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Conference USA officially adds five

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Welcome to Part 2 of realignmentpalooza.

Seven schools held press conferences on the same day to announce their move to new homes. John got you up to speed on San Jose State and Utah State moving from the WAC to the Mountain West, but here are some tidbits from five schools — FIU, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, UNC-Charlotte and UT-San Antonio — that will be moving on to Conference USA  beginning in 2013.

“We are excited about adding these new members as part of our bold strategy that focuses on growing institutions in large media markets,” C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a statement. “There is a tremendous upside here. This is an opportunity for us to add a mixture of established and emerging programs. We also remain committed to divisional scheduling models that are student-athlete and fan-friendly. The more we analyzed it, the more it made sense.”

From UTSA:

“Today is another outstanding day to be a Roadrunner,” said president President Dr. Ricardo Romo. “We are very excited about our new partnership with Conference USA. It is a great fit for us, and it is a significant step forward for the University and the entire city of San Antonio.”

“This is yet another historic day for UTSA,” Athletics Director Lynn Hickey said. “Today’s invitation is a realization of a lot of hard work by so many different people, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the city and its community leaders. This truly was a collaborative effort. It’s another great moment for the city of San Antonio, our University and the athletics department. Everyone truly is excited to be moving to Conference USA.”

From North Texas:

”“This is validation that the progress we have made in our athletic programs in conjunction with our university’s academic reputation has made us a suitable fit for the high standards of Conference USA,” Director of Athletics Rick Villarreal said.  “Conference USA provides a great partnership with several schools in our geographic proximity and will help all of us create outstanding regional rivalries.  It is a tremendous opportunity for North Texas athletics.” 

From UNC-Charlotte:

“The invitation to join Conference USA is momentous in what it can do for our university,” Chancellor Dr. Philip Dubois said.  “As stewards of this university, it is incumbent upon us to provide the best leadership for today and the best promise for tomorrow.   We have yet to take a snap on McColl-Richardson field, yet to play our first game, yet to have even our first practice – but because of who we are, because of what we’ve done, and because of the great community we live in – we have the unique opportunity to become one of the first programs in history to go from no football to FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) football in the minimum time allowed by NCAA regulations.”

From Louisiana Tech:

“This is the dawn of a new era for Louisiana Tech University and a goal we have worked very hard over the past several years to achieve,” President Dan Reneau said. “I want to publically acknowledge the efforts of Bruce Van De Velde and his team as well as dedicated alums such as Terry Bradshaw and the Davison family, who were instrumental in helping tell our story and promote our vision for the future of Louisiana Tech Athletics. 

“Above all, I want to thank the Tech Nation for their loyal support and commitment to the athletics program. You are the spirit of Louisiana Tech and an inspiration to our coaches and student-athletes.”

From FIU:

“This move to Conference USA is about providing greater opportunity for our student-athletes and our fans,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg.  “A successful, visible athletics program is an integral part of building tradition and affinity in a young university such as ours. This is part of that journey. I want to thank Dr. Scott Cowen and the rest of the Conference USA CEOs for extending the invitation. I would also like to thank Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson, former commissioner Wright Waters and the rest of the Sun Belt Conference for being terrific partners the past 14 years.”

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Report: Penn State tabs Sandy Barbour as new AD

CAL ATHLETIC DIRECTOR SANDY BARBOUR

After two and half years of turmoil in the school’s leadership, Penn State University has finally found the person it wants to lead its athletic programs.

Sandy Barbour, who previously served as Cal’s athletic director, will take over the same role at Penn State, according to ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy. Barbour fills the role vacated by soon-to-be-retired Penn State AD Dave Joyner, who took over the position after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Barbour, 54, was Cal’s athletic director from 2004 until she resigned from the position on June 27. Prior to Cal, Barbour served as Notre Dame’s deputy director of athletics from 2002 to ’04.

During her time with the Golden Bears, the university’s football team was 68-57.  However, the program has been on a steady decline over the past four years. Part of the reason Barbour was eventually forced out at Cal was based on the football program’s 1-11  record last season and it finished dead last in the Pac-12 among graduation rates.

Barbour was able to get a new stadium built for the football program, but she left Cal with $445 million in debt due to athletic renovations, according to the San Francisco Gate.

There will also be a question of how Barbour will mesh with the coaching staffs already in place.

Penn State’s football program was kept afloat by former head coach Bill O’Brien. Once O’Brien left for the NFL, Penn State made a major hire by luring James Franklin away from Vanderbilt. However, there are always concerns over how attached a new athletic director is with a head coach they didn’t hire.

Barbour will provide Penn State with something the university has lacked in recent years…stability. But her recent track record makes this a questionable hire.

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Reserve LB is fifth Georgia defender arrested this off season

Georgia v Clemson

It hasn’t exactly been a banner off season for the Georgia Bulldogs and head coach Mark Richt.

The team’s off-the-field issues continued Saturday morning when reserve linebacker Davin Bellamy was arrested on charges of DUI and speeding, according to the Athens-Clarke County (Ga.) jail log. Bellamy, a redshirt freshman, was booked at 5:02 a.m. and released an hour and 20 minutes later after posting a $2,000 bond.

Bellamy is the fifth member of the Bulldogs’ defense to be arrested this off season.  The linebacker’s arrest comes on the heels of the team dismissing defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor from the team Wednesday after his second arrest. Taylor was the third member of the unit to be dismissed.

Since this is Bellamy’s first offense, he isn’t expected to be dismissed from the team, but the Georgia’s student-athlete handbook stipulates that any athlete with a DUI charge is required to be suspended for 20 percent of the team’s season. As a result, Bellamy will miss at least the first two games of the season against the Clemson Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks. Coach Richt could decide to extend the suspension beyond two games if he deems it necessary.

The loss of Bellamy deals a blow to the Bulldogs’ linebacker depth. Bellamy, a three-star recruit in the 2013 class, was projected to be a backup behind junior Jordan Jenkins at Jack linebacker. Without Bellamy in the lineup, sophomore Johnny O’Neal will now have an opportunity to gain more playing time within the linebacker rotation.

Bellamy’s arrest is the seventh overall for the program since the end of last season and the 32nd in the past four years.

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It cost $8.78 million for Auburn to buyout Gene Chizik and staff

Auburn v Georgia

Auburn wanted to buyout the contract of former head coach Gene Chizik so badly the school was willing to carve out $8.78 million just to move on. According to a report from Al.com, Auburn set aside nearly that much to buyout the contracts of Chizik and the assistant coaching staff before bringing Gus Malzahn back to Auburn.

As reported, Auburn was originally prepared to spend $11.09 million to buyout the various contracts but the total was reduced as coaches found jobs elsewhere. Chizik, who led Auburn to a national championship just four seasons ago, received a buyout of $7.5 million to account for the remainder of his money owed on his contract. Auburn will pay Chizik a little more than $200,000 per month through the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

The remainder of the $8.78 million in buyout money was reserved for former assistant coaches Scot Loeffler, Brian VanGorder and Trooper Taylor. All three coaches have received their final buyout payments.

Auburn worked in the red last year, but with the buyout costs starting to trim down and with a nice boost from revenue sharing through the addition of the SEC Network, Auburn should be in decent shape a year from now.

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Southern Miss CB caught in horribly executed armed robbery

Southern Miss v Nebraska

Police say a Southern Mississippi football player has admitted he had a role in planning an armed robbery. Defensive back Ed Wilkins was one of two men involved in the criminal planning, and now he has been indefinitely suspended by the school while the legal process plays out. The university is also investigating the situation. The Sun Herald was first to report the story.

Wilkins and his alleged accomplice, Michael Bailey, were booked in a county jail Friday evening, according to The Sun Herald. A bail was set for each at $75,000.

“This is a serious matter,” Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken said in a statement. “Ed has been removed from the program while we gather additional information.”

The details from a police report state Wilkins and Bailey had a plan to go to a residence in search of money and drugs. Police responded Friday morning to an armed robbery in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and discovered Bailey, who told officers he was just visiting some former roommates to smoke marijuana. Wilkins had reportedly entered the residence with a handgun equipped with a laser and wearing a ski mask while demanding money. When police arrive don the scene, Wilkins was found hiding in a car across the street.

What a masterful plan at work.

Wilkins started nine games for Southern Miss last season, recording 39 tackles and one interception.

Helmet sticker to Dr. Saturday.

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Pete Carroll’s contract double-standard logic with Marshawn Lynch

USC v California

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is having a bit of a stand-off with management off the defending Super Bowl champions. Lynch has two years remaining on his contract with the Seahawks but is holding out from training camp to deliver his message to the team. Head coach Pete Carroll got involved by making a statement that comes off a little hollow considering the source.

“It’s a contract for a reason. We made a decision and it was signed, by us and by them,” Carroll said, via USA Today. “We expect them to honor their contract just as we will. We’re going to honor it and we expect them to do the same.”

Oh, that’s rich.

While coaching at USC, Carroll signed a contract extension in December 2005. The new contract would have kept Carroll in charge of the USC Trojans through the end of the 2010 season. The only problem is Carroll saw an opportunity to return to the NFL with the Seahawks. Oh and by the way, that return to the NFL came with a healthier paycheck as a result.

Is this the pot calling the kettle black? Maybe to an extent, although the situations really are a bit different.

In his defense, Carroll had done just about everything he could at USC, winning a BCS championship and another AP national championship while building one of the top programs of the BCS Era by bringing it back to life, even if for a short period of time. Sure, it was slapped with NCAA sanctions for violations that occurred under his watch, and that is fair to mention as well. Carroll has been outspoken about his belief that USC was punished too harshly by the NCAA, but the top level of a football coach’s profession is in the NFL, and Carroll was ready to take another crack at it. The situation and timing were right to move to the NFL when Carroll did.

Even if it meant not honoring the contract he had signed.

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AP: TCU’s Devonte Fields surrenders to warrant

Texas Tech v TCU

The future of TCU defensive end Devonte Fields appears to be a bit sketchy at best. The former Big 12 defensive player of the year surrendered himself to authorities after a misdemeanor warrant was issued.

The Associated Press reported Fields surrendered to Tarrant County authorities Thursday afternoon and was released shortly after posting bond of $3,5000. Fields has not been formally charged but could be facing up to one year in jail for a Class A misdemeanor assault. As previously reported, Fields was being investigated for allegedly threatening a woman with a gun.

TCU announced a separation from Fields while the investigation was ongoing earlier this week. Fields allegedly pointed a gun at an ex-girlfriend and threatened to “blast” her during a shouting match after punching in a window.

Nothing about this sounds good, especially in light of a number of stories floating around the football world this week regarding violence aimed at women. It has not been a good week for football players and women, that’s for sure.

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Report: Oklahoma’s 5-star RB Mixon “involved in serious altercation”

Photo credit: Rivals

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, a five-star member of the Class of 2014, was out celebrating his 18th birthday, when something went horribly wrong. According to information reported by SoonerScoop.com, Mixon was involved in a serious altercation that required Norman police to respond early Friday morning.

Charges have not been issued by police at this time. Police reportedly want to review security camera footage that may have caught the incident before making any decisions. As of now, details of the incident are a bit limited due to the fact that one or more of the people tied to the police report are juveniles.

Here are some of the early details reported by SoonerScoop.com, the Oklahoma affiliate for Rivals;

Norman police responded to an incident at Pickleman’s Gourmet Café in Norman at 2:39 a.m. on Friday. A spokesman for Pickleman’s gave no comment on the situation.

A synopsis of the report suggests aggravated assault and battery.
​ ​
Sources indicated Mixon was not arrested at the scene as officers wanted to study security footage of the incident before filing any charges.

The incident report obtained by SoonerScoop contains limited information, as one or more juveniles is involved. A spokesman for OU is aware of the incident and issued the following statement:

“We are aware of the matter and it is under internal review.”

Oklahoma is aware of the situation and allowing the legal investigation and process to play out before commenting any further. Mixon was rated a five-star running back by Rivals in the Class of 2014. Rivals also ranked Mixon as the number one overall running back in the country.

Photo credit: Rivals

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Report: Clemson WR Peake undergoes knee surgery

Georgia v Clemson Getty Images

The 2014 season may get off to a late start for one Clemson wide receiver. Charone Peake underwent what Clemson is calling minor knee surgery Friday, and the rehab could mean he will have to miss the first week of camp before the 2014 season.

“Charone was having a great summer, but tweaked a knee on Wednesday making a reception,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney in a release, obtained by CBSSports.com. “The surgery was successful and his ACL is fine. He will probably miss the first week of practice and then we will go from there. We expect him to play against Georgia in the season opener.”

Peake saw his 2013 season end prematurely with a torn ACL in the second game of the season. Fortunately, the NCAA granted Peake an extra year of eligibility as a result. Peake was to be competing for a starting job at wide receiver for the Tigers this season.

Helmet sticker to CBSSports.com.

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Quick updates on CFB Playoff contender win totals

BCS National Championship - Florida State v Auburn Getty Images

How comfortable are you that Florida State will win 12 games this season? What about Alabama winning 11 games? Some new win total betting lines have been posted in Las Vegas by Wynn Las Vegas, and betting expert David Purdum made note of the schools most often discussed as a contender for the College Football Playoff this season.

Alabama, Florida State, Oregon and Ohio State have been tied to various favorite-labels as College Football Playoff contenders. Oklahoma is also in that conversation. Purdum added the Sooners are set at 10.5 for the win total…

Are any of these numbers worth taking a shot on with your money?

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All Steve Addazio wants is the next Tim Tebow at BC

Steve Addazio

If there is one college football player that is most responsible for the elevation of Boston College head coach Steve Addazio, it has to be Tim Tebow. Now, as Addazio looks to build off a decent start at Boston College, the former Florida assistant coach is keeping a watchful eye out for the next Tim Tebow. Is that too much to ask?

“When I saw Tim Tebow, I watched him play in high school and will never forget it,” Addazio said to Jared Shanker of ESPN.com. “To me your quarterback has to have the ‘it factor,’ and I’ve never seen a guy with the ‘it factor’ more in my life. It was oozing off his uniform. I saw him put his whole team on his back and win. He was going to lead and win championships.”

There is little to dispute just how motivational and influential Tebow was to the BCS championship teams at Florida. The Heisman Trophy winner may not have been the best quarterback, but he found ways to help his team win some big games along the way. No matter what you might think about Tebow’s overall football legacy, his time at the college level will leave him as one of the all-time greats. Finding a player of that caliber is a rarity, but if Addazio and his staff can keep working and convince a player of that caliber to come to Boston College to be the next Tebow or Matt Ryan or Doug Flutie it could go a long way. Coincidentally, Flutie’s nephew, Troy, is a quarterback on the Eagles roster.

“I talk to our staff all the time about this,” Addazio said. “We got to be right about this. One of those young guys needs to be a guy that can win a championship for you. If you don’t do that, you struggle.”

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Penn State may have a new AD ready to introduce

Nebraska v Penn State

Now that we have reached into Friday afternoon, it seems as though news is starting to slow down. That is not quite the case in State College, Pennsylvania, where it appears Penn State is ready to introduce to the world its new athletics director. A media memo sent out Friday afternoon confirmed there will be a press conference scheduled for Saturday afternoon in the media room at Beaver Stadium. The memo says the purpose is to “make an announcement on a personnel decision within Intercollegiate Athletics.”

Penn State president Eric Barron will open the press conference, but given the timing of the press conference just days before Big Ten media days in Chicago and Penn State’s current athletics director set to step down next week, it just makes too much sense.

It was just over a month ago when it was announced Penn State athletics director David Joyner would be stepping down from his position. Joyner will be resigning from the position effective August 1. The next AD will be taking over a program that sees two more years remaining on a football postseason ban, unless the NCAA amends the sanction terms. As far as football is concerned, the worst may be behind Penn State at this point. The NCAA has already turned over some lost scholarships and a new head coach, James Franklin, is in place and doing terrific work in recruiting.

The Big Ten football media day will get underway on Monday in Chicago.

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Strong message at Texas; RB Bergeron is gone

Marqueston Huff, Joe Bergeron

If there was one thing the Texas football program needed, it was a focus on discipline and getting a toughness back. That is what makes head coach Charlie Strong a terrific hire for the program after cutting ties with Mack Brown. Strong’s message to the team was put on display once more Friday morning with news of senior running back Joe Bergeron being dismissed from the roster.

Bergeron is the seventh player to be booted from the Texas football program since Strong arrived on his saddle in Austin. That number has skyrocketed in the past week with four others being dismissed this week. Running back Jalen Overstreet and defensive end Chevoski Collins were also dismissed by the program on Thursday for various violations, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrell Meander were also suspended by Strong on Thursday as a legal situation stemming from an alleged sexual assault.

Bergeron had been sent home from spring practice earlier this year, so seeing Strong come to this decision may not be quite a shock, although the head coach did sing the praises of the running back during a spring tour. Strong has said from day one as the Texas head coach he needed to make some changes to overhaul what could be a sleeping giant of a program at this point. Strong has always been focused on discipline and he does not waste time coddling players, which is a little bit of the dose of reality seemingly needed in Austin.

Bergeron was third on the team in rushing in 2013, accumulating 362 rushing yards and four touchdowns in 13 games.

Don’t mess with Texas? Don’t mess with Strong, that much is for sure.

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Media covering Big Ten picks Ohio State as the favorite, Wisconsin in west

Urban Meyer

The Big Ten is late in the media day circuit, getting started on Monday in Chicago, but we already have a favorite from the media; Ohio State.

The Buckeyes were named the media favorite in a media poll organized by The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, with members of various organizations spread across the Big Ten’s footprint casting their votes and predictions for each Big Ten division and conference champion. There is no formal media poll organized by the Big Ten, so the Cleveland-based newspaper has taken on the responsibility of giving Big Ten fans a preseason poll that swung and missed on the outcome a year ago (nobody picked Michigan State, but that happens). Ohio State received 23 first-place votes to win the Big Ten’s new east division. Defending Big Ten champion Michigan State received the other 10 first-place votes in the east and finished second in the preseason poll. Michigan and Penn State followed, respectively. Big Ten newcomer Maryland was picked to finish fifth in the east, followed by Indiana and the other Big Ten rookie, Rutgers.

The Big Ten’s west division was a bit more open according to the poll voters. Wisconsin came out on top with 15 first-place votes, but Iowa comes in a somewhat surprising second place with 11 first-place votes. Nebraska finished third with five first-place votes and one voter gave Northwestern (fourth in the preseason poll) a first-place vote. Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue round out the west division.

Ohio State received 19 out of 29 votes to win the Big Ten. Michigan State received nine votes and Nebraska received one vote. Wisconsin received no votes to win the Big Ten despite being picked to win the west division.

You can see the full unofficial preseason media poll for more voting results.

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Baylor’s Art Briles admits to interest in Texas vacancy

Art Briles

When a dream job comes along, few reasonable people would likely fault anyone for exploring the possibility of leaving all that you have built behind to take the new opportunity. Fortunately for Baylor, their head coach shrugged aside the idea of coaching at Texas this past offseason.

Baylor head coach Art Briles took over the desolate and often hopeless program prior to the 2008 season after a successful stint as a head coach at Houston. Briles was asked to do what seemed to be impossible; turn Baylor football into something worth respecting in the Big 12. After starting out his career in Waco with identical 4-8 seasons, the building blocks were starting to form a foundation and Baylor broke through with a 7-6 record in 2010, the first winning season for the Bears since 1995 in the old Southwest Conference. The next season Robert Griffin III exploded on the scene to win the Heisman Trophy and lead Baylor to a 10-win season, a top 25 finish and the first bowl win for the school since the 1992 season. Last year Baylor won the Big 12 championship and played in the Fiesta Bowl. As far as stock is concerned, Briles may have peaked and could have cashed in.

This is why it only makes sense that Briles would not only be one of the top candidates for the vacancy in Austin, once Texas found a way to move on from Mack Brown, but Briles also had an interest in the job. Was Briles interested? You bet. Yesterday while moving through the ESPN car wash with a stop on the Paul Finebaum radio show, Briles admitted as much.

Briles, of course, chose to stay where he is at Baylor at a big time for the program. The Bears are coming off the first Big 12 championship in school history, appear to be a threat once again in the conference and move into a brand new football stadium this season. Times are good for Baylor. Briles is a big reason why, and it is nice to see someone choose to stay put to see through it all, especially when it is very likely Texas could have made Briles a wealthier man for years to come.

Texas may not have nabbed Nick Saban from Alabama, but the Longhorns ended up with a pretty good coach anyway by hiring Charlie Strong away from Louisville.

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SEC Network’s Time Warner deal increases launch viewership to 60 million

A cable truck returns to a Time Warner Cable office in San Diego, California

Things continue to be developing smoothly for the SEC Network, just weeks away from going live on the air. After successfully putting together deals with Comcast and COX Networks, the new network has added another big name to the cable distribution line-up; Time Warner. Just for good measure, the SEC Network has added Bright House Networks to the mix as well. The total potential reach for the launch of the SEC Network is now expected to total an estimated 60 million homes.

John Ourand of Sports Business Daily broke the news about the agreement, which was later confirmed by a release from the SEC Network on Thursday.

“We know we have customers who want the SEC-ESPN Network, and are pleased to bring it to them,” said Andrew Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Content Acquisition for Time Warner Cable. “This deal will help ensure that fans and alumni of SEC universities won’t miss any important games.”

“By delivering the SEC Network across Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks’ nationwide footprint, including key markets within SEC territory, we are meeting the demands of fans while also adding value to customers’ video subscriptions in advance of the network’s launch next month,” said Sean Breen, Disney and ESPN Media Networks senior vice president of affiliate sales.

There is still one giant hurdle remaining for what is already being praised as a masterful launch for the network; DirecTV. There is also some growing concern about ESPN’s involvement with the SEC Network and the College Football Playoff, as expressed by Bart Doan on The Student Section, but as far as preparing for a grand debut, ESPN has been hard at work at the negotiating table to make sure everything is lined up for the launch of the new network. It may just be a matter of time before there is a deal with DirecTV signed by all parties. At this point, DirecTV would be wise to not be labeled as the one provider without the network.

The SEC Network will launch on August 14.

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