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Updated: Houston’s leading RB departing

Charles Sims AP

In January, Houston running back Charles Sims announced he would bypass the NFL draft and return for his senior season with the Cougars. Now it appears that plan may not be in the cards for Sims.

According to Rob Sellers of CougarsDen.com (giggity), Sims is leaving the program, though exactly why isn’t clear. In a release from the school a short time later, UH said Sims was simply weighing his future options. One thing the release made clear was that Sims has not asked for his release, something he’d have to do if he wished to transfer. Sims has already graduated from Houston and would be eligible to play immediately if he decided that was the route he wanted to go.

“We congratulate Charles on receiving his degree last week and becoming a Cougar for life,” coach Tony Levine said in a statement, adding Sims “has been a leader for our program both on and off field with number of accomplishments.”

Another option for Sims could be the NFL’s supplemental draft in June. Obviously, this is all a bit out of the blue considering he’s just months removed from electing to return to UH for another year.

Wherever he ends up, some team, whether at the college or pro level, is getting an excellent running back. Sims was a first-team All Conference USA selection in 2011 and a second-team selection last season. Despite nagging injuries, he still finished 2012 with 851 yards rushing and six yards per carry — still good enough to lead the team. He’s also a noted pass-catcher and can be a versatile weapon for any offense.

Updated 9:15 p.m. ET: In a statement released to CougarsDen.com, Sims confirmed he is departing Houston. As you’ll read below, what the running back’s future holds still remains unclear.

“It is with regret and deep humbling, that I am ending my playing career at the University of Houston. I have a lot of great memories that I will carry with me forever. I want to thank the University of Houston for allowing the opportunity to be a part of its football program.

I have worked extremely hard while I have been here at U of H and made every attempt to carry myself in a manner that would reflect the utmost integrity upon the school and this program.

I don’t know what my next step will be. I have one more year of eligibility, therefore I may look to play (1) more year of college football or I may enter the NFL Supplemental Draft later this year.

My family and I will continue to discuss my options and we will make a decision in the near future.”

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Report: UNC receives notice of allegations from NCAA

Tommy Hibbard

The University of North Carolina has received a Notice of Allegations letter from the NCAA offices, but the school will not release the details of the investigation until a later date. When that date will be is not yet known. Inside Carolina reports UNC may make a formal announcement later today regarding the arrival of the NCAA’s notice of allegations.

The NCAA reopened an investigation at Chapel Hill last June to follow-up on some new information shed regarding academic irregularities on the campus involving student-athletes. The basis for reopening the investigation was the belief those who previously did not help with the NCAA’s original investigation in 2011 would be more willing to provide details and information.

In October a new report from former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein suggested the academic scandal at UNC was more widespread than initially thought. His report’s findings said more than 3,1000 students enrolled in classes they did not have to show up for to receive credit over decades. Half of those students were also UNC athletes according to the report.

How much more in-depth the NCAA investigation managed to dig remains to be seen, but it would seem there was reason to suggest it was able to come up with enough new information to sanction UNC once again to some extent. We will just have to wait to find out just what the new penalties may be for the Tar Heels and how it may or may not impact football.

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Ex-Aggie Kenny Hill ready to thrill at TCU

Kenny Hill, Sharrod Golightly

Of all the teams around the country with a quarterback question this offseason, TCU is not one of them. Trevone Boykin is entering his senior season with some Heisman hype and in position to lead the Horned Frogs to a Big 12 title and possibly the College Football Playoff. But once Boykin moves on, TCU could have its next quarterback ready to go. Former Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill is about to get started in classes at TCU, and he still plans to join the Big 12 program.

The Star-Telegram reported Thursday night Hill will begin classes at TCU on June 1. While starting classes is still to come, Hill has already been on campus to observe spring practices so he can get familiar with the offense under head coach Gary Patterson.

Hill captivated the college football world early last season ans carried over the momentum from the Johnny Manziel era at Texas A&M. However, after the hot start, Hill’s success and production fell back to Earth in harsh fashion. He eventually lost the starting job to Kyle Allen following a miserable loss at Alabama and he missed time while serving a two-game suspension. Seeing the writing on the wall, Hill opted to seek a fresh start this spring.

The fresh start could be a good call. After sitting out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Hill will have a chance to once again win a starting job. Perhaps the life lessons learned from his first time starting at Texas A&M and being a couple of years older will allow for Hill to handle the situation better. In the meantime, Hill will have a chance to learn while watching Boykin do his thing in Fort Worth, and that’s not a bad mentor to have.

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Ex-Sooner RB Keith Ford says he’s going to Aggieland

Keith Ford, Le'Vander Liggins

Just days after saying he was leaning toward transferring to Texas A&M, former Oklahoma running back Keith Ford is now reportedly an Aggie. Ford said earlier this week Texas A&M was on the top of his list of options but said some details had to be squared away before he could officially join Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies. That appears to be taken care of now.

I’m going to Aggieland,” Ford said to 247Sports Thursday night. “What really helped me come to my decision was when I sat down with Coach (Kevin) Sumlin. It didn’t sound like it was rehearsed or anything. He was just talking to me man-to-man and laid out his expectations for me. He also wanted me to believe in him. After I heard all of that I was like, ‘Yea, I’m coming here.’ I can’t wait to get up there.”

Ford will have to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but when he is eligible once again in 2016 the Aggies will be adding quite a talented running back. Ford, a four-star running back in Oklahoma’s Class of 2013 according to Rivals, appeared in eight games as a freshman for Oklahoma last season, rushing for 392 yards and five touchdowns. Ford’s season came to an end when he broke his leg against Tennessee in September. He was suspended indefinitely by Bob Stoops in the spring for a violation of team rules.

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Tulane adds future dates with Oklahoma, Ole Miss

Devon Walker

In a busy day on the scheduling front, Tulane secured a serious boost to its future schedules by announcing future games with Oklahoma and Ole Miss.

Tulane and Oklahoma will play a three-game series spread out over seven years; the Green Wave will come to Norman in 2017 and 2024, with the Sooners visiting New Orleans in 2021. The series will mark the first-ever meetings between the schools.

“We are excited to begin the series with the University of Oklahoma. There were a lot of moving pieces required to put this together and I thank my good friend Joe Castiglione for working with us to ensure Oklahoma would come back to Yulman Stadium as soon as scheduling would allow,” Tulane Rick Dickson said in a statement.

Elsewhere, Tulane has pushed back a visit to Ole Miss from 2017 to 2025 and added a home date against the Rebels for the 2023 season. The two schools have met 71 times previously in a series dating back to 1893. Ole Miss holds a 43-28 edge over the Green Wave.

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Five off-the-field Harbaugh lieutenants to earn $100K-plus in 2015

Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh‘s off-the-field staff will be significantly better paid than his predecessor’s. According to an open records request filed by Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free-Press, two non-coaching assistants will earn $250,000 in 2015 and five will top the six-figure mark, up from the salaries Michigan paid for the same positions on Brady Hoke‘s staff.

Leading the way is Jim Minick, a longtime military man and lifelong friend of Harbaugh’s who was suspended last week after a DUI arrest. He’ll earn $250,000 as the Wolverines’ assistant athletics director for football, up from the $143,000 that Bob Lopez made in the same job last year.

Minick’s salary will be matched by the $250,000 earned by strength coach Kevin Tolbert, a $9,000 bump from the salary garnered by predecessor Aaron Wellman.

Elsewhere in the department, director of operations Rick Finotti will earn $120,000, recruiting coordinator Matthew Doherty will earn $107,000 and director of player development Gwendolyn Bush – also known as the mother of Wolverines graduate transfer Wayne Lyons – will earn $106,000 in 2015.

The five assistants raking in six figures-plus is up from three on Hoke’s staff.

Assistant strength coach Nathan Barry and recruiting operations assistant Chris Partridge will also earn $80,000, while recruiting assistant Anthony Binker sits as the low man on the totem pole at $41,000.

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Haskell Indian Nations U suspends football program for 2015 season

The empty seat of football stadium

Haskell Indians Nation University, a tribal university located in Lawrence, Kan., and competing in NAIA, announced Thursday it will suspend its football program for the 2015 season, citing the rising costs of college athletics.

“Conference changes, the cost of maintaining ten athletic programs, the lack of coaching staff to recruit and develop players and programs, and the dependency of Intercollegiate Athletics on university funding,” led university president Venida Chenault to halt the program for the upcoming season. In a university release (via the Lawrence Journal-World), the school said plans to scale back its athletics programs from 10 to six.

Haskell players may use the fall as “a developmental year for academic and physical conditioning,” but the university noted it is granting releases for players that have arranged them. Still, there is no guarantee the program will return, as the announcement says this fall will be used to determine the “viability” of the program long-term.

Naturally, Haskell’s players did not take the news kindly.

 

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Kansas State to induct four players to Football Ring of Honor

Oklahoma Sooners v Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State announced Thursday that former Wildcats Michael BishopJordy NelsonClarence Scott and Darren Sproles will enter the program’s Ring of Honor this fall. This immediately brings to mind one question, “Wait, how could Kansas State have a Ring of Honor and Michael Bishop and Darren Sproles weren’t a part of it until now?”

Anyway, the above four represent K-State’s third Ring of Honor class, bringing the group’s total to 14. The four players will be enshrined to the interior facade of Bill Snyder Family Stadium during a halftime presentation of the season opener against South Dakota on Sept. 5.

“Like previous Ring of Honor classes these are not only skilled athletes and All-Americans at the positions they played at Kansas State but quality gentlemen who genuinely care about their university and their football program,” Snyder said. “They join the previous 10 Consensus All-Americans having represented their university with class and dignity.  I am so very proud of this and previous classes having coached nine of the 14 of them.”

Bishop went 22-3 (15-1 Big 12) as the Wildcats’ quarterback from 1997-98, leading the club to its first-ever No. 1 ranking while earning All-Big 12 honors both seasons and winning the 1998 Davey O’Brien Award. Nelson worked his way from walk-on to defensive back to one of the best wide receivers in school history, posting school record marks 111 catches and 1,606 yards while earning All-America honors in 2007.

Scott earned First Team All-America honors as a defensive back in 1970 and is already a member of K-State’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Sproles helped the Wildcats win their first Big 12 title in 2003 while setting a school record with 2,735 all-purpose yards. His 4,979 rushing yards remain a school record.

The group will join the likes of Lynn DickeyMartin GramaticaMark Simoneau and Terence Newman in the Wildcats’ Ring of Honor.

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Kick times set for a number of bowl games

We’re only 100 days away from the official start of the 2015 season, which means we’re only 100 days plus 17 weeks from everyone’s favorite time of year: bowl season.

  • Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (MW vs. MAC): Dec. 22, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Boca Raton Bowl (MAC vs. American): Dec. 22, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (American vs. Mountain West/BYU): Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Hyundai Sun Bowl (ACC vs. Pac-12): Dec. 26, 2 p.m. ET, CBS
  • AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC): Jan. 2, 3:20 p.m. ET, ESPN

So pleas, everyone, clear your schedules ahead of time and make room for the Boca Bowl. No you have no excuse for missing such a momentous post-season extravaganza.

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Report: UAB could announce decision to not reinstate football Friday night

University of Alabama Board of Trustees

There is no official statement saying anything other than there is no decision made yet on the future of UAB football. However, one report suggests an announcement could be made at the absolute textbook news dump hour; Friday night.

In a report by Kevin Scarbinsky of Al.com, Alabama State Representative Jack Williams says he has received “strong indications” UAB will not reinstate football. The state representative also told Al.com he believes UAB president Ray Watts could make that announcement Friday night.

If that proves to be the reality of the situation as UAB reassessed the fate of the football program it shut down last November, then it is following the public relations textbook in releasing negative news as late on a Friday as possible. Except the news cycle is more around-the-clock as it has ever been, so UAB and Watts would not be escaping much turmoil if an announcement is made Friday night. After all of the negativity surrounding the way this UAB situation has unfolded, it would be nice to see the school just come right out and announce the decision, for better or worse, as early as possible instead of trying to hide in the darkness of the night.

But let’s see how this plays out. The odds of UAB overturning its previous decision to shut the program down were slim from the beginning, but at least there was a glimmer of hope for the fans. It would be nice to see UAB be straight with the fans and community, whatever the final decision may be. They deserve that.

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Syracuse, UConn set dates to renew old Big East rivalry

Florida State v Syracuse

About a month ago we caught wind of the possible revival of an old Big East rivalry being put together. Now Syracuse and Connecticut have put the finishing touches on the home-and-home scheduling agreement.

Announced today, UConn will host Syracuse on September 24, 2016 at Rentschler Field. Syracuse will host the Huskies two years later on September 29, 2018 in the Carrier Dome. Syracsue will be the first of two ACC opponents on UConn’s 2016 schedule. UConn hosts Virginia the previous week. UConn also visits Boise State in 2018. So far the only other non-conference game on Syracuse’s 2018 schedule is a road trip to Notre Dame as part of the ACC’s rotating schedule. Syracuse’s power conference scheduling requirement in the ACC is already satisfied in 2016 and 2018 with the Fighting Irish appearing on the schedule.

While the two schools have a much more storied basketball history, it will be good to see two northeastern programs compete against each other. UConn leads the all-time series with the Orange, 6-3.

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Penn State dismisses CB following drug and alcohol incident

Penn State cornerback Da’Quan Davis was arrested earlier this month for drug and underage drinking charges. That incident has led to Davis no longer being a part of the football program under the watch of James Franklin.

“Da’Quan Davis is no longer a member of the Penn State football team due to a violation of team rules,” Franklin said during his spring caravan stop in New York yesterday. “We appreciate Da’Quan’s contributions to the program and wish him success in the future.”

As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer beat reporter Joe Juliano, Centre County Court documents filed earlier this week show Davis was arrested on May 9. Police charged Davis with possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use and use or possession of drug paraphernalia. Both of these offenses are considered misdemeanors. However, court documents also show Davis was cited for purchasing alcoholic beverages as a minor. This is considered a summary offense.

Davis is still enrolled at Penn State for his senior year. Davis appeared in half of Penn State’s games last season and likely would have been a reserve defensive back this season. While Penn State continues to claw its way back to a full 85-scholarship roster, incidents like this do nothing to help stabilize the program’s scholarship situation.

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Alabama vs. Wisconsin in AT&T Stadium goes primetime

AT&T Stadium

In a scheduling announcement that should have been expected from the start, Alabama and Wisconsin’s season-opening clash in AT&T Stadium in Arlington on September 5 will be played in primetime. ABC will televise the game starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

The Alabama vs. Wisconsin game was long expected to be placed in primetime, with ABC the likely network to get the game through ESPN’s coverage plan. Other games appearing in the same time slot, or closely overlapping with it, include Notre Dame vs. Texas on NBC (7:30 p.m. eastern), Texas A&M vs. Arizona State in Houston on an ESPN network to be determined (8:00 p.m.). Florida State will be playing on ESPN against Texas State (8:00 p.m.).

Wisconsin’s appearance on the first Saturday night game on ABC of the new season will be the first of three primetime games on the ESPN family featuring a Big Ten team in the first two weeks of the season. Michigan State’s home game against Oregon in week two will also air on ABC. Ohio State’s season-opener on Labor Day on the road at Virginia Tech will be televised by ESPN at 8:00 p.m.

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If student-athletes must be recognized as employees, Notre Dame prepared for drastic changes

Jack Swarbrick

Big changes could be on the horizon for college sports, and that has some concerned about the future. With the National Labor Relations Board still going through a review focused on Northwestern players’ union movement and various court cases taking the NCAA to task regarding how student-athletes are allegedly exploited, Notre Dame Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick says Notre Dame is prepared to abandon ship entirely if it has to begin recognizing student-athletes as employees.

“Notre Dame’s just not prepared to participate in any model where the athlete isn’t a student first and foremost — that’s the hallmark for us,” Swarbrick said in a story by USA Today. “If the entire model were to move toward athletes as employees, we’d head in a different direction. Our president has been clear about that. I’m not articulating a unique position.”

Yeah. OK. Suuuuuure.

We know that Notre Dame tends to operate in a bit of a different way than a god number of institutions. Notre Dame takes tremendous pride in its history, tradition and identity. This is not to be seen as a criticism. Despite an ever changing shift in college sports, things have worked out well for Notre Dame as the university has somehow strong-armed its way into remaining among the powerful and elite college sports programs and even managed to get a deal worked out with the ACC to receive the benefits of conference membership in a power conference without having to give up its coveted football independence. Notre Dame has its own TV deal (with NBC) and gets the benefits of playing in the ACC in sports like basketball. It’s a pretty sweet deal Notre Dame has.

If you think the school is just going to pack it all up and leave if asked to treat student-athletes as employees, think again. Sure, there will be some added costs to the university, as would be the case at every university, but the school would still more than likely be throwing away a tremendous amount of revenue if it were shut down its athletics programs in search of another option more focused on education. As scary as some leaders want you to think this can be, I’ll take Swarbrick’s bluff if he thinks Notre Dame is going to drop down to Division 2 or Divison 3.

Notre Dame and other schools can focus as much on academics as they wish, as they should. But let’s be real. Athletics brings in a tremendous amount of money, and giving that up is going to be received well.

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NIU offers fans chance to choose new field design

niuhelmet Getty Images

Northern Illinois will have a brand new playing field in Huskie Stadium this fall, and thankfully (or mercifully) the program will not be installing a non-traditional field the way programs such as Boise State and Eastern Michigan have. Surely somebody might have been tempted to toss the idea fo an all-black playing field around the NIU offices, even if in jest. Instead, NIU is serving up six options and giving fans a chance to decide which field design should be used for the MAC power moving forward.

The first two designs, shown in the Instagram image below, should be out of the running from the start. The first has no color in the end zones and what appears to be the shadowy image of corn. NIU broke out corn uniforms last season, if you recall. With no offense intended to the great corn community, let’s hope NIU fans are quick to dismiss this field design. The second option adds a black background to the end zones and adds a larger outline of the state of Illinois at midfield underneath the “NIU” logo. It’s OK, but let’s move on.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 2.27.28 PM

Moving to the second two options, we see the husky logo make an appearance at midfield, with “NIU” plastered across the end zones on a black background. So far, this is the leading candidate, and we don’t even have to waste much time on the next option, which puts the “NIU” logo back at midfield and writes “HUSKIES” in the end zones. The outline of the state of Illinois is also huge. We get it. You are in Illinois.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 2.29.51 PM

Now let’s move on to the final two options for fans to consider. Personally, the option with the gigantic husky logo shadowed into the field is the best of the six options on the ballot.  The sixth option with the red end zones is not terrible, but c’mon. What other school is going to have a logo practically take up the entire field?

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 2.30.44 PM

NIU will eliminate one option each day until the final design is made official. Which one is your favorite?

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Syracuse clarifies controversial plans for retired No. 44 jersey

Jim Brown - Syracuse

So it turns out the hoopla surrounding Syracuse and the uniform No. 44 got a little out of hand. After Donovan McNabb came out swinging at the idea of unretiring the inspirational uniform number after 10 years of retirement, Syracuse has cleared up the intention of bringing the number back into the mix.

“[Tuesday’s] announcement was simply a reiteration of that commitment and another opportunity to celebrate the great accomplishments of those who have worn the number with Syracuse pride and honor,” Syracuse Vice President for Public Affairs Kevin Quinn said in a statement shared with Syracuse.com. “The retired #44 jersey will continue in its place of honor at Dome — as a symbol of past glories and future successes.”

The uniform No. 44 will remain retired, but will be given consideration to be used under special circumstances. What those circumstances would entail will likely be left to the jurisdiction of the small committee to be organized as originally announced.

Now that we have all that cleared up, perhaps there will now be peace in the Syracuse community.

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