The playoff agreement is done — for now — which leaves only realignment rumors to be tossed against the offseason wall just to see if something sticks.
At the center of it all has been the Big 12. While conference officials have scoffed at, downplayed or otherwise denied ad nauseam that there’s any truth to expansion rumors involving Florida State, Clemson, Notre Dame, Miami or anyone else, there’s at least one piece of evidence that the Big 12 is interested in one particular program — though the name/reason shouldn’t come as a surprise at all.
Thanks to an open records request by The Oklahoman, a January memo sent out by interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas to the conference’s expansion committee said Notre Dame is the only school the league could add that would “enhance the… value for television.”
“Both representatives of ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports indicated that Notre Dame’s involvement with the Big 12 Conference would increase the value of the conference relative to future television and also improve the image of the conference nationwide,” Neinas explained.
You can read the rest of Neinas’ quotes HERE.
But Neinas’ memo shouldn’t come across as any sort of indicator that the Big 12 will be adding Notre Dame anytime soon. On the contrary, Neinas is confirming of what common sense tells us.
Even as a partial member — in other words, if the Irish maintain football independence, but schedule several Big 12 programs — Notre Dame would provide the Big 12 a bump in payout from the league’s first and second-tier rights holders, ABC/ESPN and FOX, because it’s an addition of quality inventory (don’t scoff) that those networks currently don’t possess. Currently, the league is on the verge of inking an extension with ABC/ESPN that would sync up with the FOX deal through 2025. The annual payout per school from that deal is reported to rise above $20 million.
So of course the Big 12 would jump on the opportunity. That could be said for any conference.
It’s more of a matter of whether Notre Dame wants to move its non-football sports from the Big East.
Colorado State played in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday, and afterward the players were released to return home to their families for Christmas break.
For freshman offensive lineman Luis Lebron, that meant a cross-country trip to Jacksonville. And, like many a trip cross-country, that required a stop at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
That quickly turned into a problem when the entire airport shutdown due to a power outage on Sunday. Without any other options, Lebron started walking. He said he walked six miles before he ran into a reporter from the local Fox affiliate.
The story comes with a happy ending: Lebron eventually hitched a ride.
I could say something snarky here, but it’s Christmas so instead I’ll just say this: the Colorado State program and the Lebron family should be proud of how Luis carried himself on a day that would cause many of us to snap. And I’ve no doubt they are.
The final open job in FBS is no longer open. According to a report from FootballScoop, Syracuse co-offensive coordinator Sean Lewis will be the new head coach at Kent State. (Full disclosure: I also work for FootballScoop.)
Lewis’s ascension to head coach completes a meteoric rise through the FBS coaching ranks. He was a graduate assistant at Akron in 2011, then joined Dino Babers‘s staff at Eastern Illinois in 2012-13. He followed Babers to Bowling Green where he served as wide receivers coach in 2014 and as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in ’15, then did the same at Syracuse from 2016-17.
The site also reported that former Babers staffer and current Chattanooga defensive coordinator Tom Kaufman will join the staff as defensive coordinator.
Lewis is set to take over one of the most down-trodden programs in FBS. The Golden Flashes carry a lifetime record of 321-500-8 and have three all-time bowl appearances, all of them losses. Kent State has one MAC championship in its history, coming under Don James in 1972.
The 2017 Flashes went 2-10 and ranked 129th nationally in yards per play and scoring, beating out UTEP for the cellar for both spots.
Florida State tight end Mavin Saunders will pursue a graduate transfer to Kansas, according to a report from Bud Elliott of SBNation.
Saunders did not record a statistic as a redshirt junior in 2017. He caught 10 passes for 182 yards in 12 appearances in 2016, and made two starts as a redshirt freshman in 2015.
A native of the Bahamas, Saunders graduated from The Kinkaid School in Houston before enrolling at Florida State. The Jayhawks are losing their top tight end from the 2017 team. Senior Ben Johnson finished second on the club with 30 receptions for 363 yards and one touchdown this fall. He was the only tight end to catch a pass this season.
Scott Frost will have to make room for a little more hardware as he moves to Nebraska. On Monday, the Associated Press named Frost its coach of the year for the 2017 season.
Frost received 21 first-place votes and 100 total points in the voting consisting of 57 voters in the AP Top 25. Frost beat out Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney for the award following an undefeated 12-0 season at UCF that ended with an AAC championship and a berth in the Peach Bowl as the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion. Despite already being hired to be the head coach at Nebraska and UCF hiring a new head coach, Frost has stayed committed to coaching the Knights in the bowl game even if it makes for some long days flying between Lincoln and Orlando as he pulls double duty.
Frost turned UCF football around in short order. After inheriting a team that had gone 0-12 just prior to his arrival, Frost reinvigorated the mindset of the program and led UCF to a 6-7 season in his debut as UCF head coach in 2016. To follow that up in 2017, Frost led UCF to an undefeated season and conference championship to help return the program to a big bowl game for the first time since facing Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl with Blake Bortles at quarterback.
Frost already collected a few coach of the year honors with the Eddie Robinson Award from the Football Writers Association of America and the Home Depot Coach of the Year award.