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CFT Predicts: the Pac-12

David Yankey, David Shaw, Shayne Skov AP

As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the Pac-12.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SEC, Big Ten

Pac-12 North

1. Stanford (Last year: 12-2; beat Wisconsin in Rose Bowl)
What happened last season?
Though Stanford lost arguably the best quarterback to ever pass through the program in Andrew Luck, the Cardinal did something it couldn’t when Luck and Jim Harbaugh were on The Farm: win the Pac-12. David Shaw is quickly ascending the list of best college coaches in the country. I mean, the guy did a Ted Talk. Clearly Stanford is big-time now.

So why are they ranked here?
The Cardinal are experienced and there really aren’t many glaring weaknesses on either side of the ball. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is undefeated as a starter and has a solid offensive line and running game that brings back Tyler Gaffney. The defensive front seven returns plenty of starters too, including linebacker Shayne Skov. This is a solid team all around.

Anything else?
Things get a little more interesting schedule-wise in the second half of the season. The Cardinal play UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon in consecutive weeks before ending the year against Cal and Notre Dame. Weather that schedule and Stanford will absolutely be in the national title discussion. And I’d like their chances of winning it all (meaning, by rule of the jinx, they’ll go 8-5 and OMG I’m so sorry, you guys [sad face]).

2. Oregon (Last year: 12-1; beat Kansas State in Fiesta Bowl)
What happened last season?
Another BCS win for the Ducks would end up being the final game for coach Chip Kelly, who left for the NFL shortly thereafter. But the important story line here is that the one-point safety happened and we are all now better off as humans for seeing it.

So why are they ranked here?
The Pac-12 North looks like it could play out in a similar fashion to the SEC East, where Georgia and South Carolina could be slotted in either order as 1A or 1B. Oregon is actually the preseason favorite to win the North (and the league’s championship game) — albeit by the slimmest of margins — but if it comes down to it, I’m going to go with Shaw over first-year coach Mark Helfrich.

Anything else?
There’s a lot of national focus on Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel as far as as quarterbacks go, but keep an eye on Marcus Mariota. This redshirt sophomore was efficient in his first year as a starter, throwing for 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. He has great size (6-foot-4 and 211 pounds) and athleticism.

3. Oregon State (Last year: 9-4; lost to Texas in Alamo Bowl)
What happened last season?
Just when you think Mike Riley is on the way out of Corvallis, he orchestrates one of the more dramatic turnarounds in college football. (Not that I thought Riley was on his way out or anything… Okay, I did.) The Beavers started 6-0 before exchanging wins and losses through the rest of the year, which ended in a bowl loss to Texas.

So why are they ranked here?
There’s good offensive firepower returning for Oregon State. This team has two capable quarterbacks in Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz, and running back has both talent and depth. The question will continue to be on the offensive line can pave the way for OSU to have a better rushing attack than the one that ranked 101st in the country a year ago. On defense, the Beavers’ secondary should be a strength even with the departure of Jordan Poyer.

Anything else?
It wouldn’t be surprising to see this team 7-0 headed into a huge home game against Stanford — and playing in Reser Stadium can be a thorn for opposing teams. But there are no gimmes on the schedule once late October rolls around.

4. Washington (Last year: 7-6; lost to Boise State in MAACO Bowl Las Vegas)
What happened last season?
This can be summed up in highlights and lowlights. Highlight: beating Stanford, however ugly it was, 17-13. Lowlight: a regular-season ending loss to Wazzu in the Apple Cup. In overtime. Woof.

So why are they ranked here?
Steve Sarkisian isn’t on the hot seat, but it’s time to win more than seven games. Keith Price returns as one of the more talented quarterbacks in the Pac-12, but he’s also never experienced the luxury known as pass protection. If he has time, this is an offense that can put up a lot of points. The defense made major strides in 2012 under Justin Wilcox and will need to keep pace against a schedule that features plenty of good offensive opponents.

Anything else?
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is currently dealing with a broken pinkie. There’s optimism he can return by Week 1, though, as Sarkisian said it was a clean break. Jenkins will be counted on a lot this season in the passing game, so his health is crucial.

5. Washington State (Last year: 3-9)
What happened last season?
Yeah, Mike Leach‘s first season in Pullman didn’t exactly go as planned. The Cougars passed the ball a lot (go figure) but struggled to score and couldn’t stop anyone. But, hey, y’all beat Washington so huzzah!

So why are they ranked here?
There are still plenty of concerns on both sides of the ball, but Wazzu is not a team completely deprived of talent. Connor Halliday returns at quarterback, but the offensive line needs to come together to give him some more protection. Sacks and interceptions doomed the Cougars offense last season. If the offense can jell, a turnaround might start taking some form in 2013.

Anything else?
Wazzu doesn’t have to run the ball more, but they have to run it more effectively. This is a team that averaged 29 yards per game on the ground in 2012. Twenty. Nine. That’s, like, De’Anthony Thomas‘ yards-per-carry or something.

6. Cal (Last year: 3-9)
What happened last season?
The Golden Bears lost their shine and Jeff Tedford was shown the door. Things got really bad at the end when Cal lost their final two games by an average of 45 points.

So why are they ranked here?
Sonny Dykes will win in Berkeley, it just won’t be this year. True freshman Jared Goff will be thrown into the fire immediately as the team’s starting quarterback, and the schedule is unforgiving.

Anything else?
Cal will likely lose three of their first four games, but we could still get a decent understanding of what this team can potentially accomplish in Dykes’ first year if they hang tough with Northwestern, Ohio State or Oregon.

Pac-12 South

1. UCLA (Last year: 9-5; lost to Baylor in Holiday Bowl)
What happened last season?
The Bruins took a huge step forward under first-year coach Jim Mora by winning nine games and making it to the Pac-12 championship. UCLA got torched by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl, but the Bears were playing their best football at the end of the year.

So why are they ranked here?
There’s a new edge in Pasadena that previously wasn’t there. That’s a reflection on Mora, and things are only looking up for UCLA. Brett Hundley returns as one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the league. This is an offense that will need to find a replacement for Johnathan Franklin in the running game to take the pressure off of Hundley. The defense has to replace its entire secondary too. But this is a talented, young team.

Anything else?
Part of that talented youth is Notre Dame transfer Eddie Vanderdoes. The defensive lineman will be able to play immediately and he’s expected to do so.

2. Arizona State (Last year: 8-5; beat Navy in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) 
What happened last season?
First-year coach Todd Graham did a good job getting the Sun Devils to eight wins. And, of course, beating Arizona always helps.

So why are they ranked here?
ASU could be a sneaky good team this year. There’s a lot of hype in Tempe around Taylor Kelly, who already has a 3,000-yard passing season under his belt.  This team features 17 returning starters, including All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton. There’s room to grow at the receiver spot, but the Sun Devils have a good backfield with Marion Grice and D.J. Foster. Based on their 2012 play, this is a team that can right in the middle of the Pac-12 South hunt.

Anything else?
ASU has an interesting and difficult early part of the season with Wisconsin, Stanford, USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks. Winning both of those early Pac-12 games would be huge.

3. USC (Last year: 7-6; lost to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl) 
What happened last season?
USC went from the preseason No. 1 team to being unranked at the end of the season after losing a to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl in embarrassing fashion. Matt Barkley hurt his shoulder and couldn’t finish out his career with the Trojans. There were almost too many disappointments to list.

So why are they ranked here?
There are a lot of question marks on offense with the departure of Barkley and receiver Robert Woods. Marqise Lee is back though and figures to be a huge part of the game plan — if he can stay healthy. There was a lot of staff turnover during the offseason, so it could take some time for everything to come together. And let’s not forget the depth issues affecting this team while it rides out the scholarship reductions from the NCAA. Still, it’s not like USC is lacking talent. That should be enough to keep this team from going under .500 this year.

Anything else?
Well, that’s the thing. Lane Kiffin can’t afford to go under .500 — or .500 at all —  and realistically expect to keep his job. The scholarship reductions hurt, but they don’t have any impact on failed two-point conversions, or switching numbers between plays midway through a game. Pull shenanigans like that and win seven again, and Kiffin could be headed for the unemployment line.

4. Arizona (Last year: 8-5; beat Nevada in New Mexico Bowl)
What happened last season?
Rich Rodriguez rebounded from his short Michigan gig by winning right away with Arizona. The highlight of the year included a 39-36 win over what was then a top-10 ranked USC team.

So why are they ranked here?
Matt Scott waited his turn and had himself a banner senior season. He left for the NFL as one of the more intriguing quarterback prospects. But while the Wildcats have to replace him, they do bring back Ka’Deem Carey, who was the country’s leading running back last year. Carey figures to be the focal point of the offense this year, which may need to win some shootouts again.

Anything else?
The defense was the worst in the Pac-12 last season at giving up points. Jeff Casteel is a fine defensive coordinator, so that’ll be a unit to watch to see if any significant improvement can be made.

5. Utah (Last year: 5-7) 
What happened last season?
It was another disappointing year for Kyle Whittingham. The offense, especially the passing game, couldn’t get going and Jordan Wynn had to end his oft-injured career earlier than he’d hoped.

So why are they ranked here?
Dennis Erickson been brought in as co-offensive coordinator to light a fire under one of the worst passing games in the Pac-12 last season. The defensive line loses three key players as well in Star Lotulelei, Joe Kruger and Dave Kruger. There’s a lot to replace and plenty of tough games on the schedule.

Anything else?
Erickson is more than just another offensive mind to add to the staff. He’s familiar with the recent Pac-12 landscape from his time with Arizona State. That should pay dividends for the Utes, but just how soon remains unclear.

6. Colorado (Last year: 1-11) 
What happened last season?
The Buffaloes were terrible and Jon Embree got fired. During Embree’s final press conference, it become abundantly clear from a national perspective just how much work this program has to do to get back to its former winning ways.

So why are they ranked here?
Mike MacIntyre did wonders at San Jose State. He’ll need to work those miracles again in Boulder, but 2013 looks like it could be another brutal year for this program. The Buffs have a dire QB situation right now, though it appears Texas transfer Connor Wood will get the nod. There is a lot of experience returning for Colorado (17 starters), but how long it takes them to adjust to MacIntyre remains to be seen.

Anything else?
It won’t count toward Pac-12 standings, but Colorado can make a big splash at the start of the season by beating Colorado State. When little is expected to go your way, grabbing a win over an in-state rival goes a long way.

——————————————-

John Taylor‘s prediction:
North
1. Stanford
2. Oregon
3. Oregon State
4. Washington
5. Washington State
6. Cal

South
1. UCLA
2. Arizona State
3. USC
4. Utah
5. Arizona
6. Colorado

Ben’s Pac-12 champ: Stanford
John’s Pac-12 champ: Stanford

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Four Cincy players forced to retire, QB Legaux working his way back

Cincinnati v Louisville

The playing careers for a pair of Cincinnati players have come to an end as a result of a car crash last September. Wide receivers Mark Barr and Javon Harrison will no longer play football due to injuries suffered in a tragic auto accident that claimed the life of offensive lineman Ben Flick.

In addition to Barr and Harrison, Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville confirmed to Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer that safety Marcus Foster and defensive back Drake Burns will also no longer be able to play football. All four players will remain on scholarship.

Harrison was listed in stable condition once taken to a hospital following the accident, but Barr was placed in critical condition. Barr was released from a hospital nearly a month later.

In more positive injury news out of Cincinnati, quarterback Munchie Legaux is making some good progress on his return to football. After suffering a devastating knee injury early last season, Legaux was granted an extra year of eligibility and he is looking to make it count. Tuberville expects Legaux to be in uniform and available to practice once the Bearcats open training camp. With Gunner Kiel stating his case for the starting job in the spring, Legaux may have to be at 100 percent and work to win the job back once he is.

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Larry Scott already stumping for Pac-12 champ in playoff

Larry Scott

As to be expected, the past couple weeks of conference media days has brought a number of tired debates back to the surface. Among them has been the debate over eight-game conference schedules or nine-game schedules. For the Pac-12, the answer is simple. Commissioner Larry Scott addressed the benefits of having a nine-game conference schedule as college football moves into the College Football Playoff era this fall.

“We know that there will be continued controversy and debate, but the clear statement has been made that strength of schedule is going to be a determining factor in figuring out which of the four teams ought to be competing in that playoff,” Scott said during his state of the Pac-12 press conference this week at the Pac-12 media day event in California. The College Football Playoff selection committee will be placing an emphasis on strength of schedule when determining its rankings and choosing which four teams will be selected to participate in the College Football Playoff. the Pac-12 has opted to go with a nine-game conference schedule in part to raise the overall strength of schedule for the conference. Of course, it also makes it easier to schedule for all Pac-12 schools when they only have to fill three non-conference spots as opposed to four. The Pac-12 also backed out of a conference-wide scheduling agreement with the Big Ten that would have raised the strength of schedule for both conferences.

Scott chose to focus on the depth of the Pac-12 in 2014, a wise strategy considering the national respect for Oregon, Stanford and UCLA along with the rising expectations for programs like USC, Washington and Washington State. With some quality depth, the Pac-12 could be the most entertaining conference to watch this fall, so folks on the east coast may have to prepare for some late nights. The Pac-12 also has a chance to impress on a national level with some key non-conference match-ups.

“This year the Pac‑12, again, has scheduled a very tough non‑conference slate that includes 13 games against bowl teams from a year ago,” Scott said. “Highlights of our non‑conference match‑ups this year include five games against Big Ten opponents – Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Rutgers and Illinois. We’ve got three games against Notre Dame this year – Stanford, USC, Arizona State all playing against Notre Dame, and of course UCLA’s match‑up in Dallas against Texas early in the season.”

But Scott’s final remark about the schedule was one with a slight aim at the ACC and SEC. Both the ACC and SEC will play eight-game conference schedules. Whoever comes out on top of the Pac-12 is likely to have a decent shot at playing in the College Football Playoff, which Scott is already stumping for as best he can.

“Here it is with the most competitive nine‑game conference schedule in the nation, our champion will be incredibly well‑positioned in this first-ever historic College Football Playoff.”

Some power conference is going to get left out of the four-team playoff, if not more. Scott clearly believes his conference should not be on the outside looking in.

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WR Rhodes moving from Big 12 champs to MAC champs

Dino Babers

Former Baylor wide receiver Robbie Rhodes is moving from one conference champion to another. Rhodes is transferring to Bowling Green, a report by ESPN.com has confirmed. Bowling Green won the MAC championship in 2013 and is the preseason favorite to win the conference again in 2014.

A month ago it was learned Rhodes was no longer with the Baylor Bears, 2013 Big 12 champions. Earlier in the offseason Rhodes was arrested and charged for possession of marijuana and tampering with physical evidence, but the charges were never levied against him.

Rhodes appeared in 11 games last season for Baylor, recording 10 receptions for 157 yards. Where he goes from here is unknown at this time for the true sophomore. He still has three years of eligibility remaining. At Bowling Green, Rhodes will feel comfortable being inserted into the offense once he is eligible, because there will be many similarities between what the Falcons do and what Baylor runs. Bowling green head coach Dino Babers (pictured) is a former receivers coach at Baylor.

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Rhodes will have to sit out the 2014 season but will have multiple years of eligibility once he is eligible to resume playing for Bowling Green in 2015.

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Texas media guide published with recurring typo

University of Texas Introduces Charlie Strong Getty Images

Everybody makes a typo from time to time, and I may be one of the biggest culprits. But I also do not print and release 200-page media guides for some of the largest college football programs in the country, like Texas.

The Texas Longhorns media guide was released with a typo at the bottom of each and every page of the media guide, misspelling the website address for Texas sports website (TexsaSports.com). Hey, mistakes happen but this one happened to be printed through the entire media guide.

How could something like this happen?

This is just a hunch, but it is not as though somebody manually typed the same typo for each page of the media guide. The media guide was more likely formatted so the address only needed to be typed once and it would appear on each page of the media guide. This may have also been one of the first things entered into the media guide as well, so it could have easily been forgotten.

For what it is worth, the typo has been corrected.

Helmet sticker to SB Nation.

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Notre Dame WR Mahone sentenced to 10 days in jail

Notre Dame v Michigan

Notre Dame wide receiver Will Mahone will serve 10 days in jail after pleading guilty to four misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, assault and aggravated menacing. Felony charges were wiped off his record as part of his plea.

A county judge offered Mahone some leniency in the sentencing, telling Mahone he felt a stronger sentence should be enforced. Mahone will also serve a year on probation and he received credit for two days in jail served following the initial arrest until bail was posted.

As noted by Keith Arnold of Inside the Irish, Mahone still has an uncertain future at Notre Dame. Following Mahone’s arrest, Notre Dame suspended the receiver indefinitely while the legal process played out. Mahone is not currently enrolled at Notre Dame, leaving a cloud of uncertainty surrounding his future at this point. An attorney representing Mahone has said Mahone would like to be able to return to Notre Dame when the time is appropriate, but no decision on his fate has been made just yet.

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Ohio State fires band director and will investigate sexual culture

Ohio State Marching Band

This one strays a bit away from the football side of our usual conversation, but few would argue the marching band is as much a part of the college football experience as anything else. Ohio State’s marching band is one of the best in the country, earning the nickname The Best Damn Band in the Land for a good reason, but it is currently in an unfortunate position. Ohio State has fired band director Jon Waters and continues to investigate what is being referred to as a sexualized culture within the organization.

Ohio State has been investigating the marching band for the last two months, according to The Columbus Dispatch, following a complaint registered by a parent of a member of the band. The investigation turned up evidence of students routinely harassing or hazing each other, usually new students. Further complicating things is information suggesting the director of bands was aware of such activity and did nothing to prevent it from continuing. One of the specific complaints claimed students in the band went on parade in their underwear in the middle of the night. This was allegedly done under the supervision of Waters and other staff members. This obviously goes against the university’s sexual harassment policy, which prompted the investigation, which gathered testimony from nine witnesses as well as Waters, other staff members and the concerned parent and child.

You can read the full 23-page report, which includes some vulgar and not-safe-for-work descriptions.

Some may to write off some of the information in the report as “college kids doing college things,” but even if that is the case there still is a line that needs to be drawn, especially from the leaders of the organization. Knowing the student policies, if Waters did indeed allow some of these thing to continue then the university was absolutely in the right to take swift action.

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Friedgen ready to open up Rutgers offense, fix Nova’s mechanics

Ralph Friedgen

This year marks the return of Ralph Friedgen to a college football sideline. The former head coach at Maryland is getting back in the swing of things as offensive coordinator at Rutgers, and it is a transition he believes has gone smoothly as well as one he seems to be embracing. No longer in charge of directing the daily operations of the football program, Friedgen can focus more on mapping out the offensive schemes the Scarlet Knights will use this fall, the first as a Big Ten member.

With Friedgen in charge of the offense, things are going to change as he tries to make use of what is available to him. Do not expect Friedgen to ask Rutgers to do anything he does not feel they are capable of doing, and perhaps that will be a good thing.

“What I think we have to be careful about – and I think it happened a little bit in the spring – is we can wear these kids out and not have anything left,” Friedgen said in a sit-down interview with veteran Rutgers scribe Tom Luicci for ScarletKnights.com. “My philosophy is to have a balance between run and pass… If you’re only one dimensional then they’re going to make you play left-handed and I don’t like to play left-handed. I like to take what the defense gives us.”

One of the biggest concerns for Rutgers may be the play of quarterback Gary Nova. Friedgen arrived hearing plenty about Nova’s ups and (mostly) downs, but he feels confident he can get the most out of his starting quarterback. Friedgen has also taken some measures to improve Nova’s mechanics.

“I’ve made one correction with his mechanics. He threw the ball on his toes, which puts a lot of pressure on your arm and can lead to arm problems. I was always taught, especially when I was in the NFL, to put your heel in the ground and push off like you’re a pitcher and then get your waist and hips right. It seems to have helped him.”

You can read the full Q&A with Friedgen on ScarletKnights.com.

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Report: Washington suspends QB Miles for season opener

Washington v Oregon State Getty Images

If you are having trouble keeping up with the status of Washington quarterback Cyler Miles, you are forgiven. It has been quite a back-and-forth situation this offseason. For those keeping score, Miles is currently suspended for the season opener at Hawaii, according to Washington beat reporter Adam Jude, of The Seattle Times.

Jude reported the news of a suspension via Twitter;

Miles and former wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow were connected to an on-campus assault incident that led to the suspensions. Miles was not charged for the incident. Stringfellow later decided to transfer to Nebraska, and then to Ole Miss. Miles was suspended by Washington on February 6 and then reinstated on May 14. After seeing Miles serve a suspension through spring practices, it comes as a small surprise to see he will now be suspended for the first game of the season, although this is also a way for new head coach Chris Petersen to lay down the (football) law and send a message to the entire team right off the bat.

Miles was expected to be the leading candidate to be Washington’s next starting quarterback after the departure of Keith Price. That may prove to be the case in the long run regardless of this news, but he will have some catching up to do while Jeff Lindquist and/or Troy Williams take care of leading the offense in the season opener.

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Updated: Texas WRs charged with felony sexual assault, suspended

Kendall Sanders

A pair of Texas wide receivers was reportedly charged for felony sexual assault Thursday. Arrests for Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander are currently pending. The two have already been suspended by Texas.

The felony sexual assault charges are considered second-degree in nature and stem from an incident that took place earlier this week, according to The Austin American-Statesman. Sanders also faces an additional charge for what is being reported as improper photography. Bail for each has been set at $75,000 for Meander and $95,000 for Sanders ($75,000 for each and an additional $20,000 for the improper photography charge to Sanders).

According to police records acquired by The Austin American-Statesman, University of Texas police found an alleged victim crying under a desk with no shoes. The victim claims to have agreed to consensual sex with Meander, but Sanders knocked on a door and was let in by Meander. At that time, the alleged victim claims, Sanders began to force himself on the alleged victim. When Meander returned to the room, the alleged victim claims both Texas receivers continued to “forcibly” penetrate the victim. After seeing what was believed to be a camera flash, the alleged victim got dressed and left. University of Texas police was notified of the incident early Monday morning and began investigating quickly.

Texas head coach Charlie Strong issued a statement regarding the suspensions.

Sanders has been in legal trouble before at Texas. He was suspended from the 2013 season opener following a DUI charge. He started seven games last season for the Longhorns, finishing the year third on the Longhorns in receiving yards with 361 yards and a touchdown. Sanders was also used on special teams, with 10 kickoff returns over 12 games. Meander is a redshirt freshman after sitting out the 2013 season.

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Auburn QB Nick Marshall’s $1,000 fine is paid

Nick Marshall

Auburn’s preseason All-SEC quarterback Nick Marshall has had his fine for possession of marijuana paid in full. As far as the police are concerned, the case is now closed.

According to a report by Al.com, Marshall was fined $1,000 for possessing a small amount of marijuana and another $100 for illegally tinted car windows. The fine was paid in full by Marshall’s mother. Because the fine was paid, Marshall will not be required to attend a court hearing, which was to be scheduled for September 10.

Marshall was originally scheduled to attend SEC Media Week last week, but in light of this infraction with the law head coach Gus Malzahn decided not to bring the quarterback to the highly covered event as a punishment. Malzahn has not announced any decision on potential lost playing time to be served by Marshall, although it appears he may not have to miss playing time based off the school’s drug policy.

Marshall was named to the preseason All-SEC First Team offense during SEC Media Week.

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U.S. passport glitch only adds to potential problems for Conference USA

US passport

One of the more difficult tasks in organizing and running a college football program may be the responsibility of arranging for the travel of the team. Throw in the need to get passports for all players and coaches and other staff members, and a headache probably enters severe migraine territory for those in charge of travel plans. Schools in Conference USA and the MAC are working now to ensure their programs would be prepared for a potential trip to the Bahamas this holiday season, but delays in receiving passports are not helping that cause right now.

As reported by NBC News, the U.S. State Department’s global database for issuing travel documents has crashed, leading to even more delays in the process for many. Fortunately, Conference USA and MAC schools would not need the passports until December.

UAB head coach Bill Clark said at Conference USA media day this week his team is still working to get their passports. Although there is plenty of time between now and the Christmas Eve kickoff, now is the time to get in the required paperwork.

“They’re trying to get everyone in our conference to get passports,” Clark said to Al.com. “We have not (gotten our passports yet) but we need to get them. I’ve got mine, but we’ve got to get the players passports.”

Of course, every school in Conference USA needs to prepare for the possibility of playing in the Bahamas Bowl, not just one or two schools. The same is true for the MAC, so in all a total of 26 schools are likely scrambling to make sure they get the passport paperwork filed quickly, if it is not already submitted.

“Nobody else in the league had either,” Clark added. “Two of the coaches said to please remind our athletic directors that we’ve all got to get those. We’re planning on getting them.”

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Notre Dame’s new fake turf has been installed

The turf makeover in South Bend has been completed. After decades of playing on one of college football’s most iconic grass fields, Notre Dame’s new artificial turf has been installed in Notre Dame Stadium, complete with a logo at midfield.

Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick announced during Notre Dame’s spring game in mid-April the plan to tear up the natural grass turf and replace it with a top-of-the-line artificial turf. The plan was to have the field ready by mid-August, so it would seem Notre Dame is ahead of schedule with that initial plan. As previously noted, Swarbrick had been contemplating making the move from natural to artificial grass for years but finally received support last fall as the field had been heavily criticized.

This is a blow for traditionalists of course, but most changes in college football these days are. Notre Dame not cutting the grass to slow down teams excelling in speed is now gone, perhaps now giving an added advantage to any visitor with a good reputation for speed, but now Brian Kelly and his staff can look to use the turf to their advantage as well. The cost to maintain an artificial turf should also be an advantage for the university over the long run. Notre Dame started selling off pieces of the natural turf in May, starting at $149.95.

Still, this just doesn’t seem right for some reason.

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Reserve GaTech QB transfers to Oregon

Ty Griffin

This offseason has seen Oregon lose two reserve quarterbacks to transfers.  With today’s development, that net loss at the position has been cut in half.

In a tweet posted to his Twitter account, Ty Griffin announced that he is officially transferring into the Ducks football program.  Griffin will have to sit out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.

Griffin served as a backup to the backup in his lone season at Georgia Tech.  He was a two-star member of the Yellow Jackets’ 2013 class coming out of high school in Georgia.

Griffin also happens to be the older brother of Taj Griffin, a four-star 2015 recruit rated by Rivals.com as the No. 1 all-purpose running back in the country.  Coincidentally or not, the younger Griffin verbally committed to the Ducks in April.

(Photo credit: Georgia Tech athletics)

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Report: ex-Wazzu QB headed to Louisville

Tyler Bruggman

Less than two weeks ago, it was reported that Tyler Bruggman was leaving Washington State. At the time, Bruggman was rumored to have been released from his Wazzu scholarship to Arkansas, Duke, Indiana and Louisville.

As it turns out, it appears the latter ACC school has won out.

According to 247Sports.com, Bruggman has decided to transfer to Louisville to continue his collegiate playing career. The UofL has yet to announce the player’s addition to the roster.

More than likely, Bruggman will be forced to sit out the 2014 season. He would, though, have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.

Bruggman was a four-star member of Mike Leach‘s first Wazzu recruiting class in 2013, rated as the No. 18 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Arizona. He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

Shortly before national Signing Day in 2013, he flipped to Wazzu from Arizona State. He also held offers from, among others, Arizona, Arkansas, BYU, Duke, Michigan State and Ole Miss.

(Photo credit: Washington State athletics)

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Injured LSU frosh released from hospital

Trey Lealaimatafao

The news regarding an incoming freshman keeps getting better and better.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, LSU defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao was released from a local hospital Wednesday. Two days earlier, Lealaimatafao was rushed to the hospital after reportedly punching a glass window in LSU’s weight room.  The player was reportedly upset following an argument with his girlfriend.

Initial reports that Lealaimatafao was facing an amputation of his arm proved incorrect.

“He’s recovering and the family has asked that no other details be released,” a school spokesperson told the Times-Picayune. “They appreciate all the concern and outpouring of support but have nothing further to say.”

Lealaimatafao, a three-star member of the Tigers’ most recent recruiting class, is expected to miss the entire 2014 season because of the injury.

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