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The Fifth Quarter: Week 9 Rewind

Chaos Theory

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WINNERS

Chaos in the offing?
Don’t look now, but we could be in for an unprecedented controversy in the second-to-last year of existence for the BcS.  With five weeks left in the regular season, including conference championship game weekend in early December, there exists the very real possibility there could be four unbeaten teams from so-called BcS conferences left standing as No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 4 Kansas State and No. 5 Notre Dame all held serve and remained unbeaten this weekend — and, yes, I’m discounting Louisville from title talk at the moment.  While the chance for an upset is always right around the corner — hello Oklahoma State and Oregon State circa 2011 and 2012, respectively — the schedules for all four teams suggest the worst-case scenario before a four-team playoff is implemented in 2014 could very well become a reality:

Alabama: at LSU, Texas A&M, Western Carolina, Auburn
Oregon: at USC, at Cal, Stanford, Oregon State
Kansas State: Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor, Texas
Notre Dame: Pittsburgh, at Boston College, Wake Forest, at USC

Again, there are plenty of late-season speed bumps for all five teams in the apocalyptic scenario for it to never fully come to fruition.  However, as an ardent anti-BcS proponent and even as I’d hate it for the teams and players involved, I would love nothing more than for that very thing to happen and further embarrass the sham that is the current system for determining a national champion, whether it’s in its last days or not.

Little Manhattan, big-time football
One of the best storylines in college football this season has been Kansas State’s ascension to the national stage, and in Week 9 K-State continued rolling right along.  Literally.  After falling behind No. 15 Texas Tech 10-3 early in the second quarter, the Wildcats scored on eight straight possessions, with the seventh of those possessions punctuated a minute later by an interception return for a touchdown.  That 52-14 run lifted K-State to its eighth consecutive win in 2012.  And further buttressed the case for Bill Snyder as it relates to national honors.  While there has been talk about the job Penn State’s Bill O’Brien has been doing in scandal-ridden Happy Valley, there’s only one logical choice for Coach of the Year honors all across the board.  What Snyder has done in Manhattan is nothing short of staggering and should be duly recognized for the masterpiece that it is.  Of course, having the presumptive Heisman front-runner — Collin Klein, two passing and two rushing touchdowns vs. Tech — doesn’t hurt, but it should take nothing away from the totality of Snyder’s 2012 work.

Can’t spell “Heisman Trophy” without “Manti Te’o”
Ben did an excellent job recapping the they’re-real-and-they’re-spectacular Notre Dame win over Oklahoma, so we’ll just touch on one angle of the fascinating 2012 story that is the Irish: linebacker Manti Te’o.  Simply put, the senior heart and soul of the Irish defense is, on a weekly basis, putting on the most dominating defensive display since Ndamukong Suh in 2009.  That year, the Nebraska defensive lineman terrorized opponents throughout the season and earned a trip to New York City as a Heisman finalist.  Based on his play thus far, Te’o deserves at least that much.  If Collin Klein, the presumptive front-runner at this point, were to stub his toe at some point, though, Te’o and the combination of his dominating play plus the poignant story attached to his 2012 season could become (gasp!) the first purely defensive player to take home the stiff-armed trophy.

Classy Vols
The heartbreaking injury suffered by Marcus Lattimore in South Carolina’s win over Tennessee did have one endearing moment, at least as much as could be had in such a devastating situation.  As Lattimore was being placed onto a cart to be taken into the locker room for further treatment, the running back was, understandably, surrounded by the entire Gamecocks squad.  In one of the classier moves you’ll ever see on a football field, though, the entire Volunteer team came across from their sidelines and did the same, with some offering personal “keep your head up” messages to the injured player.  “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything like that,” head coach Steve Spurrier said of what UT did post-injury.  Top notch, Vols.  Top notch.  And, if you ever want to know what kind of player college football may have lost for good, that gesture from the opposing sideline spoke volumes.

Huskers: They are Legends
For the moment, at least.  Thanks to Nebraska’s 23-9 win over Michigan, the Cornhuskers and Wolverines are tied for first place atop the Big Ten’s Legends division at 3-1.  As the Huskers hold the head-to-head advantage, however, they tentatively sit in the driver’s seat with four conference games remaining — at Michigan State and Iowa and home games versus Penn State and Minnesota.  On the other side of the conference, and despite their overtime loss to Michigan State, Wisconsin is firmly in control of the Leaders division at 3-2; the next-best eligible team is Indiana at 1-3 and oh my goodness is the B1G just sad this season.

Buckeyes hoist IneligiBowl trophy
Thanks to NCAA sanctions, neither Ohio State nor Penn State are eligible for the 2012 postseason, turning the Week 9 matchup of the top two teams in the Big Ten’s Leaders division into a de facto bowl game for both programs.  And, thanks to a dominating second-half performance, the Buckeyes can continue to stake its unofficial claim as the best team in the Big Ten.  With the score tied at seven coming out of halftime, OSU scored 21 third-quarter points to effectively put the game out of reach for a Nittany Lions’ offense whose NASCAR package was the equivalent of Danica Patrick on this Saturday afternoon.  The 35-23 win pushes the Buckeyes to 9-0 in the first season under Urban Meyer and keeps them on track for the only thing other than pride they still have to play for: the Leaders’ division trophy, for which they are still eligible even as they are ineligible for the Big Ten title game.

Marquise performer
Based on God-given ability, there’s likely not a better or more naturally-gifted player than Marquise Lee at the wide receiver position in all of college football.  Never was that more evident than in USC’s game against Arizona.  The true sophomore caught 12 passes for 255 yards… then decided to come out and play in the second half.  Lee finished with 16 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns, with the yardage total representing new school and conference records.  Lee actually totaled 469 yards as he returned three kicks for 123 yards and rushed once for one yard.  It was all for naught, however, the No. 10 Trojans dropped a 39-36 decision to Arizona,

Sammy no longer MIA
— In 2011, Sammy Watkins caught 12 touchdown passes and accounted for 1,219 receiving yards en route to an All-American season as a true freshman. This season? Yeah, not so much. Through Clemson’s first nine games last season, the wide receiver had hauled in 10 touchdowns; Thursday night, in the Tigers’ ninth game of the season, Watkins caught his first touchdown of the season. Entering the 42-13 dismantling of Wake Forest, Watkins had 202 yards receiving on the season; he matched his season total in the game. Yes, there was the suspension for the first two games of the season due to an offseason arrest, and yes there was the missed late-September game against Boston College due to illness, but the fact that we’re deep into October and a talent such as Watkins has crossed the goal line for the first time and matched his seasonal yardage total in a single game is one of the more under-the-radar developments of the 2012 season.

Off the SEChnide
Coming into Week 9, Missouri was one of just two teams in the country — lowly Hawaii being the other — that switched conferences for the 2012 season and had yet to win a game in league play.  Thanks to the gift that is Kentucky football, that’s no longer the case.  A 33-14 win over the hapless MWildcats gave Mizzou its first-ever win in SEC play and lifted the Tigers out of the East division cellar.  Despite the win, Mizzou showed that it still has a ways to go before it’s able to compete with the middleweights of the SEC, let alone the heavyweights like Alabama, Florida and LSU.

LOSERS

World’s Largest Penalty-Ridden Turnover Party
In the Florida-Georgia game, the two teams combined for nearly as many penalties (22) as points (26).  There were five interceptions and four fumbles lost for both teams, with the Gators committing six of those miscues — four fumbles, two interceptions.  The Bulldogs converted just one of 11 third downs in the 17-9 win, while the Gators averaged a paltry 1.7 yards on its 40 rushing attempts.  The two teams totaled 526 yards of offense, or 89 yards less than Oregon had in their win over Colorado.  Simply put, no amount of lipstick could mask this pig of a game… and as far as UGA’s concerned, it matters not a single bit.  Georgia, with wins over Ole Miss and Auburn the next two weeks, will clinch a second straight trip to the SEC championship game.  That qualifies this game as a thing of beauty to Bulldog Nation.

Beavers pelted from ranks of unbeatens
With another Upset Saturday in full effect, the final game of the night was the cherry on top of a ridiculously chaotic sundae.  Oregon State entered their game with unranked Washington as the No. 7 team in the country, the Beavers outgained the Huskies 427-293… but coughed the ball up four times in a stunning 20-17 road loss to UW.  Likely off the table?  OSU’s dreams of a spot in the Pac-12 title game and a seat at the BcS big-boy table.  A for-the-ages Civil War game against Oregon at the end of November.  While the season’s certainly not lost — a win over the Ducks could still lead to a division title — but the loss did put a significant dent in the feel-good story.  The loss is not exactly a surprise, however, as the Beavers had won their previous six games by a total of 58 points, including three by seven points or less and two by three points apiece.

Big East bushMACked again
Two weeks ago, the Little Conference That Couldn’t was one of the surprises of the 2012 season, boasting more undefeated teams — Louisville, Cincinnati and Rutgers — than any other conference not initialed “SEC.”  After Week 9?   Yeah, not so much.  One week after the Bearcats dropped their first game of the season to Toledo, the No. 15 Scarlet Knights served as the conference’s latest MACrificial lamb, with Kent State — they of the 7-1 Golden Flashes — traveling to Piscataway and heading back to Ohio with a 35-23 win.  Kent State forced seven turnovers in beating a ranked team for the first time in the program’s history, ending a losing streak of 22 straight games against ranked opponents.

Reverse MACtion
The Midwestern conference’s lone shot at playing BcS buster is no more.  Ohio University, which was ranked last weekend in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time since 1968, came into their game with conference rival Miami of Ohio sporting an unblemished 7-0 record and ranked as the No. 23 team in the country.  The Bobcats’ dream season came to end, however, as the RedHawks found itself on the winning end of a 23-20 score. The loss dropped the Bobcats into a third-place tie in the MAC East, behind Kent State and Bowling Green.

Wolfpack special teams not so special
It’s one thing to lose late to a bitter in-state rival.  It’s another animal entirely to do so on account of a collective special teams gaffe.  With under 30 seconds remaining and the game tied at 35 — and surely headed to overtime — the Wolfpack punted to the Tar Heels’ Giovani Bernard.  73 yards later, and with just :13 left, UNC had a 43-35 lead and the ballgame firmly stuffed into its back pocket.  The game-winning return capped a wild day for the Tar Heels as they jumped out to a 25-7 lead, then fell behind 35-25 before scoring 18 unanswered fourth-quarter points.

Southern aMiss
Last season, Southern Miss finished the year at 12-2, claiming the Conference USA championship and a bowl win.  Head coach Larry Fedora subsequently left for North Carolina… and the Golden Eagles have completely unraveled under first-year coach Ellis Johnson.  The 44-17 loss to Rice was the eighth straight to open the 2012 season, with the losses coming by an average of 20 points per game.  USM and UMass, in its first year at the FBS level, are the lone winless teams in major college football.  It’s unlikely Johnson is in any type of danger of losing his job after just one season, but, if the losing continues through the end of 2012, he’ll enter 2013 squarely on the hot seat.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

— No. 6 Oregon State , Washington :

— No. 16 Louisville 34, Cincinnati 31: This was not your ordinary ranked-vs.-unranked matchup Friday night as the Bearcats, up until last weekend, were one of three undefeated Big East teams.  That fact showed as UC extended the Cardinals into overtime before the ‘Ville both snapped its four-game losing streak to this Big East foe and stayed unbeaten on the season.  This close shave continued a 2012 trend for the Cardinals; after winning the first two games by a combined 46 points, they’ve won the last six by a total of 31, including five by seven points or less.

— No. 17 South Carolina 38, Tennessee 35: Despite the loss of its top running back, the Gamecocks were able to hold off a game Volunteers squad and put a halt to a two-game losing streak.

— No. 19 Stanford 24, Washington State 17: Tied at the half at 10-all, the Cardinal hung on for a closer-than-expected win over the two-win Cougars.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Monday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Alabama — First real test of the 2012 season?  Passed with flying colors.  Next weekend, though, is the test for the Tide.(Last week: No. 1)
Up next: at No. 6 LSU

2. Oregon — The Ducks buffaloed (see what I did there?) their way to 56 points and 447 yards of total offense in the first half in a resounding evisceration of Colorado.  The relative cakewalk the 2012 season has been for UO comes to a halt next week as the Ducks travel to USC, followed by back-to-back games against ranked teams (Stanford and Oregon State) to close out the regular season. (Last week: No. 2)
Up next: at USC

3. Kansas State — Road wins over then-No. 6 Oklahoma and then-No.13 West Virginia added to the thrashing of No. 15 Texas Tech is enough for me to push the Wildcats into the No. 3 hole.  Well, that and the Gators’ loss, of course. (Last week: No. 4)
Up next: vs. Oklahoma State

4. Notre Dame — For the first time this season, the Irish enter my little corner of the rankings world.  The win over Oklahoma pushed the Domers to 8-0 for the first time since 2002, and they won’t be truly tested again until the season-finale against USC. (Last week: unranked)
Up next: vs. Pittsburgh

5. (blank as no one is worthy)

COACHING HOT SEAT
A weekly look at some of the current head coaches who could most likely be an ex-head coaches by season’s end — if not sooner.

— Auburn’s Gene Chizik: The latest data point that Chizik’s not long for The Plains?  At Jordan-Hare Saturday, the Tigers were down to Texas A&M 42-7 at the half, trailing in total yards by a staggering 464-91 count.  The most damning part of the evening, however, was the fact that the stadium was less than half full before the gun sounded on the second quarter.  There’s only one thing worse than a pissed-off fan base, and that’s an apathetic one.  If that’s indeed where the Tiger faithful are at the moment, Chizik is in deeper trouble than his president’s letter earlier in the week suggested.

— Tennessee’s Derek Dooley: The Vols are just 4-17 in SEC play in two-plus seasons under Dooley, 1-12 since the start of the 2011 season.  UT’s last conference win came in overtime against Vanderbilt Nov. 19.  The Knoxville natives are restless and are no longer drinking the Dool-Aid, and the clock is certainly ticking on coach’s time on Rocky Top.

— Kentucky’s Joker Phillips: Phillips has actually out-Dooley’d the coach he beat last year, going 4-18 in the SEC the past two-plus seasons.  The Wildcats could be one of four SEC programs in search of a new head coach at season’s end, joining UA (probably), UT (probably) and Arkansas (definitely).

HE SAID IT
“There’s a lot at stake down the stretch and we could still have a really good season.” — UT head coach Derek Dooley, presumably stated with a straight face and everything.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“I still can’t believe it. I’m still shaking right now. After that I started crying. I couldn’t hold my emotions back.” — North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard following his game-winning punt return for a touchdown.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“He told us to kick ass.” — SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert, when asked what former President George W. Bush said to the Mustangs in his pregame speech prior the Memphis game.

PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is a photo of Jordan-Hare Stadium, snapped by al.com just as halftime of the A&M-Auburn game commenced:

Yeah, Chizik might be in a bit of trouble.

YOU DON’T SAY?
Braxton Miller became the third different Big Ten quarterback and the first Ohio State quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El and Michigan’s Denard Robinson (twice) are the other two.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

— During a stretch of 65 seasons — 1927-1988, 2006-08 — Kansas State won 168 games.  In 21 seasons under Bill Snyder, K-State has won 167 games.  Snyder has led the Wildcats to 14 winning seasons; in the 80 non-Snyder years, KSU has had 16 plus-.500 seasons.  And one more note on arguably the most underrated head coach in college football history: K-State has been to 15 bowl games in their history, with 13 of those appearances coming on Snyder’s watch.

— You might as well go ahead and write Jarvis Jones‘ name in Sharpie as the SEC Defensive Player of the Week: in the upset win over Florida, the Georgia linebacker was credited with a career-high 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

— Auburn’s 63-21 loss to Texas A&M was the worst home loss in school history, and the points were the most given up by the Tigers since 1917.  The 671 yards allowed were also the most ever surrendered by AU in a single game.

— In the past five games — two of them of them losses — Texas has given up 1,299 yards rushing.  That’s more than what nine teams gave up all last season.

— Kansas has now lost 16 consecutive Big 12 games.  Their last win in conference play came Nov. 6, 2010, against Colorado, which is now a member of the Pac-12.  Their last win against a team still in the Big 12?  Oct. 10, 2009, over Iowa State.

— With the 31-17 win over Illinois, Indiana snapped its 11-game Big Ten losing streak.  Still, the Hoosiers are just 4-32 in conference play since 2008.

— Playing in just his third game at Oklahoma since being cleared by the NCAA, Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders set school records for most receptions in a game (15) and a quarter (eight).

— It was a record-setting Thursday night all around for Clemson as Watkins’ 202 receiving yards broke the school mark that was just set earlier this year by DeAndre Hopkins (197), while Tajh Boyd‘s 428 yards passing surpassed Charlie Whitehurst‘s 420 yards in 2002.

— North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns against North Carolina… in the first half alone.  Glennon finished with 467 yards and five touchdowns in the 43-35 loss to the Tar Heels.

— In the above game, UNC running back Giovani Bernard accounted for 304 total yards: 135 rushing, 95 receiving and 74 on punt returns.

Connor Shaw threw for a career-high 356 yards in the win over Tennessee.

— The 70 points by Oregon in its 56-point throttling of Colorado set the school record for a conference game.

— Steele Jantz set career highs with 381 yards passing and five touchdowns in Iowa State’s 35-21 win over Baylor.

Max Tuerk became the first true freshman to start a game at left tackle in the storied history of the USC football program, protecting Matt Barkley‘s blind side in the loss to Arizona.

–- SID Stat of the Day, Thursday Night Edition: Clemson did not score in the third quarter of the win over Wake, marking just the second quarter all year in which the Tigers did not score.

— Tweet Stat of the Day, from Mark Story of Kentucky.com: “With loss to Missouri, UK all-time record is 579-580-44. Last time UK under .500 (44-45-6) was after falling to Transy in 1902 finale.”

— Navy rushed for 512 yards in a 56-28 win over East Carolina.

FINAL THOUGHT
If the rumors concerning the severity of Lattimore’s injury are true — we’re not going to touch on them until the situation is confirmed by South Carolina — it would be one of the most devastating injuries a football player can suffer.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the classy young man as he works his way through a situation that’s rough physically, mentally and emotionally.

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Ex-Aggie Kenny Hill ready to thrill at TCU

Kenny Hill, Sharrod Golightly

Of all the teams around the country with a quarterback question this offseason, TCU is not one of them. Trevone Boykin is entering his senior season with some Heisman hype and in position to lead the Horned Frogs to a Big 12 title and possibly the College Football Playoff. But once Boykin moves on, TCU could have its next quarterback ready to go. Former Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill is about to get started in classes at TCU, and he still plans to join the Big 12 program.

The Star-Telegram reported Thursday night Hill will begin classes at TCU on June 1. While starting classes is still to come, Hill has already been on campus to observe spring practices so he can get familiar with the offense under head coach Gary Patterson.

Hill captivated the college football world early last season ans carried over the momentum from the Johnny Manziel era at Texas A&M. However, after the hot start, Hill’s success and production fell back to Earth in harsh fashion. He eventually lost the starting job to Kyle Allen following a miserable loss at Alabama and he missed time while serving a two-game suspension. Seeing the writing on the wall, Hill opted to seek a fresh start this spring.

The fresh start could be a good call. After sitting out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Hill will have a chance to once again win a starting job. Perhaps the life lessons learned from his first time starting at Texas A&M and being a couple of years older will allow for Hill to handle the situation better. In the meantime, Hill will have a chance to learn while watching Boykin do his thing in Fort Worth, and that’s not a bad mentor to have.

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Ex-Sooner RB Keith Ford says he’s going to Aggieland

Keith Ford, Le'Vander Liggins

Just days after saying he was leaning toward transferring to Texas A&M, former Oklahoma running back Keith Ford is now reportedly an Aggie. Ford said earlier this week Texas A&M was on the top of his list of options but said some details had to be squared away before he could officially join Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies. That appears to be taken care of now.

I’m going to Aggieland,” Ford said to 247Sports Thursday night. “What really helped me come to my decision was when I sat down with Coach (Kevin) Sumlin. It didn’t sound like it was rehearsed or anything. He was just talking to me man-to-man and laid out his expectations for me. He also wanted me to believe in him. After I heard all of that I was like, ‘Yea, I’m coming here.’ I can’t wait to get up there.”

Ford will have to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but when he is eligible once again in 2016 the Aggies will be adding quite a talented running back. Ford, a four-star running back in Oklahoma’s Class of 2013 according to Rivals, appeared in eight games as a freshman for Oklahoma last season, rushing for 392 yards and five touchdowns. Ford’s season came to an end when he broke his leg against Tennessee in September. He was suspended indefinitely by Bob Stoops in the spring for a violation of team rules.

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Tulane adds future dates with Oklahoma, Ole Miss

Devon Walker

In a busy day on the scheduling front, Tulane secured a serious boost to its future schedules by announcing future games with Oklahoma and Ole Miss.

Tulane and Oklahoma will play a three-game series spread out over seven years; the Green Wave will come to Norman in 2017 and 2024, with the Sooners visiting New Orleans in 2021. The series will mark the first-ever meetings between the schools.

“We are excited to begin the series with the University of Oklahoma. There were a lot of moving pieces required to put this together and I thank my good friend Joe Castiglione for working with us to ensure Oklahoma would come back to Yulman Stadium as soon as scheduling would allow,” Tulane Rick Dickson said in a statement.

Elsewhere, Tulane has pushed back a visit to Ole Miss from 2017 to 2025 and added a home date against the Rebels for the 2023 season. The two schools have met 71 times previously in a series dating back to 1893. Ole Miss holds a 43-28 edge over the Green Wave.

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Five off-the-field Harbaugh lieutenants to earn $100K-plus in 2015

Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh‘s off-the-field staff will be significantly better paid than his predecessor’s. According to an open records request filed by Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free-Press, two non-coaching assistants will earn $250,000 in 2015 and five will top the six-figure mark, up from the salaries Michigan paid for the same positions on Brady Hoke‘s staff.

Leading the way is Jim Minick, a longtime military man and lifelong friend of Harbaugh’s who was suspended last week after a DUI arrest. He’ll earn $250,000 as the Wolverines’ assistant athletics director for football, up from the $143,000 that Bob Lopez made in the same job last year.

Minick’s salary will be matched by the $250,000 earned by strength coach Kevin Tolbert, a $9,000 bump from the salary garnered by predecessor Aaron Wellman.

Elsewhere in the department, director of operations Rick Finotti will earn $120,000, recruiting coordinator Matthew Doherty will earn $107,000 and director of player development Gwendolyn Bush – also known as the mother of Wolverines graduate transfer Wayne Lyons – will earn $106,000 in 2015.

The five assistants raking in six figures-plus is up from three on Hoke’s staff.

Assistant strength coach Nathan Barry and recruiting operations assistant Chris Partridge will also earn $80,000, while recruiting assistant Anthony Binker sits as the low man on the totem pole at $41,000.

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Haskell Indian Nations U suspends football program for 2015 season

The empty seat of football stadium

Haskell Indians Nation University, a tribal university located in Lawrence, Kan., and competing in NAIA, announced Thursday it will suspend its football program for the 2015 season, citing the rising costs of college athletics.

“Conference changes, the cost of maintaining ten athletic programs, the lack of coaching staff to recruit and develop players and programs, and the dependency of Intercollegiate Athletics on university funding,” led university president Venida Chenault to halt the program for the upcoming season. In a university release (via the Lawrence Journal-World), the school said plans to scale back its athletics programs from 10 to six.

Haskell players may use the fall as “a developmental year for academic and physical conditioning,” but the university noted it is granting releases for players that have arranged them. Still, there is no guarantee the program will return, as the announcement says this fall will be used to determine the “viability” of the program long-term.

Naturally, Haskell’s players did not take the news kindly.

 

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Kansas State to induct four players to Football Ring of Honor

Oklahoma Sooners v Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State announced Thursday that former Wildcats Michael BishopJordy NelsonClarence Scott and Darren Sproles will enter the program’s Ring of Honor this fall. This immediately brings to mind one question, “Wait, how could Kansas State have a Ring of Honor and Michael Bishop and Darren Sproles weren’t a part of it until now?”

Anyway, the above four represent K-State’s third Ring of Honor class, bringing the group’s total to 14. The four players will be enshrined to the interior facade of Bill Snyder Family Stadium during a halftime presentation of the season opener against South Dakota on Sept. 5.

“Like previous Ring of Honor classes these are not only skilled athletes and All-Americans at the positions they played at Kansas State but quality gentlemen who genuinely care about their university and their football program,” Snyder said. “They join the previous 10 Consensus All-Americans having represented their university with class and dignity.  I am so very proud of this and previous classes having coached nine of the 14 of them.”

Bishop went 22-3 (15-1 Big 12) as the Wildcats’ quarterback from 1997-98, leading the club to its first-ever No. 1 ranking while earning All-Big 12 honors both seasons and winning the 1998 Davey O’Brien Award. Nelson worked his way from walk-on to defensive back to one of the best wide receivers in school history, posting school record marks 111 catches and 1,606 yards while earning All-America honors in 2007.

Scott earned First Team All-America honors as a defensive back in 1970 and is already a member of K-State’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Sproles helped the Wildcats win their first Big 12 title in 2003 while setting a school record with 2,735 all-purpose yards. His 4,979 rushing yards remain a school record.

The group will join the likes of Lynn DickeyMartin GramaticaMark Simoneau and Terence Newman in the Wildcats’ Ring of Honor.

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Kick times set for a number of bowl games

We’re only 100 days away from the official start of the 2015 season, which means we’re only 100 days plus 17 weeks from everyone’s favorite time of year: bowl season.

  • Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (MW vs. MAC): Dec. 22, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Boca Raton Bowl (MAC vs. American): Dec. 22, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (American vs. Mountain West/BYU): Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Hyundai Sun Bowl (ACC vs. Pac-12): Dec. 26, 2 p.m. ET, CBS
  • AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC): Jan. 2, 3:20 p.m. ET, ESPN

So pleas, everyone, clear your schedules ahead of time and make room for the Boca Bowl. No you have no excuse for missing such a momentous post-season extravaganza.

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Report: UAB could announce decision to not reinstate football Friday night

University of Alabama Board of Trustees

There is no official statement saying anything other than there is no decision made yet on the future of UAB football. However, one report suggests an announcement could be made at the absolute textbook news dump hour; Friday night.

In a report by Kevin Scarbinsky of Al.com, Alabama State Representative Jack Williams says he has received “strong indications” UAB will not reinstate football. The state representative also told Al.com he believes UAB president Ray Watts could make that announcement Friday night.

If that proves to be the reality of the situation as UAB reassessed the fate of the football program it shut down last November, then it is following the public relations textbook in releasing negative news as late on a Friday as possible. Except the news cycle is more around-the-clock as it has ever been, so UAB and Watts would not be escaping much turmoil if an announcement is made Friday night. After all of the negativity surrounding the way this UAB situation has unfolded, it would be nice to see the school just come right out and announce the decision, for better or worse, as early as possible instead of trying to hide in the darkness of the night.

But let’s see how this plays out. The odds of UAB overturning its previous decision to shut the program down were slim from the beginning, but at least there was a glimmer of hope for the fans. It would be nice to see UAB be straight with the fans and community, whatever the final decision may be. They deserve that.

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Syracuse, UConn set dates to renew old Big East rivalry

Florida State v Syracuse

About a month ago we caught wind of the possible revival of an old Big East rivalry being put together. Now Syracuse and Connecticut have put the finishing touches on the home-and-home scheduling agreement.

Announced today, UConn will host Syracuse on September 24, 2016 at Rentschler Field. Syracuse will host the Huskies two years later on September 29, 2018 in the Carrier Dome. Syracsue will be the first of two ACC opponents on UConn’s 2016 schedule. UConn hosts Virginia the previous week. UConn also visits Boise State in 2018. So far the only other non-conference game on Syracuse’s 2018 schedule is a road trip to Notre Dame as part of the ACC’s rotating schedule. Syracuse’s power conference scheduling requirement in the ACC is already satisfied in 2016 and 2018 with the Fighting Irish appearing on the schedule.

While the two schools have a much more storied basketball history, it will be good to see two northeastern programs compete against each other. UConn leads the all-time series with the Orange, 6-3.

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Penn State dismisses CB following drug and alcohol incident

Penn State cornerback Da’Quan Davis was arrested earlier this month for drug and underage drinking charges. That incident has led to Davis no longer being a part of the football program under the watch of James Franklin.

“Da’Quan Davis is no longer a member of the Penn State football team due to a violation of team rules,” Franklin said during his spring caravan stop in New York yesterday. “We appreciate Da’Quan’s contributions to the program and wish him success in the future.”

As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer beat reporter Joe Juliano, Centre County Court documents filed earlier this week show Davis was arrested on May 9. Police charged Davis with possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use and use or possession of drug paraphernalia. Both of these offenses are considered misdemeanors. However, court documents also show Davis was cited for purchasing alcoholic beverages as a minor. This is considered a summary offense.

Davis is still enrolled at Penn State for his senior year. Davis appeared in half of Penn State’s games last season and likely would have been a reserve defensive back this season. While Penn State continues to claw its way back to a full 85-scholarship roster, incidents like this do nothing to help stabilize the program’s scholarship situation.

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Alabama vs. Wisconsin in AT&T Stadium goes primetime

AT&T Stadium

In a scheduling announcement that should have been expected from the start, Alabama and Wisconsin’s season-opening clash in AT&T Stadium in Arlington on September 5 will be played in primetime. ABC will televise the game starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

The Alabama vs. Wisconsin game was long expected to be placed in primetime, with ABC the likely network to get the game through ESPN’s coverage plan. Other games appearing in the same time slot, or closely overlapping with it, include Notre Dame vs. Texas on NBC (7:30 p.m. eastern), Texas A&M vs. Arizona State in Houston on an ESPN network to be determined (8:00 p.m.). Florida State will be playing on ESPN against Texas State (8:00 p.m.).

Wisconsin’s appearance on the first Saturday night game on ABC of the new season will be the first of three primetime games on the ESPN family featuring a Big Ten team in the first two weeks of the season. Michigan State’s home game against Oregon in week two will also air on ABC. Ohio State’s season-opener on Labor Day on the road at Virginia Tech will be televised by ESPN at 8:00 p.m.

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If student-athletes must be recognized as employees, Notre Dame prepared for drastic changes

Jack Swarbrick

Big changes could be on the horizon for college sports, and that has some concerned about the future. With the National Labor Relations Board still going through a review focused on Northwestern players’ union movement and various court cases taking the NCAA to task regarding how student-athletes are allegedly exploited, Notre Dame Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick says Notre Dame is prepared to abandon ship entirely if it has to begin recognizing student-athletes as employees.

“Notre Dame’s just not prepared to participate in any model where the athlete isn’t a student first and foremost — that’s the hallmark for us,” Swarbrick said in a story by USA Today. “If the entire model were to move toward athletes as employees, we’d head in a different direction. Our president has been clear about that. I’m not articulating a unique position.”

Yeah. OK. Suuuuuure.

We know that Notre Dame tends to operate in a bit of a different way than a god number of institutions. Notre Dame takes tremendous pride in its history, tradition and identity. This is not to be seen as a criticism. Despite an ever changing shift in college sports, things have worked out well for Notre Dame as the university has somehow strong-armed its way into remaining among the powerful and elite college sports programs and even managed to get a deal worked out with the ACC to receive the benefits of conference membership in a power conference without having to give up its coveted football independence. Notre Dame has its own TV deal (with NBC) and gets the benefits of playing in the ACC in sports like basketball. It’s a pretty sweet deal Notre Dame has.

If you think the school is just going to pack it all up and leave if asked to treat student-athletes as employees, think again. Sure, there will be some added costs to the university, as would be the case at every university, but the school would still more than likely be throwing away a tremendous amount of revenue if it were shut down its athletics programs in search of another option more focused on education. As scary as some leaders want you to think this can be, I’ll take Swarbrick’s bluff if he thinks Notre Dame is going to drop down to Division 2 or Divison 3.

Notre Dame and other schools can focus as much on academics as they wish, as they should. But let’s be real. Athletics brings in a tremendous amount of money, and giving that up is going to be received well.

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NIU offers fans chance to choose new field design

niuhelmet Getty Images

Northern Illinois will have a brand new playing field in Huskie Stadium this fall, and thankfully (or mercifully) the program will not be installing a non-traditional field the way programs such as Boise State and Eastern Michigan have. Surely somebody might have been tempted to toss the idea fo an all-black playing field around the NIU offices, even if in jest. Instead, NIU is serving up six options and giving fans a chance to decide which field design should be used for the MAC power moving forward.

The first two designs, shown in the Instagram image below, should be out of the running from the start. The first has no color in the end zones and what appears to be the shadowy image of corn. NIU broke out corn uniforms last season, if you recall. With no offense intended to the great corn community, let’s hope NIU fans are quick to dismiss this field design. The second option adds a black background to the end zones and adds a larger outline of the state of Illinois at midfield underneath the “NIU” logo. It’s OK, but let’s move on.

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Moving to the second two options, we see the husky logo make an appearance at midfield, with “NIU” plastered across the end zones on a black background. So far, this is the leading candidate, and we don’t even have to waste much time on the next option, which puts the “NIU” logo back at midfield and writes “HUSKIES” in the end zones. The outline of the state of Illinois is also huge. We get it. You are in Illinois.

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Now let’s move on to the final two options for fans to consider. Personally, the option with the gigantic husky logo shadowed into the field is the best of the six options on the ballot.  The sixth option with the red end zones is not terrible, but c’mon. What other school is going to have a logo practically take up the entire field?

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NIU will eliminate one option each day until the final design is made official. Which one is your favorite?

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Syracuse clarifies controversial plans for retired No. 44 jersey

Jim Brown - Syracuse

So it turns out the hoopla surrounding Syracuse and the uniform No. 44 got a little out of hand. After Donovan McNabb came out swinging at the idea of unretiring the inspirational uniform number after 10 years of retirement, Syracuse has cleared up the intention of bringing the number back into the mix.

“[Tuesday’s] announcement was simply a reiteration of that commitment and another opportunity to celebrate the great accomplishments of those who have worn the number with Syracuse pride and honor,” Syracuse Vice President for Public Affairs Kevin Quinn said in a statement shared with Syracuse.com. “The retired #44 jersey will continue in its place of honor at Dome — as a symbol of past glories and future successes.”

The uniform No. 44 will remain retired, but will be given consideration to be used under special circumstances. What those circumstances would entail will likely be left to the jurisdiction of the small committee to be organized as originally announced.

Now that we have all that cleared up, perhaps there will now be peace in the Syracuse community.

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Barry Alvarez not ready for outdoor B1G championship game

New England Patriots v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Big Ten has made a home in Indianapolis for its football championship destination, and for good reason. Indianapolis is a city that has proven on more than one occasion to be a good fit for a championship setting, even though the city is not ready to place a bid for a future College Football Playoff game. Ask Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez and he will tell you he would prefer to keep the game inside, protected from the elements. That seems to be good news for Indianapolis, not that the Big Ten was moving its football championship game anytime too soon.

I would have a hard time voting for a game outside,” Alvarez said at the Big Ten spring meetings this week (he also had some things to say about the Big 12), according to The Detroit News. “I know purists say football is supposed to be played outside. But I don’t want elements to have a factor in a game of that magnitude.”

That is a fair point. When you think of Big Ten football you are likely to think of cold weather and fall classics played outdoors. None of the teams in the Big Ten play inside a dome now that Minnesota has an open-air football stadium. Playing outside in the cold is what Big Ten football is thought to be all about. But playing a game protected from the elements allows for a game to be decided by the players and coaches without the possibility of snow or rain playing a critical factor. With so much at stake, that seems to be reasonable enough. Getting fans to the game (and of course those pesky and annoying media members that will be sure to share with you all of their complaints about the weather) is also a legitimate concern.

The Big Ten announced last June the conference will keep its football championship game in Indianapolis through the 2021 season, but that does not mean the conference would be open to evaluating other options beyond that. There are plenty of terrific venues within the Big Ten footprint, with Chicago’s Soldier Field tending to be a popular conversation piece if nothing else. The conference’s overall efforts to establish a more eastern presence (Pinstripe Bowl tie-in, basketball tournaments in New York City for example) following the additions of Rutgers and Maryland could, in theory, open up the possibility of playing a championship game in MetLife Stadium or FedEx Field.

Just saying. Don’t be surprised if that comes up in conversation at some point in the next few years.

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