Matt Barkley

Oddsmakers still high on USC’s 2012 title hopes

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Thanks to a 10-win 2011 season that included a road win against then-No. 4 Oregon as well as a plethora of returning talent, USC has been viewed by most observers — including one you may recognize — as a serious contender for the 2012 BcS title.

Less than three months ahead of the start of the new season, degenerates those who make their living wagering on sports are in full agreement with that offseason assessment of the Trojans.

In the latest odds released by Bovada.com, the betting website has the Trojans as the 3/1 favorite to hoist the crystal football at season’s end.  USC is coming off a two-year bowl ban as part of its NCAA sanctions and will be eligible for the postseason — including the second Pac-12 title game — for the first time since after the 2009 season.

Next up after the Trojans in the eyes of bettors are the two participants in last year’s title game at 11/2, defending BcS champion Alabama and LSU.

Oklahoma (10/1); Florida State and Oregon (12/1); Georgia (14/1); Arkansas and Michigan (20/1); and — brace yourselves — Notre Dame and Texas (28/1) round out Bovada’s “Top Ten” (and ties).

As far as conference odds go, Florida State (1/1) is favored over Virginia Tech (3/1) to win the ACC; Oklahoma (1/1) over Texas (4/1) in the Big 12; Michigan (2/1) over Wisconsin (5/2) in the Big Ten; USC (5/8) over Oregon (2/1) in the Pac-12; and Alabama and LSU are co-favorites at 11/5 to claim the SEC crown.

After the jump, you can peruse the entire list of preseason odds for both the BcS title as well as the conference favorites, again courtesy of Bovada.

Odds to win the 2012-2013 BCS National Championship
USC 3/1
Alabama 11/2
LSU 11/2
Oklahoma 10/1
Florida State 12/1
Oregon 12/1
Georgia 14/1
Arkansas 20/1
Michigan 20/1
Notre Dame 28/1
Texas 28/1
Virginia Tech 30/1
West Virginia 30/1
South Carolina 30/1
Clemson 33/1
Nebraska 40/1
Wisconsin 40/1
Florida 50/1
TCU 50/1
Auburn 60/1
Michigan State 60/1
Boise State 65/1
Kansas State 75/1
Miami (Florida) 75/1
Oklahoma State 80/1
Mississippi State 100/1
Missouri 100/1
Texas A&M 100/1
Tennessee 125/1
Cincinnati 150/1
Iowa 150/1
Louisville 150/1
Penn State 150/1
Arizona 200/1
Boston College 200/1
BYU 200/1
California 200/1
Georgia Tech 200/1
Pittsburgh 200/1
Stanford 200/1
UCLA 200/1
Washington 200/1
NC State 250/1
South Florida 250/1
UCLA 250/1
Oregon State 300/1

CONFERENCE ODDS

ACC – Odds to Win
Florida State 1/1
Virginia Tech 3/1
Clemson 5/1
Miami (Florida) 9/1
Georgia Tech 15/1
North Carolina 15/1
Virginia 18/1
NC State 20/1
Wake Forest 35/1
Boston College 50/1
Duke 100/1
Maryland 100/1

ACC Atlantic Division – Odds to Win
Florida State 1/2
Clemson 11/4
NC State 9/1
Wake Forest 16/1
Boston College 22/1
Maryland 30/1

ACC Coastal Division – Odds to Win
Virginia Tech 10/11
Miami (Florida) 9/2
North Carolina 11/2
Georgia Tech 6/1
Virginia 13/2
Duke 30/1

BIG 12 – Odds to Win
Oklahoma 1/1
Texas 4/1
TCU 11/2
West Virginia 11/2
Kansas State 12/1
Oklahoma State 22/1
Texas Tech 30/1
Baylor 40/1
Iowa State 65/1
Kansas 100/1

Big East – Odds to Win
Louisville 9/4
South Florida 7/2
Cincinnati 5/2
Pittsburgh 13/2
Rutgers 13/2
Syracuse 20/1
Temple 20/1
Connecticut 25/1

Big Ten – Odds to Win
Michigan 2/1
Wisconsin 5/2
Nebraska 7/2
Michigan State 15/2
Penn State 12/1
Illinois 20/1
Iowa 20/1
Northwestern 35/1
Purdue 50/1
Indiana 65/1
Minnesota 100/1

Big Ten – Leaders Division Winner (Without Ohio State)
Wisconsin 1/2
Penn State 3/1
Illinois 15/2
Purdue 10/1
Indiana 15/1

Big Ten – Legends Division Winner
Michigan 11/10
Nebraska 9/4
Michigan State 4/1
Iowa 8/1
Northwestern 12/1
Minnesota 40/1

PAC 12 – Odds to Win
USC 5/8
Oregon 2/1
Washington 12/1
California 18/1
Stanford 25/1
Arizona 35/1
Utah 35/1
UCLA 40/1
Arizona State 50/1
Washington State 50/1
Oregon State 60/1
Colorado 100/1

PAC 12 – North Division Winner
Oregon 2/5
Washington 5/1
California 17/2
Stanford 10/1
Washington State 15/1
Oregon State 22/1

PAC 12 – South Division Winner
USC 1/6
Arizona 10/1
Utah 10/1
UCLA 15/1
Arizona State 18/1
Colorado 30/1

SEC – Odds to Win
Alabama 11/5
LSU 11/5
Georgia 11/2
Arkansas 7/1
South Carolina 10/1
Florida 12/1
Auburn 22/1
Mississippi State 30/1
Missouri 35/1
Tennessee 35/1
Texas A&M 40/1
Vanderbilt 60/1
Kentucky 100/1
Mississippi 100/1

SEC – East Division Winner
Georgia 17/10
South Carolina 5/2
Florida 3/1
Missouri 11/1
Tennessee 11/1
Vanderbilt 16/1
Kentucky 25/1

SEC – West Division Winner
Alabama 8/5
LSU 8/5
Arkansas 4/1
Auburn 12/1
Mississippi State 15/1
Texas A&M 20/1
Mississippi 50/1

Northwestern remembers Randy Walker 10 years after his passing

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Ten years ago Wednesday, the college football world was rocked by the unexpected and sudden loss of Northwestern coach Randy Walker.

The athletics department produced a touching video tribute to the man who suffered a heart attack at the age of 52, seven years into his tenure in Evanston.

Walker’s death unexpectedly thrust a young former Wildcats linebacker named Pat Fitzgerald into the head coach’s chair.

“I would prefer to be toasting to his longevity right now,” Fitzgerald says in the video.

Walker posted a 37-45 mark at Northwestern, including a surprising 8-4 campaign in 2000.

That followed a successful nine-year run at Miami University, the southwest Ohio school where he was a player.

Report: Ole Miss violations laid out to NCAA by stepfather of Laremy Tunsil

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The Mississippi football program might not find out its NCAA fate very soon, but the rest of the world learned more specifics regarding the accusations the Rebels face Wednesday.

Sports Illustrated published the results of its investigation, including specific allegations levied by a man in the process of getting a divorce from the mother of star offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil.

Lindsey Miller detailed several potentially serious violations involving Tunsil and his family, and SI was able to view some of the information he says he turned over to the NCAA during extensive interviews.

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations is consistent with Miller’s claims in numerous places, including 12 occasions of free lodging that totaled $2,253. Miller says he told the NCAA those nights were arranged by boosters he met through [Mississippi DL coach Chris] Kiffin, but the NCAA never found that link. Kiffin’s name appears 13 times in the Notice of Allegations, but none of those prove he set Miller up with boosters.

Tunsil was part of a surprisingly star-studded recruiting class in 2013, but head coach Hugh Freeze has consistently defended his program against accusations his recruiting success was thanks to illegal methods.

Freeze, who took over as coach in December 2011, may minimize the NCAA’s case, but nine of the 13 football allegations relate to his tenure there. (Four allegations, including fraudulent ACT scores, occurred under former coach Houston Nutt.) There are four Level I violations under Freeze and a significant Level II failure to monitor charge in which the NCAA says the athletic department and football program failed to monitor Tunsil driving three different loaner cars between August 2014 and June 2015. (That latter allegation is the one Ole Miss is disputing.)

Perhaps complicating matters is the fact Miller went to the NCAA only after having a fallout with Tunsil and his mother, Desiree Polingo, during the summer of 2015.

Polingo denied Miller’s accusations via a statement to SI, and in another statement a lawyer for Tunsil told SI, “You have to consider the source.”

Mississippi has already admitted to 12 of the 13 allegations and self-imposed penalties, but it remains to be seen if the NCAA Committee on Infractions will find the punishment sufficient or more is added.

The full SI story goes into deeper detail about the situations facing not only Ole Miss athletics but also the NCAA enforcement model itself.

NCAA announces common-sense change to bowl selection process

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Andy Janovich #35 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers jumps over Jayon Brown #12 of the UCLA Bruins during the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi's Stadium on December 26, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The NCAA Division I council announced 5-7 teams will still have a chance to make a bowl this fall.

They will have to wait until all of the 6-6 teams have been picked, though.

The common sense rule tweak was announced Wednesday.

Nebraska, Minnesota and San Jose State all made bowls last season despite finishing the regular season 5-7, and coincidentally they all won.

In a statement, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who serves as chair of the football oversight committee, said the postseason selection process “makes sense and is fair to the schools and the bowls.”

APR scores will continue to be used to designate which 5-7 teams are eligible to take up the bowl slots left available after all of the 6-6 teams have been selected.

After swelling to 41 games last season, the postseason is not set to expand again until at least the 2020 season as a result of a moratorium on the certification of new bowls was established by the council in April.

NCAA inquires about additional Sandusky victims from Penn State lawsuit

BELLEFONTE, PA - OCTOBER 09: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky (C) leaves the Centre County Courthouse after being sentenced in his child sex abuse case on October 9, 2012 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The 68-year-old Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years and not more that 60 years in prison for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Penn State and Joe Paterno‘s family have already done their part to return the tragic Jerry Sandusky saga to the news this year.

Now the NCAA apparently wants to join in.

The Centre Daily Times reports the college sports governing body has requested information regarding two men allegedly victimized by Sandusky, a long-time Penn State assistant coach, in the 1970s.

Their stories came to light in a court filing from a lawsuit involving Penn State and an insurer. The school tried to collect on a policy to help pay settlements it reached with more than 30 individuals who accused Sandusky of sexually abusing them.

The university tried to recoup money for those settlements from liability insurer Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, but PMA challenged that in court. The two men’s cases were revealed in an order by Philadelphia Judge Gary Glazer that referenced their cases, years earlier than the 10 Sandusky was convicted of in 2012. One said he told Paterno.

The CDT story does not give any indication the NCAA might want to revisit the sanctions that were handed down in 2012.

Rather, it is looking for defense fodder in a defamation lawsuit filed by the family of Paterno, the legendary Nittany Lions head coach

The estate claims the college sports oversight group defamed the man who helmed the program from 1966 until his firing in 2011 after the Sandusky story broke.

A key point is the NCAA’s acceptance of the findings of the Freeh report, the university-commissioned investigation of the Sandusky scandal, which placed blame on four Penn State leaders, including Paterno, who died six months before it was released. The NCAA then levied historic sanctions on the university, including stripping 110 wins from the Nittany Lions, dropping Paterno from first place in the leaderboard for most wins by a Division 1 coach.

But in new documents, the NCAA says it needs the information about the two claimants to refute the estate’s defamation claims.

Sandusky was convicted in 2012, and some of the sanctions Penn State agreed to accept from the NCAA were gradually lifted in the following years.

While Sandusky reportedly continues to work on getting his convictions overturned, it’s not hard to imagine Sandusky’s victims and plenty of members of the Penn State community would prefer to move on from the tragedy — allowing both time to heal in whatever way is possible.

The same can most likely be said of current coach James Franklin, who took the job two-plus years ago after coach Bill O’Brien endured the brunt of the storm and maintained solid recruiting despite the sanctions.

During the spring, Franklin told CBSSports.com, “This is really year one for us in a lot of ways,” citing a return to having close to a full allotment of scholarships.