If a report released earlier this week from Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News holds up, Conference USA and the Mountain West will announce a merger — not just a football-only association — some time within the next month.
If/when that happens, just how big the new conference will be remains uncertain. It’s believed, although far from confirmed, that the new C-USA/MWC merger would look into Florida and Texas to expand.
Sun Belt, you’re under the microscope.
But one team you can cross off the list — for now — to join that merger is FAU. School president Mary Jane Saunders told Owl Access on Friday that FAU has “not been invited to another conference… I think those decisions have already been made. I think it’s finished now. …We’re staying in the Sun Belt.”
FAU AD Craig Angelos, who was fired last week, also told the site there were no conversations between the two conferences and FAU.
But the Sun Belt could still stand to be raided, along with the WAC (again) and perhaps a team from the 1-AA ranks — or a combination of the three. FIU, Middle Tennessee and North Texas have all been connected to the merger before, and as Wilner explains in his blog, the merger could have greater ramifications than any realignment or expansion we’ve seen to date.
Which combination strikes up the best media deal will dictate which programs are included, if any, and which are forced to fend for themselves in a potentially undermanned league.
Baylor’s on-going scandal over reported sexual assaults looks like it is about to get even uglier.
Former head coach Art Briles has filed a lawsuit for libel and slander against three school regents and a vice president, according to the Associated Press, accusing them of falsely stating he knew of sexual assaults by players and didn’t report them.
Perhaps most eyebrow-raising is that the lawsuit also accuses the officials of conspiring to keep him from getting another coaching job. Briles has been connected to openings such as the one at Houston but school officials quickly denied reports that he was formally considered for the vacant head coaching spot.
Briles was fired in the spring by Baylor after an investigation from law firm Pepper Hamilton determined the school mishandled reports of alleged sexual assaults, some of which involved numerous football players. The coach denied he knew about the alleged assaults but several regents — including the three named in the recent lawsuit — told the Wall Street Journal on the record that Briles failed to report alleged assaults.
While the football team may be looking to move on from all of this with the recent hire of Matt Rhule as the new head coach, it appears the school itself will continue to deal with the fallout from one of the worst scandals in college football history.
College football recruiting has kicked into full gear the past few weeks and one of the more interesting decisions this month that could have a big impact on next season is finding out which school former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham will be playing for in 2017.
The signal-caller threw for 12 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards after taking over as the Bears starter midway through last year but he opted to transfer away from the program this summer when Art Briles was fired as the result of a sexual assault scandal at the school. While many have considered SEC schools such as Auburn, Texas A&M and Florida to be the favorites to land the coveted junior college QB, there may be another school that is in the running too: whichever program hires Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles.
“KB is my dude,” Stidham told ESPN.com. “I’m super tight with him. I still talk to him all the time. I’m still waiting to see what happens with him and where he might go and just take it into consideration.”
It remains to be seen if new head coach Matt Rhule will retain the younger Briles but it seems unlikely given the events in Waco the past six months and the school likely wanting a complete divorce from the previous regime. Kendal Briles own job prospects seem a bit unknown given everything at play but it could be an interesting combination for a head coach looking to jump start an offense.
There’s always talk of package deals in college basketball but this would be a potential one in football that may draw some interest.
And that’s the way it was, at least as it pertains to the Florida portion of Jordan Cronkrite‘s collegiate playing career.
Thursday, the Gators announced that Cronkrite has been granted permission to pursue other opportunities. The release from his scholarship will afford the running back the opportunity to transfer elsewhere.
If that elsewhere is at the FBS, the sophomore would have to sit out the 2017 season. He’d then have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.
Cronkrite was a four-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 34 player at any position in the state of Florida.
As a true freshman, Cronkrite ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries. This past season, he carried the ball 31 times for 145 yards and a touchdown. His 20 receptions were fourth on the Gators.