Marcus Rucker, Lorenzo Doss

Updated: Tulane, ECU join the Big East

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The move by Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten started up another round of realignment rumors. Most, as usual, are complete malarkey. However, one that emerged Tuesday morning caught just about everyone off guard. And it’s apparently as legit as it is hilarious.

Per multiple reports including WaveReport.com, ESPN, CBS, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Tulane will join the Big East in all sports. A press conference — reportedly for a formal announcement — is set for 2 p.m. ET. The university has yet to confirm or deny any realignment reports, but the press conference would be the response.

The AP and ESPN are also reporting that East Carolina (finally, y’all!!!!!) will join as a football-only member in 2014. A press conference for ECU is set for later this afternoon.

The Big East recently lost Rutgers to the Big Ten as part of the latest round of expansion. Maryland also joined the Big Ten from the ACC. Louisville and UConn are among the programs connected to the ACC through the rumor mill.

Boise State, San Diego State, Memphis, UCF, Houston and SMU are supposed to join the Big East in 2013 with Navy joining in 2015. That means in 2014, nine of the Big East’s members will have formerly resided in Conference USA.

More coming once — if — this becomes official.

Updated 2:00 p.m. ET: As expected, Tulane has joined the Big East as a full member. The Green Wave will move from Conference USA in the 2014-15 academic year. That’s the same year Tulane is expected to complete a 30,000-seat on-campus stadium.

“I am pleased and excited to welcome Tulane University to the BIG EAST Conference,” said Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement.  “Tulane University is an outstanding academic institution and is committed to excellence in athletics.  They will be a valued member of the BIG EAST.”

“Tulane University is pleased to accept membership in the BIG EAST Conference,” said Tulane President Scott Cowen.  “The BIG EAST is a distinguished collection of institutions that will be a wonderful home for Tulane.  We look forward to our mutual association and we are delighted to welcome the BIG EAST to the Big Easy!”

For ECU…

“We are very excited to welcome East Carolina University into the BIG EAST Conference for football,” said Aresco.  “They have a strong football tradition and a consistently successful program that will help elevate our football league.  The University is an outstanding academic institution that reflects the values important to the BIG EAST Conference.”

“ECU is excited to become a football member of the BIG EAST Conference,” said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard.  “We know we will be successful and add value to the BIG EAST.  While hundreds of dedicated Pirates have contributed to this day, I especially want to recognize the relentless energy of Terry Holland and Nick Floyd in making this day a reality.  It is a great day to be a Pirate.”

Conference USA also issued a statement this afternoon:

“We thank East Carolina and charter member Tulane for all their contributions to the league and wish them well. These are unprecedented times in higher education. Notwithstanding the changes, we are excited about our future and we remain committed to our strategic plan – a major market, two-division conference that is student-athlete friendly.

“To be clear, we have several options but no new member agreements have made at this time. We appreciate the support of our members and will immediately begin a presidentially led process to evaluate our future options.”

Jim Harbaugh doesn’t respect Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit anthem out

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 19: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers has a word with Colin Kaepernick #7 during a game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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The latest sports controversy has reached college football’s borders.

Colin Kaepernick, as you might have heard, kicked up quite the controversy last week by declining to stand during the playing of the National Anthem prior to a San Francisco 49ers preseason game.  The former Nevada quarterback’s words explaining to sit the anthem out served to add fuel to the raging firestorm.

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. …

“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

Kaepernick has spent his entire NFL career with the 49ers, and his first coach at the professional level was Jim Harbaugh.  Now the head coach at Michigan, Harbaugh was asked Monday about Kaepernick, who helped lead Harbaugh’s club to the NFC championship game in 2013, and his decision to sit on the bench while the anthem played.

“I acknowledge his right to do that,” Harbaugh said according mlive.com. “But I don’t respect the motivation or the action.”

While more forceful and tinged with personal opinion, Harbaugh’s comments are somewhat in line those made by a former Oregon Ducks head coach who’s now in charge of the 49ers.

“We recognize his right to do that,” Chip Kelly said according to the Sacramento Bee. “It’s not our right to tell him not to do something. That’s his right as a citizen.”

‘Lack of communication’ led four-star 2018 lineman to decommit from Michigan

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts after a play in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Maryland, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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It’s been an odd week or so on the recruiting front for Michigan.

Around this time last week, a four-star 2017 defensive lineman decommitted from the Wolverines and reopened his recruitment following a thank-you note gaffe that included a misspelled name. Around the same time, a four-star 2018 offensive lineman decommitted as well, although he declined at the time to give a reason for a change of heart.

Over the weekend, and following his high school football team’s season opener, Jalil Irvin opened up to Scout.com over the reasoning behind pulling his verbal from UM.

“The major reason was a lack of communication,” Irvin told the recruiting website. “I haven’t talked to the coaches in two months. I was thinking, ‘Why would I stay committed here, when I haven’t heard from them in two months?’ So I decommitted and I picked up two offers the same day actually.”

Irvin had only been a UM pledge for two months, committing to the Wolverines back in June. Now, while he’s no longer committed to the Big Ten program, Irvin labeled the Wolverines as “still one of my dream schools” and that he will get to up Ann Arbor to “catch a game eventually.”

Irvin is rated by 247sports.com as the No. 14 guard in the country and the No. 23 player at any position in the state of Georgia. In addition to UM, Irvin holds offers from, among others, Georgia, Illinois and Virginia Tech.

Aubrey Solomon, the 2017 recruit who pulled his verbal over the note that thanked him for attending a Big House BBQ event he didn’t attend, stated in an interview that UM coaches had not kept in regular contact with him either. Also like Irvin, Solomon committed to UM in June.

Another 2018 four-star commit, Ohio defensive lineman Leonard Taylor, decommitted from the Wolverines last week as well. Taylor gave no specific reason for the decommitment, writing in a Twitter missive that he felt it was “the best course of action in order to make the right decision for me.”

Two frosh WRs suspended for Florida’s opener, but Antonio Callaway cleared to play vs. UMass

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 19: Antonio Callaway #81 of the Florida Gators runs with the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Florida has seen its receiving corps suffer some attrition, but the most important and productive component of that group is officially returning.

Jim McElwain confirmed to the media Monday that Antonio Callaway has been cleared to take the field again and will play in the opener this weekend against UMass. The Gators head coach said he learned of the university’s decision this past Friday.

McElwain’s confirmation comes two weeks after a controversial Title IX hearing found the receiver not responsible for an alleged sexual assault.

A former UF student-athlete and current football booster had been assigned to oversee the Title IX hearing involving current Callaway and former UF quarterback Treon Harris, both of whom were accused in January by a woman of sexually assaulting her this past December.  The alleged victim, as well as her parents and potential witnesses on her behalf, boycotted the hearing because of what they perceived as a conflict of interest.

The true sophomore had been suspended not only from the team but from the university since late January for a violation of the Student Conduct Code, later known to involve an alleged sexual assault.  In March, Huntley Johnson, a lawyer well-known in and around Gainesville as the go-to attorney for Gator student-athletes who run into legal issues, issued a statement in which he claimed that the allegation against his non-client “has no merit.”

Johnson released a statement in early June in which he stated that a modified suspension would permit his client to attend classes on campus as well as allow him to use the football team’s practice facilities.  Early on in summer camp, UF confirmed that Callaway will be permitted to practice with the Gators as they await the results of the hearing, which proceeded without the accuser and her witnesses.

Last season in his first year with the Gators, Calloway led the team in receiving yards (678) and tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns (four). His 19.4 yards per catch led the squad, while his 35 receptions were good for third.

At the end of the regular season, he was named to the All-SEC Freshman team.  Earlier today, he was, not surprisingly, listed as a starting receiver on the depth chart released ahead of the opener.

In addition to the Callaway news, McElwain also confirmed that Tyrie Cleveland and Rick Wells will be suspended for the opener. The true freshmen receivers were arrested in mid-July on a pair of charges related to a BB gun incident that was caught on surveillance video.

Cleveland and Wells are the third and fourth Gators suspended for the opener. It was announced earlier this month that All-SEC cornerback Jalen Tabor and sophomore tight end C'yontai Lewis would miss the opener because of what turned out to be a fight during practice between the two players.

Les Miles delivers an early contender for quote of the season

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers celebrates after defeating the Texas A&M Aggies 19-7 at Tiger Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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LSU coach Les Miles is one of the more interesting figures in college football, as you all know.

To that point: He’s had the market cornered on Australian punters for the last six seasons. First it was Brad Wing — who was awesome, unlike the officiating in that video — in 2010 and 2011, then it was Jamie Keehn, who punted for LSU from 2012-2015.

But fear not, LSU has another Aussie punter this year in redshirt freshman Josh Growden. Take it away, Les:

I can only imagine Miles is referring to this when he said “speak Australian:”