Update: A&M confirms Sumlin hiring

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UPDATED 6:01 p.m. ET: In a press release, Texas A&M has confirmed the hiring of Kevin Sumlin as its next head coach.

“It is with great pride that we announce Kevin Sumlin has accepted an offer to become the next head football coach at Texas A&M University,” A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said in a statement. “We began this search process a little over a week ago and spoke to many worthy and qualified candidates, but my decision, which was made in consultation with (Texas A&M) President (R. Bowen) Loftin, kept leading me to Kevin. We met this morning to finalize the offer. I believe he is the right person to lead our football program into the Southeastern Conference. First of all, Kevin is a terrific person. He is also one heck of a recruiter and he will put together a great staff.”

In his statement, Sumlin thanked the Aggies for the opportunity while also expressing how difficult it was to leave a university that gave him his first opportunity as a head coach.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at Texas A&M University,” Sumlin said. “Having coached there before, I understand the culture and embrace the commitment by the 12th Man regarding Aggie football. Aggieland is a special place and I look forward to working with the young men in the football program and recruiting the type of players we need to be successful in the SEC.”

“With that being said. I can’t thank the University of Houston enough for giving me a chance to become a head football coach. It is tough to leave a group of players who have worked so hard and have done things the right way in taking Cougar football to greater heights.”

A press conference will be held Monday at noon ET to officially introduce Sumlin.

In this latest spinning of the coaching carousel, Sumlin becomes the fourth head coach to leave a school that’s in a non-automatic qualifying conference in the BcS for a job as the head coach at an AQ school.

UPDATED 5:08 p.m. ET: At a press conference addressing the coaching situation for his football program Saturday evening, Houston athletic director Mack Rhoades confirmed that Kevin Sumlin has accepted the head-coaching position at Texas A&M. He also introduced Tony Levine as the Cougars’ interim head coach.

Rhoades stated that he spoke to A&M athletic director Bill Byrne shortly before the start of the press conference, and that an announcement from the Aggies on Sumlin’s hiring is imminent.

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Considered the front-runner even before Mike Sherman was officially fired earlier this month, Houston’s Kevin Sumlin is apparently set to be named the new head coach at Texas A&M according to reports streaming in from College Station and surrounding areas.

AggieSports.com reports that the school has made a decision on its new head football coach, with the most likely candidate being Sumlin, although A&M is not ready to announce the hiring.  The San Antonio Express-News takes it a step further, writing that “Sumlin is the Aggies’ choice for the gig” and “a press conference announcing Sumlin’s hire could be as early as today.”

The latter paper goes on to note that “A&M made a late run at Georgia coach Mark Richt, who mulled the offer Friday and turned it down Friday night.”  UGA athletic director Greg McGarity had subsequently declared there “was no truth whatsoever” to reports linking Richt to the A&M job.

On Friday, Sumlin refused to directly address the speculation connecting him to the Aggies’ opening.

Be that as it may, A&M appears to have finally pulled the trigger on the man who has been at or near the top of its coaching to-do list since Sherman’s Dec. 1 firing.  Sumlin has spent the past four years as the Cougars head coach, but will be charged with leading the Aggies as the school makes its way from the Big 12 into the SEC next year.

Sumlin, who had also reportedly drawn interest from Arizona State, Illinois and UCLA, has compiled a 35-17 mark with the Cougars, including a pair of 10-win seasons and three bowl berths.  UH got off to a 12-0 start this year, but a loss to Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship game cost the Cougars a shot at not only a perfect season but a BcS bowl berth as well.

In addition to Sumlin, it’s believed A&M interviewed Air Force’s Troy Calhoun, Southern Mississippi’s Larry Fedora — who subsequently took the job at North Carolina — and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart earlier this week in New York City.

UPDATED 12:21 p.m. ET: Richt released a statement late Saturday morning denying any contact any other school.

“I’ve said many times Georgia is the place I want to be as long as Georgia will have me. That has never changed. And it’s gratifying to know Georgia wants me. I have not talked to any other school about a job nor do I have any interest in doing so. My interest is having a great recruiting year and start building toward next season.”

UPDATED 3:26 p.m. ET: Sumlin has reportedly informed his UH players that he’s leaving for another job.  A&M has no plans to make an announcement on a hiring Saturday; however, a press conference could take place as soon as Monday.

BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

California’s state-funded travel ban to discriminating states raises mild football scheduling concerns

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The state of California is banning state-funded travel to the states of Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Those states are added to the previous state-funded travel bans that included Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee due to what California lawmakers say are laws that allow for discrimination against gay and transgender people.

So what does this have to do with college football? My colleague, Bryan, notes this latest decision from the state means scheduling any potential road games for a handful of schools just got a tad trickier.

This development poses a couple of issues for some California schools to address moving forward.

San Jose State is the school affected by this latest news right off the bat. San Jose State has a road game scheduled at Texas on September 9 this season. San Jose State may have to rely on some of that guaranteed money from Texas to cover the expenses, which would put a dent in the total takeaway from playing the game in the first place.

Cal is also scheduled to play at North Carolina on September 2. Cal also plays at TCU in 2021 and at Auburn in 2024. If the ban is still in operation at those times, then Cal will have to budget ahead of time to tackle the expenses. UCLA will play at Memphis on September 19.

The state-funded travel ban to these states may not be an issue for the postseason, as bowl game expenses tend to be carried by the conference and their revenue shares.

Fresno State has a road game at Texas A&M scheduled in 2020. San Diego State has no future scheduling hassles to worry about for the time being.

When ‘physically, mentally ready,’ door wide open for Keyshawn Johnson Jr.’s return to Nebraska

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Keyshawn Johnson Jr. has yet to play a down for Nebraska, but, if it’s up to Mike Riley, he will at some point down the road.

Earlier this month, the son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  This past week, the younger Johnson decided to take a leave of absence, with his father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and will not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.

Left open at the time was the question of whether Johnson Jr. would ever play for the ‘Huskers, period.  Friday, Riley left the door wide open for a return.

“We’re disappointed that he’s not here with us right now today,” the head coach said according to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “I think there’s kind of a wellness factor for Keyshawn going home. We talked to him about the possibility of maybe enrolling part time and taking care of his progress toward his degree, and also getting in great shape.

“And we opened the door for return, which is just kind of left open that we’ll deal with at the time that he is physically and mentally ready to do that.”

A three-star 2017 signee who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, the younger Johnson had been expected to be an immediate contributor for the Cornhuskers this season.