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Steven Bench plans out his tour of visits

Penn State Spring Game AP

Three schools were among those to reportedly pique the interest of now-former Penn State quarterback Steven Bench toward the beginning of this month. Those programs were said to be South Florida, North Carolina State and Mississippi State, with Bench confirming as much a short time later.

Now, Bench has planned out his visits for those schools. Per the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Bench will visit South Florida on May 13 and 14, NC State on the weekend of the 18th and Mississippi State on May 20 and 21. Temple and FIU have also apparently shown interest in Bench, though it’s not clear if that feeling is mutual.

“I’m going in with an open mind right now,” Bench told the paper. “I’m going to take my visits, I’m going to make the best decision for me.”

As previously noted, Bench would be eligible to play immediately in 2013 at the FBS level due to the sanctions levied on the Nittany Lions football program last year. However, Bench has also stated that he would be willing to use a redshirt. Either way, he still has three years of eligibility remaining.

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Does winning a national title really give you a boost in recruiting? (Yes)

Urban Meyer, Nick Saban

Ohio State has been sitting on top of the Big Ten recruiting rankings for a number of years now. According to the team rankings from Rivals, Ohio State has had the top class in the Big Ten each of the past four seasons and all but one year since the Class of 2008. Rivals ranked Penn State’s Class of 2010 ahead of the rest of the Big Ten, with Ohio State coming in third (Michigan was No. 2).The Buckeyes look to be locking up another top class in the Big Ten, which should come as no surprise to those who follow recruiting. Urban Meyer and his staff have been recruiting juggernauts and now they have a push that comes from a national championship.

How much push does a national champion get in recruiting? Since 2003, six national championship teams have seen their team recruiting ranking dip in the ensuing recruiting rankings. Unfortunately, it is unfair to compare one recruiting season to the next as needs change, which leads to a shift in recruiting emphasis on a year-to-year basis. That said, there is no question a team winning a national championship has an extra card to play on the recruiting trail. And, sometimes, teams winning a national title have a recruiting ranking that is so high it is extremely difficult to maintain it or improve upon it the following year.

Unless you are Nick Saban.

Here is a look at the champions of the BCS era and how their recruiting class compared from the recruiting class before winning the championship and immediately after. This list starts with the Class of 2003, the first season we can compare recruiting rankings from the previous season using Rivals.

2003 BCS Champion: LSU Tigers

Rivals Class of 2003 Rank: 1

Rivals Class of 2004 Rank: 2 (-1)

Nick Saban flexed his recruiting muscles at LSU. Equipped with a coaching staff that included offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, the Tigers brought in the nation’s top class in 2003. That season LSU went on to win the BCS national championship. The Tigers followed that up with a stellar recruiting class, but one that was beat out by USC, who had been recognized as the Associated Press national championship that same season.

2004 BCS Champion: USC Trojans

Rivals Class of 2004 Rank: 1

Rivals Class of 2005 Rank: 1 (-)

USC has always been a traditional recruiting power, but winning the national title (which would later be vacated of course), helped keep Pete Carroll and his Trojans to the top.

2005 BCS Champion: Texas

Rivals Class of 2005 Rank: 20

Rivals Class of 2006 Rank: 5 (+15) 

No team saw as big a boost in the recruiting rankings following a championship as Texas did following a BCS Championship Game victory over USC in what many call the best college football game in history, if not just the modern era or BCS era. Mack Brown may have lost steam in recruiting in the years to come, but for one season the Longhorns were ahead of the Sooners.

2006 BCS Champion: Florida

Rivals Class of 2006 Rank: 2

Rivals Class of 2007 Rank: 1 (+1)

Urban Meyer‘s arrival in Gainesville had a mighty impact. Meyer reignited the recruiting efforts at Florida, and winning a national title sent Florida to the top of the SEC and, perhaps more importantly, kept the Gators ahead of Florida State. Florida did not have much room to go, but the Gators overtook USC for the top spot in the recruiting rankings after winning the first of the SEC’s seven straight BCS trophies.

2007 BCS Champion: LSU

Rivals Class of 2007 Rank: 4

Rivals Class of 2008 Rank: 11 (-7)

What we are about to see is that winning a national championship does not always result in a recruiting boost in terms of team rankings. LSU’s second national championship was followed by a seven spot drop in the recruiting rankings, but Les Miles and his program still signed a quality class.

2008 BCS Champion: Florida

Rivals Class of 2008 Rank: 3

Rivals Class of 2009 Rank: 11 (-8)

After winning a second BCS title in three season you might have thought Meyer and Florida would be set up for years of sustained success in recruiting. As we know, the opposite proved to be the case for the Gators and the program continues to try and rebuild to this level. Meyer’s second BCS title was followed up by the biggest drop in the team recruiting rankings. Not only did Florida drop behind SEC foes like Alabama, LSU and Georgia, but Florida State moved back ahead of the Gators as well.

2009 BCS Champion: Alabama

Rivals Class of 2009 Rank: 1

Rivals Class of 2010 Rank: 5 (-4)

With Saban back in the recruiting game, the Tide were not likely to stay down for long. Alabama started to rise in the recruiting rankings as soon as Saban took over and actually suffered a drop in the team rankings after winning the national title in the 2009 season. Of course, Alabama had nowhere to go but down after signing the top-ranked class the previous season.

2010 BCS Champion: Auburn

Rivals Class of 2010 Rank: 4

Rivals Class of 2011 Rank: 7 (-3) 

Auburn actually spiked in the recruiting rankings the previous recruiting cycle. though the Tigers dropped in the recruiting rankings and failed to receive a boost, Auburn was still bringing in a top 10 class.

2011 BCS Champion: Alabama

Rivals Class of 2011 Rank: 1

Rivals Class of 2012 Rank: 1 (-)

Alabama’s current streak of dominance in the recruiting rankings began with the Class of 2011. After winning a second national championship in three years, Alabama was once again back on top of the recruiting world and Saban’s Tide have yet to be knocked from its perch to this day.

2012 BCS Champion: Alabama

Rivals Class of 2012 Rank: 1

Rivals Class of 2013 Rank: 1 (-)

Three titles in four years is hard to beat, and Alabama has become extremely hard to beat in the rankings. For the second time, Alabama repeated atop the recruiting rankings under Saban with a national championship to show off.

2013 BCS Champion: Florida State

Rivals Class of 2013 Rank: 10

Rivals Class of 2014 Rank: 4 (+6)

Florida State had never faded too far out of the elite national recruiting spotlight, but winning a national championship (against an SEC program no less) certainly helped boost Florida State back toward the top.

2014 College Football Playoff National Champion: Ohio State

Rivals Class of 2014 Rank: 3

Rivals Class of 2015 Rank: 7 (-4)

Ohio State is on pace to be the third team to not receive a boost in the recruiting rankings following a national title, although it should also be noted that recruiting is different from year to year. For example, Ohio State does not need to go after a star quarterback with the stock available already, and big time skill players tend to influence the rankings as well. Ohio State is still firm atop the Big Ten rankings, so schools like Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State still have some work to do.

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Where did your team get its 2015 starting QB?

Cody Kessler

While many college football fans may not have a clue who will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2015 (Ohio State, LSU to name two), a handful of fans have a pretty good grip on which player will be taking snaps under center in the fall (USC, Penn State). No matter what the state of your team’s quarterback position is today, odds are probably pretty good your team’s starting quarterback came from California, Texas or Florida.

Athlon Sports did some digging through the recruiting archives to compile some stats on where starting quarterbacks were being found. Without much of a shock, California, Texas and Florida tend to be the most fertile quarterback recruiting grounds for power conference schools. Between the 65 power conference schools, 26 projected starting quarterbacks come from one of those three states. One interesting nugget from that research showed just one of the FBS programs in the state of Florida will likely have a starting quarterback from the state of Florida.

There are some other good pieces of information in the research by Athlon Sports. For example, the Big 12 seems to find most starting quarterbacks within its own footprint (hello there Texas), while the SEC, ACC and Big Ten all spread out to find quarterbacks from 11 different states.

Dig a little deeper into the research over on Athlon Sports.

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Nebraska recruit says Michigan’s Greg Mattison “tried to call me stupid to my face”

Indiana v Michigan

Nebraska defensive end Daishon Neal is committed to join the Nebraska Cornhuskers when National Signing Day comes next week. The Omaha native gave the Cornhuskers his verbal commitment last April and has stayed true to that even while evaluating other options following a coaching change in Lincoln. Michigan, with Jim Harbaugh and a newly assembled staff, have been one of those options until a recent recruiting pitch from the Wolverines turned sour for Neal.

Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison, who opted to stay on board as a Michigan assistant coach under a reduced and more focused role on the staff, made a visit to Neal and his family on Monday night. The hope was being able to sell Neal and his family on flipping to Michigan as the Wolverines try to give the Class of 2015 in Ann Arbor a late boost. The effort did not go so well for Mattison, who may have crossed a line with regards to academics.

According to a quote from Neal’s father, Abraham Hoskins Jr., on a local radio station in Omaha (1620 The Zone), Mattison said Neal would not be able to get into Michigan if not for football. Per a transcription from MLive.com;

“Michigan was a powerhouse, they came in and they stormed us, they made one bad statement and it was over,” Hoskins told 1620 on air. “They said without football, Daishon wouldn’t be able to go to Michigan. Like we couldn’t afford to send him there, or that we couldn’t get him in academically.

“Once he said that, we pretty much escorted him out of the house.”

Neal added his own summary of the interaction, telling the station “(They) basically tried to call me stupid in front of my face.”

Neal is a three-star recruit according to Rivals. He is also considered the top prospect in the state of Nebraska and he confirmed his commitment to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

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Marcus Mariota’s brother is heading to Oregon

Marcus Mariota

Oregon may be losing one Mariota, but the family legacy has a chance to continue with the Ducks this fall. Matthew Mariota, the younger brother of Heisman Trophy quarterback Marcus Mariota, will sign a National Letter of Intent to Oregon next week on National Signing Day.

KHON in Hawaii reports the younger Mariota will likely be a preferred walk-on at Oregon. The 6′ 3″, 220-pound defensive end is not a player with much of a scouting report from the major recruiting services, but there is no question he has the name recognition after what his brother managed to do at Oregon. Matthew Mariota has played outside linebacker as well as defensive end so there is a chance he could provide some flexibility for the Oregon defense. If he be developed to the same kind of level his brother reached, then Oregon may be getting a pure steal in the recruiting class. If nothing else, it helps keep Oregon’s pipeline pumping on the big island.

Marcus Mariota was a Class of 2011 recruit with a three-star ranking according to his Rivals profile. Obviously, Mariota was developed by the Oregon coaching staff led by Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, and he blossomed into one of the top players in the country, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2014 and leading Oregon to a Pac-12 championship and berth in the first College Football Playoff national championship game.

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Ohio’s leading tackler Poling arrested for fighting

Ohio v Louisville

Ohio redshirt linebacker Quentin Poling was arrested early Sunday morning for fighting outside an Athens pizza shop. Poling was one of two men arrested after police showed up on the scene.

According to a report by The Athens News, police responded to a call at 1:50 a.m. on Sunday and observed a large crowd of people outside a local establishment as a fight was starting. Two men, one said to be intoxicated according to the police report, were identified and taken to Athens Police Department. Charges related to fighting were levied against the two men. It is unconfirmed which man was the intoxicated individual in the police report.

Poling led Ohio with 89 tackles in 2014, including 55 solo tackles. Poling also had a team-high three interceptions last fall.

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Oregon governor makes good on CFB Playoff championship wager

Urban Meyer

Ohio State defeated Oregon in the first College Football Playoff national championship just two weeks ago, and Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber did not delay on making good on a friendly wager.

The Columbus Dispatch says Kitzhaber’s shipment to Ohio Governor John Kasich arrived Monday, thus fulfilling his side of the bet prior to Ohio State and Oregon clashing in the national championship game. The prize for the Ohio governor following the Buckeyes victory was a package of cheese, honey and jam. A six-pack of a locally brewed product is still on the way.

Had Oregon won its first national championship in school history, the Ohio governor would have sent a shipment of a six-pack of a local Ohio brew, buckeye candy and lasagna.

Gov. Kasich can send that my way if he wants.

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Pair of Iowa running backs cited for a disorderly house

Two Iowa running backs were cited for a disorderly house, but it is not because they failed to clean up the pizza boxes and dust the furniture.

Iowa redshirt freshmen Jonathan Parker and Akrum Wadley were cited by police Saturday night after being called to respond to a complaint about a noise disturbance. Police discovered  a large gathering of people, and a scent of marijuana was reported to be stemming from the residence. According to a report from Iowa City Press-Citizen, both players were released later that night.

Parker and Wadley were apparently responsible for the party, but nothing beyond the disorderly house citation has been dropped on either player. As far as crimes and violations go in the offseason, this is hardly much reason for much concern given the information available at this time.

Parker rushed for 141 yards and one touchdown for the Hawkeyes in 2014. Wadley rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown after appearing in eight games in 2014.

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Report: LSU to earn $8.75 million from future neutral site games

Playing a marquee game on a neutral field has become rather common in college football in recent seasons, and the paydays that come with them tend to be the reason why. Aside from solving scheduling conflicts by avoiding arguments over home-and-home or one-and-done scheduling arrangements on one school’s campus without a return trip, neutral sites tend to cut rather significant paychecks to the participants. It is for this reason the neutral site game is far from a fad in college football. It is a new luxury that will be sought after by major programs for years to come.

According to information obtained by The Advocate, LSU will be cashing in on a pair of future non-conference match-ups taking place on a neutral field. As reported, ESPN will pay LSU a sum of $4 million when the Tigers face BYU in Houston in 2017. ESPN will cut another check in the amount of $4.75 million when LSU travels to Arlington, Texas to face Miami the following season (2018).

LSU is starting to see some nice income from neutral site arrangements. The $4.75 million due from the Miami game in 2018 is expected to be the most LSU will receive to play in a neutral site game, but the school is likely padding the coffers with frequently scheduled neutral site games. LSU has played in a neutral site game four out of the last five seasons.

Alabama and West Virginia split $6.4 million to play in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta in 2014. Ole Miss and Boise State split $3.1 million for the same event a couple of days earlier. The Cowboys Classic offered even bigger payouts for each school in its game. In 2012 Alabama and Michigan each received $4.7 million. The previous year LSU was paid $3.5 million and Oregon received $2 million to play in the game. The Florida Gators are expected to receive $6 million to play in the 2017 Cowboys Classic, against Michigan. Florida State will receive $3.5 million to play Ole Miss in Orlando in 2016.

It is no wonder Auburn is looking to secure a neutral site game in 2018 when so much money is involved.

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NAIA national champs asking for donations to buy championship rings

Austin Dodge, Heston Altenbach

One of the perks of winning a national championship is receiving a national championship ring. These are luxuries that may be taken for granted at the highest level of college football. This past season’s champions from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Southern Oregon University, are in need of donations just to buy the team championship rings.

A statement from Southern Oregon states NCAA championship rings are paid for ahead of time. This is not the case in the NAIA. the school must find a way to purchase championship rings for players and coaches, with the rings costing $250 each. Assuming everybody on the team’s roster page and each coach is supposed to get a ring, Southern Oregon is looking to raise $31,000.

If each of you donated one dollar, they should be able to reach that goal rather quickly. I will go ahead and get the ball rolling with a $5 donation (it’s on the way Southern Oregon).

The school is now reaching out to the public to raise money to purchase the rings, and every little bit should help. You can make a donation online on this donation page. The “Ring ‘Em up” campaign also allows you to sponsor a specific position on the team or a general donation for the entire squad.

Here’s hoping Southern Oregon can raise whatever funds are needed in order to provide some championship bling to the NAIA national champions.

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FCS power North Dakota State rewards Klieman with contract extension

Chris Klieman

After coaching FCS power North Dakota State to a fourth straight national championship, Chris Klieman has been rewarded with a two-year contract extension. The new deal will secure Klieman at North Dakota State through 2021.

“Chris understands the culture of Bison football and what it takes to continue the program’s high level of success,” athletic director Matt Larsen said in a released statement. “The excitement around the football program has never been greater and I look forward to having Chris and his family in Fargo for the long term.”

North Dakota State went 15-1 in 2014, highlighted by a victory over Big 12 school Iowa State and capped with a fourth straight FCS national championship. Klieman was as a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award.

“I’m excited to continue to build on the great tradition of Bison football,” Klieman said. “My family enjoys being in Fargo and I am extremely thankful for how this community and Bison Nation have embraced my family and me.”

Klieman succeeded Craig Bohl after the former Bison head coach accepted a job offer at Wyoming after three straight national championship seasons at North Dakota State.

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Alabama adding former Chicago Bears DC Mel Tucker to staff

New Orleans Saints v Chicago Bears

Alabama’s coaching staff has been undergoing some changes this offseason with a handful of coaches leaving to pursue other opportunities. That means Nick Saban has had some vacancies to fill on his staff in Tuscaloosa. Former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker looks to be the next addition to the staff.

According to Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter, Alabama will add Tucker to the coaching staff as a secondary coach. When not filling the role of defensive coordinator throughout his coaching career, coaching defensive backs is what Tucker has done most often. Tucker has coached defensive backs for Miami-Ohio, LSU, Ohio State, the Cleveland Browns and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Considering how some teams managed to expose Alabama’s secondary at times in 2014, bringing in a coach with that level of expertise seems to be a good fit to the coaching staff for Saban and Alabama.

Alabama was generally a middle-of-the-pack team when it came to pass defense in 2014. The Crimson Tide defense had 11 interceptions and allowed 19 passing touchdowns, while allowing 226.0 passing yards per game in 2014.

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is also expected to take on coaching inside linebackers as the staff shuffles responsibilities.

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The AAC wants at least one more bowl game

Mike Aresco

Oh, you thought college football had enough bowl games, or perhaps too many bowl games? Tell that to schools like UAB, Georgia Southern and Temple. All reached the required win minimum in order to be bowl eligible in 2014, but none were sent an invitation to play in a bowl game. Georgia Southern was ineligible due to playing its first season at the FBS level, but UAB and Temple were simply left out.

Perhaps because of that, the American Athletic Conference is looking into the possibility of introducing another bowl game to the college football calendar.

“We have a great bowl lineup that we think is just going to get better and better next year as we add a couple of bowls to lineup and we may even add a few more,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said to The Orlando Sentinel. “No one wants to have teams left out as several conferences did and several conferences have had it historically happen every year so we’re trying to prevent that.”

Naturally, Aresco did not dive any deeper into explaining how far along any potential plans to add a new bowl game may or may not be at this point.

This would not be the first time the AAC has had a hand in creating a new bowl game. The conference worked with the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball to create the new bowl game, which this year ended in a brawl between Memphis and BYU players.

The AAC has seen a handful of teams reach the normal bowl eligibility requirement in the win column the last few years, so creating at least one extra bowl to help send all bowl-eligible programs to a postseason game should not be a huge surprise.

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Report: ACL rehab sidelines Clemson safety for spring practices

Travis Blanks

Promising Clemson safety Travis Blanks will be forced to miss the spring practices this year after suffering a setback in his rehab for a torn ACL.

Blanks suffered a setback in his rehab process for his torn ACL during Clemson’s practices leading up to the bowl game, according to Aaron Brenner of Post & Courier (via Twitter).

Blanks was one of Clemson’s top freshmen in 2012 and was a starter for much of the 2013 season before having his year ended due to an injury. Blanks then suffered the knee injury in the spring of 2014, which kept him out of action last fall. Perhaps fortunately, Blanks had a redshirt year to spare in 2014, so he did not lose out on any eligibility at Clemson. He will still have two years to use starting this fall.

Keeping him out of the spring will hopefully allow him to be ready to go in the fall.

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Arkansas AD Jeff Long to continue in role as CFB Playoff Chairman

Jeff Long

The planning for year two of the College Football Playoff continues with a familiar face filling the role of chairman. Arkansas Athletics Director Jeff Long was elected to serve as the chairman of the College Football Playoff for a second straight season today.

“Jeff has been a terrific chair and I am delighted that the committee elected him to serve again,” College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said in a released statement. “Jeff is a thoughtful and dedicated leader who conducted the meetings skillfully. He also did a very good job answering questions about the rankings so fans could gain insight into the committee’s decisions. It’s clear that he has the full respect and confidence of the other committee members.”n the second half of the season on ESPN’s weekly

In the second half of the season Long made an appearance on ESPN’s weekly College Football Playoff selection committee rankings program to explain some of the logic used to form the latest committee rankings. It was a good idea in principle but struggled to provide clarity or show consistency in the ranking process. Whether that continues in year two has yet to be determined. Regardless, Long’s responsibility will continue to be to speak on behalf of the committee whenever possible. Year two of the system is not without its challenges, but Long is appreciative of the opportunity to continue to serve in this role.

“I appreciate the confidence that the committee members have shown in me,” said Long. “I am truly honored that they have chosen me to serve in this capacity this coming year. The real strength of this committee is the work that each member does to rank the teams each week and ultimately select the best four teams for the playoff. I am honored to represent them in the role of chair.”

ESPN is already reportedly putting pressure on the College Football Playoff to adjust its schedule for the 2015 playoff games, which are currently scheduled to be played on December 31. ESPN has concerns about scheduling the game on New Years’ Eve against traditional programming at the end of the year, as well as potential scheduling conflicts with the NFL and a possibly expanded playoff schedule by the pro football league.

Long will also be tasked with ensuring more consistency in the selection committee in the public’s eye. It is not necessarily his duty to ensure the committee is consistent, but it is his job to show the public there is an existing consistency with the playoff model.

Good luck Jeff.

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James Franklin scorns PSU player on Twitter for settling for a B on exam

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Boston College v Penn State

Some day college football players will learn not everything needs to be shared to the public. Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones found that out, as you may have heard by now, but things turned out OK for him. Maybe Penn State sophomore safety Bryant Harper will learn a lesson after being publicly scorned by his head coach on Twitter.

On Monday, Harper took to Twitter to boast about a B he received on a recent anatomy exam.

Penn State head coach James Franklin, known to be fluent with Twitter, saw the tweet from his player (or had somebody point it out to him), and responded…

Who knows just how serious Franklin was about the Twitter comment, but if nothing else a lesson should be learned by all college football players. What you put on Twitter (or Facebook or Instagram) will have someone watching, so be careful what you share! Harper was reminded of the Penn State philosophy of Success With Honor by way of some public humiliation from his head coach. Harper took this lesson in stride, and odds are he will not be bragging about any B‘s anytime soon.

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