Update: Meyer statement: ‘We will… recruit with relentless effort’

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UPDATED 3:47 p.m. ET: Following a previously scheduled meeting Friday in Chicago, Urban Meyer released a statement addressing the recruiting flap that’s developed throughout the week.  Here’s the statement, in its entirety:

“I was pleased to take part in a productive, regularly scheduled meeting of the Big Ten Conference coaches today in Chicago. We had an opportunity to discuss a number of issues with each other and conference staff, including those that have arisen this week. It should be noted that my coaching staff is in full compliance with our recruiting efforts, and no one on this staff did anything illegal or unethical. We will continue to comply with NCAA rules and recruit with relentless effort, especially the great state of Ohio.

______________________________

 “I want to thank Commissioner Delany for his insight and leadership, and at this point we all look forward to moving past this week and getting ready for the start of spring football.”

Instead of worrying about what’s going on at another Big Ten school, Bret Bielema might want to consider getting on the same page as his boss.

At least twice in the past three days, the Wisconsin head coach has used the word “illegal” when talking about the recruiting practices of Urban Meyer and his new coaching staff.  Former UW head coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez, who knows a thing or two about surviving on the recruiting trail, addressed the accusations made by his football coach with ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad and seemed to subtly take Bielema to task for going with a public airing of his grievances.

It’s dangerous to point fingers and make accusations,” Alvarez said. “I actually think recruiting is tamer now that it was at one point in time.”

As for the issue of continuing to recruit a player until he’s signed a Letter of Intent, Alvarez said all is fair in the recruiting game.

“Recruiting is recruiting until they sign,” Alvarez told Schad. “If we had somebody who changed their mind and came to us, that’s OK. Urban [Meyer] was very aggressive but there is no pact within the conference not to continue to recruit. It’s open season until they sign.”

Again, it might be time for the two to get in the same book — or the same library — let alone the same page.

And, yes, we’re well aware of the fact that Bielema could, or probably is, referring to something other than flipping verbally committed recruits with his accusations against Meyer.  If that’s the case, stop making blanket, non-specific accusations and spill what illegal tactics are being utilized by a rival coach.  Short of that, shut up about it publicly and keep your grievances where they should be — behind closed doors and resolved through proper conference channels.

In essence, that’s exactly what OSU athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement released by the university early this afternoon, which makes me leery about the stance I took in the previous paragraph.  Be that as it may, Smith chided those who have made “negative references” about his new head coach.

“I am disappointed that negative references have been made about our football coaches, and particularly head coach Urban Meyer regarding recruiting. In our league appropriate protocol, if you have concerns, is to share those concerns with your Athletic Director (AD). Then your AD will make the determination on the appropriate communication from that point forward. The ADs in our league are professionals and communicate with each other extremely well. Urban Meyer and his staff have had a compliance conscience since they have arrived.”

(Writer’s note: I’d like to personally thank Mr. Smith for lobbing up the “compliance conscience” softball for our commenters to take a few whacks at.  Appreciate it Gene!!!)

For some reason, though, I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard of this issue; Bielema and Meyer are expected to be in attendance at a “voluntary” conference for Big Ten coaches in the very near future, affording Jim Delany the opportunity to have a Slive-like come-to-Jesus discussion with at least two of the coaches in the conference.

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.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.