market or recruiting grounds, and without being considered a top-notch academic institution, a ton of credit needs to be given to Luck and Clements for selling the Big 12 on the brand of WVU athletics.

Say what you will about the Stewart/Holgorsen debacle, or the beer sales at Mountaineer Field (for what it’s worth, the Big 12 doesn’t have a beer sales policy), but Luck put WVU in the best position to get out of the Big East without a plethora of selling points. The benefit of WVU is that it’s a good, self-sustaining athletic department with a value in viewership.

And the Big 12 took notice.

“We started looking at West Virginia when we thought we might lose a member,” Neinas said about the eventual departure of Texas A&M.

Former Georgia QB Jacob Park transferring from Iowa State too

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Jacob Park‘s winding collegiate football journey has taken yet another twist.

The quarterback confirmed to the Des Moines Register that he has decided to transfer from Iowa State and continue his playing career elsewhere.  The football program has granted Park, who will be leaving as a graduate, a release from his scholarship, although there’s no word on what if any restrictions were attached.

The development comes a little over two months after Park took a sudden leave of absence due to what were described as “unspecified medical concerns.” Park confirmed to the Register that he was facing a one-game suspension after testing positive for marijuana prior to his sabbatical.

From the newspaper’s report:

He said the challenge of balancing school, football, fatherhood and living with the mother of his child became overwhelming. Park also said he failed a drug test because of marijuana usage and was facing a one-game suspension that was supposed to have been served against Oklahoma on Oct. 7.

Park said he talked to Iowa State’s staff about his marijuana usage. The night before the suspension was supposed to be served, Iowa State announced Park had taken an indefinite leave from the team to “work through some personal health issues.”

“It was not something that was very easy to deal with when you have so much high-pressure situations that you’re being put into as I do,” Park said Monday. “And it’s a coping mechanism that I understand now is not acceptable and that I’m still working on this to this day.

Park had started the first four games of the 2017 season for the Cyclones in his second year in Ames.  In his first season at ISU, he became the full-time starter in the latter portion of the 2016 season.  During his time with the Cyclones, he completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 2,971 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.  He also ran for a pair of touchdowns in that span.

If the move on comes to fruition, Park will be working on his fourth collegiate program in less than four years.

A four-star member of Georgia’s 2014 recruiting class, Park was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of South Carolina; and the No. 229 player overall according to Rivals.com.  Park worked mainly with the scout team during his only season with the Bulldogs.

In mid-June of 2015, it was confirmed that Park would be transferring from Georgia.  After spending the 2015 season at the junior college level, Park transferred to ISU in February of 2016.

Greg Schiano was set to make nearly $28 million over six years as Tennessee’s head coach

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An ugly, very public backlash ended up causing some significant damage to Greg Schiano‘s bank account.

247Sports.com obtained the full Memorandum of Understanding between Schiano and the University of Tennessee, with the MOU revealing that UT was set to sign the Ohio State defensive coordinator to a six-year contract worth a total of $27 million; ESPN.com puts the number closer to $28 million. Schiano would’ve been paid $4.4 million in his first year as the Vols head coach.

However, Schiano was never officially hired as UT’s head coach after a certain segment of the fanbase used social media and other means to very vociferously object to the hiring based on Schiano’s (flimsy) connection to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. That backlash forced the university to reverse course on Schiano, setting the stage for an embarrassing series of snubs — and the athletic director working on a deal with Mike Leach one night only to be fired the next day — over the next couple of weeks before settling on Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as its next head coach.

It was reported back in late November that UT chancellor Beverly Davenport never signed the MOU, casting doubt on Schiano’s ability to seek any type of legal relief over the university backing out of the deal. It was further clarified earlier this month that the MOU, which was signed by Schiano as well as then-athletic director John Currie, needed to be signed by the university’s Chief Financial Officer to be valid; CFO David Miller never put his Herbie Hancock on the document, seemingly making it invalid if Schiano’s side decided to pursue a court case.

Should Schiano seek legal recourse through a lawsuit and ultimately win, though, it could prove to be very costly for UT. From ESPN:

If [Schiano] believes he was in fact hired, and then fired without cause, he would be owed 75 percent of the contract, which would equal $20.7 million.

Pruitt will make $3.8 million in his first year as UT’s head coach. Schiano made $700,000 (pre-bonus) as OSU’s coordinator this season, and is expected to get a bump in pay for 2018 that should get him to at least $800,000.

Three DBs among four who have left Syracuse since end of season

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Especially when it comes to the defensive side of the ball, Syracuse’s roster has seen a significant amount of attrition over the past couple of weeks.

Since the end of the 2017 regular season 17 days ago, a total of four players have left the Orange football program. Three of those who have taken their leave are defensive backs — Juwan Dowels, Daivon Ellison, Cordell Hudson — while the other is defensive tackle Kayton Samuels (pictured).

Dowels and Samuels were the latest to part ways, with both announcing on social media their decisions to transfer over the weekend.

Both of those two, along with Hudson, are leaving the Orange as graduate transfers. That transferring trio would all be eligible to play in 2018 if they move on to another FBS program.

Samuels played in 34 games during his time with the ‘Cuse, while Dowels played in 24. The latter’s 2016 season was cut short because of a knee injury in Week 2.

SMU confirms hiring of Sonny Dykes as new head coach

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After a year away from the head-coaching game, Sonny Dykes is back in it.

Not long after reports had surfaced earlier Monday, SMU confirmed a short time ago that Dykes has been named as the football program’s new head football coach.  Dykes replaces Chad Morris, who left for the same job at Arkansas late last week.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be introduced as the Head Coach at SMU,” a lengthy statement from Dykes began. “This is home and this is a program I grew up watching. I watched Mustang legends compete and I could always see myself putting on that iconic pony. Today, I’m proud to do just that.

“Coach Morris did great things here and I am fortunate that I have been selected to take the foundation Chad and his staff put in place and take it to a new level. And, make no mistake – That is what we plan to do.”

Prior to 2017, Dykes had spent the previous seven seasons as a head coach — four at Cal (2013-16) and three at Louisiana Tech (2010-12).  After being fired by the former school, he was considered a candidate for the offensive coordinator position at Arizona State.  Family issues, however, made TCU a better fit as he spent this past season as an offensive analyst with the Horned Frogs.

A native of Texas who played college baseball for Texas Tech, Dykes has gone 41-45 as a head coach — 22-15 at Louisiana Tech, 19-30 at Cal.

In Morris’ third season at SMU, the 7-5 Mustangs are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012.