Hawaii continues to set eyes on Pac 12

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There area few programs that could throw another round of conference realignment in motion. It appears Hawaii hopes to be that program. Yes, Hawaii.

Hawaii Athletic Director Ben Jay along with other members of the University of Hawaii addressed a number of stakeholders and financial supporters to lay out what is referred to by the Honolulu Star Advertiser as a game plan to improve Hawaii athletics in hopes of attracting a potentially wandering eye from the Pac 12. You know, just in case the Pac 12 is interested in another round of expansion at some point.

Hawaii has long been interested in exploring a potential move to the Pac 12, and it makes sense from Hawaii’s point of view. Currently a member of the Mountain West Conference, the only realistic possibility for Hawaii to move up in competition (and compensation) would be the Pac 12. The Big 12 would never give Hawaii a call and the SEC, ACC, Big Ten and American (and others) would be beyond the point of ridiculousness when it comes to realignment. The Pac 12 may still be a dream scenario for Hawaii but the school may be a last option for the Pac 12.

If there is one thing we know about realignment it is that if the money doesn’t make sense to make a move, no move is better than making a move for the benefit of expansion. In this case, it is all about television markets and potential TV viewers. Honolulu is ranked 72nd among the top 100 TV markets, which is not exactly the most attractive to a conference like the Pac 12.

Hawaii may have some benefits to Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott‘s grand vision for the growth of the conference though. The Pac 12 is working on plans to expand the conference’s brand in to Asia. Adding Hawaii could help further that promotional cause but how much more would the mission expand by adding Hawaii compared to what it would have without the university in the islands?

This could all be an effort by Hawaii to have the university ready with a back-up plan in the event the Mountain West Conference loses any more members. Having already raided the WAC, the Mountain West managed to keep Boise State and San Diego State in the conference despite the two already committing to join the Big East. The decision to leave the Mountain West showed those schools are ready to weigh their options if they are available, so it is wise for other MWC schools to be prepared for any such realignment changes.

Hawaii may never receive an invitation to the Pac 12. Keep in mind if the Pac 12 did choose to expand, it would be likely they would prefer to do so in even numbers, which means another program would have to be worth adding as well. BYU? That ship seems to have sailed, although the Cougars remain an independent and the Pac 12 already has Utah.  Although the goal may be unreachable for Hawaii, far be it form anyone to hold them back in doing what they can to put forth their best effort. Even if Pac 12 membership never comes through, any efforts made to improve the athletics department in trying to get there can go a long way in all sports, not just football.

Go for it Hawaii. If you do not try and ask, the answer will always be no.

Heisman winner Chris Weinke hired as Tennessee’s running backs coach

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It can be argued that the only reason Tennessee has a national championship is because of Chris Weinke. As we know, the Vols claimed the 1998 national championship by defeating Florida State in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, the first national championship game of the BCS era. Tennessee won that game, 23-16, thanks in large part to a pick-six thrown by Marcus Outzen, a third-string quarterback forced into action due to an injury by the two signal callers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Here’s how a Sports Illustrated article described Weinke and that FSU team in its 1999 preview issue:

Don’t think of 1999 as a new season for Florida State, think of it as the resumption of an old one. Before quarterback Chris Weinke was dumped on his head and suffered a season-ending ruptured disk in his neck in a 45-14 win over Virginia last Nov. 7, no team in the country was playing better than the Seminoles, who had bounced back from an early-season defeat at North Carolina State. So how cruel was this? Upset losses suffered by Ohio State, UCLA and Kansas State sent 11-1 Florida State to the national title game in the Fiesta Bowl, but without its best quarterback. The Seminoles and backup signal-caller Marcus Outzen struggled on offense and lost to Tennessee.

Nevertheless, Tennessee won that season’s title, Weinke would lead Florida State to the 1999 national title and take the Heisman Trophy a year after that. The past is the past.

But now the past is the present, as the former Florida State quarterback on Wednesday was announced as Tennessee’s running backs coach.

“I’m excited to have Chris Weinke on our staff to coach running backs,” Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt said in a statement. “He has played the game at the highest level and what he has accomplished on the field speaks for itself. He is also an outstanding coach and teacher of the game, coaching in the NFL, in college this past season and at the high school level. He has a great eye for talent and knows the game on the offensive side of the ball as well as anybody I’ve been around. He will be a great fit for our Tennessee program.”

Weinke entered the NFL as a 26-year-old and lasted seven seasons with the Panthers and 49ers before moving into coaching. He first worked as a trainer at IMG Academy, then moved onto coaching the high school program, where he went 19-2 as head coach and offensive coordinator. From there he deposited a stint as the Los Angeles Rams’ quarterbacks coach before spending the 2017 season as an offensive analyst at Alabama, where he hooked up with Pruitt.

Weinke will be charged with re-building the Vols’ backfield after losing John Kelly to an early entry into the NFL draft. Rising sophomore Ty Chandler is Tennessee’s leading returning rusher, carrying 71 times for 305 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.

Report: starting West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler leaving to pursue career in track

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You don’t see this happen too often.

Citing multiple sources, Mike Casazza of EerSports.com is reporting that West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler is no longer a member of the Mountaineers football team.  A team official stated the redshirt sophomore “is reportedly pursuing a career in track and field,” Casazza wrote.

It’s unclear whether the track & field pursuit would take place at WVU or at another university.

According to Shuler’s bio on the team’s official website, he finished runner-up as a high school senior in the discus at the Florida state track & field championships.  He finished third in the same event as a sophomore.

Shuler, a three-star member of the Mountaineers’ 2015 recruiting class, started 10 games this past season.  However, on the most recent depth chart, he’s listed as the backup to Ezekiel Rose at one of the defensive end spots.

In 12 games, Shuler’s three sacks were tied for third on the team while his eight tackles for loss were good for solo third.

East Carolina grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew will reportedly visit Alabama this weekend

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It appears the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™ is close to being implemented.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Gardner Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.  That interest has ramped up since as al.com is reporting that Minshew will be visiting the Crimson Tide’s campus this weekend.

As a graduate transfer, Minshew would be eligible to play immediately this season at UA, or any other FBS program for that matter.

Alabama’s interest in a grad transfer at the position will do nothing to quell the rumors that Hurts, the starter for each of the last 29 games over the past two seasons, is a potential candidate for a transfer. Hurts was benched in favor of Tua Tagovailoa in the national championship game, with the true freshman’s comeback heroics signaling a likely changing of the guard under center.

As for Minshew, he started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.

Wake Forest WR Greg Dortch cleared for spring practice

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Unlike how his 2017 season ended, Greg Dortch‘s 2018 offseason is trending much more positively.

In Wake Forest’s late-October win over Louisville, Dortch went down with what turned out to be a season-ending abdominal injury. Four months after sustaining the injury, and with spring practice right around the corner, the wide receiver has been medically cleared to fully participate in practice.

Despite missing the last month of the regular season as well as the postseason, Dortch still led the Demon Deacons in receiving yards with 722. His 53 receptions and nine receiving touchdowns were tied for tops on the team as well.

In the game in which he was injured, he set the school record with four touchdown catches.