AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - Round One

Manchin: Saban lobbied for WVU invite to SEC


While all of the focus these days is on when West Virginia will join the Big 12, if you remember back to late last summer the first question was whether the Mountaineers would be headed from the Big East to the SEC.

In September it was reported at various points that West Virginia was angling for SEC membership, but that membership was reportedly rejected by the conference.  Instead, WVU ultimately received and accepted an invitation to join the Big 12.

The SEC “rejection”, though, wasn’t for lack of effort on the part of one very high-profile native son.

In an interview with the Charleston Daily Mail discussing his state’s flagship school’s move to another conference, Sen. Joe Manchin revealed that none other than Alabama head coach and Fairmont, WV, native Nick Saban was helping with the push to get the Mountaineers into the SEC.

“I thought we could have been in the SEC,” Manchin said. “I talked to my dear friend Nick Saban about that, and, like me, he said, ‘I would like West Virginia in the SEC,’ and we were working toward that.”

Alas, Saban’s recruiting efforts weren’t enough — maybe he talked too much about the NFL and not enough about academics? — as Manchin said the invitation instead went to a second Big 12 school.

“They chose Missouri instead, and then you never heard a thing else about it,” Manchin said.

Manchin’s relationship with Saban dates back to the days that the three-time BcS champion coach was an assistant under Frank Cignetti Sr. at WVU in the late-70s.  Even the power of persuasion Saban possesses, however, wasn’t enough to get his home-state school into the most powerful football conference in the country.

Report: Duke Williams injured Auburn teammate with punch in ‘bar rampage’

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 29:  D'haquille Williams #1 of the Auburn Tigers misses a touchdown catch in the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Iron Bowl at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 29, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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D’haquille Williams may have some additional explaining to do to NFL personnel if another report is accurate.

Monday night, Auburn announced that the star wide receiver had been dismissed from Gus Malzahn‘s football program.  A day later, reports surfaced that Williams’ dismissal came after he went on a weekend “bar rampage” following one of his friends getting the heave-ho from a local drinking establishment over a dress-code issue. It was alleged that Williams had punched a pair of security guards, a bartender’s assistant and an unnamed patron of the bar.

The unnamed, however, now has a name.

According to the ABC affiliate in Montgomery, Ala., and a citing a source close to the AU program, Tigers center Xavier Dampeer‘s jaw was on the receiving end of one of Williams’ alleged punches. The website wrote that “Dampeer has been treated and released from East Alabama Medical Center, according to a worker at the hospital.”

Malzahn was asked Tuesday if any other Tiger players were involved in the incident. “I’m not going to get into any details,” the coach said according to

No charges have been filed in connection to the incident.

“We cannot file charges until the injured person(s) comes forward,” Auburn police chief Paul Register told the television station. “Unless an officer personally sees a fight, no arrests can be made.”

Illini’s leading rusher, Josh Ferguson, officially ruled out vs. Iowa

Josh Ferguson, Jordan Italiano
Associated Press
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If Illinois is going to improve upon its solid 4-1 start to the 2015 season, it’ll have to do so without a significant cog in its offensive machinery.

On the official injury report release Thursday night, the Illini confirmed that Josh Ferguson has been ruled out of Saturday’s game against No. 22 Iowa.  The decision is not exactly a surprise as Ferguson has been doubtful in the run-up to the road game against the Hawkeyes.

Ferguson sustained an injury to his right shoulder in the first quarter of last Saturday’s last-second win over Nebraska, and has been unable to practice at all this week.

Ferguson’s 381 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and 5.4 yards per carry are all tops on the team.  He’s added 12 receptions for 28 yards and another touchdown coming out of the backfield.

With Ferguson sidelined, the bulk of the running-game load is expected to shift to Ke’Shawn Vaughn.  Through five games, Vaughn is second on the Illini with 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns.