Orange Bowl to be one host of 2016 playoff semifinals

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We already knew that the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl would play host to the semifinal games in the first year of the newly-minted playoff system following the 2014 season.

Now, we know one half of the pair of bowls that will host the next year’s version of the new system used to determine a national champion in college football.

In a press release issued Friday morning, the BCS announced that the Orange Bowl will be one of the hosts of the semifinals in 2016 (the playoffs following the 2015 season).  The group stated that the other host is a yet-to-be-named bowl.

In that vein, the BCS also announced that (chuckle) “it has invited 31 bowl committees to consider whether they are interested in submitting a proposal to host the national semifinals and other bowl games to be played New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.”  The deadline for the various bowl committees to submit their initial bids is March 27 of this year.

“This is about giving as many fans as possible the opportunity to enjoy the new playoff and the other bowls in person,” said Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the BCS and the future playoff. “A rotating event means more fans in more places will be able to experience the excitement of the new playoff. Because of the criteria, we don’t expect every bowl to proceed with a bid, but we want to extend an offer to all that are part of the college football bowl tradition.”

While 31 bowls have been invited to submit a proposal to host a national semifinal, the bowl venues must have a seating capacity of at least 65,000.  That criteria eliminates 11 of those 31 bowl games right off the bat.

Furthermore, while the aura of inclusion is a nice touch on the part of the exclusionary BCS, it’s a hollow one as it’s widely believed that the Chick-fil-A, Cotton and Fiesta bowls will fill the other three slots in the six-bowl rotation for hosting national semifinals.

In addition to filling out the slots in the rotation, the BCS stated that the group is working on resolving a couple of outstanding issues ahead of implementing the first playoff system at the FBS level, including:

— Creation of a selection committee that will rank the teams to play in the playoff, giving all the teams an equal opportunity to participate; (Among the factors the committee will value are win-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and conference championships.);

— Identifying the host city for the first national championship game;

— Naming of the new event.

The first issue is easily the most important one the new group overseeing the playoff faces.  The selection committee is expected to consist of 15-20 individuals, with those individuals likely to be some mix of former coaches, ex-administrators and current/former media members.  When the announcement of that committee — certain to be the biggest hot-button issue moving forward in the new system — will be made is not known, although it could happen at some point before the end of the 2013 season, if not sooner.

As for the naming of the new event, two things are certain: one, it will not be called the BCS and, two, there won’t be corporate sponsorship attached to the four-team playoff, which marks one of the few times universities didn’t grab the money first and ask questions later.

Ken Sparks, fifth-winningest coach at any level in college football history, dies at age 73

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College football has lost a coaching legend of the sport that you may never have heard of.

Carson-Newman announced Wednesday morning that its legendary former head football coach, Ken Sparks, passed away earlier in the day at the age of 73.  Sparks had been battling prostate cancer since being diagnosed in 2012, but doctors stopped treating him in January of this year.

According to WBIR-TV, Sparks had been in hospice care for the last several weeks.

Sparks was the head coach at Carson-Newman from 1980 through November of 2016, when he stepped down because of health concerns. During his time at the Div. II program — the first baker’s dozen years they were an NAIA school — the Eagles went 338-99-2. Sparks laid claim to five NAIA national championships and qualified for the Div. II playoffs 15 times in 24 years, although they failed to win a title at that latter level.

The 338 wins for Sparks are the fifth-most at any level of college football, behind only John Gagliardi (489), Joe Paterno (409), Eddie Robinson (408) and Bobby Bowden (377).

Alabama won’t be rushing Bo Scarbrough back this spring

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Not surprisingly, Alabama is going to err on the side of caution when it comes to one the most productive horses in its backfield stable.

On a second-down carry late in the third quarter of the national championship game loss to Clemson, Bo Scarbrough went down with an injury that turned out to be a fractured bone in his lower right leg.  The rising sophomore running back has recovered enough to be a participant in the Crimson Tide’s spring practice during some drills, albeit in non-contact mode.

Following the fourth practice of the spring Tuesday, Nick Saban made it clear made it clear that, while Scarbrough is getting some work in, the football program won’t be pushing him.

“Bo is doing more and more every day,” the head coach said according to al.com. “He did quite a bit today in practice, non-contact stuff, but he’s sort of gaining confidence. Our goal for Bo is by the end of spring, he’s fully confident that he can do everything he needs to do. Whether he ever scrimmages or is really something that we’re not that concerned about.”

It’s expected Scarbrough, barring a setback between now and then, will be fully recovered well ahead of the start of summer camp in early August.

Scarbrough’s 812 yards rushing year was second amongst Tide backs, while his 11 rushing touchdowns were second on the team.  He ran for 180 of those yards and two of the touchdowns in the College Football Playoff semifinal win over Washington, then had 93 yards and two more touchdowns before going down with the injury in the title game.

Western Kentucky hoops star to give Hilltoppers football a try

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Coming off a season in which he was the best player on Western Kentucky’s men’s basketball team, Justin Johnson is going to try his hand at another sport.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Johnson will practice with the Hilltoppers football team for the remainder of spring practice. The 6-7 forward will, not surprisingly, spend his time at tight end.

At the end of practices this spring, a WKU official told CFT, both sides will determine what if any future Johnson has in the sport.

Johnson admitted in one interview earlier this basketball season that he grew up wanting to play linebacker for Ohio State, and he did play two years of football at his Kentucky high school. Despite the fact that both Kentucky and Louisville had interest in him as a tight end, he ended up signing with WKU’s hoops team in 2014.

That decision has worked out well for both parties as Johnson has led the team in scoring and rebounding each of the past two seasons. He led Conference USA in the latter category as well as double-doubles, and was named second-team all-conference after his junior season.

Victim of alleged WKU football attack plans to file charges

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A former Western Kentucky fraternity member says he was attacked by a group of Hilltoppers football players and plans to file charges.

Jerald Armfield, an alum of WKU’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, told WBKO-TV he was caught in an ongoing feud between the fraternity and the football team:

“I went to the house in the best interest of the fraternity and Western as a whole to prevent any type of violence from occurring. We got up there and realized they were all hiding behind garbage cans, trees, and buildings.”

“I never in my wildest dreams thought they would attack me in the manner that they did. They all started surrounding me. One of them threw a rock at me. It was within a few seconds that one of them punched me in the face.”

“I fell down. I was kicked several times. The whole time they were beating me, I was begging them to stop, telling them I wasn’t here the night before, I had nothing to to do with it, like please stop, please stop, and they didn’t.”

Armfield said between nine and 10 people ultimately attacked him; it isn’t known for sure how many of that group are on the football team, though the program’s involvement in the incident is being investigated.

“We are aware of the allegations involving a few members of our football team,” the program said in the statement when word of the altercation broke three weeks ago. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities. However, at this time, we have not received a police report and cannot provide further comment.”

While the status of the investigation is currently unknown, Armfield told WBKO he would like it to end with multiple charges. “I made it very clear that night when the police arrived on the scene that I wanted charges pressed,” he said. “As far as I know a detective from Bowling Green Police Department has it. As it stands right now, I still want charges pressed. They need to be held accountable for what they did not only as citizens but as students at Western.”