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The Fifth Quarter: Week 3 Rewind

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban shakes hands with Texas A&M Aggies Johnny Manziel after their NCAA SEC football game in College Station Reuters

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

WINNERS

One rolled, one to go
When it came to Alabama’s season, most outside observers felt their season would come down to a pair of games against highly-ranked teams.  Mission No. 1?  Accomplished, courtesy of a wildly entertaining shootout win over Texas A&M on the road that aged an old defensive soul like Nick Saban.  Thanks to a schedule that includes Colorado State, Georgia State and Kentucky — Ole Miss might have a puncher’s chance — the two-time defending BCS champions will be heavily favored in every game leading up to Mission No. 2:  Nov. 9 in Tuscaloosa against LSU.  Certainly you never count your wins before they’re hatched, but the schedule couldn’t set up any better for Alabama prior to the game against the Bayou Bengals,  The path to Pasadena was cleared; now the Tide just has to traverse and avoid the little obstacles — and one big one — along the way.

Super Mariota
Thanks to the fact that Oregon plays on the West Coast and a sizable chunk of their games end after most of the country has fallen asleep and/or passed out, not a lot of people know — or even care to know — about Marcus Mariota.  Thanks to a certain game in College Station, a rare mid-afternoon start for the Ducks did little to raise the quarterback’s national profile.  Still, it should be raised and people should take notice.  In UO’s woodshedding of Tennessee, Mariota passed for 350 first-half yards, finished with a career-high 456 yards and accounted for five touchdowns — four passing, one rushing — in just three quarters of work.  Mariota’s one of the top players at his position in the country, and it’s a shame some fail to recognize it based on location and time zones.

The Manziel & Evans Show
It may have come in a losing cause, but Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans were about as good as it gets on the offensive side of the football.  The reigning Heisman winner — who should still be at the forefront of the discussion for this year’s award — threw for 464 yards and ran for another 98 for a total of 562 yards; the Aggies as a team had 628 yards.  Manziel also tossed five touchdown passes, one of which went to Evans, who caught seven balls for a staggering 279 yards.  The defense may have let A&M down, but the offense, headed by Manziel and Evans, certainly didn’t.

Jameis WinstonFamous Jameis
With just one game on his résumé, many people scoffed at the mere notion that Jameis Winston might already be part of the Heisman discussion.  While that may be the case, the redshirt freshman is making an awfully good case that those individuals are wrong.  In limited action thanks to Florida State’s 62-7 blowout of Nevada, Winston completed 12-of-15 passes — after misfiring on three of his first five passes — for 214 yards and two touchdowns.  On the season, Winston has completed 40-of-45 passes, meaning he has thrown more touchdown passes (six) than he has incompletions (five).  The fact that Winston has such a firm grasp of the offense and can deliver the ball accurately bodes well for FSU’s future at the position, regardless of if he’s part of any stiff-armed discussion or not.

Gentlemen, start… your… Belldozer
When Trevor Knight was announced as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback before the opener, there were more than a few eyebrows raised as Blake Bell, aka the Belldozer, had been viewed by some (most?) as the likely successor to Landry Jones.  Part of the reasoning behind pulling the trigger on Knight, the theory went, was that he was the more polished passer.  In the game against Tulsa, Bell said, essentially, “polish this.”  Against the Golden Hurricane, Bell passed for 281 yards… in the first half.  He finished the 51-20 win with 413 yards passing and four touchdowns, further solidifying his hold on the starting job in place of the injured Knight.

It can only be Jared
If Jared Goff were a fifth-year senior, the video game-like numbers would be impressive.  The fact that he’s doing it as a true freshman?  Off the charts unbelievable.  The Cal quarterback came into the game against Ohio State leading the nation with 935 yards passing through the first two games of the 2013 season.  Against the No. 4 Buckeyes, Goff continued making a mockery of opposing defenses by throwing for 371 yards in the loss.  If Goff continues at this pace — he likely won’t — the first-year player would throw for a freshman record of 5,224 yards in the regular season alone.  Again, it’s not very likely Goff can keep up this breakneck pace, but if he even sniffs that rarefied statistical air, it will be one of the more impressive accomplishments of the 2013 season that gets little or no notice due to Cal’s record.

LOSERS

WTF was that?
This is what I know about the bizarre ending in the Wisconsin-Arizona State game: yes, the officials jobbed the Badgers, but the Badgers put themselves in a position to be jobbed thanks to whatever the hell that was Joel Stave was attempting to accomplish at the end of the game and with the seconds ticking away.  Why in the name of, well, pretty much anything, did Stave not simply spike it?  Or why didn’t the Badgers, down 32-30 and sitting at the 13-yard line, just simply kick a game-winning field goal with :18 left?  I’ve been on this earth for 45 years, and have been watching college football for as far back as I can remember, and I simply can’t recall anything like what happened in those final 15 or so ticks of the clock in the desert.  We’ll have more on this later, once that game sobers up and gets some coffee in it.

Trojan Nation speaking loud and clear
The question is, will Pat Haden listen?  Yes, USC cruised to an easy 28-point win over Boston College, bouncing back from last Saturday’s debacle against Washington State.  In that loss to Wazzu, chants of “Fire Kiffin!” rang out across the Coliseum.  The collective anger at Lane Kiffin, however, has apparently turned to apathy toward the Trojans.  Check out the scene eight minutes before USC’s home game against BC, courtesy of @uscpsycho:

USC Coliseum

On some level anger’s good as it shows the fan base still cares.  Apathy manifesting itself in the form of empty seats?  That’s never good for the future of a head coach anywhere.

So Manny more problems
If Longhorn Nation thought dumping Manny Diaz in favor of Greg Robinson would magically cure all that ails their beloved Texas football team, the disappointment should be kicking in… right about now.  While the Longhorns offered a glimmer of hope in their loss to Ole Miss — they led 23-14 late in the first half — the defense again could do next to nothing to stop the other side of the ball.  The Rebels scored the final 30 points in the 44-23 win in Austin, thanks in large part due to a running game that produced 272 yards on the ground.  Yes, that’s half the total UT gave up to BYU in another home loss (to BYU) last weekend, but its’ still an embarrassing total for a defense that can’t do something as simple as wrap up on a tackle.  Understandably, the fan base is frustrated.  How frustrated?  They booed Mack Brown when he appeared on the stadium’s Jumbotron to deliver a PSA on helping at-risk students.  How many more opportunities the UT faithful will get to boo Brown remains to be seen, although a continued downward trajectory could make it sooner rather than later.

Starkville needs to be Mullen a change
For some reason or another, just about anyone who discusses Mississippi State football over the past couple of years speaks highly of the job Dan Mullen has done with the Bulldogs.  The stark reality, though, is that he hasn’t.  During his first four-plus seasons at MSU, Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to a 17-4 record in non-conference games as well as bowls.  In SEC play?  Mullen is an abysmal 13-20.  Included in that latter total is a 24-20 loss to Auburn this weekend.  At least as far as the conference goes, the Bulldogs have made little or no progress under Mullen.  If MSU hopes to fight its way from conference also-rans to contenders, a change at the top may be in order.  Unless they’re happy with seven- or eight-win seasons and Music City Bowl victories, of course.

Unhappy Valley
A 2-0 start to the 2013 season had the denizens of Happy Valley feeling that the Penn State football program had turned yet another corner in its climb from the Sandusky abyss.  While that’s still the case, the ascent took a bit of a detour Saturday night.  A 31-17 deficit early in the fourth quarter turned into an insurmountable one as the Nittany Lions dropped a 34-31 decision to UCF.  While there’s no shame in losing to the Knights, an underrated squad that’s now 3-0, it says a lot about the current state of the PSU program that hanging close to a team that was in Conference USA just a year ago is considered a type of moral victory.  Bill O’Brien is the right man for the job; patience, though, will be at a premium over the next couple of years,

Akron v MichiganThe Big (Near-Flop) House
Make no mistake: Michigan averted a disaster Saturday that would’ve trumped even the infamous loss to Appalachian State six years ago.  Saturday’s opponent in the Big House, Akron, had lost 27 straight road games… hadn’t beaten an FBS team since 2010… and totaled just four wins the past three-plus seasons.  The Zips are pictured next to “football ineptness” in many a dictionary, and yet the Wolverines allowed the MAC school to come within a failed fourth-and-goal attempt of stunning them in their own house.  Offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (no relation) called the win “embarrassing” afterwards; he’s not far off, even as his team appears to be a long ways away from challenging the likes of hated rival Ohio State for Big Ten supremacy.

Taggart’s bus ripe for repo
In a promotional campaign utilized by USF in an attempt to drive up ticket sales, the athletic department urged fans to “get on the bus” with new head coach Willie Taggart.  That bus, unfortunately, has dropped its transmission and is in danger of blowing its motor just three games into Taggart’s tenure.  Including Saturday’s loss to FAU (previously winless), the Bulls have dropped all three games of the 2013 season by a combined score of 102-37.  Included in that was a season-opening loss to FCS-level McNeese State by 32 points at home.  Taggart did an outstanding job at his previous stop at Western Kentucky; how long he’ll get to rectify and undo the damage caused by the horrific recruiting of his predecessor, Skip Holtz, remains to be seen.

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

– No. 5 Stanford 34, Army 20: Thanks to what was by all appearances a nasty case of jet lag, the Cardinal fell behind the Black Knights 6-0 on the road — and led just 20-13 at the half — before righting the ship and pulling away.

– No. 13 South Carolina 35, Vanderbilt 23: A comfortable 25-point lead at the end of the third quarter for the Gamecocks was sliced to 10 after just a minute was played in the fourth.   That was as close as Vandy would get, however, as USC rebounded from its emotional loss last weekend.

– No. 19 Washington 34, Illinois 24:  The Illini made it interesting after falling behind 31-10 at Soldier Field, but the Huskies made enough plays on the defensive side of the ball to push their record to 2-0 on the young season.

– No. 21 Notre Dame 31, Purdue 27: Trailing 17-10 on the road entering the fourth quarter, the Irish ripped off 21 straight points to stave off the Boilermakers upset bid.

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 — Coming back from 14 down on the road against the No. 6 team in the country?  Yeah, that’ll keep you slotted comfortably in the top spot. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Colorado StateTennessee Oregon Football

2. Oregon — You eviscerate an SEC team, even a (being kind here) mid-level one like Tennessee, by 45 points, you deserve to move up a couple of spots. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: bye weekend

3. Clemson — With one of their two byes out of the way, the Tigers were able to get in a little extra prep work for the ACC opener this Thursday. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: at North Carolina State

4. Ohio State — The Buckeyes won by 18 or more points for the third time in three games this season against Cal, but the perceived weakness of their schedule will keep them from moving back closer to where they began the season in the polls at this point in time.
Next up: vs. Florida A&M

5. Louisville — The Cardinals looked lethargic and/or positively uninterested in leading in-state rival Kentucky just 10-3 at the half.  A 17-point second half, however, righted what had been a previously listing ship.  Even at a perfect 3-0, the UofL must tighten some things up or risk tumbling in the polls that really matter. (Last week: No. 5)
Up next: vs. FIU

HE SAID IT
“I am really proud of those kids. You can’t believe how tough it was on them. You just can’t. Unless you were at practice, in those meeting rooms, in that locker room, you just can’t. He had such an impact on our team.” — UCLA head coach Jim Mora, following his Bruins’ first game after the tragic death of wide receiver Nick Pasquale.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“Look, it’s all gonna be about what we do on this little 53-yard by 100-yard triangle out here.” – Nick Saban, defying the laws of geometry prior to Alabama’s win.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I’m just sick for my players on how hard, how well and how long they played and not to come away with the W, a victory to stamp on the end of what I consider a great football game that they played. I’ve been fortunate in my lifetime to get some big wins and that would have been the biggest.” — Head coach Terry Bowden, following Akron’s near-upset of Michigan.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“We’ll get all of this righted with a Big 12 championship.” — Mack Brown, presumably with a straight face and everything.

GAMEDAY SIGN OF THE DAY
This beauty comes courtesy of BustedCoverage.com and, as is normally is the case, needs no explanation:

Johnny Manziel GameDay Sign

SAY WHAT?
How negative is the perception of next week’s slate of games?  ESPN’s GameDay show will originate from Fargo for the Delaware State-North Dakota State FCS matchup.  Curious choice, though, given games such as Michigan State-Notre Dame, Tennessee-Florida and Arizona State-Stanford are among those on the admittedly weak Week 4 FBS schedule.

TRUE STORY
Oklahoma City Thunder great Kevin Durant served as the honorary captain for Texas’ game against Ole Miss and no Mack Brown didn’t recruit the NBA superstar as a safety.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– Arkansas’ Alec Collins became the first player in SEC history, including the great Herschel Walker, to rush for 100-plus yards in the first three games of his career.  The last player to accomplish that feat at the FBS level was Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson in 2004.

– Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keaton threw five first-half touchdowns in the 70-6 evisceration of Weber State.  The five scoring tosses ties the school record, which Keaton equaled last week as well.

– Cementing his hold on the starting job, Connor Cook passed for four first-half touchdowns as Michigan State easily got past Youngstown State 55-17.

Ford Childress– In his collegiate debut, Ford Childress (if that is his real name) threw for 359 yards in West Virginia’s 41-7 win over Georgia State.

– The 42 points given up by Alabama in the win over Texas A&M was the most under Nick Saban.  The 628 yards of total offense by the Aggies is the most the storied football program has ever allowed in a single game.

– Speaking of Saban, Purdue’s Drew Brees remains the last quarterback to beat the coach in back-to-back games at the collegiate level, performing that feat when the current Tide coach held the same job at Michigan State in the late nineties.

– Colorado State’s Shaq Barrett blocked a pair of field goals to help the Rams upend Cal Poly 34-17.

– Running back Jay Ajayi ran for four touchdowns in Boise State’s 42-20 win over Air Force Friday night.

– Nebraska coughing up a 21-3 lead to UCLA was the Cornhuskers’ largest since Washington came back from a 20-point deficit… in 1920.

– With a 32-21 win over UConn, Maryland has started a season 3-0 for the first time since 2001.

– In Indiana’s 42-10 win over Bowling Green, the Hoosiers punted once… and it was blocked and returned for the Falcons’ only touchdown of the game.

– The 92 points Navy has scored in its first two games this season are the service academy’s most since 1975.

– It took five overtimes, but Buffalo was able to secure its first win of the season by the score of 26-23 over FCS-level Stoney Brook.

– Thursday night, Louisiana Tech forced four turnovers, had 11 tackles and tallied five sacks — and still lost 24-15 to Tulane.  Of course, when you muster just 289 yards of offense, that tends to happen.

IN CLOSING…
Nebraska showed its class as a football program in the first game after the Jerry Sandusky scandal shattered the serenity in Happy Valley.  Today, the ‘Huskers did it again.  Prior to the game against UCLA, over 90,000 fans in attendance at Memorial Stadium stood and paid their respects with a moment of silence for Nick Pasquale, the Bruins wide receiver who was tragically killed last weekend after being struck by a vehicle.  When the Cornhuskers took the field, their helmets were adorned with Pasquale’s jersey number.  Pure class, Lincoln.  Pure class.

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Fresno State locks up Tim DeRuyter through 2018

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State v USC

Fresno State has locked up head coach Tim DeRuyter to a contract extension running through the 2018 season. The contract includes incentives for academic and competition goals as well as a bump in base salary. The contract includes a buyout clause as well.

“We are elated and encouraged with the tremendous success that Bulldog football has achieved under Tim’s leadership these past two years,” Fresno State athletics director Thomas Boeh said in a released statement. “The execution of these agreements illustrate Fresno State’s clear commitment to establishing stability within the program on behalf of our student-athletes and the Red Wave.”

According to the contract terms shared by Fresno State, DeRuyter will receive a base salary of $1.4 million in 2014 and a $500,000 increase each year through the 2018 season, resulting in a base salary of $1.6 million in 2018. The buyout clause would cost DeRuyter $2.8 million prior to the conclusion of the 2014 season and is cut in half next year. The buyout reduces to $1 million before the end of the 2016 season and $700,000 before the end of the 2017 season.

DeRuyter led Fresno State to a record of 20-6 in his first two seasons as head coach of the program. Last season Fresno State won its first outright Mountain West Conference championship and second straight conference championship after splitting the previous season with Boise State and San Diego State.

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QB Brandon Connette tweets he is a Fresno State Bulldog

Brandon Connette

As expected, quarterback Brandon Connette will join Fresno State after transferring from Duke. Connette was looking to transfer to be closer to his family at home in California. Fresno State was thought to be a likely destination and a visit there this week was expected to result in the decision becoming final.

Connette took to his Twitter account to announce the news himself.

Connette has one final year of eligibility to play and will be eligible to play right away for Fresno State. Because he will be a graduate of Duke, he will be allowed to play right away according to NCAA transfer rules.

Connette would have been a productive player in Duke’s offense if decided to stay, but Connette’s decision to transfer is strictly influenced by the health of his mother. Connette’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer in December.

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe had nothing but positive things to say about Connete this week during a conference call of ACC football coaches with the media, nor should he. Connette would have been a productive player in Duke’s offense had he stayed for another run at a division title in the fall in Durham, but this decision to transfer had everything to do with family. Connette’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer in December, and rather than spend his final year of eligibility on the other side of the country, family clearly comes first in this situation.

As far as football is concerned though, Connette will have a chance to compete for a starting job at Fresno State. The Bulldogs look to replace record-setting Derek Carr under center. Connette will not put up the same kind of numbers Carr leaves behind, but the Bulldogs will have an option with experience capable of contributing to the offense right away.

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Coaches can now make summer workouts officially mandatory

Anthony Zettel

College football players may have more demands placed n them over the summer months, depending on the head coach’s demands. According to The Oklahoman, summer workouts are now allowed to be mandatory if a coach desires it.

Updated NCAA bylaws now allow members of a coaching staff to supervise mandatory summer workouts, up to eight hours per week. These workouts were previously voluntary for all, but pressure to participate in those sessions always existed according to at least one former football player.

“As plain Jane as I can put it, we all knew that in the summer time, you’re gonna take six college hours (of classes), and you’re gonna go through eight weeks of summer (training),” J.D. Runnels, a former Oklahoma fullback, said to The Oklahoman. “There’s not even talk of what’s voluntary and what’s mandatory.”

There is obviously a benefit to allowing coaches extra access to players during the offseason. That extra time supervising workouts and training allows for more interaction and time to focus on key areas of development and improvement. Programs that take advantage of the extra eight hours — and there are programs that will take advantage of the extra time available — could stand to have a more physical and well-conditioned team.

The question is, because players are not paid and we are in the midst of a potential union movement, is it a good idea to allow coaches to take this sort of formal power? What does this say for the entire concept of amateurism, or does it say nothing at all one way or the other?

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Report: Big 12 and Pac-12 heading south of the border?

Todd Graham

College football could be taking a trip south of the border if the powers that be at ESPN, the Pac-12 and Big 12 have anything to say about it. ESPN president John Skipper alluded to the concept being discussed during the Football Bowl Association meeting, as reported by Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com.

“Keep your eye on it,” Skipper said, according to Dodd. Oh, we will keep an eye out for it of course.

The idea of playing college football in Mexico is not a new one. Earlier this year Texas Athletics Director Steve Patterson detailed plans and ideas to grow the Texas brand beyond the border by potentially moving a game to Mexico City. That would likely require finding a partner willing to move a home game because the odds Texas would move a home game are likely slim at best. But that could potentially change if a television partner with deep pockets is willing to make it financially incentive even for a school like Texas. Money has a way of talking, and if the price is right almost any school would seriously consider the possibility, even a school like Texas.

But Texas is only one option of course. No teams have specifically been mentioned or rumored at this time, and it is important to remember no game in Mexico has been announced yet either. But the pieces and partners willing to put heads together could be in place in the Big 12 and Pac-12. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is a bit of a visionary as well and has previously discussed the idea of reaching the Pac-12 brand across the Pacific Ocean into Asia. A trip south may be a good start for extending relationships on an international level.

Arizona State vs. Texas, with a side of salsa? Yes, please.

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Northwestern will get to appeal to NLRB over union ruling

Northwestern acted quickly in stating its intention to challenge the ruling made by a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. The university will get a chance to present its case to the NLRB, which decided Thursday it will listen to what the university has to say. The NLRB previously ruled in favor of Northwestern football players, stating they should be recognized by Northwestern as university employees.

Northwestern argues that scholarship players on the football team are not to be considered employees under the National Labor Relations act. If the university can sell its case, the NLRB could overrule the previous decision by the regional office in Chicago, which would then block the football players from establishing a formal union. The university had plans to challenge the ruling from the start of this whole process, so it is certainly no surprise.

Given the right to form a union, Northwestern football players are scheduled to vote on forming an official union on Friday. That vote will still be held, but the votes will be held and the results of the voting will be revealed after the NLRB hears the appeal from the university. The NLRB denies the appeal of the university, the union movement will continue at Northwestern if it receives enough votes.

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NCAA Board of Directors endorse restructuring for autonomy

The NCAA took one important step toward moving to a new power structure allowing for autonomy to yield more power to the most powerful conferences. The Division I Board of Directors endorsed a restructuring process that would be more equipped to handle the changing landscape of collegiate athletics and provide for a larger voice representing the student-athletes to be heard.

“The model we sent to the membership today is not a final product,” said Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch, chair of the board and the steering committee. “Some aspects of the model remain under discussion, and we hope the membership will provide us further input.”

The Board of Directors, comprised of university presidents, will now await feedback from all member schools before planning to adopt the new governance structure in August. There has been widespread support for a new system that would grant the power conferences — the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — more power to operate under a slightly different set of rules the other divisions and conferences would be governed. This would, in theory, allow those conferences to hold separate votes regarding cost of attendance for scholarships, insurance, travel restrictions and more.

Per the NCAA;

Areas in which the membership generally agrees on autonomy for the five conferences include:

  • financial aid, including full cost of attendance and scholarship guarantees;

  • insurance, including policies that protect future earnings;

  • academic support, particularly for at-risk student-athletes; and

  • other support, such as travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking).

The timing of this news should not go unnoticed. On Friday football players at Northwestern are scheduled to cast their votes on unionizing, a right previously granted by a ruling by a regional office of the National Labor Relations Committee. Will this latest development in the changing of the power structure at the NCAA have any last-second impact on the Northwestern vote? Probably not, but it should not be considered a coincidence the new structure at the NCAA looks to leave a seat open at the table for the student-athletes.

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Report: Cal’s Ted Agu died of heart failure

Cal defensive lineman Ted Agu collapsed during an offseason workout earlier this spring and died as a result of a heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition, according to a report by San Francisco Chronicle, is a relatively common cause of death among athletes.

Victims of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy have excessive thickening of heart muscle, which makes it more difficult for blood to pump through the heart. In most cases the problem is undiagnosed because there are few symptoms that can be picked up on even during a careful medical exam. The condition can lead to normal lives for most people, but athletes tend to see the most sever problems due to the increased physical activity requiring a more efficient blood flow.

Agu collapsed in February while working through a training run. The Cal medical team attempted CPR on Agu but he died while being transported to a nearby medical center. The school has since started up a memorial scholarship fund in Agu’s name and honor.

Agu’s death was the subject of arguments by Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema when discussing up-tempo offenses. Bielema’s comments were scolded by Cal AD Sandy Barbour and Bielema later apologized for his comments.

Helmet sticker to Dr. Saturday.

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Mississippi State player suspended following arrest for suspected burglary

Auburn v Mississippi State

Mississippi State defensive lineman Jordan Washington was arrested Wednesday afternoon for suspicion of residential burglary and robbery by threats. Mississippi State has already responded by placing an indefinite suspension on the sophomore. Former Mississippi State player Charles Siddoway was arrested and jailed on the same charge. The news was first reported by Starkville Daily News.

Washington did not play for Washington State in 2013 mostly due to injury concerns, and sat out his freshman year in 2012 with a redshirt season. Washington was a three-star recruit out of the powerful North Gwinnet High School program according to his Rivals profile.

Siddoway is hoping to be drafted in the upcoming NFL Draft, but an arrest so close to the big day could hurt whatever draft stock he had going in if the charges are upheld. Siddoway is regarded as one of the top 20 offensive tackles in the draft, depending on which draft scout or service you prefer. That would likely project to a late-round draft pick. If a charge of this magnitude holds up, Siddoway may have to hope he can sign on as an undrafted free agent once this legal issue is behind him.

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ACC Network would hypothetically clone SEC Network set-up

John Swofford

An ACC Network would likely mimic the set-up of the SEC Network according to ACC documents shared by the University of Maryland.

The ACC and Maryland are still in an ongoing legal dispute as the institution prepares to leave for the Big Ten later this season. As part of the legal battle Maryland has turned over documentation from the ACC to support its case. Part of that evidence submitted by Maryland included a market analysis report focusing on the ACC and comparing the conference to other top conferences around the country. The various categories in the analysis included academic standings, geographic footprints and population and football and basketball recruiting. The report also takes a look at television potential for the ACC.

The market analysis report notes there are more potential television households within the expanded ACC footprint with the additions of Louisville and Notre Dame than any other conference, including the Big Ten and SEC and the ACC owns more of the top 30 TV markets in the country than any other conference as well. Each of the major conferences has a similar national television deal, but the ACC is lacking in regional coverage compared to some of the other conferences, but the report suggests if there is interest and incentive to add an ACC Network, then ESPN would be prepared to work with the conference to make it a reality. Furthermore, any deal with ESPN to launch an ACC Network would follow a similar model currently used by the SEC for the SEC Network.

We know the benefits of a successful cable sports network that could be obtained. The Big Ten has seen a great financial benefit from the addition of the Big Ten Network and the future prospects of the SEC Network are expected to be rich. Could an ACC Network see similar results? The structure and support would be there if ESPN was a part of the foundation, but the ACC may be a bit top-heavy when it comes to football and the overall fanbases in the Big Ten and SEC are something the ACC may not be able to compete with from top to bottom.

Helmet sticker to The Washington Post.

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UCF QB ruled eligible for 2014 season following transfer

Nick Patti, Mark Nzeocha

The competition to replace Blake Bortles at UCF just got one more candidate for the job this fall. The NCAA has ruled Nick Patti will be eligible for the 2014 season after transferring from Boise State.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Patti was given a hardship waiver by the NCAA, which allows him to begin playing immediately instead of sitting out a season under typical NCAA transfer rules. He will jump right in the fray of the competition to replace Bortles, a projected first round draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft who led the Golden Knights to a conference championship and Fiesta Bowl victory last season.

UCF head coach George O’Leary has not settle don a starting quarterback at this point and expects to let the competition play out over the summer leading up to the season opener against Penn State in Ireland.

Patti appeared in six games for Boise State last season and he completed eight of 11 pass attempts for 63 yards. Patti is originally from Orlando, so perhaps a return home could be just what he needs to take the leading role. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

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Utah fight song might get new lyrics

Stanford v Utah

Students at most universities likely know the words to the fight song more than they do the alma mater. Now the students at Utah may have to re-learn some of the words to the fight song.

Earlier this week student government organizations at Utah voted in favor of changing lyrics to the school fight song that some deemed offensive. The changes are not official yet, but now are likely to be approved. This should come as little surprise, as the lyrics were written in 1904 and declare those singing to be a Utah Man. The changes are minor and will not require a brand new composition and sheet music, but the proposed changes will help bring the fight song into a more politically correct state in the 21st century.

The line that sings “Our coeds are the finest” has been considered sexist and racist by some and the university is now prepared to modify that specific line to avoid any problems. One of the possible changes to the line could read “our students are the brightest,” according to The Desert News. Any reference to “Utah man” could easily be switched to “Utah fan” without disrupting the fight song’s theme or rhymes.

“I don’t want to get rid of tradition, I love tradition, I just want a more inclusive tradition,” said student body president Sam Ortiz, who sponsored the measure, as quoted by The Salt Lake Tribune. “I’m incredibly happy that our student leaders stepped up and made a difficult decision.”

What other fight songs could be in need of a 21st century jump in political correctness?

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Florida two-way player Hawkins will transfer

Will Muschamp AP

Florida is losing a player who can play on both sides of the football to a transfer. According to a report by The Gainesville Sun, redshirt freshman Marqui Hawkins is leaving the Gators and will transfer to another football program. Hawkins could play wide receiver and safety.

“I’m just looking for a better opportunity and somewhere I can play offense. I’d also like to be closer to home,” Hawkins said in a story by The Gainesville Sun. “I had a great time at Florida and learned a lot. Nothing against the school, I just needed a fresh start.”

According to the report, Hawkins says he has been granted a full release from his scholarship and Florida and has been given no restrictions on where he may play next. That would leave any suitable SEC program as an option if there is a program with a spot available for Hawkins.

Florida has plenty of wide receiver son the 204 roster, 15 to be exact, so the depth at the position is not taking too much of a hit based solely on numbers. The Gators list 14 players at defensive back, where Hawkins is officially listed, as well after the loss of Hawkins. The Gators are still on the prowl for players who can make plays on offense though. Florida’s offense has lacked game-breakers on offense the last few years. Hawkins was not going to be that solution in all likelihood though, so Will Muschamp‘s search continues for someone to step up on Florida’s offense in 2014.

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Iowa State D-lineman does a 180, rejoins team for final season

Oklahoma State v Iowa State Getty Images

Per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Iowa State nose guard Brandon Jensen has rejoined the Cyclones after leaving the team this winter.

Jensen started all 12 games for Iowa State last fall and notched 18 tackles, four TFLs and one sack, but considered leaving Ames soon after the season ended. The 6-foot-5, 301-pound native of Ankeny, Iowa, has played in 36 games over his career and has one year of eligibility remaining.

Jensen’s return should be welcome news for coach Paul Rhoads, who saw defensive lineman Nick Kron leave the program as well after the Cyclones went 3-9 in 2013.

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Vince Young has a job waiting for him at Texas

National Championship Rose Bowl: USC v Texas Getty Images

Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of Texas’ last college football title — you know, the one capped by this — and there’s a chance Vince Young could be working for his old school when that celebration begins.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the ex-Longhorns quarterback has a job waiting for him at Texas once he officially ends his playing career — which could be soon, given the former No. 3 overall pick remains a free agent. Young told the Chronicle his role would be an an ambassador for the Texas, but it certainly couldn’t hurt Charlie Strong’s program to have the Longhorns’ last championship-winning quarterback hanging around Austin.

Young said he’s received interest from a few unspecified NFL teams but won’t play in the CFL if that interest doesn’t amount to anything.

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Ridiculously early point spreads have ‘Bama by 24, FSU by 11.5 in openers

Nick Saban AP

With just over four months until the 2014 season begins, apparently it’s time for some early betting lines. And while Alabama hasn’t settled on a quarterback yet, no matter: Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide at 24-point favorites over West Virginia for the teams’ Aug. 30 curtain-lifter in Atlanta (via 5dimes.eu).

For the 36th straight game, Florida State is favored — this time by 11.5 over Oklahoma State at AT&T Stadium.

Just scanning this, a few lines jump out, like Tennessee only giving 5.5 points to Utah State at home (Utah State, remember, was actually a pretty good team last year and should get QB Chuckie Keeton back for the 2014 season). Ole Miss is 8.5-point favorites over Boise State, and South Carolina is favored by nine for its Thursday opener against Texas A&M.

Of course, it’s still April and these lines certainly will do some changing between now and Aug. 28/Aug. 30. Case in point: In the hour or so since we published these, the Tennessee line jumped from -5.5 to -6.5, and the Bama line went from -24 to -23.5.

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