Updated: Rutgers, Syracuse could play twice if WVU bolts Big East

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UPDATED 9:40 p.m. ET: With West Virginia apparently nearing a deal to move on to the Big 12 this year, the Big East would be left with just seven football teams, each of which would be forced to scramble to schedule another game.

Florida State feels your pain, y’all.

But one answer doesn’t require that much looking. Sources close to the situation told the Newark Star-Ledger that Rutgers and Syracuse could play twice in 2012 in a home-and-home series.

Obviously, Florida International wasn’t available twice for their annual game against the Scarlet Knights.

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As we’ve been indicating over the past week, the Big East and West Virginia could be nearing a resolution to their dueling litigation that would allow WVU to join the Big 12 in time for this upcoming season.

While that’s far from confirmed, it sounds like it’s getting close.

Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports reports that WVU is nearing a buyout with the Big East worth… wait for it… at least $20 million that would “resolve all issues between both parties.

For what it’s worth, another buyout number, a significantly less $11 million, has been mentioned as well.

The Big East has been hard-headed about letting WVU leave the conference before the 27-month waiting period as mandated by the conference bylaws, which, it should be noted, WVU reaffirmed last October as part of a unanimous vote. On the contrary, WVU and the Big 12 have stated, almost as though a fact, that the Mountaineers will be participating in the Big 12 this season.

The reported $20 million buyout, if indeed the number settled upon, would be double the buyout the Big East agreed upon with the inclusion of Navy as a football-only member. Acting Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas told West Virginia MetroNews last week that the Big 12 might help WVU with the buyout if necessary.

McMurphy reports the buyout “is believed to be contingent on the Big East being able to get a replacement for West Virginia in 2012 and certainly could increase if it had to play with only seven members in 2012. It’s unknown if that $20 million figure includes the $5 million West Virginia paid upon notifying the Big East last October it was bolting to the Big 12.”

A tweet from Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News said that Boise State was feeling pressure to join the Big East in 2012. Boise State’s president later said it would be “too late” for that.

Earlier today, the Big East announced that Memphis would be the newest all-sports member starting in 2013.

The Big East and WVU have been participating in non-binding mediation since last month. Coincidentally (not), a status conference is scheduled for tomorrow, Feb. 9. Last week, the Big 12 released its 2012 schedule to its TV partners out of requirement, but has yet to release those schedules publicly.

SMU graduate assistant GJ Kinne to call plays in Frisco Bowl

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New SMU head coach Sonny Dykes has been busy assembling his staff as he prepares to jump right in the saddle to coach the Mustangs in the Frisco Bowl next week, but he will have one holdover from the previous staff to help call the shots on offense. Graduate assistant GJ Kinne will call the offensive plays for the bowl game, according to Adam Grosbard of The Dallas Morning News.

This would seem to be the most logical choice for Dykes to make in this scenario. Kinne has been working in the SMU system all season long under former head coach Chad Morris, who has moved to Arkansas with a handful of assistants. Having the most experience with the current roster and a better comfort level makes sense to have Kinne take on this responsibility so close to the bowl game. This will be a major promotion for Kinne, the former Tulsa quarterback, even if just for one game.

I certainly trust G.J. It’s going to be fun to give him an opportunity to be highly involved and it’ll be one of those things he remembers for the rest of his life,” Dykes said of the decision to have Kinne calling the offense from above. “When you’re a GA and you get to call a bowl game, it’s a pretty awesome opportunity.”

Just how smoothly this all goes is anyone’s guess. Fortunately, if things go awry, Kinne and Dykes can always just resort to going back to a chuck-it-deep mentality and see what happens.

SMU faces Louisiana Tech in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20.

Pitt loses second QB to transfer in as many days

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Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi may have been signed to a contract extension recently, but the Panthers are quickly getting shallow at the quarterback spot on the depth chart for 2018. For the second time in as many days, Pitt is losing a quarterback to a transfer.

Ben DiNucci is the most recent of the two to announce his decision to leave the program. Though DiNucci did not say where he is heading next, he did say in a brief message on Twitter he will be enrolling in January. He will have two years of eligibility to use, although he would have to sit out the 2018 season if he transfers to another FBS program. He would be eligible to play right away if he transfers to a lower division football program. A report from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests the latter will be the case, with James Madison and Towson the two leading candidates to add DiNucci.

DiNucci was Pittsburgh’s leading passer this season with 1,091 yards and five touchdowns, although he was used mostly as a backup for Max Browne until Browne was injured after appearing in six games. DiNucci also added 126 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, which came in Week 2 against Penn State.

DiNucci’s announcement comes just one day after Thomas MacVittie announced his own decision to leave the Panthers behind. The redshirt freshman did not appear in any games this season and was passed over on the depth chart by freshman Kenny Pickett. Pickett now becomes the top option in the passing game for the Panthers heading into the spring, unless Pitt happens to add a transfer to the mix.

Pitt will have another scholarship quarterback on the way in 2018 with the addition of incoming freshman Nick Patti out of New Jersey. Patti is not expected to be enrolling early, so he will not be around in the spring.

Royce Freeman will not play in Las Vegas Bowl

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Oregon senior running back Royce Freeman will not play in this weekend’s Las Vegas Bowl, thus bringing his collegiate career to a close before he moves on to the NFL next year. Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal announced Freeman’s lack of availability to reporters today ahead of the bowl game against Boise State.

Freeman played in all 12 games for the Ducks this season, rushing for 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns. Freeman’s career at Oregon has been a highly productive one under two different coaches. As a freshman in 2014, Freeman rushed for 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns to quickly begin gaining some national attention as the Ducks advanced to the national championship game in the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff (but some guy named Marcus Mariota was doing some good things too at the time to grab the majority of the national attention).

Freeman rushed for 5,621 yards and 60 touchdowns for Oregon, and he was also responsible for four touchdown receptions.

Freeman will join a growing list following a growing trend of sitting out of a bowl game before moving to the NFL.

West Virginia QB Will Grier announces return in 2018

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West Virginia quarterback Will Grier will be back for another season of football in Morgantown. Grier announced today he will be back in the blue and gold in 2018, his senior season.

Citing a desire to see his team accomplish more next season, Grier said he is “completely focused and looking forward to building off the success” experienced in 2017.

“West Virginia is my home, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future here,” Grier said in his released statement.

Grier’s return to West Virginia will be a boost for the offense next season. In his first year back playing college football after parting ways with Florida amid a drug-related suspension, Grier played in 11 games and passed for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns for the Mountaineers. He was one of three quarterbacks in the Big 12 to average more than 300 passing yards in a game, with the other two being Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. With Mayfield and Rudolph moving on to the NFL next year, Grier will be one of the top offensive players returning to play football in the Big 12 in 2018.