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.

Drag racing accident leads to arrest for Mississippi State commit

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Mississippi State commit Nathaniel Watson has gotten himself into some legal trouble before his arrival at Mississippi State. Watson, currently a high school senior, was charged with assault first degree and a handful of traffic violations following a traffic accident earlier this month. Another student from Watson’s high school was arrested for reckless endangerment and other traffic violations as well. The two are accused of drag racing.

“The accident occurred after Tyrone Davis, also a student at [Maplesville High School], lined up in front of the school with his vehicle along with Nathaniel Watson’s vehicle for a race, witnesses stated that they lined up side by side and floored it, and both vehicles were squalling their tires and fishtailing up the highway heading into town,” according to an Maplesville Police Department press release (via The Clanton Advertiser). “As the racing vehicles topped a hill, an oncoming car caused Nathaniel Watson Jr. to swerve and lose control striking a power pole, cutting it in half and knocking power out to portions of Maplesville.”

A passenger in Watson’s vehicle suffered a crushed femur, fractured pelvis, a broken right arm and internal injuries. Neither vehicle involved in the accident was insured. Watson currently awaits a date in court in a county court. There has been no update or comment from Mississippi State’s football program or head coach Joe Moorehead about Watson or his status with the football program at this time.

Watson signed with Mississippi State on February 7. The wide receiver and two-sport athlete signed with Mississippi State over Auburn.

NCAA rule prevents Penn State football players from participating in THON activity

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This weekend is the annual THON dance marathon at Penn State, which has traditionally done wonders in racking up donations to help fight pediatric cancer. This year, however, the NCAA rulebook is getting in the way of one of the events members of Penn State’s football team typically participate in.

A message from Penn State informed media members there would be no media availability for football players at the THON event at the Lasch Building due to an NCAA rule regarding time restrictions in the offseason.

“We were informed this afternoon that due to the NCAA Time Management regulations, our current student-athletes are not permitted to participate in the THON event at the Lasch Building nor conduct media interviews [today] as it is a mandatory day off for the team,” a statement from Penn State Associate Director of Athletic Communications Kris Petersen said.

Members of Penn State’s football team have typically spent part of the day interacting with kids benefitting from THON’s mission, but that has tended to overlap with offseason days already scheduled through the athletics department for the football program. Because this was a scheduled day off for the football program, players are not permitted to take part in any organized activity while representing the football team. Although, one wonders just how far the NCAA would have been willing to challenge Penn State on this infraction in the event there was a conflict.

Players on the team can still participate and appear at the main event in the Bryce Jordan Center, and a couple already have along with head coach James Franklin.

Georgia football coaches all getting well-deserved raises

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File this one under stories that should have been expected from a mile away. The football staff at Georgia, following up on an SEC title and appearance in the College Football Playoff national championship game, are getting bumps in pay. As a whole, the assistant coaching staff under head coach Kirby Smart will be paid roughly $2 million more than the staff received a year ago, according to a report from Seth Emerson of Dawg Nation.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will see the biggest pay raise with of $900,000 to bump his total pay up to $1.5 million. That would make him one of the top assistant coaches in assistant coaching salaries. Based off last year’s USA Today salary database, Tucker would be the fifth highest-paid assistant coach, and that may even be higher now given some of the offseason changes in the assistant coaching pool. Last year, four assistant coaches received a total pay of at least $1.5 million, and three of them were in the SEC (LSU’s Dave Arranda and Matt Canada, and Texas A&M’s John Chavis; Clemson’s Brent Venables was the outlier).

Keeping in line with another growing trend when it comes to power conference programs and how much money is budgeted for the football staff, Georgia will give strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Sinclair a $150,000 raise from his previous contract of $300,000.

What has not been finalized, publicly at least, is what the future holds for the contract of Smart. After a wildly successful season, Smart is expected to receive a raise as well as Georgia continues to build something special under his leadership after just two seasons. Smart was paid a base salary of $3.75 million last year, according to USA Today’s salary database, which made him the 9th highest-paid coach in the SEC in 2017. That is fair, considering Smart was a first-time head coach and other coaches in the conference had more head coaching experience, but Smart has quickly proven himself among his peers in the conference and is likely to move up the SEC coaching salary ranking quite quickly. Nick Saban (Alabama) and now Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) may still be on another playing field in terms of salary, but Smart should manage to move up closer to the high-end of the SEC salary spectrum.

Purdue raises $388,000 in beer and wine sales at football games

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Around the nation, college football attendance took a downward trend, but the Big Ten was the rare conference to see an increase in attendance. At Purdue, not only did more fans attend games in the first season under new head coach Jeff Brohm, but Purdue saw a revenue surplus fueled by the expanded sale of alcoholic beverages at football games.

According to The Journal & Courier, Purdue athletic department recorded $567,000 in gross revenue, of which $388,000 was generated from the sale of beer and wine last fall at football games in Ross-Ade Stadium. It was the first time alcohol sales had been expanded to the entire football stadium, as opposed to limited offerings in premium sections of the stadium.

“In general, it was very positive and it added to the game day experience. Fans responded to it,” athletic director Mike Bobinski said. “We’ve talked to our concessionaire group (Levy Restaurants) about how we can improve the operation so we don’t create bottlenecks and long lines that cause people to miss extended periods of the game. It was a really good start.”

The success of expanded alcoholic beverages at football games at Purdue continues a growing trend of alcoholic sales at athletic events around the country and will only help to encourage other schools to explore similar options if they have not already. Ten schools in the Big Ten already offer alcohol sales to fans at football games, but Purdue is just one of four to currently offer the sales throughout the majority of their football stadium.

The games that saw the most amount of money spent on alcohol at a Purdue home football game were the Michigan and Indiana games, with $88,341 and $98,223 spent on alcohol, respectively. Bottoms up, indeed.

The other chunk of revenue that helped pad Purdue’s budget sheet was a season-opening game in Indianapolis against Louisville. The game was played in Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, and each school received a check for $805,267.