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Wazzu RB hit with drunk-driving charge

Washington St UNLV Football AP

For the second time in the past couple of months, Mike Leach has an off-field incident involving one of his players with which to deal.

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News is reporting that Washington State’s Leon Brooks was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with driving under the influence.  The running back was pulled over by a Whitman County Sheriff’s deputy at around 3 a.m. local time after he was observed making a wide turn.

A pair of breathalyzer tests showed BAC levels of .088 and .092; .08 is the legal limit.

Wazzu has not yet indicated what type of punishment if any Brooks may be facing.

Last season as a junior, Brooks’ 78 yards on the ground were good for third on a team that finished with the worst yards-per-game average (29.1) of any of the 124 schools that played at the FBS level.  Brooks also accounted for one of the Cougars’ six rushing touchdowns.

(Tip O’ the Cap: ArrestNation.com)

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Ohio State a near-unanimous No. 1 in preseason coaches’ poll

All State Sugar Bowl - Alabama v Ohio State

Ever since Ohio State finished off its magical, and some would say improbable, postseason run by hoisting the first-ever College Football Playoff trophy, and with the talent it has returning, it’s been widely assumed that the Buckeyes would be ranked No. 1 entering the 2015 season by nearly major poll.

After the first release, OSU is on its way to doing just that.

In yet another sign that a fresh college football season is right around the corner, the Amway coaches’ poll was released late Thursday morning and — surprise! — OSU is ranked No. 1 in the country.  Perhaps the only real surprise is that the Buckeyes weren’t a unanimous selection, receiving “just” 62 of the 64 first-place votes.

The only others receiving first-place votes were preseason No. 2 TCU (one) and No. 3 Alabama (one). OSU holds a 112-point edge on No. 2 TCU; in last year’s preseason poll, Florida State held an 88-point edge on No. 2 Alabama.

Rounding out this year’s Top Five are No. 4 Baylor and no. 5 Oregon.  The lone 2014 playoff team outside of the Top Five is Florida State,. which will begin the year at No. 8.

Two SEC schools and one each from the Big Ten and Pac-12 finish up the initial Top Ten: Michigan State (No. 6), Auburn (No. 7), Georgia (No. 9) and USC (No. 10).

The coaches still loves themselves some SEC, with eight schools from that conference ranked in the Top 25.  The Pac-12 is next with six, followed by three each from the Big 12, Big Ten and ACC.

The highest-ranked Group of Five member is Boise State at No. 24.  Independent Notre Dame nearly cracked the Top 10, coming in at No. 11,

1 Ohio State 14-1 1598 (62)
2 TCU 12-1 1487 (1)
3 Alabama 12-2 1452 (1)
4 Baylor 11-2 1365
5 Oregon 13-2 1260
6 Michigan State 11-2 1230
7 Auburn 8-5 1103
8 Florida State 13-1 1057
9 Georgia 10-3 1026
10 USC 9-4 1014
11 Notre Dame 8-5 883
12 Clemson 10-3 838
13 LSU 8-5 727
14 UCLA 10-3 697
15 Ole Miss 9-4 668
16 Arizona State 10-3 577
17 Georgia Tech 11-3 573
18 Wisconsin 11-3 470
19 Oklahoma 8-5 407
20 Arkansas 7-6 377
21 Stanford 8-5 365
22 Arizona 10-4 299
23 Missouri 11-3 229
24 Boise State 12-2 190
25 Tennessee 7-6 166

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USC picked by media as preseason Pac-12 title favorites

Pac-12 Championship Game - UCLA v Oregon

If the media is correct — and when are they ever wrong? — the Reign of the Duck will be a short one.

The results of the media’s preseason voting was released Thursday morning, with the voters determining that USC will win the 2015 Pac-12 championship.  The Trojans received 21 of the 44 first-place votes submitted.

USC was far from an overwhelming favorite, though, as Oregon, the 2014 conference champion, was named on 17 first-place ballots.  The only others receiving votes were Arizona State (three), UCLA (two) and Stanford (one).

Oregon and USC were overwhelming favorites to win their respective divisions, with the former receiving 37 first-place votes to win the North and the latter 32 to claim the South.  As when it came to the overall conference championship, just three other schools received first-place votes: Stanford, which received eight to win the North, and Arizona State and UCLA, which received seven and six votes, respectively, to win the South.

(Writer’s note: I have no idea why the number of votes for Pac-12 champion totals 44, while the votes for divisional champions totals 45.)

Pac-12 media Preseason Picks

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Arizona State the latest to unveil new uniforms for 2015

Arizona State Uniforms

The number of football programs that have unveiled new uniforms this offseason is in the double digits, so what’s one more?

The latest to do the unveiling is Arizona State, which last December announced a new agreement with apparel provider adidas.  And, in what will come as a surprise to some, or maybe even most people, there’s very little change from what ASU fans have become accustomed to over the past several years.

There are, though, some tweaks to the new duds, as the Arizona Republic noted:

These uniforms retained the fonts, “PT42″ crest and similar sleeve stripes from recent designs, but Adidas looked to enhance those components with a glossier, metallic accent. A larger pitchfork logo has also been added to the pants.

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B1G’s 11-strong ‘Players to Watch’ list released

Big 10 Championship Game - Ohio State v Michigan State Getty Images

Most conferences this time of the year release their preseason players of the year.  The Big Ten is not like other conferences.

Ahead of the start of the the B1G Media Days in Chicago Thursday afternoon, the Midwest league released what it calls its “Players to Watch” list.  This year’s list consists of 11 players — six from the West division and five from the East.  There is one more in the West than in the East due to a tie in the media voting.

While there are 11 players listed, just seven schools are represented as four members earned two players each: Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin.  The schools with just one each include Iowa, Northwestern and Penn State.

Interestingly, six of the 11 come from the defensive side of the ball while five come from the offensive.  Also, just one quarterback is represented, and that one wasn’t from Ohio State.

Below is the complete list of preseason honorees.

EAST DIVISION
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn State

WEST DIVISION*
Drew Ott, DE, Iowa
Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
De’Mornay Pierson-El, WR, Nebraska
Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern
Michael Caputo, S, Wisconsin
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin

*Additional honoree due to tie

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Boise St. QB frontrunner (likely) to be eligible for opener vs. UW

Boise State at Air Force

After exiting the spring as Boise State’s front-runner to take over as starting quarterback, Ryan Finley put that status at risk after being charged with a pair of alcohol-related misdemeanors.  The speculation was, Finley could be facing the loss of playing time.

As it turns out, that couldn’t be further from the case. Probably.

“Because of what’s happened and where the court case is as well, absolutely,” Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin stated when asked if Finley will be eligible to play in the highly-anticipated opener against Washington Sept. 4. “And I’ll say this with absolute confidence: Ryan has done everything we’ve asked of him. I can’t ask him to do more than what he’s done. I’m proud of him.

“This is obviously disappointing, we all understand that, but if guys can make up for their mistakes and I believe he’s done that from our standpoint, then we’re good.”

Finley’s pretrial conference has been postponed until the end of September after originally being scheduled for the middle of July. Despite the fact that the legal case won’t be resolved before the start of the season, Harsin said “I feel like what I’ve asked and what he’s done, he’s done it, and we’ll let the legal process do their jobs.”

Harsin did allow that, should new, pertinent information related to Finley’s case surface as the legal process does its job, additional punishment could be in the offing.

“If there’s something else in there that I don’t know or there’s more too it, then yeah, there’s obviously going to be something that we have to do at that point,” the second-year coach said.

As Grant Hedrick’s primary backup in 2014, Finley completed 12-of-27 passes for 161 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

In addition to the redshirt sophomore Finley, the competition that began in the spring and extend on into summer camp includes redshirt sophomore Tommy Stuart, true freshman Brett Rypien and redshirt freshmanAlex Ogle. None of those three players have attempted a pass at the collegiate level.

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WMU the new home for Notre Dame grad transfer Anthony Rabasa

Wake Forest v Notre Dame Getty Images

Seldom used at Notre Dame, Anthony Rabasa hopes that will change for his final season at his new college football phone.

Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck has confirmed that Rabasa has joined his Broncos program and will play for WMU this coming season. As the defensive end has already received his degree from Notre Dame and is coming in as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

Rabasa is expected to immediately join WMU’s defensive line rotation.

A three-star member of the Irish’s 2011 recruiting class, Rivals.com rated him as the No. 11 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 54 player at any position in the state of Florida. After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, he played in two games in 2012 and five in 2013.

He didn’t see the field at all for the Irish in 2014.

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Seeing writing on QB wall, SDSU’s Nick Bawden shifting to FB

Bawden

After the first couple of spring practice earlier this year, Nick Bawden was third in San Diego State’s quarterback pecking order.  Exiting spring, he was at least fourth.

Now, as the Aztecs are about to embark on the start of summer camp, Bawden is off the quarterback depth chart completely.

Head coach Rocky Long confirmed to the San Diego Union-Tribune that, following the conclusion of spring practice, he gave Bawden a choice: switch positions or transfer somewhere else if he wanted to continue playing quarterback.  The 6-3, 220-pound Bawden decided to take one for his current team and agreed to move to fullback/H-back moving forward.

While Long’s not really certain about the fullback part of the equation, he praised Bawden for his selflessness in making the move.

“There are very few of those guys left,” Long told the Union-Tribune. “You appreciate those guys. I don’t know if he can play fullback. He’s a good athlete; he weighs 230 (officially, 220) pounds. Just the attitude … ‘I want to be on this team. Tell me where I can play and I’ll do the best I can.’ That’s great stuff.”

Bawden began the spring behind Kentucky graduate transfer Maxwell Smith and Oregon transfer Jake Rodrigues. He left behind those two as well freshman Christian Chapman.

As a true freshman last season, Bawden started two games in place of the injured Quinn Kaehler.  In those two games — one win, one loss — he completed 13 of 37 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  He also ran the ball 11 times for 43 yards.

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UCF wants DB recovering from gunshot wounds to sit this season

Tulsa v Central Florida

If George O’Leary gets his way, Chris Williams won’t see the playing field this coming season.

Earlier this month, Williams was shot twice the arm at a bar near the UF campus.  While the injuries weren’t life-threatening, the recovery time is sufficient that O’Leary wants to see the defensive back sit this one out — athletically and academically — instead of missing a month or more of the 2015 season.

“With that injury alone, [it] was a eight- to-10 week injury, so I would say, again, I’m leaning more toward medical withdrawal to stop his eligibility so he doesn’t have this year count and bring him back in January,” O’Leary said regarding Williams’ status. “The police are involved with what took place there, so it’s really their response, not mine as far as what transpired.”

Williams spent last season as a member of UCF’s scout team, using a redshirt year as a true freshman. In UCF’s spring game, Williams recorded 10 tackles and an interception, which was returned for 52 yards. Based on that performance, and the fact that the Knights are replacing all four secondary starters, Williams was being looked upon a likely starter.

Additionally, O’Leary acknowledged that wide receiver Taylor Oldham likely won’t return until October after sustaining a significant ankle injury during the spring. Oldham caught three passes for 35 yards as a redshirt sophomore in 2014, but, like Williams, was expected to be more of a contributor due to attrition at the position.

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Dismissed Auburn DE Elijah Daniel won’t play for Bo Pelini after all

South Carolina v Auburn

Back in mid-June, it was reported with 100-percent certainty that Elijah Daniel would be continuing his collegiate playing career for Bo Pelini at Youngstown State.  Monday, the first-year YSU coached said the odds of Daniel playing for the Penguins were “50-50.”

One day later, those odds were “0-100.”

Murray State announced in a press release that Daniel will attempt to revive his career Mitch Stewart‘s squad.  Because the Racers play at the FCS level, the defensive lineman will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 and have two years of eligibility remaining.

Daniel was dismissed by Auburn in early may following his late-April arrest on four counts each of theft of property and four counts of burglary.  One of the victims of the alleged crimes is current AU wide receiver Stanton Truitt.

According to Stewart, he’s being given his one and only chance with the program.

“I believe in second chances and last chances,” Stewart’s statement began. “I have told Elijah that we are willing to give him this opportunity, because I believe, large or small, everyone makes mistakes and most people are deserving of a second chance.

“But I also made it clear to him, that this is his last chance and that any further incidents like the one at Auburn would be met with an immediate dismissal from the team.”

Last season, Daniel played in all 13 games for the Tigers, making two starts.  His 17 quarterback hurries led the team.

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Mike Leach continues stumping for 64-team playoff

Mike Leach

Along with eccentric, Mike Leach is nothing if not consistent.

Even before a four-team playoff was approved in June of 2012 and implemented for the 2014 season, Leach was espousing the virtues of a 64-team playoff field, labeling such a size as “ideal.”  As part of the Pac-12 coaches turn through the ESPN car wash Wednesday, Leach stated, as he has one more than one occasion, that he’d like to see the playoff expanded beyond its current four teams.

And, yet again, Leach made the case for a 64-team field.

I don’t know why you don’t have 64 teams,” the Washington State coach said according to the World Wide Leader. “The notion of pinpointing and selecting four perfectly, well that’s not going to happen. That can’t happen effectively. …

“It’s remarkably easy. If you’ve got 64, there wouldn’t be a lot of debate. … It would be indisputable that it was settled on the field and somebody that wins playoff games accordingly deserves to be champion and there’s no debate. It would be great fun to watch — just like it is at all the other levels.”

The closest any level of football gets to Leach’s number is the FCS with 24 teams qualifying, up from 20 just a few years ago. The former Div. 1-AA, though, only plays 11 regular season games, with last year’s champion, North Dakota State, playing 15 games counting the playoffs.

For Leach’s proposal to work and garner any type of support, you’d have to get the most powerful conferences in the country to roll back the regular season even further, to 10 games, which would keep any team that made the title game in that size field at just 16 games played; Ohio State and Oregon, the two College Football Playoff championship game qualifiers, played 15 games and even that amount raised a bit of a ruckus from those concerned over player safety.

And even getting to that number, the 10 regular season games, is not as simple as waving a magic wand and getting all on board with wiping out two potentially lucrative regular season games as well as a lucrative conference championship game that benefits all league members.

Despite the CFP’s protestations to the contrary, the field will expand, sooner than later, from four to eight teams, and possibly even 16 on down the road.  Getting to Leach’s ideal number?  You never say never, but that will never happen in my lifetime.  Or the lifetime of my children, for that matter.

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Victim asks that charges against LSU QB, teammates be dropped

Anthony Jennings

At the SEC Media days earlier this month, head coach Les Miles was confident that a handful of his LSU players, including potential starting quarterback Anthony Jennings, would be back with the football team soon as their off-field issues were “approaching a resolution.”

As it turns out, the coach was potentially very prescient when it comes to this situation.

Wednesday afternoon, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore confirmed to a group of reporters covering a speech at the Baton Rouge Rotary Club that the victim in a case involving the LSU football players have asked that the preliminary charges against the trio be dropped. Moore, who has yet to formally charge the trio — Jennings, defensive lineman Maquedius Bain and defensive back Dwayne Thomas — stated that, if the case didn’t involve football players, it would likely be over and done with.

“If this was a regular case, take football out of it, if it just involved a regular LSU student, you wouldn’t have known it happened. It would routinely be dismissed,” the DA said. “I’m taking my time to get it right.”

Moore added “possibly next week” when asked when a resolution can be expected.

The three players were arrested in the middle of last month for unauthorized entry of an inhabited building. Essentially, it’s being alleged that the three went into the open apartment of another LSU student to retrieve items they claim were stolen the week before.

All of the players involved have been indefinitely suspended.

Moore was in attendance to the speech at the Rotary Club, with the keynote speaker being, of course, Miles. During the course of that speech, Miles jokingly directed a message involving his current players at the DA, which he quickly noted to the scribes covering wasn’t suitable for publication.

“I’m right with you. You hear me? As we have always operated, I’m on your schedule, Miles said as he pointed at Moore. “You tell me what you need to tell me, and I will operate accordingly. I promise you.”

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C.J. Reavis loses appeal, remains dismissed by Hokies

It appears that Virginia Tech’s secondary will indeed be without a likely starter heading into its season opener against defending national champion Ohio State.

In a series of tweets Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times confirmed that “safety C.J. Reavis lost his appeal of a student conduct hearing decision” on Tuesday and “remains dismissed from Virginia Tech.” Earlier this month it was reported that Reavis was no longer enrolled at the university following the completion of a student-conduct hearing.

There still has been no reason given for the student-conduct hearing, although Reavis’ attorney is far from pleased with the outcome of the appeal, intimating that his client may take legal action against Tech.

Reavis played in 12 games as a true freshman last season, mainly on special teams. After a strong spring, he was viewed as a likely starter at safety for the Hokies.

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Ex-Buckeye Jayme Thompson tweets he’ll continue career at Indiana

Jayme Thompson

Jayme Thompson may have left Ohio State, but, as it turns out, he hasn’t permanently left the Big Ten.

The former Buckeye defensive back posted a tweet to his personal Twitter account in which he revealed that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career at Indiana.  As Thompson spent the 2014 season at Iowa Western Community College, he will be eligible to play immediately for the Hoosiers in 2015.

And he will play against his former team as well as the Hoosiers will play host to the Buckeyes Oct. 3.

The Toledo, OH, high schooler was a four-star member of OSU’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 29 safety in the country and the No. 11 player at any position in the state of Ohio.  He missed all of his true freshman season due to a broken ankle, but had participated in spring practice the following year before deciding to transfer in mid-April of last year.

Prior to landing at IU, Kentucky, Louisville, Penn State, Rutgers and West Virginia — Thompson verbally committed to WVU before flipping to OSU — were rumored as potential destinations as well.

(Photo credit: Ohio State athletics)

UPDATED 7:01 p.m. ET: As it turns out, Thompson will be a part of IU’s 2016 recruiting class and will not play for the Hoosiers until next season.  He will spend the 2015 season at a JUCO.

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Chris Petersen ‘not looking forward to’ Boise game ‘because I recruited so many of those kids’

chrispetersen Getty Images

One of the best storylines heading into Week 1 of the 2015 season will be Washington’s road trip to Boise State, and not necessarily for what will happen on the field during those 60 minutes.

UW is coached by Chris Petersen, who is heading into his second year with the Huskies.  Petersen, of course, was the long-time — and very successful — head coach at Boise who had turned down multiple offers from more “prestigious” programs before finally pulling the trigger on a move from the Broncos to the Huskies in December of 2013.

While everybody else in the college football world is eagerly anticipating his return to Boise for the Sept. 4 Friday night game, the coach himself isn’t.

“I’m not looking forward to it because I recruited so many of those kids,” Petersen said during his time running through the ESPN car wash, adding that, when it comes to the kind of reception he’ll get for his homecoming, he understands the boo birds will be out.

“They’re fans, they’re gonna boo me,” said the coach. “But it’s such a great place.”

Petersen did dip his toes into the controversy over the Broncos’ Smurf Turf, all with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

The game itself is likely causing as much or more trepidation for Petersen than the homecoming angle, though.

While both teams will be breaking in new quarterbacks, UW will be breaking in a new signal-caller behind an offensive line that returns just one starter from 2014.  Boise, meanwhile, returns all five line starters.

Combine that with eight returning starters from a Broncos defense that was above average in nearly every major statistical category — the Huskies return four on that side of the ball — and the game being played in Boise, and it could add up to a very long night for Petersen’s homecoming in more ways than one.

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After leaving Buckeyes to focus on med school dream, Frank Epitropoulos to walk-on at Mich. St.

Frankie Williams, Frank Epitropoulos AP

If you remember back to August of last year, Ohio State revealed that Frank Epitropoulos has decided to give up football to focus on academics. Specifically, the little-used wide receiver was leaving to “concentrate entirely on his biology and pre-med/pre-dental academic program.”

Nearly one year later, Epitropoulos is returning to play football — for one of OSU’s Big Ten East rivals.

Epitropoulos, whose father and uncle played for OSU, confirmed via Twitter on Tuesday that he has decided to resume his collegiate playing career for Michigan State.  Epitropoulos will be a walk-on for the Spartans who will be eligible to play in 2015 because he sat out the 2014 season.

Epitropoulos’ father confirmed to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the receiver is still a pre-med student.  According to the dad, his son “got most of his hard stuff out of the way” during his brief sabbatical from the sport.

“To do how he did in school, and take the kind of classes that he took, I highly doubt that he’d been able to get the grades he needed,” John Epitropoulos told the Plain Dealer. “To try to go to medical school, you’ve gotta put yourself in a position to do that. There’s some minimal things you’ve gotta do, and that doesn’t guarantee you anything. I’m confident, and he said too, that he would not have been able to get the grades that he needed.

“That (football) part of his life slowed down so he would have a chance, because there’s no guarantee obviously. It’s very competitive. If you want to put yourself in a spot to do that, then that’s what you gotta do. I can tell you as a father, I’m fairly confident he wouldn’t have been able, or he would’ve had to switch his major out. To his betterment, he didn’t want to do that. That’s the right call for him.”

On the football field, Epitropoulos played in four games as a redshirt freshman in 2013. He had one career catch for six yards — vs. Purdue in early November

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