Bernard Pierce, Deon Miller

Updated: Temple officially joins Big East

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They’re baaack.

Seven years after being shown the door for poor performance and attendance, and after getting passed over on more than one occasion during the last few months, the Big East has welcomed back Temple with arms opened wide by the force of desperation.

The MAC confirmed this afternoon that Temple would be leaving the conference immediately, but didn’t offer any more details as to where the Owls were going.

It didn’t matter. The Big East announced the move at a press conference this afternoon inside Madison Square Garden for the Big East tournament. The Owls will join the Big East in football this year, with non-football sports joining in 2013.

“On behalf of all of Temple’s 39,000 students, its more than 550 student-athletes, their coaches and the entire Temple family, I would especially like to thank BIG EAST Commissioner John Marinatto and all the presidents and chancellors of the member schools for welcoming us into their midst. Temple is very excited to become a member of the BIG EAST,” said Lewis Katz, the chair of the Athletics Committee of Temple’s Board of Trustees. .

The Temple-to-Big East rumors gained momentum over the past couple of weeks once it became official that West Virginia would be departing for the Big 12 this year, leaving the Big East with just seven football members and as many months to fill another hole in the schedule.

A decision on Temple was reportedly supposed to have been made at the end of last month, but exit terms among the school and its two conferences, the Atlantic 10 and the MAC, appeared to be anything but settled. It wasn’t until University of Houston president Renu Khator tweeted a hint Wednesday morning that the move went from speculatively imminent to actually imminent.

But with the move official, it appears the Big East is done expanding… for now. Commissioner John Marinatto said the league would “pause” on further expansion. It should be noted, however, that the Big East said it would continue to provide Villanova with financial assistance as the school ponders a move to the FBS.

So, yeah. That’s still on the table.

So are discussions with Pitt and Syracuse about the two schools possibly leaving before 2014. When WVU left for the Big 12, it also opened the door to the Panthers and Orange leaving before the 27 month waiting period would allow. It’s believed the two could bolt for the ACC in 2013.

Getting back to Temple, the MAC confirmed in the release today that the school will pay $6 million for immediate departure; it was previously reported that the exit terms would be at least $3.5 million. Also, Temple will reportedly pay $1 million to get out of the Atlantic 10 in 2013. In all, it’s expected that the Big East will pay the $7 million to bring the Owls in as an all-sports member, according to Brett McMurphy of CBSSports. The Temple release says the exit fees will be paid “from added athletics revenues that the school will receive from its new conference.”

As for the MAC, the divisions will align as follows:

East Division:  Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, UMass, Miami, Ohio
West Division:  Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan.

Vols add UNC DB coach Charlton Warren to coaching staff

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 7:  A Tennessee Volunteer holds up his helmet in the team huddle before the NCAA football game against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at Neyland Stadium on September 7, 2002 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won 26-3. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Following a somewhat disappointing season in Knoxville, changes are in the air for the Tennessee Vols coaching staff. Among the first changes of the offseason comes at the defensive back coaching position.

Tennessee has announced the addition of Charlton Warren as the new defensive backs coach for the Vols. It is the same role he previously filled at North Carolina for the past two seasons. Warren will replace Willie Martinez, who will not be returning to the Tennessee staff in 2017, according to a released statement from the university’s athletics department.

“Coach Warren is a passionate, knowledgeable and driven football coach that has an outstanding history of developing defensive backs on the collegiate level,” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said in a released statement. “He also has a great reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country with strong ties to our recruiting areas. We feel extremely fortunate to add someone of his caliber to our coaching staff and our defensive meeting room.”

Tennessee finished ranked 10th in the SEC in passing defense, allowing an average of 230.7 yards per game through the air to opposing quarterbacks. The Vols allowed the fifth-lowest opponent passer rating and picked off 11 passes while allowing 18 touchdown passes, which actually fared well among SEC peers even if just around the middle of the pack or just toward the bottom half of the conference in each category. For a school that prides itself on its defensive backs, a change was necessary.

North Carolina owned the ACC’s top pass defense in 2016, allowing just 180.8 yards per game and 11 touchdown passes. The one downside was having just one interception recorded in 13 games. Every other FBS program had at least three interceptions last season. How UNC only picked off one pass all season long is quite a remarkable feat considering how respectable the pass defense was last season.

Mike Locksley promoted to full-time offensive assistant at Alabama

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 14: Interim head coach Mike Locksley of the Maryland Terrapins looks on against the Michigan State Spartans during the game at Spartan Stadium on November 14, 2015 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State defeated Maryland 24-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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With some room to work on the Alabama coaching staff this offseason, head coach Nick Saban has found the right opportunity to promote Mike Locksley to a full-time offensive assistant role in Tuscaloosa. The hiring was made official by Alabama on Monday.

Locksley spent the 2016 season as an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide. He spent the previous four seasons as an offensive coordinator at Maryland and was previously the head coach of New Mexico from 2009 through 2011. Locksley previously spent time in the SEC as a running backs coach and recruiting coordinator for Florida in 2003 and 2004 as well. He is a well-known recruiting machine, as if Alabama needs any extra help in that department (I say this in a joking manner, because Alabama didn’t get to where they are today without having to grind on the recruiting trail).

“We are excited to add Mike Locksley to our staff as an assistant coach on the offensive side of the football,” Saban said in a released statement. “He is an outstanding offensive mind who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as both a head coach and offensive coordinator. Mike is also one of the best recruiters in the nation and will be an excellent addition to our staff. His time as an analyst with us over the past season should also ensure a smooth transition and a full understanding of how our organization operates.”

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees still needs to approve the contract to make Locksley’s hiring official, but that should just be a formality.

Report: Ohio Bobcats RB arrested for alleged intoxicated accident and fleeing scene

LAWRENCE, KS - SEPTEMBER 10: Maleek Irons #21 of the Ohio Bobcats rushes for a first down against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Ohio running back Maleek Irons was arrested over the weekend for his role in fleeing a possible drunk driving accident.

The Athens News reports Irons was arrested Saturday morning by police responding to a call about “an intoxicated male driving a vehicle, colliding with other vehicles, and fleeing the scene.” The vehicles connected to the call was found off the road at 3:39 a.m. When police discovered the car, Irons got out of the car and started to run tow a dorm on Ohio’s campus, failing to stop when commanded by the officer.

Irons has been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, resisting arrest and obstructing official business. He was released on bond and has a court appointment scheduled for Tuesday morning. There has been no statement from Ohio on his status with the program, although an indefinite suspension of some sort may be expected as is usually the case when an issue like this arises.

With Irons finding himself in some legal hot water, that means The Fulmer cup season is officially underway.

Alabama to hires Arizona AD Greg Byrne for same position

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 19: Athletic Director Greg Byrne of the Arizona Wildcats looks on during the second half of the college football game against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Arizona Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
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Alabama head coach Nick Saban may be the most powerful person within the Alabama sports department, but even he has a boss.  Now, he will have a new boss.

Alabama Director of Athletics Bill Battle is stepping down into retirement from his current position, although he will remain active in the university as a special assistant to university president Stuart Bell. Battle has been fighting through health issues and completed treatment for cancer last summer. His vacant spot in the athletics department will be filled by Arizona Athletics Director Greg Byrne. A formal announcement has not been made as of yet, but multiple reports have confirmed the pending Byrne hiring. (UPDATE: Alabama has since formally announced the hiring of Byrne)

”Bill has done a tremendous job as director of athletics, and has accomplished so much during his career,” Bell said, according to the Associated Press. ”His business expertise, coupled with his coaching experience and his strong understanding of the role an athletic department has in the daily fabric of a university, has allowed us to achieve the great successes we have enjoyed during his tenure. We are blessed to have the continued benefit of his counsel.”

The hiring of Byrne takes Alabama outside its own foundation to bring in an outsider to lead the sports department. Byrne is an Idaho native who has worked in an administrative role in two SEC schools, so he will be familiar with the landscape the conference has to offer. Byrne was the athletics director of Mississippi State from 2008 through 2010 before moving to Arizona for the past six years. At Mississippi State, Byrne hired football coach Dan Mullen. Byrne also held an associate AD role at Kentucky, where he directed development and fundraising efforts for the Wildcats.