Myriad conference expansion pressers on tap Friday

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While they don’t quite move the needle like expansionpalooza did back in 2010 and 2011, several athletic departments will officially announce Friday that their respective football programs will be embarking on a new conference path in the not-too-distant future.

All told, and as reminded by Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com, seven schools will announce at individual press conferences their new league homes beginning in 2013: FIU and North Texas will confirm they are leaving the Sun Belt for Conference USA; Louisiana Tech, from the WAC to Conference USA; UT-San Antonio and Charlotte — newly-minted or soon-to-be newly-minted Div. 1-A (FBS) programs, with the former spending 2012 in the WAC — to Conference USA; and San Jose State and Utah State from the WAC to the Mountain West.

Texas State, which will spend its first year as a Div. 1-A program in the WAC, has previously announced it will join the Sun Belt in 2012.  Georgia State will also join the SBC the same year.

A spokesperson for Old Dominion, which has been rumored as another Conference USA possibility, told McMurphy that the university will continue to “assess the changing landscape of Division I athletics” before making a decision the future of its athletic programs, which currently reside in the Colonial Athletic Association.

So, once all of the dust clears from tomorrow’s press conferences, the Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and WAC will (for now) look as follows beginning in 2013:

MWC
Air Force
Colorado State
Fresno State
Hawaii
Nevada
New Mexico
San Jose State
UNLV
Utah State
Wyoming

(Note: Boise State and San Diego State are leaving for the Big East in 2013, TCU for the Big 12 in 2012)

C-USA
East Carolina
FIU
Louisiana Tech
Marshall
North Texas
Rice
Southern Miss
Tulane
Tulsa
UAB
UTEP
UT-San Antonio

(Notes: Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF are leaving for the Big East in 2013, while Charlotte, which will play as a Div. 1-AA (FCS) independent in 2013 and 2014, will join in football in 2015)

SUN BELT
Arkansas State
FAU
Georgia State
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Monroe
Middle Tennessee State
South Alabama
Texas State
Troy
Western Kentucky

WAC
Idaho
New Mexico State

(Notes: UTSA, Texas State, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Utah State will compete in the WAC in 2012, while Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii will leave for the Mountain West July 1 of this year)

(Notes, the sequel: it’s highly, highly doubtful the WAC will exist as a conference after the 2012-2013 academic year)

Arkansas QB Cole Kelley returns from DUI-related suspension

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Arkansas’ one-time starting quarterback will return for the Razorbacks’ season finale. Whether he sees the field is another matter entirely.

Cole Kelley was arrested for driving while intoxicated and reckless driving earlier this month. A day after the arrest, Kelley was indefinitely suspended by the football program and missed UA’s Week 12 game.

Monday, that suspension officially came to an end after one game as head coach Bret Bielema confirmed that the redshirt freshman has rejoined the team.

“He’ll be back full-go with us again,” Bielema said by way of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.  Left unsaid is whether Kelley will play in the Week 13 matchup with Missouri Friday afternoon, in part because he’s still recovering from an injury.

Austin Allen started the first five games of the season before going down with a shoulder injury. Kelley replaced him and started the next four, with Allen returning to his starting role the last two weeks against LSU and Mississippi State.

Kelley is 2-2 as the starter this year and Allen 2-5 for a Razorbacks team that won’t be going bowling for the first time since Bielema’s first season in 2013. This week’s game could also mark Bielema’s last as UA’s head coach.

Western Kentucky’s Jaylon George charged with DUI

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Given all of the activity on the coaching carousel this one flew under the radar, so allow me to address the latest resetting of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker back to double zeroes.

According to both the Bowling Green Daily News and WBKO-TV, Western Kentucky’s Jaylon George was arrested early Saturday morning and charged with careless driving and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The incident involving the defensive lineman came just hours after WKU’s triple-overtime win over Middle Tennessee State Friday night.

According to the television station’s report, police pulled George over after he was spotted driving erratically in and around an apartment complex parking lot. George admitted to the arresting officer that he had been smoking marijuana, with a search of his vehicle and person yielding weed residue.

The school told the Daily News in a statement that they “are aware of the situation involving Jaylon and are currently in the process of gathering more information.”

George had played in five games this season as a reserve lineman, including the MTSU game before his arrest. The redshirt sophomore transferred after spending two seasons at an Oklahoma junior college.

Michigan RB declares Wolverines actually beat Ohio State last year

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No. 9 Ohio State heads to No. 24 Michigan on Saturday (noon ET, FOX) looking to protect its 5-game winning streak against That Team Up North. According to Michigan running back Karan Higdon, though, it’s Michigan that’s looking to protect its claim over the scoreboard.

Higdon surely remembers last year’s game well. He was there, after all, carrying three times for five yards. However, it was actually Ohio State who won the game, 30-27 in double overtime. The game was incredibly close, as the score indicates. Michigan would have won if not for a pair of Wilton Speight disasters at the goal line, the first an interception that Malik Hooker returned for a touchdown to give Ohio State a 7-3 lead and the second a goal line fumble that ruined Michigan’s chance to take a 17-7 lead.

As we know, Ohio State fought back to win by this much. How much? Jim Harbaugh shows us below.

Higdon figures to have a much greater impact on this year’s game. He’s the Wolverines leading rusher 874 yards and 10 touchdowns, and ran for 200 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries in Michigan’s most recent home game, a 33-10 win over Minnesota.

Here’s hoping, for his sake, that he can have an impact on an actual Michigan victory this time around.

Finalists announced for a number of individual awards

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The final week of the regular season is upon us. Heck, some teams still have two games to play between now and bowl season. Still, it’s awards season in college football, and the petty matter of actual games won’t get in the way of the pageantry.

Let’s dive right in.

Bednarik Award (best defensive player)
Bradley Chubb, NC State
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Roquan Smith, Georgia

Biletnikoff Award (best wide receiver)
Michael Gallup, Colorado State
David Sills V, West Virginia
James Washington, Oklahoma State

Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player)
Bradley Chubb, NC State
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Josey Jewell, Iowa
Ed Oliver, Houston
Roquan Smith, Georgia

Butkus Award (best linebacker)
Devin Bush, Michigan
Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin
Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson
Roquan Smith, Georgia

Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback)
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Doak Walker Award (best running back)
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back)
DeShon Elliott, Texas
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Josh Jackson, Iowa

John Mackey Award (best tight end)
Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
Mike Geisicki, Penn State

Lou Groza Award (best kicker)
Daniel Carlson, Auburn
Dominik Eberle, Utah State
Matt Gay, Utah

Maxwell Award (best overall player)
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Outland Trophy (best interior player)
Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Ed Oliver, Houston

Ray Guy Award (best punter)
Michael Dickson, Texas
J.K. Scott, Alabama
Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

Wuerffel Trophy (best community servant)
Blaise Taylor, Arkansas State
Courtney Love, Kentucky
Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame

Winners will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards show in Atlanta, Thursday, Dec. 7 on ESPN.