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.

QB controversy in Tuscaloosa? Freshman Tua Tagovailoa impresses at Alabama spring game

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Alabama’s annual A-Day spring game took place at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday and those tuning in to the Crimson team’s last minute 27-24 win over the White team had to be especially impressed with the Tide’s explosive offense under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

In particular that comes at the quarterback position, where there might be more of a controversy at the spot than first thought. Incumbent Jalen Hurts was very sharp on his downfield passes but his strong outing (301 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) was overshadowed by true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who simply stole the show down in Tuscaloosa.

The early enrollee signal-caller from Hawaii jumped onto the scene in the first half of the game and wound up completing 17 passes for 313 yards, three touchdowns and an interception while working with both the first- and second-team offenses. You could normally dismiss numbers put up against a team’s second-string defense, this is Alabama we’re talking about so you know it’s coming against numerous future All-SEC players.

Tagovailoa did throw a pick-six in the second quarter but that was mostly because linebacker Terrell Hall made an unbelievable play on a swing pass to snatch the ball out of the air and run it all the way back to the opposite end zone. Freshman tailback Najee Harris (70 yards rushing) as well as stud wide receivers Calvin Ridley, Robert Foster and Jerry Jeudy (134 yards, two scores) also stood out on Saturday.

In all, offense ruled the day as the two quarterbacks combined for over 600 yards through the air. That probably won’t make reviewing film with Nick Saban all that pleasant for members of the secondary next week but was probably good news to most fans after lackluster performances down the stretch to end last season.

Either way, everybody should probably start brushing up on how to pronounce Tagovailoa even if he doesn’t ultimately unseat Hurts as the starter because the young QB has lived up to the early billing by recruiting analysts.

Baylor freshman tailback Abram Smith out for the season with spring ACL tear

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Baylor kicked off the first spring game of the Matt Rhule era on Saturday and wrapped things up with a 65-39 Gold team victory over the Green squad that included a pretty impressive touchdown catch from former basketball player Ish Wainright.

The news wasn’t all rosy in Waco however as after the game Rhule announced that freshman running back Abram Smith would be lost for the 2017 season after suffering an ACL tear in the Bears’ first spring practice.

Smith wasn’t being counted on as being a starter this season but his loss is a fairly big blow to the team’s depth at the position. Returnees JaMycal Hasty and Terence Williams already missed parts of the spring game due to injuries on Saturday, leaving just senior Wyatt Schrepfer to take most of the carries late in the contest.

All three figure to be good to go by the time fall camp rolls around but there’s not much behind them with Smith being lost for the year. A three-star recruit coming out of high school, the early enrollee likely would have seen some snaps in 2017 but will instead have to spend it redshirting on the bench.

Brian Kelly takes the blame for Notre Dame’s struggles last season

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Notre Dame wrapped up spring football with the Irish’s annual spring game on NBC Sports Network on Saturday afternoon in South Bend and front and center was not surprisingly head coach Brian Kelly.

While fans of the team were probably most interested in how quarterback Brandon Wimbush looked, Kelly did go into detail about what the offseason has been like after last year’s disappointing 4-8 campaign. While the coach has been known to be a bit defensive when it comes to the team’s struggles, he did open up during a sit-down interview and was transparent in taking the blame for the way 2016 went.

“When you have a losing season, you have to look at yourself first,” Kelly told NBC Sports’ Jac Collinsworth. “I’ve always felt like there isn’t a bad football team but there is bad leadership and I don’t think I provided the kind of leadership (last year). It starts with yourself.”

Kelly goes on to discuss the significant changes to the Irish coaching staff, how this team is very much a work in progress and how Wimbush is handling taking over as the starting signal-caller.

The Gold team ended up winning the spring game 27-14 over the Blue team behind a strong defensive performance. If Saturday’s outing was any indication, Notre Dame should be much improved this upcoming season and that seems to start from the top on down.

SEC commissioner confirms graduate transfer rule changes will be discussed at spring meetings

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We’re still over a month away from the SEC’s annual spring meetings down in Destin, Fla. but one item we might be able to confirm is on the agenda will be the graduate transfer rules for the conference.

It’s a hot topic around the league and particularly so at Florida, which is in the mix to land Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire but can’t officially take him due to restrictions from the conference office.

That may change however, as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed in a radio interview on Friday with ESPN Gainesville.

“It will come up,” Sankey said, according to SECCountry.com. “I do think we need to look where we’ve been restrictive in the past because of the absence of national rules and look at reducing some of those restrictions. I’m one who would position it as interest in freeing things up without just removing every restraint, because I think the restraints have been healthy for us.”

At the heart of the issue is a rule that limits schools from taking additional graduate transfers if previous graduate transfers failed to meet academic requirements after enrolling. The move was designed to prevent a number of situations where players would transfer over just to play and not really go through coursework at their new school.

Other NCAA conferences have failed to follow the SEC’s lead in this area however and now the league is being put at a bit of a disadvantage on the graduate transfer market. This is particularly an issue with the Gators this offseason but it seems as though there will be quite the discussion down in Destin among athletic directors and head coaches about changing the rules to be on more of a level playing field with other conferences on this front.