Dodds makes decision to step down official

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In mid-September, a report surfaced that DeLoss Dodds would be stepping down from his long-time Texas post in the coming months, a report that the athletic director vehemently denied.

Following up on speculation that surfaced Monday, that’s exactly what Dodds has done.

At a press conference Tuesday, Dodds announced that he will officially retire as UT’s athletic director in late August of next year, although he could very well step aside well before then.  After that, it’s likely he will take on some type of advisory role within the athletic department.

The 76-year-old Dodds stated that he began seriously contemplating retirement back in June, and that he’d actually been thinking about it on some level for a year or two, suggesting his very vociferous denial  two weeks ago was leaning toward the hollow end.  By announcing his plans to step down 11 months from now, Dodds said it will allow the university plenty of time to find new leadership.

“I love The University of Texas, and I love the people. We’ve had a great run,” Dodds said in statements provided by the school. “I have been contemplating this decision for a while. (University of Texas President) Bill Powers and I have talked it over, and this is something I am ready to do at this time. …

“I promised to let people know well in advance. I want the university to have the appropriate amount of time to find a successor, and I want to ensure that the athletics department can prepare and execute a succession plan for new leadership.”

Dodds has been the head of UT athletics since 1981 and, while he’s come under fire in recent years, is widely viewed as one of the most powerful men in college athletics and helped guide Longhorn men’s sports programs — UT has a female AD for women’s sports — to a stunning run of success over the past three decades.

…DeLoss Dodds has guided The University of Texas to national acclaim and championship success. Under his guidance, the Texas Longhorns have won 14 National Championships and 108 conference (Southwest Conference and Big 12) titles in nine different men’s sports.

Football’s run to the BCS National Championship during the 2005-06 season underscores, arguably, the most successful period in UT Athletics history.

Football’s fourth national title at the 2006 Rose Bowl highlights a decade of excellence that featured at least 10 victories in nine consecutive seasons, five-straight bowl victories and appearances in the national title game in 2006 and 2010.

Additionally, Men’s Basketball advanced to a school-record 14 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including a Final Four appearance in 2003, Sweet 16 appearances in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2008 and three Elite Eight appearances in 2003, 2006 and 2008. Baseball has advanced to the NCAA Men’s College World Series seven times since 2000, winning national championships in 2002 and 2005.

As for those who claim that he made this decision now because of the state of the football program, Dodds stated that he would be doing this if the Longhorns were 4-0 or 0-4.

And, as for just who will replace a man Powers described as “one of the giants of college athletics,” that decision will be made by the president, who said he will lean heavily on Dodds for guidance in finding his successor.  The two say they hope to have a new AD in place in a couple of months.

If/when the new AD is hired before Dodds’ contract runs out Aug. 31, he will step aside and into whatever his new role will be.

One of the names most prominently mentioned as Dodds’ replacement is West Virginia’s Oliver Luck.  The father of Andrew Luck told WVMetroNews.com today that he would not reciprocate interest if Texas called.

Iowa OL Sean Welsh opens up about depression battle in op-ed essay

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Iowa offensive lineman Sean Welsh has gone public about his ongoing battle with depression.

In a first person essay posted to Iowa’s official website, Welsh (No. 79, center) says symptoms emerged during his redshirt freshman season. He noticed himself eating less and spending more time isolated from other people, and felt his enthusiasm for school and football evaporate. He played through the depression, but felt his play suffer as the season progressed.

Football, the driving force for many years of my life, went from a source of purpose to a source of apathy. I started to feel a myriad of negative emotions: sadness, anxiety, dread and anger. They hit me like a bombardment from the moment I woke up to when I went back to bed.

It was every dimension of terrible. And I kept wondering what was wrong.

My family and I both needed some answers so I went to a therapist where we talked about identity and why I played football. It was like pulling teeth. Up to then, I felt that inner motives or emotions weren’t something to be shared – they showed your weaknesses. Plus, I didn’t have time for this stuff in the fall. I had a full class load and football on top of it. So I swept my depression under the rug and promised to revisit it after the season.  Which worked…for a while.

Welsh wrote that his symptoms peaked in the spring of 2015, when classes and tests slipped from his mind and, at one point, he spent three straight days holed up in his room. That experienced forced him to leave the team and return home for therapy. Welsh returned to the team that summer and remained in Iowa City to help the Hawkeyes to a 12-0 regular season, a Big Ten West championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. He wrote that he opened up with his story to the rest of the team and feels enthusiastic for the upcoming 2017 campaign.

Welsh says he opened up to the public to help people understand that a high status in life or a long list of accomplishments doesn’t shield anyone from depression.

First off, depression doesn’t discriminate. You can have everything working in your favor – a strong upbringing, a loving family, a promising future – and depression can turn it upside down.

It can make your successes feel unimportant and your problems seem monumental. It made me feel empty, like I had nothing.

But it also galvanized me. It gave me a perspective that I never would have gained without it. Depression also taught me pure, visceral humility and that I need to be honest with myself and others about how I feel.  Without the support of my family, Coach Ferentz and his staff, my teammates and my friends – I’m not sure I would’ve gotten off the mat.

Read the full essay here.

Baylor DB Travon Blanchard arrested on family violence charges

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As Matt Rhule was winning Big 12 media days on Tuesday, one of his players was generating an all-too-familiar headline.

Bears defensive back Travon Blanchard was arrested Tuesday night on family violence charges. He was released later Tuesday night on $6,000 bond.

Blanchard was arrested in Waco, but the warrant for his arrest originated out of Fort Bend County, near Houston. Blanchard’s attorney Michelle Tuegel made a statement late Tuesday evening, saying, “we look forward to representing Travon and bringing out the truth in court.”

Blanchard was suspended from the program before Tuesday’s arrest, and Rhule said Tuesday (before news of the arrest broke) that his status remain unchanged.

“Travon Blanchard was suspended from all team activities immediately after learning of allegations made against him in February,” Baylor said in a statement. “That status has not changed and he has had no involvement with the program since that time. The university is aware of the arrest made today in connection with the previous allegations against Blanchard and will monitor the developments of this charge for any additional decision regarding his affiliation as a student-athlete.”

Blanchard appeared in 11 games last season, registering 73 tackles and nine TFLs.

Tommy Tuberville to join ESPN roster of college football analysts

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Tommy Tuberville is not going to be Alabama’s next governor, he’s not going to be mayor of Lubbock, and he’s not going to coach again — at least not in 2017. Absent of something to do, Tuberville has found himself a new job.

ESPN announced Wednesday Tuberville has joined its roster of college football analysts. He’ll work as a color commentator on Saturday games on ESPN or ABC. Which crew he’ll work on remains to be determined.

“Tommy has been a staple in college football for many years, having experienced nearly every situation as a head coach” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said in a statement. “We want him to bring that experience to our telecast, informing fans on the dynamics of a head coach’s thought process, not only in a given moment but leading up to and following that moment.”

Tuberville, 62, is out of coaching for the second time in his career after he stepped down at Cincinnati following a 4-8 campaign. He went 29-22 from 2013-16 at Cincinnati, 20-17 from 2010-12 at Texas Tech, 85-40 from 1999-08 at Auburn, and 25-20 from 1995-98 at Ole Miss.

ESPN released the following video to announce Tuberville’s hiring.

North Dakota State AD thinks Big Ten is rethinking stance against FCS opponents

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Remember not so long ago when the Big Ten decided that games against FCS opponents would no longer be permitted? That was nice while it lasted.

As reported by The Forum, North Dakota State athletics director Matt Larsen says he is optimistic a change in scheduling philosophy out of the Big Ten will reopen some doors for the Bison and other FCS programs moving forward.

“We sure hope so,” Larsen said. “Again, the best part for us is with the Big Ten, it’s the most geographical favorable footprint and they are the teams we would most prefer to play. There are a lot of Land Grant institutions and it gives our fan base more ability to travel.”

Larsen explains the Big Ten is considering amending its scheduling policy to accommodate Big Ten teams that must play five road games in the nine-game Big Ten schedule. Big Ten members who have four home games per season in conference play would, in theory, be allowed to schedule one FCS opponent to fill a scheduling vacancy.

Two summers ago, the Big Ten announced a change to its scheduling policy with the intent of making the conference’s overall schedule more attractive and competitive as the College Football Playoff was supposedly focusing on strength of schedule. In addition to expanding to a nine-game conference schedule, the Big Ten required members to schedule one game against another power conference opponent (which has already seen exemptions made for some) and no more games against FCS opponents would be allowed. Consider it a power play move by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany to make for a more valuable television product and maybe a challenge to other conferences to do the same.

Of course, while other power conferences like the ACC and SEC have drafted some scheduling requirements to include one power conference opponent, every other power conference has left the door open to scheduling FCS opponents. Maybe Delany’s bluff was recognized around the country.

With a limited number of non-conference games to schedule and schedules being booked years in advance, filling out a 12-game schedule has come with some problems as conferences have expanded in numbers and some have expanded in the conference schedule. That leaves some schools and conferences in a bind because schools from Conference USA and the MAC can only play so many power conference opponents in their limited non-conference slots.

The Big Ten has not formally addressed this potential change in scheduling philosophy at this time, but keep an eye on it as the Big Ten kicks off its media days.