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.

Texas Tech gets commitment from ex-Arkansas WR Jojo Robinson

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JoJo Robinson‘s winding college football road will apparently take him next to Lubbock.

Using his Twitter account as a microphone, Robinson announced that, “with a lot of prayer and support,” he has decided to continue his playing career at Texas Tech.  The wide receiver had spent the 2016 season at a junior college, thus making him eligible to play immediately in 2017.

Including this season, Robinson will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Originally a Florida State verbal, Robinson ultimately flipped to Arkansas to become a four-star member of the Razorbacks’ 2014 recruiting class. He was suspended for one game his first season in Fayetteville after he was arrested for armed robbery after signing with UA; that charge was ultimately dropped.

In 2015, Robinson was dismissed by head coach Bret Bielema, reportedly for not going to class. Prior to that dismissal, he caught six passes for 53 yards as a redshirt freshman.

The Red Raiders had lost at least two wide receivers to transfer this offseason, including their top pass-catcher, Jonathan Giles, in late April.  Tech’s leader in receptions (69), receiving yards (1,158), receiving touchdowns (13) and yards per catch (16.8) last season ultimately opted for LSU a month later.

In early May, Tony Brown announced his decision to transfer as well.  Earlier this month, he revealed that he would be moving on to Colorado.

Two Vanderbilt players shot in incident involving stolen phone

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While that’s a serious-sounding headline, it could’ve been a lot worse for a pair of Vanderbilt football players.

According to WSMV-TV, O’montae “Tae” Daley and Frank Coppet were shot outside of a Nashville Target store Monday night.  The former, a true freshman defensive back, was shot in the leg while the latter, a redshirt freshman defensive back, was shot in the arm.  Both of the injuries are considered non-critical.

The shooting occurred after a third Commodore football player, wide receiver Donaven Tennyson (pictured), had his phone stolen in an earlier incident and, along with the other two, concocted what was described by police as “an ill-conceived plan to recover a stolen cellphone.”

From the television station’s report:

Police said the incident leading up to the shooting happened on Monday when… Tennyson met up with someone to try to sell his cellphone. Tennyson’s cellphone was stolen during the meeting in the parking lot of the Chili’s on West End.

Tennyson told police he noticed his stolen phone was listed online, which is when he reportedly made a fake profile and arranged a meeting with the seller at Target.

The 19-year-old brought two friends with him, 18-year-olds O’montae Daley and Frank Coppet. The trio brought a pellet pistol with them.

Coppet reportedly got out of their car with the pellet gun, which is when two people in a gray Buick sedan opened fire.

In addition to getting shot, one of the victim’s had his car stolen by the alleged shooters for good measure.  Police are still searching for the alleged assailants, and haven’t yet released a description.

The school has yet to publicly comment on the shooting.

Last season as a true freshman, Tennyson played in eight games for the Commodores, while Coppet took a redshirt his first season with the program.  Daley was a three-star member of Vandy’s 2017 recruiting class coming out of high school in Georgia.  He signed early and participated in spring practice this year.

Committee launched to formulate plans for college football’s 150th birthday

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On Nov. 6, 1869, Princeton and Rutgers squared off in the first-ever college football game.  Nearly 148 years later, the powers-that-be in the sport are in the beginning stages of commemorating the momentous event.

The National Football Foundation announced in a press release that “[a] group of college football leaders announced plans today to launch a nationwide celebration to commemorate the game’s 150th anniversary.” The group will be headed by Kevin Weiberg, longtime college athletics administrator and former Big 12 Conference commissioner.

There are a baker’s dozen other individuals who will be involved in planning the festivities as part of the committee, including the two current athletic directors of the teams involved in the sport’s first game.

  • Todd Berry, executive director, American Football Coaches Association
  • Ari Fleischer, president, Ari Fleischer Communications
  • Bill Hancock, executive director, College Football Playoff
  • Steve Hatchell, president & chief executive officer, National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame
  • Pat Hobbs, director of athletics, Rutgers University
  • Chris Howard, president, Robert Morris University
  • Mike Kern, associate commissioner, Missouri Valley Football Conference/FCS Managing Director
  • Oliver Luck, executive vice president of regulatory affairs and strategic partnerships, NCAA
  • Mollie Marcoux Samaan, athletics director, Princeton University
  • Larry Scott, commissioner, Pac-12 Conference
  • Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner, Mid-American Conference
  • Bob Vecchione, executive director, National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics
  • Wright Waters, executive director, Football Bowl Association

“This is a very exciting moment for fans of college football,” Weiberg said in a statement. “Across the country, college football is a deeply ingrained part of life for millions and millions of people. While it’s too soon to know our exact plans, we want to put something together that is big and special, something fans can be proud of. We will work closely with leaders from all divisions of college football to build a national celebration for fans to enjoy.

“No one could have imagined that since the first football game was played on November 6, 1869 that college football would grow to become one of America’s greatest traditions, beloved by tens of millions of fans every year,” said Scott. “At all divisions of play, college football is special and we intend to launch a nationwide celebration to mark the anniversary.”

Ex-Alabama WR T. Simmons officially a WVU Mountaineer, too

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In the post below this, we noted that Jovani Haskins is officially a member of the West Virginia football program.  T.J. Simmons can say the same as well.

After Simmons announced it via social media over this past weekend, WVU has confirmed that the wide receiver has signed a grant-in-aid for the 2017-18 academic year and will continue his collegiate playing career with the Mountaineers.  That continuation won’t happen immediately as, after sitting out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws, Simmons will have three years of eligibility remaining with the Mountaineers.

Simmons had decided last week to transfer out of the Alabama football program.

A three-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2016 recruiting class, Simmons was rated as the No. 58 receiver in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Alabama.

As a true freshman, Simmons played in 12 games, mainly on special teams.  In this year’s annual spring game, the 6-2, 201-pound receiver caught six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown for the Crimson Tide.