Steven Bench, LaRoy Reynolds

Forget wins, O’Brien’s biggest job is saving Penn State’s morale

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Support Penn State, or hate Penn State, everyone can agree they wouldn’t want to be Nittany Lions kicker Sam Ficken right now. Ficken, a sophomore, missed four field goals and had an extra point attempt blocked in a 17-16 loss to Virginia Saturday afternoon.

Penn State is now 0-2 on the season.

Bill O’Brien‘s team actually outgained Virginia in total yards and rushing yards — Virginia, for what it’s worth (nothing, obviously) had just 32 on the ground — but the most startling stat of all is the fact that the Nittany Lions could not do more with four Virginia turnovers.

Penn State’s defense is doing enough to put the team in a position to win, but things still aren’t clicking on offense the way they need to if this team is even going to get to six wins this year. The problem is Penn State just doesn’t have playmakers on offense. Or on special teams, apparently.

But what O’Brien needs to be concerned about is not who takes the field right now, but rather what goes on inside the heads of those who do. Against Ohio, there was an opening-weekend adrenaline mixed with the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky/NCAA mess that bred a mentality of “us against the world.”

Well, that didn’t work out too well. Now, the Nittany Lions are down two games that they very easily could have won. Don’t scoff, but Navy and Temple aren’t guaranteed W’s either — not now, anyway. And what about the Big Ten schedule? Teams are smelling the blood in the blood in the water.

So at what point do the players begin thinking to themselves maybe they can’t be successful this year? Maybe this is a lost cause? Don’t underestimate the amount of pressure placed on these players.

Perhaps two games is too soon to be talking about giving up, but O’Brien’s biggest job now becomes about keeping his players’ heads up before it’s too late.

Despite report to contrary, president David Boren says Oklahoma hasn’t made up mind on Big 12 expansion

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 10: President of the University of Oklahoma David Boren and Head Coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners talk before the game against the Baylor Bears November 10, 2012 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Baylor 42-34. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
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It wouldn’t be the Big 12 without a little drama, now would it?

Tuesday, Pete Thamel of SI.com reported it’s believed that Oklahoma president David Boren, long thought to be a major proponent of expanding the Big 12 beyond 10 teams, “has reversed course on his view of expansion.” This report comes nearly two weeks after T. Boone Pickens‘ BFF infamously — and very surprisingly — tapped the expansion brakes.

“I wouldn’t take expansion as a given,” Boren said Sept. 14. “I wouldn’t take it as a sure thing.”

According to Thamel’s report, it appears that BYU, long a favorite of Boren, and the uproar over its honor code has caused Boren, and thus the university, to shift gears when it comes to expansion. Additionally, OU’s regents are reportedly not in favor of expansion and are pressuring Boren “to convey that message.”

That shift, at least what he’s putting out there for public consumption, is news to Boren.

“I do not know where the speculation came from,” Boren said in a statement to ESPN.com, “but Oklahoma has not yet taken a position on expansion.”

It was thought that expansion could be decided at a meeting of chancellors and presidents in Irving, Tex., in the middle of next month, although that could be pushed to the end of the year, if not the beginning of 2017. A total of 11 schools made the cut as “finalists” should the Big 12 expand, with those nearly dozen schools presenting their cases over the past couple of weeks.

Of the 11, seven come from the AAC — Cincinnati, Houston, SMU, Tulane, UCF, UConn, USF — two from the Mountain West — Air Force, Colorado State — and one from Conference USA — Rice. The lone remaining school, BYU, is a football independent.

Domestic abuse, child endangerment charges dropped against LSU’s Davon Godchaux

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 08: T.J. Yeldon #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide is tackled by Davon Godchaux #57 of the LSU Tigers  during a game at Tiger Stadium on November 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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An off-field incident involving one playing member of the LSU football program has taken a positive turn for the Tiger.

The East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office confirmed Tuesday evening that no formal charges will be filed against Davon Godchaux. The starting defensive end was arrested over the weekend on charges of false imprisonment and domestic abuse/child endangerment in connection to a domestic situation.

Godchaux (pictured, No. 57) had been accused of getting into an altercation with his girlfriend and preventing her from leaving their apartment with their 10-month old child.

“The primary basis for this change of booking (dropped charges) was the inconsistent statements of (the woman) and of Mr. Godchaux and the physical evidence,” DA Hillar Moore III said. “And not her request to dismiss these charges.”

The girlfriend reportedly had a swollen lip and red marks around her neck while Godchaux had cuts on his gums. The woman was charged with domestic abuse/child endangerment as well; that charge is still pending a formal charging decision, Moore stated.

Godchaux was indefinitely suspended by interim head coach Ed Orgeron following the arrest, and remains that way as of Wednesday morning, a school official said.

The junior has started 26 games during his time with the Tigers, including all four in 2016. His 20 tackles are currently fifth on the team, while his two tackles for loss are fifth as well.

FSU says ‘Pigg’ Harrison suspended; report says WR has left program

TALLAHASSEE, FL - APRIL 11:  Ja'Vonn Harrison #13 of the Garnett team catches a pass in front of Marquez White #27 of the Gold team during Florida State's Garnet and Gold spring game at Doak Campbell Stadium on April 11, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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There appears to be some confusion regarding the status of Ja’Vonn “Pigg” Harrison, but one thing is seemingly certain — the wide receiver won’t see the field for the Seminoles for the foreseeable future, if ever again.

Following practice Tuesday, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher announced that Harrison has been suspended from his football team. The only reason given was an unspecified violation of team rules.

“As of right now, he’s suspended,” the head coach said in quotes distributed by the team. “We’ll see what happens. Team violation.”

However, TomahawkNation.com is reporting that third-year junior has left the team completely and intends to transfer.

A four-star member of FSU 2014 recruiting class, Harrison was rated as the No. 30 player at any position in the state of Florida and the 197 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. The Lakeland native, however, never quite lived up to that recruiting pedigree.

Including this season, Harrison has played in 20 games in his career, starting one of those contest (2016 vs. Ole Miss). He caught eight passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Six of those receptions, 129 of the yards and the lone touchdown came in 2015. This season, he had one catch for nine yards.

T. Boone Pickens prefers Houston and SMU for Big 12 expansion, rips Boren, still not besties with Gundy

BP Capital Management LP Chief Executive Officer T. Boone Pickens Interview
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If you though the rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State was strictly on the football field, think again. Bedlam reaches beyond the gridiron and now has T. Boone Pickens slinging mud at Oklahoma president David Boren.

According to Kirk Bohls of The Austin American-Statesman, the Oklahoma State donor shared some comments about the Big 12 expansion saga that continues to drag its feet. Pickens reportedly prefers the Big 12 to add within the current Big 12 foot print by inviting Houston and SMU from the American Athletic Conference. That’s probably good news for fans of Houston and SMU, if they believe Boone’s influence carries any weight in this process (it doesn’t, but we don’t have to pour cold water on this subject for now). But the interesting part of the report included a jab at Oklahoma’s president, who recently appeared to suggest he was fine with a 10-team Big 12 only to respond by saying no decisions have been made where Oklahoma stands on expansion.

“I’ve known David forever. He likes to talk. He gets a little bit confused sometimes,” Pickens said. He also suggested “maybe it’s time for David to retire.”

Pickens also updated his relationship status with Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy.

“I don’t have any conversations with Gundy,” Pickens said. In late December 2014 there appeared to be some friction between the head coach and top donor when Pickens proclaimed he didn’t care who coached the team while suggesting he will always support the program and university, his alma mater. Gundy looked to make sure the two were on common ground. Things appeared to have smoothed over by the following spring, but the two are not exactly hanging out together in their spare time.

“I don’t know, but Mike doesn’t handle people relationships very well. And he gets mad about things,” Pickens explained. “I’ve heard he’s written some notes about me that weren’t very complimentary.”

Excuse me while I file away a Freedom of Information Act request for access to these notes…