Updated: Big 12 hoping clarity on WVU, expansion coming soon

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UPDATED 8:20 p.m. ET:  In an interview with Lubbock radio station Double-T 104.3 FM, Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said he did not anticipate the conference expanding beyond 10 teams anytime soon.

“I don’t anticipate there’s going to be a movement off 10,” Neinas said. “It could happen down the road, but we definitely won’t be beyond 10 for 2012-2013 and there is strong feeling within the membership that 10 provides the opportunity for round-robin in football and you play everyone in basketball twice …

“That seems to be appealing to the conference members. To go beyond that will take a lot of research and hard thinking.”

I don’t think it’s any real secret that Texas and Oklahoma wish to keep the Big 12 at 10 members, but take Neinas’ comments for what they’re worth.

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Although West Virginia and the Big East have made several headlines over the past few months with their dueling lawsuits over conference realignment, very little progress seems to have been made — at least on the surface.

Both sides filed motions to dismiss the other’s lawsuit; both motions were denied. WVU’s best chance to leave the Big East and land in the Big 12 by this year remains the non-binding mediation the two have been ordered into by a Providence County Superior Court Judge.

A status conference for that mediation has been set for Feb. 9.

Meanwhile, the Big 12 is schedule-less, yet hopeful, at the hands of WVU’s ongoing legal battle. Per Chris Level of RedRaiderSports.com, the Big 12 is planning to release its football schedule on Feb. 1 because the conference’s contract with its TV partners.

That’s also National Signing Day.

Still, the Big 12 needs WVU on the schedule next year to avoid a financial penalty from some of their media rights partners. Interim commissioner Chuck Neinas has stated over and over that he has received full confidence from WVU that the Mountaineers will be a member by July 1.

Currently, rumors are beginning to swirl that perhaps — maybe — the Big East and WVU have negotiated or are negotiating an exit settlement for the Mountaineers. Keep in mind that’s far from confirmed.

But the Big 12’s future may not be done with West Virginia, either, if/when that finally works out. Brett McMurphy of CBSSports reports today that the Big 12 expansion committee has a meeting today to decide if the conference will go to 11 or 12 teams, or stay at 10.

So, in other words, yes, we’re having this discussion again. Remember, the Big 12 is still very much an unsettled conference.

McMurphy goes on to say that Louisville is the “slam dunk” choice if the Big 12 were to go to 11 — the Cardinals almost beat out West Virginia a few months ago for that 10th spot — and BYU would be back in the mix if the conference expanded to 12 members.

An interesting tidbit from yesterday’s Big East teleconference was that Navy felt football independence didn’t have a bright future. 

BYU just finished its first season as a football independent, but with conference realignment being as volatile as it is, and with conferences now beginning to pair up for non-conference matchups, perhaps Navy is right.

To be clear, though, the overall feeling is that the Big 12 is still divided on expansion.

For their sake, hopefully some clarity is coming in the next few weeks.

Ohio State RB Antonio Williams transferring to UNC

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Ohio State running back Antonio Williams is moving a bit closer to home to continue playing his college football. The North Carolina native reportedly will transfer to the University of North Carolina to play for the Tar Heels. Williams announced his transfer news via Twitter.

“Though being at Ohio State provided me with the right path to reach those goals, the timing for me to be at OSU wasn’t the most ideal,” Williams said in a statement on Twitter. “With that being said, following the end of this semester, I will be transferring to the University of North Carolina.”

Williams appeared in 12 games for the Buckeyes last season, carrying the football 57 times for 290 yards and three touchdowns in a backup role. Ohio State’s running game was led by freshman breakout star J.K. Dobbins and sophomore Mike Weber. Both are back this fall to continue carrying the ball for Ohio State, which would have left Williams sitting no higher than third on the team’s depth chart.

Before attending Ohio State, Williams previously committed to UNC during his recruiting cycle. He switched his commitment status to Wisconsin before making one final switch to Ohio State.

Williams will have two years of eligibility after sitting out the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Williams will likely burn his unused redshirt season this fall to retain two years of eligibility at UNC.

What do Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher have that Nick Saban doesn’t? A No. 1 overall NFL draft pick

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The NFL draft is coming up later this week, and a handful of college football coaches could potentially have their first player chosen first overall. Among those looking to join a short list of active head coaches with a top overall draft pick on their watch includes Penn State’s James Franklin, USC’s Clay Helton and Wyoming’s Craig Bohl.

There are just six active head coaches in FBS that have sent a player to the top of the NFL draft order, and only one of those coaches are currently at the same school they had a player go No. 1 overall. Stanford’s David Shaw was the head coach of the Cardinal when Andrew Luck went with the first overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft to the Indianapolis Colts. The other five coaches on the current list have since moved on to another job since they had a player go with the first pick in the draft. Three of those active coaches will have new jobs starting this fall.

Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M was the head coach of Florida State when quarterback Jameis Winston went first overall in 2015. More recently, Sonny Dykes was the head coach at Cal when Jared Goff went to the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. Dykes is now the head coach at SMU. And just last year, Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin saw defensive end Myles Garrett go to the Cleveland Browns from Texas A&M with the first pick.

The two other coaches on the list of active coaches with a top draft pick are Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Mark Richt of Miami. Meyer was getting settled in at Florida after leaving Utah, but he was watching admirably as Utah quarterback Alex Smith went to the San Francisco 49ers with the first pick in 2005. Richt’s top draft pick from his time at Georgia was quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was taken first overall by the Detroit Lions in 2009.

You may have noticed (as if the headline didn’t give it away) there are some notable head coaches in college football without a top overall draft pick. Despite all the success of Nick Saban at Alabama, including a factory of NFL talent sent through the draft in recent years, a top overall pick continues to elude Saban. Not that he is worried about such a thing of course. Alabama’s NFL draft output is far more impressive when you realize quantity and quality are not short on supply in Tuscaloosa. During Saban’s time at Alabama, the highest draft pick from the school has been running back Trent Richardson with the third overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft (Oakland Raiders). Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus also went third overall to the Buffalo Bills in 2011.

But again, Alabama may not have a first overall pick, but the Crimson Tide lead the pack when it comes to first-round draft picks.

Here is a list of all the active head coaches with one No. 1 overall NFL draft pick:

  • Kevin Sumlin, Arizona: Myles Garrett, DE (2017)
  • Sonny Dykes, SMU: Jared Goff, QB (2016)
  • Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M: Jameis Winston, QB (2015)
  • David Shaw, Stanford: Andrew Luck, QB (2012)
  • Mark Richt, Miami: Matthew Stafford, QB (2009)
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State: Alex Smith, QB (2005)

Wyoming’s Josh Allen is considered one of the favorites to be chosen with the first pick Thursday night in the NFL draft, which would add Craig Bohl to the list (and he gets some of the credit for No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Carson Wentz, too). Penn State running back Saquon Barkley would add James Franklin to the list. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is another trendy pick for the top pick, but his head coach, Jim Mora, is no longer an active coach at this time. Sam Darnold of USC would add Clay Helton to the list, and Lincoln Riley would make the jump into the conversation if Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield happens to go first overall.

We’ll find out Thursday night if a new coach joins the list or not.

New college football video game becoming a reality in 2020

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For college football fans with a craving for some college football goodness on their home video game console, there is some good news on the horizon. Although EA Sports continues to keep its distance from reviving the beloved “NCAA Football” franchise, another company is moving ahead with a tentative 2020 launch for a highly anticipated college football video game to satisfy the cravings in the market.

IMackulate Vision Gaming has announced its upcoming title, “Gridiron Champions,” is now slated for a release in 2020, although a more specific date has not been confirmed. The game will avoid the legal loopholes that come with licensing college football school logos and conference tie-ins that have led to legal battles for EA Sports with its licensed NCAA Football game by having 126 fictional teams. However, gamers will have the option of customizing their teams in the game, allowing for the option to recreate official teams right down to the player names.

The new attempt at a college football game will have some new features as well, including a customizable playoff format that allows for a 16-team playoff field.

EA Sports previously had the option to fully customize rosters for the “NCAA Football” franchise, but the game came packaged with rosters that were strikingly similar to the real-world rosters. “Gridiron Champions” would avoid that all together and leave that to the consumers who purchase the game. IMV Gaming claims over 1,300 fans have purchased a copy of the game during its pre-launch fundraising efforts.

The game will be made available for the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and on PC. Sorry Nintendo Switch fans. For now, you’re left out of the game.

Transferring USF TE Kano Dillon tweets move to Oregon

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After opting to leave a Group of Five program, Elkanah “Kano” Dillon has to continue his collegiate playing career at a Power Five school.

Dillon posted a tweet to his personal Twitter account Saturday that read simply, “Oregon is the real deal.” Subsequent to that tweet, both The Oregonian and ScoopDuck.com reported that the tight end has decided to transfer to the Ducks.

“Yes sir, I’m going to Oregon,” Dillon texted the latter website.

The move comes nearly three months after Dillon opted to transfer from South Florida.  As a graduate transfer, Dillon will be eligible to play immediately at Oregon in 2018, his final season of eligibility.

Last season at USF, Dillon caught 11 passes for 119 yards.  He finished the Bulls portion of his career with 504 yards and four touchdowns on 28 receptions.

Of the 33 games Dillon played, the 6-5, 262-pound tight end started eight of those contests.  Three of the starts came this past season.