Michigan v Notre Dame

Notre Dame opts out Michigan series; last game in ’14?


Notre Dame’s move to the ACC in most Olympic sports and a tandem football scheduling agreement has cost college football one of its most notable rivalries of the past couple of decades, at least in the short-term.

The Irish, the Detroit Free Press writes, “has notified Michigan it is exercising a three-year out in their contract, meaning their last scheduled game against each other will come in 2014.”

The paper obtained a letter from ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick to his counterpart at UM, David Brandon, of the school’s intent to not play the games scheduled for 2015-17.  Swarbrick had previously stated that he would like to keep annual games with Navy, Stanford and USC when the Irish embark on its five-games-a-year ACC slate that will begin no later than 2014

Whether the ND-UM rivalry will resume at some point in the future remains to be seen — the teams are still scheduled to play annually between 2020 and 2031 on a contract that was announced in 2007 — although Michigan has made it clear that, one, it was the Irish’s idea to cancel and, two, they’d like to see it renewed.

“The decision to cancel games in 2015-17 was Notre Dame’s and not ours,” Brandon said in a statement posted on the program’s Twitter account. “We value our annual rivalry with Notre Dame but will have to see what the future holds for any continuation of the series.

“This cancellation presents new scheduling opportunities for our program and provides a chance to create some new rivalries.”

The news comes three days after the Irish beat the Wolverines for the first time since 2008.  The final two games of the series will take place Sept. 7, 2013, in Ann Arbor and Sept. 6, 2014, in South Bend.  Still to be decided is whether future games other Big Ten schools (Michigan State, Purdue) will become casualties of the alignment with the ACC as well.

Thanks to the last two-plus years of conference roulette, the game has been stripped of rivalries such as Oklahoma-Nebraska, Texas-Texas A&M, BYU-Utah and now Michigan-Notre Dame, among others.  Your mileage may vary as to whether such developments are good for the long-term health of the sport.

Starting LB C.J. Johnson reveals surgery on social media, Ole Miss confirms

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Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.

With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.

Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.  The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.

At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas.  The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.

Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels.  He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.

Butch Jones labels rumor of ‘physical altercation’ with Vols player ‘absolutely ridiculous’

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers yells at Marquez North #8 during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.

The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August.  The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.

From the site’s report:

The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.

The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”

Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”

At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations.  Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.