Baylor lands huge financial gift for new stadium

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And, if the artist renderings are any indication, said gift will be put to spectacular use.

In a press release issued by the school Tuesday, Baylor announced that its football program is on the receiving end of “the largest capital gift in university history” that will be earmarked for the construction of its new stadium along the Brazos River.  The donors are Elizabeth and Drayton McLane, the latter being a 1958 BU graduate and formerly the majority owner of MLB’s Houston Astros.

The specific amount of what the school called a leadership gift was not revealed.  While the gift gives the McLanes naming rights, the couple has asked that the new football facility be called Baylor Stadium, although RG3 Field at Baylor Stadium may be more appropriate given the impact the reigning Heisman Trophy winner has had on the stadium push.

Regardless, the McLanes’ gift will allow the ongoing fundraising to support stadium construction to continue with a significant amount of momentum.

“We are fortunate to be a family that includes a number of proud Baylor University alumni,” said McLane in a statement. “We believe strongly in the University’s distinct and important role as a Christian institution dedicated to academic excellence at the highest level. Our son Drayton III, a 1996 graduate of Baylor, and his wife Amy, and their sons Drayton IV, Brooks and Walker, as well as our son Denton, who graduated from Baylor in 1999, and his wife Amy, and sons Jeff and Jake, join us in joyfully making this gift to Baylor.

“As a family, we wanted to do something that would shine a light on the University we love, while enhancing student life at Baylor and impacting positively the city of Waco and Central Texas. This is an incredible time to be a Baylor Bear and all the McLane family is excited to part of the momentum that is leading Baylor to new heights.”

The on-campus stadium will sit on a 93-acre site and initially seat 45,000 fans, with the flexibility to expand to 55,000 in the future.  The release states that the facility “also will feature a bridge crossing the Brazos River and connecting the stadium to the campus, canopy shading for half of all seats throughout the day, open concourses with views directly into the stadium, suites, loge boxes, indoor and outdoor club seating, designated seating for Baylor students and the Baylor band, and an event center and Stadium Club for year-round use.”

The project is expected to be completed in time for the 2014 opener, which is currently scheduled to be against in-state rival SMU.  And, as we indicated up above, the artist renderings of the proposed stadium are breathtaking:

Suffice to say, Bears head coach Art Briles is ecstatic to the point of cartwheels over what the McLanes’ gift means to his football program and the university.

“We are extremely grateful, humbled and honored by the McLane family’s generous lead gift for the new on-campus Baylor football stadium,” Briles said in his statement. “Their love and passion for Baylor is truly incredible, and this gift will impact not only Baylor football, but our great University, well into the future. The vision shown by both the McLane family and our University leadership will ensure continued success for our football program. I look forward to leading the Bears out of the tunnel and onto the field of the new Baylor Stadium.

Georgia loses second player to transfer in as many days

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On the same day they picked up a significant graduate transfer, Georgia has seen another player leave Kirby Smart‘s football program.

As all of the cool transfers are doing these days, Jaleel Laguins took to his personal Twitter account to confirm that, “[a]fter careful consideration with coaches and family, I’d like to announce that I will be transferring from The University of Georgia.” “Athens will always be a special place for me, but now it’s time to start a new journey,” the linebacker added.

A four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2016 recruiting class, Laguins was rated as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Georgia. He was the top-rated linebacker in UGA’s class that year, and only three signees on the defensive side of the ball — defensive tackles Julian Rochester and Michail Carter, and defensive end Chauncey Manac — were rated higher.

As a true freshman, Laguins played in six games. He took a redshirt for this past season, and would have to sit out the 2018 season if he moved on to another FBS program.

Laguins was the second Georgia player to transfer this week. Tuesday, Pat Allen, a four-star 2015 offensive lineman, announced on his private Twitter account that he too was moving on from the Bulldogs. Allen began the 2017 season as UGA’s starting left guard but lost it heading into Week 2 and never regained it.

UNC and Minnesota line up future home-and-home deal

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While one football series between an ACC and Big Ten team may be hard to come by, North Carolina and Minnesota have put together a future home-and-home scheduling agreement to look forward to. The Tar Heels and Gophers will meet for the first time on the football field in 2023 and follow up with a second game in 2024, the schools announced on Wednesday.

North Carolina will host Minnesota on Sept. 16, 2023. The two schools will then open the 2024 season at Minnesota, either on August 31, 2024 or for a Thursday opener on August 29, 2024.

The ACC and Big Ten each require their members to play one game against another power conference opponent each season. North Carolina already satisfied that requirement in 2024 with a season-opener against South Carolina scheduled to be played in Charlotte, NC, but the 2024 game fulfills the power conference scheduling requirement for the Tar Heels. The home-and-home series will also satisfy Minnesota’s obligation to the Big Ten scheduling policy for both seasons (Minnesota is getting an exemption for 2018 and 2019 due to previous scheduling arrangements being in place prior to the Big Ten’s stance on strength of schedule in non-conference play.

Pitt leaves renewal of football series in Penn State’s hands

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Ever since the in-state rivalry between Penn State and Pitt came to a temporary end in 2001, it has been a struggle to get the two schools back on the field for any stretch of time. With the third in a four-game series upcoming this fall, Pitt is hoping to find a way to continue playing the Nittany Lions on future schedules, but the offer is now apparently in Penn State’s hands awaiting a response.

Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke told reporters Wednesday she has proposed a four-year series beginning in 2026 to her Penn State counterpart, Sandy Barbour, but Penn State has not responded to the offer.

“We’re going to wait a tad more patiently, but not much,” Lyke said, according to Trib Live. “We can’t. We have people who want to play us and good opportunities to play what would be a very attractive game.”

The four-game series currently ongoing between the Panthers and Nittany Lions comes to a close after their meeting in the 2019 season in Happy Valley. According to FBSchedules.com, Penn State will not have another opening for a non-conference game until 2021. That is also the first season Pitt will have scheduling availability for non-conference matchups. Both schools already have power conference opponents lined up through 2025 as well, perhaps eliminating the desire to add another power conference opponent to the schedule.

Both Penn State and Pitt have scheduling requirements for non-conference play from the Big Ten and ACC, respectively, to include at least one game against another power conference opponent. It seems like a natural solution for Penn State and Pitt to agree to a long-term scheduling commitment to satisfy their respective conferences’ scheduling requirements, but the old issue has always come down to the financial incentive of a game. With Penn State playing in a larger stadium, it would be losing out on potential revenue that could be gained by an extra home game when possible. And playing road games at Pittsburgh only helps another program in the state by filling the seats more than any other home game on Pitt’s schedules in just about any season (Notre Dame and West Virginia would be other candidates to help Pitt fill Heinz Field).

It took so long just to get the two schools together for a two-year series, which was later expanded to a four-year arrangement. Don’t count on this in-state rivalry being renewed for quite some time after the 2019 season.

QB Blake Barnett reportedly transferring from Arizona State

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Quarterback Blake Barnett is now on the graduate transfer market. According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter, Barnett will find a new program to wrap up his college football career as a graduate transfer. South Florida is reportedly set to get an official visit from the former Sun Devils and Alabama quarterback.

Barnett started his football career at Alabama, where he sat out the 2015 season as a freshman. During his redshirt freshman in 2016, Barnett appeared in just three games as Jalen Hurts rose to become Alabama’s starting quarterback that would lead the Tide for the next two seasons (until halftime of last season’s national championship game). Barnett transferred to Arizona State, leaving behind a seemingly tumultuous relationship with Nick Saban, and played in just two games for the Sun Devils last fall, while Manny Wilkins established himself as the quarterback for former head coach Todd Graham.

A former four-star recruit out of high school, Barnett has played in just five games and completed 14 of 24 pass attempts for 259 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Barnett’s latest transfer news comes a day after former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen took a swipe at Barnett, who was ranked ahead of Rosen in various recruiting rankings out of high school.

“Blake Barnett was the Elite 11 MVP,” Rosen said, per SEC Country. “He was the dude that was going to go to ‘Bama, win a couple championships, call it quits and go to the league as the first overall pick. You don’t really hear about him too much.”

As a graduate transfer, Barnett will be eligible to play immediately this fall.