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High school football team cancels season after death of player

1380200959000-AP-Friday-Night-Palace AP

A high school football team in New York has played their final football game of the season. Westfield Academy had their football season brought to a tragic end after a player died following a helmet-to-helmet hit during a game earlier this month.

Damon Janes, a 16-year old junior, lost consciousness after the devastating hit in a game on September 13. He died three days later. Earlier this week the school board voted on a recommendation made by the superintendent to cancel the rest of the football season at Westfield Academy. The school board voted unanimously in favor of the decision

“The pending motion was shared with players from both teams at a team meeting on Monday,” a statement on the school’s website reads. “During the meeting, players shared creative and positive ways to honor Damon Janes through our athletic programs and school communities for the remainder of the year and into the future. This will be a student driven effort and allow Damon’s friends and teammates to continue the grieving process off of the playing field. “

“We are not giving up Damon’s legacy,” Superintendent David Davison said, according to The Observer. “We are taking time to heal. Our players need time to grieve and have time to be together away from the lights and games for a while.”

It is often believed sports can provide a sense of togetherness that allows for healing. Far be it from me to suggest the team should continue playing, because every community is different. Regardless of whether canceling the season is right or wrong, the importance of safety for players continues to be a concern. If putting the rest of the season saves just one more player from serious trauma, then it is clear that canceling the season is absolutely the right choice.

Helmet sticker to USA Today.

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PETA investigated two (Michigan) Wolverines and a wallaby

Bennetts Wallaby and Joey.

Some people have dogs as pets. Others have cats. Others have fish, and perhaps some have other animals like lizards or frogs or turtles or snakes. How many have a wallaby?

Recently, Michigan football players were seen around the Ann Arbor campus posing for photos with a young wallaby, which was allegedly trying to be sold by the Michigan student-athletes. The wallaby, originally purchased in Michigan, was discovered on the Instagram page of Michigan wide receiver Jack Wangler, which was shared by quarterback Shane Morris. Per MLive.com, Wangler said the animal was not living in the apartment shared by he and Morris, but the animal was merely visiting. However, it was Wangler who reportedly answered the phone when a call to the phone number attached to the listing for the wallaby was called.

The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, organized a deal with the Detroit Zoo to provide a safe home for the wallaby. Instead, the wallaby was returned to the breeder that originally sold the animal. The wallaby was reportedly returned in excellent condition, according to a PETA representative, and doing well. Still, it was PETA’s preference the wallaby be given a chance to live out its life in the zoo alongside its own kind.

Ultimately a wallaby doesn’t belong in a private home any more than a wolverine does,” PETA Foundation deputy director of captive animal law enforcement Brittany Peet said, per MLive.com. “These students and the University of Michigan had an opportunity to step up and set a great example by allowing the wallaby to spend the rest of its life with other wallabies in a natural habitat in an accredited facility. Unfortunately, they dropped the ball.”

Nice football puns there, Peet.

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Report: Baylor and Cal will (thankfully) not be playing in Australia in 2016

TCU vs. Baylor football

The dream of opening the college football season in Australia will just have to wait. Any plans to send Baylor and Cal abroad to play a 2016 season opener down under have been nixed. Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com reported such news Friday afternoon (via Twitter).

Last month it was reported Baylor was openly discussing the possibility to open the 2016 season in Australia against a Pac-12 opponent. That opponent turned out to be Cal, although both schools would have had to opt out of season openers at home against FCS opponents. Doing so comes at a price, not to mention the lost revenue in hosting a football game for either. Throw in the expensive travel costs to ship a football program across the Pacific Ocean, and it is not difficult to see why these talks may have dissolved. Whether or not Baylor will continue to seek an opponent for a season-opening game abroad remains to be seen.

As things stand right now, Baylor is scheduled to open the 2016 season at home against Northwestern State on September 3, 2016. Baylor’s two other non-conference games that season are scheduled against SMU and Rice. Baylor’s strength of schedule became a hot topic during last season’s College Football Playoff hunt, and is perceived to be one of the reasons Baylor fell behind the top four playoff contenders in the end, most notably Ohio State. There is no non-conference scheduling requirement in the Big 12 to schedule games against other power conference opponents like there is in the ACC or SEC, but the Big 12 would benefit from seeing more of its top programs schedule tougher games. Scheduling Cal may not sound like a huge upgrade, but it is still a power conference opponent with potential to do some things offensively.

With or without Baylor on the schedule, Cal will still be getting its dose of Big 12 opposition in 2016. The Bears are scheduled to host Texas on September 17, 2016 in the back-end of a home-and-home series that begins this fall in Austin (September 19, 2015). Cal is scheduled to open the season at home against South Dakota State and has a road game at San Diego State scheduled to fill out its 2016 schedule.

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Kirby Smart: Alabama didn’t value OSU QB Cardale Jones enough

Cardale Jones,Landon Collins

In defense of Wisconsin, not many expected Cardale Jones to be capable of stepping right in to lead Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game as effectively as he did. But Wisconsin’s misfortune should have been enough of a wake-up call for Alabama with a month to prepare for the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Sugar Bowl. According to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, he and the Alabama staff may not have done enough to keep the defense grounded and aware of what Jones could do.

“All three of them (referring to Landon Collins, Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams)  said they did not respect the quarterback, and our job as the coaches was to make them respect the quarterback,” Smart said in an interview on 680 The Fan in Atlanta. “Well, they heard from the media, they heard from ESPN, they heard from everybody that he was a third-string quarterback. How can a third-string quarterback beat Alabama? We didn’t promote him enough and they didn’t value his talents enough, and he came in — we thought he was a really good passer. Well, he ran the ball well, too. Well, we had not seen him run the ball . . . and not a runner like (Bama QB) Blake (Sims) and not a runner like their other guy, just big.”

In the Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal game against the Crimson Tide, Jones completed 18 of 35 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 43 yards in the Ohio State victory.

Smart went on to praise Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, who had a monster performance as well. Smart said he saw his defense was going to be in for a long night against Ohio State’s offense even though the Crimson Tide held an early lead.

“We had not slowed them down. We had two red area stops, which were six points (two field goals), could have been 14,” Smart said. “We had a turnover, we stripped a ball. We had not slowed them down, and I’m thinking this could be 21 but it’s six, 21-6, could be 21-21. And then they scored right before the half, which we thought was deadly. They had a good two-minute drive and scored, and I knew that we were in trouble.”

Smart also said Alabama reached out to Houston head coach Tom Herman, who was Ohio State’s quarterbacks coach last season. He and Nick Saban asked Herman to offer his take on what he saw in Alabama’s defense that Ohio State was able to crack.

Helmet sticker to The Sporting News.

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WVU announces fireworks and stripe-the-stadium plans for 2015

Getting fans to dress all in one color for a football game is so old-fashioned now. Today it is all about striping your stadium in school colors. That is West Virginia will be doing with the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma State.

Fans attending the October 10 home game in Milan Puskar Stadium will be asked to wear blue or gold depending on their section. Fans sitting in even-numbered sections will be encouraged to wear gold. All other fans are being asked to wear blue. Oklahoma State fans making the trip to Morgantown are more than welcome to join in the fun, I’m sure, but odds are pretty good they will try adding as much orange as possible to the scene.

In addition to the stripe out game against the Sooners, West Virginia will also have two games with some color-coordination among the fans. Fans are being asked to wear gold to the September 26 game against Big Ten foe Maryland. West Virginia is calling it a “Gold Rush.” The Mountaineers won a thriller against the Terrapins last season, leaving College Park with a 40-37 victory over the newest Big Ten member. West Virginia will later ask fans to all come wearing blue for the November 14 game against Texas. It will be just the second time Texas has played in Morgantown.

Need another reason to head to a West Virginia game this season? The season opener against Georgia Southern will have a fireworks show after the game.

Tennessee still set the bar about as high as you can go last season with its checker-out in Neyland Stadium. Kansas State will also be striping out its stadium this fall.

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Ranking the 10 most patriotic college conferences

The July 4th weekend is for all intents and purposes here, which means things tend to be a little slow on the college football news front. Instead of taking the day off though, I decided to rank the top 10 most patriotic conferences. Here is my list. Feel free to disagree with it as you see fit. Sorry, the independents do not qualify, as they are not an official conference.

1. American Athletic Conference

When the Big East crumbled, up rose the American Athletic Conference. Giving itself such a name made it one of the most patriotic conferences be default, but just this week it cemented its place ahead of Conference USA when Navy officially became a football-playing member. The conference also includes Temple, from Philadelphia. In case you forgot, the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philly, so that should count for something.

2. Conference USA

The OG of patriotic conferences, Conference USA was once the home to Army football (before the Black Knights struggled and decided to go back to being independent). Now it is a conference rooted in the future growth and development of some young or upcoming programs. Consider them college football’s equivalent to colonies at this stage.

3. Mid-American Conference

Another conference with a direct reference to America right in its name, the Mid-American Conference serves us all some #MACTION, because this is America.

4. Patriot League

Bet you didn’t see this one coming. The Patriot League would have been higher had it been in the FBS but it receives special recognition in this list because it is the home to Army and Navy in non-football sports. We’ll give it half-credit for that. It is also the home to American University, which does not play football.

5. Big Ten

Is there anything more American than greed and the idea that bigger is better? Doesn’t that sum up the Big Ten quite well? The conference that added Rutgers and Maryland for no other reason to add more viewers to its innovative Big Ten Network, the Big Ten also hands out plenty of cash to its members, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

6. Mountain West Conference

America was once an underdog looking to prove capable of holding its own against the dominant powers. Then one day, America became that dominant power. That reminds me of the Mountain West Conference, home to more BCS-busters and BCS bowl victories than any other non-power conference. Don’t tell the Mountain West Conference they don’t belong, because they dream big and have even seen some of their own go on to be members of power conferences along the way (Utah, TCU). Dream big MWC, it’s the American way. Also, the home to Air Force football.

7. Colonial Athletic Association

Before we were a nation, we were just 13 simple colonies. The Colonial Athletic Association has members in nine of them spanning from Maine all the way down to North Carolina. That includes Delaware (the first state), Villanova (close enough to Philadelphia and Valley Forge to count), and William & Mary (in Williamsburg).

8. Great American Standings

Sure, we may think we are all great Americans, but the 11 members that make up the Great American Conference in Division 2 have a conference labeling them as such.

9. Liberty League

If you have never heard of the Liberty League, do not be alarmed for you are likely not alone. This Division 3 conference is home to eight football schools, including the Union Dutchmen and the Merchant Marine Mariners.

10. Presidents’ Athletic Conference

Last, but certainly not least, is another one from the world of Division 3 football. The Presidents’ Athletics Conference, or the PAC, is home to Washington & Jefferson (appropriately nicknamed the Presidents). Perhaps this one should have been ranked a little higher.

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Report: RB Delton Williams could return to Spartans this month

Delton Williams, Ryan Russell

After being left off the spring roster, running back Delton Williams may be preparing to return to the Spartans football program in time for the 2015 season.

Per a story from MLive.com this morning, it is expected Williams will return to the Spartans as early as this month, although the school and head coach Mark Dantonio have not commented on the running back’s status since his initial suspension. Williams was not enrolled in classes as of the middle of June after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor firearms charge as a result of a road rage incident in March.  If Williams does rejoin the program within the month, he will be back in Eats Lansing in enough time to participate in fall camp, which could help him be ready for the start of the season.

Williams appeared in 13 games for Michigan State last season, in which he rushed for 316 yards and five touchdowns. Both of those numbers were good for third on the team behind Jeremy Langford and Nick Hill. With both having moved on, Williams is Michigan State’s leading rusher returning in 2015.

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USF adds North Carolina St. transfer Marquez Valdes-Scantling, too

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Steve Osondu

Late last month, UCLA quarterback Asiantii Woulard confirmed that he would be transferring to USF to continue his collegiate playing career.  As it turns out, he’s not the only new Power Five addition to the Bulls.

In confirming Woulard’s addition, USF also announced that they have added transfer Marquez Valdes-Scantling to Willie Taggart‘s football program. The wide receiver comes to USF by way of North Carolina State.

In two seasons at NCSU, Valdes-Scantling caught 44 passes for 538 yards, with 22 catches each year. As a true sophomore, he started the first eight games of the 2014 season. He also started three games as a true freshman in 2013.

Both Valdes-Scantling and Woulard will have to sit out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.  Each will have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

Neither will have a redshirt season at their disposal, with Valdes-Scantling using his for the 2015 season and Woulard his in 2013.

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USF stays in-house to fill coaching vacancy

David Gilbertson

That certainly didn’t take long.  Or very far to look, for that matter.

Wednesday, we noted reports surfaced that Willie Taggart had lost one of his USF assistants to a Sun Belt Conference school.  A day later, Taggart announced that David Gilbertson has been promoted to the position of tight ends coach.

“David is a really smart, cerebral coach who brings a lot of energy, is great with our kids and has their respect,” Taggart said in a statement. “He is the son of a coach and has been with our program for a year now and really knows our system and what we want to do. He’ll be a great fit for the Bulls moving forward.”

Gilbertson joined the Bulls last summer and had been working as an offensive grad assistant. He played quarterback for Washington State, from where he received his degree in 2013 after his playing career ended in 2012.

His father, Keith Gilbertson, served as the head coach at Idaho (1986–1988), Cal (1992–1995) and Washington (2003–2004). He currently is the director of pro personnel for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.

Gilbertson will replace Stu Holt, who will reportedly take over as the running backs coach at Appalachian State.  Holt also served as special teams coordinator; Taggart has not yet indicated who will assume those duties.

The Bulls did confirm that Holt “departed the staff in order to move his family back to their home area” of North Carolina.

(Photo credit: USF athletics)

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Mo’ money, no problems: Diddy won’t face felony charges

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19:  Sean Diddy Combs attends CIROC "Step Into The Circle" Launch hosted by Sean Diddy Combs in Times Square on November 19, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images for CIROC) Getty Images

In the end, it’s the ol’ Lt. Drebin.  Move on, there’s nothing to see here.

Facing five felony charges, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has decided against pursuing a felony case against Sean “Puffy” “Diddy” “P. Diddy” “et al” Combs for whatever role he played in an incident at the UCLA football complex last month.  According to Variety.com, Combs still has a minor legal hurdle to traverse, writing that “[h]is case has been referred to the City Attorney’s Office to decide on charging the rap mogul with a misdemeanor.”

Combs was involved in an altercation with a UCLA assistant, strength coach Sal Alosi, in the Bruins football offices June 22 and was ultimately arrested on multiple felony charges.  The confrontation occurred after Combs’ son, UCLA defensive back Justin Combs, was kicked out of a workout session by Alosi earlier that day, then scurried home to complain to his famous father.

Combs, through a spokesperson, claimed “any actions taken by Mr. Combs were solely defensive in nature to protect himself and his son.” UCLA had preferred charges not being pursued from the beginning.

It was subsequently reported that Alosi had “shamed” the younger Combs for missing a February workout session by posting a photo of him sitting courtside at the NBA All-Star game while his teammates were working out.

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Shoulder issues force A&M’s Jay Arnold to give up football

Texas A&M at Missouri

With the start of summer camp right around the corner, Texas A&M has seen the depth along its defensive line take a little bit of a hit.

The Houston Chronicle‘s Brent Zwerneman is reporting Thursday that Jay Arnold has been forced to retire from the sport of football due to health issues.  Specifically, the lineman is dealing with a lingering shoulder issue that simply wouldn’t allow him to continue to play.

“The shoulder wasn’t going to hold up for another season,” Arnold told Zwerneman.

Arnold played in 11 games last season, starting one of those contests. He started two games during his Aggie career, which began after he came to College Station as a three-star recruit in the Class of 2013.

The silver lining for A&M is that they have assembled quite a bit of talent along the defensive line under head coach Kevin Sumlin, so this medical move should have little impact.

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TBDBITL set to invade London… on NFL’s dime

TBDBITL

For the first time ever, an audience abroad will get to witness firsthand the magnificence that is The Best Damn Band in the Land.

Thursday, it was announced that the Ohio State University Marching Band will perform prior to the Oct. 25 Buffalo-Jacksonville game at London’s Wembley Stadium.

“We’re fortunate to have an international reputation thanks to shows that have gone viral on video or received widespread media attention,” interim band director Christopher Hoch said in a statement. “It will be a real thrill to have a chance to perform for the people of London.

“The NFL has requested a London-themed show, but left the creative elements up to us. We are planning a very special and exciting performance.”

OSU also noted in its release that “[t]he NFL will cover all of the band’s travel costs for the London trip.” Not noted in the release is that the appearance of TBDBITL will at least give those American football fans in attendance something worthwhile on the field to watch… especially if “Script Ohio” is part of the program.

 

(Photo credit: NFL UK)

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Renewing Backyard Brawl one of WVU AD’s ‘top priorities’

Just last week, new Pittsburgh athletic director Scott Barnes was labeling the continuation of the in-state rivalry with Penn State “a priority.”

For Barnes’ counterpart at West Virginia, the resumption of one of the most intense rivalries in college football sits at or near the top of his to-do list.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, WVU AD Shane Lyons confirmed that he and Barnes have resumed talks on possibly restarting the Backyard Brawl.  The Pitt-WVU series went on hiatus after the 2011 season when WVU moved from the Big East to the Big 12 and, a year later, Pitt from the same conference to the ACC.

It’s one of my top priorities in scheduling,” Lyons said in an interview Monday with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think it’s a great thing for us as a university, it’s a great thing for Pitt and it’s a great thing for college football as a whole.”

While its tremendous that the two rivals are talking about renewing the series, it’s extremely doubtful that any resumption would take place prior to the 2018 season as both Pitt’s and WVU’s non-conference schedules in 2016 and 2017 are filled.  It’s also possible that the 2022 season would be the first to see a revival.

Beyond the 2017 season, WVU, which plays just three non-conference games a year because of the nine-game Big 12 slate, already has two games annually scheduled against Power Five programs in 2018 (Tennessee, North Carolina State), 2019 (Missouri, North Carolina State) and 2021 (Maryland Virginia Tech). Pitt also has two non-conference games scheduled against Power Five teams in 2018 (Penn State, Notre Dame).

The 2020 season could be a possibility for a one-year resumption as both schools have just one Power Five game currently on the agenda, WVU vs. Maryland and Pitt vs. Notre Dame.  Outside of 2020, though, it could be at least seven years down the road before a resumption actually comes to fruition.

The good news for fans of the rivalry, though, is that both sides are at least willing to discuss the possibility of getting back together again.

“I’ll continue those conversations with Scott and see where it heads,” Lyons said. “Obviously, he’s only been on the job for a couple of weeks now, but we did have a preliminary discussion of saying ‘Hey, I’d like to talk to you about scheduling.’ He was open to talking about scheduling, so it’s just a matter of getting both schools to sit down and look at what we have and what they have open and trying to make something work.”

The Mountaineers and Panthers have squared off 104 times on the gridiron, with the first coming 1895.  The last came Nov. 25, 2011, a 21-20 WVU win in Morgantown.  Pitt, though, holds the all-time series lead at 61-40-3.

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Reports: Braxton Miller to remain a Buckeye

150702_BraxtonMiller Getty Images

Following up on a non-story story, we have some unofficially official confirmation.  Or something.

Over the last 24 hours or so, quite the ruckus was kicked up after Braxton Miller, though the Columbus Dispatch, announced that he would be revealing his “immediate plans” for his football future at some point next week.  That kicked the rumor mill into overdrive again, with some taking the non-specific nature of the information to mean that the Ohio State quarterback could possibly be transferring.

ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad tossed the first bucket of cold water on the most recent round of speculation…

… before the Dispatch played fireman in a story posted online a short time later:

Quarterback Braxton Miller will not transfer from Ohio State, a source close to him told The Dispatch this afternoon.

Miller, who told The Dispatch yesterday that he will speak to the media soon, will simply address the progress of his rehabilitation and the upcoming season, the source said.

So there you have it. Of course, that won’t stop the speculation on his future from brewing — and growing — between now and whenever Miller releases an official proclamation.

Also, there’s this: all of the drama would go away if Miller revealed his “immediate plans,” ya know, right now. If he’s staying at OSU, why not just come out and state it right now?

Whatever the motive for the delay, all it does is provide additional fuel for those seeking to add to a transfer fire.  At the very least, it’s a news oasis in the midst of the offseason desert.  Woohoo?

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Sooners attempt to put to rest Baker Mayfield rotator cuff rumors

Baker Mayfield

It appears that, in the end, it’s much ado about nothing.  Probably.

Earlier this week, a report surfaced that Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was not a participant in 7-on-7 offseason workouts because of “an apparent shoulder injury.”  Specifically, an OU-specific Football Sickness website reported by was of “two independent sources,” “Mayfield’s absence from recent workouts is in fact related to a rotator cuff injury with his throwing shoulder.

A short time later, Guerin Emig of Tulsa World tweeted that a “[w]ell-connected source says Sooners QB has sore shoulder, no rotator cuff damage.” Wednesday night, the Sooners took the same social media site to further put cold water on the speculation surrounding Mayfield’s health.

Mayfield, a transfer from Texas Tech who was forced to sit out the 2014 season, and Trevor Knight, the 2014 starter, are viewed as the front-runners to claim the starting job this season. Neither grabbed a hold of the position exiting spring, however, so the competition will extend into summer camp.

Four-star 2013 signee Cody Thomas, the No. 2 quarterback a year ago, is also at least on the periphery of the competition, and could find himself in the middle of the positional fray before all is said and done.

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Braxton Miller to reveal plans for future next week

Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller AP

Here we go again.

Just yesterday, Urban Meyer was addressing the medical status of Braxton Miller moving forward.  Around the same time, Miller took to Twitter to give a positive update on the health of this throwing shoulder, the dinged wing that forced him to miss the entire 2014 season and opened the door for J.T. Barrett and, ultimately, Cardale Jones to shine.  And to create a three-man quarterback competition — or will it be a three-man?

First, Miller’s tweet that eventually got the rumor mill cranked up again:

That was fine, until the Columbus Dispatch asked via the social media website what that update meant for his future. “In response to a question from The Dispatch about what it means for his future, Miller wrote back that he expects to announce his immediate plans next week,” Tim May of the Columbus newspaper wrote.

And that was all it took to get the transfer speculation — some would label it ridiculous — renewed anew. The man connected to Alabama and Florida State and Oregon in transfer rumors months ago is now the subject of yet another round of speculation thanks to eight little words: “expects to announce his immediate plans next week.”

Miller himself stated in late January at a celebration for Ohio State’s 2014 national championship that “we’ve got another year.” His head coach, on more than one occasion, emphatically stated Miller will return for his senior season, as has his head coach and athletic director. The latter, in fact, reemphasized that stance just today.

If Miller did indeed decide to transfer from the Buckeyes for what will be his final season of college football, wouldn’t it have made sense for him to do it before spring practice? Sure, he couldn’t have participated because of the ongoing rehab to his injured shoulder, but he could’ve begun the process of absorbing an entirely new offense and get acclimated to his new situation. Now we’re supposed to believe that, a month before the start of summer camp, Miller would all of a sudden jump to another program?

That dog don’t hunt.

11Warriors.com is arguably the best and most comprehensive OSU website on the Internet; I’m going to go with their line of thinking on this latest Miller speculation.

UPDATED 2:06 p.m. ET: Instead of an entirely new post, I’ll just go ahead and and toss this latest piece of speculation in right here.

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