Early line: Oddsmaker digs Urban as JoePa’s successor

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With Joe Paterno out, Penn State will commence a search for a new head football coach since Lyndon Johnson was sitting in the White House.

The name that’s come up most often, even before the whole sordid tale became public knowledge, is Urban Meyer.  The former Florida head coach released a non-statement statement Thursday addressing the speculation, saying that he is “very happy with my role at ESPN” and has “no plans to return to coaching” before adding the qualifier “at this time.”

Some of the individuals charged with setting gambling lines, however, see it as only a matter of time before Meyer’s in Happy Valley.

Bodog.com has released their odds for who will be head coach of the Nittany Lions in 2012 and, in what’s not even remotely a mild shock, Meyer is the current favorite at 2/1.  The man right behind Meyer is far from a shock, either; Miami’s Al Golden — a former player of and coach for Paterno — has long been rumored to be one of a handful of likely heirs to Paterno’s Happy Valley kingdom and is currently listed by Bodog at 9-2.

Next up on the list, though, is somewhat of shocker — Mike London is listed at 5/1.  The current Virginia head coach has no direct connection to Penn State — given how far back this scandal reaches, maybe that’s exactly what the football program and the university needs — having played in college at Richmond, with coaching stops at his alma mater, William & Mary, Boston College and UVA at the collegiate level and a one-year stint in the NFL with the Houston Texas.

Houston’s Kevin Sumlin and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald are right on London’s heels at 11/2 and 6/1, respectively.  Like London, Sumlin has no direct connection to the Nittany Lions, although he has played and coached in the Big Ten.  Fitzgerald, on the other hand, has been mentioned consistently when the conversation turned in the past to replacing Paterno.  While he recently signed a contract extension with the Wildcats that could keep him in Evanston through the 2020 season, a contract in this day and age is anything but unbreakable.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, even more so than London, is where Greg Schiano falls in the eyes of this group of line setters.  The Rutgers head coach was a member of Paterno’s staff in the early to mid-nineties and, like Golden and Fitzgerald, is always a name that comes up in connection to the opening at Penn State.  Despite that, Schiano is listed at 25/1, below even the interim head coach who most view as having almost no chance of being named the full-time coach.

Anyway, and for those interested, below is the complete list of Bodog.com odds, including the obligatory appearance of the “This Guy” candidate.

Urban Meyer 2/1
Al Golden 9/2
Mike London 5/1
Kevin Sumlin 11/2
Pat Fitzgerald 6/1
Dan Mullen 8/1
Kirk Ferentz 8/1
Tom Bradley 10/1
Chris Petersen 10/1
Greg Schiano 25/1
Jon Gruden 50/1

Fans can legally pack concealed heat at Georgia football tailgates

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Guns and SEC football are back in the news yet again this offseason.  And this one has the ACC riding shotgun as well.

In late March, the state of Arkansas legislature passed a law (House Bill 1249) that would allow concealed-carry handguns on publicly-owned property, which would’ve include college sporting events.  A day later, and after realizing, amidst considerable controversy, the potential for alcohol-fueled fans attending an SEC football game armed, the state’s senate voted to amend the law to exclude college sporting events.

Fast-forward to this month, and the state of Georgia legislature has passed a law (House Bill 280) that would allow the carrying of concealed handguns on college campuses, with exceptions that include on-campus stadiums, arenas, gymnasiums and the like hosting intercollegiate sporting events.  That bill is scheduled to become law in the state July 1.

In clarifying the language of the law, the university confirmed in an extensive press release Wednesday that individuals with valid weapons licenses will be permitted to conceal-carry outside of college football stadiums.  In other words, licensed individuals would be permitted to carry concealed weapons outside of Sanford Stadium as well as Bobby Dodd Stadium as part of the game-day tailgating experience.

Only handguns are allowed under this law, and only when concealed.  Long guns, obviously, are not permitted under any circumstance.

“I understand that many of you have strong feelings about this bill,” UGA Chancellor Steve Wrigley began his letter to the university community. “Yet, whether you opposed or supported the legislation, it will soon be state law, and I respectfully ask everyone to exercise patience, understanding and respect as we implement it.

“We all share the same goal of ensuring a safe campus environment. We should work together to implement the law as written and thoughtfully address any complications that may arise.”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement amidst the Arkansas gun-law controversy that may or may not have had an impact on that state’s legislature tweaking of the bill. It bears watching whether the commish follows a similar public tack when it comes to this piece of legislation.

The Georgia Bulldogs will open their 2017 season at home against Appalachian State Sept. 2, while Georgia Tech’s home opener is Sept. 9 against Jacksonville State.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.