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Updated: New Orleans will host ‘Champions Bowl’

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Good news, everyone. You can stop calling the “Champions Bowl” the Champions Bowl and start calling it the Sugar Bowl.

According to ESPN.com, New Orleans has been selected as the site for the bowl game that will also reportedly serve as a rotating site for the semifinal round of college football’s new playoff beginning after the 2014 season. In other words, the Sugar Bowl is adding a Big 12 tie-in. New Orleans beat out the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Tx., and the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, among others. The “Champions Bowl” title was simply a placeholder.

The first Sugar Bowl with the Big 12 tie-in will take place Jan. 1, 2015. The deal is for 12 years.

All other details in the report have been known for a while. For instance, in the event that either the Big 12 champion or SEC champion is selected to the four-team playoff, the respective conference would select another team. In the event that the bowl is selected as a semifinal game, it would not host the SEC – Big 12 matchup. The expected payout from the bowl is, again, reported to be $80 million.

The other bowls expected to be among the six rotating semifinal sites are the Rose, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta and Chick-fil-A. There is a possibility of a seventh “access bowl”, but that has yet to be nailed down. So far, the Rose, Orange and Sugar have conference tie-ins; the other three access bowls are expected to be filled with at-large teams (the Fiesta Bowl’s tie-in with the Big 12 ends after 2014).

The Cotton Bowl in Arlington was the other finalist for the ‘Champions Bowl’. Now that New Orleans has secured the bid for the next dozen years, don’t be surprised if JerryWorld hosts the 2015 college football championship game, which will be held at a neutral site.

Updated 6:36 p.m. ET: And now it’s official. The SEC and Big 12 have announced that the Sugar Bowl will host the champions of the respective conferences. Here’s a portion of the release from the SEC:

“New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl are synonymous with post-season college football.  For many years, fans have enjoyed the color and pageantry that New Orleans offers,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.  The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has hosted many Super Bowls, Sugar Bowls and National Championship Games and having teams from the Big 12 and the SEC in a post-season college football game together only adds to this list.  We look forward to competing against the Big 12 as a new championship tradition begins on New Year’s Day.”
               
“From the moment this game was announced, there has been tremendous excitement associated with the collaboration between these two conferences.  That excitement is reflected in the bids received to host this game.  There were great cities, attractive destinations, and impressive venues to consider,” commented Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby.   Now Big 12 fans can look forward to a New Year’s tradition and coming to New Orleans to support their team.  We are thrilled about our long-term association with our SEC colleagues and to be in partnership with the Allstate Sugar Bowl.“     
               
“We’re pleased to have been selected to host this great game.  This gives us the chance to extend the Sugar Bowl’s long-standing relationship with the Southeastern Conference and to develop a new relationship with the Big 12 Conference,” said Paul Hoolahan, Chief Executive Officer of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.  “The result will be, without a doubt, one of college football’s best bowl games on an annual basis, one that brings tremendous national prestige and millions of dollars in economic impact to our city and state over the New Year’s holiday.  We look forward to the tremendous promise this game, and these two great conferences, have to offer.”
               
“This is a great day for the Sugar Bowl Committee, the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.  What this means for our city and state is hard to fully explain,” said Jack Laborde, President of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.  “With the privilege of hosting this game comes a national spotlight, a position at the top of the college football world and untold tourism dollars.  We couldn’t be happier and are grateful for the opportunity.”

Fighting Illini live up to nickname as Lovie Smith calls early end to practice amidst fisticuffs

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 01: Head coach Lovie Smith of the Illinois Fighting Illini looks over the field against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Illinois 31-16. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
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Lovie Smith is not a big fan of fighting amongst his Illinois players, a lesson he shared with his aptly nicknamed Fighting Illini squad Wednesday evening.

According to the Decatur Herald & Review, Illinois’ spring practice session yesterday came to an abrupt and premature end after a fight between players broke out.  The names of those involved in the fisticuffs are not known as the media hadn’t been permitted to view practice.

From the Herald & Review‘s report:

…a source said Smith wanted to send a strong message about how he hates fighting and considers it an inexcusable transgression that robs the rest of the team of a chance to concentrate on getting better.

The field was cleared at about 5:35 p.m., nearly an hour before practice was scheduled to end. The players were sent to the locker room and the field was quickly cleared of equipment. Reporters were told there would be no interviews and were told to vacate the Memorial Stadium facility.

The Illini, which finished 3-9 in their first season under Smith last year, kicked off spring practice feb. 14 and will conclude it March 10 with the annual spring game.

Andy Dodd tweets decision to transfer from LSU

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Fans sit in the rain during the Auburn Tigers against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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With spring practice getting set to kick of en masse all across the country, there’s more of the expected personnel attrition settling in and coming to light.

On his Twitter account Wednesday, Andy Dodd announced that it is in his “best interest” to transfer from LSU and continue playing college football elsewhere. “This decision was not an easy one, but it is what’s best for me moving forward,” the offensive lineman wrote.

Dodd was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 17 guard in the country.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, the lineman played in eight games the next two seasons. He played in six games, with one start, in 2016.

Auburn adds FCS starting lineman as graduate transfer

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 12: Running back Peyton Barber #25 of the Auburn Tigers dives for the end zone during overtime in their game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on September 12, 2015 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 27-20. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Another graduate transfer has made a move, albeit with a slightly different bent than most others.

Auburn confirmed Wednesday that Casey Dunn has been added to Gus Malzahn‘s football roster.  The center comes to The Plains as a graduate transfer, which makes him eligible for the 2017 season.

He also comes to Auburn from Jacksonville State, an FCS school that would’ve made him immediately eligible aside from the grad transfer exception.  Oh, and his new position coach is excited to have him in the personnel fold as well.

The past two seasons, Dunn was an FCS All-American.  While Dunn comes to the Tigers as a center who started 27 games at that position for the Gamecocks, he could play anywhere along the interior of the Tigers’ offensive line.

Malzahn is also very familiar with Dunn’s talent as the lineman started for the JSU squad that took him to overtime in 2015.

Longtime Wake Forest assistant completes Charlotte’s coaching staff

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 12:  Head coach David Bailiff of the Rice Owls and head coach Brad Lambert of the Charlotte 49ers meet to shake hands following Rice's victory over Charlotte at McColl-Richardson Field at Jerry Richardson Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
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Earlier this week, Brad Lambert added a longtime Power Five assistant to his Charlotte coaching staff.  Not long after, he has added another.

The 49ers announced in a release that Keith Henry has been hired by Lambert as his running backs coach.  The 49ers’ coach at that position last season, Damien Gary, will shift to wide receivers.

Henry and Lambert (pictured, left) were on the same staff at Wake Forest, so they have a previous working relationship.

“Keith brings a lot of experience to our program,” said Lambert in a statement. “Having coached on both sides of the ball, he brings an added dimension of a defensive perspective to our offense. We’re really glad he’s coming on board with us. He’s a North Carolina native who’s played in North Carolina and has recruited for many, many years in North and South Carolina. That will be a huge benefit to our program with the relationships he’s built over the years.

“He’s been very successful and been a part of winning football at Ohio, Wake Forest and Catawba.”

Henry spent 11 seasons with the Demon Deacons (2001-11). He coached on the defensive side of the ball for the first 10 years before spending his final season with the ACC school as special teams coordinator.  His last job on the offensive side of the ball came as wide receivers coach at Ohio in 1996.