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Hal Mumme reportedly headed to SMU as OC

Phil Collins AP

Last month, former Kentucky coach Hal Mumme was reportedly on the verge of becoming the offensive coordinator for James Madison. Those plans were scrapped, however, when rumor had it that Mumme was instead headed to a BCS program.

Per Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, that BCS program is SMU (the Mustangs will be joining the Big East this year) and Run and Shoot guru June Jones. The school has not commented on the report.

Humme (pictured right next to Phil freakin’ Collins)  is considered the father of the Air Raid offense. His previous stops include Iowa Wesleyan, Valdosta State, Kentucky and New Mexico State. Though he’s never had a lot of consistent success as a head coach, Mumme’s influence is evident in today’s game of college football, from Mike Leach to Dana Holgorsen.

Should Mumme join Jones’ coaching staff at SMU, it would certainly add another level of intrigue — and perhaps another 50 points — to the Mustangs’ opening weekend game against Texas Tech.

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Tom Osborne explains selection process for College Football Playoff

Tom Osborne

There is so much we don’t exactly know regarding the selection process to determine the inaugural College Football Playoff.

This much we do know:

  1. A 13-member committee was created to choose the participants.
  2. Each member of the committee will be recused from voting when their school or conference is discussed
  3. A team’s strength of schedule and level of competition will be primary factors in how team’s are differentiated.

One of the members of the committee is former Nebraska head coach and athletic director Dr. Tom Osborne. The Nebraska Cornhuskers’ official site interviewed Osborne Thursday to discuss the processes the committee will use to help decide which four teams will be chosen to play in the College Football Playoff.

Here are the highlights:

We’ve been introduced to the technology and will be able to watch almost every football game that’s played. We also will have access to a huge amount of statistical data that will become relevant about the fourth or fifth game of the season. We will see trends that take shape in terms of who’s playing well on offense, who’s good on defense, field position, the kicking game, turnovers, and those kinds of things. Of course, we will also look at strength of competition, conference championships, and even injuries will be considered.

I think that if two teams have identical records and similar schedules and one of them wins the conference championship and one of them doesn’t, then some weight may be given to the conference championship team. There are conferences other than the five large conferences which will have a path into the four-team playoff. Obviously if you win the Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12, ACC or SEC conferences, you are going to be somewhere in the hunt, unless you’re a team that manages to win a conference and still lose two or three games. That will make it more difficult. The teams that are undefeated and win conference championships are certainly going to be under major consideration.

A conference champion who loses their starting quarterback in the last game of the season might possibly be downgraded somewhat. You are going to be looking at who are the strongest teams at the moment the decision is made. You’re also looking at which teams are capable of beating every other team that they face.

I think it is certainly possible that you would have two teams from the same conference selected with one of them not being a conference champion. Obviously they would have to be a very powerful team. I hate to speculate in certain areas because you paint yourself into a corner, but at the end of the year, what you are going to try to do is take the best estimation and decide who the four best teams in the country are. There are many ways to get to that, and being a conference champion is certainly one of those. The win/loss record is another. Strength of schedule and head-to-head competition would be important, and injuries, and some statistical data will be examined as well. For example, if two teams are somewhat identical, maybe two teams have lost one game each and are both conference champions. That’s when you might begin to look at statistical data.

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Vanderbilt names its starting QB for season-opener

Patton Robinette

Derek Mason has made his first major decision as the new head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores.

The team’s quarterback competition is over. Mason was able to differentiate between redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary, senior Stephen Rivers and sophomore Patton Robinette with nine days remaining before the start of the season.

The result of the competition was announced on twitter:

Robinette played in nine games last year with one start. He threw for 642 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions. He also added 214 rushing yards.

“I’m excited for Patton as we prepare this team for the season opener next Thursday,” Mason said in a statement. “Patton has really made strides and consistently improved from the spring to now. I believe he has worked to earn this opportunity.”

The wording within the tweet from the team is interesting. Robinette was named the starter for the team’s opener against the Temple Owls. It doesn’t necessarily mean Robinette will be the team’s starting quarterback for the entire season. If Robinette struggles during the first few weeks of play, Mason may insert either Rivers or McCrary into the starting lineup.

“We have three solid guys at the position now, along with the talented freshmen” Mason said. “Johnny and Stephen are very capable quarterbacks and both worked hard to make a strong case for the starting role. They made this a difficult decision.”

With Vanderbilt officially naming its starting quarterback for opening weekend, we’re still waiting on a decision from two more SEC teams.

You’re up Alabama and LSU.

(Hat Tip: Washington Post)

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Report: Oklahoma’s Blake Bell is taking snaps at QB

Blake Bell

Blake Bell‘s full-time transition to tight end has been put on a slight hiatus.

Bell is still projected to become the Sooners’ starting tight end this season, but he’s also working at quarterback with Oklahoma’s second-team, according to The Oklahoman.

“Earlier this week, coach Bob Stoops said redshirt freshman Cody Thomas would likely be Knight’s primary backup, but according to sources, Thomas has been injured, which is why Bell has split second-team reps this week with true freshman Justice Hansen,” Jason Kersey reported.

Last season, only the Kansas Jayhawks had a worse passing offense in the Big 12 Conference than the Oklahoma Sooners. Bell played in 11 games and started eight at quarterback. He averaged a meager 149.8 yards passing in those contests.

Oklahoma’s coaching staff eventually inserted Trevor Knight into the lineup, and the freshman took full advantage of the situation with a stellar performance against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

This move isn’t meant to be permanent. It’s merely an opportunity to have an experienced signal caller ready if Knight were to be injured at any point during the season.

There is also an opportunity for the Sooners to revive the “Belldozer.” During Bell’s redshirt freshman and sophomore compaigns, he was a unstoppable in short-yardage situations. Bell rushed for 24 touchdowns prior to last season. Yet, he never took full advantage of his athleticism as the team’s full-time starting quarterback.

This opportunity may be a best-case scenario for Bell. He will continue to develop at tight end as one of the team’s primary targets, and he may even return to the role that made once made him a household game.

Thomas isn’t expected to miss a lot of practice time, though, and Bell’s reps at quarterback will likely cease upon his return. The Sooners should also expect the status of Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield to be clarified very soon.

A week from now the Sooners will have plenty of depth at quarterback.

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UPDATE: Fans won’t get to throw a pie in Harvey Updyke’s face

Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr.

I don’t know who this’ll be more popular amongst, Alabama fans or Auburn fans. Or who’d more want to take a shot at him.

Regardless, Harvey Updyke, the Alabama fan who poisoned the famed oak trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner a couple of years ago, has agreed to appear at a charity function in Mobile, Ala., next month, ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach reported. At this charity event, which is being held to raise funds for a family whose young son died of cancer last month, “fans will be allowed to either dunk [Updyke] in a dunking booth or throw pies at his face,” Schlabach wrote.

Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and his mother are helping raise awareness to the event, but it’s Updyke’s (potential) presence that’ll trigger the most attention nationally. The event’s organizer, Alabama fan T.J. Hodges, stated the “Updyke idea came from me thinking outside the box to raise money for the family” and that “I thought I’d take a chance and see if Harvey was interested in helping, and he said he’d do whatever we wanted.”

It did, though, take Updyke a while to get to that point.

“He thought about it and thought about it,” Updyke’s wife, Elva, told Schlabach. “His daughter said he needed to do it because it will show that he’s not as big of a nut as some people believe. He told them they can do whatever they want to him if it will raise money for kids.”

Updyke, as “Al from Dadeville,” infamously called into the Paul Finebaum radio show in February of 2011 and claimed to have poisoned the Toomer’s oaks after Auburn beat Alabama in the 2010 Iron Bowl. He was subsequently arrested, charged and ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage of an agricultural facility, a Class-C felony. He was sentenced to three years in jailhe served 180 days of the sentence — and was placed on supervised probation for a period of five years. During that probationary period, he has a 7 p.m. curfew.

Additionally, Updyke, who now lives in Louisiana less than an hour from the LSU campus, was ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution and has been barred from the following: any Auburn University property, any collegiate sporting event and speaking to the media.

While there was initial hope that the oaks could be saved, they were ultimately taken down after one final roll. New trees are expected to be planted next year.

UPDATE (8:20 p.m.):  Who would have thought the opportunity to throw a pie in the face or dunk infamous Alabama fan Harvey Updyke in water would take a turn for the worse? OK, it was probably inevitable.

Upon the announcement that Updyke would make an appearance at a charity function in Mobile, Ala. for children with cancer, it turned ugly. The mother, Dee Dee Bonner, and wife, Katherine Webb, of former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron both received death threats on social media due to their help organizing the event. As a result, Updyke’s appearance has been cancelled.

“It seems to be taking away from the primary purpose, which is raising awareness for children’s cancer,” Bonner told ESPN.com. “We don’t want to take away from the focus. We needed to get away from it.”

“I think Mr. Updyke’s heart was in the right place with what he wanted to do, but I think too many people are still upset about what he did and haven’t gotten over it. I didn’t approve of what he did, but I think he really wanted to help.”

“We want to focus on the real heroes, which are these children fighting for their lives and their families.”

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Former four-star recruit calls it a career at Wisconsin

Vonta Jackson

The career of Wisconsin’s Vonte Jackson comes to an end before it truly got started.

Jackson suffered from a series of knee injuries which eventually cost him his career. As a senior in high school, Jackson tore the ACL in his left knee. A year later, as a member of the Wisconsin Badgers, he tore the ACL in his right knee. Jackson again injured his right knee Aug. 9 and didn’t return to the practice field.

“It looks like Vonte is going to have to take medical (aid) unfortunately,” Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jeff Potrykus. “But he is in a good spot (mentally). We’ve discussed it. We’ve spent time together.

“His family is on board. Everybody knows it is the best thing.”

Jackson entered fall camp with an opportunity to earn playing time at safety. He also provided depth at running back when needed. But the team will now have to address both positions without Jackson’s contributions.

“I feel bad about it,” Andersen said. “But I feel good that he can move on in life now.

“He can close that chapter and go on.”

Jackson was considered a four-star recruit and the No. 2 recruit in the state of Wisconsin when he committed to the Badgers as part of their 2012 class.

(Photo courtesy of the University of Wisconsin athletic department)

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BYU finally confirms Jamaal Williams’ suspension

Jamaal Williams

BYU running back Jamaal Williams announced three week ago he was suspended for the team’s season opener against the Connecticut Huskies due to an honor code violation.

The school  finally acknowledged the suspension after Williams posted about it on twitter.

“We were caught off-guard a little bit by that,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe told The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Jay Drew Wednesday.

“This day and age, with social media and such, we don’t have rules against it. It just kinda surprised us. But these are big boys and girls, and they took it upon themselves to do that, and I am OK with it. I wish they would have communicated and collaborated with our staff. We have professionals that can help it go more smoothly. But they chose to do that, and took accountability for themselves. I am OK with that.”

The decision to suspend Williams is believed to stem from two incidents.  In February, Williams was suspected of underage drinking. The running back also admitted there was another incident in July.

Last season, Williams ran for 1,233 yards. But he may not have been ready for the start of the upcoming season.

The running back suffered a knee sprain during BYU’s scrimmage Wednesday, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The injury was deemed “not serious”, but Williams will be evaluated on a daily basis.

With Williams out of the lineup, sophomore Algeron Brown will likely get the nod as the team’s starting running back against the Huskies.

The Cougars expect to have better communication the next time a situation like this arises.

“Yes, it is always smart communication-wise to talk about things [first],” Holmoe said. “We do it as a staff all the time, but when we don’t, something goes wrong. So, we are just trying to practice [that] and help them understand and practice good judgement.”

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Kent State will honor fallen teammate

Jason Bitsko

After the tragic loss of center Jason Bitsko, Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen said, “We are heartbroken by the news of Jason’s death. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, teammates and everyone whose lives he touched.”

Bitsko was found unresponsive and passed away Wednesday.

The senior will provide inspiration for his team this season, and the Golden Flashes will honor him every time they take the field.

Kent State head coach Paul Haynes spoke of Bitsko Thursday and what he meant to everyone.

“Jason Bitsko was not just a Golden Flash, he was a son, he was a brother, he was a mentor, he was a friend,” Haynes told the Akron Plain Dealer’s August Fagerstrom.

Despite the loss of their son, Bitsko’s family found a way to make someone else’s life better.

(Photo credit: Kent State athletics)

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OL Joe Manley leaves Louisville, lands at WKU

Joe Manly

Joe Manley began his collegiate playing career in his home state of Kentucky.  While continue it there, he’ll do so in a different football program.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Manly suited up and practiced for the first time at Western Kentucky.  Just this past Friday, the offensive lineman had been granted a release from his Louisville scholarship.

Manly, a three-star member of the UofL’s 2012 recruiting class, played in nine games as a redshirt freshman last season.

Manly is the second Cardinals player to transfer the past week or so.  This past weekend, defensive back Lyn Clark decided to leave the UofL and transfer to an FCS program.

(Photo credit: Louisville athletics)

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Mark Dantonio, on Braxton Miller injury: ‘I felt bad’

Big Ten Championship Getty Images

With Braxton Miller going down with a season-ending shoulder injury earlier this week, Michigan State immediately became the favorite to win the Big Ten East according to most observes as well as the degenerates in Las Vegas.

Just because of that, though, doesn’t mean the Spartans are jumping up and down and gloating over the Ohio State starting quarterback’s 2014 demise.

“I felt bad,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said according to the Lansing State Journal when asked what he thought when he first ehard the news. “Braxton Miller is a great football player. He is a senior, has meant a lot to their football team. He is a great leader, a great young man. You don’t want something like that to happen. It’s a tough deal.

“But I would say this — we played without Max Bullough in the Rose Bowl [because of a suspension]. Usually when those things happen, people rise up. Everybody becomes a little bit better. What was a negative becomes a strength later.”

Dantonio wasn’t alone in his feelings.

“Aw, I mean that’s sad,” senior safety Kurtis Drummond said of the injury. “I never want to see any player get injured or have to miss games. For him to have to go through that, it’s definitely a sad time. I’m definitely praying for him and hopefully he has a speedy recovery.”

In the game that put the Spartans in the Granddaddy of Them All, Miller was able to get his on the ground against the ferocious MSU defense to the tune of 142 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Through the air was a different case during the course of OSU’s 10-point loss as Miller was held to just 8-of-21 passing (38.1 percent) 101 yards.

OSU and MSU will square off in the regular season Nov. 8 in East Lansing in what could still be, despite Miller’s absence, for an early-December trip to Indianapolis and the Big Ten championship game.

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Pitt names Chad Voytik starting QB

Chad Voytik AP

As expected, Pittsburgh has turned to Chad Voytik under center.

In an announcement that should surprise absolutely no one, Pitt head coach Paul Chryst announced that Voytik has been named as his starting quarterback.  The redshirt sophomore had been in a competition with senior Trey Anderson throughout the spring and on into summer camp, although from the time he played the entire second half of the Panthers’ bowl game it has seemingly been Voytik’s job to lose.

Voytik will replace Tom Savage, last year’s starter whose eligibility expired after an 18-year collegiate career.  This will, incidentally, mark the third consecutive season that Pitt has a different starting quarterback at the beginning of the year.

Voytik played in four games as Savage’s backup last season, completing 6-of-11 passes for 116 yards along the way.  Nine of those attempts and 108 of those yards came in the Little Caesars Bowl win over Bowling Green.  While he didn’t throw a touchdown pass, he did rush for a score in the 30-27 win.

A four-star member of Pitt’s 2012 recruiting class, Voytik was rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee.

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Former four-star lineman leaving Texas

Rami Hammad

A promising young offensive lineman will see, as it turns out, said promise realized at somewhere other than Texas.

At a press conference Thursday, head coach Charlie Strong announced that Rami Hammad has become the latest player to leave the UT football program over the past few weeks.  Hammad, however, is not a forced departure as he has simply decided to transfer out.

No reason was given for the departure, although Hammad likely wouldn’t have appeared on the two-deep depth chart heading into the season.

Hammad was a four-star member of the Longhorns’ 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 10 guard in the country and the No. 24 player at any position in the state of Texas.  He didn’t play a s a true freshman, instead taking his redshirt.

(Photo credit: Texas athletics)

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Hoosier WR Caleb Cornett arrested, suspended

Football player head shots, 06/23/14_Mike Dickbernd

An arrest early Wednesday morning that resulted in no charges for an Indiana Hoosier has still ended with punitive measures for the player.

In a statement sent out Thursday afternoon, IU head coach Kevin Wilson announced that Caleb Cornett has been indefinitely suspended following the incident.

“We are aware of Caleb’s situation and take this matter very seriously,” Wilson said in the statement. “At this time, Caleb is suspended from all team activities. Once we gather all of the facts and information, we will move forward accordingly.”

The situation involving the wide receiver is actually a bizarre one.

Cornett was involved in a physical confrontation with another male in downtown Bloomington yesterday morning. Police officers witnessed Cornett throw a punch that result in the male being “knocked unconscious for several minutes” and was arrested for battery and disorderly conduct. The Indianapolis Star wrote that “[t]he other individual involved in the incident was transported to Bloomington Hospital.”

Because it was deemed to be a “mutual combat scenario,” though, prosecutors decided the player wouldn’t be charged.

However, Cornett remains jailed. Why? In a previously unreported incident, Cornett was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. While the charge was ultimately pleaded down to reckless operation, Cornett was still placed on probation. The arrest triggered a violation of his probation.

The previous legal issue likely also played a role in Cornett being suspended despite a lack of charges in the most recent incident.

Cornett played in 11 games as a redshirt freshman last season, mostly on special teams.  While he had as many catches as I did, Cornett was expected to see his playing time on offense increased.

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CFT 2013 Preseason Preview: Big 12 Predictions

WVU vs Marshall

As the 2014 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the Big 12 Conference.

And while we’re at it, check out our CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository for our team’s looks at the upcoming season.

BIG 12

1. Oklahoma (Last year: 11-2; beat Alabama in Sugar Bowl)
Will the real Oklahoma Sooners please stand up? Questions surround one of the most talented teams in college football. Will Trevor Knight be the quarterback that shredded Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, or will he revert to the player that couldn’t initially beat out Blake Bell (who converted to tight end) to become the team’s starting quarterback? Will wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham receive a waiver from the NCAA to play this season? How will the Sooners overcome the losses of their top tackler, Frank Shannon, and five-star freshman Joe Mixon? And, historically, the Sooners have a penchant to disappoint after being named a preseason Top 5 team. The program will enter this season ranked fourth overall in the AP Poll and third in USA TODAY’s Coaches Poll. Despite these questions, the Sooners are still the favorites to win the Big 12. Oklahoma returns eight starters to a defensive unit that was the Big 12’s best last season. The group is led by outside linebacker Eric Striker, who is one of the most feared defenders in the country. Knight is the key on offense, but the quarterback will benefit from an experienced and talented offensive line. Both of the team’s starting offensive tackles as well as left guard Adam Shead return for another season. The Sooners’ ability to win up front on both sides of the ball will give them a decided advantage each week. Oklahoma will need it, because the team may have to go undefeated to be a part of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

2. Baylor (Last year: 11-2; lost to UCF in Fiesta Bowl) 
Despite Oklahoma’s status as the favorite to claim a Big 12 crown, it’s a wide-open race and the Bears have just as much chance to win a conference title. Whereas the Sooners will rely heavily on a strong defense and an improving offense, the Bears will continue to score points in bunches and hope they can stop opponents at least once or twice per game. The biggest advantage the Bears have among their conference rivals is the play of quarterback Bryce Petty. Petty threw for 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns and only three interceptions during his first full season as a starter. Petty should be even better during his second season as he continues to grow in all phases of the game. The Bears also lay claim to the most talented group of skill position players in the conference. Five of the team’s top six receivers from last year return, while running Shock Linwood will get an opportunity to show how explosive he is as the team’s new starting running back. The Bears will score points in bunches. It will fall on the defense to makes sure they don’t surrender more points than the team’s offense can score. College football is more offensive driven than its ever been, but we’ll give Oklahoma a very slight edge over Baylor due to the old adage, “Defense wins championships.”

3. Texas (Last year: 8-5; lost to Oregon in Alamo Bowl)
Everything Texas does this season will be under a microscope. New head coach Charlie Strong will be scrutinized at every turn. How the team responds to Strong, both on and off the field, will be compared to the program’s former coach, Mack Brown. Strong has already made a statement during the offseason by suspending or dismissing numerous players. Everyone will be anxious to see whether or not this new-found discipline in the locker room will eventually translate to the field. In four seasons with the Louisville Cardinals, Strong was 37-15 overall with an impressive Sugar Bowl victory over the Florida Gators in 2012. What Strong inherits in Texas is a far more talented roster than he ever had in Louisville, and his Cardinals finished No. 1 overall in total defense last season. Strong, a former defensive coordinator, should be giddy with the talent he now has on the defensive side of the football. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown and defensive end Cedric Reed are as good of an inside-outside defensive line tandem as can be found in college football. On offense, meanwhile, the team will will rely on quarterback David Ash again. Believe it or not, Ash is the most experienced quarterback in the Big 12. But this will be a run-first team with the talented Malcolm Brown and the recovering Jonathan Gray running behind a big and athletic offensive line. Texas has enough to compete for a Big 12 championship if it finally puts everything together on both sides of the football.

4. Texas Tech (Last year: 8-5; beat Arizona State in Holiday Bowl)
The Red Raiders did their best disappearing act a year ago. Kliff Kingsbury‘s squad started 7-0 and was ranked as high as 10th overall before the team faded down the stretch. Texas Tech lost five straight to end the team’s regular season but bounced back with a 37-23 victory against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Holiday Bowl. The losing streak showed the Red Raiders weren’t ready to play against the big boys of the Big 12. However, the win in the bowl game showed the team’s resiliency and growth during the month the team had to regroup and grow with the extra practices. And the Red Raiders will continue to build their program under Kingsbury. The biggest growth should come on the offensive side of the ball. Texas Tech already had the best passing offense in the conference last year, and it should be even better in 2014. Davis Webb enters his first full season as starter. Webb threw for over 400 yards in four games and finished with 20-to-9 touchdown-interception ratio. Both of his offensive tackles and center return along the offensive line. And each of the wide receivers expected to start received plenty of playing time last season. The defense is another matter altogether, but this is a team built to win games with its passing game and offensive explosiveness. Kingsbury has made his mark in a very short time as a head coach, and his team should be expected to impress during his second season with the program.

5. Kansas State (Last year: 8-5; beat Michigan in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl)
Everyone will know whether or not the Wildcats are for real this season by Sept. 18. On that day, Kansas State will host the Auburn Tigers. The clash of styles will make for an highly intriguing game. The reason this game is so important for the Wildcats is because the teams they lost to last season either ran the ball very well or operated with tempo on offense. The Tigers do both, and they do both very well. The game is Manhattan, and Kansas State will be prepared very well by the ageless Bill Snyder. This is a program that is built around playing fundamental football and winning close games. Three top offensive linemen may have left the program after last season, but the team should still be very good up front with B.J. Finney at center and Cody Whitehair at left guard. They’ll be blocking for a quarterback, Jake Waters, who will be going into his second season as the team’s starter. And Tyler Lockett is one of the most dynamic wide receivers and return men in the nation. This is a team that could very well finish much higher or lower in the standings. It’s all dependent on whether or not the ball bounces in their favor, because they don’t have a player the caliber of Collin Klein to carry the team to the top of the conference.

6. TCU (Last year: 4-8)
It’s been a rough transition to the Big 12 for the Horned Frogs. The team is 11-14 since making the move. The program lost a combined 13 games the previous six seasons. However, this year’s squad is regarded as the most talented since it entered the league. Last season, the Horned Frogs’ defense played at a high level and finished second in the league. The biggest story line of the offseason, though, was the potential return and eventual dismissal of Devonte Fields. The defensive end was voted the Big 12’s preseason Defensive of the Year even after missing nine games last season due to injury. Fields, who was named the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2012, was a game-changing talent and his presence on the field will be missed greatly. The team also lost one of the best cornerbacks in school history when Jason Verrett graduated and went on to become a first-round selection in May’s NFL draft. Despite these losses, this unit is still talented, particularly at linebacker. Both Jonathan Anderson and Paul Dawson return. And head coach Gary Patterson always has that side of the football prepared to play at a high level. It’s on the offensive side of the football the Horned Frogs are expected to experience the most growth. While a starter has yet to be named at quarterback, Trevone Boykin should be more comfortable behind center after starting nine games last year and Matt Joeckel is a talented transfer from Texas A&M. The team can always lean heavily on its skill positions. Running backs Aaron Green and B.J. Catalon as well as the team’s top receiver, Josh Doctson, are back. TCU may not return to the level of winning it experienced prior to becoming a member of the Big 12, but the team should be much better than 4-8 during the upcoming season.

7. Oklahoma State (Last year: 10-3; lost to Missouri in Cotton Bowl)
It’s difficult to place the Cowboys this low in the standings. After all, the program has won at least 10 games three of the last four years. It’s been seven years since Oklahoma finished this low in the Big 12 standings. The biggest concern for this team is experience. Both sides of the ball will be overhauled after losing a total of 14 starters. It isn’t just how many starters the Cowboys lost, but who they lost. Justin Gilbert was an elite cornerback and returner. Defensive tackle Calvin Barnett could be dominant at times. The team’s top three tacklers from last season are gone. Three of the team’s top four receivers graduated. And the offensive line will have four new starters, while senior Daniel Koenig will transition from right to left tackle. Head coach Mike Gundy will still find ways to manufacture points due to his dynamic offensive scheme, but this is simply too much talent for a team to lose and still hope to be legitimate contenders.

8. Iowa State (Last year: 3-9)
Three years ago, Iowas State head coach Paul Rhoads was considered one of the top coaching candidates in college football. The Cyclones rewarded him with a 10-year contract worth $20 million. The Cyclones are 9-16 since then, and the team is coming off a 3-9 season. Two of those wins came at the end end of the season when quarterback Sam Richardson wasn’t in the starting lineup. Yet, Richardson won this summer’s quarterback competition. The rest of last year’s starting offense remains virtually intact. Plus, Richardson will now have a legitimate No. 1 target at wide receiver in freshman Allen Lazard. Despite the positives on the offensive side of the ball, the Cyclones’ defense was the worst in the Big 12 last season. The program simply doesn’t have the athletes on that side of the ball to compete against the explosive offenses they face this season.

9. West Virginia (Last year: 4-8)
It’s a make-or-break season for West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. The team has gotten progressively worse each season Holgorsen has been at the helm of the program and tensions are building in Morgantown. Holgorsen’s entire program is built around his offense. An offense which disappointed in 2013 and finished 62nd overall in yardage per game. That level of production simply isn’t good enough when the defense continues to be an issue for the Mountaineers. The defensive coordinator position has been a revolving door under Holgorsen’s supervision. Former Penn State coordinator Tom Bradley was hired as a senior associate head coach during the offseason. Bradley’s inclusion to the staff is a last-ditch attempt to get a woeful defense on track. If it doesn’t and Holgorsen can’t revive his offense — and it doesn’t seem likely — there will be major changes within the program.

10. Kansas (Last year: 3-9)
At this point, what is there to say about Charlie Weis‘ tenure at Kansas? It’s a failed experiment. Yes, the team improved by two wins during Weis’ second season and finally captured a conference victory for the first time in three years. But Weis’ plan to inject talent into the roster with a plethora of junior college additions and transfers didn’t do nearly enough to close the gap with the rest of the teams in the Big 12. All is not bleak, though. The Jayhawks return 17 starters. The team has officially given the reins to quarterback Montell Cozart, who decided to stay in-state to be the future of Jayhawks football. His growth at the position will play a major part in Kansas’ improvement this season. The team also has a solid edge-rushing duo in junior Ben Goodman and senior Michael Reynolds. Overall, It’s difficult to win at this basketball school. And it’s even more difficult to establish a long-term winning culture. After a quick peak at the schedule, it’s hard to project this team winning more than three or four games even in a best-case scenario.

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Clemson loses OT Shaq Anthony to transfer

Shaq Anthony

In early March it was announced that Shaq Anthony was one of four Clemson players suspended for the opener against Georgia.  Five months later, it’s now known that offensive tackle won’t be available for the game after that, or the game after that, or, well, any other game for that matter.

In a press release, Clemson announced that Anthony has decided to transfer out of the football program.  The decision comes just nine days before the opener.

“I appreciate the hard work Shaq has put into this program,” said head coach Dabo Swinney in a statement. “Sometimes a player needs a change. I support his decision and will help him any way I can. I wish him nothing but the best.”

The moves comes as a surprise as the redshirt junior had long projected to be the starting right tackle, although his suspension had, at least temporarily, handed that job to Joe Gore.

Anthony started five of the 17 games in which he played the past two seasons. He was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2011 recruiting class.

“I have enjoyed my time at Clemson and appreciate the opportunity I’ve had,” said Anthony. “This is an outstanding program, but I wish to make a clean start at a program where I can hopefully be a starter. I want to thank all the Clemson coaches, my teammates and the Clemson family for their support. I will always be a Tiger.”

If Anthony transfers to an FBS program, he’d more than likely be forced to sit out the 2014 season. He would then have one season of eligibility remaining.

This is the second significant loss for the Tigers the past two days. Wednesday, Clemson announced that Zac Brooks, the Tigers’ leading returning rusher, would miss the entire 2014 season with a foot injury.

(Photo credit: Clemson athletics)

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UTSA regents approve Larry Coker’s extension, raise.

Larry Coker

In late November it was reported that Larry Coker and UT-San Antonio were closing in on an approval for a contract extension for the head coach.

Nearly nine months later that “closing in on” has morphed into “finalized.”

According to the San Antonio Express-News, a contract extension for Coker has been signed off on by the University of Texas Systems’ Board of Regents. The regents gave their official approval during a meeting Thursday morning.

The school subsequently confirmed the contract in a press release.

“It’s good news to hear that the Board of Regents approved the new contract today,” Coker said in a statement. “I’m extremely grateful for the support from Lynn Hickey and Dr. (Ricardo) Romo. My family and I are very happy at UTSA and we love the San Antonio community. We are working very hard to build this program the right way and this new contract will help us continue to move forward toward accomplishing our goals.”

The contract extension, which extends Coker for three additional years through the 2018 season, had already been recommended to the regents and approved by the UT System’s vice chancellor for academic affairs. Coker would be 70 years old if he’s still the Roadrunners’ head coach at the end of the extension.

In addition to the extension, Coker also received a raise. It guarantees $2.25 million over the next five years, with $400,000 for the first year and calling for a $25,000 increase each subsequent year. That means the final year of Coker’s contract would be worth $500,000.

In 2013, Coker earned $350,000, the lowest of any head coach in Conference USA. Next lowest? FAU’s Carl Pelini and his $497,000. Pelini is no longer with the Owls, which means Coker is chasing UTEP’s Sean Kugler and FIU’s Ron Turner, who both made $500,000 last year.

The fact that UTSA would extend Coker is far from surprising as he’s taken a fledgling football program and, in short order, turned it into one of the “mid-majors” on the rise.

UTSA’s first season was in 2011 as a member of the FCS; the Roadrunners have spent the past two seasons as provisional FBS members.

The fact that UTSA is now a full-fledged FBS member, officially confirmed earlier this month, means that the Roadrunners will be bowl-eligible in 2014. In 2012 and 2013, during UTSA’s FBS transition phase, the Roadrunners went 8-4 and 7-5, respectively, which would’ve made the school eligible for the postseason.

The Roadrunners will compete in Conference USA — they were in that conference last year, in the now-defunct WAC the year before — and will be eligible for that league’s championship game as well.

As we wrote before and for the record, UTSA opens 2014 with games against Houston, Arizona and Oklahoma State. Nothing says “cannonballing into full FBS membership” more than that schedule.

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