NMSU presidential candidate open to moving, or dropping, football

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New Mexico State was saved from an uncertain future in football when it was invited to join the Sun Belt as a football-only member in March. Conference realignment had picked apart the WAC to the point of extinction, leaving NMSU and Idaho to fend for themselves and find a new home.

Before briefly settling on football independence for the 2013 season, it was thought that New Mexico State could move down to the FCS level. Apparently, that’s still not out of the question for Garrey Carruthers, one of five finalists to become president at NMSU. In an open forum discussion last week, Carruthers said he was open to the idea of moving the football program down, or perhaps eliminating the program altogether. From the Las Cruces Sun-News:

“I’ve actually had conversations with people in the Big Sky Conference,” Carruthers said, referring to a league in the Football Championship Subdivision. “That’s sort of a notch below in football. They’re not eligible for BCS bowls. But what do you think our prospects of getting (to) a BCS bowl anytime soon will be anyway? Not great. I think there’s some other conferences around, where our athletics budget would actually be at the top of the list instead of at the bottom in terms of how much money we’re spending.”

Carruthers added, “I do know there’s a limit to how much money we can spend. And that limit is probably what we’re spending right now. We have to find a conference we’re comfortable in financially.”

Carruthers said during the public forum that he would also consider dropping football altogether.

“The rest of our sports are doing rather well, believe it or not,” he said. “Maybe we should be a minor-sport (program) …. Somebody even mentioned to me yesterday, maybe we should drop football. Maybe one of the options is just stay the course and just join the Missouri Valley (Conference) and play all the sports they play. … That’s an option we need to take a look at. The most expensive sport is football, and probably the least successful at the moment.”

As Carruthers is still a candidate to become university president, nothing is imminent regarding a decision and the Aggies are still Sun Belt bound. It should also be noted that Carruthers said he is not in favor of dropping football even though he would consider it.

But it’s an interesting, candid conversation about the feasibility of fielding a FBS football team. In a time when playoff access, television revenue and media rights agreements are large factors in the literal and figurative wealth of a program, there are fewer discussions about the five lower-tier FBS conferences that don’t stand to make a lot of money and their struggles just to keep afloat. And the gap is clearly widening.

The idea of schools breaking away from the NCAA as a result still seems far-fetched, but another split within the FBS that affects rules, possible athlete compensation, etc, could be closer to reality.

Former Miami TE Jovani Haskins headed to West Virginia

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Jovani Haskins announced two weeks ago he was leaving Miami for “somewhere else.” That somewhere else proved to be a favorite destination of other Sunshine State transfers: West Virginia.

“WVU is my new home and I can’t wait to perform in front of the fans of West Virginia!” he tweeted on Saturday.

A 3-star prospect out of Bergenfield, N.J.., Haskins was offered by West Virginia in the class of 2016 and most recruiting experts actually had him signing with the Mountaineers before a surprise commitment to Miami.

Haskins joins two former state of Florida players on WVU’s roster: starting quarterback Will Grier (Florida) and former Miami quarterback Jack Allison (Miami). The Mountaineers also employed Florida State transfer Clint Trickett at quarterback and Miami transfer Antonio Crawford at cornerback.

Haskins redshirted in 2016 and will presumably sit out 2017 before gaining eligibility in ’18. West Virginia could use the help immediately; the roster lists one scholarship tight end at present. WVU currently has two tight ends pledged for the 2018 class in addition to Haskins.

 

BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

California’s state-funded travel ban to discriminating states raises mild football scheduling concerns

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The state of California is banning state-funded travel to the states of Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Those states are added to the previous state-funded travel bans that included Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee due to what California lawmakers say are laws that allow for discrimination against gay and transgender people.

So what does this have to do with college football? My colleague, Bryan, notes this latest decision from the state means scheduling any potential road games for a handful of schools just got a tad trickier.

This development poses a couple of issues for some California schools to address moving forward.

San Jose State is the school affected by this latest news right off the bat. San Jose State has a road game scheduled at Texas on September 9 this season. San Jose State may have to rely on some of that guaranteed money from Texas to cover the expenses, which would put a dent in the total takeaway from playing the game in the first place.

Cal is also scheduled to play at North Carolina on September 2. Cal also plays at TCU in 2021 and at Auburn in 2024. If the ban is still in operation at those times, then Cal will have to budget ahead of time to tackle the expenses. UCLA will play at Memphis on September 19.

The state-funded travel ban to these states may not be an issue for the postseason, as bowl game expenses tend to be carried by the conference and their revenue shares.

Fresno State has a road game at Texas A&M scheduled in 2020. San Diego State has no future scheduling hassles to worry about for the time being.