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 LB Aaron Mends to miss extended time with injury

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Talk about a hard-luck story.

After never starting a game at Iowa, Aaron Mends (pictured, blocking punt) had earned a starting job at outside linebacker during practice this spring.  With football being the cruel mistress that it can be at times, the Hawkeyes announced Friday night that Mends “will miss an extended period of time due to injury.” The program offered no details as to the specific nature of the injury, although it’s believed to involve the knee.

According to the school’s release, the fifth-year senior suffered the injury during the final week of Iowa’s spring drills.

Mends was a three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class.  He was the highest-rated linebacker in Iowa’s class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Mends has played in 38 games the past three seasons.  A baker’s dozen of those appearances came during the 2017 season.

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.