Big East confirms Marinatto’s ‘resignation’ as commish

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UPDATED 10:19 a.m. ET: In a press release, John Marinatto confirmed that he has “resigned” his position as the conference’s commissioner.

“After a great deal of thought and prayer, I have decided to step down as Commissioner of the Big East conference and formally advised our Board of Directors,” said Marinatto in a statement.  “I have been associated with this league for my entire adult life and have had the tremendous honor of serving as its Commissioner since 2009.   Our recent expansion efforts have stabilized the Conference for the long term, and we are likewise well positioned for our very important upcoming television negotiations.  As a result, I felt this was the right time to step aside and to let someone else lead us through the next chapter of our evolution.

“I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank both our membership and my staff for their unwavering encouragement, support and loyalty — especially during this past year.  I am extremely confident about the future of this league that I love very much.”

Marinatto took over as the Big East’s commissioner july 1, 2009, replacing Mike Tranghese.

“I know I speak for the entire Conference when I express my sincere gratitude to John for his leadership and dedicated years of service,” said Dr. Judy Genshaft, USF president and Chair of the Big East conference.  “John helped build the BIG EAST into what it is today, and played a critical role in our successful expansion efforts, and for all of that we thank him.”

Joseph A. Bailey III, former CEO of the Miami Dolphins, will replace Marinatto on an interim basis.

“The Big East has a terrific future,” said Bailey. “I’m excited to participate in shaping a new structure and strategic plans for the Conference, and I look forward to engaging on these matters with the leadership of all of the Conference’s members, old and new alike.”

In the release, the Big East also offered a rough outline as to how a successor for Marinatto will be selected:

The Conference also announced that it has retained The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to review its organizational design and structure.  As the BIG EAST transitions to a national conference, its members will take this opportunity to position the Conference to maximize its media rights, branding and other strategies.

The search for the new Commissioner of the BIG EAST will be chaired Dr. Gregory H. Williams, the President of the University of Cincinnati and a member of the BIG EAST Executive Committee.

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Well, this is certainly an unexpected development.  Then again, given the number of big-name defections that have hit the Big East the past couple of years, not really.

According to Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com, John Marinatto tendered his resignation as the conference’s commissioner Monday morning.  July 1 would’ve been the third anniversary of Marinatto’s hiring as the third commissioner in the history of the conference.

No reason was given for Marinatto’s decision, or if the decision was a “forced resignation” ahead of landing a new television deal as some already suspect.  A conference official told CFT via email that “a statement addressing Marinatto’s status will be released later today.”

Under Marinatto’s leadership, the Big East has lost West Virginia (to the Big 12 in 2012), Pittsburgh and Syracuse (to the ACC in 2013) during the last big round of conference expansion last year.  While the Big East subsequently added Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State and SMU for next season as well as Temple this year, Marinatto has received a heavy amount of criticism for his perceived inability to stave off bigger leagues from plucking key members from the conference.

As noted by Mark Ennis of the Big East Coast Bias blog, this is a particularly bad time for the Big East to be searching for a commissioner, given the fact that a new playoff format is currently being debated and is expected to be finalized sometime in July.

Suffice to say, we’ll have more on this story as the situation develops.

New contract for Florida-Georgia game finally set for approval by city of Jacksonville

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Crossing a few t’s and dotting a few i’s appear to be all that is left to be done on a new contract for one of the most well-known neutral site rivalry games in the country.

According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, a contract has been sent to the city for approval of a new five-year deal in the annual contest between Florida and Georgia. Terms of the agreement were actually agreed to by both schools last year but it is just now making its way to the city for the final signature.

Each side is set to receive as much as $2.75 million in incentives over the next five years for the series, which takes place annually in Jacksonville at the Jaguars’ home field, Everbank Field. The Gators and Bulldogs are expected to get a $125,000 payment once the contract makes its way through the city bureaucracy and a further $250,000 in guaranteed money each year through 2021.

Also interesting to note that both schools are also getting an increase in their travel budget in the form of a nice $10,000 bump over the amount from previous agreements. The city also covers Georgia’s air travel costs up to $350,000 each year per the Business Journal.

The series, colloquially known as the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, takes place annually in Jacksonville between the two SEC East rivals and often decides the division. Florida has won three straight in the rivalry with the next edition set to take place on Saturday, October 28, 2017.

Next up on Jim Harbaugh’s world tour? An overseas football game and South Africa

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Jim Harbaugh and Michigan recently wrapped up most of their activities in Italy over the weekend and it appears the grand world tour will continue in the coming years for the Wolverines.

Next up on the travel docket? Apparently it’s South Africa.

“We’ll get together as a team and decide, but I’d really like to go to Cape Town or Johannesburg,” Harbaugh told MLive.com in Rome. “One of those two.”

A trip to Brazil is reportedly under consideration as well. Given how the current trip has already ruffled some feathers across college athletics though, one wonders if the NCAA will move to prevent such trips before Michigan has a chance to go abroad once again in 2018 though.

Either way, one interesting tidbit Harbaugh mentioned was how neat it would be to play an actual college football game overseas at some point in the future, especially one in Italy. We’ve already seen Cal, Hawaii, Stanford and Rice schedule games in Australia so it’s not exactly out of the realm of possibilities that exporting Harbaugh’s game day tactics across the pond happens in the coming seasons.

Safe to say that Michigan fans better make sure their passports are up to date as a result of this week’s festivities over in Italy because the Wolverines show no signs of slowing down with the globetrotting.

After 2017 NFL Draft, Florida State assistant takes Orange Bowl shot at Michigan

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One of the big winners on the college football front when it came to the 2017 NFL Draft was Michigan. Jim Harbaugh‘s team had a draft-high 11 players taken by NFL teams and several more Wolverines signed as undrafted free agents.

While that’s an large number, it seems not everybody was all that impressed and no we’re not even counting Ohio State fans.

Florida State assistant and former Minnesota coach Tim Brewster is never afraid to mix things up on social media and unleashed this dig at Michigan after the draft on Saturday.

The coach is of course making a not so subtle reference to the Seminoles victory over the Wolverines in the Orange Bowl last season. It’s not a bad shot by any means but a little funny considering how many draft picks FSU regularly produces each year and how much that is a part of their recruiting pitch.

Harbaugh is still in Italy at the moment so perhaps he wasn’t aware of what Brewster sent on Saturday night. As a result, perhaps we should brace for a response from Ann Arbor in the coming days because we all know Big Blue’s coach loves to have the last word.

Former Baylor athletic director denies mishandling sexual assault claim, says he told Art Briles

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Baylor’s sprawling sexual assault scandal is increasingly starting to make its way through the court system and one major trial is already forcing several former school officials to defend themselves in their handling of the matter.

Ex-Bears athletic director Ian McCaw, who now holds the same position at FCS program Liberty, made a court filing in one such case on Friday according to the Associated Press. Not surprisingly, McCaw claimed that he properly handled the case of former player Tevin Elliott, who was convicted in 2014 of raping a woman and is currently behind bars.

McCaw told the court that upon learning of the allegations in one specific case at the time, he told then-head coach Art Briles about the matter and Elliott was subsequently suspended from the football team.

While Elliott was convicted on criminal grounds, former student Jasmin Hernandez has sued Baylor by accusing the university of violating Title IX as a result of keeping Elliott around despite multiple rape claims against him. It is one of several cases set to take place over the coming years in a scandal that led to the departures of McCaw, Briles and school president Ken Starr.