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.

Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis potentially out for spring

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Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.

“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”

It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.

In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.

Penn State announces three captains for 2017 season

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With Penn State just about to get started with spring football practices, head coach James Franklin wasted no time in naming his captains for the 2017 season. Quarterback Trace McSorley, linebacker Jason Cabinda, and safety Nick Scott have been voted captains by their peers on the team.

“These three young men have been leaders in our program, on and off the field,” Franklin said in a released statement. “They live our four core values and act with the program’s best interest in mind. Our team is in good hands with these guys!”

McSorley took over the offense as Penn State’s starting quarterback in 2016. A bit of a mystery to most entering the season after being the backup to Christian Hackenberg, McSorley ended his 2016 season with a Big Ten-leading 3,614 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes with eight interceptions and played a key role in guiding Penn State to a late run to a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the Rose Bowl. He enters the 2017 season as one of the top quarterbacks returning to the Big Ten, along with Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett.

Cabinda, an All-Big Ten third team player in 2016, was Penn State’s third-leading tackler last season with 81 tackles. He accumulated that many tackles despite missing five games due to injury. He is slated to be the leader in the middle of the Penn State defense with a starting role already locked down and will look to help guide some younger linebackers stepping into key roles in the defense this upcoming season, such as Manny Bowen and Koa Farmer.

Scott has been a special teams leader for Penn State and is expected to continue to lead the special teams effort once again this season.

New Arkansas house bill will allow some concealed guns at football games

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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill regarding a person’s ability to carry a concealed handgun into various buildings at a public university or college into state law. However, House Bill 1249 will not allow all legal gun owners to carry a gun to a football game in the state of Arkansas.

Football games will be considered a “sensitive area,” which require enhanced training in order to be allowed to carry a gun into a football stadium. The law supposedly trumps any provisions already in place to prevent guns from being allowed on the premises.

“The enhanced level of training is very important, and I am convinced the public will be more safe,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This bill, in my view, reflects the view of the general assembly.”

The bill has received praise from Arkansas Republican state representative Charlie Collins and the NRA.

While the bill has now become an act in the state, it will not go into effect until January 2018, so guns will still not be allowed in football games where Arkansas, Arkansas State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, or Central Arkansas during the 2017 season.

The news of the new Arkansas state law comes on the same day the SEC has just unveiled a new clear bag policy for football games in the 2017 season. How the SEC handles this latest state law within its footprint remains to be seen (as well as the Sun Belt Conference). The bigger question will be where the SEC stands on this law considered the law is designed to overrule any stadium policies. The way the law is written, the SEC may not be able to do much to stand in the way, but the conference has those clear bag policies hammered down, rest assured.

Kentucky hands Mark Stoops a two-year contract extension

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After guiding Kentucky through its best season in nearly a decade, Mark Stoops has been rewarded.

Kentucky announced Wednesday afternoon that Stoops’ contract has been extended by two years.  The head coach’s previous deal had been set to run through June 30, 2020; the extension pushes that date out to June 30, 2020.

Stoops will earn $3.5 million in 2017, with the new contract calling for annual $250,000 raises.  In the last year of the contract extension, and barring any additional tweaking, Stoops could earn $4.75 million.

Additionally, if the Wildcats win at least seven games but no more than nine in a season, the contract automatically extends by one year.  If the team wins 10-plus games, it extends by two years. “Stoops will continue to receive $250,000 for each win beginning with the seventh win of each season and $50,000 per semester in which the team grade-point average is 2.75 or higher,” the release stated.

Participation in an SEC-affiliated bowl will net Stoops a $100,000 bonus, provided the Wildcats win at least six games that season.  There’s also a $50,000 bonus for earning a spot in a non-SEC bowl game, with the same six-win threshold.  Last season, UK qualified for a bowl game for the first time under Stoops and the first time under anyone since 2010.

“The last four years have been a grind for Mark and his staff, but he has never wavered in his commitment to building Kentucky football into a consistent winner,” a statement from athletic director Mitch Barnhart began. “While the work isn’t close to finished, we believe Mark is the coach to take us there. We are thankful to Mark and Chantel for all they have done to this point and we look forward to our program’s bright future under his leadership.”

The Wildcats’ 7-6 record last season was the program’s best since hitting the same mark in the last season under Rich Brooks in 2009.  The first three seasons with Stoops in control, UK posted a 12-24 mark.

In SEC play, they are just 8-24 since 2013, although they were 4-4 in conference play this past season.  The Wildcats have finished seventh (2013), sixth (2014), tied-fourth (2015) and tied-second (2016) in league play with Stoops as head coach.

“I want to thank Dr. (Eli) Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and the Board of Trustees for their continued support,” Stoops said. “When we came here, doing a rebuild in a challenging situation, I said that full support from everyone involved was imperative and we have always received that. We needed great commitment, we’ve had great commitment and we’re continuing to get great commitment.”

If Stoops is fired by UK, he’s entitled to receive 75 percent of the remaining guaranteed compensation on the contract.  If Stoops leaves of his own accord, he’d owe the university $1 million regardless of how many years are left on the deal.