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The Fifth Quarter: Alabama-LSU Rewind

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron celebrates after his team defeated the LSU Tigers during their NCAA football game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana AP

Yes, this game was so big it gets its own Rewind.  Your regularly-scheduled “The Fifth Quarter: Week 10 Rewind” will appear, in its entirety, later on in the day Sunday.

Ben did a helluva job with the post-game recap of one of the more entertaining football games you’ll see at any level, a 21-17 win for the top-ranked team in the nation.  Below is a little bit of the minutia and talking points that may or may not litter sports radio shows and water cooler conversations throughout the weekend and into the start of a new work week.

THE TURNING POINT
The first five drives of the second half, LSU’s relentlessly stifling defense had held Alabama’s offense in check, limiting the No. 1 Tide to 49 yards of total offense.  In those five series, the No. 5 Tigers forced four three-and-outs and one fumble.

And then came the sixth drive.

After a missed 38-yard field goal attempt gave the Tide the ball at their own 28-yard line with 1:34 left in the game, LSU, which had been in full-blown attack mode on defense throughout, went into full-blown soft-zone mode.  It turned out to be the worst of several questionable decisions made by Les Miles and his coaching staff throughout the game.

In three plays after taking possession, and in less than 40 seconds, the Tide gained nearly as many yards (44) as they had in the entire second half previously, moving from their own 28 to the same yard line on LSU’s side of the field.  Following an incompletion on the fourth play of what would prove to be the game-winning drive, LSU again donned their blitzing caps… and the Tide made the Tigers pay dearly, dialing up a perfectly-executed screen pass from AJ McCarron to T.J. Yeldon that saved both the game and the Tide’s title aspirations.

It’s hard to blame LSU for trying to prevent the one big play that would cost them the game.  It’s not hard to blame LSU, though, for a decision that allowed a trio of mini-big plays, ultimately leading to the big play.

THUMBS UP

Back-to-back still intact
Suffice to say, the biggest winner of the night was Alabama’s title hopes.  If last week was the Tide’s first real test of the 2012 season, tonight was their first real test of the year.  And, while they didn’t pass with the flying colors of a week ago, they passed.  At this stage of the season, that’s all that matters — for the most part.  While the Tide had walked, talked, smelled and played like an unstoppable force through eight games — so  much so, in fact, that the laughable notion of UA being able to beat an NFL team was actually taking hold — they were anything but that for a sizable chunk of the first 58 minutes.  As odd as it sounds, though, that might’ve been the second most important development of the night as it gives Nick Saban‘s coaching arsenal yet another pointed teaching tool to use on what is still, despite all of the wins and lofty rankings, a very young football team.  Complacency will likely be the Tide’s biggest enemy for the remainder of the regular season; the LSU game tape would serve as the ultimate trump card, as evidenced by Saban’s quotes following the game.

“Our players have to be aware that they can take this one way or the other,” the coach said of the hard-fought win. “This one is either going to affect them in a positive way or a negative way with what they do in the future. They can focus on the things they didn’t do and take the next challenge and continue to improve and be ready to play next week and prepare and practice next week or they can say, ‘We’re satisfied for ourselves with what we did.'”

AJ’s Heisman hopes
AJ McCarron, because of Alabama’s style of play, will simply not put up the type of numbers that other Heisman contenders do on a weekly basis, and that was never more evident than this latest Saturday night in Death Valley.  That final drive, however, was the stuff of which legends are made.  And the stuff that attracts the attention of Heisman voters regardless of the stat line for the first 58 minutes.  The raw, from-the-heart emotion McCarron displayed as the final seconds ticked off the clock and then boiled over as he met his parents beyond the end zone after the game were as epic, in a good way, as his engineering of the final drive.  I don’t know if the junior deserves to win the Heisman, but he certainly belongs in the discussion.

The SEC
If you don’t think the SEC was privately and/or publicly rooting for an Alabama win, you might consider removing your head from the sand as it’s awfully hot and hard to breathe down there.  For the conference in general and the Tide specifically, the stakes couldn’t have been higher.  An Alabama loss would’ve left the SEC with no unbeaten teams.  When combined with three other highly-ranked teams still unbeaten — four if you want to consider Louisville as part of the mix — the SEC’s streak of six straight BcS titles would’ve been in serious jeopardy, with the conference in the uncharted territory of relying on outside help for a ticket to the title game.  Fortunately for the SEC, the Tide’s win left the conference with the inside track for one of the two spots in the BcS championship game.  Just as fortunate?  There were no controversial calls that favored Alabama and played a role in the outcome of the game…

Death Valley didn’t disappoint
Forget the fact that LSU lost just its second home game under the lights (Florida, 2009) under Les Miles.  The atmosphere at Tiger Stadium, even from my vantage point a little over 1,000 miles, is simply electric and by all accounts deafening, which makes the Tide’s triumph all the more impressive.  If you were to make a list of the greatest venues for any sport in the country, it wouldn’t take long to call roll before you got to Death Valley.  It’s a credit to the university, the football program and, most importantly, the fan base that such a spectacle exists.  Yes, the loss was certainly disappointing to those that live and die with the Bayou Bengals, but they can take heart in the knowledge that they are a big part of what makes the sport of college football so great.  And, yes, a trip to Death Valley is on my sports bucket list.  Gotta get there at some point for a night game…

Democrats
Regardless of what the polls may or may not say, the Democratic Party has to be feeling pretty good heading into Tuesday based solely on the results of a football game.  Why?  According to research conducted by FanSided.com, the winner of the Alabama-LSU has accurately predicted the results of all seven presidential elections held since 1984.  In years that Alabama won, a Democrat won the election.  In years LSU won, a Republican was sent to the White House. So, with the Tide’s win, is it hello second term for the sitting president?  Your mileage may vary greatly as to whether an eighth-consecutive accurate prediction would be a positive or negative development.

THUMBS DOWN

The Mad Hatter
Take your pick on the daffiest of the daftness of the Mad Hatter in this game.  Was it the failed fake field goal that everybody — including the Tide’s defense and my grandmother, who’s been six feet under for two decades — saw coming?  The failed onside kick, which admittedly would’ve been idiot savant-level genius were it not for a quirky bounce that resulted in an illegal touching penalty on the kicker?  The failed 54-yard field goal attempt that gave the Tide prime field position with just over a minute left in the second quarter, and which the Tide turned into a touchdown and a 14-3 lead heading into the half?  A failed fourth-and-one from the Alabama 24, one in which LSU utilized its version of the gimmicky Wildcat offense after it had been very successful running the football with the standard power game?  Individually, these plays didn’t cost LSU the game.  Collectively, they were part of the subtle flow of the game that set the table for the game-winning drive.

Oh, Copeland…
Midway through the second quarter, a fumbled punt on the part of the Tide was recovered by the Tigers at UA’s 32-yard line.  On the ensuing play, a 19-yard run by Jeremy Hill moved the Tigers down to the 13-yard line… and a post-play personal foul on J.C. Copeland moved the ball back to the 28.  While it was still first and 10 following the penalty, all the momentum gained from the previous two plays was lost as the Tigers gained just one yard the next three, leading to the failed fake field goal.  The penalty almost certainly cost the Tigers at least a field goal, if not a touchdown.  In what was a four-point loss, and even as it occurred in the first half, Copeland’s momentary lapse of reason was a significant moment in the game.

Who are you and what’d you do with the Tide’s defense?
Through the first eight games of the season, Alabama led the country by stingily giving up just a little over 57 yards per game on the ground; LSU churned out 80 rushing yards… in the first quarter alone.  For the game, the Tigers rushed for 139 yards; previously, the most the Tide had given up in a single game this season was 80 to Ole Miss in Week 5.  Add that to some very suspect play in the passing game, and we’re guessing Nick Saban will spend an inordinate amount of time tightening things up on that side of the ball as the Tide preps for the high-octane Texas A&M Aggies’ trip to Tuscaloosa this Saturday.

McCarron’s Heisman hopes
As great as the final drive was, the first 58:26 was as choppy of a game McCarron has played in his one-plus seasons as the Tide’s starting quarterback.  On that final drive, McCarron was 4-5 for 72 yards and a touchdown; prior to that, he was 10-22 for 93 yards and one rushing touchdown.  On what will be his second-biggest stage before votes are cast — the SEC championship being the biggest, provided the Tide can navigate games against A&M and Auburn — the question will become what voters give the most weight to when it comes to McCarron’s stiff-armed candidacy: the first 58, or final two.

QUOTABLE

“I’ve never been prouder of a bunch of guys to overcome adversity. … It’s something I’ll never forget.” — Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

“It was a very hard game. We needed a hard game.” — Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.

“You’ll remember this one forever.  It hurts worse than the [loss to Alabama] in the national championship game.” — LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

— From the UA Sports Information Department: AJ McCarron continues to build his school record of passes without an interception. McCarron ends the LSU game with an active streak of 289 passing attempts without an interception.

— Speaking of McCarron, the junior is one touchdown pass away from tying and two away from breaking Greg McElroy‘s single-season mark of 20 set in 2010.  He’s also 10 touchdown passes away from breaking John Parker Wilson‘s career mark of 47.

— Despite the loss, quarterback Zach Mettenberger came of age for the Tigers.  In unquestionably his finest performance in his first season as a starter, Mettenberger completed 24-of-35 passes for 298 yards, one touchdown and, most impressively considering the opposition’s defense, no interceptions.

— Until late in the third quarter, LSU had gone 169:38 without scoring a touchdown against Alabama, a span that stretched back to 8:13 left in the fourth quarter of the Nov. 6, 2010, win over the Tide and which covered two-plus games.  Then, in a span of 5:37, the Tigers exploded for a pair of touchdowns.

— The 435 yards of total offense by the Tigers was the most surrendered by a Tide defense since a loss to the same team in November of 2007, Saban’s first season in Tuscaloosa.

— The attendance of 93,374 is a new Tiger Stadium record.

— Alabama leads the all-time series with LSU, 47-25-5.

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Former NCAA executive director Walter Byers dies at 93

Walt Byers

Walter Byers, the man who, for better or worse, created the modern NCAA passed away on Wednesday at his home in Emmett, Kan. He was 93. Byers’ son Fritz said the cause was a urinary tract infection that spread to his bloodstream.

Byers famously left his post as an assistant sports information director for the Big Ten to become the NCAA’s first executive director at age 29 in 1951. The next quarter century saw Byers rapidly expand the NCAA – in terms of its membership, the revenue it took in, and its dominion over its athletes. He took what former NCAA employee and eventual Big 8 and Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke called a “part-time” organization and nearly tripled its membership, from 381 universities upon his hiring to 1,003 upon his exit in 1987. The NCAA’s own rank and file grew as well, as the organization grew from a handful of employees at its Kansas City offices to 150  by the time of his retirement.

“He had to come up with structure for all kinds of athletics, team and individual, at the national level. Before him there was nothing,” Duke told the Associated Press.

Byers saw the value in televising college sports early on, selling a restricted slate of games to NBC for $1.14 million a year in 1952 according to the New York Times. Byers strategy of grouping NCAA football games together got the sport on television, but membership eventually fought to overrule the model he created. In 1984, Oklahoma and Georgia successfully sued the NCAA for control over their television contracts, creating the marketplace that eventually brought Notre Dame its standalone contract with NBC and created individual networks for the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12 and Texas.

“It is virtually impossible to overstate the degree of our resentment,” Oklahoma president William Banowsky said at the time.

Byers made up that revenue by ramping up the NCAA Tournament, helping turn it into the billion-dollar enterprise it is today. “In my opinion he never received credit for his leadership in building that event,” said former NCAA Tournament administrator Tom Jernstedt. “In my mind he is the father of the NCAA basketball tournament and he doesn’t get the recognition for that.”

Byers was also credited with coining the term “student-athlete,” though he later rejected the amateurism model that to this day serves as the NCAA’s bedrock, admitting in his memoir Unsportsmanlike Conduct that the term was a defense mechanism allowing schools to avoid long-term liability for athletes’ disability benefits. “Whereas the NCAA defends its policies in the name of amateurism and level playing fields, they actually are a device to divert the money elsewhere,” he wrote.

By the end of his tenure, Byers considered the idea of creating an “open” division, similar to the Power Five autonomy legislation the powers that be are working through today. “I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that there has to be a major rearrangement on the part of the institutions of higher learning as to what they want to do with their athletic programs. I think there’s an inherent conflict that has to be resolved,” he said. “I’m not prepared to go into how an open division would work. But we’re in a situation where we, the colleges, say it’s improper for athletes to get, for example, a new car. Well, is that morally wrong? Or is it wrong because we say it’s wrong?”

Forever reluctant of the spotlight, Byers made few public appearances following his 1987 retirement, and even no-showed his National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame induction in 2009.

Byers leaves behind two sons, one daughter, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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After year-long study, Auburn won’t claim any more national championships

Jay Jacobs

For years – heck, eons – Alabama’s practice of claiming some, uh, dubious national championships has driven Auburn fans crazy. So much so, in fact, that last year the school launched a study into whether or not it should start claiming some bygone national championships of its own.

The results are in, and Auburn will keep its national championship total at two.

“We’ve earned what we’ve earned and people can count it different ways, but we’ve earned what we’ve earned,” Jacobs told Brandon Marcello of AL.com. “Those players on those teams, like me in 1983, it doesn’t matter if you hang a banner or not. I know what we did.”

The Tigers claim titles in 1957 and 2010, but the NCAA record books credits Auburn with championships in 1910, 1913, 1914, 1983, 1993 and 2004 as well.

This is the path the school should take. For one thing, Auburn was on probation during its undefeated 1993 regular season. For another, the school and its fans would instantaneously lose any moral high ground it claims over Alabama – whatever that’s worth – by following the Tide into handing itself retroactive titles. And even at that the Tigers would still be only halfway way to Alabama’s total.

No, better stick to the commonly recognized total and leave your rivals to wander in the realms of fantasy.

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American sets kick times for a number of ESPN-broadcasted games

Maryland v Connecticut

The season is getting ever closer. We crossed the double-digit barrier until FBS opening day this week, and on Wednesday the American announced a number of finalized kick times for games that will be shown on the ESPN family of networks.

The bulk of the games are opening weekend tilts, allowing the season to feel just that much closer, while the others are weeknight games.

Without further ado, here’s the full set of announced kick times (all times Eastern):

Thurs., Sept. 3: Villanova at Connecticut – 7:30 p.m., ESPN3/SNY
Fri., Sept. 4: Baylor at SMU – 7 p.m., ESPN
Sat., Sept. 5: Florida A&M at South Florida – 7 p.m., ESPN3
Alabama A&M at Cincinnati – 7 p.m., ESPN3
Towson at East Carolina – 6 p.m., ESPN3
Tennessee Tech at Houston – 8 p.m., ESPN3
Missouri State at Memphis – 7 p.m., ESPN3
Sat., Sept. 19: Furman at Central Florida – 6 p.m., ESPN3
Maine at Tulane – 8 p.m., ESPN3
Sat., Sept. 26: James Madison at SMU – 7 p.m., ESPN3
Fri., Oct. 2: Memphis at South Florida – 7 p.m., ESPN2
Thurs., Oct. 8: SMU at Houston – 8 p.m., ESPN2
Fri., Oct. 16: Houston at Tulane – 9 p.m, ESPNU
Thurs., Oct. 22: Temple at East Carolina – 7 p.m., ESPN2
Fri., Oct. 23: Memphis at Tulsa – 8 p.m., ESPN
Fri., Oct. 30: East Carolina at Connecticut – 7 p.m., ESPNU
Fri., Nov. 6: Temple at SMU – 8 p.m., ESPN2
Thurs., Nov. 19: East Carolina at Central Florida – 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Plan accordingly.

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Louisville DE Devonte Fields headed to trial for assault charge

Texas Tech v TCU

It feels like much more than a year has passed since Devonte Fields was set to anchor a TCU defensive front on the Horned Frogs’ quest to rebound from a 4-8 campaign. That all changed last July when the former Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year was accused of pointing a gun at his ex-girlfriend and threatening to shoot her.

He was “separated” from the TCU roster later that same day and never suited up in purple again. Fields announced a commitment to Louisville in February but now his Cards debut appears tenuous as Max Olson of ESPN.com reported Wednesday that Fields will see his day in court for last summer’s alleged crime.

As Olson reports, Fields will be put on trial for misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury to a family member, which carries up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. The trial is set to begin June 17.

Fields has attended anger management courses in hopes of reducing his charges, but an agreement to dismiss the charges was not reached.

Pending results of the trial, Fields is set to enroll at Louisville in July. The Cardinals have not commented on the case.

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Former four-star OU QB Justice Hansen to transfer

Justice Hansen

Justice Hansen, a redshirt freshman Oklahoma quarterback from nearby Edmond, Okla., has announced his intention to transfer before appearing in his first game as a Sooner.

The former four-star recruit in the class of 2014 provided a statement to SoonerScoop.com explaining his decision to leave Norman. The site said Hansen will be given permission to transfer without restriction on his future destination.

I have done a lot of thinking, talking with friends and family, and most importantly, praying. In the end I feel it is in my best interest to move on from the University of Oklahoma and continue my football career elsewhere. I can’t thank coach Stoops, coach Riley and all the other coaches enough for how they have treated me during my time at OU.

I would also like to thank my teammates for pushing me and allowing me to be part of the family. The university was a great experience and I appreciate the opportunity. I had to proudly represent it. I wish nothing but the best for OU in the future. God Bless.

Hansen accounted for 7,298 combined passing/rushing yards and 85 touchdowns as a sophomore and junior at Santa Fe High School before seeing his senior season cut short due to an ankle injury.

Josh Huepel‘s dismissal from the staff likely played a role in Hansen’s decision, along with the presence of returning quarterbacks Trevor KnightBaker Mayfield and Cody Thomas. His departure creates an interesting conundrum for new OU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley as Hansen was the Sooners’ only quarterback signee in 2014 and the program did not sign a signal-caller in its 2015 class.

10:04 p.m. ET update: Bob Stoops has released a statement on Hansen’s impending transfer.

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SEC to boost penalties for field rushing violations

Alabama v Mississippi

There are many things in football that fans love but players and coaches hate. Games marred by excess rain or snow come to mind. But top of the list is field rushing.

Rushing the field is one of the many things that separates college football from its professional counterpart. It’s an entirely collegial activity, the state of being so overjoyed by your men in pads that you don’t know what to do with yourself. If you’ve ever been to a game where a field was rushed, I can guarantee you’ll never forget it.

But it’s also incredibly dangerous for players and coaches – especially those on the losing side. And according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the SEC plans to up the fines it levies on schools whose fans violate its field-rushing rules.

“It’s an attempt to change behavior,” outgoing commissioner Mike Slive said from the league’s spring meetings in Destin, Fla. “I think we have changed it considerably, but there are still times when it happens. I think our folks felt the current fine structure is not sufficiently large enough to be a quality deterrent.”

At present, the SEC doles out $5,000 fines for a first offense, $25,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for each violation thereafter within a three-year period.

Slive wasn’t sure exactly how the penalty structure would change, but said the league would reach a consensus during this week’s meetings. The guess here is that the $5,000 fine goes out the window and the three-year snapshot is expanded to five or six.

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UCLA losing DB Jalen Ortiz to transfer

John Harris, Jalen Ortiz

Not surprisingly, we have yet another departure on the transfer train to feature.

The latest to see its roster pared is UCLA, Jalen Ortiz announcing Tuesday that he has decided to leave the Bruins and continue his collegiate playing career at an undetermined location.  The cornerback made what was a very gracious announcement on the same social media website that all the cool kids these days are doing such things:  Twitter.

A three-star member of UCLA’s 2013 recruiting class, Ortiz was rated as the No. 27 “athlete” in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Arizona.  In addition to UCLA, Ortiz held offers from, among others, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Boise State, BYU, Utah and Washington.

Ortiz spent his first season with the Bruins as a wide receiver, but moved to the defensive secondary for the 2014 season.  He played in 26 games the past two seasons — mainly on special teams — and caught four passes for 27 yards as a true freshman.

After sitting out the 2015 season if he ends up at another FBS program, Ortiz would then have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

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Nine cities bid to host 2018-20 title games

CFP Trophy AP

We don’t know yet which cities will play host to the College Football Playoff title games after the one following the 2016 season is played in Glendale, Ariz.  We do know, though, the pool out of which the host cities will be selected.

Wednesday, it was revealed that nine cities had placed bids to play hosts to the CFP championship games in 2018 (following the 2017 season), 2019 (2018 season) and 2020 (2019 season). Those cities include, in alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone, Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, San Antonio and Santa Clara.

All eight of those cities had previously had reports (HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE) attaching them to the bidding process for the upcoming games. Arlington, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando and Pasadena had also been mentioned as possibilities, although cities such as Arlington, Indy, Jax, NYC, Orlando and Pasadena all publicly decided against a run at this set of games.

Houston and Santa Clara were the only communities to bid on all three games.  Charlotte, New Orleans and San Antonio bid on two games apiece, the 2019 and 2020 games. The breakdown of the other cities and the years in which they’re interested are as follows:

2018: Atlanta; Houston; Miami/South Florida; Santa Clara.
2019: Charlotte; Detroit; Houston; New Orleans; San Antonio; Santa Clara.
2020: Charlotte; Houston; Minneapolis; New Orleans; San Antonio; Santa Clara.

The winning bids are expected to be announced later this year, likely during the 2015 season.

The first CFP championship game was held this past January at the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Tex.  The cities of Glendale, Ariz., and Tampa, Fla., will host the title games following the 2015 and 2016 seasons, respectively.

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Rutgers CB, accomplice netted $20 in alleged armed robbery

Kevin Snyder, L.J. Liston

Well, Bonnie & Clod, hope it is was worth it. Allegedly.

Over the weekend, Rutgers cornerback Darian Dailey, along with another male, was arrested in Florida and charged with robbery with a firearm. According to the victim, it was Dailey’s accomplice, Trazelle Johnson, who pointed what he thought to be a handgun at him.

And the financial haul Dailey (pictured, No. 33) and Johnson came away with? $20. Total.

As detailed by the nj.com, here’s what led up to the twin arrests:

Dailey, who was driving a black Dodge registered to his mother, and Johnson, the passenger, stopped the car directly in front of an 18-year-old who was riding his bicycle home from work just before 2 a.m. on Sunday, according to the warrant. Police said Johnson got out of the car with his face covered by a cloth and pointed what appeared to be a black semi-automatic handgun at the victim and asked, “What you got?”

After the victim said he had $20, Johnson said, “Hand it over,” according to the warrant. Dailey, 19, stood behind Johnson, 19, near the rear of vehicle during the exchange. Dailey and Johnson then got back into the car and drove away, according to the warrant.

The victim copied the car’s tag number and the vehicle was located by Manatee County Deputies a short time later. A black pellet gun (without red tip) was in plain view in the vehicle, according to the warrant.

The 19-year-old Dailey, who was home in Bradenton, Fla., when the incident happened, and Johnson were both held in lieu of $150,000 bonds. The former posted his bail Monday morning and was released, while the latter remains jailed.

In a statement released Sunday, head coach Kyle Flood said that [w]”e are aware of the situation and are gathering facts,” adding “[o]nce those facts are gathered, we will take the appropriate action.”

A two-star member of the Scarlet Knights’ 2014 recruiting class, Dailey took a redshirt as a true freshman. He’ll be expected to compete for playing time come summer camp — provided he can extract his cranium from his rectum, that is.

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Amidst controversy, Dabo Swinney cancels planned appearance

Florida State v Clemson Getty Images

Quite the ruckus was kicked up earlier this week when a report surfaced that Dabo Swinney is scheduled to appear June 2 at a fundraiser for the Palmetto Family Council, an organization described as being “dedicated to fighting against equality for the LGBT community and same-sex couples.”  Swinney was greeted by criticism in some corners and support in others who consider the PFC a pro-traditional marriage group.

A day later, the former corner prompted the Clemson head coach to blink.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Swinney announced that he has decided to cancel his appearance with the group.  In the statement, Swinney claimed he has “no association” with the PFC and that he “had no idea that I was being invited into a political controversy.”

Below is Swinney’s statement, in its entirety:

“I was recently selected by the Palmetto Family Council, an organization with which I have no association, as their ‘South Carolina Family Champion of 2015′ and was invited to receive this recognition at an event sponsored by the group on June 2. I had no idea that I was being invited into a political controversy. It was my understanding that the nomination and election for this award was based on the work done by our “All In Foundation” and the difference it is making in our community. My acceptance of this award was to be on behalf of all the volunteers that make our foundation a success. The work of our foundation is intended to build a better community and be a positive influence.

“Recently, my scheduled participation in this event has been perceived incorrectly as an endorsement of certain viewpoints and has entered the political arena. I have been out of town since last Thursday and am disappointed that this has become a distraction for me, my team and many others. I have been and continue to be very open about my personal beliefs. However, I do not inject those beliefs or the work of the foundation into the political process.

“I appreciate the recognition of my and the foundation’s efforts. However, after much thought, in order to avoid a distraction for the team and the entire football program, I’ve decided it is in the best interests of all involved that I not attend the event on June 2.”

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BC’s leading returning receiver won’t be, well, returning

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Boston College v Penn State Getty Images

Ground-and-pound Boston College exited spring light on production in what constitutes its passing “attack.”  Entering the summer workout phase, that part of the offense has taken a substantial and unexpected hit.

A school spokesperson confirmed to accsports.com Wednesday that wide receiver-turned-tight end Dan Crimmins is no longer on the Eagles football team.  No reason was given for the abrupt departure or if it was forced or voluntary, and the school has yet to confirm the move.

Whether the coaching staff’s decision to have Crimmins switch positions this spring played any role in the development, if it was indeed voluntary, is unknown.

What is known is that, if it holds, it’s a significant loss for BC.  Last season, Crimmins was second on the team in receptions (25) and receiving yards (305).  With Josh Bordner‘s departure, Crimmins was set to be the Eagles’ leading returning receiver.

That honor now falls to Sherman Alston, who went 16-175 in 2014.

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No FBS teams facing APR-related postseason bans this year

Louisville v Wichita State Getty Images

Around this time every year, people pretend to know precisely how the Academic Performance Report (APR) is calculated — and then pretend to care about the results.

In the NCAA system for measuring academic progress toward graduation, a school’s sports programs must each maintain at least a .930 APR (out of a possible 1.000) over a four-year period in order to maintain eligibility for postseason play in their respective sports.  A two-year score of .940 or above would also allow a program to be eligible for postseason competition if it was below .930 for the four-year period.

Last May, Idaho and UNLV were banned from postseason play in football because of their scores below the .930 benchmark, although the Rebels had their bowl eligibility reinstated after what was described as “score adjustments.”  Additionally, Oklahoma State was docked practice time because it failed to reach the minimum threshold.  The Cowboys avoided a postseason ban because its two-year average was half a point above the .940 standard.

Fast-forward 12 months, and no FBS programs are facing postseason ineligibility because of APR scores (link HERE), which this year are based on performances from the 2010-11 academic year through 2013-2014.  In fact, there are no FBS programs at any of the three levels of penalties in the NCAA’s APR structure, which is explained below:

Level One penalties focus on practice restrictions, allowing teams to use that time to focus on academics. Teams facing this penalty lose four hours and one day of practice time per week in season, replaced with academic activities. This year, 13 teams face this level of penalty.

Level Two penalties include the Level One penalty and a reduction of four hours of practice time out of season replaced with academic activities. This level also includes the elimination of the nonchampionship season or spring football. Teams without nonchampionship seasons face a reduced number of contests. This year, 11 teams fall in this category.

Level Three penalties include all Level One and Two penalties, plus a menu of potential additional penalties. These can include scholarship reductions; additional practice and contest restrictions; coach-specific penalties (including game and recruiting restrictions); restricted access to practice for incoming students who fall below certain academic standards; restricted membership; and potential multi-year bans on postseason competition. In 2014-15, four teams face this level of penalty.

There are five FCS programs slapped with postseason ineligibility for the 2015 season: Alabama State, Florida A&M, Gardner-Webb, Savannah State and Tennessee State.

Not surprisingly, Oklahoma State has the lowest APR of all Power Five programs at .934.  That is, though, an improvement over the previous four-year period that cost the Cowboys practice time.

UPDATED 2:22 p.m. ET: While not listed in the NCAA’s release on the list of football teams facing postseason bans, Idaho’s APR was once again well under the .930 threshold.  It’s unclear why the Vandals did not make the list of penalized teams, although we’ve reached out to both the school and The Association for clarification.

UPDATED 3:43 p.m. ET: Thew following is from a press release sent out by the Wisconsin sports information department.

The Wisconsin football team’s multiyear Academic Progress Rate of 998 is the top mark of all FBS teams in the country according to the NCAA’s release on Wednesday. The Badgers lead a top five that includes Northwestern (992), Duke (992), Michigan (990) and Stanford (987).

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Freeze: It’s time to turn a full-go Laquon Treadwell loose

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When last we left Laquon Treadwell‘s recovery from a gruesome lower-leg injury, the wide receiver was expected to be ready for not only the start of camp but the beginning of summer workouts as well.

With Memorial Day, the unofficial holiday kickoff to the summer, in the rear-view mirror, there’s no more holding the reins back on Treadwell’s recovery.

At the SEC’s annual spring meetings in Destin Tuesday, Hugh Freeze was asked about Treadwell’s rehab progression. As far as the Ole Miss head coach is concerned, there are no limitations on the receiver moving forward.

“He desires to get back and even be better than he was,” Freeze said. “It’s a bit hard to keep him patient. It’s time to turn him loose, though. …

“We could have let him do some things in the spring besides some routes on there and all those things, but we didn’t. He’s ready to probably go and run and jump and catch balls to that he has his confidence come fall camp. He’s full-go now.”

Treadwell sustained a dislocated ankle and broken fibula as he was set to cross the goal line for what would’ve been the game-winning score in the early-November loss to Auburn.

Through nine games, Treadwell was easily the Rebels’ leading receiver, with his 48 receptions for 632 yards and five touchdowns tops on the team. Despite missing the last four games, Treadwell still led the team in receptions.

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Newly-certified Austin bowl won’t be played this season

Too Many Bowls

For those who feel there are waaayyy too many postseason games, you can now rejoice.  A little. And for a little while.

Earlier this month it was reported that three new bowl games had received certification from the NCAA for the 2015 season: Austin, Tucson and Orlando.  Combined with the 39 bowls from last year — that number includes the College Football Playoff championship game — there were to be a record 42 bowls for the 2015 season.

The key word there is were, though, as one of those newly-certified postseason matchups has decided to delay its debut.

The fact that the Austin Bowl was sans a sponsor likely played at least some role in the decision to push the postseason pause button. The game, though, is expected to be played following the 2016 season.

“We applaud their courage to explore it and have the courage to step back and make sure they had it right,” said Wright Waters, executive director of the Football Bowl Association, in a statement. “They can come back in a year to organize and reach out to key individuals in the community. It will be better in every way a year from now.”

In that inaugural game, teams from the AAC and Sun Belt are expected to square off.

The other two newly-certified games have sponsors: the Cure Bowl (Orlando) and Arizona Bowl (Tucson). The former will also feature an AAC-SBC matchup, while the latter will see teams from Conference USA and the Mountain West competing.

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Jimbo says FSU will have QB competition, not controversy

150527_MaguireGolsonSplit Getty Images

Exiting spring practice, Sean Maguire was the odds-on favorite to replace Jameis Winston under center for Florida State in 2015.  With the addition of Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson earlier this month, however, the Seminoles will find themselves with a somewhat unexpected quarterback competition when summer camp kicks off a couple of months down the road.

And, according to head coach Jimbo Fisher, he’s not going to allow that competition devolve into another “c” word.

“Controversy and competition is two different things. It’s competition,” Fisher told Ralph Russo of the Associated Press. “And players on the team, when a guy is a competitor and he does well — whether it’s Sean, it’s Everett, it’s De’Andre [Johnson], it’s J.J. [Consentino], it’s Deondre Francois — whoever is on our team, they’ll follow the guys who play the best, respond the best and lead them the best.”

Golson certainly has an edge over Maguire when it comes to the experience department, starting for the Irish for the better part of the 2012 and 2014 seasons, with an academic suspension sandwiched in between. Golson, though, struggled turning the ball over last season — while he threw for nearly 3,500 yards and accounted for a combined 37 touchdowns (29 passing, eight rushing),

Some have (wrongly) assumed that Golson will be handed the starting job. Fisher has stated that Golson was never promised the starting job during his recruitment. He also went out of his way to ensure Maguire that both he and the new addition to the roster will be given an equal shot at winning the job.

“I just wanted to be honest with him and explain to him my thought process as the head coach,” Fisher said. “I’m open with all of our players like that. There’s never going to be anything I’m doing behind your back.

“He took it very well. He asked, is it really an open competition? I said yes it is. He knows I’ve never lied to him or any of our players.”

The Seminoles will begin summer camp in early August. Fisher and his coaching staff will likely want to name Winston’s successor somewhere in the middle of that month, giving the starter 2-3 weeks of solo No. 1 work ahead of the Sept. 5 opener against Texas State.

Perhaps the best news for whoever wins the job? FSU opens the season with back-to-back home games against non-Power Five schools — USF to go along with TSU — before traveling to Chestnut Hill Sept. 18 to face Boston College (7-6 last season) in the ACC opener.  There’s also a bye week and an Oct. 3 road trip to Wake Forest (3-9) before the first “real” test of the season: a home game against in-state rival Miami Oct. 10.

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