Bill O’Brien wants to take Penn State overseas

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Since Penn State will not be playing in the postseason in the next four years thanks to NCAA sanctions, Nittany Lions coach Bill O’Brien has been trying to come up with creative ways to give his team something to look forward to during bowl season. In July, and shortly after NCAA president Mark Emmert levied the sanctions against PSU, O’Brien suggested that perhaps Penn State could play a 13th game against Hawaii. However, that idea probably would have a difficult time coming to fruition.

“It’s normally a part of the penalties in a major infractions case when a postseason ban is issued,” John Infante of the Bylaw Blog told CFT on whether the NCAA would allow that game to occur. “It’s not in the consent decree, so still an open question of whether the NCAA would allow it as a 13th game. My bet is no.”

On his Thursday radio show, O’Brien came forward with another idea: playing a regular season game overseas. “Hopefully we can do something in the near future,” O’Brien said.

Like the Hawaii game, this is nothing more than a conversation starter right now. There are two basic hurdles Penn State would have to overcome for this to happen. First is scheduling. Here are the teams the Nittany Lions have on future nonconference slates:

2013
08/31 – Syracuse (already a neutral site game in East Rutherford, NJ)
09/07 – Eastern Michigan
09/14 – Virginia
09/21 – Kent State

2014
08/30 – Temple
09/06 – Akron
09/13 – at Rutgers
09/20 – UMass

2015
09/05 – at Temple
09/12 – Buffalo
09/19 – Rutgers

The 2013 nonconference schedule is included simply because it falls under the four-year postseason ban, but realistically, there’s little to no chance of anything happening as soon as next year. That currently leaves two road games, at Rutgers in 2014 and at Temple in 2015, as possible target games. As Kevin McGuire of The Examiner points out, Penn State would be reluctant to give up a home game for a trip overseas. Convincing Rutgers or Temple to do the same might be a tough sell as well. The common denominator is that the payout needs to be worth the trip, wherever it is.

And then there’s the whole NCAA issue. Infante explains on his blog that going overseas to play a game by itself is fine, but taking a foreign tour, which would in essence act as a bowl trip and include additional practice time, could be more complicated. “Penn State would need clarification on whether the fact that is has no postseason opportunities through 2015 prevents it forfeiting those postseason opportunities to go on a foreign tour,” Infante writes.

O’Brien is being creative. He inherited a tough situation and he’s trying to make the best of it. Everything is a selling point for a coach. If there’s no bowl game, looking at an alternative gives him a talking point when he’s on recruiting trips. Make no mistake, an overseas game will be difficult to pull off, but there’s nothing in Penn State’s consent decree that says the program can’t at least look into it.

Danny Etling holds off true freshman, named LSU’s starting QB

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Myles Brennan is, more than likely, the future at the quarterback position for LSU.  In the here and now, however, the precocious true freshman will have to bide his time — at least for now.

After a significant, and maybe unexpected, push from the true freshman Brennan, Danny Etling Tuesday was officially named as the Tigers’ starting quarterback in a battle that Ed Orgeron described as “very close.”  Etling, a transfer from Purdue, came into the competition as the incumbent, starting the last 10 games of the 2016 season after taking over the job from Brandon Harris.

“We believe in Danny. We hope he has a great year,” the head coach said according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

In his first season at LSU, Etling completed 160-of-269 passes (59.5%) for 2,123 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.  In his 10 starts, the Tigers went 7-3 in a season that saw them finish 8-4.

Brennan was a four-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country.

Etling’s first start in his second season with the team will come Sept. 2 against BYU in the neutral-site opener.

UTSA-Texas State series rebranded H-E-B I-35 Showdown

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For those not familiar with HEB Grocery Company, it’s a grocery giant founded in Kerrville, Texas, in 1905 by a man named Florence Butt. H-E-B now owns nearly 400 stores stretching across south and central Texas and central Mexico. H-E-B essentially owns the San Antonio area and leases back to its million-plus residents, so it makes sense that when UTSA and Texas State wanted to brand their rivalry, they turned to H-E-B.

Starting this season, the UTSA-Texas State series will now be known as the H-E-B I-35 Showdown

Cue the AD boilerplate!

“We’re thrilled that H-E-B has become the title sponsor for the I-35 rivalry football games between UTSA and Texas State,” UTSA Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey said. “No matter the sport, both fan bases always show up in strong support when the Roadrunners and the Bobcats get together on the playing fields. This newly-branded name for the football games this season and next will only add to the rich history between the two schools.”
 
“It is great to have H-E-B supporting the I-35 football series between Texas State and UTSA,” Texas State Director of Athletics Larry Teis said. “H-E-B has a great relationship with the state of Texas and both universities. We have continued to play UTSA in other sports and the rivalry is strong for our student-athletes and fans.”

The two schools are natural gridiron rivals. They sit just 50 miles apart — connected by Interstate 35, of course — and compete for athletes and regular students alike. The Roadrunners and Bobcats have been Olympics sports rivals for years, primarily as members of the Southland Conference. Each football program is (obviously) in FBS now and have met only once, a 38-31 UTSA win in 2012, since the Roadrunners’ program launched in 2011.

The series will resume Sept. 23 in San Marcos, with Texas State making a return visit to San Antonio on Sept. 22, 2018.

Hugh Freeze reportedly made at least a dozen calls to escort services as Ole Miss coach

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Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze dialed “at least 12” numbers associated with escort services through online advertisements, according to a review of open records obtained by ESPN.com. The calls took place over a 33-month period, stretching from April 2014 through January 2017, and typically lasted two minutes or less.

Those calls appear to be what Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter referenced as “a pattern of personal misconduct” on the night he resigned. The calls are the second phone related-issue connected to Freeze’s dismissal. He also made at least 200 calls to a booster that is under NCAA investigation.

There are two puzzling aspects to Freeze’s calls to escort services: A) that he made the calls on a university-owned cell phone in the first place, and B) that Freeze did not redact the calls from the records request, since other private calls were removed from the public review of his 39,000 calls as the Rebels’ head coach.

“Any personal calls having no relation to UM business are not public records,” Ole Miss attorney Robert T. Jolly wrote in an email to ESPN. “Personal calls will be clearly marked and redacted from the documents released.”

Freeze went 39-25 in five seasons as the Ole Miss head coach, peaking with back-to-back wins over Alabama and a long-awaited Sugar Bowl victory to close the 2015 season but ending with a 5-7 mark and a self-imposed bowl ban for the 2017 season, which will be coached by interim Matt Luke. Ole Miss will sit before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Sept. 11, with Freeze’s character and strict adherence to NCAA recruiting rules a cornerstone of the school’s defense.

Reports: Oklahoma State RB Jeff Carr to transfer

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Jeff Carr is planning to transfer from Oklahoma State, according to a report from Pokes sidelines reporter Robert Allen. That report has since been confirmed by the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman. Carr has since been removed from Oklahoma State’s online roster.

A junior, Carr was Oklahoma State’s most experienced running back but was passed on the depth chart by sophomore Justice Hill. Hill ran the ball 206 times for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns a year ago, while Carr rushed 12 times for 83 yards and one score. His 6.92 yards per carry average led the team. Carr rushed 36 times for 142 yards and one score as a freshman in 2015. Carr also saw his touches as a kickoff returner (29 returns to three) and a receiver (11 catches to one) fall from 2015 to ’16.

After losing the Temple, Texas, native, Oklahoma State will have five running backs on scholarship — four freshmen and one sophomore, Hill.

Multiple outlets have reported Carr is headed to Texas A&M-Kingsville, a Division II school that will permit Carr to play immediately.