Cincinnati still batting its eyes at ACC

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Even as the Big East is on the verge of inking a new television deal, one of its members is still very publicly hiking up its skirt and showing some leg to another conference.

Back in late November, a report surfaced that Cincinnati had attempted to enlist the help of former Bearcat defensive back and current Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer in UC’s efforts to garner an invitation from the ACC.  While Meyer declined, those efforts continued into the next month.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, and subsequently followed up on by CBSSports.com, the university “sent a video description of the $70 million project to all of the Atlantic Coast Conference presidents, the latest sign that it’s still campaigning for a spot in that league.”  The $70 million project refers to improvements to Nippert Stadium, the football home of the Bearcats.

The paper further writes that “[a]s part of the process of selling UC to ACC member schools, [president Santa] Ono also sent holiday cards to each of the ACC presidents.”  Based on the latest reports, a greeting card is the least a Big East school could/should do as part of its wooing efforts; membership in the ACC could be worth at least eight times as much in annual television revenue — $17 million versus a rumored $2 million — when compared to the future financial prospects of current Big East members.

As far as the Nippert renovations go, the proposed project would add about 1,200 box seats, 44 loge boxes and 28 private suites, and would be completed late in the summer of 2015.

After the ACC lost Maryland to the Big Ten, Cincinnati and fellow Big East members Louisville and UConn were mentioned as potential replacements, In late November, it was announced that Louisville had been added as an ACC member, continuing an 18-month-long mass exodus from the Big East. Unfortunately for all involved, that may not be the last defection.

Rumors continue to persist that the Big Ten could be looking to perform another raid on the ACC.  In fact, just this afternoon the 247Sports.com website dedicated to Maryland sports tweeted that Virginia is “being mentioned as likely to join” the B1G, while Georgia Tech — another source of speculation as it relates to the Midwest conference — is still in the mix.  The website went so far as to write that North Carolina, “the big domino, has an offer” from the Big Ten.  The website goes on to refer to the Tar Heels as “the apocalyptic domino.”

Such a development involving any of those current ACC schools would certainly be good news for the likes of Cincinnati and UConn, but yet another round of bad news for the Big East.

It should be noted that, back in early December, reports that Georgia Tech and Virginia were in the midst of negotiations with the Big Ten were almost immediately shot down and debunked by all involved.

One thing appears to be certain in the latest round of speculation, though: anyone hoping for a quiet offseason on the expansion front (raises hand vigorously) will likely be sorely disappointed.

Albeit with a disclaimer, Jim Mora doesn’t see Josh Rosen leaving UCLA early for NFL

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Most expect Josh Rosen to be one of the first quarterbacks selected when the next NFL draft rolls around.  Rosen’s coach, though, doesn’t see the outspoken junior being a part of the pool of available draftees.

“My firm belief is that he will not leave,” UCLA head coach Jim Mora told Yahoo SportsPete Thamel over the weekend. “I don’t think he’ll leave. …

“I want a disclaimer, I have an option to change my opinion. But as we sit here right now, I can really honestly say I don’t think he’s going to leave.”

Mora’s proclamation comes less than two weeks before the Bruins kick off the 2017 season and around five months before draft-eligible early entrants have to officially file their paperwork with the NFL.

Rosen flashed brilliance as a true freshman in 2015, passing for nearly 3,700 yards and 23 touchdowns.  His sophomore campaign was marred by a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder that sidelined him for the final six games of the season.  Rosen has resoundingly rebounded from that health issue, and will head into the 2017 season 100-percent healthy.

Whether he enters the 2018 season 100-percent Bruin remains, his head coach’s confidence notwithstanding, highly unlikely or even doubtful, especially given his recent comments that football and school don’t mix.

Report: Call to escort service coincided with a Hugh Freeze recruiting trip

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Not surprisingly, more details are surfacing in Hugh Freeze‘s unceremonious exit from Oxford.

Freeze resigned as the head football coach at Ole Miss last month in part because of Jan. 19 phone call to an escort service that was initially deemed to be a misdial.  According to the Wall Street Journal, that call came a few hours after a university plane landed in Tampa, Fla., as part of a five-day, 13-stop recruiting trip.  On that plane was Freeze as well as other members of the Rebels football staff.

The discovery of the link between the call and recruiting trip came after a review of phone records and other documents.

After Freeze’s “resignation,” Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork described an unspecified pattern of personal misconduct that led to the coach’s departure.  Bjork somewhat expounded on that pattern to the Journal.

Although school officials had previously declined to characterize the alleged misconduct, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said in response to questions from the Journal about Freeze’s travel that the university’s investigation uncovered “calls of a similar nature” over the course of several years, often matching up with travel logs showing the coach’s use of the school plane. The school said it examined his travel logs from peak recruiting times—often November, December and January—when Freeze would travel out of state, using the school plane and other public resources.

“When we say pattern, we are describing other phone numbers that when you Google them pull up similar type websites, services, however you would describe them,” Bjork said. “We took action swiftly.

Speculation of late has there being more, potentially much more, to Freeze’s forced resignation.  Only time will tell how much more will ultimately come out — especially if another former Ole Miss head coach’s lawsuit, kicked out of federal court for lack of jurisdiction, is revived in the state of Mississippi as expected.

Reports: ankle injury likely to keep WR Michael Pittman out of USC’s opener

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In his college football preview Bible, the great Phil Steele had Michael Pittman listed as one of three starting wide receivers for USC.  With the start of a new season a little more than two weeks away, Pittman doesn’t appear set to make that magazine projection come to fruition.

According to multiple reports, Pittman suffered an ankle injury during practice Tuesday and was taken off the field via a cart after having a boot placed on his left foot.  While X-rays taken post-practice showed no break or fracture, the sophomore has been diagnosed with the dreaded high-ankle sprain.

As a result, the Los Angeles Daily News writes that “[i]t seems unlikely he would be able to play against Western Michigan.” Rivals.com tweeted that the injury “[p]robably keeps him out of season opener.”

At least for now, the football program has yet to officially rule Pittman out for the opener.

Pittman was a four-star 2016 recruit, rated as the No. 9 receiver in the country.  As a true freshman last season, he caught six passes for 82 yards.

Next Chance U: Dismissed Oklahoma QB Chris Robison will join Auburn transfer John Franklin III at FAU

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In a span of just a few hours, Lane Kiffin Tuesday bolstered his first Florida Atlantic roster with a pair of Power Five transfers.

In the middle of the afternoon Tuesday, Auburn confirmed that John Franklin III had decided to transfer from the Tigers in order to be closer to his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home. Not long after, the quarterback-turned-wide receiver revealed on his Instagram account that he is “coming home and looking forward to playing my last collegiate season at FAU under Coach Lane Kiffin.”

Franklin would come to the Owls as a graduate transfer, giving him immediate eligibility.

Thank you Tiger Nation #WDE

A post shared by John Franklin III (@jf3_5) on Aug 15, 2017 at 12:45pm PDT

Not even four hours later, Chris Robison took to social media on his private Twitter account to announce that he too will be transferring into Kiffin’s FAU program. The quarterback was dismissed by Oklahoma earlier this month for violating unspecified team rules.

A four-star member of the Sooners’ 2017 recruiting class, Robison was rated as the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 29 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 173 recruit on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. As an early enrollee, Robison took part in spring practice and played in the spring game, completing 3-of-5 passes for 49 yards.

Roughly 12 hours after that game, he was arrested for being drunk in public. Because of only what were described as “personal reasons,” Robison wasn’t enrolled in summer classes and didn’t take part in football workouts during the same period.