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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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Former four-star Vol transferring from Terps as well

Florida v Tennessee

In January of this year, D’Andre Payne announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from Tennessee to Maryland.  Four months later, it appears the defensive back will be leaving College Park without ever having played a down for the Terps.

While the school has yet to confirm it, Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun is reporting that Payne has decided to leave Randy Edsall‘s football program.  According to Markus, Payne will be transferring to an unspecified junior college.

Even if Payne had stayed with the Terps, he wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2015 as he’d have had to sit out the season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

A four-star member of UT’s 2014 recruiting class, Payne was rated as the No. 18 cornerback in the country; the No. 2 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 230 player overall according to Rivals.com.  Only five players in UT’s class that year were rated higher than Payne.

As a true freshman for the Vols, Payne played in eight games and registered four tackles.

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Late-80s Penn State recruit claims sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky

Jerry Sandusky, Denny Nau AP

The sickening saga that is Jerry Sandusky has taken yet another sordid twist.

The Centre Daily Times is reporting that a lawyer, Daniel Kiss, for an unnamed individual is claiming that his client was sexually abused by the former Penn State defensive coordinator.  What makes this different from some of the other claims is that the alleged victim is being described as a former PSU recruit who claims the assault took place at a Nittany Lions football camp on the university’s campus.  Where the alleged assault took place — on-campus or off — wasn’t detailed

The incident also allegedly occurred in June of 1988, when Sandusky was in the midst of the 20th year of what would turn out to be a 31-year tenure as a trusted member of Joe Paterno‘s staff.

The alleged victim stayed silent for 23 years, not saying anything to authorities until 2011.  That was around the time the Sandusky child-sex abuse story exploded and, ultimately, led to Paterno’s firing.

The allegations were reported by the man to the state police, Kiss claimed, and were then forwarded to the state’s Attorney General’s office; “no action was taken” by that office, Kiss stated.

The reason no action was taken seems to be related to “concerns relating to the statute of limitations.” The ruling made by the AG’s office is now being appealed.

“(He) was destined for greatness. He was an excellent student, extremely gifted athlete and a model citizen,” a statement from the alleged victim’s family began. “[After the alleged sexual assault,] his life slowly began to spiral out of control, into a life of drugs, alcohol and serious crime, and none of us, including his parents, family or friends, could figure out what had happened. … He secretly lived with this guilt and shame for approximately 27 years before finally telling his story.”

Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse in June 2012 and sentenced to 30-60 years in prison four months later. The mandatory minimum of 30 years means that the 71-year-old Sandusky will likely die behind bars.

The Penn State football program was also slapped with historic NCAA sanctions, most of which were eventually rolled back.

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Davon Durant’s future as a Sun Devil in hands of ASU board

Davon Durant

Late this past week, a highly-touted member of Arizona State’s 2015 recruiting class took care of business when it comes to the legal system.  Now, his fate at the university is in the hands of a different set of “judges.”

According to the Arizona Republic, Davon Durant attended a hearing Friday in front of ASU’s University Hearing Board that will determine whether the JUCO transfer can remain at the institution as both a student and an athlete.  The hearing was in response to a March domestic violence incident in which Durant was initially charged with one count of felony aggravated assault and three counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

It was alleged at the time that the female victim was hit by Durant “in the face once and grabbed her around the neck,” leading to “visible injuries, including a bruise below her left eye and bruising around her neck that was consistent with finger marks.”

The Republic explained the university’s process moving forward.

The hearing did not produce an immediate decision. The University Hearing Board has up to three days to issue a recommendation to an ASU dean of students. A final determination on Durant’s fate could take up to 20 days.

The paper also explained that Durant has already been expelled from the university, and that the hearing was part of the linebacker’s appeal to be permitted to re-enroll.

Durant pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct at his court appearance Thursday, with sentencing scheduled for the middle of next month. Previously, the alleged victim had both recanted her claims and asked that a moratorium on contact between the two be dropped.

Transferring in from the JUCO ranks, Durant had been expected to be a significant contributor to the Sun Devils’ defense in 2015.

Coming out of Butler County Community College, Durant was a four-star member of ASU’s 2015 recruiting class.  Durant, a South Carolina native, had actually been a verbal commitment to South Carolina during part of his time at the Kansas JUCO, but flipped his commitment to ASU in October.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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KeiVarae Russell takes to social media to announce Irish return

KeiVarae Russell, Jeremy Gallon

Suspended for the entire 2014 season because of the findings rendered in an academic fraud investigation, KeiVarae Russell took to social media last October to vent his frustration over a school, Notre Dame, that he wrote “is becoming ridiculous.” Less than two weeks later, though, signs were pointing toward a return in 2015.

Seven months later? It appears he’s back.

While there’s been nothing official coming from Notre Dame — that’s expected to come at some point next month according to a school official — Russell took to the same social media website to announce a return to the Irish.

KeiVarae Russell

As explained by our buddy Keith Arnold over at Inside the Irish, Russell’s acceptance to re-enroll at the South Bend school has been imminent for a while. Still, Russell’s unofficially official confirmation portends good things for the Irish secondary as he’s a supremely talented football player.

Russell had started all 26 games during his two years in South Bend prior to his 2014 suspension. A freshman All-American in 2012, Russell finished fifth in tackles in 2013, tops among all defensive backs. His work in pass coverage is superb, as evidenced by the fact that he led all Irish players in passes broken up (eight) and passes defensed (nine) his true sophomore season.

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$20 armed robbery nets Rutgers’ Darian Dailey a dismissal, too

Kevin Snyder, L.J. Liston

To reiterate what was stated in the last post on this subject, I hope it was worth it.

In a statement released Thursday night, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood announced that Darian Dailey (pictured, No. 33has been dismissed from his Scarlet Knights football program. The dismissal comes a handful of days after Dailey, along with another business associate, was arrested and charged in connection to a Florida armed robbery that netted the entrepreneurs a whopping total of $20.

Padding their financial portfolios with a single Andrew Jackson wasn’t enough, though; they earned a felony charge by using what turned out to be a pellet gun.

“Every one of these situations is unique,” Flood said in his (under)statement. “We’ve made the decision and now as a football program we’re moving on from that decision.”

A two-star member of the Scarlet Knights’ 2014 recruiting class, Dailey took a redshirt as a true freshman. He had been expected to compete for significant playing time this upcoming season — prior to his hostile takeover of a well-heeled bicyclist, that is.

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USF officially adds ex-Badger S Austin Hudson to its roster

Two months after leaving Wisconsin, and three weeks after it was reported he was headed back to his home state, Austin Hudson officially has a new college football home.

In a press release sent out Friday afternoon, USF announced that Hudson has transferred into Willie Taggart‘s Bulls football program.  Because of NCAA transfer rules, Hudson will be forced to sit out the 2015 season.

Beginning in 2016, he will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Hudson was a two-star member of the Badgers’ 2014 recruiting class. He held offers from Georgia and Missouri prior to signing with UW.

As a true freshman last season, Hudson played in all 14 games.

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Terps’ pass-catching corps springs another Leak

Maryland v Syracuse

Last month it was reported that running back Jacquille Veii, a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, had decided to leave the Terrapins.  A month later, the Terps’ passing game has taken another hit.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun is reporting that Marcus Leak has withdrawn from school due to personal reasons.  In May of 2013, Leak left under similar circumstances, although he ultimately returned.

It’s unclear if a return is in the cards this time around as well.

Last season, Leak was third on the team in receptions (20) and receiving yards (297), while he was second in receiving touchdowns (three).  With Leak’s departure, the Terps won’t return their top four in receiving yards from the 2014 season: Stefon Diggs (792, early entry into NFL draft), Deon Long (575, expired eligibility) and Veii (230).

Those four departures mean that the leading returning receiver in terms of yards is Amba Etta-Tawo (222). The leading returning receiver in receptions is running back Wes Brown (21). The good news for the Terps is that Levern Jacobs, the team’s leading receiver in 2013, is returning from an injury that cost him most of the 2014 season.

Leak’s departure comes one day after Maryland announced the addition of quarterback Daxx Garman as a graduate transfer.

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Field-rushing could cost SEC schools $250,000

Alabama v Mississippi Getty Images

Earlier this week, outgoing SEC commissioner Mike Slive confirmed that his conference was looking to stiffen penalties for schools whose fans rush the field/storm the courts following wins.

With the league’s annual spring meetings coming to a close, those stiffer penalties have officially been enacted — and they are more than a slap on the wrist.

The previous penalties were on a sliding scale, with $5,000 fines for a first offense, $25,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for each violation thereafter within a three-year period.  After that three-year period, the slate was wiped clean.

Moving forward, the fine is $50,000 for a first offense, $100,000 for a second and a whopping $250,000 for a third offense.  The biggest news, however, may be that there is no three-year period to be wiped clean; rather, the $250,000 penalty will be in force for, well, forever.

For example: If a third offense is committed in, say, November of this year, and then a fourth in 2019, the $250,000 fine is applicable.

That said, given the new revenue numbers that came in today, and the projections for future years, I’m thinking the SEC schools will be able to bite the financial bullet if its fan deem it necessary to rush the field/storm the courts three or more times.  Or, as Ole Miss fans did last year after their post-Alabama win field rush, they’ll just donate the money to pay for the fines themselves.

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Big 12 sets record for big revenue, too

Raining Money

The SEC isn’t the only conference announcing record financials at the end of the work week.

Friday afternoon, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced that eight of his conference’s schools will received full shares of $27 million each.  New-ish members TCU and West Virginia will receive $24 and $23 million apiece, respectively; next year, each of those schools will receive full shares.

In 2014, Bowlsby announced what was a then-record payout of $23 million per school.

Bowlsby also noted that “several Big 12 schools [are] close to or over SEC numbers given third-tier rights.” Texas and Oklahoma, of course, would be the big winners in that revenue stream, while WVU made up somewhat for its lack of a full share.

As a reminder, SEC schools are expected to receive a shade over $31 million each for the 2014-15 fiscal year.  Those numbers don’t include multimedia rights deals — no third-tier rights in that conference because of the SEC Network — worked out by the individual schools, like the lucrative new deal signed by Alabama in April of 2014.

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SEC to ban adding transfers disciplined for ‘serious misconduct’

Jonathan Taylor Mugshot

Most casual college football fans wouldn’t consider the SEC holding the high moral ground on many if any issues.  When it comes to a certain type of transfer, however, they now most certainly do.

Georgia had proposed a rule change that would bar SEC schools from accepting transfers who had been disciplined for what was labeled as “serious misconduct” at that student-athlete’s previous institution.  Some observers believed that the initiative had little chance of passing; they were wrong.

Friday afternoon, the conference announced that the “UGA rule” had passed muster with its member institutions and will be implemented for the 2015-16 sports season.  It’s believed that the SEC is the first conference to enact such a policy.

As for the specifics of what’s being described as a groundbreaking rule, let’s go to the tweets from those in Destin for the league’s annual spring meetings:

While the rule is being hailed as the “UGA rule,” it might as well be called the “UGA rule, brought to you by Jonathan Taylor.”

In July of 2014, Taylor was dismissed by Georgia following a domestic violence arrest.  In a controversial move, Taylor signed with Alabama in January of this year.  Two months later, Taylor was arrested again on a domestic violence charge, leading to his second dismissal from an SEC school in less than a year.

Now that the SEC has set the standard when it comes to transfers such as Taylor, look for most, if not all of other Power Five conferences to follow suit in relatively short order.

One final bit of business (I’ll have a separate post on the new field-rushing-court-storming penalties in short order): Mike Slive announced that Greg Sankey will take over as commissioner of the SEC June 1.  Slive’s contract runs through July 31, and he had been expected to fulfill that obligation before stepping down.

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HS coach: backup QB John Franklin transferring from FSU

John Franklin

The first post-Everett Golson casualty is unofficially in the books.

Exactly 10 days after the former Notre Dame quarterback became a current Florida State quarterback, John Franklin‘s high school coach revealed to the Orlando Sentinel that his former player has decided to move on from the Seminoles. It’s relatively big news as Franklin had exited the spring as the unofficial No. 2 on the depth chart behind Sean Maguire, although most observers thought Franklin would be able to continue pushing for the job once summer camp kicked off.

In confirming the decision to move on, South Plantation (Fla.) coach Doug Gatewood stated that Franklin “is just looking for an opportunity” at another school.  Gatewood added that he’d be open to that opportunity being at another position, although why he couldn’t play another position at FSU if he’s open to it is unknown.

Franklin was a three-star member of FSU’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 25 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  Tennessee was the only other Power Five program to offer Franklin a scholarship.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Franklin appeared in two games.  According to his official FSU bio, he also practiced at wide receiver in 2014.

(Photo credit: Florida State athletics)

UPDATED 2:39 p.m. ET: On Instagram, Franklin confirmed that he is indeed transferring from FSU.  In addition to his confirmation, he wrote out a lengthy statement, which appears below.

I want to first and foremost thank Coach Jimbo Fisher for being the first coach to take a chance on me at playing Quarterback out of high school. He saw something in me that many other schools looked over and for that I will forever be greatful. I want to thank all the coaches for taking me under their wing and treating me as one of their own. Want to thank the one and only Nole Nation for supporting me while I was here at FSU. No matter where I end up I will always be a Nole at heart. Lastly, want to thank my teammates for being a family away from home. I’ve built relationships with yall boys that no one will ever be able to understand nor break up. I’m going to miss grinding on the field and all the love we shared together. Some people may not understand why I decided to leave, but this is my life and I’m doing what is best for me to continue reaching my dreams and making them reality. I appreciate all the love and support as I go through this transition and I’m looking forward to see what God has in store for me in the near future. Thank you.

Franklin also added a rather amusing postscript.

PS: Any schools that are interested in me or want to talk feel free to message me on any social media. I’m open to all schools right now.

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Urban, on Braxton: ‘He’s playing for Ohio State’ this fall

Braxton Miller, Urban Meyer AP

Maybe now any last speculation ember when it comes to a Braxton Miller transfer will be extinguished?  Probably not, but Urban Meyer‘s giving it that ol’ college try.  Again.

The rehabbing Ohio State quarterback had indicated at a rally earlier this year to celebrate the squad’s national championship that he will return to the Buckeyes for his senior season.  Meyer has seemed fairly confident all along that he’ll have a three-man quarterback competition this summer that will include Miller; he reiterated as much as recently as late April.

Even Miller’s athletic director addressed the situation publicly, becoming the latest member of the university to express confidence in the senior staying with the Buckeyes.

Still, that hasn’t stopped the speculation from swirling.  Most recently, Miller was connected to Alabama, which was only fueled by the perception that Nick Saban was tap-dancing around the possibility.

Friday, Meyer was again asked about Miller’s future status with his football team.  And, once again, Meyer reiterated what’s been his public stance for nearly a half-year.

Meyer added that Miller, in the latter stages of his recovery from shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2014 season and, in essence, triggered the signal-calling speculation in Columbus, is now up to throwing the ball 35 yards and is expected to be at or near 100-percent healthy for the start of summer camp.  Additionally, there has been no talk of a position switch for Miller.

So, barring something completely unforeseen, Miller will enter August in a three-way competition with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.  Just the way the football gods intended it.

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SEC set to dole out record revenue to its membership… again

Money AP

Last year around this time, the SEC was announcing record revenues to be divvied up amongst its member schools.  12 months later, it’s lather, rinse and repeat… even more.

According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, the SEC will distribute $435 million earned in 2014-15 to the 14 schools in the conference.  That averages out to roughly $31.07 million per member; in 2009, $13.8 million was distributed to each school.

That total far surpasses last year’s “paltry” record of $20.9 million per member.  For comparison’s sake, the Big 12 last year doled out $23.9 million each to eight of its 10 members — “new” members TCU and West Virginia received partial shares of $14 million each — while each Big Ten member received in the neighborhood of $24 million.

The Big Ten could slice into the SEC’s financial lead this year, though, as projections pegged B1G institutions at $30.9 million each in revenue for the 2014-15 cycle.  The Pac-12, meanwhile, is projected to hand out close to $23 million per — in 2018, meaning the Left Coast conference is lagging far behind the two Power Five Superpowers.

As for from where the SEC’s revenue comes, McMurphy writes “[t]he total amount of the distribution is composed of revenue generated from the SEC Network, televised football, bowl games, the SEC football championship, televised basketball, the SEC men’s basketball tournament, NCAA championships and a supplemental surplus distribution.”

The SEC Network printed more money in Year 1 than initially projected, which, combined with the wildly-successful College Football Playoff and its substantial windfall, means that the conference should, or more likely will, continue to set annual record revenues standards for the foreseeable future.

UPDATED 2:43 p.m. ET: The official numbers are out, and each SEC school will actually receive a whopping $31.2 million in revenue.

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Ex-Virginia QB Greyson Lambert to visit Florida, Georgia

BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 28: Quarterback Greyson Lambert #11 of the Virginia Cavaliers looks to throw in the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on November 28, 2014 in Blacksburg, Virginia. Virginia Tech defeated Virginia 24-20. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Having fallen short in their respective pursuits of Everett Golson, it appears Georgia and Florida have their collective sights set on another transfer quarterback.

Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald is reporting that UGA has received permission to talk to transfer target Greyson Lambert.  247Sports.com, meanwhile, reports that Lambert will visit Athens this weekend, and will then follow up that with a visit to Florida Monday.

Nearly two weeks ago, it was announced that Lambert had received a release from his Virginia scholarship.

Entering spring practice, Georgia’s quarterback competition to replace Hutson Mason was a three-player race: Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park.  Ramsey and Bauta exited the spring 1-2 — or 1a-1b, to be technically correct — on UGA’s unofficial depth chart.

Florida’s quarterback situation is equally unsettled, with neither Treon Harris nor Will Grier able to grab the job by the throat this spring, although Grier will enter the summer as the slight favorite.

Lambert could immediately enter either the Bulldogs’ or Gators’ signal-calling fray as he will receive his degree from UVa. late next month and will be eligible immediately at any FBS school.  Colorado State, Fresno State and Purdue have also shown an interest in Lambert, who will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Last season, Lambert started nine of the Cavaliers’ 12 games.  He threw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (10) while completing just under 60 percent of his 261 passes.  That performance, as well as their collective performances in the spring, allowed Matt Johns to wrest control of the starting job exiting those 15 sessions and contributed to Lambert pulling the trigger on a transfer.

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Gopher De’Niro Laster transferring to be closer to Ohio home

Minnesota v Wisconsin

After a couple of years in the Twin Cities, De’Niro Laster has a personal need to get back closer to his Ohio roots.

In a text message to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Laster confirmed that he has decided to transfer out of the Minnesota football program. The Cleveland native told the Star-Tribune in the text that his family is going through an unspecified situation and he wants to be closer to them.

“I’m transferring home to be closer to my family, as we are going through a difficult family situation right now,” Laster wrote in the missive to the paper. “I will miss all of my teammates and the fans dearly! I don’t have a school picked right now, but I will have one in the upcoming week.

“I love Coach [Jerry] Kill, and I am thankful and honored for what we did there as a program. I wish the best to all my teammates and coaches!”

Regardless of the family situation, Laster will have to sit out the 2015 season if he ends up at another FBS program. The linebacker would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016; he could play immediately at an FCS school and have three years left.

Laster, a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2013 recruiting class, was rated as the No. 35 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 34 player at any position in the state of Ohio. He took a redshirt as a true freshman, then played in nine games in 2014.

Coming out of high school, he held offers from, among others, Akron, Bowling Green and Toledo. According to Rivals.com‘s profile of the player, Ohio State showed some level of interest, although that interest never morphed into an actual scholarship offer. In fact, Minnesota and Illinois were the only Big Ten teams to officially offer Laster.

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