Danny O’Brien signs with Badgers

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UPDATED 1: 23 p.m. ET: Of course, a short time after our previous update, Wisconsin confirmed via a press release that Danny O’Brien has indeed signed with the Badgers.

And, like he did upon Russell Wilson signing with UW last year, head coach Bret Bielema said the starting quarterback job has not been promised to O’Brien.

(Writer’s note: wink wink, nudge nudge)

“We’re excited that Danny has chosen to attend Wisconsin,” Bielema said in a statement. “The first thing we did when we were aware of Danny’s interest was to try and find out what type of person he was and if he would fit into our program. From our dealings with him and all the things I have heard from those who have been around him, he is a tremendous person and has great character. He had a fantastic visit and our current players who met him came away impressed. Having graduated from Maryland in just three years, you know right away that he is a smart kid.

“As is the case with any player who joins our program, we have not promised Danny anything other than the chance to come in during the fall and compete for the starting quarterback position. He understands that and is excited for that opportunity.”

The release also confirmed that O’Brien will be eligible to play immediately for the Badgers.  After graduating from Maryland in May, O’Brien will attend graduate school at UW beginning in the fall.

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UPDATED 1: 11 p.m. ET: A Wisconsin source confirmed to CFT a short time ago that “an announcement on a personnel matter” would be forthcoming from the school “within the next 24 hours or so.”

One current member of the Badgers however, didn’t feel like waiting that long to publicly welcome his new teammate.

“Danny o brien just messaged me this.. ‘let’s do this‘… it shall be done then my man,” running back Montee Ball tweeted shortly after 1 p.m. ET.

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Well, based on the speculation from earlier this week, this certainly qualifies as at least a minor upset.

Citing a college football source, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that former Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brienis poised to transfer to Wisconsin.”  O’Brien visited the Madison school this past weekend, one of at least four known visits to three different schools this month.

Two of those visits were to Penn State, one of which took place Monday and led some to speculate that new head coach Bill O’Brien and the Nittany Lions had suddenly become the front-runners for the QB’s services.

In addition to Wisconsin and Penn State, O’Brien has also visited Ole Miss since announcing his transfer from the Terps.  Somewhat surprisingly, and at least based on what’s been leaked publicly, O’Brien has not taken a visit to Vanderbilt.  The Commodores were far and away viewed as the “leaders” for the player, if for nothing more than the extensive relationship with head coach James Franklin.

O’Brien’s high school coach told CFT nearly three weeks ago that his former player would likely make his choice by mid-April, or late that month at the latest.  A voicemail left for the coach seeking comment on this reported development has not been returned, although a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CFT that a final decision has indeed been made.

The source would not divulge the specific name of the school.  Based on the Journal-Sentinel‘s report, however, things are looking good for the Russell Wilson-less UW Badgers.

Jake Butt’s draft tumble will net him $543k insurance payout

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The decisions to sit out their team’s respective bowl games made by Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey had little impact on either’s draft stock as both were selected in the Top 10 Thursday night.  Jake Butt‘s decision ended to play up costly him dearly, although he will see a (wee) bit of a financial cushion softening the blow.

Butt suffered a torn ACL in Michigan’s Orange Bowl loss to Florida State late last year.  At the time, Butt was considered one of the top tight end prospects for the 2017 NFL draft, with most experts considering him, at worst, a second-round selection.  Most, though, had him ticketed as a first-round pick in a deep class at the position.

Unfortunately, Butt saw his draft stock plummet because of the injury, with the talented tight end falling all the way to the fifth round as he was selected with the No. 145 overall pick by the Denver Broncos Saturday afternoon.

The injury and subsequent fall cost Butt millions of dollars.  The sliver of a silver lining is that Butt had taken out an insurance policy that will pay him a tax-free sum of $543,000, Darren Rovell of ESPN.com reported.

That said, Butt saw what would’ve been a potential signing bonus in the neighborhood of $4 million drop to just shy of $400,000.  Even considering the insurance payout, the injury will have cost Butt, at bare minimum, $3 million.

It could also have significant ramifications for the sport moving forward as, with the recent examples of Butt, Fournette, McCaffrey and even Jaylon Smith (HERE) fresh in their memories, star players could, more than ever, give significant consideration to skipping out on their team’s bowl game — maybe even a playoff game.

Suspended Michigan State staffer receives another contract extension

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Michigan State has added another one-month extension to the contract of suspended football staffer Curtis Blackwell as the school continues to investigate several sexual assaults involving the Spartans.

A schools spokesman confirmed the extension to the Detroit Free Press on Friday.

The move comes on the heels of a previous one-month contract extension for Blackwell that came at the end of March. His official title is that of the team’s director of college advancement and performance and he was hired by head coach Mark Dantonio back in 2013 after running a number of major recruiting camps in the region.

Blackwell was originally suspended back in February as the school and police began multiple investigations related to sexual assaults. According to reports, one Michigan State staff member had an arrest warrant issued for obstructing an investigation but he was never publicly identified by the school.

Probes into the matter, including a Title IX investigation, remain ongoing in East Lansing. The football team recently wrapped up practice missing over a dozen players in the spring game so it appears this wide-ranging scandal that has embroiled the Spartans is not going to be over anytime soon.

Ex-USC coach finally lands court date with NCAA over Reggie Bush case

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After years and years of meandering through the court system, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair finally has his day in court with the NCAA.

ESPN is reporting that the two parties will meet in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 18, 2018. The trial will finally get underway next year after nearly a decade of appeals on both sides.

McNair was the Trojans’ running backs coach during the glory days under Pete Carroll and responsible for coaching or recruiting many of the team’s top players. He was one of the few links to the program that the NCAA cited when determining that former star Reggie Bush received extra benefits, later leading to brutal sanctions back in 2010. McNair was given a one-year show-cause as a result of the Committee on Infractions findings and never coached again after the school let his contract expire shortly thereafter.

That wasn’t the end of the story however, as McNair later filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA in which he accused the association of violating protocol and showing bias against himself and the program in order to level unprecedented sanctions. Documents in the case have continued to seep out that have given credence to McNair’s case and the NCAA’s lawyers have fought bitterly at every turn in order to prevent the trial from actually getting underway.

Those efforts were unsuccessful however and it appears an already nasty legal battle is still not over. It remains to be seen if the trial will even happen, as a settlement could eventually take place between now and next April. If it does indeed go in front of a jury though, it just might be one of the most fascinating insights into one of the biggest NCAA scandals of the past few decades.

Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Jonathan Giles announces transfer from Texas Tech

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Thursday may have been a high point for the Texas Tech football program upon learning that former quarterback Patrick Mahomes was taken in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

On Friday afternoon though, the Red Raiders dipped right back down as star wide receiver Jonathan Giles took to Twitter to announce that he was leaving the program and transferring out of Lubbock.

Giles was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist a season ago after catching 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those numbers led the team in each category despite trailing off a bit down the stretch as Tech missed out on a bowl game.

Playing time could have been a big factor in the decision to leave the program as both Cameron Batson and Keke Coutee emerged as the top receiving targets and Giles was relegated to second-team status coming out of spring practice.

Tech’s Air Raid system and NFL quarterbacks had a lot to do with Giles’ big numbers but it’s fairly rare to see such highly touted and productive wideouts hit the transfer markets. While the decision probably isn’t what some Red Raiders fans wanted to hear on Friday, the receiver probably won’t be lacking for options when it comes to his next stop.