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Big East releases 2012 schedule

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With departure of West Virginia to the Big 12 and addition of Temple finalized, the Big East has released its 2012 schedule much to the anticipation of a dozen of you.

(Hey, we’re proud of ya for sticking by your team)

A few things that pop out when glancing over the schedule:

This year’s non-conference slate provides plenty of opportunities, once again, for the Big East to prove its worth. Granted, Syracuse’s Sept. 8 meeting against USC at MetLife Stadium in NJ may not be much of a contest — seeing as the Trojans look to be preseason BCS championship material and all — but the Orange do get the Trojans practically in SU’s backyard.

The biggest priority for the Big East should be, as it is every year, to be competitive with the ACC. Non-conference games against Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina and North Carolina State all provide valuable opportunities.

There will be plenty of eyes on Temple this year to see how the Owls do in their first year in the Big East since being given the hoot boot in 2004. Temple gets four conference home games this year — always a plus — and the home stretch looks on paper to be favorable.

Then again, the Big East is has been unpredictable and filled with parity in recent years (the conference spins it as “wide open”; Bill Stewart called it the “black and blue league.” We’re not that gullible). Overall, the schedule looks pretty balanced, with no one team getting a real advantage over the other. However, the conference does like to back-load games that could potentially decide the conference’s BCS bid. Louisville, Rutgers, Syracuse and Cincinnati all look to be in that mix.

Anyway, without any further delay, here’s how the schedule shakes out:

CINCINNATI
Thu., Sept. 6 PITTSBURGH
Sat., Sept. 15 Delaware State
Sat., Sept. 29 vs. Virginia Tech (FedEx Field, Landover, Md.)
Sat., Oct. 6 Miami (Ohio)
Sat., Oct. 13 Fordham
Sat., Oct. 20 at Toledo
Sat., Oct. 27 at LOUISVILLE
Sat., Nov. 3 SYRACUSE
Sat., Nov. 10 at TEMPLE
Sat., Nov. 17 RUTGERS
Fri., Nov. 23 USF
Sat., Dec. 1 at CONNECTICUT

CONNECTICUT
Thu., Aug. 30 Massachusetts
Sat., Sept. 8 North Carolina State
Sat., Sept. 15 at Maryland
Sat., Sept. 22 at Western Michigan
Sat., Sept. 29 Buffalo
Sat., Oct. 6 at RUTGERS
Sat., Oct. 13 TEMPLE
Fri., Oct. 19 at SYRACUSE
Sat., Nov. 3 at USF
Fri., Nov. 9 PITTSBURGH
Sat., Nov. 24 at LOUISVILLE
Sat., Dec. 1 CINCINNATI

LOUISVILLE
Sat., Sept. 1 Kentucky
Sat., Sept. 8 Missouri State
Sat., Sept. 15 North Carolina
Sat., Sept. 22 at Florida International
Sat., Sept. 29 at Southern Mississippi
Sat., Oct. 13 at PITTSBURGH
Sat., Oct. 20 USF
Fri., Oct. 26 CINCINNATI
Sat., Nov. 3 TEMPLE
Sat., Nov. 10 at SYRACUSE
Sat., Nov. 24 CONNECTICUT
Thu., Nov. 29 at RUTGERS

PITTSBURGH
Sat., Sept. 1 Youngstown State
Thu., Sept. 6 at CINCINNATI
Sat., Sept. 15 Virginia Tech
Sat., Sept. 22 Gardner-Webb
Fri., Oct. 5 at SYRACUSE
Sat., Oct. 13 LOUISVILLE
Sat., Oct. 20 at Buffalo
Sat., Oct. 27 TEMPLE
Sat., Nov. 3 at Notre Dame
Fri., Nov. 9 at CONNECTICUT
Sat., Nov. 24 RUTGERS
Sat., Dec. 1 at USF

RUTGERS
Sat., Sept. 1 at Tulane
Sat., Sept. 8 Howard
Sat., Sept. 15 at USF (date subject to change)
Sat., Sept. 22 at Arkansas
Sat., Oct. 6 CONNECTICUT
Sat., Oct. 13 SYRACUSE
Sat., Oct. 20 at TEMPLE
Sat., Oct. 27 Kent State
Sat., Nov. 10 Army
Sat., Nov. 17 at CINCINNATI
Sat., Nov. 24 at PITTSBURGH
Thu., Nov. 29 LOUISVILLE

USF
Sat., Sept. 1 Chattanooga
Sat., Sept. 8 at Nevada
Sat., Sept. 15 RUTGERS (date subject to change)
Sat., Sept. 22 at Ball State
Sat., Sept. 29 Florida State
Sat., Oct. 6 at TEMPLE
Sat., Oct. 20 at LOUISVILLE
Sat., Oct. 27 SYRACUSE
Sat., Nov. 3 CONNECTICUT
Sat., Nov. 17 at Miami (Fla.)
Fri., Nov. 23 at CINCINNATI
Sat., Dec. 1 PITTSBURGH

SYRACUSE
Sat., Sept. 1 Northwestern
Sat., Sept. 8 Southern California (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.)
Sat., Sept. 15 Stony Brook
Sat., Sept. 22 at Minnesota
Fri., Oct. 5 PITTSBURGH
Sat., Oct. 13 at RUTGERS
Fri., Oct. 19 CONNECTICUT
Sat., Oct. 27 at USF
Sat., Nov. 3 at CINCINNATI
Sat., Nov. 10 LOUISVILLE
Sat., Nov. 17 at Missouri
Fri., Nov. 23 at TEMPLE

TEMPLE
Fri., Aug. 31 Villanova
Sat., Sept. 8 Maryland
Sat., Sept. 22 at Penn State
Sat., Oct. 6 USF
Sat., Oct. 13 at CONNECTICUT
Sat., Oct. 20 RUTGERS
Sat., Oct. 27 at PITTSBURGH
Sat., Nov. 3 at LOUISVILLE
Sat., Nov. 10 CINCINNATI
Sat., Nov. 17 at Army
Fri., Nov. 23 SYRACUSE

VIDEO: Pitt RB James Conner working out with Panthers

James Conner
AP Photo/The News & Observer, Robert Willett
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Pittsburgh running back James Conner is continuing tow work out with his Panther teammates despite an ongoing battle with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his neck and chest. If you need video evidence to serve as a reminder just how tough Conner is, here he is putting work in, complete with a summersault at the end of his drill.

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi previously said he believes Conner will be able to play for the Panthers in the fall.

“I saw him yesterday in the hallway and he’s been working out with our kids to keep his sanity and he’s having fun doing it,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said last week. “That’s the key is he’s having fun beating cancer and he’s got a great attitude and he looks good right now. He’s doing well and looks well. Doesn’t look like he lost weight. Looks like he could still play. He doesn’t look like he has cancer.”

Judging by that one short video clip shared on Narduzzi’s Twitter account, Conner certainly doesn’t look as though he has missed a beat.

LSU adds RB coach Jabbar Juluke from Texas Tech

LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. LSU won 19-7. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
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If there ends up being college football in the state of Louisiana in 2016, LSU has a running backs coach lined up. LSU announced the hiring of running backs coach Jabbar Juluke Saturday morning. Juluke joins LSU after previously coaching at Texas Tech. He fills the vacancy left on the staff by Frank Wilson, who accepted a position as head coach at UTSA.

“Jabbar is a veteran running backs coach with strong ties to New Orleans,” LSU head coach Les Miles said in a released statement. “He has a proven track record of success at both the college and high school level and he’s going to do a great job of continuing to develop our players both on and off the field. Jabbar is a great fit for us and we are excited to have him join our program.”

Juluke spent three years coaching running backs at Louisiana Tech before heading to Texas Tech. The New Orleans native was  a high school head coach for nine years and graduated from Southern University, so it goes without saying he has a good feel for the landscape in Louisiana, which has clearly been a big recruiting factory for LSU over the years. At Louisiana Tech, Juluke coached Kenneth Dixon, who would go on to set NCAA all-time rushing records for touchdowns (which was then topped by Navy’s Keenan Reynolds), points scored and games with a touchdown scored. Now he will get the opportunity to coach one of the nation’s best running backs, Leonard Fournette.

LSU also announced the departure of wide receivers coach Tony Ball, who is leaving to pursue other coaching opportunities.

Urban Meyer speaks out against early signing period in recruiting

FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2015, file photo, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer leads his team onto the Michigan Stadium field before an NCAA college football game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. Ohio State University has extended its current sponsorship contract with Nike by 15 years in a deal worth $252 million. The university and the Beaverton, Oregon-based athletic apparel company announced the deal on Thursday. The current partnership had been scheduled to end in July 2018. It will now continue to 2033. (AP Photo/Tony Ding, File)
AP Photo/Tony Ding, File
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Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is no fan of the idea of signing recruits earlier than the traditional signing day in early February. Having pulled in the top classes in the Big Ten each season since his arrival in Columbus, what reason would he have to change the recruiting guidelines? With the topic of a possible early signing period continuing to be discussed at multiple levels, Meyer is standing firm on his stance.

I’m not a fan of that,” Meyer said this week, according to Cleveland.com. “You’re moving it just forward and forward, what if a kid wants to change his mind? (If) he wants to change his mind because of coaching changes or other circumstances, the player should be allowed to change his mind.”

Meyer knows all about recruits changing their minds. In the weeks leading up to National Signing Day, Meyer and Ohio State managed to flip a pair of four-star players previously committed to Maryland on the same day; quarterback Dwayne Haskins and linebacker Keandre Jones. Had either of those two been locked to a commitment with Maryland by way of an early signing period, Ohio State never would have benefitted from the late switches. That also addresses another concern over the early signing period. What happens when a kid commits early only to see the head coach fired or accept another job elsewhere? Should that player be bound to his agreement or be allowed to reopen his recruitment later in the recruiting cycle? That in itself opens a door for concerns, as time could be running out on a recruit as scholarships fill up and programs may be lacking the interest they once had for a variety of reasons (of course, if a four or five-star athlete goes back on the market it is doubtful that kid would not find a decent landing spot even late in the recruiting cycle).

Meyer also addressed another concern with an early signing period that delves into the shadier aspects of recruiting, including contacting high school juniors.”Also, if you’re going to let people contact a junior in a high school in spring, just visualize a great player, what that will look like,” he said. “So don’t go to class the month of May because you’re going to be meeting with coaches all day long.

“Also, if you’re going to let people contact a junior in a high school in spring, just visualize a great player, what that will look like,” Meyer said. “So don’t go to class the month of May because you’re going to be meeting with coaches all day long.”

That could potentially be a tad extreme, but Meyer knows this stuff happens already.

“And they say, well, coaches are doing it anyways. Well fire the coaches, fine the coaches, and then put the schools on probation for the schools that are doing that,” Meyer continued. “So that’s just not the Ohio State — I don’t want to speak for Gene Smith — but I speak for our coaching staff. We feel very strongly about strong regulation and keeping the recruiting calendar as is.”

It would be interesting to know if Meyer felt the same way about this early signing period topic if he were still the head coach at Bowling Green or Utah, but given his current situation — a mighty fine position indeed — as a head coach with a national championship and in charge of one of the true recruiting giants in the game right now, it is only natural Meyer would prefer the status quo. Have no doubt, however, that if an early signing period is adopted and implemented, Meyer and the Buckeyes will be one of the more aggressive programs in the game. Ohio State is already doing a fine job lining up top recruits (Ohio State already has seven four or five-star commitments for the Class of 2017), and a chance to get some of those commitments signed earlier would most certainly be welcomed in Columbus.

Vandy swiping San Diego State assistant Osia Lewis

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Head coach Rocky Long of the San Diego State Aztecs stands near the bench area in the second half of  the Mountain West Championship game against the Air Force Falcons at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
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For the first time this offseason, Rocky Long will be forced to fill a hole on his San Diego State coaching staff.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Vanderbilt had hired Osia Lewis away from SDSU. Thursday, school officials confirmed to the San Diego Union-Tribune that Lewis will indeed be leaving the Aztecs for a job with the Commodores.

Lewis had spent the past five seasons coaching the defensive line with the Aztecs; it’s expected he’ll have similar duties with the Commodores. What’s not expected is for Lewis to have the specific title of line coach as Derek Mason had previously announced the hiring of Oklahoma’s C.J. Ah You for that job.

Not only had Lewis spent the past five seasons with Long at SDSU, but he was also on Long’s staff at New Mexico for five years (2003-07) as well. During Lewis’ time at SDSU, at least one defensive lineman per season earned All-Mountain West honors, the Union-Tribune noted.