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The Fifth Quarter: Week 1 Rewind

Georgia v Clemson Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

And, yes I’m well aware of the fact that there are still games left to be played. Sorry, fans of Louisville, Florida State, et al…

WINNERS

Tajh throws Braxton a stiff-arm
Braxton Miller may have entered the season as the favorite to win the 2013 Heisman Trophy, but Tajh Boyd showed he will likely be a (big) part of the discussion all the way into December. In Clemson’s impressive 38-35 win over Georgia Saturday night, Boyd accounted for all five of the Tigers’ touchdown — three passing, two rushing. On a team level, it was one of the biggest wins of Dabo Swinney‘s tenure. On a personal level, it was Boyd shining on a national stage against a very, very, very good football team in the Bulldogs and a coming-out party for a player who, at least as far as this corner is concerned, doesn’t get the respect he deserves. After that virtuoso performance, there’s no longer an excuse for any lack of respect.

Moneybadger don’t give a %$#! either
All hail the new troll god!!! Love him or hate him, Johnny Manziel makes college football a better — and immensely more interesting — game when he’s part of it. While he wasn’t a part of it in the first-half thanks to a suspension, he returned in the second half of Texas A&M’s win over Rice, and not once but twice trolled the NCAA overlords over his recent off-field “issues.” In the first instance, Manziel seemed to indicate a Rice defender would not be getting the reigning Heisman winner’s Herbie Hancock anytime soon…

Manziel Signing GIF

 

… then seemed to make a money gesture to the sky following his first touchdown pass of the season…

Manziel Money GIF

 

Manziel, of course, was investigated by the NCAA after it was alleged that he was paid tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for his signature on photos, memorabilia, etc.

Don’t change, JFF. Don’t ever change. Well, mostly don’t change (see a little further below).

No Bret, no problem
There were some people — myself included — who felt that Wisconsin wouldn’t be the old Wisconsin we’ve become accustomed to in the first year of the post-Bret Bielema era in Madison. While that may or may not ultimately be the case, the Badgers put on one helluva ground show in the first game of the Gary Andersen era. UW had a trio of running backs — James White (11-143), Melvin Gordon (13-144), Corey Clement (16-101) — who each rushed for more than 100 yards, just the third time in school history that’s happened. Clement, incidentally, became the first true freshman at UW since P.J. Hill in 2006 to top 100 yards in his first game as a Badger. Yes, the opposition was “just” UMass, but Andersen and his Badgers showed that anyone who sleeps on UW does so at their own peril.

Butch JonesThank you, Lord
How thankful is the Tennessee fan base that Derek Dooley is no longer their head football coach? So thankful that they are offering up hallelujahs to the Big College Football Fan Upstairs for it. Literally. “Pregame prayer in Neyland [Stadium] thanked God for a new coach,” a tweet from govols247.com‘s Wes Rucker read. Butch Jones then proceeded to reward that faith as the Vols pounded overmatched Austin Peay 45-0. Yes, it was just a win over an FCS school, but it was also the Vols’ largest margin of victory since a 50-0 win over Tennessee-Martin in 2010 — the first game under Dooley, so maybe that’s not as good of omen upon further review. Still, it was a much-needed win for the fans on Rocky Top, one they will gladly take after three years of misery.

Right in his Scheelhaase
Normally when Illinois is mentioned in the Fifth Quarter, it’s part of the section right below this one. Not today, though. All Illini starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase did was throw for a career-high 416 yards — 340 in the first half — and two touchdowns in the 42-34 win over Southern Illinois. The win was satisfying for Scheelhaase personally as the quarterback has fought back from an injury-plagued 2012 season. It was also a critical one for the program. Even as the win was over an FCS opponent, it was a critical one as second-year head coach Tim Beckman has come under fire for a two-win 2012 season, with some saying this is a make-or-break season for the coach.

All hail your FCS conquerors

Scheduled as a guaranteed “W” in exchange for high six-figure or even low seven-figure payouts, most FBS teams feast on a steady early-season diet of FCS foes. Not in Week One, not this year. All told, a whopping eight FBS teams went down in flames over the past three days: No. 25 Oregon State (Eastern Washington), Kansas State (North Dakota State), San Diego State (Eastern Illinois; UConn (Towson), USF (McNeese State), Iowa State (Northern Iowa), South Alabama (Southern Utah) and Georgia State (Samford). We’ll let the latter two slide somewhat as they have just climbed from the FCS level to FBS status recently. The others? There’s no excuse for USF to lose by 32 points or San Diego State by 21. There’s no reason a ranked team like Oregon State should lose to a lower-level team, regardless of how good they are at that level. K-State? C’mon, I understand that NDSU is an FBS slayer, but there should still be no excuses in Little Manhattan. That said, and as was shown this weekend, there are some quality programs at that level. Schedule some of the upper-echelon teams at your own peril. And potential embarrassment.

Villanova, the Harlem Globetrotters of the FCS level
Villanova may not have been one of the FCS teams to pull off an upset, but they did have one of the plays of the year thus far. Facing a fourth down in their game against Boston College, ‘Nova lined up in punt formation… and proceeded to perform the ol’ double-snap fake-punt trick to score a touchdown. And, yes, it was as real and as spectacular as it sounds:

Villanova

 

49ers strike winning gold quickly
Since we’re on an FCS roll, let’s turn our attention to the Eastern part of the United States. In 2008, UNC-Charlotte announced that it would, for the first time ever, field a football team. Five years later, the 49ers made their debut… and it was smashing, with the 49ers putting a 52-7 woodshedding on visiting Campbell. The 49ers nearly doubled the opposition’s offensive production — 488 to 287 — and rolled to a 35-7 halftime lead. While an FCS team at the moment, the 49ers will move to the FBS level in 2015 as a member of Conference USA. While there may be many bumps in the road ahead, congratulations to head coach Brad Lambert and his coaching staff on such a scintillating start to the program.

LOSERS

Johnny Screwball?
As much as I really, really enjoy Johnny Manziel, the on-field preening and self-aggrandizing that costs his team needs to stop. And that comes from his head coach as well. In addition to his creative ways of taunting the NCAA noted above, Manziel was also flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct following his third touchdown pass of the second half, costing the Aggies 15 yards. He was removed from the game and didn’t return. “That was just a foolish penalty at the end. … I hoped that at this point he’d have learned something,” Kevin Sumlin said afterwards. “That wasn’t very smart. That’s why he wasn’t going back in the game, no matter what happened.” A&M declined to make Manziel available to the media following the win, likely a wise decision based on the fact that Manziel appeared to take out a whole offseason of frustration in his limited time on the field Saturday.

An offensive line, literallyAlabama head coach Saban questions a call from the referee in the second half of play against Virginia Tech at the Chick-fil-A  Kick-Off college NCAA football game in Atlanta
Having to replace three talented and veteran starters, it was a given that Alabama’s offensive line might take some time to gel as a unit. The fact that the Tide’s interior struggled as much as it did against a battered and beleaguered Virginia Tech squad, though, was surprising to say the least. In the first half, the Tide carried the ball 17 times — and gained just 30 yards. Toss in a pair of holding penalties and one sack of quarterback AJ McCarron, and it was a far from stellar effort from the line. For the game, the Tide rushed for just 96 yards on 38 carries, a paltry average of 2.5 yards per carry in the 35-10 win; last season, Alabama’s 5.6 ypc was tied for fourth in the country. It’s not a time to panic, but it is a little worrisome for Nick Saban and his offensive coaching staff with a road trip to College Station looming in a couple of weeks.

TC… you blew it
OK, maybe that’s a little strong, but why would Gary Patterson decide to punt the ball back to LSU, down 10, instead of trying to convert a fourth-and-2 with five minutes left? Yes, TCU was at its own 33-yard line, but when you’re down two scores you need to take the chance; miss it, game over. Punt it, game over. Go for it and make it, you still have life and plenty of time to extend the game and find some way to get the requisite two scores to either tie or win the game. As it played out, TCU simply couldn’t stop LSU post-punt as the Tigers put together three first downs in the final five minutes to seal a 37-27 win. A head-scratching end to what was a very good football game and a huge win for the Tigers, who very well could’ve just beaten the best the Big 12 has to offer.

Boy oh Boise
This very easily could’ve gone in the Winners section for Washington… but it won’t. Coming into the game ranked No. 19 in the country, Boise State proceeded to trip, stumble and bumble all over its junk in getting blown out by the Huskies 38-6. It was the Broncos’ largest margin of defeat since the first game of the 2005 season (48-13 to Georgia) and the fewest points scored since being shutout by another Pac-12 school (Washington State) in 1997. It was also just the third time since that Wazzu whitewash that the Broncos failed to reach double digits (2005, Fresno State; 2012, BYU). So, certainly, it was an epic beatdown for The Lil’ Program That Could, even as it came at the hands of a very focused and talented Huskies squad.

FCS foe hard on the Beaver
While we touched on this briefly up above, Oregon State deserves its own special calling out. In the Beavers’ embarrassing 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington, OSU became just the fourth ranked team ever to lose to an FCS team, joining Virginia Tech (James Madison, 2010), Michigan (2007) and Penn State (Cincinnati, 1983). Expected to possess a vastly improved defense, the Beavers surrendered an astounding 625 yards of total offense — 448 passing, 177 rushing. The Beavers can’t even blame turnovers as neither team coughed up the ball via either a fumble or an interception. No, this was simply an FBS team being outplayed at home by a squad from a lower level of football. And, whatever grief comes their way, it will be well-deserved.

Stoops, there it ain’t
Since being hired as Kentucky’s new head coach, Mark Stoops has made several big splashes along the recruiting trail. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, those splashes have yet to make an impact in the here and now. In Stoops’ head-coaching debut, the Wildcats traveled to in-state “rival” Western Kentucky and dropped a 35-26 decision to the Hilltoppers. And, in reality, the game wasn’t even that close as WKU held an 18-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Eventually, the hiring of Stoops will pay big dividends on the field; for now, people around the country will simply lament the same ol’ UK football woes.

Kirk Ferentz, Money Fleecer Extraordinaire
This season, Kirk Ferentz will make nearly $4 million as Iowa’s head coach. He has a contract that runs through the 2020 season and would cost the university tens of millions to buy him out of. The past three seasons, the Hawkeyes win total has gone from eight to seven to four in 2012, the lowest number for a Ferentz-coached team since his second season in 2000 (3-9). So, with the heat rising from the outside, what do the Hawkeyes do? Go out and lose the opener at home to Northern Illinois on a last-second field goal, of course. Don’t fret for Ferentz, however; he possesses the type of job security that 99 percent of coaches can only dream of. Whether he deserves that type of security, though, is another matter entirely.

First-year head coaches
Just barely, new head coaches at their respective schools fall into this category. During the offseason, there were 31 coaching changes; through the first three days, 29 have already made their debuts, with 15 of them coming out sans a “W”: Cal, FIU, Georgia State, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State, Purdue, USF, Southern Miss, Syracuse, Temple, Utah State and Western Michigan. Of course, that also means 14 came out with the coveted “W”: Arkansas, Arkansas State, Auburn, Boston College, Cincinnati, Kent State, North Carolina State, Northern Illinois, Oregon, San Jose State, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Western Kentucky and Wisconsin. Both Kentucky (WKU) and Louisiana Tech (NCSU) lost to teams in its first season under a new head coach. Colorado and UTEP can add to either side in the coming days, with the former opening the season against hated rival Colorado while the latter must wait until next weekend to open its season.

Oh, Pelini
With FAU trailing Miami 34-6 Friday and with just seconds left in the game, the Owls were facing a fourth-and-four at the Miami 25-yard line. At that point, FAU head coach Carl Pelini did, well, this:

 

[/facepalm]

Yes, Pelini called for his quarterback to spike the ball on fourth down. And, yes, Pelini was mortified upon realizing that he had called for a spike on fourth down. And, no, the gaffe had no impact on the game whatsoever, but it did add some embarrassment to a program that could use less of that, not more.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

— No. 18 Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34: Last year, the Cowboys were ranked 70th in the country in total offense (390.6 yards per game); Saturday, the Cornhuskers allowed the Cowboys to roll up 602 yards. The Huskers led this one by 16 early in the fourth quarter before the Cowboys scored a pair of touchdowns — off NU turnovers — in less than five minutes, the final coming with 1:32 left. A failed onside kick, however, kept Nebraska from suffering its first season-opening loss in 29 years.

— No. 22 Northwestern 44, Cal 30: The Wildcats didn’t grab the lead for good until the middle of the fourth quarter against a surprisingly spry Bears team playing its first game under head coach Sonny Dykes. The closeness of the contest should catch the eye of Ohio State, which travels to Berkeley two weeks from yesterday.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Monday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Alabama — The two-time defending BCS champions looked positively subpar on offense but, thanks to stellar defense and special teams, easily held off an injury-ravaged Virginia Tech. Especially along the offensive line, The Tide has some issues that need shoring up prior to the Sept. 14 road trip to College Station. (Preseason: No. 1)
Next up: bye weekend

2. Clemson — You beat a Top-Five opponent, you shoot up quite a few spots. Is this the year that Clemson (finally) stops Clemsoning itself? The win over Georgia was a solid sign it may indeed be. Or they stub their toes against The Citadel. One of the two. (Preseason: No. 8)
Next up: vs. South Carolina State

Buffalo v Ohio State3. Ohio State — A rather uninspiring 20-point win over Buffalo and Clemson’s showing drops the Buckeyes down a spot. (Preseason: No. 2)
Next up: vs. San Diego State

4. Stanford — The Cardinal sat out opening weekend and won’t open their 2013 season until next Saturday. (Preseason ranking: No. 3)
Next up: vs. San Jose State

5. Louisville — The Cardinals don’t open their season until later on today against Ohio at home. While Mark Ennis might punch me in the tentacles for doing so, I’m just going to go ahead and chalk this one up as an impressive “W” for Charlie Strong‘s charges. (Preseason: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Eastern Kentucky

HE SAID IT
“I was overcome with emotion. I think my son made me soft. I bawled my eyes out.” — Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, whose infant son was released from the hospital two days before the opener Thursday after spending the first three weeks of his life in a neonatal intensive care unit.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“That’s how he is. He’s a fiery guy and that’s what we love about him. He’s not quiet. He’s not shy. He’s going to be loud and aggressive, and that’s what makes him Johnny Football. We love it.” — A&M offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi, on the ongoing circus that is Johnny Manziel.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I don’t care how quick the offense scores. They could score on one play every time. As long as they’re scoring, I’m all for that.” — Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, on the Buckeyes’ up-tempo offense.

YOU DON’T SAY?
Courtesy of the Ohio State sports information department: With 77 rushing yards, Braxton Miller eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing mark in his career and now sits at 2,063. He is now 17 yards shy of Cornelius Greene’s Ohio State record of 2,080 yards rushing by a quarterback.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

— Clemson became the first non-SEC team ever to beat two Top-10 SEC teams in consecutive games, with the wins coming over No. 5 Georgia Saturday night and No. 8 LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last New Year’s Eve.

— Northwestern linebacker Collin Lewis returned two interceptions for touchdowns (52, 40 yards) in the road win over Cal. Both of the pick-sixes came off deflections.

— Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams accounted for 518 yards of total offense (411 passing, 107 rushing) and six touchdowns (four passing, two rushing) in the upset of Oregon State.

— McNeese State’s 53-21 win over USF was the largest margin of victory for an FCS program over an FBS program since Sam Houston State beat Louisiana-Monroe 44-12 back in 2001.

— In a wild 52-51 win over Rutgers Thursday night, Fresno State’s Derek Carr completed 52-of-73 passes for 456 yards and five touchdowns. His counterpart in that game, Gary Nova, threw for 348 yards and five touchdowns as well.

Virginia Tech v Alabama— Alabama’s Christion Jones became the first player at the FBS level since North Carolina’s Brandon Tate in 2006 to return both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown in the same game. According to the Alabama record books, which date back to 1944 the school stated, Jones is the first player in program history to accomplish that feat.

— Starting in place of ex-/future Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Tommy Rees passed for 346 yards and three touchdowns in the Irish’s 28-6 win over Temple.

— In Marshall’s 52-14 win over Miami (Ohio), quarterback Rakeem Cato tossed five touchdown passes to four different receivers.

— SID Stat of the Day: Wisconsin has now won 16 consecutive season openers. That is tied with USC for the third-longest active streak in the country behind only Nebraska (28) and Florida (24).

— (First half) Johnny Manziel-less Texas A&M had its streak of scoring first in 17 straight games snapped in the win against Rice.

— In its first game with Bret Bielema on the sidelines, Arkansas had two 100-yard rushers in the same game (Jonathan Williams 151, Alex Collins 131) for the first time since 2007, when Darren McFadden rushed for 321 yards and Felix Jones rushed for 163 vs. South Carolina.

— Baylor outgained Wofford 692-233 in the Bears’ 69-3 win. Running back Lache Seastrunk rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries.

— Maryland had 399 yards of total offense in the first half of their game with FIU. Last season, the Terps accounted for 400 yards or more of total offense in just two of their games.

Duke Johnson rushed for a career-high 189 yards — on just 19 carries — in Miami’s 28-point win over FAU. Miami rushed for 303 yards as a team; the Hurricanes high-water mark last season was 248.

— Speaking of Duke, the Blue Devils posted the football program’s first shutout in 24 years with its 45-0 win over North Carolina Central.

Blake Bortles passed for 314 yards and three touchdowns in UCF’s 38-7 win over Akron Thursday.

— The 73 points Indiana scored in Thursday’s win over Indiana State was the second-most in school history (76). The 45 first-half points were the most ever for the program.

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After leaving Iowa, John Kenny ‘reunites’ with RichRod in the desert

Henry Krieger Coble, John Kenny AP

In the run-up to National Signing Day in 2013, Rich Rodriguez and Arizona offered John Kenny a scholarship. The potential marriage didn’t work out at the time but, two years later, RichRod’s got his man.

While nothing is officially official, Kenny (pictured, No. 47) announced via Twitter Thursday night that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career with the Wildcats. A little over two weeks ago, Kenny had confirmed that he would be transferring out of the Iowa football program.

After sitting out the 2015 season, Kenny will have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

Kenny later added a post to his Instagram account, which contained the following farewell to his former football home:

Excited to continue chasing my dreams at another great program! Thank you Iowa for blessing me with great friends and countless memories that will last a lifetime. A new journey starts shortly in Tucson.

Kenny was signed as a linebacker by the Hawkeyes, but moved to fullback last season. He will move back to linebacker with the Wildcats.

A three-star member of Iowa’s 2013 recruiting class, Kenny was rated as the No. 34 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Indiana.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, he played in 11 games last season, starting two of those contests. While he had no rushing attempts, he did catch four passes for 27 yards.

Exiting spring practice, he wasn’t listed on the Hawkeyes’ two-deep depth chart at any position.

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About face: Baylor AD plans to beef up non-conference schedules after all

Baylor West Virginia Football

SMU, Lamar, Rice, Northwestern State, Liberty, UTSA, Duke, Abilene Christian, Incarnate Word, and Lousiana Tech. That’s the full list. The names of schools you just read comprise the entirety of Baylor’s non-conference schedule through 2020. The entire thing. This isn’t the filler in between home-and-homes with Penn State or neutral site games with North Carolina and Oregon – that’s it.

No matter how many times athletics director Ian McCaw and head coach Art Briles denied it, that schedule – this year’s slate included SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo – and the stigma surrounding it were the reason Baylor played in last season’s Cotton Bowl and not the Sugar Bowl. Trade the road game at Buffalo for a trip to Boston College and the Bears are probably the last team in the inaugural College Football Playoff, not eventual champion Ohio State.

On Thursday, McCaw finally acknowledged that fact. Sort of.

When we’re in the midst of a 14-year bowl drought, our scheduling philosphy is: ‘Let’s try to find six wins,’ because we needed to end that drought. We were scheduling with an eye on let’s try to find a way to get to six,’ McCaw told David Ubben of FoxSportsSouthwest.com. “Obviously, as we’ve won back to back Big 12 championships and our program’s in the national stage and we’re recruiting at an extremely high level and have McLane Stadium in place, we’re able to take on a higher level of competition and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

McCaw said to having “two or three discussions” with fellow Power Five foes about scheduling games between 2016 and 2020, but made no promises the Bears would line up a major-conference foe on a yearly basis. “It’ll vary a little bit from year to year because we have a number of years still fully committed and a number of years still looking to schedule games, but we’re certainly open to playing a Power 5 game in addition to the nine we’re playing,” he said. “Probably not every year, but a good number of years.”

Outside the home-and-home with Duke, Baylor’s lone Power Five foe lined up for upcoming schedules is Utah, with whom the Bears will meet in 2023 and ’24.

 

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Kickoff set for inaugural American championship game

On Wednesday, the American set kick times for its opening-weekend games and a number of contests afterward. And on Thursday the league set the time and date for its inaugural championship game.

The first American championship will be held Saturday, Dec. 5 at noon ET on either ABC or ESPN. Last year, ESPN showed Houston at Cincinnati at noon ET on Championship Saturday, so this isn’t much of a change from years past.

Of note above: the title game will be hosted by the team with the best conference record and not the highest-ranked division championship, which sometimes isn’t necessarily the same thing.

As a refresher, the American divisions are divvied up as follows:

EAST
Connecticut
Temple
Cincinnati
East Carolina
Central Florida
South Florida

WEST
Memphis
Tulane
Houston
SMU
Tulsa
Navy

Yes, Navy is in the West Division. Best get used to it now, people.

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Gary Pinkel inducted into MAC Hall of Fame

Gary Pinkel

Gary Pinkel is about to enter his 15th season as Missouri’s head coach. That’s a long time in any job, and especially long as a head football coach at a Power Five institution. Long enough for Pinkel to pass a pair of College Football Hall of Fame coaches in Don Faurot and Dan Devine as Mizzou’s all-time winningest coach. It’s three coaching lifetimes, really.

But there was a Gary Pinkel before he arrived in Columbia. And, kids, he was pretty darn successful.

From 1991-2000, Pinkel guided Toledo to a 73-37-3 mark. He guided the Rockets to an 11-0-1 mark in 1994, claiming a MAC championship and a top 25 final ranking. Pinkel’s teams also won the MAC West Division in 1997 and 1998, losing to those great Marshall teams in the title game each time, and won a share of the division crown in 2000 before leaving for Mizzou before the 2001 season.

Pinkel won enough to become Toledo’s all-time winningest coach, joining him with Steve Spurrier as the only active coaches to hold the all-time wins mark at two separate schools.

And on Wednesday, Pinkel was inducted into the conference’s hall of fame.

“When I got the call that this happened I had tears in my eyes, that I could be honored like this,” Pinkel told Cleveland.com. “I am very, very appreciative of this award. This (getting to the dinner) was really important to me.”

In addition to his coaching exploits, Pinkel was also honored for his accomplishments as a player. Playing with teammate Nick Saban and for College Football Hall of Fame head coach Don James at Kent State, he earned All-MAC and honorable mention All-America honors as a tight end.

Wednesday night’s honor gave Pinkel the distinction of residing in the Kent State, Toledo and MAC halls of fame.

In perhaps the most interesting anecdote of the story, Pinkel nearly missed the ceremony after his Cleveland-bound plane could not make it out of Destin, Fla., but Kentucky head coaches Mark Stoops and John Calipari, also making their way north from the SEC’s spring meetings, let him bum a ride, even pleading with their pilot to drop Pinkel off in Cleveland before heading to Lexington. “It’s a miracle,” he said. “I really wanted to be here.”

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Arizona State linebacker Davon Durant pleads guilty to assault

Davon Durant

In March, Arizona State juco signee Davon Durant was arrested and suspended for a domestic violence incident. Durant’s accuser officially recanted her claim a day later… and the story didn’t go anywhere in the two months that followed. Until Thursday.

Facing charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct for his Tempe arrest, Durant pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, an offense that carries up to six months in jail, supervised probation, up to $2,500 in fines, possible restitution and participation in a domestic violence treatment program.

The Arizona Republic reported that sentencing is set for June 15.

Durant’s attorney Benjamin Taylor called Thursday’s results a win for his side, saying he was “happy to get a positive result in the case.”

David Dow, attorney for Durant’s one-time accuser, argued the judge to drop a moratorium on contact between his client and Durant, saying the two sides would prefer to remain in contact. Dow also said his client would not seek restitution.

Durant was accused of striking the woman once in the face and grabbing her around the neck. Though his accuser dropped her story, a spokesman for the Tempe police department told ESPN multiple witnesses were on the scene.

A five-star prospect out of Butler (Kan.) Community College, Durant has not rejoined the Sun Devils’ roster since his March arrest.

(Photo credit: Tempe police department, Arizona Republic)

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Erstwhile Gator TE appears ticketed for USC

Daniel Imatorbhebhe

It appears that Florida’s loss could soon become USC’s gain.

Earlier this week it was reported that Daniel Imatorbhebhe, a member of Florida’s 2015 recruiting class, had decided to leave the Gators for an unknown destination. Imatorbhebhe’s brother also happens to be a talented football recruit who also just happened to be interested in UF before committing to USC a week prior to his sibling’s decision.

Framed that way, it appears the brothers are angling for a gridiron reunion. And, according to TrojanSports.com, that’s indeed the case as the website reports, citing a source close to the freshman tight end, that Imatorbhebhe is planning to transfer to the Trojans. While there is nothing official from either school, there are reports that Imatorbhebhe has already cleaned out his UF locker.

If Imatorbhebhe does move on from the Gators to the Trojans, he would be compelled to sit out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. Then, beginning in 2016, he would have four seasons of eligibility remaining.

That, though, won’t help with the Trojans’ well-chronicled issues at the tight end position this season.

Imatorbhebhe was a three-star member of UF’s most recent recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 tight end in the country and the No. 26 player at any position at any position in the state of Georgia. He was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice a couple of months ago.

His brother, four-star wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, committed to the Trojans May 18. The younger Imatorbhebhe is rated as the No. 26 receiver in the country.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Fans’ postgame field rush could prove costly for Big 12 teams

TCU v Baylor Getty Images

The SEC confirmed earlier this week that it would be stiffening its penalties against schools whose fans rush the field/storm the court following wins.  Wednesday, another Power Five conference confirmed it will be carrying a bigger stick when it comes to such potentially dangerous activities as well.

According to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, one recommendation offered up at the conference’s spring meetings this week that will likely pass is instituting rather significant and stiff penalties for the schools of those field-rushers/court-stormers.  The Dallas Morning NewsChuck Carlton writes that “Bowlsby said the penalties could range from reprimands to fines to the loss of a home game.”

While the potential of sanctions would help fans be protected from themselves, it’s done mostly with the protection of players and coaches and other game personnel in mind.

“We are certainly most interested in the safety of our participants and would include home team, visiting team, officials, table crew and the like,” commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “And we have pretty good video evidence of all our big events so we can review them.

The impetus for this push seems to be an incident on a basketball court a couple of months ago. From the Sporting News:

This is undoubtedly the league’s response to Bill Self’s rant in February after Kansas State fans rushed the court and were caught on video intentionally bumping into Kansas players. Forward Jamari Traylor was body-checked by a fan and Self was pushed into the scorer’s table as fans flooded onto the court.

“I wasn’t nervous for me,” Self said after the game. “There were several students that hit our players…This (lack of security) has got to stop.”

The home teams, not the conference, are responsible for in-game security, which is why the onus will be on the member institutions to clean up postgame fan behavior. Or pay the price.

Bowlsby added that while he will consult with others in the conferences, the ultimate decision on how much a price there will be to pay will ultimately be up to him alone.

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Everett Golson talks ‘fresh start’ in move to FSU

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 08:  Quarterback Everett Golson #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish reacts as he walks off the field following the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on November 8, 2014 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Fighting Irish 55-31. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

When it came to the Everett Golson situation, we already knew the who, what, where and when: the quarterback transferred to Florida State earlier this month. What has been unknown is why Golson left Notre Dame to play his final season elsewhere.

Most assumed it had something to do with being behind Malik Zaire in the Irish’s quarterback competition, or clashes with head coach Brian Kelly. Golson would likely never cop to either of those explanations if they were even accurate, and he didn’t in an interview with FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman in which the grad transfer talked of wanting “a fresh start” as his reasoning for leaving South Bend for Tallahassee.

“It’s something that’s pretty crazy right now for me to adjust to (not being a member of the Fighting Irish), but I do think it was best for me,” Golson explained. “I just needed a fresh start. It was me sitting down and thinking, ‘OK, where do I feel the most comfortable?’ It was nothing to knock Notre Dame. I just had to put myself in the best position possible.”

Golson also confirmed that ND blocked any potential transfer to not only 2015 opponent Texas, but also any school on this season’s schedule. While admitting he would’ve been interested in the Longhorns — if you’re a quality quarterback looking for a new home, why wouldn’t you be? — he also allowed that the decision to keep him away from UT wasn’t at all surprising.

“I would’ve definitely entertained [a transfer to UT], but just knowing that I couldn’t, it kinda limited me,” Golson said. “It was pretty awkward, but it was kind of expected. It would’ve been interesting to see Texas. They (Notre Dame) basically limited me to the schools that we wouldn’t play. I wasn’t really surprised by it. …

“The biggest thing for me was I wanted to be somewhere down south, too. They didn’t necessarily block me from something I was strongly considering, except maybe Texas.”

That said, Feldman wrote, Golson “appreciates how ND compliance tried to help him through what was a very nerve-wracking process.”

Finally, Golson confirmed that, as had previously been speculated, he had an interest in multiple SEC schools, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and LSU. He also confirmed that getting a waiver from one of those schools, which would’ve been required by the SEC because of his previous academic misconduct issue, was proving problematic and took that conference and those schools out of the process.

Earlier this week, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher talked of having a quarterback competition between Golson and spring front-runner Sean Maguire, not controversy.  Fisher also stated very firmly that nothing was promised to Golson when it came to guaranteeing a starting job.  On that front, the player backed up his new coach’s public stance.

“That wasn’t a worry for me at all,” Golson said of going from a competition in South Bend to one in Tallahassee. “I think that’s what a lot of people misconstrued. I’m not afraid of competition at all. There’s gonna be competition when I go to Florida State as well. It was about where I can most benefit myself.”

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Ex-OSU Cowboy, UA Wildcat QB Daxx Garman to give Terps a try

West Virginia v Oklahoma State Getty Images

Daxx Garman has already been a quarterback in the Pac-12 and Big 12, so now he figures he’ll hit up one more Power Five conference for his final collegiate act.

Thursday afternoon, Maryland announced that the well-traveled quarterback will join the Terrapins football team for his last season of football.  As the strong-armed Garman will be a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2015 and, right away, be thrust knee-deep in his new team’s quarterback competition.

“We are excited that Daxx will be joining our program,” head coach Randy Edsall said in a statement. “He is an experienced quarterback who has proven himself as an accomplished starter in the Big 12, helping to lead his team to a postseason bowl game. Daxx is an outstanding student who has displayed tremendous poise and maturity during his college career. He comes in knowing he is competing for the starting quarterback position and is looking forward to the competition and being part of our football family”

After weeks worth of speculation, Mike Gundy confirmed in early March that Garman would be transferring… again.  He came to OSU after transferring in from Arizona; in high school, he transferred on two separate occasions as well.

Garman will enter the signal-calling mix in College Park this summer, with his main competition likely being Caleb Rowe.  Coming off a torn ACL, Rowe exited spring practice as the favorite to win the starting job even as he didn’t participate in any of the 15 sessions.  The new contender, though, has plenty of experience to be a significant threat to Rowe’s standing.

Garman replaced J.W. Walsh, who sustained a season-ending leg injury in Week 2, and started the next eight games at quarterback last season before going down with a concussion in a Nov. 15 loss to Texas. Freshman Mason Rudolph replaced Walsh against Baylor and, in three starts, led the Cowboys to at least 28 points in going 2-1, including a 30-21 win over Washington in the Cactus Bowl that saw him pass for 299 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Because of that three-game stretch — and because a Garman-led offense failed to score more than 27 points in five of eight starts — Rudolph was widely viewed as the overwhelming favorite to win the starting job heading into spring practice.  In fact, Gundy stated around the time of Garman’s transfer that Rudolph would enter the spring as the unquestioned starter, with Walsh as his backup, meaning it’s essentially the 6-4, 217-pound true sophomore’s job to lose.

Coming out of high school in Southlake, Tex., as a three-star prospect, Garman originally signed with Arizona in 2011.  He announced in December of that year that he would be transferring from the Wildcats to the Cowboys.

“Coach Edsall has done a great job with the football program and he truly cares about his players,” Garman said. “I’m very excited to compete in the Big Ten Conference. Maryland is an outstanding university and I’m excited to further my education and continue playing football. I enjoyed my visit in College Park and I’m excited to have this opportunity.”

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Arkansas-Mizzou lands on Black Friday this year

Arkansas v Missouri Getty Images

With Texas A&M-LSU not a possibility in 2015, the SEC and one of its television partners has (once again) turned to an intradivisional matchup for your Black Friday viewing pleasure.

Amongst the dates and times for its 2015 television schedule announced Thursday, the SEC confirmed that this year’s Arkansas-Missouri game will be played Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving.  The game will be played in Fayetteville at 2:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by CBS.

And, for those who have forgotten, this game has an official moniker: the Battle Line Rivalry presented by Shelter Insurance. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

The 2015 edition of this “rivalry” will be the second one played since Mizzou joined the SEC in 2012, and the first-ever meeting between the two football programs in Fayetteville. The first conference game between the two also took place on Black Friday, a 21-14 Mizzou win in Columbia last season that officially sent the Tigers to their second consecutive SEC championship game appearance.

All-time, the Tigers lead the series 4-2.

And, for those of you curious as to the current SEC on CBS television slate, click HERE for our buddies over at FBSchedules.com.

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Bowling Green adds Notre Dame transfer Eilar Hardy

Eilar Hardy, Shawn Lynch

After four years in Indiana, Eilar Hardy has decided to move one state over for his final season.

In a press release Thursday, Bowling Green announced that Hardy has decided to transfer into Dino Babers‘ football program and play his final season of college ball with the Falcons.  Hardy comes in as a graduate transfer, having received his degree from Notre Dame earlier this month, and will be eligible immediately.

Hardy announced his transfer intentions back in January.

“We are excited to welcome Eilar Hardy to Bowling Green and our football program,” Babers started. “Having lost so much to graduation last year from our secondary, he will provide experience and leadership for that group. He has played at a high level his whole career and we are excited that he has chosen to become a Falcon.”

The defensive back played in 13 games the past two seasons. The only two starts of his Irish career came in 2013.

Hardy’s most notable claim to fame during his time in South Bend was being one of the five players caught up in an academic fraud investigation.

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Harbaugh acknowledges Sparty as ‘biggest guy’ on state’s block

ANN ARBOR, MI - APRIL 04: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines looks on during the Michigan Football Spring Game on April 4, 2015 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Sometimes something is so obvious that, regardless of how much it may pain you to let the words roll off your lips, you just have to acknowledge it and move on. Such is the case for Jim Harbaugh when it comes to the current pecking order of Power Five football in the state of Michigan.

From the first time the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry was played in 1898 until 2007, the Wolverines absolutely owned the Spartans, leading the series 67-28-5. That century-long dominance led to the infamous “Little Brother” moniker being slapped on Sparty and hanging around its neck like an 800-pound albatross.

In 2008, Rich Rodriguez‘s first season in Ann Arbor coincidentally enough, the tide quickly began turning in favor of the Spartans. Since a loss in 2007, MSU has ripped off wins in six of the last seven games, with five of those coming by double figures.

MSU is now a Big Ten power, while UM is looking up at not only its in-state rival but its hated rival — and 2014 College Football Playoff champion — Ohio State as well. Speaking to area high school coaches in Detroit Wednesday, Harbaugh took a detour from his usual SOP, tipping his cap in the general direction of East Lansing and the current balance of football power in the state.

“We know we’re not the biggest guy on the block (right now),” Harbaugh said by way of mlive.com. “Michigan State’s the biggest guy on the block.”

“Rightfully so, rightfully so,” the coach added before going into full-blown recruiting mode. “They’ve done a tremendous job and we respect the job that they’ve done. But we want that. We want it. And we ask for your help in doing that. We want Detroit players at the University of Michigan. We’ve got a great history of Detroit players (at Michigan), and not just for football, we want them to get an education. We want to educate your players and we want them to succeed.

“Not just with football, but as great people.”

When it comes to the lifeblood of a football program, the recruiting trail, Harbaugh & Company are gaining momentum. Working on a tight time frame after his January hiring, Harbaugh pulled in the No. 50 recruiting class in the country this past February after that class was ranked 75th exactly a week before National Signing Day. For the 2016 cycle, the Wolverines are somewhere in the neighborhood of 35th(ish) nationally, depending on the recruiting service — the Spartans are Top 10, incidentally, after a Top 25 class in 2015.

That said, it may take a bit of time for the in-season results to catch up with the wildly optimistic — some would say way too wildly optimistic — offseason expectations.

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SEC to join satellite camp craze if no national rule is enacted

Mike Slive

The dreaded “satellite camp” imbroglio percolated again yesterday, with the SEC essentially threatening to join in the recruiting fun if nothing is done on a national basis about the practice.

Earlier this week, incoming SEC commissioner Greg Sankey intimated that, if a national rule banning coaches from working as “guest” coaches at high school football camps outside of a 50-mile radius from their respective campuses wasn’t enacted, his conference could very well join the fray.  Wednesday, outgoing commissioner Mike Slive confirmed that the conference will indeed let their coaches loose if nothing’s done nationally with a rule proposed by his league.

“We are going to make every effort to have our rule adopted nationally,” Slive said Wednesday night at the SEC’s spring meetings. “If the rule isn’t adopted nationally, come next summer, our folks will be free to fan out all over the country and have at it.”

Sankey added that the league’s coaches are prepared to “canvas the nation if we’re in the same circumstance next year.”

Most view that as a threat from the conference as, the line of thinking of some nationally goes, a good many people in Big Ten or Pac-12 or Big 12 country would probably prefer not to see the likes of Nick Saban and Les Miles setting up camp in their own backyard. That, though, is something the SEC wants to avoid with its proposal.

In order for the SEC’s rule, which is also favored by the ACC, to pass, the majority of the 10 FBS conferences will need to vote in favor of it. The votes of the Power Five conferences — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC — are weighted to count double of those cast by the Group of Five leagues — AAC, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt.

It seems highly likely that the Big Ten and Pac-12, and probably the Big 12, will vote against the SEC’s proposal as those three P5 leagues make use of the satellite camps to one degree or another. On the G5 front, they would seemingly want to keep the SEC out of its recruiting footprint — the SBC is already screwed either way as the SEC is already firmly embedded in it — as much as possible, a goal that this rule would certainly accomplish.

Thus, it would stand to reason that the SEC’s proposal would stand a fairly decent chance of passing national muster: SEC (2 votes in favor) + ACC (2) + G5 (5) = 9 > B1G (2 votes against) + B12 (2) + P12 (2) = 6. Even if Notre Dame, a satellite camp proponent that’s a part of the P5 autonomy group, is added to the mix, that wouldn’t be enough to squelch the proposed rule.  Could those who don’t want to the proposal enacted see a couple of the G5s voting against the proposal and tipping the scales in their favor? It’s possible, I guess, but doesn’t seem too likely.

If it’s not passed?

“We’ll do it, I promise you, all summer next year,” Miles said. “Next year, we’ll be in all different locations.”

“Our ADs have heard us try to push this issue nationally, and they’ve tried to push it nationally,” said Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops. “If it doesn’t happen, then we’re all in. Then we’ll be all over the place next year.”

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Former NCAA executive director Walter Byers dies at 93

Walt Byers

Walter Byers, the man who, for better or worse, created the modern NCAA passed away on Wednesday at his home in Emmett, Kan. He was 93. Byers’ son Fritz said the cause was a urinary tract infection that spread to his bloodstream.

Byers famously left his post as an assistant sports information director for the Big Ten to become the NCAA’s first executive director at age 29 in 1951. The next quarter century saw Byers rapidly expand the NCAA – in terms of its membership, the revenue it took in, and its dominion over its athletes. He took what former NCAA employee and eventual Big 8 and Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke called a “part-time” organization and nearly tripled its membership, from 381 universities upon his hiring to 1,003 upon his exit in 1987. The NCAA’s own rank and file grew as well, as the organization grew from a handful of employees at its Kansas City offices to 150  by the time of his retirement.

“He had to come up with structure for all kinds of athletics, team and individual, at the national level. Before him there was nothing,” Duke told the Associated Press.

Byers saw the value in televising college sports early on, selling a restricted slate of games to NBC for $1.14 million a year in 1952 according to the New York Times. Byers strategy of grouping NCAA football games together got the sport on television, but membership eventually fought to overrule the model he created. In 1984, Oklahoma and Georgia successfully sued the NCAA for control over their television contracts, creating the marketplace that eventually brought Notre Dame its standalone contract with NBC and created individual networks for the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12 and Texas.

“It is virtually impossible to overstate the degree of our resentment,” Oklahoma president William Banowsky said at the time.

Byers made up that revenue by ramping up the NCAA Tournament, helping turn it into the billion-dollar enterprise it is today. “In my opinion he never received credit for his leadership in building that event,” said former NCAA Tournament administrator Tom Jernstedt. “In my mind he is the father of the NCAA basketball tournament and he doesn’t get the recognition for that.”

Byers was also credited with coining the term “student-athlete,” though he later rejected the amateurism model that to this day serves as the NCAA’s bedrock, admitting in his memoir Unsportsmanlike Conduct that the term was a defense mechanism allowing schools to avoid long-term liability for athletes’ disability benefits. “Whereas the NCAA defends its policies in the name of amateurism and level playing fields, they actually are a device to divert the money elsewhere,” he wrote.

By the end of his tenure, Byers considered the idea of creating an “open” division, similar to the Power Five autonomy legislation the powers that be are working through today. “I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that there has to be a major rearrangement on the part of the institutions of higher learning as to what they want to do with their athletic programs. I think there’s an inherent conflict that has to be resolved,” he said. “I’m not prepared to go into how an open division would work. But we’re in a situation where we, the colleges, say it’s improper for athletes to get, for example, a new car. Well, is that morally wrong? Or is it wrong because we say it’s wrong?”

Forever reluctant of the spotlight, Byers made few public appearances following his 1987 retirement, and even no-showed his National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame induction in 2009.

Byers leaves behind two sons, one daughter, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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After year-long study, Auburn won’t claim any more national championships

Jay Jacobs

For years – heck, eons – Alabama’s practice of claiming some, uh, dubious national championships has driven Auburn fans crazy. So much so, in fact, that last year the school launched a study into whether or not it should start claiming some bygone national championships of its own.

The results are in, and Auburn will keep its national championship total at two.

“We’ve earned what we’ve earned and people can count it different ways, but we’ve earned what we’ve earned,” Jacobs told Brandon Marcello of AL.com. “Those players on those teams, like me in 1983, it doesn’t matter if you hang a banner or not. I know what we did.”

The Tigers claim titles in 1957 and 2010, but the NCAA record books credits Auburn with championships in 1910, 1913, 1914, 1983, 1993 and 2004 as well.

This is the path the school should take. For one thing, Auburn was on probation during its undefeated 1993 regular season. For another, the school and its fans would instantaneously lose any moral high ground it claims over Alabama – whatever that’s worth – by following the Tide into handing itself retroactive titles. And even at that the Tigers would still be only halfway way to Alabama’s total.

No, better stick to the commonly recognized total and leave your rivals to wander in the realms of fantasy.

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