WVU sues Big East for right to move in ’12

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In announcing their impending move from the Big East to the Big 12, both West Virginia and their new conference were very clear that the Mountaineers would become a member in 2012.  The Big East was just as emphatic in their own release, saying in a statement that the league “is committed to enforcing the 27-month notification period for members who choose to leave the conference.”

Apparently, it will now be up to a court of law to decide when WVU becomes a member of the Big 12.

Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com is reporting that WVU is filing suit against the Big East in an effort to get out from under the 27-month waiting period.  Per the documents obtained by McMurphy, commissioner John Marinatto sent a memo to the presidents and chancellors of conference members informing them that WVU “is filing suit against the Big East Conference today [Monday].”

The emailed memo stated that the lawsuit filing is “presumably to get relief from the withdrawal provision contained in our bylaws.”

CFT subsequently obtained the lawsuit itself — it can be read in its entirety HERE —  which was filed in the Circuit Court of Monongalia County (WV) and claims “the denigration of the Big East football conference is a direct and proximate result of lack of leadership and breach of fiduciary duties to the football schools by the Big East and its commissioner.”  The suit further states that the Big East breached its contract because “the Big East will lose its position as an [automatic qualifying BcS] conference.”  Of course, part of the reason why the Big East would lose their AQ status is because of WVU’s departure.

It should also be noted that WVU was one of the member schools that voted to have the 27-month waiting period put into effect to help prevent members from leaving the conference.

The suit goes on to point out, on a couple of occasions, that the Big East did not require TCU to comply with the 27-month waiting period when they announced they were “leaving” for the Big 12.  TCU was scheduled to become a member of the Big East July 1 of next year.  Additionally, the suit notes officials from UConn very publicly and aggressively campaigning for an invitation to the ACC, as well as “representatives of Louisville, Rutgers and Cincinnati [being] engaged in discussions with other sports conferences, including the ACC, the Big XII, the SEC and the Big Ten for the purpose of trying to obtain invitations to join these conferences and withdraw from the Big East.”

(Writer’s note: thanks for confirming that the Big Ten is engaged in expansion discussions.)

PFT’s Mike Florio, who was a practicing attorney in a previous life, told CFT via email that the Big East allowing TCU to “leave early” is the most compelling part of WVU’s argument.

“West Virginia has essentially loaded the shotgun and fired it repeatedly, raising a variety of creative and, for the most part, persuasive arguments,” Florio wrote in the email. “The Big East’s decision to allow TCU to exit the conference by paying the $5 million withdrawal fee without providing the required 27 months’ notice is perhaps the most compelling fact that favors West Virginia’s attempt to leave before the 27 months expires.

“As a practical matter, West Virginia likely hopes to create leverage via the lawsuit that will be used to negotiate a divorce that would allow West Virginia to join the Big 12 for the 2012-13 school year.”

In summation, WVU is asking the court to “enter an Order permanently enjoining the Commissioner and the Big East from enforcing the 27-month notice provision of the Agreement against WVU” and demands a trial by jury on their home court, so to speak.

The Big East has yet to respond to the suit that was filed Monday morning.

WVU has already paid $2.5 million of the $5 million exit fee required by Big East bylaws.  The other half of the financial penalty will be paid upon the school’s official exit.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which announced earlier this year that they will leave for the ACC, are not a part of WVU’s suit.  The Big East has been very emphatic that they will hold those two schools to the 27-month waiting period.

Michael Oher: Hugh Freeze is ‘man of God, man full of integrity’

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Hugh Freeze may have been blindsided by his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, but at least one of his former players has his back.

Homeless for stretches of his teenage life, Michael Oher was taken in by the Freeze family — a 2014 Bleacher Report article notes that “Oher spent one to two nights a week at their house” — while Freeze was the head coach at Briarcrest Christian High School in Memphis.  Oher went on to play football for Freeze in high school, with his compelling life story forming the basis for the Academy Award-winning film “The Blind Side.”

The player and the coach have formed a deep bond that stretches back more than a decade, a bond that hasn’t been broken despite the latter’s resignation as Ole Miss head coach under a cloud of controversy.

“He is a man of God and a man full of integrity,’’ Oher told USA Today Sports of his former coach. “I don’t know the full story but I’m willing to bet that everyone in the world had made a mistake that they have wanted someone to forgive them for.”

The offensive lineman added that without Freeze, “there is no Michael Oher and no “The Blind Side.'”

The news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service.  While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.

After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.  Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.

“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze said earlier this week in his first public comments since his departure. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”

“I got some good friends,” he added.

On the same day Freeze resigned, coincidentally, Oher was cut by the Carolina Panthers.  Earlier this offseason, Oher was arrested after an altercation with an Uber driver in which the player allegedly bit the driver on the back.

LSU still can’t say Arden Key will be available for opener vs. BYU

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The Magical Mystery Tour that has been Arden Key‘s offseason continues.

In mid-February, LSU announced that Key had “decided to take some time away from football… for personal reasons.” Four months later, the football program announced the defensive end had rejoined the team; at the same time, it was announced that Key had recently undergone shoulder surgery.

Thursday, first-year head coach Ed Orgeron indicated that Key will not be available for the start of summer camp because of the ongoing rehab — and couldn’t commit to the player being available for the opener as well.

“We don’t know when he’s going to be ready, but obviously we expect him to play this year and have a great year. We won’t know (his playing status) until the end of camp,” Orgeron said according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. “I’m going to listen to the doctors. Some days he’s able to get into uniform and practice, he’s going to do that, but I don’t see that happening in the next couple of weeks.”

When it comes to playing against BYU Sept. 2 in Houston? “There is a chance,” Orgeron allowed.

A four-star 2015 signee, Key was a consensus Freshman All-American his first season with the Tigers after starting nine games.  Last season as a true sophomore, he led the team with 14.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.  The latter total set a school record.

Following that breakout campaign, he was named second-team All-SEC.

Clemson transfer Scott Pagano progressing from foot surgery, but might miss Oregon’s opener

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There was good news and potentially not-so-good news on the Scott Pagano front Thursday for Oregon.

A transfer from Clemson this offseason, Pagano suffered a broken bone in his foot in the Tigers’ mid-November win over Pitt that forced him to miss the remainder of the regular season.  After moving on to the Ducks as a graduate transfer in mid-April, UO’s medical staff decided he needed to undergo surgery to repair the damage in his foot.

First-year head coach Willie Taggart Thursday declared the defensive lineman ahead of schedule in his recovery from the medical procedure, but didn’t guarantee he’d be on the field for the 2017 opener.

“Something he had that he needed to be corrected,” Taggart said of the surgery according to oregonlive.com. “He’s ahead of schedule right now. I don’t like putting certain weeks on guys because everybody heals differently.

“He’s one of those kids that has been rehabbing his tail off and is itching to get back out there. He’s ahead of schedule right now. Hopefully he’s there for the Southern Utah game.”

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. He started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.

Before opting for UO, Pagano had taken an official visit to Oklahoma as he had whittled his to-do list down to those two. Arkansas, Notre Dame and Texas were also among the lineman’s five allotted official visits in his second round of collegiate recruiting.

CB Ryan Mayes no longer part of Miami football team

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There’s been a slight tweak to Miami’s defensive secondary ahead of the start of summer camp.

In a press release that consisted all of two sentences, the Hurricanes announced that Ryan Mayes is no longer a member of Mark Richt’s football program.  No reason was given for the separation, nor is it known whether the move was voluntary or involuntary.

A three-star member of The U’s 2014 recruiting class, Mayes was rated as the No. 48 cornerback in the country and the No. 92 player at any position in the state of Florida.  He held offers from, among others, Boston College and Syracuse.

As a true freshman, Mayes played in three games, then saw action in just one game the following season as he took a redshirt.  In 2016, the defensive back played in 11 games, mainly on special teams.

Prior to his departure, the redshirt junior was expected to fill a reserve role in the Hurricanes’ secondary.