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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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Police report details how forklift ran over Michigan RB Drake Johnson

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Jim Harbaugh called it a “miracle” Wolverines running back Drake Johnson was not seriously harmed when he was run over by a forklift in April, and a police report unearthed Tuesday detailed exactly how it happened.

According to the document obtained by the Detroit News, a forklift operator identified named Matt Johnson was operating his vehicle at Michigan’s indoor track facility “and felt a bump, stating he thought he ran over a starting block, when he saw Drake Johnson, a student-athlete, roll from under the forklift. And M. Johnson realized he had ran over Drake Johnson who was sitting on the track floor stretching.”

The operator only realized he ran over the running back when he rolled out from under the vehicle.

Johnson was examined by a Michigan athletic trainer at the scene, then again at Schembechler Hall before being transported to U-M Hospital’s emergency room by athletic staff.

“All I can say is thank god,” Johnson later tweeted.

“I can tell you this, it would have killed a lesser man, but he is blue twisted steel, very flexible and amazing,” Harbaugh said on the call. “But it’s one of those miraculous things and he is doing well.”

“It’s a miracle right up there with Easter. Just thanking God he is all right, that’s my thoughts on it.”

Pac-12 to tamper down on select #Pac12AfterDark kickoffs

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 07:  Pac-12 Commissioner, Larry Scott stands in front of the Stanford Cardinal as they celebrate the Pac 12 Championship after defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils 38-14 at Sun Devil Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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When you allow television networks to pay you $3 billion to broadcast football games and happen to be located on the West Coast, you’re going to pay for it in the form of late kickoffs. ESPN and Fox want eyeballs on their networks as long as possible on fall Saturdays, and they’re not putting SEC games on at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

So, naturally, the Pac-12 drew those time slots.

And they absolutely hated it.

Remember, this is a conference that only recently joined the 21st century. For decades, the conference was happy with its 10 teams, its football games played on Saturday afternoons and its basketball schedule diced into a handy Thursday-Saturday format. Larry Scott was hired in 2009 to modernize the league while increasing the bottom line, and part of that required late kickoffs.

But on Tuesday the conference announced it has worked with its television partners to reduce the number of late kickoffs. ESPN and Fox won’t change their late slots, but the conference has received clearance to play Pac-12 Network games in previously exclusive windows of 2 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. local time. The change is expected to reduce the late night kickoffs by “up to” four games.

“The Pac-12 has some of the most loyal fans in college athletics and we appreciate our television partners working with us on this important issue for fans,” Oregon AD Rob Mullens said in a statement. “The increased exposure and revenue from our contracts with ESPN and FOX Sports have been instrumental to our success, but we continue to work hard to minimize as much as possible the negative impact late start times have on our fans who travel great distances to see our teams in person.”

Additionally, the conference announced it has instituted a field storming fine structure of $25,000 for a first offense, $50,000 for a second offense and $100,000 for a third offense. The SEC has a similar structure on its books.

“The Pac-12 Council carefully considered this policy and its impact on our fans who loyally support our teams,” Cal AD Mike Williams said. “This enhanced policy underscores the importance our universities place on the safety and welfare of our student-athletes, officials and fans, and will allow us to educate staffs and fans on procedures going forward.”

Finally, Pac-12 Network will start broadcasting eSports contests between member schools. Clear your schedule now.

Washington promotes Jennifer Cohen to athletics director

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When Scott Woodward left his post as Washington’s athletics director for the same job at Texas A&M in January, the Huskies promoted Jennifer Cohen to be the program’s interim AD.

Washington spent the next four months searching far and wide for Woodward’s replacement, and ended up finding her already sitting in Woodward’s old chair.

“I am very pleased to announce Jen’s appointment,” Washington president Ana Mari Cauce said in a statement. “She has all the skills and energy to provide exceptional leadership for Husky athletics. Her years of experience leading its fundraising program, along with her direct involvement overseeing football, provide a strong foundation for assuming overall leadership for the department.  This is the right time for her, and I look forward to a very exciting time for our students, coaches and fans of Husky athletics.”   

The Tacoma native joined the Huskies’ athletics department in 1998 as an assistant director of development and eventually rose to handle all of UW’s fundraising efforts. Before becoming interim AD, Cohen also oversaw the Huskies’ football and baseball programs.

“I am humbled, honored, and extremely thankful for this opportunity,” said Cohen. “The University of Washington has been part of my life for nearly two decades, and I believe our department is poised to accomplish great things. Together, we will work to positively impact our student-athletes, inspire a championship culture, and build and unite our community. I believe there is no better place to achieve these things than at Washington, and I can’t wait to get started.”

From a football standpoint, Cohen inherits a program on more stable footing than it’s been in a decade and a half — and considering the turmoil the Rose Bowl-bound 2001 Huskies experienced off the field, one may have to go back to the national championship days under Don James in the early 1990’s to find a rosier time for Huskies football. Chris Petersen is entrenched as head coach and has Washington positioned to be the nation’s top sleeper heading into this fall, and Husky Stadium recently underwent $50 million in renovations that Cohen herself fundraised.

Cohen also arrives to the position with Petersen’s enthusiastic approval.

DB Davon Jacobs decides to transfer from Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 01: Davon Jacobs #29 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights tackles Jordan Fredrick #9 of the Wisconsin Badgers in the second quarter at High Point Solutions Stadium on November 1, 2014 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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Another day, another player who’s decided to move on from his college football starting point.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, nj.com is reporting that senior defensive back Davon Jacobs has decided to transfer out of first-year head coach Chris Ash’s football program.  The fact that Jacobs had fallen behind on the safety depth chart this spring.

Jacobs is entering his fifth-year season, but he has yet to graduate.  So, if he wants to finish his career at the FBS level, he’d need to graduate this summer.  If not, he could drop down to the FCS level and be eligible to play immediately in 2016.

Last season, Jacobs started the first three games before being sidelined with a concussion.  He came back to start one more game before being reinjured and missing the remainder of the season.

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2012, Jacobs played in 25 games the next two seasons.  Included in that was a pair of starts, one each in 2013 and 2014.