Arizona State Introduces Todd Graham

Sun Devils prez pushing for an eight-team playoff

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In the past several months we’ve seen the president of the NCAA, the Big Ten and the executive director of the BcS acknowledge in some form or another that a change to major college football is coming, with all heavily intimating that a four-team playoff would be palatable.  Earlier this week, Georgia president Michael Adams wouldn’t rule out an eight-team playoff as Div. 1-A’s first foray into a playoff system.

Now the president of a member of the Pac-12, which along with its Rose Bowl counterpart has long been staunchly anti-playoff, has gone public with the most “radical” concept for how the postseason should be structured.

In an interview with Craig Harris of the Arizona Republic, Arizona State president Michael Crow (pictured, right) laid out his proposal for a playoff system that would be run — our emphasis added — by the NCAA: the eight highest-ranked champions from the 11 conferences participating in a single-elimination tournament.  Crow, the Republic writes, “declined to specifically say how the playoff would work, such as seeding or where games would be played.”

There was also no mention of how independents such as Notre Dame and BYU could qualify for such a playoff system, although “get the hell in a conference” would be implied.

For as radical as it looks compared to what’s already been tossed out there for public consumption, Crow’s proposal doesn’t appear to be a case of flinging something against the wall and hoping it sticks:

He said his plan has some momentum among other college presidents inside and outside his conference, though he declined to identify them. He said he will push other Pacific-12 Conference presidents to adopt his proposal when they meet next month in Los Angeles.

If Crow’s system were in place for the 2011 season, and the BcS rankings were utilized, the playoff field would’ve consisted of LSU (SEC), Oklahoma State (Big 12), Oregon (Pac-12), TCU (MWC), Wisconsin (Big Ten), Clemson (ACC), Southern Miss (Conference USA) and West Virginia (Big East).  If seedings were based solely on BcS rankings, the matchups would’ve looked as follows:

No. 1 LSU vs. No. 23 West Virginia (a regular season rematch, of course)
No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 21 Southern Miss
No. 5 Oregon vs.  No. 18 TCU
No. 10 Wisconsin vs. No. 15 Clemson

Noticeably absent?  2011 BcS champion Alabama, which did not win its division let alone its conference and thus would not qualify under Crow’s proposal.

Crow’s plan would likely meet serious resistance from, among others, the SEC, which has placed two teams inside the top eight in each of the past six final regular-season BcS rankings.  Resistance could also come from the Big Ten, which by all accounts is grudgingly being pulled into considering a four-team model; an eight-team playoff right out of the gate may cause Jim Delany‘s head to spontaneously combust.

As was the case with the Big Ten kicking around a four-team playoff with on-campus semifinals, though, the powerbrokers in college football — for whatever reason — are coming to the realization that the postseason in its sport is broken and something, anything, needs to be done to fix it.

“In the Pac-12, we are not strong supporters of the present model,” Crow said.

“The reason for this new model is the model we have right now is not conducive to the long-term success of college football.”

One other interesting note from the Republic’s piece: Bill Hancock, executive director of the BcS, stated that a final decision on what the future of college football’s postseason will look like when the current cycle ends after the 2013 season could be made this summer.

Long-needed change is coming to the top level of college football, and it appears to be coming faster than even the staunchest playoff proponents could’ve ever anticipated.

Ohio State to host Tulane in 2018

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 6:  The Ohio State Buckeyes kickoff to the Virginia Tech Hokies at Ohio Stadium on September 6, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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The Fighting Frites are heading to the Horseshoe.

Ohio State and Tulane announced a one-time game to be played in Columbus on Sept. 22, 2018.

“Tulane enhances and completes a non-conference schedule in 2018 that already includes Power 5 conference teams TCU and Oregon State,” Ohio State deputy AD Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “The Green Wave is part of a fine American Athletic Conference, which produced a New Year’s Day 6 bowl winner last year [Houston over Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl], so its first trip to Ohio Stadium should be exciting for our students and fans.”

The two teams have never met previously. Tulane last faced a Big Ten team on Sept. 27, 2014, a 31-6 loss at Rutgers. Ohio State last faced an American Athletic Conference program in the 2014 opener, a 34-17 Buckeyes win over Navy in Annapolis, Md.

We are excited for the opportunity to play Ohio State, one of the premier programs in the country,” Tulane executive associate athletics director Brandon Macneill said in a statement.  “Our coaching staff and players, along with our fans are eager to play against the very best and this should be a great game.  There will be a significant number of Tulanians from around the country joining us at the Horseshoe.”

Adding Tulane completes Ohio State’s 2018 non-conference schedule; the Buckeyes host Oregon State on Sept. 1 and visit TCU on Sept. 15. Tulane still lacks two games for 2018 but is slated to visit Georgia Tech on Sept. 8.

Georgia AD apologizes for giving Ludacris everything he demanded for spring game concert

Greg McGarity
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The University of Georgia paid Ludacris $65,000 to perform a concert at Georgia’s spring football game, and now the athletics director is apologizing for catering to every demand made by the artist.

In a meeting with the Georgia athletic board of directors, athletics director Greg McGarity offered an apology for giving in to a lengthy list of demands from Ludacris, which included condoms and alcohol.

“I do want to take this opportunity to apologize to our board for mistakes we made with certain aspects of the details of an entertainment agreement,” McGarity said, according to The Athens Banner-Herald. “Few things in my professional life have bothered me more than this situation. There are no reruns in life so we need to turn the page, learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to make sure errors of this nature do not reoccur.”

Georgia set a school attendance record for its spring game with an estimated total of 93,000 fans coming out for the first spring game under new head coach Kirby Smart. Of course, more than a few of those fans were encouraged to come out to see Ludacris perform, so it all worked out well for Georgia even if some people were not happy with the goods supplied to him during his stay.

“Some more than others as far as different age groups,” McGarrity said of the people expressing their displeasure with Georgia’s hospitality. “It was all over the map. I think there were a lot of things that came into play.”

Auburn RB Roc Thomas apparently heading to Jacksonville State

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 6: Running back Roc Thomas #9 of the Auburn Tigers runs the ball in for a touchdown as offensive linesman Jordan Diamond #76 of the Auburn Tigers blocks safety Forrest Hightower #12 of the San Jose State Spartans on September 6, 2014 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. Auburn defeated San Jose State 59-13.  (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Auburn running back Roc Thomas is possibly looking to join one of the top programs from the FCS ranks. Reports today surfaced suggesting Thomas is looking to transfer to Jacksonville State, although another report says he has yet to ask Auburn for a request to transfer.

During a radio interview, Jay G. Tate of AuburnSports.com said Thomas is likely on his way to Jacksonville State…

As that message was spreading around the college football landscape, largely under the ominous storm cloud from Waco, Texas, SEC Country updated their report by saying Thomas has not yet made a request to transfer from Auburn. That may have been accurate, but may not suggest a transfer to Jacksonville State is off the table. It could just be a matter of semantics, where Thomas is set to join the Jacksonville State program but still must go through the formalities of transferring from Auburn.

Thomas does have two years of eligibility remaining.

Following dismissal of Art Briles, how will Baylor handle coaching decision in 2016 and beyond?

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Baylor made the decision Thursday to indefinitely suspend head coach Art Briles with the intent to terminate his contract. In simpler terms, he’s fired but likely has a few legal hurdles for Baylor to clear before that is legally finalized. With the coaching decision coming in late May, it looks very likely Baylor is about to embark on a path previously traveled by Ohio State. That ended up working out pretty well for the Buckeyes, so perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for the Bears in the long run as the program looks to crawl out from underneath the dark cloud that floats above it today.

The severity of the consequences facing Ohio State in late May 2011 and the Baylor program today has no comparison, there should be some similarities to what happens next for Baylor. Jim Tresselresigned” from his post as head coach of the Buckeyes on May 30, 2011. At the time, Tressel was facing a two-game suspension for lying during an investigation regarding Ohio State players and impermissible benefits. As a result, Ohio State was faced with a late search for a new head coach with little time to spare for the 2011 college football season. Rather than get involved in an awkwardly timed coaching search, Ohio State named Luke Fickell the interim head coach for the 2011 season, while the national search could continue to lure in the biggest fish possible. That would end up being Urban Meyer, and things have worked out well in the years to follow.

A similar situation also played out at Arkansas when Bobby Petrino, although on another set of circumstances not comparable to the Baylor scandal. Petrino was fired by Arkansas earlier in the spring as well, with his removal as head coach coming on April 10, 2012 after lying about the details of his motorcycle accident and relationship with an Arkansas staff member. Arkansas managed to hire a new head coach for the 2012 season, naming John L. Smith the full-time head coach. However, Smith was let go after a 4-8 season that fall and ultimately replaced by Brett Bielema.

Given the timing of the coaching change in Waco, it would be expected the Bears will name a current member of the coaching staff their interim coach for the 2016 season, even though the findings of an external review of the university and athletics department made some strong accusations of various members of the coaching staff. But Baylor has little choice for what already is taking on the look of a potentially lost season for the Bears. Regardless, football will be played and somebody has to lead the team on the sidelines. Who that interim coach will be remains unknown, but given the information in the report it is also expected Baylor will wipe the slate clean with its next permanent head coach.

Odds are there will be no coach of the caliber of Meyer to come swoop in and restore pride in the program in short time. Baylor has a number of issues to address as a university, athletics department and a football program. The Baylor job may still be seen by coaching candidates as a better job as it once traditionally was, but any coach coming in for the Baylor job will be entering a pretty dark period of time, and that does not even account for any response the NCAA may eventually have on the situation.