Cancer Center Dedication

Boren praises Neinas for keeping the Big 12 together

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It’s like Oklahoma and Kansas got together with the eight other Big 12 institutions and decided to spin the loss of the conference’s fourth member in just over a year (Missouri) into an addition by subtraction cliche or something.

At a Barry Switzer statue dedication on Saturday, interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas was introduced by Oklahoma president David Boren with the following laud that would only be fit for Michael Scott from “The Office”:

“I want to tell you the Big 12 today is here, it is stronger, it is stable. There is no doubt the Big 12 is going to be here next year and the year after and for many, many years to come. Because the heartland of this country deserves a great football conference, and the heartland is going to be a great football conference.

“A lot of people played a role in turning this thing around and reestablishing trust and reestablishing harmony and reestablishing stability. I simply want to tell you, and I’ll tell you one story in particular…

“There were several reforms we wanted to put in place in terms of grant of rights, handcuffs, to keep members of the conference together. Long-term commitment. Sharing of revenue. Not letting anyone that shall not be named today use their own network to play high school highlights of possible recruits.

“I may not know much. I know those athletic experts always smile when I speak at these events. But I do know how to count votes. And I will tell you when it came time to count the votes about those high school highlights, it was 9-0 with one abstention. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to which one abstained.

“But this man brought us together. One of the most unusual things that’s ever happened, these basic reforms that we’ve been working on for 10 years to stabilize the conference… In two weeks he came and joined us as our commissioner, and in two weeks he hammered out an agreement that resulted in a joint motion, a joint motion, of the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma, to enact all of these reforms to provide long-term stability for our conference.

I’ll preface the following display of cynicism with this: of course Boren and every other Big 12 official is going to paint the current foundation as structurally sound. That’s their job — to be Chip Diller of “Animal House” and exclaim that all is well.

But enough with the TV and movie references.

While some may continue to scoff at Missouri’s departure to the SEC as nothing more than a geographical gerrymandering for TV markets, the fact is that Mizzou left the Big 12 for a reason.  “When people start talking about limits, that doesn’t indicate something that’s really strong,” Mizzou athletic director Mike Alden said about the Big 12’s six-year grant of rights for equal revenue distribution.

But in today’s college football landscape? Maybe six years is the new definition of long-term. Coaches come and go from jobs at alarming rates; heck, TCU switched conferences twice without ever having played a game in one. I’m not sure the possibility doesn’t exist of Mizzou leaving the SEC for the Big Ten if that phone call ever came.

“Long-term” is now a saturated phrase with interpretive meaning. It could indicate six years and not a moment more for Texas and Oklahoma, who despite what the Sooners say, were ready to leave their conference on the side of the highway (again) as they headed west.

Think about it: West Virginia is willing to sue the Big East to get into a conference next year that apparently (at least it was felt on WVU’s end) was all good to include them, then spent the couple of days tapping the brakes, before officially extending the invite.

As my father told me once in his advice about relationships: “If it’s not yes, it’s no.”

Boren can spin this how he wants, although his remarks and shots at Texas don’t induce a ton of confidence, but the questions that remain about the long-term security of the Big 12 don’t give us a solid “yes.”

Tennessee adds future home-and-home with BYU

KNOXVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 10: Rajion Neal #20 of the Tennessee Volunteers runs into the end zone with an eight-yard touchdown reception in the first overtime against the Missouri Tigers at Neyland Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Missouri won 51-48 in four overtimes. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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At the moment, BYU is looking at one hellacious start to the 2019 season.

Thursday afternoon, BYU announced tat it has added a future home-and-home series with Tennessee.  The Volunteers will serve as the host for a Sept. 7, 2019, matchup at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, with the second game set for Sept. 1 or 2, 2023, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.

The 2019 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.

“There’s something about those orange and white checkerboard end zones that shouts ‘Tradition!’,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. “When the opportunity to play a series with Tennessee presented itself, we didn’t blink. They’re a storied football program with a winning tradition, national championships, a classic stadium, incredible fans and hall of fame coaches.

“It will be a great experience to visit SEC country and play in Neyland Stadium, and later host Tennessee in Provo.”

BYU will kick off the 2019 season against Utah, followed by games against Tennessee, USC and Washington the next three weeks.  They also have a pair of mid-October games against Washington State and Boise State.

UT’s other non-conference games that season include Georgia State, Chattanooga and UAB.

Fighting Illini live up to nickname as Lovie Smith calls early end to practice amidst fisticuffs

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 01: Head coach Lovie Smith of the Illinois Fighting Illini looks over the field against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Illinois 31-16. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
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Lovie Smith is not a big fan of fighting amongst his Illinois players, a lesson he shared with his aptly nicknamed Fighting Illini squad Wednesday evening.

According to the Decatur Herald & Review, Illinois’ spring practice session yesterday came to an abrupt and premature end after a fight between players broke out.  The names of those involved in the fisticuffs are not known as the media hadn’t been permitted to view practice.

From the Herald & Review‘s report:

…a source said Smith wanted to send a strong message about how he hates fighting and considers it an inexcusable transgression that robs the rest of the team of a chance to concentrate on getting better.

The field was cleared at about 5:35 p.m., nearly an hour before practice was scheduled to end. The players were sent to the locker room and the field was quickly cleared of equipment. Reporters were told there would be no interviews and were told to vacate the Memorial Stadium facility.

The Illini, which finished 3-9 in their first season under Smith last year, kicked off spring practice feb. 14 and will conclude it March 10 with the annual spring game.

Andy Dodd tweets decision to transfer from LSU

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Fans sit in the rain during the Auburn Tigers against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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With spring practice getting set to kick of en masse all across the country, there’s more of the expected personnel attrition settling in and coming to light.

On his Twitter account Wednesday, Andy Dodd announced that it is in his “best interest” to transfer from LSU and continue playing college football elsewhere. “This decision was not an easy one, but it is what’s best for me moving forward,” the offensive lineman wrote.

Dodd was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 17 guard in the country.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, the lineman played in eight games the next two seasons. He played in six games, with one start, in 2016.

Auburn adds FCS starting lineman as graduate transfer

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 12: Running back Peyton Barber #25 of the Auburn Tigers dives for the end zone during overtime in their game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on September 12, 2015 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 27-20. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Another graduate transfer has made a move, albeit with a slightly different bent than most others.

Auburn confirmed Wednesday that Casey Dunn has been added to Gus Malzahn‘s football roster.  The center comes to The Plains as a graduate transfer, which makes him eligible for the 2017 season.

He also comes to Auburn from Jacksonville State, an FCS school that would’ve made him immediately eligible aside from the grad transfer exception.  Oh, and his new position coach is excited to have him in the personnel fold as well.

The past two seasons, Dunn was an FCS All-American.  While Dunn comes to the Tigers as a center who started 27 games at that position for the Gamecocks, he could play anywhere along the interior of the Tigers’ offensive line.

Malzahn is also very familiar with Dunn’s talent as the lineman started for the JSU squad that took him to overtime in 2015.