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.
It looks as though Marques Tuiasosopo is heading back to the Pac-12, again. The former Rose Bowl MVP and Washington quarterback has reportedly been added to the coaching staff at Cal under new head coach Justin Wilcox. The news was first reported by Bruin Sports Online and later followed up by Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, via Twitter.
Tuiasosopo is no stranger to coaching in the Pac-12. After spending 12 seasons in the NFL, Tuiasosopo returned to his alma mater to take on a role as assistant strength coach for the Washington Huskies in 2009. After two years in that role, he joined the UCLA coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 2011 and took on a role as tight ends coach in 2012 under Jim Mora. The following year, in 2013, Tuiasosopo returned to Washington to be the quarterback coach to work for Steve Sarkisian. After Sarkisian accepted a head coaching offer from USC later that year, Tuiasosopo was named interim head coach for a bowl game, but he would follow Sarkisian to USC in 2014 to be the tight ends coach and was given the title of associate head coach. After two seasons with the Trojans, Tuiasosopo worked his way back across town to rejoin Mora at UCLA as a passing game coordinator and quarterback coach last season.
Cal will be Tuiasosopo’s fourth different Pac-12 school in his coaching background, and he will be a valuable asset to Wilcox’s staff given his knowledge and familiarity of the Pac-12 recruiting scene and work with previous quarterbacks like Josh Rosen and Cody Kessler.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema announced a pair of departures from the Razorback program for 2017. Defensive end Tevin Beanum has chosen to step away from football and linebacker Khalia Hackett has decided to transfer to a new school to continue playing football.
Bielema did not confirm the details for why Beanum has stepped away from the sport but did suggest the now former defensive end may qualify for an NCAA hardship waiver. If so, then Beanum can remain on scholarship at Arkansas and continue his education without being concerned about expenses.
Beanum missed summer camp at Arkansas for undisclosed reasons before returning to the team for the 2016 season. Beanum started seven of 12 games for the Razorbacks. In February 2015, Beanum was arrested for suspicion of DWI, which led to Bielema going so far as to take his car keys away.
It is currently unknown where Hackett will move next, but Bielema says he will provide assistance in finding a new football home for the linebacker.
“We had a conversation yesterday,” Bielema said. “He’s moved on. I’ll try to help him find a position or team of interest.”
Hackett is the second Arkansas player to decide to transfer out of Arkansas this offseason. Running back Duwop Mitchell previously made his decision to transfer in December as a graduate transfer. Mitchell announced, via Twitter, he will be transferring to Rutgers, where he will be eligible to play right away.
Kliff Kingsbury has parted ways with one longtime member of his coaching staff and said goodbye to another recent addition at the same time.
Texas Tech announced on Saturday afternoon that Lee Hays would not be returning to the staff in 2017, having previously served as the team’s offensive line coach the past four seasons. In addition, the program confirmed the departure of DeShaun Foster as running backs coach after just one year on the job.
“We appreciate all that Coach Foster and Coach Hays have done for our football program,” Kingsbury said in a release. “We wish them nothing but the best moving forward.”
The reason for Foster’s departure was made clear earlier in the day when it was announced he was taking the same position at his alma mater UCLA.
While many expected a new look to come to Kingsbury’s staff after a disappointing 5-7 season in 2016, the fact that the first two changes occurred on the offensive side of the ball is pretty notable for a team that struggled to stop just about anybody on the defensive end. Hays notably has been around the program since 2013 when the head coach returned to Lubbock and is the more surprising name not coming back to the staff for next year.
Jim Mora’s offensive overhaul appears to be complete.
UCLA announced a pair of hires on Saturday to the team’s coaching staff, starting with Hank Fraley as the Bruins’ new offensive line coach and the return of former tailback DeShaun Foster as the new running backs coach.
“DeShaun is a Bruin through and through, which makes this such an exciting addition to our staff,” said Mora in a statement. “On top of being a tremendous alum, consummate professional, trusted voice and valued mentor, he is an exceptional football coach whose pedigree and knowledge of the game command respect. We’re thrilled to welcome Deshaun back home where he belongs.”
Foster spent last season in the same position at Texas Tech but was in Westwood from 2013-2015 serving a variety of roles with the program. He is a familiar face to many in the powder blues, ranking third on the school’s all-time rushing list. He also had a lengthy stint in the NFL, most notable with the Carolina Panthers.
Fraley also has plenty of NFL experience, having spent 11 years in the league as a player before joining the coaching ranks. He recently served three seasons as the Minnesota Vikings assistant offensive line coach.
The duo replace Kennedy Polamalu and Adrian Klemm, both of whom were dismissed in the past month. They’ll join new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch at UCLA, who was recently brought on board himself.