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TCU football announces 22 signings

Gary Patterson AP

(Below is TCU’s press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

TCU head coach Gary Patterson and the Horned Frog football program have announced the signing of 22 players.

All but three of the newcomers are three star and above recruits. Four-star signee Kyle Hicks from Martin High School in Arlington, Texas, is ranked by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 3 running back in Texas and No. 21 in the nation. He rushed for 1,113 yards and totaled 1,571 in offense with 28 touchdowns in just nine games as a senior this season.

TCU has now signed 14 four-star recruits in the last five classes. The Horned Frogs had just five four-star signees in the previous eight years combined (2001-08). Thirteen signees in this year’s class are in the Midlands 150 which covers the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Seventeen of the 22 signees are in-state products, including 11 from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Linebacker Sammy Douglas (Arlington) and cornerback Ranthony Texada (Frisco) were named by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football as the best in the state in 2012 at their respective positions. Six signees are in the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25.

Twelve of the signees are on offense, nine on defense and one designated as an athlete. Offensive line was the most common position with four players, followed by cornerback, linebacker and wide receiver with three. Five states are represented in this year’s recruiting class.

The 22 signees include 20 high school products and junior college transfers Mike Tuaua (Rohnert Park, Calif.) and Lloyd Tunstill (Santa Clarita, Calif.).

Quarterback Zach Allen (Temple), tight end Bryson Burtnett (Springtown) and offensive tackle Eason  Fromayan (Alpharetta, Ga.) have already enrolled at TCU and will take part in spring practice.

Allen, the lone quarterback in the class, was the District 8-5A Offensive Most Valuable Player. Burtnett is ranked as the No. 5 tight end in the state and No. 40 in the nation. Fromayan was a first-team Class 6A all-state selection. He is the Horned Frogs’ third signee from Georgia in the last two seasons, joining Zach Jackson and Jordan Moore from last year’s class.

Joining Hicks at tailback is Trevorris Johnson (Houston), ranked as the No. 7 running back in Texas. He rushed for 2,115 yards as a senior, including a 342-yard game. He’s been tabbed by the Houston Chronicle as one of the top-100 recruits in the Houston area.

Jermaine Antoine (Loreauville, La.), Cameron Echols-Luper (Auburn, Ala.) and Ty Slanina (East Bernard) are TCU’s newcomers at wide receiver.

Antoine was the “Best All-Around Athlete” at the 2012 U.S. Army National Combine. He was first-team all-state as he rushed for 1,399 yards and 26 touchdowns while adding 538 yards receiving and six scores.

Echols-Luper, the son of TCU wide receivers coach Curtis Luper, has been ranked as the No. 7 wide receiver prospect in Alabama and the 19th-best overall player in the state.

Slanina was a first-team selection on the MaxPreps Small Schools All-America Team. He was the Offensive Most Valuable Player in leading East Bernard to the 2A Division II state championship.

In addition to Fromayan, offensive line signees include Patrick Morris (Denton), Joseph Noteboom (Plano) and Tunstill.

Morris is ranked as the No. 2 center in Texas and No. 8 nationally at the position. He did not allow a sack as a senior. Noteboom was the 12th-rated offensive tackle in the state. Tunstill was an all-conference selection the last two seasons at College of the Canyons.

Local signee Charlie Reid (Fort Worth) from All Saints’ Episcopal was a MaxPreps Small Schools All-American. He is rated as the fourth-best tight end prospect in Texas and No. 35 nationally.

Bryson Henderson (Mansfield), from Summit High School, is the 10th-ranked defensive end in the state and 63rd in the country. Also joining the defensive end ranks is Tuaua, who is from the same Santa Rosa Junior College that produced current TCU All-America cornerback Jason Verrett. Tuaua recorded 68 tackles, including 16 1/2 for loss, and eight sacks in the 2012 campaign.

TCU’s three signees at linebacker are Douglas, Dac Shaw (Mineola) and Paul Whitmill (Bastrop). They are ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, for outside linebackers in Texas and in the top 40 nationally at their position.

Douglas, a first-team all-state selection and the Star-Telegram Super Team Defensive Player of the Year, totaled 168 tackles in leading Arlington High School to the regional semifinals. Shaw, also an All-District 7-3A selection at running back, ran for 319 yards and five touchdowns in the same game he totaled 12 tackles. Whitmill was also a fullback for Bastrop High School.

TCU signed the fifth-, sixth- and seventh-rated cornerbacks in the state in Texada, Steve Wesley (Arlington) and Cydney Calvin (Frisco), respectively. Texada and Calvin are from Centennial High School.

Texada, the District 9-4A Defensive Most Valuable Player, intercepted two passes to earn MVP honors at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. Texada and Calvin both excelled on special teams. Texada averaged 38 yards on kickoff returns and blocked five field goals as a senior, while Calvin was the school’s Special Teams MVP. Texada added three punt returns for touchdowns his junior year.

Wesley was a member of the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25.

George Baltimore (Mansfield), the No. 7 safety in Texas and No. 51 in the nation, returned two of his four interceptions for touchdowns as a senior. He had seven picks, including two for scores, as a junior.

Denzel Johnson (Gainesville) comes to TCU as an athlete. He was the District 9-3A Most Valuable Player after passing for 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns while rushing for 1,064 yards and 10 scores.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 22 members of TCU’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Zach Allen (QB, 6-3, 185, Temple, Texas; Temple HS)
Ranked by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 12 quarterback in Texas and No. 67 in the nation … District 8-5A Offensive Most Valuable Player and the Temple Daily Telegram Class 5A Co-Offensive Player of the Year as a senior … passed for 2,175 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 941 yards and nine scores despite playing just nine games due to injury … threw for 1,753 yards and ran for 766 as a junior … chose TCU over Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Clemson, Minnesota and Syracuse.

Jermaine Antoine (WR, 5-11, 195, Loreauville, La.; Loreauville HS)
Named “Best All-Around Athlete” at the 2012 U.S. Army National Combine … a first-team Class 2A all-state selection by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association … was also first-team All-District 6-2A and its Offensive Most Valuable Player as a senior … a three-time first-team pick as an athlete on The Daily Iberian’s Best of the Teche team … was also first-team All-Acadiana at running back … rushed for 1,399 yards and 26 touchdowns while adding 538 yards receiving and six scores as a senior … opened his senior season with 274 yards rushing and six touchdowns versus Central Catholic … ran for 691 yards and 11 touchdowns his junior year … added 568 yards and six scores receiving … had three kickoff returns and two punt returns for touchdowns … chose TCU over Texas A&M and North Texas.

George Baltimore (S, 6-0, 205, Mansfield, Texas; Mansfield HS)
The No. 7 safety in Texas and No. 51 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 116 overall in the Midlands 150 … selected to the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25 … honorable-mention all-state his senior year … was first-team all-district as a junior and senior … totaled 81 tackles his senior year with four interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns … also picked off seven passes as a junior, two of which were taken back for scores … selected TCU over Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas, Arkansas, Arizona State, Cal, Vanderbilt, Michigan State, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Purdue.

Bryson Burtnett (TE, 6-5, 225, Springtown, Texas; Springtown HS)

Rated by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 5 tight end in Texas and No. 40 in the nation … had 19 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns as a senior … totaled 37 tackles, including seven for loss, and two sacks on defense … was a unanimous All-District 6-3A selection at defensive end … All-Parker County … received second-team all-district honors as a junior when he totaled 51 tackles and five sacks … chose TCU over Rice and Texas State.

Cydney Calvin (CB, 6-1, 175, Frisco, Texas; Centennial HS)
The No. 7 cornerback in Texas and No. 78 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … ranked No. 120 overall in the Midlands 150 … named Centennial’s Most Improved Player and Special Teams Most Valuable Player his senior year … had two interceptions for 71 yards and also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery … totaled 40 tackles … played alongside fellow TCU signee Ranthony Texada in high school … chose TCU over Wake Forest.

Sammy Douglas (LB, 6-3, 195, Arlington, Texas; Arlington HS)
Ranked by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 3 outside linebacker in Texas and No. 28 in the nation … No. 80 overall in the Midlands 150 … named the state’s Best Linebacker in 2012 by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football … selected as the Star-Telegram Super Team Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the Tarrant County Terrific 25 … also an Associated Press first-team all-state selection and first-team All-District 4-5A … totaled 168 tackles, including a career-high 29 against Bowie, in leading Arlington to the regional semifinals … first-team all-district as a junior when he recorded 148 stops, including six sacks, with four forced fumbles and five recoveries.

Cameron Echols-Luper (WR, 6-0, 190, Auburn, Ala.; Auburn HS)
Tabbed the No. 7 wide receiver prospect in Alabama and No. 131 at his position nationally by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … ranked as the 19th-best overall player in Alabama … passed for 1,036 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior … also rushed for 898 yards and seven scores in leading Auburn to the Class 6A quarterfinals … totaled 2,339 yards of offense and 25 touchdowns his junior year … a three-year starter … his father, Curtis Luper, is TCU’s wide receivers coach … chose the Horned Frogs over Texas A&M, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Maryland and Illinois.

Eason Fromayan (OT, 6-5, 285, Alpharetta, Ga.; Milton HS)
Rated by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 11 offensive tackle in Georgia and No. 90 nationally at his position … a first-team Class 6A all-state selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution … named to the Region 5-6A first team as a senior … honorable-mention all-district and all-region his junior year … his father, Edwin, was a four-year letterman (1988-91) in basketball at TCU … picked the Horned Frogs over Cincinnati, South Florida, Syracuse and Wake Forest.

Bryson Henderson (DE, 6-4, 245, Mansfield, Texas; Summit HS)
The No. 10 defensive end in Texas and No. 63 nationally by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … ranked No. 127 overall in the Midlands 150 … selected to the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25 … recorded 75 tackles and nine sacks as a junior … also earned District 7-4A Most Valuable Player honors that season … chose the Horned Frogs over Baylor, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Colorado, Vanderbilt and Purdue.

Kyle Hicks (TB, 5-10, 190, Arlington, Texas; Martin HS)
A four-star recruit by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com and Rivals.com … ranked as the No. 3 running back in Texas and No. 21 in the nation … the No. 141 overall player nationally by Scout.com … No. 23 in the Midlands 150 … an Associated Press honorable-mention all-state selection as a senior … named to the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25 … totaled 1,113 yards on the ground and 458 through the air as a senior … totaled 28 touchdowns in nine games … rushed for 1,667 yards and 26 touchdowns in earning first-team all-district honors as a junior … was a Martin High School teammate of current Horned Frogs Devonte Fields and Jaden Oberkrom … chose TCU over Texas, Baylor, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Michigan.

Denzel Johnson (ATH, 6-2, 205, Gainesville, Texas; Gainesville HS)
Earned District 9-3A Most Valuable Player honors at quarterback his senior year … passed for 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns while rushing for 1,064 yards and 10 scores … named All-Cooke County … first-team all-district as a junior when he rushed for 580 yards and eight touchdowns … also started at free safety during his time at Gainesville … helped lead the school to the Texas Class 3A Division I quarterfinals in 2012 … was also all-district in basketball and baseball … chose TCU over UTSA.

Trevorris Johnson (TB, 5-11, 205, Houston, Texas; Alief Taylor HS)
Rated as the No. 7 running back in Texas and No. 45 nationally by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 71 overall in the Midlands 150 … named the District 18-5A Offensive Most Valuable Player … rushed for 2,115 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior … tabbed by the Houston Chronicle as one of the top 100 recruits in the Houston area … rushed for a single game school-record 342 yards en route to earning Houston Boys Athlete of the Week honors from the Houston Chronicle … ran for 744 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior, averaging 6.5 per carry … selected TCU over Arkansas, Iowa State, Kansas, Utah, Cal and Wake Forest.

Patrick Morris (OL, 6-3, 288, Denton, Texas; Guyer HS)
The No. 2 center in Texas and No. 8 nationally at his position by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 69 overall in the Midlands 150 … an Associated Press Class 4A all-state selection … was also first-team District 5-4A and all-area as a senior … did not allow a sack … graded out at 87 percent with 27 knockdown blocks … helped lead Guyer to the Class 4A state championship game … Guyer rushed for 2,884 yards and 52 touchdowns … all-district as a junior and named to the all-state sophomore team in 2010 … a three-year letterman … also lettered one year in tennis … chose TCU over Texas Tech, Kansas, Northwestern and Washington State.

Joseph Noteboom (OT, 6-5, 260, Plano, Texas; Plano HS)
Ranked by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 12 offensive tackle in Texas and No. 99 nationally … a first-team District 10-5A selection as a senior … also made the Associated Press Class 5A honorable-mention all-state team … was honorable-mention all-district as a junior … chose TCU over Texas Tech, Iowa State, Wake Forest and Purdue.

Charlie Reid (TE, 6-4, 225, Fort Worth, Texas; All Saints’ Episcopal School)
Tabbed the No. 4 tight end in Texas and No. 35 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 115 overall in the Midlands 150 … a member of the 2012 MaxPreps’ Small Schools All-America Team … named to the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25 … also selected to the Star-Telegram Super Team … recorded 49 catches for 1,220 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior  … All Saints’ Episcopal entered the 2012 campaign as the No. 1 small private school in the state … totaled 41 receptions for 637 yards and five touchdowns as a junior … chose TCU over Iowa State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, UCLA, Utah, Oregon State, Arizona and Colorado.

Dac Shaw (LB, 6-2, 200, Mineola, Texas; Mineola HS)

Rated as the No. 4 outside linebacker in Texas and No. 33 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 90 overall in the Midlands 150 … the No. 53 overall prospect in the state by Rivals.com … a three-time all-district selection at running back and linebacker … named the 3A Player of the Week as a senior when he rushed for 319 yards and five touchdowns while also recording 12 tackles in a game … rushed for 28 touchdowns as a senior and 26 his junior year … honorable-mention Class 2A all-state as a junior … selected as Mineola’s Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore … also lettered in basketball … chose TCU over Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

Ty Slanina (WR, 6-0, 182, East Bernard, Texas; East Bernard HS)
The No. 16 wide receiver in the state and No. 58 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 74 overall in the Midlands 150 … a first-team selection on defense to the MaxPreps Small Schools All-America Team … an honorable-mention Associated Press Class 2A all-state selection … led East Bernard to the 2A Division II state title as a senior, throwing four touchdown passes and earning Offensive Most Valuable Player honors in the championship game … earned District 15-2A academic first team and Offensive MVP honors as a junior … ran for 1,015 yards, threw for 561 and intercepted seven passes as a sophomore … the 2011 and 2012 Class 2A state long jump champion … picked TCU over Baylor, Texas Tech, Stanford, Arizona, Utah and Mississippi State.

Ranthony Texada (CB, 5-10, 160, Frisco, Texas; Centennial HS)
Ranked by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com as the No. 5 cornerback in Texas and No. 43 nationally … No. 84 overall in the Midlands 150 … named the state’s Best Defensive Back in 2012 by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football … a second-team Associated Press all-state selection as a senior … also named the District 9-4A Defensive Most Valuable Player … an all-region honoree and the Collin County Defensive Player of the Year … totaled 63 tackles, four interceptions and 22 pass breakups as a senior … also averaged 38 yards per kickoff return and blocked five field goals … intercepted two passes in being named Team Defensive MVP at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl at Reliant Stadium in Houston … scored three touchdowns on punt returns while also intercepting five passes, breaking up 11 and recording 45 tackles as a junior … selected TCU over Baylor, Iowa State, Illinois, Penn State and Indiana.

Mike Tuaua (DE, 6-3, 260, Rohnert Park, Calif.; Santa Rosa JC; Rancho Cotate HS)
Recorded 68 tackles, including 16 1/2 for loss, with eight sacks in 2012 … the North Bay League Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Rancho Cotate High School … was also All-Empire … totaled 81 tackles in earning all-league honors his junior year … will have three seasons of eligiblity at TCU.

Lloyd Tunstill (OL, 6-4, 305, Santa Clarita, Calif.; College of the Canyons; Heritage Christian HS)
An all-conference selection at left tackle the last two seasons at College of the Canyons … will have two seasons of eligibility at TCU … chose the Horned Frogs over Baylor, West Virginia and BYU.

Steve Wesley (CB, 6-0, 175, Arlington, Texas; Bowie HS)
Rated as the No. 6 cornerback in Texas and No. 52 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … No. 108 overall in the Midlands 150 … selected to the Star-Telegram’s Tarrant County Terrific 25 … earned first-team All-District 3-5A honors as a senior and junior … picked TCU over Kansas, Illinois and Wake Forest.

Paul Whitmill (LB, 5-11, 200, Bastrop, Texas; Bastrop HS)
The No. 5 outside linebacker in Texas and No. 39 in the nation by FOX Sports Next/Scout.com … ranked No. 123 overall in the Midlands 150 … appeared on the 2012 Butkus Award High School Watch List … a first-team District 17-4A selection as a senior and junior … totaled 49 tackles, including 11 for loss, with two sacks his senior year … recorded 95 stops with seven for loss and three sacks as a sophomore … chose TCU over Baylor, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Utah, Arizona and Wake Forest.

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Tebow just another former college star slamming his former team

Tim Tebow

It’s tough watching Florida Gators football this season. Even former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow thinks so. Tebow, a former Heisman Trophy winner at Florida and still a fan favorite among the Florida faithful, went on radio recently and suggested one of the many problems Florida is battling through right now is a lack of identity and leadership.

“I don’t think that the offense has an identity right now, and I don’t think that they know what they want their identity to be,” Tebow said while on air with 1010 XL in Jacksonville. “One of the biggest problems on the offense is leadership. You need to have something to motivate you, something to give you an edge…they’re not out of the SEC East.”

Tebow is far from the first former player to come out and hammer his former college program. Just this season former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron offered some criticism of Alabama’s performance. At USC, former Trojans running back LenDale White has not held anything back in his critiquing of the current state of the USC program. That even led to him being ejected from the Los Angeles Coliseum this past weekend.

Tebow is a bit different from the McCarron and White cases of course. Tebow is a member fo the media, paid for his opinions on college football. Specifically, Tebow is paid for his commentary on the SEC as a member of the SEC Network. How much insight Tebow actually has into the locker room in Gainesville may be fair to question as a new coaching staff is in place since his last played for the Gators, although when images like this pop up following a dismal performance at home…

… Tebow’s suggestions there is a leadership problem carry some weight. This isn’t even the first time a scene like this played out under Will Muschamp. Remember this, from after the 2013 Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville?

Does Florida have a leadership problem? Maybe. Or maybe this team just is not very good.

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Does the AP poll have an SEC bias?

SEC Football Championship - Florida v Alabama Getty Images

This week’s latest Associated Press top 25 poll features four teams from the SEC in the top five, which has helped to ignite the discussion about a perceived SEC bias from poll voters. Is it legitimate? Looking to defend the integrity of its poll, the AP decided to dig into the numbers to see if there is anything to support the idea of a bias toward the conference that has dominated on the national stage for the better part of the past decade.

With some help from STATS, the AP reviewed the weekly polls from 2009 through 2013. Do SEC teams jump up the rankings faster than schools from the Big Ten or Big 12 or Pac-12 or ACC when they win? Do the SEC schools drop as far as schools form the other conferences do? This is what the AP wanted to find out.

From 2009 through 2013, SEC schools jumped an average of 1.5 spot sin the AP poll following a win. According to the data compiled, SEC schools had the smallest jump up in the AP poll following a win. ACC schools moved up an average of 2.0 spots. The Big Ten saw schools move up an average of 1.9 spots, the Big 12 had an average jump of 18 spots and the Pac-10/Pac-12 jumped an average of 1.6 spots. What is not properly demonstrated here is the minimal gain to be had by teams ranked highly in the AP poll. SEC schools ranked highly in that time span (Alabama, Florida, Auburn for example) never had much room to move up.

But how far are the schools from the SEC dropping? According to the data, SEC schools tend to have a smaller fall in the rankings than schools from all of the power conferences, except for the Pac-12. Pac-12 schools dropped an average of 5.3 spots in the AP poll following a loss. SEC schools dropped an average of 5.5 spots. ACC schools were hit the hardest with a drop of an average 6.6 spots following a loss. The Big Ten and Big 12 each dropped an average of 6.0 spots in the PA poll following a loss.

Midway through the 2014 season the numbers seem to suggest the SEC schools take a harder hit per loss and see a smaller boost following a win. Let’s see how these numbers play out through the end of this season.

The good news this season is the AP poll really does not mean a thing. The College Football Playoff selection committee will have its own ranking, which will begin to be published next week, and the committee will run independently of any existing polling system.

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Big 12 reprimands Baylor SID for Twitter rant

Angry Bird At Computer

Baylor sports information director Heath Nielsen vented some frustrations during Baylor’s road loss to West Virgina on Saturday by taking to Twitter. The Big 12 did not take too kindly to comments made by Nielsen on Twitter, and issued a public reprimand for his social media rant. In addition to a public reprimand, the Big 12 has also issued a $1,000 fine to Nielsen.

“Mr. Nielsen’s public statements via social media, and those of others that were shared on his Twitter account, called into question the integrity and competence of game officials and the Conference’s officiating program,” stated Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “Big 12 administrators are reminded annually that they fall under the same sportsmanship guidelines as our coaches and student-athletes.”

Nielsen issued a public apology in the Big 12’s statement regarding the reaction to his statements.

“I apologize to the Big 12 Conference for having sent and retweeted some tweets last Saturday regarding officiating,” Nielsen said. “It was a regrettable act for someone in my position.”

A quick scan of Nielsen’s timeline looks as though any controversial tweets and retweets have since been taken down, but this one is still funny.

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Heart of Dallas Bowl has a tasty new sponsor

HOD Bowl

The Heart of Dallas Bowl has a brand new bowl sponsor. Zaxby’s, a popular casual restaurant chain found throughout the southeast, has signed on for a four-year sponsorship deal with the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The game, played in the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium, will be sponsored by Zaxby’s through the 2017 season, and the contract has an option for an extension.

“We are delighted to join with an organization that is fully dedicated to supporting college football, and look forward to expanding the Zaxby’s brand across the nation with the title sponsorship of our bowl game,” said Brant Ringler, Executive Director of the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl. “It’s only fitting that the ‘Official Chicken of Sports Fanz’ will be on hand to enhance the experience of our participating teams and football fans that travel to Dallas.”

Zaxby’s, based out of Athens, Georgia, claims there are over 640 stores found in 15 states. This is the first bowl game sponsorship deal the chain has negotiated.

The Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl will be played this season on December 26 at 1 p.m. eastern. The game, owned and operated by ESPN, will air — naturally — on ESPN. The game has tie-ins with the Big Ten and Conference USA. Conference USA is 2-0 in the bowl game, first played in 2011. The Big Ten is 0-3.

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Sun Belt offers some alternative sports programming tonight

Terrance Broadway, Elijah McGuire

Word is there is some important sporting event getting started tonight, but we will leave the baseball conversation to our friends over at Hardball Talk. If baseball is not your thing, feel free to tune in to some good old-fashioned Tuesday night Sun Belt Conference action as Louisiana hosts Arkansas State in a battle of Sun Belt unbeaten teams. Both are attempting to keep pace with conference newcomer Georgia Southern.

Georgia Southern is off to a 4-0 start in Sun Belt play, its first season in the conference. We’ll have to wait to see if the new FBS program can keep up that pace in the second half of the year, but it should be noted the Eagles are ineligible to represent the conference in a postseason bowl game. Because this is a transition season for Georgia Southern, it is ineligible for postseason play, although it can be recognized as the Sun Belt conference champion. With that caveat in play, the conference’s top bowl spot should be considered on the line tonight down in Lafayette.

Arkansas State appears to be entering tonight’s Sun Belt match-up on a bit of a hot streak with three straight wins. Among those wins is a victory over Utah State and another against Louisiana-Monroe. Casual viewers just catching Arkansas State for the first time tonight will likely become familiar with quarterback Fredi Knighten, a dual-threat option in the Red Wolves offense. Knighten has passed for seven touchdowns and run for six more. In his past two games, Knighten has accounted for a total of eight touchdowns.

Louisiana’s quarterback, Terrance Broadway, is also one to keep an eye on. As his last night might suggest, he could put on a memorable show. In a victory over Texas State a week ago, Broadway rushed for 101 yards to go with his 225 passing yards in a 34-10 victory on the road.

The winner of this particular match-up has gone on to win the Sun Belt Conference championship each of the past three years. Tonight’s game will be seen on ESPN 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

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Utah State loses QB Garretson to wrist surgery

Darell Garretson

This season has not been kind to Utah State quarterbacks. For the second time this season the Aggies are losing a starting quarterback due to injury. Darell Garretson, who had been starting in place of an injured Chuckie Keeton, will undergo wrist surgery. The recovery will keep him off the field for at least a few weeks, and a return before the end of the season is still possible. The timeline for his recovery though, is unconfirmed.

What we do know is Garretson will be out this weekend when Utah State plays UNLV in conference play. Craig Harrison is listed as the starting quarterback for this weekend’s game on the latest Utah State depth chart. Harrison has appeared in two games and completed five of 12 pass attempts for 28 yards. The senior played in eight games last season, completing 47.3 percent of his passes in a similar back-up role behind Keeton and Garretson.

Garretson injured his wrist in Utah State’s loss to Colorado State. He had a sling put on his arm and placed an ice pack on his wrist. Utah State still has six games left to play this season. If Garretson only misses three or four weeks, he would likely be available for the final game or two, depending on how quickly he recovers.

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Devin Gardner shrugs aside social media criticism and racism

Devin Gardner

Twitter is full of anonymous online bullies who feel it is their right to be able to say whatever they want at whomever they want. Athletes may be the most targeted among the Twitterspehere, and it gets ugly time and time again, especially when a player or team is not performing well. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner has certainly seen his share of cyberbullying directed at him this season.

“I’ve been called the N-word so many times this year,” Gardner said in a profile story published by The Detroit News. “One guy told me I was the N-word, and said I know N-words can’t play quarterback. And I was like, are we not past this? Say what you want about my skill, but come on.”

Some athletes would shut down their online profiles when they come under such attacks, but Gardner does what he can to block it out. Some players are incapable of brushing off the criticism from Internet tough guys, but fortunately Gardner seems to have the right frame of mind when it comes to this sort of thing. In a sense, it is the way Gardner attempts to play through pain.

“You can’t not feel the pain,” Gardner said. “The thing is, it’s mind over matter. You have to ignore it. Try to ignore it. You can’t compare a sprain to a broken bone, but high-ankle sprains are pretty bad. They hurt pretty bad. The Ohio game was different. This game, too, if I had to run, I would have been able to do it. If I had to, if it was third and seven and they gave me a lane to run, I was going to do it.”

I don’t particularly understand the rationale that defends lobbing Twitter or Facebook insults at others, never mind high school and college athletes. Perhaps there are other ways to relieve tension that builds up watching sports.

Just a thought.

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Elbow injury likely ends season of Beavers starting wideout

Richard Mullaney, Davion Orphey

Unfortunately, the injury to one of Oregon State’s leading receivers was as bad as originally feared.

In the second half of last Thursday night’s double-overtime loss to Utah, Richard Mullaney suffered an elbow injury.  At the time, Mike Riley said the wide receiver would be “out for a while.”

A few days later, the head coach wasn’t nearly as “optimistic” as he was shortly after the loss.

“We’ll be lucky if we get him back before the end of the year,” Riley succinctly stated.

As Mullaney is the most experienced member of OSU’s receiving corps, the loss will be a significant one. And one that the coaching staff isn’t downplaying.

“I think everyone’s disappointed for Mullaney,” the player’s position coach, Brent Brennan, said. “He’s an awesome kid, he’s a good teammate, he’s been a good player.

“So that hurts us and we’re sad for him.”

Through six games, Mullaney is third on the Beavers in receptions (18) and receiving yards (216). With Mullaney out, redshirt freshman Jordan Villamin (6-115-2) will take over as a starting receiver.

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ACC, Notre Dame announce games through 2025

jack swarbrick  john swofford AP

Tuesday afternoon, Notre Dame further cemented its relationship with the ACC.

Both the school and the conference announced today the playing dates through the 2025 season, with the release stating that the announcement “formally [seals] the partnership that began this season.” The conference had previously announced games involving members of the league and the Irish through the 2016 season, meaning that this amounts to a nine-year extension of the scheduling arrangement.

“The football partnership between the ACC and Notre Dame is a terrific enhancement for all parties,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford. “Notre Dame not only adds to our league’s already highly ambitious schedules, it also provides the opportunity for almost all of our student-athletes to play against Notre Dame during their careers. When you add in the excitement that it brings to our fans, there’s no question that this partnership is significant.”

In six of the 12 years, Notre Dame will play five ACC schools. Three of the years — 2014, 2022, 2024 — will feature four games, while three other years — 2015, 2019, 2023 — will see six games.

With the exception of Boston College, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest, Notre Dame will play each ACC member four times — two at home, two on the road — in the 12-year span. The Irish will face BC, Pitt and Wake on five occasions. Three of the games against the latter will be played in South Bend and three of the games against the Panthers will be played in Pittsburgh, while the 2015 game against the former will be played in historic Fenway Park.

Both of the “home” games for Syracuse will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

“Nine additional seasons of games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents again adds both variety and quality to future University of Notre Dame football schedules,” said ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick in a statement. “Over those nine years, four ACC programs that have never played in Notre Dame Stadium (Louisville, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech) will come to South Bend, and two others that have only played at Notre Dame one time (Wake Forest and Clemson) also will travel to our campus.

“On the other side of the coin, during that period we will take our team to four ACC campuses at which Notre Dame never has played football (Louisville, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech), plus three others (Clemson, Duke and Wake Forest) where our team has played only once.”

Below is the complete scheduling arrangement between the ACC and Notre Dame.

2014
1. Notre Dame vs. Syracuse (MetLife Stadium), 9/27*
2. North Carolina at Notre Dame, 10/11
3. Notre Dame at Florida State, 10/18
4. Louisville at Notre Dame, 11/22

2015
1. Notre Dame at Virginia, 9/12
2. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame, 9/19
3. Notre Dame at Clemson, 10/3
4. Notre Dame at Pitt, 11/7
5. Wake Forest at Notre Dame, 11/14
6. Notre Dame vs. Boston College (Fenway Park), 11/21@

2016
1. Duke at Notre Dame, 9/24
2. Notre Dame vs. Syracuse (MetLife Stadium), 10/1*
3. Notre Dame at NC State, 10/8
4. Miami at Notre Dame, 10/29
5. Virginia Tech at Notre Dame, 11/19

2017
1. Notre Dame at Boston College, 9/16
2. Notre Dame at North Carolina, 10/07
3. NC State at Notre Dame, 10/28
4. Wake Forest at Notre Dame, 11/04
5. Notre Dame at Miami, 11/11

2018
1. Syracuse at Notre Dame, 9/22
2. Notre Dame at Virginia Tech, 10/13
3. Pittsburgh at Notre Dame, 10/20
4. Florida State at Notre Dame, 11/10
5. Notre Dame at Wake Forest, 11/17

2019
1. Notre Dame at Louisville, 9/2 (Labor Day)
2. Virginia at Notre Dame, 9/28
3. Notre Dame at Georgia Tech, 10/19
4. Virginia Tech at Notre Dame, 11/02
5. Notre Dame at Duke, 11/09
6. Boston College at Notre Dame, 11/23

2020
1. Notre Dame at Wake Forest
2. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
3. Duke at Notre Dame
4. Clemson at Notre Dame
5. Louisville at Notre Dame

2021
1. Notre Dame at Florida State, 9/6 (Labor Day)
2. Notre Dame at Virginia Tech
3. North Carolina at Notre Dame
4. Notre Dame at Virginia
5. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame

2022
1. Notre Dame at North Carolina
2. Notre Dame at Syracuse
3. Boston College at Notre Dame
4. Clemson at Notre Dame

2023
1. Notre Dame at NC State
2. Notre Dame at Duke
3. Notre Dame at Louisville
4. Wake Forest at Notre Dame
5. Notre Dame at Clemson
6. Pittsburgh at Notre Dame

2024
1. Miami at Notre Dame
2. Notre Dame at Georgia Tech
3. Florida State at Notre Dame
4. Virginia at Notre Dame

2025
1. Notre Dame at Miami
2. NC State at Notre Dame
3. Notre Dame at Boston College
4. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
5. Syracuse at Notre Dame

* – Designated ‘home’ game for Syracuse
@ – Designated ‘home’ game for Notre Dame

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Auburn’s Jermaine Whitehead reinstated after four-game sabbatical

Arkansas v Auburn Getty Images

Just a little over a month after being forced to the sidelines, Jermaine Whitehead is back with his teammates.  When he gets back on the field for real game action, though, remains to be seen.

Tuesday morning, Gus Malzahn confirmed that the defensive back has been reinstated to the Auburn football team.  White head began practicing with the team Sunday.

Malzahn declined to say whether Whitehead will play in this Saturday’s game against South Carolina.

“He practiced with the team on Sunday, and he’s going to do everything he can to earn his (place) back on the field,” the head coach said. “I don’t know how long that will take, I don’t have a timetable on it, but we’ll see how that goes.”

Whitehead was indefinitely suspended back in mid-September, reportedly for getting into a verbal altercation with an assistant coach.  The suspension ultimately cost him four games.

Prior to his suspension, Whitehead had started the last 26 games at safety, and is still currently tied for the second on the team in interceptions with two. One of those picks was returned for a touchdown in the season-opening win over Arkansas.

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Saban downplays Kiffin’s return to Tennessee

Karma Is A Butch

Almost from the moment Alabama hired Lane Kiffin as its offensive coordinator this past January, Oct. 25 has been circled on many a Rocky Top fan’s calendar.

That’s the day Tennessee will play host to Alabama.  It’s also the day that will mark Kiffin’s return to Neyland Stadium for the first time since unceremoniously dumping the Vols in January of 2010 after one season to take the same job at USC.

As expected, the anticipation for Kiffin’s return to Knoxville is growing.  Just as expected, Kiffin’s boss is downplaying the return.

Saying “it’s only a distraction if you allow it to be a distraction,” Nick Saban tried to shift the focus from his coordinator to the team and the players.

“So if it doesn’t mean anything to us and we can stay focused on what we need to do to do what’s best for our team, then that’s the way you manage it, that’s the way you handle it, that’s the way we need to look at it,” Saban said of the hype surrounding Kiffin’s return. “So it doesn’t really mean anything to us. The game, our players, their players. That’s what means something to us and that’s what should mean something to every coach on our staff.”

Saban’s counterpart is of the same mindset when it comes to Kiffin.

“The game means everything to our football program and our fans because it’s the University of Alabama, not because it’s Lane Kiffin,” UT’s Butch Jones said. “Three-quarters of our team — he’s a great coach, but nobody knows who Lane Kiffin is. That’s for the fans.

“We have to concentrate on the game. We’re playing a great, great opponent, a top-five opponent. They played as inspired of a football game as I’ve seen in a very, very long time against Texas A&M. They’re a great football team.

“They’re a measuring stick for a lot of programs, so again, we have to focus on the task at hand.”

Jones and Saban are both correct. No current UT players were there under Kiffin, so to them it’s just another conference game. No coaches remain either.

The hype when it comes to Kiffin’s return is all about the fans. And politics, as it turns out.

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Video: mascots go B1G in “Shake It Off’ parody

Purdue v Notre Dame

I’ll go ahead and admit it: when I first saw the email from my boss alerting me to this, a very real and visceral cringe overwhelmed me.  As well as a bit of nausea and a little vomit in my mouth.

Then I clicked play and, well, it’s not bad.  In fact, it’s quite good, especially if you are, like me, a teenage girl at heart.

The “it” to which I’m referring is yet another parody video from the fine folks at the Big Ten, this one involving its mascots — with the exception of those from Maryland, Northwestern and Penn State — and Taylor Swift‘s popsy hit single “Shake It Up.”  While it’s not nearly as entertaining as two football players passed out in the drive-thru lane of a fast-food joint, it’s a good way to spend almost four minutes of your time awaiting the end of the work day.

Oh, and it’s also a good way to continue confirming that Purdue Pete is really creepy.

Regardless, enjoy if this is your type of thing…

 

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NCAA: SI’s Okla. St. allegations ‘fundamentally unfounded’

SI OSU Cover

Quite a few people got a chuckle over Sports Illustrated series on the Oklahoma State football program last September, with many — including those intimately connected to the schoolpanning the so-called exposé for containing much more fluff than actual substance.  SI is even being sued by one of the parties mentioned.

A little over a year later, The Association has agreed that there was little or no merit to the series.

In a joint statement released by the NCAA and OSU, and “[a]fter a thorough review by the NCAA Enforcement Staff and an outside consultant hired by Oklahoma State University,” it’s been determined that “allegations of misconduct in the Oklahoma State football program as reported by the media in September 2013 were fundamentally unfounded.” Investigators from both sides “reviewed approximately 50,000 emails and interviewed nearly 100 individuals involved with Oklahoma State’s football program, including current and former coaches, administrators, student-athletes, students and prospects.”

The statement did note that “a few individuals outside the university refused to cooperate.”

In the “exposé,” SI.com alleged that the Cowboys football program had been guilty of committing what would have been numerous major NCAA violations. The allegations included sexual favors for prospective recruits; rampant drug use and abuse; impermissible benefits being paid to players by boosters and coaches; and academic fraud.

Most of the allegations were alleged to have occurred during Les Miles‘ time as OSU head coach.

The joint investigation did uncover three Level II NCAA violations that were unrelated to the SI series. The NCAA defines a Level II violation as a “significant breach of conduct… that provides or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage. Level II violations are the second-most severe in the NCAA’s new-ish four-tiered violation system; you can click HERE for the penalty guidelines.

In a statement, OSU president V. Burns Hargis somewhat detailed what resulted in the Level II violations, a designation with which he and the university disagree.

“During the extensive inquiry, a few situations were identified which led to three allegations in a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA where it appears we may have misapplied our drug testing policy and on-campus recruiting practices,” Hargis’ statement read, in part. “While we question whether these matters warrant a Level II designation, as indicated by the Enforcement Staff in the Notice of Allegations, we have modified our policies and practices in these specific matters to ensure compliance. The institution will prepare a response to the allegations and appear before the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions in the near future. The Committee on Infractions will review the positions of the Enforcement Staff and the University on the nature of each allegation. We look forward to our appearance before the Committee on Infractions to present our positions.”

The Oklahoman went into further detail as to the three violations for which the athletic department will be compelled to appear before the COI at an undetermined time.

  • Failure to adequately apply the university’s drug policy on five occasions, out of 94 positive tests involving 60 athletes over a seven-year span, 2007-13. The report issued by Smrt said none of those failures applied to a “multi-year starter” and two of the players left OSU soon after the positive test.
  • The Orange Pride support program was organized through the football program, rather than OSU’s admissions office, which meant it was impermissible for Orange Pride members to talk with prospects or their parents about the university.
  • A charge of failure to monitor, pertaining to the first two allegations.

Mike Gundy was one of a handful of OSU officials to release a statement as well.

“In the aftermath of the Sports Illustrated series, the right thing to do was examine the program,” the head coach stated. “I have attempted to operate our program with integrity and have reinforced to our coaching staff the importance of compliance with NCAA rules. If we had any shortfalls, I wanted to know. While I am pleased, but not surprised, that the claims in Sports Illustrated were fundamentally unfounded, we continue to work with the athletics administration to ensure a clear understanding and application of our policies. From the moment I was chosen to coach my alma mater, I have made decisions to create a NCAA compliant environment, while ensuring student-athlete welfare. I love my players and want them to succeed in life by making good decisions and respecting the rules.”

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Hokies lose Luther Maddy for rest of 2014

Luther Madden, Shane Carden AP

A knee injury and subsequent surgery a month ago was expected to keep Luther Maddy out for 2-4 weeks.  Unfortunately for both the defensive tackle and Virginia Tech, that prognosis was wildly optimistic.

In a tweet posted to his Twitter account Monday night, Maddy revealed that he will need to undergo go yet another surgery on his injured knee.  Because of that, Maddy will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.

One of the lone bright spots in the situation is that, while Maddy is a senior, he has yet to use his redshirt.  “I’ll redshirt this season and play another year at [T]ech,” Maddy wrote on social media.

“You won’t find anybody more focused,” the player added in regards to coming back next year.

Maddy originally suffered the injury in a Sept. 13 loss to East Carolina. He played a week later against Georgia Tech before undergoing the first medical procedure on his knee.

Over the past three-plus years, Maddy has started 33 of the 43 games in which he’s played.  After leading the Hokies with 13.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hurries in 2013, Maddy was named third-team All-ACC by the coaches.

In July, Maddy was named preseason first-team All-ACC.

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Backup Cincinnati QB charged with assault

Jarred Evans AP

Apparently, it’s Arrest/Charge Day here at CFT.

In the latest example of off-field shenanigans by a member or members of an FBS football program, Cincinnati quarterback Jarred Evans was arrested early Sunday morning on a misdemeanor assault charge. The arrest and charge came a handful of hours after the Bearcats’ win over SMU.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Evans was arrested for allegedly punching Ryan Smith and knocking him to the ground. Smith sustained a concussion and a laceration that required stitches, according to Hamilton County Municipal Court documents.

Until this season, the JUCO transfer Evans had totaled no stats at the FBS level. In the win over the Mustangs, the 22-year-old Evans rushed for a team-high 67 yards and a touchdown, while also completing both of his pass attempts for 10 yards.

“Coach (Tommy) Tuberville is aware of the incident involving Jarred Evans and is in the process of gathering information. It would be inappropriate to comment at this time,” UC said in a statement.

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