Tedford officially out as Cal’s coach

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Rumored to be on his way out as Cal’s head coach leading into this past weekend, it appeared Jeff Tedford was set to receive at least a one-year reprieve after a reported meeting with his athletic director Sunday didn’t result in an immediate dismissal.

As it turns out, that was merely delaying what has long been considered the inevitable.

In a release, Cal announced Tuesday afternoon that Tedford will not serve as its head football coach moving forward.  Tedford informed his players of the athletic department’s decision at a 1 p.m. ET meeting.

Tedford becomes the sixth FBS head coach to either retire or have been fired in the past month.

“For many years, under Jeff Tedford’s leadership, our program represented all that and more,” athletic director Sandy Barbour said in a statement. “Coach Tedford deserves credit for the extraordinary effort he undertook to turn this program around and bring us to the heights of a Pac-10 co-championship in 2006. He has served his University admirably, and I will forever be indebted for his commitment and expertise, as well as the positive impact he has made in so many young men’s lives over the years.”

Tedford, who will be owed a $6.9 million buyout paid over three years and minus and collegiate/NFL coaching salary, finishes his 11-year Golden Bears career with a respectable 82-57 record, although the past few years have seen Cal’s on-field performance drop precipitously.

Since leading Cal to a 28-9 record from 2004-06, Tedford has gone just 39-37 in the subsequent six seasons.  The last three, the record has tumbled to 15-22, including a 3-9 mark this season that’s easily the worst of Tedford’s 11 seasons at Cal.

Even more distressing for the alumni and fan base is how far the Bears have lagged behind their bitter rivals.  As Cal has struggled mightily the past three years, Stanford has gone 31-5 and turned the Big Game into the Big Rout — the Cardinal has won the last three by an average of 18 points per game.

For a university that just took on hundreds of millions of dollars in debt renovating the football stadium, that level of performance on all fronts is far from acceptable, even for a coach who resurrected the program from the ashes just a decade ago.

“This was an extraordinarily difficult decision, one that required a thorough and thoughtful analysis of a complex set of factors,” Barbour said. “Ultimately, I believed that we needed a change in direction to get our program back on the right track. Cal football is integral to our department and our university, and its influence can be felt well beyond the walls of Memorial Stadium. The program clearly serves as an important part of the connective tissue that binds our community together, and it is imperative that Cal football be recognized as a leader in competitive success, academic achievement and community engagement.”

The early names being bandied about as potential replacements?  Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes and Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter, along with former Stanford assistant and current San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson frowns upon Group of Five playoff idea

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The chances a team from the Group of Five ever gets selected to play in the College Football Playoff range from slim to none. As such, talk from within the Group of Five has kicked up from time to time, especially over the last year, about a possible Group of Five-only version of the College Football Playoff. The reactions to that idea has been mixed, but add Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson to the group of people who thinks that idea should be tossed aside.

While attending meetings for the College Football Playoff, Benson told reporters he would prefer to see conference champions from the Group of Five (American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) receive better bowl bids instead of playing in a minor version of the College Football Playoff.

It’s time to have a realistic conversation about creating a playoff for the Group of 5,” NIU athletic director Sean Frazier told Brett McMurphy, then of ESPN.com, back in December. “Why not?”

Well, there are a number of reasons. First, not everybody seems to be on board with playing the college football version equivalent of the NIT. Sure, it would be on TV and would get ratings, but the reward at the end of the JV playoff would mean little. Nobody would consider it a national championship. That’s what the FCS is for.

Benson is not alone in his anti-Group of Five playoff stance. MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher also has been on record saying he is not interested in such a plan, and he oversaw a member from his conference go undefeated last season and play in the Cotton Bowl (Western Michigan).

My initial reaction is that’s not something I’m interested in,” Steinbrecher said, according to MLive.com in December. “We’re part of the (College Football Playoff) system, and it’s done a lot of very good things for the Mid-American Conference.”

Without the support from two of the Group of Five commissioners (and you can almost be guaranteed you can add Mike Aresco of the American Athletic Conference to the list given the conference’s push to be considered a power conference), this idea is pretty much dead on arrival.

LSU’s Arden Key: I am not sitting out my junior year

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After taking a little time off from the LSU football program this spring, Arden Key calmed the nerves of Tigers fans on Wednesday with a simple message on his Twitter account.

Key announced to his Twitter followers he will be on the field for the Tigers this fall. Back in February, LSU released a statement saying Key would be stepping away from the program “for personal reasons.” What those personal reasons were is unknown, but he did so with the support of head coach Ed Orgeron and the entire football program at the time.

Key earned second-team All-SEC honors last season after leading LSU with 14.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, a school record. With news, he would be stepping away from the program and the age of top NFL Draft prospects opting out of bowl games, the mere thought that Key might become the first potential NFL Draft pick the following season sitting out the entire football season was difficult to completely ignore. Fortunately, especially for LSU and not so much for LSU’s opponents, Key is choosing not to break that barrier at this time.

Texas A&M removes WR Kirk Merritt from roster

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After being charged for allegedly exposing himself to tutors at Texas A&M, wide receiver Kirk Merritt is no longer an Aggie. Merritt has been removed from the Texas A&M football program, according to a report from The Eagle. Though there has been no official statement confirming such news, Merritt’s name has been wiped off the team’s online roster.

Merritt pleaded not guilty to a pair of indecent exposure charges against him stemming from an incident last October. Merritt allegedly exposed himself to female academic tutors. Merritt was suspended by Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin a few days after the alleged incidents. The suspension was expanded to indefinite status following Merritt’s arrest on November 8. The suspension has since been lifted after the university’s conduct process wrapped up in January.

It has been a bit of a bumpy year for Merritt. Merritt left Oregon for Texas A&M last summer due to family reasons. He participated in Texas A&M’s spring practices but did not play in the spring game.

Big 12 revenue eclipses $300 million mark

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When it comes to revenues, the SEC and Big Ten continue to set the pace and leave the rest of the competition in the dust. That said, the Big 12 saw a second straight sizable revenue bump, according to recent tax returns.

As reported by USA Today, the Big 12 recorded a revenue of $313 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 on its tax return. The figure is up roughly $40 million from last year’s revenue, and the conference has now doubled its revenue since the 2012 fiscal year amid conference realignment changes. As for the revenue shares for each Big 12 program, the numbers ranged from $28 million to West Virginia to $28.9 million for Oklahoma. This marked the first time West Virginia and TCU were eligible to receive their full conference revenue shares as Big 12 members.

The biggest reason for the big jump in revenue came from increased bowl revenue. The Big 12 pulled in $114.5 million in bowl revenue in 2016, which was just $74.5 million in 2015. The 2015 season, which was included in the fiscal year outlined by this tax return, saw Oklahoma advance to the College Football Playoff and Oklahoma State be selected to play in a New Years Six bowl game (Sugar Bowl), which led to a larger bowl game distribution for the Big 12. The previous year saw no Big 12 team in the College Football Playoff (TCU, Baylor).

The Big 12 still lags well behind the SEC. Most will, of course. The SEC announced a revenue of $584.2 million for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, with each SEC member receiving a revenue share of $40.4 million. The SEC and Big 12 are the only conference revenue numbers currently on record for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, but expect the Big Ten to be a solid second in the pecking order, with the ACC likely to come in front of the Big 12 and the Pac-12 to be toward the bottom of the pack.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a pay increase as well. Bowlsby reportedly earned a little more than $2.6 million in 2015, earning more than $70,000 than the previous year.