Baylor makes big gain on Buckeyes in coaches’ poll

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The good news for Ohio State is that the Buckeyes moved up one spot in the latest USA Today coaches’ poll and now sit just one spot outside the Top Two.

The bad news?  The object in OSU’s rear-view mirror is much closer than they would like it to appear.

Baylor jumped to No. 4 in the coaches’ poll following Missouri’s Week 8 loss, 83 points behind Ohio State.  After Week 9, the gap had shrunk a bit to 70 points.  Following the Bears’ impressive win over Oklahoma and the Buckeyes’ bye, the margin from No. 3 to No. 4 is all the way down to 25 points.

As Baylor has games left against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State (No. 10 in this week’s poll) and Texas (reentering at No. 24) to go along with TCU, and Ohio State would play no one of consequence until the Big Ten championship game — apologies, Michigan; not so much Illinois, Indiana — the Buckeyes are in serious jeopardy of being leapfrogged in the coaches’ poll and, in all likelihood, the BCS standings as the computer numbers that currently favor the Buckeyes will skew more toward the Bears.  The importance, of course, is that the team sitting at No. 3 would be primed to, provided they continue winning, slide into a BCS title game spot should either Alabama or Florida State falter.

Speaking of which, the Tide, as they have been since the preseason poll was released,  is again No. 1 this week.  Thanks to Oregon’s loss to Stanford, the Seminoles are now at No. 2.  Alabama received 58 first-place votes, up from 54 a week ago, while FSU added one and now claims the other four.

The Ducks, which held five first-place votes after Week 10, slid down five spots to No. 7.  The Cardinal and Clemson each moved up one spot to Nos. 5 and 6, respectively.

The most precipitous tumblers of the week were Oklahoma and Miami.  Each came in nine spots lower than the week before, the former down to No. 17 thanks to its 29-point loss to Baylor and the latter to No. 23 courtesy of an 18-point loss to unranked Virginia Tech.  LSU, coming off its loss to Alabama, exited Week 11 at No. 18 after entering No. 12.

The only other teams to move up or down more than two spots were South Carolina, Louisville, Fresno State, UCLA and Michigan State, which are all up three positions to Nos. 12-16, respectively.

It should also be noted that, yet again, the coaches have one-loss Louisville, which lost to one-loss UCF, ahead of the Knights.  Excellent work football support staff sports information directors coaches.

Texas Tech (No. 23) and Notre Dame (No. 25) each dropped out, replaced by Texas and Minnesota (No. 25).

Coaches' Poll Week 11

Fans can legally pack concealed heat at Georgia football tailgates

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Guns and SEC football are back in the news yet again this offseason.  And this one has the ACC riding shotgun as well.

In late March, the state of Arkansas legislature passed a law (House Bill 1249) that would allow concealed-carry handguns on publicly-owned property, which would’ve include college sporting events.  A day later, and after realizing, amidst considerable controversy, the potential for alcohol-fueled fans attending an SEC football game armed, the state’s senate voted to amend the law to exclude college sporting events.

Fast-forward to this month, and the state of Georgia legislature has passed a law (House Bill 280) that would allow the carrying of concealed handguns on college campuses, with exceptions that include on-campus stadiums, arenas, gymnasiums and the like hosting intercollegiate sporting events.  That bill is scheduled to become law in the state July 1.

In clarifying the language of the law, the university confirmed in an extensive press release Wednesday that individuals with valid weapons licenses will be permitted to conceal-carry outside of college football stadiums.  In other words, licensed individuals would be permitted to carry concealed weapons outside of Sanford Stadium as well as Bobby Dodd Stadium as part of the game-day tailgating experience.

Only handguns are allowed under this law, and only when concealed.  Long guns, obviously, are not permitted under any circumstance.

“I understand that many of you have strong feelings about this bill,” UGA Chancellor Steve Wrigley began his letter to the university community. “Yet, whether you opposed or supported the legislation, it will soon be state law, and I respectfully ask everyone to exercise patience, understanding and respect as we implement it.

“We all share the same goal of ensuring a safe campus environment. We should work together to implement the law as written and thoughtfully address any complications that may arise.”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement amidst the Arkansas gun-law controversy that may or may not have had an impact on that state’s legislature tweaking of the bill. It bears watching whether the commish follows a similar public tack when it comes to this piece of legislation.

The Georgia Bulldogs will open their 2017 season at home against Appalachian State Sept. 2, while Georgia Tech’s home opener is Sept. 9 against Jacksonville State.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.