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Predictions 101 — Week 11

Johnny Manziel AP

Last week, we went 5-2 straight, but only 2-5 versus “the number.” Not good.

So, we felt compelled to rush over to the boss’ office in Redmond, Wash., and say that we’re still 16-11-1 ahead of the bookmakers over the course of the last four weeks.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Nov. 8, thru Sat., Nov. 10)

1) No. 15 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama
Sat., Nov. 10 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

After seeing LSU’s previously limp offense move the football to the tune of 475 yards last week against their team (the most allowed by a Nick Saban squad since 2007), Crimson Tide supporters ought to be wary of an Aggie attack that’s averaging 44.7 points and 559.6 total yards per game.

Led by electrifying quarterback Johnny Manziel, the no-huddle Texas A&M offense took 97 snaps and gained 693 yards (361 rushing, 332 passing) in a 38-13 victory over Mississippi State last Saturday.

In a home game against Florida (admittedly way back on Sept. 8 in A&M’s opener), the Aggies scored 17 points in the first quarter and a half, but was shut out thereafter, and dropped a 20-17 decision.

More recently and against a similarly elite defense, Texas A&M scored 19 points against LSU in what ended up a five-point loss in College Station. If not for five turnovers, the tables easily could have been turned.

Such an occurrence would be highly unlikely in Tuscaloosa, where the home crowd will help replenish some of the emotional energy that was spent and remains in Death Valley, following that breathtaking 21-17 comeback victory.

This is certainly Alabama’s biggest hurdle on the way to the BCS title game until facing the SEC East champ in Atlanta on Dec. 1. Following this contest — the Tide clinches the SEC West with a win  — there’s only dates with Western Carolina, a 1-9 FCS team, and 2-7 Auburn remaining.

Alabama’s offensive line will be too much for A&M to overcome. The Aggies defensive front has little chance to slow down the Bama running game and when the back seven try to compensate for that, they’ll get burned by play-action from A.J. McCarron.

Opening point spread: Alabama by 16

The pick: Alabama 35-14

2) No. 13 Oregon State at No. 16 Stanford
Sat., Nov. 10 — 3 p.m. ET, FOX

The Cardinal defense is simply scary versus the run. Not only does Stanford lead the nation in rushing defense, yielding just 55.8 yards per game, it has pushed its last three opponents — California, Washington State and Colorado — backward for a total of minus-34 yards on the ground.

The Beavers aren’t much for that mode of travel anyway. With the emergence of former backup quarterback Cody Vaz and the production of the dynamic duo of wideouts Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton, Oregon State prefers to air it out.

Stanford also is currently being led by a former backup quarterback as freshman Kevin Hogan has unseated senior Josh Nunes. The difference is that his only previous experience came in last Saturday’s 48-0 victory at Colorado and that 18-of-23 performance, which produced 184 yards and two touchdowns, doesn’t really tell us much. The Buffaloes are a far cry from the Beavers (and anybody for that matter).

Hogan should be fine though. His first start will be at home on The Farm and he’ll be lining up in the backfield with senior running back Stepfan Taylor, who is capable of pounding out tough yards against an Oregon State defense that allows only 91.8 yards per game on the ground.

Opening point spread: Stanford by 5 1/2

The pick: Stanford 24-20

3) No. 22 Mississippi State at No. 9 LSU
Sat., Nov. 10 — 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Both tanks figure to be a bit empty.

The Tigers will be thinking about their come-from-ahead loss to Alabama for a long time. Seemingly in control until the Tide rolled on its last drive, LSU gave away a 21-17 decision at home that nixed its SEC and BCS title dreams.

For the Bulldogs, they’ve known this week was coming ever since the schedule was posted. This tail end of a three-game gauntlet that has already seen Mississippi State drop games against Alabama (38-7) and Texas A&M (38-13) was always going to be a doozy.

Last year, the Tigers and Bulldogs engaged in one of those SEC field goal parades as LSU led 9-6 early in the fourth quarter. The Tigers ended up winning, 19-6, but that game was at Davis Wade Stadium.

This one is in Death Valley, where LSU hasn’t lost to Mississippi State since 1991. The nighttime atmosphere will suitably fill up the Tiger tanks.

Opening point spread: LSU by 17

The pick: LSU 26-14

4) No. 3 Kansas State at TCU
Sat., Nov. 10 — 7 p.m. ET, FOX

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai‘i.

Since Bill Snyder isn’t likely to show his cards until game time, we can’t show ours either.

But, we are willing to say this: If Collin Klein doesn’t start and finish this road game, the Wildcats won’t be able to trade blows with a Horned Frog offense that is finding a rhythm at the right time. He is that important. Think Auburn without Cam Newton in 2010.

This could be one of the shakeups in the BCS that people are waiting for.

Opening point spread: none

The pick: none

5) Penn State at No. 18 Nebraska
Sat., Nov. 10 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2

The leaders in the Leaders aren’t eligible for Indy. But the leaders in the Legends are poised to earn that trip to the Big Ten Championship Game.

Assuming they don’t flub up versus Minnesota and Iowa, the Cornhuskers just need to get past the visiting Nittany Lions to make that happen.

That seems to be in the cards, but let’s not jump to conclusions too quickly. Penn State has been a winning ticket in Vegas for most of the last two months.

Nebraska’s offense generates 487.3 yards per game (tops in the Big Ten), but it’s a bit scary for Cornhusker fans that quarterback Taylor Martinez has thrown seven interceptions in the last four games.

Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin hasn’t been intercepted four times yet this season and has thrown for 282 or more yards in each of his past four games, but the Huskers rank fifth nationally in pass defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense.

Opening point spread: Nebraska by 9

The pick: Nebraska 24-23

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

Northwestern at Michigan
Sat., Nov. 10 — noon ET, ESPN

Once again, the USOTW prediction comes courtesy of Marc Doche (@MDoche) from the P101 satellite office in Burbank, Calif.

We’ll remind ourselves never again to roll with a squad relying on a converted freshman linebacker under center as we did last week with Maryland. Instead, this week in a critical Big Ten match-up, we’ll go with the Wildcats coming off a bye, and against a Wolverine team with a cloudy quarterback situation.

Denard Robinson missed last week’s 35-13 victory over Minnesota, due to a lingering ulnar nerve issue that affects his throwing hand. While some Wolverine fans are jumping on the Devin Gardner bandwagon after an efficient start against the lowly Gophers, the sometimes wideout is not in the same league as Robinson, who accounted for 450 total yards in Michigan’s win in Evanston last year.

No matter who takes the snaps for the Wolverines, the Wildcat offense led by running back Venric Mark, who leads the Big Ten in all-purpose yards (183.6 per game), will be more dependable. Michigan’s forte is stopping the pass.

The Wolverines are 16-0 under head coach Brady Hoke when scoring 20 or more points, but they’ll find it tough to reach that barrier, especially if they continue the charity that has led to a minus-6 turnover margin. In contrast, the Wildcats have four more takeaways than giveaways.

The double-digit price tag that comes with the Wolverines is more than curious.

Opening point spread: Michigan by 13

The pick: Northwestern 20-19

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 4 Notre Dame at Boston College
Sat., Nov. 10 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

With only two notches in the win column, Boston College’s bowl prospects are limited to the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl, which is given by the Notre Dame Club of Boston to the winner of football games between the Fighting Irish and Eagles.

While the likelihood of BC capturing that bowl and the Ireland Trophy, which will be presented to the winners by the Notre Dame student government, is extremely remote, please recall that the Eagles have blown up Irish national title attempts twice before.

In 1993, Boston College toppled the top-ranked Domers, 41-39. And in 2002, another 8-0 Notre Dame squad fell victim to the Eagles.

This season, however, due in part to the fact that the Fighting Irish got a triple-overtime wake-up call from Pittsburgh last week, Notre Dame should have as little trouble with Boston College as Barack Obama had with Electoral College.

Opening point spread: Notre Dame by 20

The pick: Notre Dame 32-16

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Davon Durant’s future as a Sun Devil in hands of ASU board

Davon Durant

Late this past week, a highly-touted member of Arizona State’s 2015 recruiting class took care of business when it comes to the legal system.  Now, his fate at the university is in the hands of a different set of “judges.”

According to the Arizona Republic, Davon Durant attended a hearing Friday in front of ASU’s University Hearing Board that will determine whether the JUCO transfer can remain at the institution as both a student and an athlete.  The hearing was in response to a March domestic violence incident in which Durant was initially charged with one count of felony aggravated assault and three counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

It was alleged at the time that the female victim was hit by Durant “in the face once and grabbed her around the neck,” leading to “visible injuries, including a bruise below her left eye and bruising around her neck that was consistent with finger marks.”

The Republic explained the university’s process moving forward.

The hearing did not produce an immediate decision. The University Hearing Board has up to three days to issue a recommendation to an ASU dean of students. A final determination on Durant’s fate could take up to 20 days.

The paper also explained that Durant has already been expelled from the university, and that the hearing was part of the linebacker’s appeal to be permitted to re-enroll.

Durant pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct at his court appearance Thursday, with sentencing scheduled for the middle of next month. Previously, the alleged victim had both recanted her claims and asked that a moratorium on contact between the two be dropped.

Transferring in from the JUCO ranks, Durant had been expected to be a significant contributor to the Sun Devils’ defense in 2015.

Coming out of Butler County Community College, Durant was a four-star member of ASU’s 2015 recruiting class.  Durant, a South Carolina native, had actually been a verbal commitment to South Carolina during part of his time at the Kansas JUCO, but flipped his commitment to ASU in October.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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KeiVarae Russell takes to social media to announce Irish return

KeiVarae Russell, Jeremy Gallon

Suspended for the entire 2014 season because of the findings rendered in an academic fraud investigation, KeiVarae Russell took to social media last October to vent his frustration over a school, Notre Dame, that he wrote “is becoming ridiculous.” Less than two weeks later, though, signs were pointing toward a return in 2015.

Seven months later? It appears he’s back.

While there’s been nothing official coming from Notre Dame — that’s expected to come at some point next month according to a school official — Russell took to the same social media website to announce a return to the Irish.

KeiVarae Russell

As explained by our buddy Keith Arnold over at Inside the Irish, Russell’s acceptance to re-enroll at the South Bend school has been imminent for a while. Still, Russell’s unofficially official confirmation portends good things for the Irish secondary as he’s a supremely talented football player.

Russell had started all 26 games during his two years in South Bend prior to his 2014 suspension. A freshman All-American in 2012, Russell finished fifth in tackles in 2013, tops among all defensive backs. His work in pass coverage is superb, as evidenced by the fact that he led all Irish players in passes broken up (eight) and passes defensed (nine) his true sophomore season.

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$20 armed robbery nets Rutgers’ Darian Dailey a dismissal, too

Kevin Snyder, L.J. Liston

To reiterate what was stated in the last post on this subject, I hope it was worth it.

In a statement released Thursday night, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood announced that Darian Dailey (pictured, No. 33has been dismissed from his Scarlet Knights football program. The dismissal comes a handful of days after Dailey, along with another business associate, was arrested and charged in connection to a Florida armed robbery that netted the entrepreneurs a whopping total of $20.

Padding their financial portfolios with a single Andrew Jackson wasn’t enough, though; they earned a felony charge by using what turned out to be a pellet gun.

“Every one of these situations is unique,” Flood said in his (under)statement. “We’ve made the decision and now as a football program we’re moving on from that decision.”

A two-star member of the Scarlet Knights’ 2014 recruiting class, Dailey took a redshirt as a true freshman. He had been expected to compete for significant playing time this upcoming season — prior to his hostile takeover of a well-heeled bicyclist, that is.

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USF officially adds ex-Badger S Austin Hudson to its roster

Two months after leaving Wisconsin, and three weeks after it was reported he was headed back to his home state, Austin Hudson officially has a new college football home.

In a press release sent out Friday afternoon, USF announced that Hudson has transferred into Willie Taggart‘s Bulls football program.  Because of NCAA transfer rules, Hudson will be forced to sit out the 2015 season.

Beginning in 2016, he will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Hudson was a two-star member of the Badgers’ 2014 recruiting class. He held offers from Georgia and Missouri prior to signing with UW.

As a true freshman last season, Hudson played in all 14 games.

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Terps’ pass-catching corps springs another Leak

Maryland v Syracuse

Last month it was reported that running back Jacquille Veii, a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, had decided to leave the Terrapins.  A month later, the Terps’ passing game has taken another hit.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun is reporting that Marcus Leak has withdrawn from school due to personal reasons.  In May of 2013, Leak left under similar circumstances, although he ultimately returned.

It’s unclear if a return is in the cards this time around as well.

Last season, Leak was third on the team in receptions (20) and receiving yards (297), while he was second in receiving touchdowns (three).  With Leak’s departure, the Terps won’t return their top four in receiving yards from the 2014 season: Stefon Diggs (792, early entry into NFL draft), Deon Long (575, expired eligibility) and Veii (230).

Those four departures mean that the leading returning receiver in terms of yards is Amba Etta-Tawo (222). The leading returning receiver in receptions is running back Wes Brown (21). The good news for the Terps is that Levern Jacobs, the team’s leading receiver in 2013, is returning from an injury that cost him most of the 2014 season.

Leak’s departure comes one day after Maryland announced the addition of quarterback Daxx Garman as a graduate transfer.

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Field-rushing could cost SEC schools $250,000

Alabama v Mississippi Getty Images

Earlier this week, outgoing SEC commissioner Mike Slive confirmed that his conference was looking to stiffen penalties for schools whose fans rush the field/storm the courts following wins.

With the league’s annual spring meetings coming to a close, those stiffer penalties have officially been enacted — and they are more than a slap on the wrist.

The previous penalties were on a sliding scale, with $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.  After that three-year period, the slate was wiped clean.

Moving forward, the fine is $50,000 for a first offense, $100,000 for a second and a whopping $250,000 for a third offense.  The biggest news, however, may be that there is no three-year period to be wiped clean; rather, the $250,000 penalty will be in force for, well, forever.

For example: If a third offense is committed in, say, November of this year, and then a fourth in 2019, the $250,000 fine is applicable.

That said, given the new revenue numbers that came in today, and the projections for future years, I’m thinking the SEC schools will be able to bite the financial bullet if its fan deem it necessary to rush the field/storm the courts three or more times.  Or, as Ole Miss fans did last year after their post-Alabama win field rush, they’ll just donate the money to pay for the fines themselves.

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Big 12 sets record for big revenue, too

Raining Money

The SEC isn’t the only conference announcing record financials at the end of the work week.

Friday afternoon, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced that eight of his conference’s schools will received full shares of $27 million each.  New-ish members TCU and West Virginia will receive $24 and $23 million apiece, respectively; next year, each of those schools will receive full shares.

In 2014, Bowlsby announced what was a then-record payout of $23 million per school.

Bowlsby also noted that “several Big 12 schools [are] close to or over SEC numbers given third-tier rights.” Texas and Oklahoma, of course, would be the big winners in that revenue stream, while WVU made up somewhat for its lack of a full share.

As a reminder, SEC schools are expected to receive a shade over $31 million each for the 2014-15 fiscal year.  Those numbers don’t include multimedia rights deals — no third-tier rights in that conference because of the SEC Network — worked out by the individual schools, like the lucrative new deal signed by Alabama in April of 2014.

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SEC to ban adding transfers disciplined for ‘serious misconduct’

Jonathan Taylor Mugshot

Most casual college football fans wouldn’t consider the SEC holding the high moral ground on many if any issues.  When it comes to a certain type of transfer, however, they now most certainly do.

Georgia had proposed a rule change that would bar SEC schools from accepting transfers who had been disciplined for what was labeled as “serious misconduct” at that student-athlete’s previous institution.  Some observers believed that the initiative had little chance of passing; they were wrong.

Friday afternoon, the conference announced that the “UGA rule” had passed muster with its member institutions and will be implemented for the 2015-16 sports season.  It’s believed that the SEC is the first conference to enact such a policy.

As for the specifics of what’s being described as a groundbreaking rule, let’s go to the tweets from those in Destin for the league’s annual spring meetings:

While the rule is being hailed as the “UGA rule,” it might as well be called the “UGA rule, brought to you by Jonathan Taylor.”

In July of 2014, Taylor was dismissed by Georgia following a domestic violence arrest.  In a controversial move, Taylor signed with Alabama in January of this year.  Two months later, Taylor was arrested again on a domestic violence charge, leading to his second dismissal from an SEC school in less than a year.

Now that the SEC has set the standard when it comes to transfers such as Taylor, look for most, if not all of other Power Five conferences to follow suit in relatively short order.

One final bit of business (I’ll have a separate post on the new field-rushing-court-storming penalties in short order): Mike Slive announced that Greg Sankey will take over as commissioner of the SEC June 1.  Slive’s contract runs through July 31, and he had been expected to fulfill that obligation before stepping down.

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HS coach: backup QB John Franklin transferring from FSU

John Franklin

The first post-Everett Golson casualty is unofficially in the books.

Exactly 10 days after the former Notre Dame quarterback became a current Florida State quarterback, John Franklin‘s high school coach revealed to the Orlando Sentinel that his former player has decided to move on from the Seminoles. It’s relatively big news as Franklin had exited the spring as the unofficial No. 2 on the depth chart behind Sean Maguire, although most observers thought Franklin would be able to continue pushing for the job once summer camp kicked off.

In confirming the decision to move on, South Plantation (Fla.) coach Doug Gatewood stated that Franklin “is just looking for an opportunity” at another school.  Gatewood added that he’d be open to that opportunity being at another position, although why he couldn’t play another position at FSU if he’s open to it is unknown.

Franklin was a three-star member of FSU’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 25 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  Tennessee was the only other Power Five program to offer Franklin a scholarship.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Franklin appeared in two games.  According to his official FSU bio, he also practiced at wide receiver in 2014.

(Photo credit: Florida State athletics)

UPDATED 2:39 p.m. ET: On Instagram, Franklin confirmed that he is indeed transferring from FSU.  In addition to his confirmation, he wrote out a lengthy statement, which appears below.

I want to first and foremost thank Coach Jimbo Fisher for being the first coach to take a chance on me at playing Quarterback out of high school. He saw something in me that many other schools looked over and for that I will forever be greatful. I want to thank all the coaches for taking me under their wing and treating me as one of their own. Want to thank the one and only Nole Nation for supporting me while I was here at FSU. No matter where I end up I will always be a Nole at heart. Lastly, want to thank my teammates for being a family away from home. I’ve built relationships with yall boys that no one will ever be able to understand nor break up. I’m going to miss grinding on the field and all the love we shared together. Some people may not understand why I decided to leave, but this is my life and I’m doing what is best for me to continue reaching my dreams and making them reality. I appreciate all the love and support as I go through this transition and I’m looking forward to see what God has in store for me in the near future. Thank you.

Franklin also added a rather amusing postscript.

PS: Any schools that are interested in me or want to talk feel free to message me on any social media. I’m open to all schools right now.

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Urban, on Braxton: ‘He’s playing for Ohio State’ this fall

Braxton Miller, Urban Meyer AP

Maybe now any last speculation ember when it comes to a Braxton Miller transfer will be extinguished?  Probably not, but Urban Meyer‘s giving it that ol’ college try.  Again.

The rehabbing Ohio State quarterback had indicated at a rally earlier this year to celebrate the squad’s national championship that he will return to the Buckeyes for his senior season.  Meyer has seemed fairly confident all along that he’ll have a three-man quarterback competition this summer that will include Miller; he reiterated as much as recently as late April.

Even Miller’s athletic director addressed the situation publicly, becoming the latest member of the university to express confidence in the senior staying with the Buckeyes.

Still, that hasn’t stopped the speculation from swirling.  Most recently, Miller was connected to Alabama, which was only fueled by the perception that Nick Saban was tap-dancing around the possibility.

Friday, Meyer was again asked about Miller’s future status with his football team.  And, once again, Meyer reiterated what’s been his public stance for nearly a half-year.

Meyer added that Miller, in the latter stages of his recovery from shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2014 season and, in essence, triggered the signal-calling speculation in Columbus, is now up to throwing the ball 35 yards and is expected to be at or near 100-percent healthy for the start of summer camp.  Additionally, there has been no talk of a position switch for Miller.

So, barring something completely unforeseen, Miller will enter August in a three-way competition with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.  Just the way the football gods intended it.

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SEC set to dole out record revenue to its membership… again

Money AP

Last year around this time, the SEC was announcing record revenues to be divvied up amongst its member schools.  12 months later, it’s lather, rinse and repeat… even more.

According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, the SEC will distribute $435 million earned in 2014-15 to the 14 schools in the conference.  That averages out to roughly $31.07 million per member; in 2009, $13.8 million was distributed to each school.

That total far surpasses last year’s “paltry” record of $20.9 million per member.  For comparison’s sake, the Big 12 last year doled out $23.9 million each to eight of its 10 members — “new” members TCU and West Virginia received partial shares of $14 million each — while each Big Ten member received in the neighborhood of $24 million.

The Big Ten could slice into the SEC’s financial lead this year, though, as projections pegged B1G institutions at $30.9 million each in revenue for the 2014-15 cycle.  The Pac-12, meanwhile, is projected to hand out close to $23 million per — in 2018, meaning the Left Coast conference is lagging far behind the two Power Five Superpowers.

As for from where the SEC’s revenue comes, McMurphy writes “[t]he total amount of the distribution is composed of revenue generated from the SEC Network, televised football, bowl games, the SEC football championship, televised basketball, the SEC men’s basketball tournament, NCAA championships and a supplemental surplus distribution.”

The SEC Network printed more money in Year 1 than initially projected, which, combined with the wildly-successful College Football Playoff and its substantial windfall, means that the conference should, or more likely will, continue to set annual record revenues standards for the foreseeable future.

UPDATED 2:43 p.m. ET: The official numbers are out, and each SEC school will actually receive a whopping $31.2 million in revenue.

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Ex-Virginia QB Greyson Lambert to visit Florida, Georgia

BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 28: Quarterback Greyson Lambert #11 of the Virginia Cavaliers looks to throw in the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on November 28, 2014 in Blacksburg, Virginia. Virginia Tech defeated Virginia 24-20. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Having fallen short in their respective pursuits of Everett Golson, it appears Georgia and Florida have their collective sights set on another transfer quarterback.

Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald is reporting that UGA has received permission to talk to transfer target Greyson Lambert.  247Sports.com, meanwhile, reports that Lambert will visit Athens this weekend, and will then follow up that with a visit to Florida Monday.

Nearly two weeks ago, it was announced that Lambert had received a release from his Virginia scholarship.

Entering spring practice, Georgia’s quarterback competition to replace Hutson Mason was a three-player race: Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park.  Ramsey and Bauta exited the spring 1-2 — or 1a-1b, to be technically correct — on UGA’s unofficial depth chart.

Florida’s quarterback situation is equally unsettled, with neither Treon Harris nor Will Grier able to grab the job by the throat this spring, although Grier will enter the summer as the slight favorite.

Lambert could immediately enter either the Bulldogs’ or Gators’ signal-calling fray as he will receive his degree from UVa. late next month and will be eligible immediately at any FBS school.  Colorado State, Fresno State and Purdue have also shown an interest in Lambert, who will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Last season, Lambert started nine of the Cavaliers’ 12 games.  He threw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (10) while completing just under 60 percent of his 261 passes.  That performance, as well as their collective performances in the spring, allowed Matt Johns to wrest control of the starting job exiting those 15 sessions and contributed to Lambert pulling the trigger on a transfer.

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Gopher De’Niro Laster transferring to be closer to Ohio home

Minnesota v Wisconsin

After a couple of years in the Twin Cities, De’Niro Laster has a personal need to get back closer to his Ohio roots.

In a text message to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Laster confirmed that he has decided to transfer out of the Minnesota football program. The Cleveland native told the Star-Tribune in the text that his family is going through an unspecified situation and he wants to be closer to them.

“I’m transferring home to be closer to my family, as we are going through a difficult family situation right now,” Laster wrote in the missive to the paper. “I will miss all of my teammates and the fans dearly! I don’t have a school picked right now, but I will have one in the upcoming week.

“I love Coach [Jerry] Kill, and I am thankful and honored for what we did there as a program. I wish the best to all my teammates and coaches!”

Regardless of the family situation, Laster will have to sit out the 2015 season if he ends up at another FBS program. The linebacker would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016; he could play immediately at an FCS school and have three years left.

Laster, a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2013 recruiting class, was rated as the No. 35 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 34 player at any position in the state of Ohio. He took a redshirt as a true freshman, then played in nine games in 2014.

Coming out of high school, he held offers from, among others, Akron, Bowling Green and Toledo. According to Rivals.com‘s profile of the player, Ohio State showed some level of interest, although that interest never morphed into an actual scholarship offer. In fact, Minnesota and Illinois were the only Big Ten teams to officially offer Laster.

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After leaving Iowa, John Kenny ‘reunites’ with RichRod in the desert

Henry Krieger Coble, John Kenny AP

In the run-up to National Signing Day in 2013, Rich Rodriguez and Arizona offered John Kenny a scholarship. The potential marriage didn’t work out at the time but, two years later, RichRod’s got his man.

While nothing is officially official, Kenny (pictured, No. 47) announced via Twitter Thursday night that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career with the Wildcats. A little over two weeks ago, Kenny had confirmed that he would be transferring out of the Iowa football program.

After sitting out the 2015 season, Kenny will have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

Kenny later added a post to his Instagram account, which contained the following farewell to his former football home:

Excited to continue chasing my dreams at another great program! Thank you Iowa for blessing me with great friends and countless memories that will last a lifetime. A new journey starts shortly in Tucson.

Kenny was signed as a linebacker by the Hawkeyes, but moved to fullback last season. He will move back to linebacker with the Wildcats.

A three-star member of Iowa’s 2013 recruiting class, Kenny was rated as the No. 34 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Indiana.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, he played in 11 games last season, starting two of those contests. While he had no rushing attempts, he did catch four passes for 27 yards.

Exiting spring practice, he wasn’t listed on the Hawkeyes’ two-deep depth chart at any position.

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About face: Baylor AD plans to beef up non-conference schedules after all

Baylor West Virginia Football

SMU, Lamar, Rice, Northwestern State, Liberty, UTSA, Duke, Abilene Christian, Incarnate Word, and Lousiana Tech. That’s the full list. The names of schools you just read comprise the entirety of Baylor’s non-conference schedule through 2020. The entire thing. This isn’t the filler in between home-and-homes with Penn State or neutral site games with North Carolina and Oregon – that’s it.

No matter how many times athletics director Ian McCaw and head coach Art Briles denied it, that schedule – this year’s slate included SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo – and the stigma surrounding it were the reason Baylor played in last season’s Cotton Bowl and not the Sugar Bowl. Trade the road game at Buffalo for a trip to Boston College and the Bears are probably the last team in the inaugural College Football Playoff, not eventual champion Ohio State.

On Thursday, McCaw finally acknowledged that fact. Sort of.

When we’re in the midst of a 14-year bowl drought, our scheduling philosphy is: ‘Let’s try to find six wins,’ because we needed to end that drought. We were scheduling with an eye on let’s try to find a way to get to six,’ McCaw told David Ubben of FoxSportsSouthwest.com. “Obviously, as we’ve won back to back Big 12 championships and our program’s in the national stage and we’re recruiting at an extremely high level and have McLane Stadium in place, we’re able to take on a higher level of competition and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

McCaw said to having “two or three discussions” with fellow Power Five foes about scheduling games between 2016 and 2020, but made no promises the Bears would line up a major-conference foe on a yearly basis. “It’ll vary a little bit from year to year because we have a number of years still fully committed and a number of years still looking to schedule games, but we’re certainly open to playing a Power 5 game in addition to the nine we’re playing,” he said. “Probably not every year, but a good number of years.”

Outside the home-and-home with Duke, Baylor’s lone Power Five foe lined up for upcoming schedules is Utah, with whom the Bears will meet in 2023 and ’24.

 

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