Alvarez: Tide turned down shot at series with Badgers

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For those that love to take shots at the various delectable cream puffs that litter the non-conference schedules of some SEC schools, here’s another (very tiny) opening for you.

In a report over the weekend from the Wisconsin State Journal regarding Wisconsin’s efforts to beef-up its own pastry-like out-of-conference slate, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez acknowledged that, as part of that effort, that there had been conversations with Alabama about a future game or games.

The initial offer, which the State Journal writes was orchestrated by ESPN, was a for a neutral site game between UW and UA, similar to Alabama’s game this season at Dallas Cowboys Stadium against another Big Ten school, Michigan.  When the neutral site option was rebuffed, Badgers head coach Bret Bielema countered with an offer of a straight home-and-home series.

According to the paper, Tide head coach Nick Saban declined.  No reason was given by Alvarez for the Tide’s decision to rebuff the Badgers’ advances.

It should be noted that, in addition to the Michigan game this year and the home-and-home series with Penn State in 2010 and 2011, the Tide has future home-and-homes/one-offs scheduled against Virginia Tech (2013), West Virginia (2014), Michigan State (2016 and 2017) and Georgia Tech (2019 and 2020).

Because the recently-revamped postseason is expected to include strength of schedule as one of the factors in the selection committee’s process for determining the four-team playoff field, Alvarez stressed that “if you want to be a player” in the revamped hunt for a national championship, “then you really have to consider” changing the way schools fill their future schedules.

That said, Alvarez declined to absolutely commit to beefing up the non-conference slates, if for nothing more than the fact that, given the stature of his current conference, he feels comfortable that the Badgers would be where they’d need to be on the national scene if they can come out of league play unscathed.

“If we take care of our business in our league, we’ll be where we need to be,” he said. “You go undefeated in our league, you’re going to be in the top four in the country. You win our league championship, you’re going to be in the top four.”

(Tip O’ the Cap: al.com)

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

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Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.

The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.

The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.

Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.

UCLA lands Texas Tech graduate transfer OL Justin Murphy

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Help is on the way for Chip Kelly‘s offensive line. One graduate transfer offensive lineman has the Bruins on his list, but another has already pulled the trigger for UCLA.

Texas Tech graduate transfer Justin Murphy on Tuesday committed to UCLA in a post on his Twitter account.

A native of Belton, Texas, Murphy signed with Texas Tech in 2014 and made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. He again started four games at right guard in ’15 before moving out to tackle, where he started another four games. But after battling a series of knee injuries, Murphy announced in the middle of the 2016 season he had medically retired from the game.

After sitting out 2017, Murphy announced in March he planned to make a comeback.

UCLA remarkably started the same offensive linemen in all 13 games last season, but tackle Kolton Miller entered the NFL draft, guard Najoee Toran and center Scott Quessenberry graduated.

Toledo posts, then deletes, tweet offering to change mascot to Shrek

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There are plenty of annoying trends on Twitter, but perhaps the worst is the “I’ll do X if this gets retweeted X-thousand amount of times.” I blame Wendy’s.

But blanket policies are never a good way to go through life, and an exception was made on Tuesday when Toledo offered to change its mascot from a rocket to Shrek with 500,000 retweets.

Sadly, some dreams are simply too beautiful to live in this fallen world, and the tweet was outed to be a hoax. “We are definitely not changing the school mascot to Shrek,” Toledo media relations specialist Christine Billau told USA Today. “The tweet was meant to be fun, but it caused too much of a distraction.”

Meanwhile, Bowling Green gleefully hopped on the dog pile with both elbows pointed out.

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

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It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.