It’s official: Terps moving to Big Ten

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And there you have it.  The next domino in the inane game of conference expansion has officially tumbled.

Following up on reports that first surfaced Saturday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed Monday that Maryland is indeed leaving the ACC for the Big Ten.  The school’s board of regents approved the move Monday morning, which came after the Big Ten approved Maryland’s application for admission.

The move will be effective beginning in 2014, meaning the Terps will play one lame-duck season in the ACC.

A press conference has been scheduled for 3 p.m. ET today to officially announce the move, with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany (pictured) in attendance.

“I did it to guarantee the long-term future of Maryland athletics,” university president Wallace Loh said in an interview with The Diamondback about the reasons behind the decision to leave the ACC. “No future president will have to worry about cutting teams or that Maryland athletics will be at risk.”

Due to financial concerns, the athletic department was forced recently to cut seven programs.

Maryland was one of the eight founding members of the ACC back in 1953, so it is ditching nearly six decades of history and tradition for… what exactly?  That answer can be described with one simple color: green.

In the ACC’s television deal announced last year, member schools were expected to receive in the neighborhood of $17 million annually per institution.  The Big Ten, on the other hand, will pay out nearly $25 million to every member but Nebraska, which as a new-ish member does not yet receive a full share.

That per-year, per-school number is expected to increase exponentially with the addition of Maryland and, likely, Rutgers.  One report stated that, with the Big Ten Network expanding into the Washington D.C./Baltimore/New Jersey/New York City television markets, the network could realize an additional $100-$200 million annually with the increased conference footprint. While the $200 million figure is admittedly on the absurdly high-end, even the low-end would bring in an additional $7 million or so per school and push the annual per-member payout to between $30-$35 million for the near future.  That figure could move to $40 million and beyond within several years.

Those numbers are very relevant for Maryland, particularly in the short-term as the ACC recently instituted a $50 million exit fee for any member that looked to leave.  However, multiple reports indicate that Maryland believes it can cut the penalty by at least half if not more, with the Big Ten perhaps covering the initial payout in exchange for a percentage of Maryland’s future revenue.

With the conference and the network  pulling in hundreds of millions annually, it’s something the Big Ten can afford to do for one of its own.

The addition of Maryland and Rutgers — that announcement could come as early as Tuesday — would give the Big Ten a footprint that stretches contiguously across 11 states, from Nebraska in the nation’s heartland to New Jersey on the Atlantic seaboard.

Certainly the recruiting corridors in the east, where the likes of Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan already do well, will open up a little more for the conference and could help middle-of-the-pack football members on that front.  But make no mistake, money — Maryland and Rutgers being premiere academic and research institutions doesn’t hurt either — is the driving force behind this latest round of conference expansion.

Not the athletic programs at either school, not for some type of historical football relevance as was the case with Penn State and Nebraska.  No, this is all about the hundreds of millions of dollars the Big Ten can stuff its coffers with by expanding its reach into those television markets.

Maryland and Rutgers brings nothing to the B1G brand but cable eyeballs, it’s as simple as that.

“[The Big Ten] is going national because of a phenomenon,” the school’s president said. “Attendance among college-aged students is dropping. The reason is because this generation is completely wired, and they are getting their education and entertainment on tablets and mobile devices. Everyone thinks you make your money in seats. You make it on eyeballs on a screen.”

It also, though, brings the question of divisional alignment to the table.  The Big Ten is currently separated into two six-team divisions, and on the surface it would make the most sense to add both Maryland and Rutgers to geographic rival Penn State’s division, the Leaders.

Such a move would give the Leaders eight teams, meaning one current member of the division would need to shift.  Illinois, given its geography, would appear to be a likely candidate to switch to the Legends division, which could give the conference the following divisional look:

LEGENDS
Illinois
Iowa
Michigan
Michigan State
Minnesota
Nebraska
Northwestern

LEADERS
Indiana
Maryland
Ohio State
Penn State
Purdue
Rutgers
Wisconsin

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Louisiana-Lafayette suspends 13 players arrested on felony charges

Louisiana-Lafayette athletics
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This’ll certainly leave a mark on the ol’ depth chart.

Louisiana-Lafayette announced Tuesday night that a total of 13 players have been indefinitely suspended by head coach Mark Hudspeth.  Those 13 are tight end Matthew Barnes, defensive end Joe Dillon, left guard Robert Hunt, defensive back Denarius Howard, defensive end Jarvis Jeffries, defensive tackle LaDarrius Kidd, linebacker Terik Miller, defensive back Damar’ren Mitchell, running back Trey Ragas, defensive back Simeon Thomas, defensive back Levarious Varnado, left tackle D’Aquin Withrow and running back Jordan Wright.

While the school attributed the suspensions to a violation of unspecified team rules, KATC-TV is reporting that all 13 of the players were arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy to commit felony theft stemming from an incident earlier this month.

From the television station’s report:

According to investigators, surveillance video shows the 13 players going to a room on the fourth floor of the Huger Hall dormitory and stealing around $2,400 worth of items from the room. Police say the students surrendered after warrants for their arrests were issued.

Seven of those suspended started games last season — Hunt (13), Withrow (13), Mitchell (11), Dillon (eight), Jeffries (seven), Thomas (seven) and Howard (two).  Dillon was named a Freshman All-American by several organizations after leading the Ragin’ Cajuns with 12.5 tackles for losses and seven sacks in 2016.

Wright (pictured, No. 27) wasn’t a starter, but he was fourth on the team last season with 192 yards rushing.  With the departure of leading rusher Elijah McGuire (1,127 yards), Wright, Ragas and Darius Hoggins (281 yards last season) are expected to compete or the starting running back job this season.

UL-L is scheduled to open the 2017 season Sept. 2 against Southeastern Louisiana.

Louisville grad transfer QB Kyle Bolin tweets transfer to Rutgers

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Following Louisville’s spring game earlier this month, Kyle Bolin confirmed that he would be transferring from the football program.  A little over a week later, the quarterback already has a new team lined up.

Per a tweet posted to his personal Twitter account, Bolin wrote he’s “proud to say my next home will be at Rutgers University.” The football program has thus far declined to confirm Bolin’s addition to Chris Ash‘s roster.

Bolin is scheduled to graduate from the U of L next month, meaning he’ll be eligible to play for the Scarlet Knights this coming season.

Texas, Cincinnati, Northern Illinois, Southern Miss and Western Michigan were also considered potential destinations for Bolin.

Bolin started five games in 2015 as he and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson shared quarterbacking duties that season.  Jackson replaced Bolin after a pair of picks in the regular-season finale against rival Kentucky that year and, coming off his four-touchdown performance in the Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M, the former was firmly entrenched as the starter heading into the spring of 2016.

The arrival of Bolin couldn’t come soon enough for the quarterback-depleted Knights.

In mid-November, Rutgers had six scholarship quarterbacks on its roster.  By the beginning of December, that number had been cut in half as two of them, Hayden Rettig and Chris Laviano, left the program as graduate transfers while another, Mike Dare, left as a run-of-the-mill transfer.  The group was further pared earlier this month when Tylin Oden was dismissed for violating team rules and TCU transfer Zach Allen suffered a torn ACL.

With Allen’s injury, it leaves the Scarlet Knights with just one healthy signal-caller on scholarship at the moment — Giovanni Rescigno, the starter to close out the 2016 season and presumptive front-runner to maintain the job.  Another will be added when 2017 signee Johnathan Lewis comes to campus this summer.

Rescigno, Lewis and Bolin will commence a battle for the starting job when summer camp opens in early August.

Nick Saban, on QB controversy: ‘there isn’t one’

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Consider The Nicktator perturbed.  Again.

Jalen Hurts (pictured, right) helped lead Alabama to the national championship game as a true freshman last season and is seemingly the Crimson Tide’s unquestioned starter as we trudge toward summer.  Five-star 2017 signee Tua Tagovailoa (pictured, left), however, had an impressive first spring in Tuscaloosa, capped off with an excellent showing in the annual A-Day game this past weekend.

The true freshman passed for 315 yards and three touchdowns in what amounted to a glorified scrimmage, while the incumbent threw for 301 yards and a pair of scores.

Tagovailoa’s showing throughout the 15 spring practice sessions had led some to wonder whether there could be a quarterback controversy brewing at ‘Bama.  According to Nick Saban, that’s just the media being the media.

“Jalen Hurts played a lot of good football for us last year, and he’s certainly made a lot of progress this spring,” the head coach said by way of al.com. “Even though all of you in the press are trying to make a quarterback controversy out of nothing, which is what you’re doing right now, there isn’t one.”

LOOK: Jim Harbaugh hooks Pope Francis up with Michigan helmet, pair of Jordans

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There’s a series of words I’d never imagined I’d string together in a headline.

As you may have heard, Jim Harbaugh has taken his Michigan football team to Italy for an offseason European vacation.  As part of the trip, the team is in the Vatican City today and took in the Pope’s Wednesday address to the masses in St. Peter’s Square — the players and athletic director Warde Manuel sat amongst the crowd while the head coach and his wife were seated on the same stage as Pope Francis.

Following the address, and after a wait of nearly a half-hour, Harbaugh was able to meet with and speak to His Holiness.  The coach didn’t come empty-handed, either, as Pope Francis was gifted with a Michigan football helmet and a pair of Air Jordans.  Michigan-themed, of course.

“This is as good as it gets,” Harbaugh said according to mlive.com after his meeting with the pope. “This has been the experience of my lifetime.”