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President Obama: four-team playoff ‘a good place to start’

Obama Saban Getty Images

It’s not exactly classified information that President Obama has long been a big proponent of some type of playoff system in college football.  Shortly after his election in 2008, The First Fan told 60 Minutes during an interview that he was inclined to “throw my weight around a little bit” when it came to pushing the sport toward a revamped postseason.

Of course, since actually taking office, the President has been faced with more pressing matters with which he’s had to deal, although there has been the lingering and underlying threat of Justice Department intervention in the interim.

Fortunately for most fans of the sport, the “arrogance” of the powers-that-be in college football appears to be subsiding a bit, with some type of playoff likely in the offing beginning with the 2014 season.  In light of this abrupt about-face toward the postseason, President Obama was asked by Bill Simmons of Grantland.com during his latest B.S. Report podcast — never thought I’d strings those words together in the same sentence — about the move toward a playoff in major college football.

While the President would prefer an eight-team playoff, he’s OK with the four-team proposals that seem to have the most momentum and the greater likelihood of being implemented, at least initially.

BS: Tell me about the college football playoff system that you once upon a time pushed for.

Obama: Looks like — I hear there’s talk that they’re going to at least start maybe with a four-team playoff, which —

BS: So you’re happy about this?

Obama: Well, I’d rather see it eight teams, but four is a good place to start. I think that gets us on the right trend. Nothing is more frustrating than at the end of the season, nobody knows who won. And what, there is some poll? Coaches make a decision? Nobody knows what that means. Because part of what makes sports great, part of what makes March Madness great, the NFL playoffs great, is every once in a while something happens during the playoffs that shows the character of a team.

Look at the Giants this year. Nobody would have picked them. They wouldn’t have been crowned as champions if you had a coaches’ poll at the end of the year. But they made the plays when it counted.

A final decision on a Div. 1-A playoff favored by the POTUS and many, many others is expected to come by the end of summer this year.  Hopefully, as intimated by the President, whatever system implemented won’t involve a current coaches’ poll.

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Likely starting center abruptly leaves Cal football team

Ohio State v California Getty Images

Sonny Dykes will begin his third summer camp at Cal next week, and the head coach will do so without the projected anchor for his offensive line.

A school spokesperson confirmed to Jeff Faraudo of the San Jose Mercury News that Matt Cochran is no longer on the Cal football team.  No reason was given for the abrupt departure, although the spokesperson did state that Cochran is still a student at Cal.

The junior’s brother, Aaron Cochran, is a sophomore offensive lineman for the Bears and remains a member of the team.

The past two seasons, Cochran has played in 13 games.  Four of those were starts, including three first three games at right guard in 2013.

With Cochran’s departure, a pair of redshirt freshmen, Addison Ooms and Michael Trani, are now the likely 1-2 at center on the depth chart.

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Report: ‘marijuana, academics’ led to OSU Four’s suspensions

Jalin Marshall

The world of college football received quite the jolt earlier Thursday when it was announced that four Ohio State Buckeyes, including All-American Joey Bosa, had been suspended for the opener against Virginia Tech because of unspecified violations of “Department of Athletics policy.”

A couple of hours later, we now somewhat know what those unspecified violations were.  Reportedly.

ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad reported via Twitter a short time ago that, per an unnamed source, the four suspensions involve “marijuana and academics.” In addition to Bosa, H-back Jalin Marshall, wide receiver Corey Smith and H-back Dontre Wilson were suspended as well.

Just who was suspended for what reason was not detailed by Schad.

Regardless of having a specific reason attached to a specific player, one parent of one member of the suspended quartet could not have been more supportive of the decision to mete out punishment.

I fully support Ohio State and I fully support my son,” John Bosa, Joey’s father, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Coach Meyer, to his character, has team rules and it doesn’t matter who breaks them.”

Another of John Bosa’s sons, five-star 2016 recruit Nick Bosa, verbally committed to OSU earlier this past week.

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Four key Buckeyes, including Joey Bosa, suspended for opener

Joey Bosa, Mitch Leidner

Just a short time ago, Ohio State received the first of what’s expected to be a string of No. 1 votes in preseason polls.  Now we learn that, when the Buckeyes take that No. 1 ranking into the opener, they’ll do so without a handful of key components.

In a press release, OSU confirmed that four players will miss the first game of the season, Sept. 7 vs. Virginia Tech: junior defensive end Joey Bosa, sophomore H-back Jalin Marshall, senior wide receiver Corey Smith and junior H-back Dontre Wilson. The only reason given was “violating Department of Athletics policy.”

The loss of Bosa will be most noteworthy nationally as the 2014 All-American is a consensus pick to similar squads entering the 2015 season. He’s also projected to be a Top Five pick in the 2016 NFL draft if he leaves OSU early, perhaps even the top pick overall.

The Columbus Dispatch writes that “[t]he Buckeyes likely will make do for the loss of Bosa by picking from a defensive end corps which includes sophomore Tyquan Lewis, who emerged in the spring as the new starter for the vacated spot on the other end of the line, redshirt-freshman Sam Hubbard, sophomore Jalyn Holmes and redshirt-freshman Darius Slade.”

Wilson and Marshall had split time at H-back prior to the former’s injury, which allowed the latter to become a breakout star and one of the most dangerous weapons on an offense loaded with them. In traveling to Blacksburg to face a tough Hokie defense, just how deep and loaded that group is will be tested.

Braxton Miller, who announced last week that he would be moving from quarterback  — probably — could very well be an option at the H-back in the opener, and even beyond.  Curtis Samuel, the primary backup to star running back Ezekiel Elliott, has been working , the Dispatch wrote, “almost exclusively at hybrid back in the spring as the coaches sought ways to get his speed and possible playmaking ability on the field more often.”

Smith is the Buckeyes’ second-leading returning pass-catcher among wide receivers, hauling in 20 passes for 255 yards last season.

Head coach Urban Meyer is expected to address this development as he takes to the podium for the Big Ten Media Days later this afternoon.

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Ohio State a near-unanimous No. 1 in preseason coaches’ poll

All State Sugar Bowl - Alabama v Ohio State Getty Images

Ever since Ohio State finished off its magical, and some would say improbable, postseason run by hoisting the first-ever College Football Playoff trophy, and with the talent it has returning, it’s been widely assumed that the Buckeyes would be ranked No. 1 entering the 2015 season by nearly major poll.

After the first release, OSU is on its way to doing just that.

In yet another sign that a fresh college football season is right around the corner, the Amway coaches’ poll was released late Thursday morning and — surprise! — OSU is ranked No. 1 in the country.  Perhaps the only real surprise is that the Buckeyes weren’t a unanimous selection, receiving “just” 62 of the 64 first-place votes.

The only others receiving first-place votes were preseason No. 2 TCU (one) and No. 3 Alabama (one). OSU holds a 112-point edge on No. 2 TCU; in last year’s preseason poll, Florida State held an 88-point edge on No. 2 Alabama.

Rounding out this year’s Top Five are No. 4 Baylor and no. 5 Oregon.  The lone 2014 playoff team outside of the Top Five is Florida State,. which will begin the year at No. 8.

Two SEC schools and one each from the Big Ten and Pac-12 finish up the initial Top Ten: Michigan State (No. 6), Auburn (No. 7), Georgia (No. 9) and USC (No. 10).

The coaches still loves themselves some SEC, with eight schools from that conference ranked in the Top 25.  The Pac-12 is next with six, followed by three each from the Big 12, Big Ten and ACC.

The highest-ranked Group of Five member is Boise State at No. 24.  Independent Notre Dame nearly cracked the Top 10, coming in at No. 11,

1 Ohio State 14-1 1598 (62)
2 TCU 12-1 1487 (1)
3 Alabama 12-2 1452 (1)
4 Baylor 11-2 1365
5 Oregon 13-2 1260
6 Michigan State 11-2 1230
7 Auburn 8-5 1103
8 Florida State 13-1 1057
9 Georgia 10-3 1026
10 USC 9-4 1014
11 Notre Dame 8-5 883
12 Clemson 10-3 838
13 LSU 8-5 727
14 UCLA 10-3 697
15 Ole Miss 9-4 668
16 Arizona State 10-3 577
17 Georgia Tech 11-3 573
18 Wisconsin 11-3 470
19 Oklahoma 8-5 407
20 Arkansas 7-6 377
21 Stanford 8-5 365
22 Arizona 10-4 299
23 Missouri 11-3 229
24 Boise State 12-2 190
25 Tennessee 7-6 166

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USC picked by media as preseason Pac-12 title favorites

Pac-12 Championship Game - UCLA v Oregon Getty Images

If the media is correct — and when are they ever wrong? — the Reign of the Duck will be a short one.

The results of the media’s preseason voting was released Thursday morning, with the voters determining that USC will win the 2015 Pac-12 championship.  The Trojans received 21 of the 44 first-place votes submitted.

USC was far from an overwhelming favorite, though, as Oregon, the 2014 conference champion, was named on 17 first-place ballots.  The only others receiving votes were Arizona State (three), UCLA (two) and Stanford (one).

Oregon and USC were overwhelming favorites to win their respective divisions, with the former receiving 37 first-place votes to win the North and the latter 32 to claim the South.  As when it came to the overall conference championship, just three other schools received first-place votes: Stanford, which received eight to win the North, and Arizona State and UCLA, which received seven and six votes, respectively, to win the South.

(Writer’s note: I have no idea why the number of votes for Pac-12 champion totals 44, while the votes for divisional champions totals 45.)

Pac-12 media Preseason Picks

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Arizona State the latest to unveil new uniforms for 2015

Arizona State Uniforms

The number of football programs that have unveiled new uniforms this offseason is in the double digits, so what’s one more?

The latest to do the unveiling is Arizona State, which last December announced a new agreement with apparel provider adidas.  And, in what will come as a surprise to some, or maybe even most people, there’s very little change from what ASU fans have become accustomed to over the past several years.

There are, though, some tweaks to the new duds, as the Arizona Republic noted:

These uniforms retained the fonts, “PT42″ crest and similar sleeve stripes from recent designs, but Adidas looked to enhance those components with a glossier, metallic accent. A larger pitchfork logo has also been added to the pants.

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B1G’s 11-strong ‘Players to Watch’ list released

Big 10 Championship Game - Ohio State v Michigan State Getty Images

Most conferences this time of the year release their preseason players of the year.  The Big Ten is not like other conferences.

Ahead of the start of the the B1G Media Days in Chicago Thursday afternoon, the Midwest league released what it calls its “Players to Watch” list.  This year’s list consists of 11 players — six from the West division and five from the East.  There is one more in the West than in the East due to a tie in the media voting.

While there are 11 players listed, just seven schools are represented as four members earned two players each: Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin.  The schools with just one each include Iowa, Northwestern and Penn State.

Interestingly, six of the 11 come from the defensive side of the ball while five come from the offensive.  Also, just one quarterback is represented, and that one wasn’t from Ohio State.

Below is the complete list of preseason honorees.

EAST DIVISION
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn State

WEST DIVISION*
Drew Ott, DE, Iowa
Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
De’Mornay Pierson-El, WR, Nebraska
Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern
Michael Caputo, S, Wisconsin
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin

*Additional honoree due to tie

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Boise St. QB frontrunner (likely) to be eligible for opener vs. UW

Boise State at Air Force

After exiting the spring as Boise State’s front-runner to take over as starting quarterback, Ryan Finley put that status at risk after being charged with a pair of alcohol-related misdemeanors.  The speculation was, Finley could be facing the loss of playing time.

As it turns out, that couldn’t be further from the case. Probably.

“Because of what’s happened and where the court case is as well, absolutely,” Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin stated when asked if Finley will be eligible to play in the highly-anticipated opener against Washington Sept. 4. “And I’ll say this with absolute confidence: Ryan has done everything we’ve asked of him. I can’t ask him to do more than what he’s done. I’m proud of him.

“This is obviously disappointing, we all understand that, but if guys can make up for their mistakes and I believe he’s done that from our standpoint, then we’re good.”

Finley’s pretrial conference has been postponed until the end of September after originally being scheduled for the middle of July. Despite the fact that the legal case won’t be resolved before the start of the season, Harsin said “I feel like what I’ve asked and what he’s done, he’s done it, and we’ll let the legal process do their jobs.”

Harsin did allow that, should new, pertinent information related to Finley’s case surface as the legal process does its job, additional punishment could be in the offing.

“If there’s something else in there that I don’t know or there’s more too it, then yeah, there’s obviously going to be something that we have to do at that point,” the second-year coach said.

As Grant Hedrick’s primary backup in 2014, Finley completed 12-of-27 passes for 161 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

In addition to the redshirt sophomore Finley, the competition that began in the spring and extend on into summer camp includes redshirt sophomore Tommy Stuart, true freshman Brett Rypien and redshirt freshmanAlex Ogle. None of those three players have attempted a pass at the collegiate level.

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WMU the new home for Notre Dame grad transfer Anthony Rabasa

Wake Forest v Notre Dame Getty Images

Seldom used at Notre Dame, Anthony Rabasa hopes that will change for his final season at his new college football phone.

Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck has confirmed that Rabasa has joined his Broncos program and will play for WMU this coming season. As the defensive end has already received his degree from Notre Dame and is coming in as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

Rabasa is expected to immediately join WMU’s defensive line rotation.

A three-star member of the Irish’s 2011 recruiting class, Rivals.com rated him as the No. 11 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 54 player at any position in the state of Florida. After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, he played in two games in 2012 and five in 2013.

He didn’t see the field at all for the Irish in 2014.

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Seeing writing on QB wall, SDSU’s Nick Bawden shifting to FB

Bawden

After the first couple of spring practice earlier this year, Nick Bawden was third in San Diego State’s quarterback pecking order.  Exiting spring, he was at least fourth.

Now, as the Aztecs are about to embark on the start of summer camp, Bawden is off the quarterback depth chart completely.

Head coach Rocky Long confirmed to the San Diego Union-Tribune that, following the conclusion of spring practice, he gave Bawden a choice: switch positions or transfer somewhere else if he wanted to continue playing quarterback.  The 6-3, 220-pound Bawden decided to take one for his current team and agreed to move to fullback/H-back moving forward.

While Long’s not really certain about the fullback part of the equation, he praised Bawden for his selflessness in making the move.

“There are very few of those guys left,” Long told the Union-Tribune. “You appreciate those guys. I don’t know if he can play fullback. He’s a good athlete; he weighs 230 (officially, 220) pounds. Just the attitude … ‘I want to be on this team. Tell me where I can play and I’ll do the best I can.’ That’s great stuff.”

Bawden began the spring behind Kentucky graduate transfer Maxwell Smith and Oregon transfer Jake Rodrigues. He left behind those two as well freshman Christian Chapman.

As a true freshman last season, Bawden started two games in place of the injured Quinn Kaehler.  In those two games — one win, one loss — he completed 13 of 37 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  He also ran the ball 11 times for 43 yards.

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UCF wants DB recovering from gunshot wounds to sit this season

Tulsa v Central Florida

If George O’Leary gets his way, Chris Williams won’t see the playing field this coming season.

Earlier this month, Williams was shot twice the arm at a bar near the UF campus.  While the injuries weren’t life-threatening, the recovery time is sufficient that O’Leary wants to see the defensive back sit this one out — athletically and academically — instead of missing a month or more of the 2015 season.

“With that injury alone, [it] was a eight- to-10 week injury, so I would say, again, I’m leaning more toward medical withdrawal to stop his eligibility so he doesn’t have this year count and bring him back in January,” O’Leary said regarding Williams’ status. “The police are involved with what took place there, so it’s really their response, not mine as far as what transpired.”

Williams spent last season as a member of UCF’s scout team, using a redshirt year as a true freshman. In UCF’s spring game, Williams recorded 10 tackles and an interception, which was returned for 52 yards. Based on that performance, and the fact that the Knights are replacing all four secondary starters, Williams was being looked upon a likely starter.

Additionally, O’Leary acknowledged that wide receiver Taylor Oldham likely won’t return until October after sustaining a significant ankle injury during the spring. Oldham caught three passes for 35 yards as a redshirt sophomore in 2014, but, like Williams, was expected to be more of a contributor due to attrition at the position.

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Dismissed Auburn DE Elijah Daniel won’t play for Bo Pelini after all

South Carolina v Auburn

Back in mid-June, it was reported with 100-percent certainty that Elijah Daniel would be continuing his collegiate playing career for Bo Pelini at Youngstown State.  Monday, the first-year YSU coached said the odds of Daniel playing for the Penguins were “50-50.”

One day later, those odds were “0-100.”

Murray State announced in a press release that Daniel will attempt to revive his career Mitch Stewart‘s squad.  Because the Racers play at the FCS level, the defensive lineman will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 and have two years of eligibility remaining.

Daniel was dismissed by Auburn in early may following his late-April arrest on four counts each of theft of property and four counts of burglary.  One of the victims of the alleged crimes is current AU wide receiver Stanton Truitt.

According to Stewart, he’s being given his one and only chance with the program.

“I believe in second chances and last chances,” Stewart’s statement began. “I have told Elijah that we are willing to give him this opportunity, because I believe, large or small, everyone makes mistakes and most people are deserving of a second chance.

“But I also made it clear to him, that this is his last chance and that any further incidents like the one at Auburn would be met with an immediate dismissal from the team.”

Last season, Daniel played in all 13 games for the Tigers, making two starts.  His 17 quarterback hurries led the team.

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Mike Leach continues stumping for 64-team playoff

Mike Leach

Along with eccentric, Mike Leach is nothing if not consistent.

Even before a four-team playoff was approved in June of 2012 and implemented for the 2014 season, Leach was espousing the virtues of a 64-team playoff field, labeling such a size as “ideal.”  As part of the Pac-12 coaches turn through the ESPN car wash Wednesday, Leach stated, as he has one more than one occasion, that he’d like to see the playoff expanded beyond its current four teams.

And, yet again, Leach made the case for a 64-team field.

I don’t know why you don’t have 64 teams,” the Washington State coach said according to the World Wide Leader. “The notion of pinpointing and selecting four perfectly, well that’s not going to happen. That can’t happen effectively. …

“It’s remarkably easy. If you’ve got 64, there wouldn’t be a lot of debate. … It would be indisputable that it was settled on the field and somebody that wins playoff games accordingly deserves to be champion and there’s no debate. It would be great fun to watch — just like it is at all the other levels.”

The closest any level of football gets to Leach’s number is the FCS with 24 teams qualifying, up from 20 just a few years ago. The former Div. 1-AA, though, only plays 11 regular season games, with last year’s champion, North Dakota State, playing 15 games counting the playoffs.

For Leach’s proposal to work and garner any type of support, you’d have to get the most powerful conferences in the country to roll back the regular season even further, to 10 games, which would keep any team that made the title game in that size field at just 16 games played; Ohio State and Oregon, the two College Football Playoff championship game qualifiers, played 15 games and even that amount raised a bit of a ruckus from those concerned over player safety.

And even getting to that number, the 10 regular season games, is not as simple as waving a magic wand and getting all on board with wiping out two potentially lucrative regular season games as well as a lucrative conference championship game that benefits all league members.

Despite the CFP’s protestations to the contrary, the field will expand, sooner than later, from four to eight teams, and possibly even 16 on down the road.  Getting to Leach’s ideal number?  You never say never, but that will never happen in my lifetime.  Or the lifetime of my children, for that matter.

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Victim asks that charges against LSU QB, teammates be dropped

Anthony Jennings

At the SEC Media days earlier this month, head coach Les Miles was confident that a handful of his LSU players, including potential starting quarterback Anthony Jennings, would be back with the football team soon as their off-field issues were “approaching a resolution.”

As it turns out, the coach was potentially very prescient when it comes to this situation.

Wednesday afternoon, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore confirmed to a group of reporters covering a speech at the Baton Rouge Rotary Club that the victim in a case involving the LSU football players have asked that the preliminary charges against the trio be dropped. Moore, who has yet to formally charge the trio — Jennings, defensive lineman Maquedius Bain and defensive back Dwayne Thomas — stated that, if the case didn’t involve football players, it would likely be over and done with.

“If this was a regular case, take football out of it, if it just involved a regular LSU student, you wouldn’t have known it happened. It would routinely be dismissed,” the DA said. “I’m taking my time to get it right.”

Moore added “possibly next week” when asked when a resolution can be expected.

The three players were arrested in the middle of last month for unauthorized entry of an inhabited building. Essentially, it’s being alleged that the three went into the open apartment of another LSU student to retrieve items they claim were stolen the week before.

All of the players involved have been indefinitely suspended.

Moore was in attendance to the speech at the Rotary Club, with the keynote speaker being, of course, Miles. During the course of that speech, Miles jokingly directed a message involving his current players at the DA, which he quickly noted to the scribes covering wasn’t suitable for publication.

“I’m right with you. You hear me? As we have always operated, I’m on your schedule, Miles said as he pointed at Moore. “You tell me what you need to tell me, and I will operate accordingly. I promise you.”

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C.J. Reavis loses appeal, remains dismissed by Hokies

It appears that Virginia Tech’s secondary will indeed be without a likely starter heading into its season opener against defending national champion Ohio State.

In a series of tweets Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times confirmed that “safety C.J. Reavis lost his appeal of a student conduct hearing decision” on Tuesday and “remains dismissed from Virginia Tech.” Earlier this month it was reported that Reavis was no longer enrolled at the university following the completion of a student-conduct hearing.

There still has been no reason given for the student-conduct hearing, although Reavis’ attorney is far from pleased with the outcome of the appeal, intimating that his client may take legal action against Tech.

Reavis played in 12 games as a true freshman last season, mainly on special teams. After a strong spring, he was viewed as a likely starter at safety for the Hokies.

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