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.
What we do know is that Duke will be without its starting piece of its defense. What we don’t know is for how long.
The football program announced Wednesday that Jeremy McDuffie underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a fractured right thumb. The junior sustained the injury during a recent Blue Devils practice.
As a result of the injury and subsequent surgery, McDuffie will be sidelined indefinitely.
McDuffie transitioned from cornerback to safety this past spring. Entering summer camp, the defensive back had been listed as a starter for the Blue Devils. The past two seasons, McDuffie had played in 24 games.
Duke opens the 2017 season Sept. 2 against NC Central. They will kick off ACC play three weeks later on the road against North Carolina.
Most expect Josh Rosen to be one of the first quarterbacks selected when the next NFL draft rolls around. Rosen’s coach, though, doesn’t see the outspoken junior being a part of the pool of available draftees.
“My firm belief is that he will not leave,” UCLA head coach Jim Mora told Yahoo Sports‘ Pete Thamel over the weekend. “I don’t think he’ll leave. …
“I want a disclaimer, I have an option to change my opinion. But as we sit here right now, I can really honestly say I don’t think he’s going to leave.”
Mora’s proclamation comes less than two weeks before the Bruins kick off the 2017 season and around five months before draft-eligible early entrants have to officially file their paperwork with the NFL.
Rosen flashed brilliance as a true freshman in 2015, passing for nearly 3,700 yards and 23 touchdowns. His sophomore campaign was marred by a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder that sidelined him for the final six games of the season. Rosen has resoundingly rebounded from that health issue, and will head into the 2017 season 100-percent healthy.
Whether he enters the 2018 season 100-percent Bruin remains, his head coach’s confidence notwithstanding, highly unlikely or even doubtful, especially given his recent comments that football and school don’t mix.
Not surprisingly, more details are surfacing in Hugh Freeze‘s unceremonious exit from Oxford.
Freeze resigned as the head football coach at Ole Miss last month in part because of Jan. 19 phone call to an escort service that was initially deemed to be a misdial. According to the Wall Street Journal, that call came a few hours after a university plane landed in Tampa, Fla., as part of a five-day, 13-stop recruiting trip. On that plane was Freeze as well as other members of the Rebels football staff.
The discovery of the link between the call and recruiting trip came after a review of phone records and other documents.
After Freeze’s “resignation,” Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork described an unspecified pattern of personal misconduct that led to the coach’s departure. Bjork somewhat expounded on that pattern to the Journal.
Although school officials had previously declined to characterize the alleged misconduct, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said in response to questions from the Journal about Freeze’s travel that the university’s investigation uncovered “calls of a similar nature” over the course of several years, often matching up with travel logs showing the coach’s use of the school plane. The school said it examined his travel logs from peak recruiting times—often November, December and January—when Freeze would travel out of state, using the school plane and other public resources.
“When we say pattern, we are describing other phone numbers that when you Google them pull up similar type websites, services, however you would describe them,” Bjork said. “We took action swiftly.
Speculation of late has there being more, potentially much more, to Freeze’s forced resignation. Only time will tell how much more will ultimately come out — especially if another former Ole Miss head coach’s lawsuit, kicked out of federal court for lack of jurisdiction, is revived in the state of Mississippi as expected.
In his college football preview Bible, the great Phil Steele had Michael Pittman listed as one of three starting wide receivers for USC. With the start of a new season a little more than two weeks away, Pittman doesn’t appear set to make that magazine projection come to fruition.
According to multiple reports, Pittman suffered an ankle injury during practice Tuesday and was taken off the field via a cart after having a boot placed on his left foot. While X-rays taken post-practice showed no break or fracture, the sophomore has been diagnosed with the dreaded high-ankle sprain.
As a result, the Los Angeles Daily News writes that “[i]t seems unlikely he would be able to play against Western Michigan.” Rivals.com tweeted that the injury “[p]robably keeps him out of season opener.”
At least for now, the football program has yet to officially rule Pittman out for the opener.
Pittman was a four-star 2016 recruit, rated as the No. 9 receiver in the country. As a true freshman last season, he caught six passes for 82 yards.