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Big East back on life support, on verge of collapse

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As the conference expansion roulette wheel spun over the past couple of years, the Big East was declared all but dead only to bounce back from the brink.

This time around, though, there doesn’t appear any bounce left in the conference.

CBSSports.com is reporting that, barring an unexpected change of plans, the seven non-football members of the Big East will break away from that conference, while ESPN.com reports that it would be an upset if those schools — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova — remained as part of the Big East.  An official announcement on the future of the league is expected in the next 24-48 hours.

The seven basketball schools have the power and the votes to dissolve the conference, although it’s unclear at this point if that’s the tack the group will take.

New Big East commissioner Mike Aresco has been in involved in the discussions and is attempting to hold his conference together.  Aresco met with the presidents of those seven schools Sunday, and took part in a teleconference earlier today.

What happens to the Big East if the seven schools break away or even dissolve the conference is the great unknown, throwing the football futures of several programs into chaos and uncertainty.  Boise State, Houston, Memphis, SMU, San Diego State and UCF are slated to join the Big East in 2013, followed by Tulane and East Carolina in 2014, and Navy in 2015.  UConn — the only founding member of the conference that would be left in 2013 — Cincinnati, Temple and USF are the only current members with plans to remain in the Big East if it survives some way, shape or form.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced last year that they will be moving to the ACC in 2013, while Louisville (ACC) and Rutgers (Big Ten) announced earlier this year that they will be leaving the conference.

The biggest blow to the Big East is that the tumult and turmoil comes in the midst of negotiations on a new television contract.  From ESPN.com:

If the seven basketball schools leave the Big East, it will be a crippling blow to the league’s media-rights negotiations. Last week CBSSports.com projected the value of the Big East’s media-rights revenue between $60 million and $80 million.

An industry source thought the figure would be closer to $50 million, he told ESPN on Tuesday. The estimates reported by CBSSports.com and ESPN both included the basketball schools as part of the package.

If the Big East loses the seven Catholic basketball schools, it would decrease the value of the league’s media rights by “15 to 20 percent,” an industry source said.

Such a development could prompt several new members, particularly Boise State and San Diego State, to reconsider their move.  Uncertainty on the part of the two schools and their move surfaced a couple months ago, with the Idaho Statesman confirming again today that the Mountain West would welcome them back with open arms.

Regardless of which direction the situation takes, there appears to be just one certainty — courts, and not the basketball kind.

“Lawyers are going to have to sort it all out,” a source told CBSSports.com. “I don’t think anybody knows exactly how this is going to happen. They just know it’s time to separate.”

Report: Arizona lineman Zach Hemmila’s death caused by toxic mix of prescription drugs

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 03:  Arizona Wildcats helmets display the #65 to honor offensive lineman Zach Hemmila who passed away in the off-season before the college football game against the Brigham Young Cougars at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Nearly two months after his tragic passing, a cause of death for Zach Hemmila has been confirmed.

Based on the autopsy report filed by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Republic is reporting that the 22-year-old Hemmila’s death was the result of the combined toxic effects of two different prescription drugs. The two drugs, the Republic noted, were oxymorphone, an opiate painkiller, and alprazolam, an anxiety medication.

From the newspaper’s report:

Chewing tobacco was found in Hemmila’s mouth, according to the autopsy report. No intact pills were discovered in his gastrointestinal system. His lungs were “markedly congested,” per the report.

Hemmila passed away either very late on the night of Aug. 7 or early in the morning Aug. 8. A cousin discovered Hemmila’s body at the Arizona offensive lineman’s residence.

His death has officially been ruled an accident.

“Arizona Athletics continues to mourn the passing of Zach Hemmila,” a statement from the university said in response to the report. “We will honor the family’s request for privacy and support them in any way we can.”

Hemmila started six games last season. He was slated to start at center for the Wildcats this season.

The Wildcats will continue to wear a sticker the No. 65 to honor Hemmila for the remainder of the season.

LSU reinstates suspended starting D-lineman, but Leonard Fournette a game-day decision vs. Mizzou

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 03:  Chikwe Obasih #34 of the Wisconsin Badgers tackles Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers during the second half at Lambeau Field on September 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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LSU received some good news and not so good news ahead of its first game without Les Miles on the sidelines in more than a decade.

On the latter news front, star running back Leonard Fournette is listed as a game-day decision for Saturday’s contest against Missouri because of a lingering ankle issue.  The All-American initially injured the ankle during a mid-August summer camp practice; then aggravated it against Wisconsin in the opener; sat out the Week 2 game against an FCS foe; and then aggravated it again in Week 4 against Auburn.

After leading the country in yards per game last season with nearly 163 yards per game, Fournette is currently 10th at 128.7. That total still tops the SEC.

On a more positive tip for the Tigers, interim head coach Ed Orgeron confirmed that starting defensive lineman Davon Godchaux has been reinstated to the program and will be permitted to practice with his teammates.  Whether he plays this Saturday remains to be seen.  Godchaux had been arrested on a pair of charges stemming from a domestic incident over the weekend, but the prosecutor in the case announced Tuesday that he would not be filing formal charges.

Godchaux has started all four games this season (26 in his career) and is fifth on the team in tackles.

Anthem-kneeling Cornhusker invited to meet with Nebraska governor

Neb. Gov. Pete Ricketts, left, and former Gov. Kay Orr unveil the state road projects that have been designated as major priorities over the next few years at a news conference in Lincoln, Neb., Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Three playing members of the Nebraska football program who knelt in protest during the playing of the national anthem Saturday faced significant — and some racially-charged — criticism for their actions, including one NU regent who wants the players removed from the program.  The state’s governor, Pete Ricketts (pictured, right), was highly critical as well.

“Generations of men and women have died to give them that right to protest,” Ricketts said. “I think the way they chose to protest was disgraceful and disrespectful.”

One of the NU kneelers, senior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, took to Twitter to ask the governor to met with him and discuss the issues that led he and his teammates, freshmen Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal, to kneel in protest.

Late Tuesday night, Ricketts responded.

Imagine that, discussion, not rhetoric, on both sides of an issue. What a revolutionary concept.

Jimbo Fisher: ‘I love FSU. I plan on being here for a long time’

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Jimbo Fisher of the Florida State Seminoles signals to his players during the game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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In the eyes of some, Jimbo Fisher left the door open for a departure from Florida State in his first public comments since LSU fired Les Miles.

I’m not talking about LSU. No I haven’t [had contact with the Tigers] and I’m not talking about it,” the head coach said Monday.

Two days later, Fisher, one of the wagering favorites to replace Miles, attempted to slam the door on a potential departure, although some will see his “plan on” qualifier as leaving the door propped open yet again.

“I love this university. I plan on being here for a long time,” Fisher said during Wednesday’s ACC coaches’ teleconference. “I love Florida State, and that’s all I’m saying. I’ll talk about myself and Florida State.

“Anything else is clutter, and does not concern me, and is not involving me.”

Fisher spent seven seasons (2000-2006) as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at LSU before leaving for the same jobs — and the added title of head coach in waiting — at FSU.  Taking over for Bobby Bowden following the 2009 season, Fisher has guided the Seminoles to a 71-15 record in six-plus seasons, with 2013 ending with a national championship.

Last year as speculation centered on Miles’ tenuous status, Fisher was mentioned as a potential candidate then as well.  In fact, some reports had Fisher “intermediaries” in talks with LSU, although, obviously, nothing ever came of it if it indeed actually happened.