The realignment wheel keeps spinning. And so does my head.
Per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, both of the 1-AA ranks, will join the Sun Belt Conference in all sports beginning in 2015. A formal announcement is expected to come later this week.
The two programs will be ineligible for the FCS championship this upcoming season, and will also be ineligible for a Sun Belt title/postseason play as they transition to the FBS level next year.
The move, assuming it does come to fruition, would give the Sun Belt 10 football members and 12 basketball members as it continues to try to keep its head above water in the ever-shifting landscape of college athletics. FAU, FIU, Middle Tennessee and North Texas have all left the Sun Belt to join Conference USA. Georgia State, Texas State and UT-Arlington all joined the SBC within the past year.
Still not in the conference? Former WAC members Idaho and New Mexico State, for now. While football independence remains the short term answer for both, their long-term fate could include Sun Belt membership for football only. As the Idaho Statesman writes, the University of Idaho will ask the state board for permission to join the SBC should an invite come.
And you don’t ask for permission if an invite isn’t on its way.
An off-field situation for one playing member of the Arkansas football program that began during the 2017 regular season has taken yet another step toward winding its way to a conclusion.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Cole Kelley pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while intoxicated. While the quarterback was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 89 of those days were suspended while he was given credit for time served for the other. Additionally, the Democrat-Gazette wrote, the 20-year-old Kelley “was also ordered to complete an alcohol safety class and pay $720 in fines and court costs.”
Kelley was arrested for DWI and reckless driving in November of last year. A day after the arrest, Kelley was indefinitely suspended by the football program and missed UA’s Week 12 game; he was subsequently reinstated after serving what amounted to a one-game suspension.
Austin Allen started the first five games of the 2017 season before going down with a shoulder injury. Kelley replaced him and started the next four, with a healthy Allen returning to his starting role for the remainder of the year.
On the season, Kelley completed almost 58 percent of his 151 passes for 1,038 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. The rising redshirt sophomore is expected to compete for the starting job in 2018 under new head coach Chad Morris.
With coaching holes throughout his Washington State staff to fill thanks to significant offseason poaching, Mike Leach has added a very famous college football surname. Reportedly.
According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Steve Spurrier Jr. is leaving Western Kentucky to take a job under Leach at Wazzu. The son of College Football Hall of Famer Steve Spurrier just completed his first season as the Hilltoppers’ quarterbacks coach. He also held the title of assistant head coach under Mike Sanford.
It’s unclear what specific title Spurrier Jr. will hold at Wazzu.
Prior to his one season at WKU, and one season as an off-field staffer at Oklahoma, Spurrier Jr. had been an assistant on his father’s South Carolina staff for 11 seasons. During his time with the Gamecocks, he served at various points as wide receivers coach (2005-15), passing-game coordinator (2009-11) and co-offensive coordinator (2012-15).
Spurrier Jr., who played wide receiver at Duke, has also spent time during his coaching career as receivers coach at Oklahoma (1999-2001) and with the Washington Redskins (2002-03).
Baylor’s latest coaching addition is a very familiar name in the state of Texas.
BU confirmed Wednesday evening that Frank Okam has been added to Matt Rhule‘s coaching staff. Okam, who was a Freshman All-American and two-time All-Big 12 defensive tackle at Texas from 2004-07, will coach the Bears’ defensive line.
“Frank is a living embodiment of everything the young men in our program should want to accomplish,” the head coach said in a statement. “He’s a college graduate, an All-American, a Big 12 champion, a national champion, a NFL draft pick and then he continued life after football earning his master’s degree from Rice and is now one of the top young football coaches in the country.
“We are excited to have Coach Okam on staff and for him to mentor our defensive line group and help take them to the next level.”
The 32-year-old Okam, who went to high school in Dallas, spent the past four seasons at Rice, the last two as the Owls’ line coach. This will mark Okam’s first coaching job at a Power Five program.
ESPN’s roster of college football play-by-play announcers suffered a high number of attrition of late. Brent Musburger retired. Brad Nessler replaced Verne Lundquist at CBS. Sean McDonough moved to Monday Night Football. Now the dean of ESPN’s Saturday voices is going away, too.
Mike Patrick announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a 32-year run that began in 1982, three years after the network launched.
“It’s wonderful to reflect on how I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” Patrick said. “At the same time, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with some of the very best people I’ve ever known, both on the air and behind the scenes. While I’m not sure exactly what’s next for me, I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with new life experiences.”
His biggest assignment came as the voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Football from 1987 until the package moved to NBC after the 2005 season, but outside of that he was one of the Worldwide Leader’s leading college sports voices. He was the lead voice on the network’s ACC basketball package, he called the Women’s Final Four for a decade and a half, and he was a leading voice on the College World Series and served as the play-by-play man for ESPN’s Thursday night and Saturday night packages, before ESPN turned its Saturday primetime window into the top package owned by the network.
You may remember this moment.
ESPN will say goodbye to Patrick through a pre-recorded tribute voiced by Rece Davis airing throughout the day on SportsCenter and a tribute during the network’s coverage of the Louisville vs. Duke basketball game tonight (9 p.m. ET).