Under Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech is relevant again

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The stars were easy to name five years ago, when Graham Harrell linked up with Michael Crabtree. Harrell’s game-winning touchdown to Crabtree against Texas was one of the highlights of 2008, with the win one of, if not the, best in school history.

Since that season, things have gone downhill in Lubbock. There was the controversial, ugly split between the university and Mike Leach. Tommy Tuberville followed with two uninspiring seasons.

But at 7-0 and No. 10 in the BCS, Texas Tech is back on the national stage. The Red Raiders’ date with Oklahoma in Norman on Saturday is one of this weekend’s more intriguing games, sort of a bellwether game for Texas Tech’s legitimacy as a BCS contender.

A large part of the success to date, though, can be traced back to bringing in Kliff Kingsbury.

SI’s Stewart Mandel looked at how Kingsbury vaulted his alma mater back into relevancy, and how his players would “literally run in front of an 18-wheeler for him.”

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jimmy Burch wrote how Texas Tech is motivated by its critics — those who didn’t think much of prior to the season and still don’t think much of them now.

Kingsbury specifically mentioned how Texas Tech was put on “upset alert” by College GameDay for the game last weekend against West Virginia, driving home the “prove these people wrong” point before kickoff.

While Texas Tech hasn’t played a difficult schedule — their best win is a 20-10 victory over TCU — they get Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas in four of their final five games. If their run of success continues (and there’s some more attrition around the top of the BCS standings), a Texas Tech-Baylor game in Lubbock could have championship implications next month.

Not bad for a first-year coach.

“It doesn’t matter what people are saying now, jumping on board,” Kingsbury said, via the Star-Telegram. “What matters is what we believed in this team room from Day One. The rest of it really doesn’t matter.”

Report: North Texas adds FCS running back transfer

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North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.

Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.

Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.

As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.

Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger signs extension, vows to fix football

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Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.

Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.

“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”

Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.

David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.

Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:

Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”

“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”

The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.

Alleged victim of Tennessee WR Josh Smith threatens $3 million civil suit

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Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.

According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.

“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’

“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.

The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.

How some college football teams are recognizing Memorial Day on Twitter

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It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.

If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.