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Trojans top AP’s preseason poll

Matt Barkley AP

While CFT didn’t necessarily agree, the coaches tapped LSU as their preseason No. 1 in the USA Today poll released earlier this month.

As it turns out, we weren’t the only ones who respectfully disagree with the coaches either.

In its initial poll, the Associated Press voters tapped USC, heading into its first season post-NCAA sanctions, as its No. 1 team headed into the 2012 season.  The Trojans received 25 of the 60 first-place votes, with the 35 others divvied up among defending national champion Alabama (17), 2011 BcS runner-up LSU (16) and Oklahoma and Michigan (one apiece).

The Tide, Tigers and Sooners filled out the Nos. 2-4 spots, while the Wolverines came in at No. 8.

A couple of weeks ago, however, the top of the AP poll would’ve taken on an entirely different look.

The Tigers were poised to start the season No. 1 before Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu got kicked off the team a week ago.

In light of that development, the AP extended the voting deadline. Before Mathieu was dismissed, reportedly for failed drug tests, LSU had received 28 of a possible 60 first-place votes. USC was a close second with 22 first-place votes and Alabama was third with nine.

The remainder of the Top 10 was rounded out by Georgia (No. 6), Florida State (No. 7), South Carolina (No. 9) and Arkansas (No. 10).

As was the case in the coaches’ poll, five of the Top 10 teams were from the SEC, with a total of six (Florida, No. 23) representing the conference that has won the past six BcS titles.  The Big 12 also claimed six teams in the AP’s initial poll, while the Big Ten placed five and the ACC and Pac-12 had three apiece.

A pair of current/future Big East schools were the only non-Big Five teams in the poll: No. 24 Boise State (current Mountain West member moving to the Big East in 2013) and Louisville (No. 25).

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Dismissed by Wazzu, Daquawn Brown expected to land at Fresno

Washington State v Stanford Getty Images

Nearly seven months to the day he was dismissed by Washington State, it appears that Daquawn Brown has found a landing spot.

According to FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, Brown “is expected to be cleared to transfer to Fresno State.”  Because of NCAA transfer rules, Brown will be forced to sit out the 2015 season.

He would have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

Back in late December, Brown was kicked off Mike Leach‘s football team.  While Wazzu never confirmed the dismissal, it was reported that it had involved, of course, a violation of unspecified team rules.

Brown started 11 of 12 games at cornerback in 2014, with the only start missed due to a second-half targeting penalty against Oregon State that kept him out of the first half of the Arizona State game.  He led the team in tackles with 82, and was named honorable mention Pac-12 following the regular season.

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QB Donovan Isom takes to Twitter to announce transfer from Utah

Isom_Donovan, Utah Football August 6, 2014 in Salt Lake City, UT. (Photo / Steve C. Wilson / University of Utah)

Utah’s quarterback meeting room will be one lighter when it enters summer camp than when it exited spring practice.

On Twitter Saturday evening, Donovan Isom tweeted out a photo of him wearing a Southeastern Louisiana uniform and helmet.  The quarterback confirmed to the Salt Lake Tribune that he decided to transfer from Utah to be closer to his family in Louisiana.

Last month, his family’s home was destroyed by fire, which triggered his decision to leave the Utes.

Another factor in the decision could very well have been the depth chart at his position.  Not counting Isom, the Utes’ roster is littered with five quarterbacks, including the incumbent Travis Wilson as well as well as former Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson.

Isom was a three-star member of Utah’s 2014 recruiting class who took a redshirt as a true freshman.  He took part in the spring game, rushing for 42 yards on 11 carries and completing seven passes for 15 yards.

Because Southeastern Louisiana is an FCS school, Isom will be eligible to play in 2015.  Including this year, he’ll have four years of eligibility remaining.

(Photo credit: Utah athletics)

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Michigan ditching ‘Legends’ jerseys, will re-retire iconic numbers

Appalachian v Michigan

One of the more controversial and clunky decisions of the Dave Brandon era at Michigan will officially come to an end this season.

Tuesday afternoon, UM announced that it plans on re-retiring the uniform numbers of seven of its football legends: Gerald Ford (#48), Tom Harmon (#98), Ron Kramer (#87), Bennie Oosterbaan (#47) and the Wistert brothers (#11) — Albert, Alvin and Whitey.  The jerseys associated with what are dubbed the Michigan Football Legends will be taken out of circulation as well.

The re-retirement ceremony will take place Nov. 28 prior to the annual grudge match with rival Ohio State.

Additionally, the No. 21 worn by Desmond Howard in a career that included a Heisman Trophy will be officially retired during the same ceremony. The initial decision to begin unretiring the jersey numbers began nearly four years ago under Brandon, as mlive.com explained:

Brandon started the Legends program during Howard’s Hall of Fame ceremony in early 2011. At the time, Howard’s No. 21 was the only number to receive the “Michigan Football Legend” distinction. Any player wearing the No. 21 during this time (Junior Hemingway and Jeremy Gallon were the only two) donned a commemorative patch on their uniform and sat in a specialized locker honoring the “Legend” player.

However, over the next four years, Michigan slowly began to bring all of its previous five retired uniforms back out of circulation, handing them to individual players who were selected by then coach Brady Hoke.

Following Brandon’s ouster and under interim athletic Jim Hackett, momentum grew for the jersey numbers to be tucked back in their rightful places.

“During the search process for our new football coach, I had a meeting with the Michigan Football team, and they expressed their feelings associated with wearing these legendary jerseys,” Hackett said in a statement. “At one end of the spectrum they are awed by the legacy of the men that wore them, and at the other end of the spectrum, and as part of a team sport, they wondered why we would call attention to one of our team members. I brought this issue to our new head coach Jim Harbaugh. He agreed with me that it needed a review. I then talked to the families of these great Michigan players. I called them directly and laid out the paradox of seeing players as a team and the due respect to these individual great players.

“The right plan is to retire them and display them in Towsley Museum which is connected to Schembechler Hall. Because we don’t have the display area inside the stadium, we have found a high-profile area on the concourse where fans can see and honor these retired jerseys.”

The only current player who will be impacted by the move is Desmond Morgan, who has worn No. 48 since 2012.

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Frank Beamer wants Hokies to stay in-house for a successor

Beamer, Beamer

Frank Beamer doesn’t sound like a coach who will be retiring at any point in the near future.  When he does, though, he has an idea for a replacement.

As part of the ESPN car wash Tuesday featuring some coaches from the ACC, the 68-year-old Beamer was asked who he thought should take over the reins at Virginia Tech when he decides to hang up his coaching whistle.  Two current Hokie coaches were mentioned specifically, Beamer’s son and Tech associate head coach/running backs coach Shane Beamer and the man who most assume will take over in Blacksburg when Beamer calls it quits, long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

“Absolutely,” Beamer said when asked if he wanted someone from his current staff to take over. “It’s up for the people of Virginia Tech to decide who [my successor] should be exactly, but I’ve got a great staff of very competent people. Hopefully, someone from the staff will be chosen to be the next coach at Virginia Tech.”

Beamer, the winningest coach in school history, will be entering his 29th season as the Hokies head coach. In August of last year, Tech announced a two-year contract extension that means Beamer is now signed through Jan. 1, 2019.  He also underwent a bit of a health scare last December, although he says he’s fine now.

Foster, who has been on Beamer‘s staff since 1987 and served as the coordinator since 1993, reached agreement on a new five-year contract in late December of last year that keeps him signed through the end of the 2019 season, one year longer than his current boss. Foster’s name has been attached to myriad head-coaching openings the past decade and a half, although he’s never pulled the trigger on a move out on his own. He’s also been mentioned regarding various coordinating vacancies, allowing this past March that Texas A&M’s interest in him following the 2014 season “was probably as close as I’ve ever been to leaving this place.”

The 38-year-old Shane Beamer, meanwhile, has only been on his dad’s staff for the past four years, although he did play wide receiver for the Hokies in the mid-nineties.  He’s spent time on staffs at Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

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D-II team permitted to talk to Dennis Norfleet even as plan in place for Michigan return

Michigan v Ohio State Getty Images

Confusion has reigned for the better part of three months regarding the status of Dennis Norfleet at Michigan.  The events of the last two days, unfortunately, have done little to clear up the situation.

Monday, a spokesperson for Tuskegee University, a Div. II team in Alabama, confirmed to mlive.com that the football program officially received permission from UM to speak to Norfleet about the possibility of a transfer.  Speaking with the media Tuesday, however, first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh indicated that a transfer is not written in stone.

In fact, Harbaugh spoke of a plan being in place for the return specialist to return for his senior season.

Back in mid-May, reports surfaced that Norfleet had been dismissed from the football program.  A day later, UM clarified that Norfleet had been suspended, not dismissed, with additional reports intimating that the issue or issues were related to academics.  A couple of days later Norfleet apologized for… for whatever it is that’s going on in his life that’s led to the uncertainty.

In its Monday report, mlive.com wrote “Norfleet had been given an opportunity to find his way back into the program by Harbaugh throughout the summer, according to a source close to the receiver” and that “[t]he source also explained how Harbaugh was more than fair with Norfleet throughout the summer, and gave the receiver a real chance of getting back in the program’s good graces.” As it stands now, Norfleet is still listed on UM’s official online roster.

With one season (potentially) remaining, Norfleet is already the Wolverines’ all-time leader in kick returns and kick return yards.

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Denied admission by Wisconsin, four-star 2015 RB visiting Miami

Jordan Stevenson

Not surprisingly, there’s not a lack of suitors lining up to woo Jordan Stevenson.

This past weekend, Stevenson spent a couple of days visiting Nebraska.  Beginning Tuesday and going on into Thursday, 247Sports.com is reporting, the running back is taking a visit to Miami.

There’s also a possibility that Stevenson, who’s reportedly being personally recruited by Nick Saban, could take an official visit to Alabama after his Miami trip, although it’s been reported that the Texas product would like to make a decision on a new school by the end of this week.

Last week it was reported that Stevenson, a 2015 Wisconsin signee, was officially denied enrollment at UW this past week even as he met NCAA enrollment standards.  What the UW issue is and the reason why this happened so close to the start of summer camp hasn’t been detailed, although the school has given the player a complete release from his scholarship.

Regardless of where Stevenson ultimately lands — indications are that the Cornhuskers are the favorites at the moment — he will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.  others that have been mentioned as a possibility are Florida, Oklahoma State, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The interest from myriad Power Five programs is understandable as Rivals.com had the Texas high school product as a four-star prospect, rated as the No. 27 running back in the country and the No. 34 player at any position in the state.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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No decision on Dalvin Cook’s status until case clears

Dalvin Cook =, Jimbo Fisher

Whether or not Dalvin Cook is available for the start of Florida State’s season remains to be seen.

As one of the ACC head coaches getting the ESPN “car wash” treatment Tuesday, Jimbo Fisher very plainly stated that Cook will remain indefinitely suspension his misdemeanor case is resolved.  The running back was charged with battery after a female claimed that he punched her in the face while both were at a Tallahassee bar.

Cook’s initial court date is set for Sept. 2, a date that was pushed back to the frustration of the player’s attorney.  As FSU opens the 2015 season Sept. 5, and as the lawyer has very loudly proclaimed that his client will not take a plea deal, it means Cook could very well be sidelined for the opener against Texas State.

If the case drags deeper into the month of September, games against USF (Sept. 12) and Boston College (Sept. 18, ACC opener and first 2015 road game) could be in jeopardy as well.  There’s also the chance that, once the case is resolved, Fisher could decide to suspend Cook for one or more games.

For now, though, any attempt to guess at what future punishment may be meted out is pointless.

“We’ll wait to make decisions based on facts,” Fisher said when asked about Cook’s status. “And when the case gets concluded and all the facts are in, then Florida State will make a decision based off that and whatever’s going on. But it’s an ongoing investigation so we can’t really say much about it.”

Cook, who led the team in rushing as a true freshman last season, was indefinitely suspended by the football program shortly after the incident.  Cook’s attorney lashed out publicly at those assuming his client’s guilt, while the release of the alleged victim’s 911 call added further questions regarding what actually happened that night in June.

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After considering USF, ex-Auburn DB Mackenro Alexander to go JUCO

Auburn Spring Game

When Mackenro Alexander received a release from his Auburn scholarship in late January, it was thought that he could very well end up at USF. Instead, the defensive back has dropped a couple of rungs of competition to restart his playing career.

According to NFLDraftScout.com‘s Dane Brugler, by way of al.com, Alexander (pictured, being draggedhas decided to transfer to Northeast Mississippi Community College. Because Alexander will be playing at the JUCO level, he will be eligible immediately for the upcoming season.

Because of its geographic location — USF is located in Tampa, Fla., a little over a two-hour drive from Alexander’s home in Immokalee — it was surmised that the AAC Bulls would be a likely landing spot for Alexander.

The defensive back saw very little playing time after coming to Auburn as a three-star member of the Class of 2013.  He played in eight games as a true freshman, then none in 2014.

Originally verbally committed to Florida State, Alexander, rated as the No. 43 safety in the country, ultimately chose AU over his other finalists, Clemson and Mississippi State.  Alexander’s four-star cornerback brotherMackensie Alexander, signed with Clemson in 2013 and, after redshirting, was named as a freshman All-American by several outlets coming off a season in which he started 13 games.

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Media hands out preseason MWC honors, picks

Jay Ajayi, Bryan Harsin

As we roll on toward the start of summer camps and, ultimately, a new season, the Mountain West becomes the latest to unveil its preseason selections.

The media that covers the MWC has tapped defending champion Boise State as its favorite to win the Mountain division, while San Diego State is the favorite in the West.  The Broncos received 28 of a possible 30 first-place votes, while the Aztecs garnered 27.  The other three West votes went to Fresno State, which claimed that division in 2014 but fell to Boise in the conference championship game.

Individually, Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins was named as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year; Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell the Defensive POTY; and San Diego State kicker Donny Hageman the Special Teams POTY.

Below is the media’s predicted order of finish in bot divisions, followed by the first-team all-conference squad.

Mountain Division (First-Place Votes), Total Points
1. Boise State (28) 177
2. Utah State (2) 150
3. Colorado State 108
4. Air Force 90
5. Wyoming 64
6. New Mexico 41

West Division
1. San Diego State (27) 177
2. Fresno State (3) 141
3. Nevada 113
4. San José State 91
5. Hawai‘i 70
6. UNLV 38

Defense
DL Eddie Yarbrough* Sr. Wyoming
DL Alex Hansen** Sr. Air Force
DL Kamalei Correa* Jr. Boise State
DL Ian Seau** Sr. Nevada
LB Tanner Vallejo** Jr. Boise State
LB Kyler Fackrell Sr. Utah State
LB Nick Vigil* Jr. Utah State
DB Weston Steelhammer* Jr. Air Force
DB Donte Deayon** Sr. Boise State
DB Darian Thompson* Sr. Boise State
DB Damontae Kazee** Jr. San Diego State

Offense
QB Chuckie Keeton Sr. Utah State
WR Rashard Higgins* Jr. Colorado State
WR Devonte Boyd** So. UNLV
RB Donnel Pumphrey* Jr. San Diego State
RB Marteze Waller** Sr. Fresno State
OL Marcus Henry* Sr. Boise State OL Rees Odhiambo** Sr. Boise State
OL Alex Fifita Sr. Fresno State
OL Ben Clarke Sr. Hawaiʻi
OL Pearce Slater Sr. San Diego State
TE Steven Walker* Sr. Colorado State

Specialists
P Alex Boy** Sr. Nevada
PK Donny Hageman Sr. San Diego State
Ret. Carlos Wiggins Sr. New Mexico

* – member of the 2014 All-Mountain West first team.
** – member of the 2014 All-Mountain West second team.

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Syracuse dismisses leading receiver from 2013

Ashton Broyld, Steele Divitto

A productive 2013 season led to high hopes within the Syracuse football program when it came to Ashton Broyld. Unfortunately, injuries and, ultimately, the player himself derailed the senior’s career with the Orange.

Tuesday morning, head coach Scott Shafer announced that Broyld has been dismissed from his football team. The only reason given, of course, was violating unspecified team rules.

In 2013, Broyld led the team in both receptions (52) and receiving yards (452). Broyld was the Orange’s leading receiver through the first three games last season before a lower-leg injury caused him to miss eight of the last nine games.

Even as he’s listed as a running back, Broyld finishes his ‘Cuse career with more receptions and receiving yards (74, 679) than carries and rushing yards (38, 173). Oddly enough, his lone career touchdown came on the ground.

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Sonny Dykes gets defensive in completing Cal coaching staff

Stanford v Cal

Back in May, wide receiver coach Pierre Ingram‘s arrest on a charge of solicitation of a lewd act and subsequent dismissal led to a vacancy on Cal’s coaching staff. With the start of summer camp growing larger on the horizon, Sonny Dykes has filled the hole — with, oddly enough, someone from the other side of the ball.

In a press release, Cal announced that John Lovett has been hired and will serve as the cornerbacks coach on Dykes’ staff. Lovett spent the past two seasons as a defensive backs coach with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, while he spent the year prior to that coaching the same position at Texas Tech.

In 2009 and 2010, Lovett was the defensive coordinator at Miami (Fla.). He was the special teams coordinator at North Carolina the two years prior to that, as well as Auburn’s defensive coordinator from 1999-2001 and holding the same title at Clemson from 2002-04.

In a coaching career that began back in the mid-seventies, the school writes in its release, “Lovett is a veteran college and NFL coach with nearly four decades of experience that include 18 seasons as a collegiate defensive coordinator and 14 as a defensive backs coach at the collegiate and NFL levels.”

With Lovett’s hiring, five of the offensive-minded Dykes’ nine full-time assistants are defensive coaches. That appears to be a calculated decision on the coach’s part.

“We are thrilled to be able to add someone with John’s level of experience and expertise to our coaching staff,” Dykes said in a portion of his statement. “He is a proven coach who has had success at the highest level of football. His addition to our staff certainly makes us better as a unit. …

“By hiring John it allows us to put needed resources into our defensive coaching staff to work with a young group of players that we know need to continue to improve. I am especially excited to have a pair of highly-respected coaches like John and Greg working together with our defensive backs. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the improvements our defensive staff has already made in our defense and hiring John should help us speed up the process even more.”

In a five-win 2014 season, Cal finished No. 125 in passing yards allowed — 367.2 yards per game; pass-happy Washington State was No. 124 at 296.6 ypg — and, at 39.8, No. 120 in points allowed per game. On the NCAA’s official stat website, there are 125 teams listed for the 2014 season.

As for who will take over Ingram’s wide receiver duties? “Dykes will provide instruction for the team’s outside receivers, a position he coached for nine seasons (1999-2006) including his final two as a co-offensive coordinator at Texas Tech,” the release explained.

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UCLA transfer QB Asiantii Woulard seeking immediate USF eligibility

UCLA v Virginia

When Asiantii Woulard announced late last month that he would be transferring into the USF football program from UCLA, it was assumed that the quarterback would be forced to sit out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. While that assumption may ultimately be proven correct, it’s not yet a certainty.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Woulard is pursing a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to become eligible to compete immediately in 2015. The Times writes that “[i]t is believed Woulard, who starred at Winter Park [Fla.] High [School], is pursuing a waiver based on family reasons.” Just what those family reasons are, whether they be health-related or otherwise, was not divulged.

The paper does, though, acknowledge that the odds for a successful appeal for a waiver are long. Should the appeal be denied, Woulard would have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

A four-star member of UCLA’s 2013 recruiting class, Woulard was rated as the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback in the country; the No. 23 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 141 player overall according to Rivals.com. During his first and only two years with the Bruins, Woulard didn’t see any game action.

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Paul Johnson was on fire talking Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame and SEC

Paul Johnson

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was not the only ACC coach sharing some hot takes today while going through the annual ESPN carwash in Bristol. Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson also made some heads turn with his comments about Ohio State getting in the College Football Playoff and rival Georgia. Well, they were not so much boiling hot takes, but still bringing enough sizzle to make it worth sharing and reacting.

Johnson’s Georgia Tech team put Florida State to the test in last season’s ACC Championship Game. With the win in the conference title game, Florida State locked down a perfect regular season to help grab a firm hold on one of the four playoff spots in the College Football Playoff. Meanwhile, Ohio State made one last case to get in ahead of Big 12 co-champions Baylor and TCU. As has been suggested by some, including TCU’s Gary Patterson, Ohio State may have gotten in due to being a more recognizable brand in the college football landscape compared to either Big 12 co-champ. Johnson seems to agree.

Asked if brand names come into play with the playoff, Johnson said “It already came into play with TCU and Ohio State. It’s the world we live in.”

Johnson also sees little difference between Georgia and top ACC programs like Florida State and Clemson.

“I can assure you Georgia isn’t any different than Clemson or Florida State or some other teams we play,” Johnson said at one point during his carwash experience. Johnson has some merits to back up his statement, having coached Georgia Tech to victories over both Georgia and Mississippi State last season.

Johnson was also asked whether or not the SEC champion will definitely be rewarded a spot in the College Football Playoff (why this question was posed to Johnson is beyond comprehension).

Why so? I don’t get it,” Johnson said.

Just for good measure, Johnson joined Swinney in commenting on Notre Dame’s independence, saying the Irish should be in the ACC. “It’s another brand program to strengthen the conference,” Johnson said.

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Mark Dantonio says RB Delton Williams will return for fall camp after firearms charge

Delton Williams, Ryan Russell

Michigan State running back Delton Williams is expected to return to the team in time for fall camp. The school announced the timeline through a released statement early Monday evening. This was suspected to eventually be the case earlier this month.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said Williams “has satisfied the University’s, court’s and football program’s expectations.” Michigan State confirmed Williams violated a university ordinance by possessing a weapon on campus last March. He has been away from the program since that time after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor firearms charge stemming from a road rage incident.

“Delton comprehends the severity of the situation and understands that decisions have consequences,” Dantonio went on to say in his statement. “He also appreciates the fact that wearing the Michigan State uniform is a privilege and not his right.”

Dantonio is spot on with that last statement, and it holds true in every football program around the country. What is unknown at this time though is whether or not Williams will miss any playing time as well. No information regarding any potential suspensions to be served during the season was revealed, although Dantonio could very well be asked about that later this week at Big Ten media days.

Williams appeared in 13 games for Michigan State last season, in which he rushed for 316 yards and five touchdowns. Both of those numbers were good for third on the team behind Jeremy Langford and Nick Hill. With both having moved on, Williams is Michigan State’s leading rusher returning in 2015.

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Dabo Swinney calls for Notre Dame to join a conference

Dabo Swinney

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel made it clear what he thought of Notre Dame and the playoff discussion. They need to join a conference to be in consideration. Apparently Pinkel is not alone on this stance.

Enter Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, who echoed the belief Pinkel shared that suggested it is time for Notre Dame to join a conference. Swinney said if Notre Dame is to remain independent, then they should be playing a 13th game on the schedule.

Notre Dame is a partial member of the ACC, competing in the league in all sports except football and ice hockey. The Irish retain their football independence as part of the ACC agreement, but set aside a handful of games against ACC opponents every season on a rotating basis. Among Notre Dame’s rotating ACC opponents this season is Clemson, with the Fighting Irish traveling to Death Valley on October 3.

The importance of a 13th game was put on display last season with Big 12 co-champions Baylor and TCU each being left out of the College Football Playoff in favor of four conference champions that played a 13th game. Most notably, perhaps, was Ohio State jumping into the fourth and final spot after demolishing Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Buckeyes, of course, went on to win the national championship, while Baylor and TCU were left to wonder “What if?”

The only way to play a 13th game in college football without having the luxury of a conference championship game is to schedule a road game at Hawaii. Teams that do that are allowed to schedule one additional home game on top of a traditional 12-game schedule to make up for travel expenses.

I’m getting to the point where I just want Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly to start dropping names of programs and saying they need to go independent, just to mix things up.

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