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Updated: WAC, two members issue statements on realignment


If you check this here site on even a semi-regular basis, you’ve no doubt read by now that the WAC appears to be on its last leg as programs left and right are reportedly nearing a mass exodus.

Future WAC members Texas State and UT-San Antonio, as well as current members Louisiana Tech, Utah State and San Jose State, have all been connected, in one form or another, to moves to Conference USA, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt*.

(*That’s how you know things are bad)  

So while there is undoubtedly a lot of moving parts behind the scenes, the WAC issued the following statement today, courtesy of interim WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd:

“The Western Athletic Conference Board of Directors is well aware of the changing landscape in Division I athletics and has been in discussion about it for the last several weeks. Further, it continues to evaluate the impact upon the WAC and is closely engaged in evaluating its membership options.  It will not speculate relative to those options, but it has confidence that the WAC will maintain its more than 50-year history as a preeminent Division I conference.”

Additionally, New Mexico State released this statement:

“The national conference situation is a changing landscape and the administration on campus is doing their duediligence to secure a plan for the future. I don’t think anyone can project what the end game will be within the next 90 days or even a year or two down the road. It is so easy to look at this as the sky is falling but in reality a lot of conversations are happening about conference affiliation.  We remain extremely optimistic and committed to the future of NM State Athletics.”

And here’s one from Idaho:

“Conference realignment has been a major story in college athletics for several years now. A growing appetite for more funding and a steady flow of television and other media dollars feeding that appetite has resulted in conference alignments and realignments. That uncertainty continues today.

“Over the past several weeks, President Nellis and director of athletics Rob Spear have worked actively to advocate for the University during this recent shift in conference realignment. We are disappointed in the recent changes that are driven not by tradition, academic quality, competitiveness, or the student experience, but by money.

“Our student-athletes continue high rates of success on and off the field. The Vandals currently are atop the Western Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Cup standings and have been rewarded often for their academic successes.

“We believe our strong presence in the Northwest media markets is being overlooked during this crucial evaluation period. We are a presence in both the Spokane and Boise media markets, which extends our reach throughout the entire Inland Northwest.

“As we anticipate future conference movement, we continue to believe strongly that athletes are students first and the experience for them and our fans is first and foremost. We will continue to work diligently to most strongly position the University of Idaho.”

Now, it is important to reiterate that the rate at which conference realignment is reported is almost always faster than the rate at which these things actually occur. That said, the future doesn’t look bright for the WAC.

Emails indicate LSU thought Florida was using hurricane to duck playing Oct. 8 game

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 17:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers prepares to run the ball against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Well, this has the potential to get mildly interesting.

With Hurricane Matthew bearing down on the area, the LSU-Florida game originally scheduled for Oct. 8 in Gainesville was initially postponed.  A week later, the SEC announced that the game had been rescheduled for Nov. 19 in Baton Rouge after South Alabama (LSU) and Presbyterian (UF) agreed to be bought out of their respective game contracts for that date.

Some, though, initially thought that UF was looking to duck playing LSU after the latter offered to host the Gators that October weekend; play in Gainesville either Sunday or Monday; or even having the game played at a neutral site.  In that vein, through a public records request, WRBZ-TV in Baton Rouge obtained interoffice emails from LSU which showed the athletic department staff, as well as regent R. Blake Chatelain, was “frustrated with the handling of the postponed football contest against Florida earlier this month.”

In particular, athletic director Joe Alleva intimated that Florida didn’t want to play, period, because it would potentially help the Gators in their divisional race.

From the television station’s report:

Although, in an exchange with Chatelain, Alleva suspected Florida knew avoiding a game with LSU secured their spot in a playoff.

“… If they lose they would lose the east. Their schedule is easier than Tennessee (sic) if they wanted to play we would be playing here or there,” Alleva wrote after Chatelain questioned why Florida would want to avoid a game with the Tigers.

Chatelain wrote, “Florida would want to play as much as us… Would they not?”

Alleva initiated the conversation with Chatelain by writing, “This is a joke” when he forwarded news of the SEC announcing the Georgia-South Carolina contest had been delayed a day for the storm.

“What a joke,” Michael Bonnette, the communications director for LSU Athletics, chimed in.

Around that time, it was thought that Florida could gain an advantage over SEC East rival Tennessee by playing one fewer conference game and potentially claiming the division and a spot in the conference championship game by virtue of a better winning percentage than UT despite losing in the head-to-head matchup.  However, in announcing the rescheduled game, the SEC revealed that both LSU and Florida would have been ineligible to compete for the SEC title this season had the game not been played.

Arizona RB Nick Wilson ‘out for an extended period of time’

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 15: Running back Nick Wilson #28 of the Arizona Wildcats stiff arms defensive back Marvell Tell III #7 of the USC Trojans during the second quarter of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona. USC won 48-14. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
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With four losses in a row, Arizona’s season is quickly taking on water, and this development certainly won’t help.

It’s believed that Nick Wilson sustained some sort of injury to his right knee in the Week 8 loss to USC.  The specific nature of the injury hasn’t been detailed; however, head coach Rich Rodriguez indicated that it’s an injury that will sideline the running back for a significant number of games.

Wilson’s 320 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns are tops among Wildcat backs this season. However, he’s rushed for just 66 yards the last five games — he had been dealing with an ankle issue — and doesn’t have a touchdown in that span.

Wilson’s latest injury continues the depth issues the Wildcats have experienced in the backfield. Late last month, J.J. Taylor, still third on the team in rushing with 261 yards, suffered a broken left ankle and is out for the year.

Given the injuries, Rodriguez is down to using converted wide receivers and walk-ons at the position. From 247Sports.com:

With recently converted running back Tyrell Johnson also less than 100%, wide out Samajie Grant is listed as a co-starter at running back with Zach Green. Grant had been splitting reps between wide receiver and running back the past few weeks, but all indications are that he has been getting all his reps in the back field.

Walk-on Brandon Leon is listed as the third string running back. He had his first collegiate carries late against USC, carrying 4 times for 18 yards.

Grant is currently tied for second on the team… in receptions with 19.  Green’s 164 yards rushing are fifth on the team.

Syracuse staffer reprimanded for contact with BC player during sideline scuffle

Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey (2) is sacked by Boston College linebacker Sharrieff Grice (26) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
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One member of the Syracuse football program has had his wrist publicly slapped in connection to an in-game incident over the weekend.

In the first quarter of the Week 8 win over Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Orange quarterback Eric Dungey threw an interception to the Eagles’ William Harris and ultimately tackled Harris on the visiting team’s sidelines. Or, more specifically, Dungey slammed Harris to the ground and, eventually, pushed another BC player into some equipment.

That was part of a brief brouhaha that was quickly defused, but not before a ‘Cuse staffer appeared to put his hands on Harris as well.

That staffer has subsequently been identified as Brad Wittke, the football program’s director of operations. That staffer has also been publicly reprimanded for his role in the incident.

“I hold all members of our athletics program to highest standard of conduct, and support the Atlantic Coast Conference’s commitment to sportsmanship,” athletic director John Wildhack said in a statement. “I’ve spoken with Brad and he fully understands that his actions were not appropriate.”

“I apologize to William Harris, Coach Addazio and the entire Boston College football team for my actions Saturday,” Wittke said in his statement. “While trying to prevent the situation from becoming worse I made contact with William, causing him to fall to the ground. I take responsibility for that and regret that it happened.”

Whether the public reprimand will be enough to satisfy BC head coach Steve Addazio, who called for the ACC to look into the situation, is unclear.

Ex-Clemson WR Demarre Kitt tweets he’s committed to Colorado State

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 27: Demarre Kitt #8 of the Clemson Tigers is interfered with while trying to make a catch during the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Memorial Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
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After a nearly two-year absence, it appears Demarre Kitt is headed back to the FBS level.

On his personal Twitter account, Kitt announced that he has committed to Colorado State and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Rams. Since leaving Clemson in December of 2014, Kitt has played for at least two different junior colleges — Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Ventura (Calif.) Junior College.

In his lone season at Clemson, Kitt had five receptions for 47 yards. A four-star member of Clemson’s 2014 recruiting class, Kitt was rated as the No. 16 receiver in the country and the No. 11 player at any position in the state of Georgia.

As Kitt will be coming in as a JUCO transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017. He’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining.