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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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Local Auburn man arrested after setting Toomer’s Corner oak tree on fire

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 10: Fans of the Auburn Tigers roll trees at Toomer's Corner after defeating the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Jordan Hare Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Arkansas State Red Wolves 51-14.(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Police have identified and arrested a 29-year-old Auburn, Ala. man after he allegedly set fire to one of the oak trees at the famous Toomer’s Corner.

Fans traditionally celebrate a Tigers victory by “rolling” the trees with toilet paper and did so once again on Saturday night following an 18-13 victory over LSU. However, video surveillance showed a suspect lighting some of the paper on fire, setting the tree ablaze as he walked away.

The Auburn city police department, in a release obtained by USA Today, stated that “witnesses at Toomer’s Corner identified a suspect, who was immediately detained and taken into custody by police on an unrelated charge of public intoxication.” Several reports identified the suspect as Jochen Wiest.

Firefighters quickly responded to the fire and extinguished the burning tree but university officials are still evaluating the damage to the oaks.

“From the ground we can easily see damage to the leaves and base of the tree. It is significant,” Professor of Horticulture Gary Keever said in a statement released by the school. “I expect the foliage will continue to drop. The full extent of damage may not be known for several weeks. The best case scenario would be to see a flush of new growth next spring, but right now it’s too early to tell how the tree will respond.”

The incident is all the more emotional for Auburn fans given that the tradition had just been revived this season following a three-year absence as a result of an Alabama fan poisoning the oaks. Hopefully the area around Toomer’s Corner can recover in time for the Tigers’ next win, which might be as soon as Saturday when they host Louisiana-Monroe.

Notre Dame officially parts ways with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

FILE - In an Aug. 29, 2014 file photo, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, right, talks with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder during practice during media day for a NCAA football team in South Bend, Ind. It was announced Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder following a 1-3 start. The school tweeted a new release saying VanGorder is being replaced by defensive analyst Greg Hudson.(AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)
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Notre Dame has officially parted ways with embattled defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

“This is a difficult decision,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn’t where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.”

Notre Dame has allowed 134 points through their first four games and are just 1-3 after extremely high preseason expectations. This was VanGorder’s third season in South Bend but the Irish have regressed significantly and ranked 101st in FBS scoring defense after Saturday’s home loss to Duke.

Defensive analyst Greg Hudson, a former Notre Dame linebacker who has served as defensive coordinator at Purdue, East Carolina and Minnesota, was elevated to fill VanGorder’s role.

“It’s never easy to make a change on your staff, but I’m confident in Greg’s ability to lead our defense,” Kelly added. “As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he’ll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms.”

The move to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball isn’t exactly surprising to Irish fans who have seen the team play this year but the timing is notable. Kelly remarked that the coaching was not the problem on defense after the loss to the Blue Devils but still opted to make a change on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if a very young defense will respond, and perhaps even rally, now that a big message has been sent.

Notre Dame plays Syracuse on Saturday at noon ET.

Florida International fires head coach Ron Turner after 10-30 run

HADLEY, MA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head coach Ron Turner of the FIU Golden Panthers looks on during the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Hadley, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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The firing season in college football is getting started earlier and earlier. Just ask Ron Turner.

The Florida International head coach was fired early Sunday in a move that was hardly surprising aside from its timing.

“I want to thank Coach Turner for his contributions to the FIU football program, most importantly his commitment to academics and community service,” athletic director Pete Garcia said in a short statement. “At this time Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Ron Cooper has been named interim head coach.”

Turner went 10-30 over four years at the school but was 0-4 to begin the season after a 53-14 loss to Central Florida last week. While he is far from the first coach fired in 2016, Turner did become the first head coach to be fired after the season got underway.

Cooper had a 45–55 record in nine seasons as a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M. He was elevated to FIU’s defensive coordinator prior to the season and notably served as LSU’s defensive backs coach when Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu starred in Baton Rouge.

The Panthers are set to play local rival Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

LSU head coach Les Miles, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron fired

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers looks on during the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The Mad Hatter is looking for a new gig.

LSU has fired head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the school announced on Sunday. The news was first reported by the Baton Rouge Advocate.

“Decisions like this are never easy ones to make,” athletic director Joe Alleva said in a statement. “Coach Miles has done a tremendous job here and he’s been a great ambassador for our University, which makes this even more difficult.

“However, it’s apparent in evaluating the program through the first month of the season that a change has to be made. Our commitment to excellence and competing at the highest level is unwavering, and our goals for the remainder of this season haven’t changed. We have an obligation to our student-athletes to put them in the best position to have success on the football field each week and we have great confidence that coach Orgeron will do just that.”

The move comes just hours after the Tigers lost to Auburn in the final seconds to drop to 2-2 after beginning the year as a trendy national championship pick and top five team in the polls.

Miles has been in Baton Rouge since 2005 and posted a 114–34 record at the school, including a national title in 2007 and a pair of SEC championships. He was nearly let go after the 2015 season but was retained following a huge wave of public support and potential implications with a large buyout.

Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was named the interim head coach for the rest of the season. Former LSU quarterback and current tight ends coach Steve Ensminger is slated to become the new offensive coordinator, according to Fox Sports.