Last week, Conference USA announced the additions of FAU and Middle Tennessee State for the 2013 season, followed by the conference’s divisional alignment.
Seeing as the roulette wheel of realignment never really stops spinning, that setup could be altered in the not-too-distant future with the losses of East Carolina and Tulane to the Big East, and the additions of Old Dominion and UNC-Charlotte. It’s possible that Tulsa could be departing as well.
The Tulsa World reported earlier this month that a Big East invitation could be coming soon, and that Tulsa could even be on the Mountain West’s radar. Tulsa president Steadman Upham told the Tulsa World in December that he would like to be in the same conference as SMU and Tulane, two schools with similar academic profiles.
But there could be a hang-up with the Big East because of the ongoing negotiations for the conference’s television contract. The USA Today reports that the Big East would prefer to make Tulsa the conference’s 12th member, but that “a final decision won’t be made until the league is closer to finalizing a television contract.”
The Big East has been in negotiations on the open market since an exclusive window with ESPN closed last year. There’s no doubt the process has taken longer than the Big East expected (thanks, realignment!), but a new deal should be coming soon.
The Big East will operate as a 10-team football conference in 2013. Louisville and Rutgers will likely depart for the ACC and Big Ten, respectively, in 2014 with East Carolina and Tulane joining that year. Navy is scheduled to join as a football-only member in 2015. That schedule of additions and subtractions would put the Big East at 11 members. The addition of a 12th team, which the Big East has made no secret about wanting, would give the conference an opportunity for a championship game.
In a deposition this past summer, the woman charged with running the office that deals with victims of, among other things, sexual violence on the Florida State campus claimed that 20 women were sexually assaulted by members of the Seminole football team over the past nine years. The former director of FSU’s victim advocate program, Melissa Ashton, went on to claim that the accused football players received special treatment and that most of the alleged victims chose not to pursue student-conduct charges “a lot of times based on fear” of reprisals.
The June deposition is part of the ongoing lawsuit filed by Erica Kinsman, who had accused star quarterback Jameis Winston of raping her in December of 2012. The first overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft was neither charged criminally nor found guilty in a student-conduct hearing.
The testimony of Ashton, who left her post in August of this year, was part of what was described as the release of heavily-redacted documents related to Kinsman’s lawsuit. It’s argued in the Title IX suit that FSU did not properly investigate Kinsman’s claims against Winston as required by federal law.
Speaking of others who said they had been sexually assaulted at the school over the past nine years by football players, Ashton said the majority “chose not to go through a process, a lot of times based on fear.” Ashton said victims had “a fear of retaliation, seeing what has happened in other cases and not wanting that to be them.”
But in her statements she said she was concerned that athletes get preferential treatment during investigations of misconduct, including access to an athletic department official who helps them get access to outside lawyers.
In addition to the unnamed football players allegedly involved in an estimated 20 sexual assaults the past decade, “Ashton stated that… ‘easily double‘ that number have been involved in interpersonal violence.”
FSU officials had sought to block the release of the depositions, but were ordered by the judge in the case to hand them over in a ruling this past October. The document release was prompted by a public records request from various news organizations, including the Associated Press.
Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.
Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.
But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.
“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”
The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.
The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.
According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.
Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”
Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.
If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.
Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.
Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.
“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”
Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).
Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.
Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.
“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.
“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”