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Nick Saban claims Bowden Coach of the Year honors

Saban Bowden AP

Two of the past three years, and coinciding with a BCS championship, Alabama’s Nick Saban has been lauded with an award honoring one of the game’s greatest coaches.

Coming off a third BCS title with the Tide, Saban has added yet another piece of that particular hardware.

The Birmingham Touchdown Club Wednesday named Saban as the recipient of this year’s Bobby Bowden National Collegiate Coach of the Year award.  Named in honor of the former Florida State coaching great, the award has been handed out annually since 2009, with Saban claiming three of the four trophies.

In accepting the award, Saban was effusive in his praise for Bowden.

“This is a very special honor to me because it has Coach Bowden’s name on it,” Saban said in a statement. “”Everyone knows about his accomplishments as a coach on the field and we may not see that again in college football in terms of the success he had at one place for such a long period of time.

“More than anything else, receiving the Bobby Bowden Coach of the Year Award means a lot to me personally because of the man that he is, the person that he is, and the number of people he positively impacted and continues to positively influence today.  He has always done it with such class and dignity in every way. As a coach, you hope maybe someday to be thought of in the way Coach Bowden is, not only in terms of what he accomplished, but the way he did it.”

In addition to Saban, the other finalists for this year’s Bowden award were Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Kansas State’s Bill Snyder.  Kelly and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien had taken home the lion’s share of major coaching awards for the 2012 season.

The only other coach to claim the Bowden award was Auburn’s Gene Chizik for the 2010 season, meaning this particular honor has yet to leave the state of Alabama.

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Dependence Day: Navy officially joins AAC

For the first 135 years of its existence, Navy played as a football independent.  With Independence Day just three days away, the Midshipmen have officially shed that football independence for its first-ever conference home.

What has been known was going to transpire for a more than a year has now come to fruition as the American Athletic Conference officially introduced Navy as the league’s 12th member.  Along with Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane and Tulsa, Navy will be a part of the AAC West.  The AAC East will consist of Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Temple, UCF and USF.

The conference will conduct its first-ever championship game in its third season of existence, which will take place a week before the annual Army-Navy game.

“”I am proud and delighted to take this opportunity to welcome the United States Naval Academy into the American Athletic Conference as a football-playing member,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. “We extend a warm welcome to Admiral Ted Carter, Superintendent of the Naval Academy, athletic director Chet Gladchuk, head football coach Ken Niumatalolo, his team and all the Midshipmen and administrative personnel of the Naval Academy as well as to United States Naval and Marine Corps servicemen and women, friends and fans throughout the world.

“As I have said on many occasions, the Midshipmen represent the best this country has to offer. We are proud and grateful for the service they render to our country, and we are privileged to have them in our Conference.”

After a non-conference date with Colgate in the season opener, and following a bye week, Navy will open up league play by hosting East Carolina Sept. 19 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Their first AAC road trip will take place the following week as the service academy travels to UConn.

The Oct. 24 game against AAC East foe Tulane will mark the first-ever meeting between the two FBS programs, as will the following week’s game against USF.

At the opposite end of the historical spectrum is SMU, which has squared off with Navy a total of 16 times. The first meeting came in 1930, the last in 2011. The Midshipmen own a 9-7 overall edge in the series.

“Joining the American Athletic Conference has given us another goal,” said Niumatalolo. “Now, not only do we have the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy to play for, but a conference championship as well. I do know there are very good football teams in this league and it’s going to be a huge challenge for our program. Every week we will have a tough opponent to play.

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Jim Harbaugh: ‘We don’t run off players’

Brady Hoke, Ondre Pipkins

Late last week, Ondre Pipkins kicked up quite the ruckus by claiming he was essentially pushed out of the Michigan football program by new head coach Jim Harbaugh, athletic trainer Paul Schmidt and associate athletic director Jim Minick.  According to the transferring defensive lineman, Pipkins says he was pressured by those individuals to end his collegiate career by signing a medical scholarship form.

“After consulting with our medical team, we do not think it is in Ondre’s best interest as it relates to his health and welfare to play football, short or long-term,” a statement attributed to Harbaugh began. ” He remains on full scholarship and counts toward the 85-scholarship limit in pursuit of graduation from the University of Michigan.”

For the first time, Harbaugh addressed the situation with the media.  Not surprisingly, the coach’s view of how things transpired differed from his now-former player’s.

We don’t run off players,” Harbaugh said according to mlive.com shortly after throwing out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game. “I’ll speak for myself personally. When it comes to the health and safety of the players, that argument trumps all other arguments.”

Pipkins has had at least two significant injuries during his time with the Wolverines to go along with concussion issues.

In August of 2012 he sustained a neck injury that required a brief hospital stay, but went on to play 13 games. In October of 2013, he suffered a torn ACL in a win over Minnesota. Last season, he played in five games.

Pipkin was a five-star member of UM’s 2012 recruiting class, rated as one of the top defensive tackles in the country and the No. 14 player overall.

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Third USU Aggie released from hospital

Edmund Faimalo

Three down — and out — one to go.

Over the weekend, Utah State announced that two of its football players, senior defensive lineman John Taylor and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Adewale Adeoye, were released from a hospital Sunday afternoon.  Adeoye and Taylor were two of five individuals, four of whom are football players, injured in a car wreck late last week.

Late Tuesday night, USU announced in a press release that a third Aggie, redshirt junior defensive lineman Edmund Faimalo (pictured), has been released from the hospital as well. Senior defensive lineman Travis Seefeldt is the lone remaining football player still hospitalized.

Seefeldt and Taylor exited spring practice as projected starters for the Aggies. Faimalo transferred into the program from a JUCO.

The fifth occupant of the vehicle, former USU softball player Sara Vasquez, remains hospitalized.  Her eligibility expired this past spring.

(Photo credit: Utah State athletics)

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UAB, Bill Clark in the midst of negotiating new contract

UAB Blazers v Arkansas Razorbacks

Earlier this month as UAB confirmed it would revive its shuttered football program in either 2016 or, more feasibly, 2017, it was also confirmed that Bill Clark would remain the head coach.

One issue for Clark, though, is that his current contract only runs through 2016.  Given the initial decision to disband the program in the first place, the last thing Clark and his coaching staff needs is for rival schools to have additional ammunition on the recruiting trail in the form of a contract that’s set to expire next year.

Taking all things into consideration, Clark confirmed to al.com that he and the university are currently in the midst of negotiating a new contract.

“It’s going to be a commitment to myself and my family, and my staff that we want to be here, we’re going to be here,” Clark said. “But it’s our school saying, ‘Football is here to stay, this is our coach, this is his staff. We’re going to commit to him and the things it takes to do it the right way.'”

Based solely on his on-field work with the Blazers, Clark is deserving of a new deal.

In 2014, Clark’s first season at the school, the Blazers posted a 6-6 mark, the first time the team had finished a season with at least a .500 record since 2004. That’s the last time UAB was bowl-eligible, although the Blazers weren’t invited to play in a bowl game at the conclusion of this past season because of the institutional uncertainty over the sport’s future at the school.

Last year was just the fourth time in the program’s 19-year history that the Blazers finished .500 or better, with the other two coming in 2000 and 2001.

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Rutgers loses another DE, and 2014 signee, to transfer

PISCATAWAY, NJ - August 10: Rutgers Scarlet Knights Media Day at High Point Solutions Stadium on August 10, 2014 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz)

Earlier this month, Sam Blue became the fourth member of Rutgers’ 2014 recruiting class to either voluntarily or involuntarily leave the football program.  As we get to the end of June, that number reportedly has been bumped to five.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, nj.com is reporting that Donald Bedell has decided to transfer out of the Kyle Flood‘s team.  Not surprisingly, a logjam on the depth chart at the defensive end position likely was the overriding factor Bedell’s decision.

RU, for what it’s worth, has yet to address the defensive lineman’s status moving forward.

Last season, Bedell took a redshirt.  He was a three-star member of RU’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 25 player at any position in the state of New Jersey.

As for the other departures from last year’s signings?

Blue was a two-star member of RU’s 2014 recruiting class, with the Scarlet Knights being the only FBS program to offer the North Carolina native a scholarship.  The defensive end took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

Kam Lott, another 2014 signee, announced in late January that he was transferring to be closer to his family in Florida.  Two weeks later Jacob Kraut, projected to be RU’s starting fullback, announced a move for the exact same reasons.

In late May, Darian Dailey was dismissed after he was arrested on an armed robbery charge.

(Photo credit: Rutgers athletics)

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Jimbo discusses Saban, 2017 opener vs. Tide

jimbo Getty Images

Neither Alabama nor Florida State has publicly confirmed reports that the two football programs will square off a couple of years from now. That, though, hasn’t stopped one of the likely head coaches in the potentially epic 2017 opener from openly discussing the much-speculated-on matchup.

Speaking in his hometown of Clarksburg, WV, Monday, Jimbo Fisher acknowledged what the two athletic directors won’t: his Seminoles will open the 2017 season against Nick Saban‘s Crimson Tide.

“To be able to go against someone who you have a ton of respect for in Nick and the program in which they have just adds to it,” the FSU head coach said according to the Palm Beach Post.

“We’ve been two of the most consistent programs in the country the last few years. It’s a great kickoff and it’s great for the game of college football.”

That opener in Atlanta two years from now will not only be a great matchup on the field, it will have a personal feel to it on the sidelines.

Both 49-year-old Fisher and 63-year-old Saban were born and raised in God’s Country, with the latter growing up about 20 miles away from the former’s hometown. Fisher’s first offensive coordinating job at a Power Five school came in 2000 at LSU. The Tigers’ head coach at the time? Saban, of course.

While Saban left Baton Rouge for the NFL following the 2004 season, Fisher remained at LSU for another two years before moving on to FSU as coordinator and, ultimately, head coach. Those five years working under Saban, however, helped shape the coach Fisher is today.

“His structure and organization and focus and ability to see the future,” the 2013 BCS champion stated. “Those are a lot of things I got from him. … how to think and how you look at things.”

Fisher and Saban have never faced each other as head coaches, although it came close to happening following the 2014 season.  Both the Seminoles and Tide earned a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff, FSU going up against Oregon and UA against eventual champion Ohio State.  The meeting wasn’t to be, however, as the Tide lost by seven and the ‘Noles by 39.

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Mizzou’s Harold Brantley released from hospital

MISSISSIPPI MISSOURI AP

Injured in a Father’s Day car wreck, Missouri’s Harold Brantley was initially listed in serious condition with multiple injuries.  A day later, however, the defensive lineman was upgraded to good condition.

A week after that?  He’s on the path toward going home.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Tuesday afternoon that Brantley has been released from his Columbia hospital.  The lineman won’t be immediately headed home, however, as he will spend the next several days in what’s described as a transitional facility.

“Harold is making great progress and is no longer at University Hospital… and is hopeful of being able to go home near the end of this week,” a school official told the Daily Tribune.

Brantley, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, sustained a broken tibia, knee ligament damage and multiple fractured ribs in the rollover wreck. Surgery has already been performed on his broken leg, while knee surgery will take place at some pointy in the next 3-4 weeks.

There’s still no word on Brantley’s availability for the upcoming season.

Last season, Brantley started 10 of the 14 games in which he played.

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Report: UCLA coach shamed Diddy’s son over courtside seats

Sal Alosi

Just when you thought we had the UCLA/Puff Daddy drama in the rear-view, it comes back and bites you in the rear.

First, a brief recap: hip-hop mogul Sean Combs was involved in an altercation with a UCLA assistant, strength coach Sal Alosi, in the Bruins football offices a week ago yesterday and was ultimately arrested on multiple felony charges.  The confrontation occurred after Combs’ son, UCLA defensive back Justin Combs, was kicked out of a workout session by Alosi earlier that day, then scurried home to complain to his famous father.

Combs, through a spokesperson, claimed “any actions taken by Mr. Combs were solely defensive in nature to protect himself and his son.”  While UCLA would prefer charges not being pursued, it will be up to the District Attorney’s office whether the legal matter moves forward.

All of that bring us to a report from TMZ.com, which is claiming there is a previous history between the younger Combs and Alosi that could have played a role in the elder Combs’ alleged actions that day:

The coach who fought Diddy this week … brutally shamed Diddy’s son by using a paparazzi pic to drive home a point — that he thinks Justin Combs is a spoiled rich kid.

Sources connected to UCLA’s football program tell TMZ Sports … the humiliating incident went down in February. Coach Sal Alosi had several players in the the gym for a training sesh, which Justin missed because he was at the NBA All-Star game.

We’re told Alosi openly mocked Justin by putting a pic of him at the game — next to Diddy and Ben Stiller … in all the gym monitors. We’re told Alosi told players … “While you guys are training, this guy is sitting courtside with his dad.” The pic remained up for 24 hours.

The gossip website, citing the same sources, went on to claim that Alosi had told the player on various occasions that “You’re only here because of your dad,” and … “You never belonged here,” and … “You should just go work for your dad.”  The allegations made in this report shed new light on the football player publicly backing his famous father.

Diddy was released from jail the night of the incident after posting a $160,000 bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for July 13.

(Photo credit: UCLA athletics)

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Stepdad: Ole Miss’ Tunsil was with NFL agents at time of incident

Mississippi v Vanderbilt Getty Images

A strange story involving Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil has taken yet another strange turn.

Tunsil was arrested Friday and charged with domestic violence after he allegedly stepped into the middle of an argument involving his mother and stepfather Thursday, which led to the offensive lineman punching the latter.  The 53-year-old stepdad, Lindsey Miller, claimed in the notes taken by a sheriff’s deputy for a police report that his stepson was “riding around with football agents,” and that’s what the argument between the stepdad and mother was over.

From the Jackson Clarion-Ledger:

According to the police report, when deputy Rudy Howell arrived at the scene at 7:19 p.m. Thursday night, Miller was “very excited” and told Howell that “Tunsil and the agents” left in a yellow convertible.

According to Miller’s statements to Howell, Desiree Tunsil walked out of the house during the argument about Tunsil’s alleged contact with agents when Laremy Tunsil entered.

Miller, 53, then claims he extended his hand to give Tunsil a handshake, but Tunsil allegedly shoved him against a wall and started hitting him.

Under NCAA rules, the Sports Business Journal noted back in August of last year, Tunsil is permitted to speak to certified NFL agents, provided he doesn’t, one, sign with them prior to expired eligibility or submitting paperwork for early entry into the draft and, two, he doesn’t accept any impermissible benefits.

“It seems to serve everyone’s purpose,” Lal Heneghan, who works for a consulting company that provides agent advisory services to 12 major college football programs, including Florida State and Alabama, told the sports business website when asked about spring and summer meetings between college players and agents. “The player and the family can get an idea of this is what an agent is all about and they can get a sense if this person will be on a short list and focus on having a season.”

Tunsil, projected to be a likely Top-Ten pick in next year’s NFL draft if he leaves school early, was indefinitely suspended from the football program.  Both he and his mother are seeking charges against the stepfather.

Following the 2014 season, the Associated Press named him a first-team All-American.

UPDATED 4:04 p.m. ET: In response to this latest development, the school released a statement from head coach Hugh Freeze.

“We are aware that Laremy and his family have met with potential agents, which is within his NCAA rights as a student-athlete. Regarding the altercation, we will continue to gather facts and cooperate with the proper authorities.”

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Randy Edsall lands three-year extension from Terps

Rutgers v Maryland

A couple of years ago, it appeared that Randy Edsall might not make it to Year 3 at Maryland.  After a pair of (relatively) successful seasons, he now has some additional “job security.”

In a press release, Maryland announced that Edsall has signed a three-year contract extension.  The new contract would technically keep Edsall with the Terps through the 2019 season.

Terms of the new deal were not released, although the Baltimore Sun writes that “[t]he contract amendment… includes a raise of nearly $400,000 annually beginning in 2017 plus on-field performance bonuses.” Edsall was paid $2.033 million in 2014, which was 11th among the 14 head coaches in the Big Ten.

“Randy has made good strides in our first year in the Big Ten and our program is headed in the right direction,” said athletic director Kevin Anderson in a statement. “He has established a culture in which our students have made strong progress academically with outstanding graduation rates. We have made progress and we will look to continue to build upon what we have established with our goal of competing at the highest level in the Big Ten.”

In his first two seasons with the Terps, Edsall’s record of 6-18 put him squarely on the hots seat. A pair of seven-win seasons and bowl appearances — both losses — saved his job and led to the contract extension.

The 4-4 record in the first season of play in the Big Ten was good for third in the East division.

“I’m extremely proud of the work my players and staff have put in to making our program what it is today,” said Edsall. “It is rewarding for me that Kevin Anderson and Dr. Wallace Loh have recognized this process in getting the program headed in the right direction.”

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Auburn, Oregon to open 2019 season at Cowboys stadium

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game - Oregon v Auburn Getty Images

Nearly a decade after their epic championship game battle, Auburn and Oregon are set to go at it again on a neutral field.

On Twitter Tuesday, AU athletic director Jay Jacobs announced that his Tigers football program will open the 2019 season against the Ducks.  The game will be played at the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex, in the annual Cowboys Classic.

Barring a matchup in a bowl or playoff between now and then, the 2019 game will be the second-ever between the programs.  The first was in the BCS title game following the 2010 season, a 22-19 AU win in Glendale, Ariz., that was decided on a Wes Byrum field goal with no time left on the clock.  Byrum’s kick came after the Ducks had tied the game with a LaMichael James touchdown reception from Darron Thomas — and two-point conversion — with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter.

Jacobs’ announcement means that the next five Cowboys Classic games are set:

  • 2015 Alabama vs. Wisconsin
  • 2016 Alabama vs. USC
  • 2017 Florida vs. Michigan
  • 2018 LSU vs. Miami
  • 2019 Auburn vs. Oregon
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Suspended FSU QB charged with misdemeanor battery

Florida State Spring Game

A member of the Florida State football program officially has a legal issue with which to deal.

ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach is reporting that De’Andre Johnson has been charged with misdemeanor battery by the state attorney’s office of Florida.  According to reports at the time, it’s alleged that an unidentified female — well, unidentified to everybody but the Tallahassee Police Department — was punched by the quarterback at a local drinking establishment.

Schlabach added that the charge was filed “after reviewing video of incident from bar security cameras.”  An arrest warrant has been issued for Johnson, who has yet to turn himself in on the charge.

It was announced last Thursday that Johnson had been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

A four-star member of the Seminoles’ 2015 recruiting class. Johnson was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 39 player at any position in the state of Florida. He was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice.

With the addition of graduate transfer Everett Golson and the presence of 2014 backup Sean Maguire, Johnson was likely looking at a redshirt season even before his off-field issue surfaced.

UPDATED 5:55 p.m. ET: Johnson has turned himself in to the Leon County Jail and remains in jail as of this update in lieu of a $500 bond.  According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the alleged victim met with state’s attorney Willie Meggs, who will prosecute the case, on Tuesday.  The woman, who still had a black eye when she met with Meggs, is described as beign cooperative with authorities.

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Minnesota, UCLA added to Fresno State’s future slates

Fresno State v UCLA Getty Images

Last week, Alabama confirmed reports of a future game with Fresno State. This week, the Left Coast FSU confirmed a couple of additional future games with Power Five programs.

In a press release, Fresno announced that it has reached an agreement for a one-off game with UCLA. Additionally, an agreement has been reached for a home-and-home series with Minnesota.

The Bulldogs’ game against the Bruins will take place in Los Angeles on Sept. 18, 2021, three years after a previously-announced game between the two programs will have been played. The series with the Gophers will involve a trip to Minneapolis for a Sept. 8, 2018 game, with a Sept. 7, 2019, return game in Fresno scheduled to conclude the contract.

“These games reflect our future scheduling philosophy as we look to find consistency over a 10-year period where we can create opportunities to bring in necessary income for the athletic department while also being able to showcase Fresno State football across the country,” FSU athletic director Jim Bartko said in a statement. “We will always look to balance our schedules with a mix of big-time opponents coming into Bulldog Stadium for the Red Wave to see.”

Fresno and Minnesota have never met in football. Fresno and UCLA have met eight times previously, with the latter holding a 6-2 edge in the series; the former, though, has won the last two — 17-9 in the 2003 Silicon Valley Bowl in 2003, 36-31 in a 2008 road win.

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Court says LSU lawsuit vs. John Chavis will stay in Louisiana

John Chavis

Things may not be looking all that great for LSU in the headlines lately, but things certainly have gone slightly better in the courtroom. The victory came against former defensive coordinator John Chavis, in that the lawsuit filed by LSU against Chavis will continue while another legal battle between Chavis and Texas A&M is ongoing.

“The court is concerned there is any way the Texas court can keep this case,” State District Judge Timothy Kelley said, according to The Advocate, with regard to the lawsuit in Texas. “I don’t see how they can have jurisdiction.”

Last November Chavis and LSU reached an agreement for a one-year contract extension. Not long after that though, Chavis packed his bags and headed to Texas A&M instead. His hiring at Texas A&M was made official in February. Now LSU is pursuing a $400,000 buyout from Chavis, which the former defensive coordinator says he is not on the hook for. Chavis believes Texas A&M owes LSU that six-figure buyout. Texas A&M thinks Chavis should pay it. It’s a bit complicated.

Right now the parties involved are having a legal battle to determine which state will get to host the lawsuit, which is the legal equivalent of flipping a coin for home-field advantage. Eitgher way, LSU is going to get paid $400,000. It is just a matter of that money comes directly from Chavis or Texas A&M. Or perhaps some sort of settlement could come into play, with Chavis and Texas A&M each paying some part of a reduced buyout. Who knows where this goes from here.

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Academic leaders question Oregon’s football budget

Rose Bowl - Oregon v Florida State Getty Images

We all have come to a pretty general understanding that sports drives revenue for universities, with football bringing the most money into the university. No athletic program generates as much income as Oregon (thanks Nike!), but academic leaders in Eugene would like to see more of that money be put to academic uses.

“Our administration needs to take more responsibility to fully exploit the opportunity that our athletic department provides — on behalf of our students, our faculty and our institution,”former business school dean Dennis Howard said Friday, per The Register-Guard. He was not alone in challenging Oregon officials to think hard about how the budget will be formed.

“It would be really good if we were all in this together and the athletic department was trying to help the rest of the university,”Oregon economics professor Bill Harbaugh said.

Oregon football really cashed in this past year with an appearance in the College Football Playoff championship game, not to mention the revenue share it receives from the Pac-12 and any money funneled in through its relationship with Phil Knight of Nike. The problem some have with all of the money coming in through Oregon athletics is every dime of it is spent on athletics.

“They have $98 million in revenue and, strangely, exactly $98 million in expenses,” Howard explained. “If you look back year after year, you will find that revenue and expenses match up almost to a penny. … When they get extra TV revenue, they do what they just did in February. They go to the president and the Board of Trustees and the coaches and the athletic director get raises, so expenses go up.”

There is something to be said for a football program that is capable of being self-sufficient in its operations, and it is far better than operating in the red on an annual basis. But how much should Oregon’s athletics department be contributing to the academic side of things? There may be no perfect answer to this question.

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