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.

Michigan RB declares Wolverines actually beat Ohio State last year

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No. 9 Ohio State heads to No. 24 Michigan on Saturday (noon ET, FOX) looking to protect its 5-game winning streak against That Team Up North. According to Michigan running back Karan Higdon, though, it’s Michigan that’s looking to protect its claim over the scoreboard.

Higdon surely remembers last year’s game well. He was there, after all, carrying three times for five yards. However, it was actually Ohio State who won the game, 30-27 in double overtime. The game was incredibly close, as the score indicates. Michigan would have won if not for a pair of Wilton Speight disasters at the goal line, the first an interception that Malik Hooker returned for a touchdown to give Ohio State a 7-3 lead and the second a goal line fumble that ruined Michigan’s chance to take a 17-7 lead.

As we know, Ohio State fought back to win by this much. How much? Jim Harbaugh shows us below.

Higdon figures to have a much greater impact on this year’s game. He’s the Wolverines leading rusher 874 yards and 10 touchdowns, and ran for 200 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries in Michigan’s most recent home game, a 33-10 win over Minnesota.

Here’s hoping, for his sake, that he can have an impact on an actual Michigan victory this time around.

Finalists announced for a number of individual awards

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The final week of the regular season is upon us. Heck, some teams still have two games to play between now and bowl season. Still, it’s awards season in college football, and the petty matter of actual games won’t get in the way of the pageantry.

Let’s dive right in.

Bednarik Award (best defensive player)
Bradley Chubb, NC State
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Roquan Smith, Georgia

Biletnikoff Award (best wide receiver)
Michael Gallup, Colorado State
David Sills V, West Virginia
James Washington, Oklahoma State

Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player)
Bradley Chubb, NC State
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Josey Jewell, Iowa
Ed Oliver, Houston
Roquan Smith, Georgia

Butkus Award (best linebacker)
Devin Bush, Michigan
Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin
Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson
Roquan Smith, Georgia

Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback)
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Doak Walker Award (best running back)
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back)
DeShon Elliott, Texas
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Josh Jackson, Iowa

John Mackey Award (best tight end)
Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
Mike Geisicki, Penn State

Lou Groza Award (best kicker)
Daniel Carlson, Auburn
Dominik Eberle, Utah State
Matt Gay, Utah

Maxwell Award (best overall player)
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Outland Trophy (best interior player)
Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Ed Oliver, Houston

Ray Guy Award (best punter)
Michael Dickson, Texas
J.K. Scott, Alabama
Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

Wuerffel Trophy (best community servant)
Blaise Taylor, Arkansas State
Courtney Love, Kentucky
Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame

Winners will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards show in Atlanta, Thursday, Dec. 7 on ESPN.

Kentucky loses TE C.J. Conrad to foot injury

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Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad has been lost for the season to a lisfranc injury in his left foot, head coach Mark Stoops announced Monday. He will undergo surgery to correct the issue on Tuesday.

Though he caught just 16 passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns on the season, Conrad was Kentucky’s leading receiver this season. The junior caught one 17-yard pass in Big Blue’s 41-38 defeat of Louisville last season.

With Conrad, a junior, out, Kentucky will turn to senior Greg Hart and/or sophomore Justin Rigg at tight end, though the Louisville Courier-Journal notes that both have battled injuries of late.

Kentucky will close the season against Louisville in Lexington on Saturday (noon ET, SEC Network) and in a to-be-determined bowl game.

Joey Jones steps down as South Alabama head coach

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There’s never a good time to lose a football game 52-0, but even by that scale it’s an especially bad thing to lose 52-0 in a game you had to win to keep your bowl hopes alive to a team so disgusted by its own season that it fired its head coach a month ago.

That’s what South Alabama did on Saturday in dropping a 52-0 decision to Georgia Southern, giving the Eagles their first win of the season.

And on Monday, South Alabama announced head coach Joey Jones will resign following the Jaguars’ Dec. 2 finale at New Mexico State.

“There comes a time in every program where there is a need for change.  For this program that I love so much, that time is now,” Jones said in a statement.  “One of the proudest days of my professional life was being the named the first head coach at South Alabama.  Today is difficult, but it is the right step for me, my family and for this football program.”

Jones is the only head coach South Alabama has ever known, hired Feb. 15, 2008. He led the Jags for three seasons as an FCS Independent before joining the Sun Belt in 2012, taking the club to bowl games in 2014 and 2016.

The loss Saturday dropped the program to 4-7 this season, ending hopes of returning to a bowl game for the first time in the program’s short history.

“Joey Jones is the father of our football program.  He, his wife Elise and his entire family put their arms around the program and committed to its establishment and growth,” said AD Dr. Joel Erdmann.  “He has placed South Alabama Football on strong footing, which is something he and his family can be very proud of and we sincerely appreciate.  His good, hard work and commitment will forever be recognized.”