Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota returning to Oregon in 2014

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It’s a great day to be a Duck.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and center Hroniss Grasu have decided to return to school for the 2014 season rather than go pro, the school announced on Tuesday.

Mariota, a redshirt sophomore, and Grasu, a redshirt junior, announced their intentions a day after earning all-Pac-12 accolades from the conference’s head coaches for the second straight year.

“It is an honor to be a student at the University of Oregon and to have the opportunity to represent our institution on the football field alongside my teammates,” said Mariota. “I look forward to earning my degree next year and to the rest of my career at this great University.”

This season, Mariota threw for 3,412 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushed for 582 and nine scores. He was the Heisman front runner for a good chunk of the season until his team lost games against Stanford and Arizona in November. He’ll be considered one of the front runner for the award next year as well.

Grasu is already a three-year starter and will once again anchor a solid Duck line in 2014.

“The University of Oregon is a special place and I’m extremely happy to be returning for my senior year,” Grasu said. “To be a student-athlete in this community is an honor and an experience I’ll continue to cherish with my teammates.”

With these two players returning next season, it all but assures that the Ducks will once again be in the national title conversation. If they had gone pro, head coach Mark Helfrich would’ve been faced with a major rebuilding effort in his second season. Now, the transition will be much easier.

DUI charge against Vols’ Charles Mosley dropped

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Tennessee athletics
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Sometimes, most times, a college football player will see the charges he was initially facing drastically reduces.  Very rarely are the charges dropped entirely, yet that’s where the situation involving a Tennessee Volunteer currently stands.

In late July, Charles Mosley was arrested following a traffic stop and charged with first-offense driving under the influence and speeding.  Fast-forward nine months and, the Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting, both of those charges have been dismissed.  The dismissal came after a preliminary hearing earlier today.

The initial traffic stop was initiated because Mosley was clocked doing 79 in a 55 mph zone.  The arresting officer smelled the odor of marijuana as he approached the vehicle; Mosley claimed he had been at a hotel with friends a short time earlier and they were smoking weed (the second-hand smell defense).  That said, marijuana residue was found in the passenger seat next to Mosley as well as his backseat, and the offensive lineman performed poorly on a field sobriety test.

Mosley had submitted to a drug test, but, the News Sentinel writes, “Mosley’s attorney Steve Oberman said the case was dismissed because the state failed to establish probable cause to arrest” his client.

“The arresting officer believed he had sufficient grounds to arrest Mr. Mosley,” Oberman told the paper. “The proof presented today in court was insufficient to send the case to the grand jury. … Mr. Mosley and I are thrilled to have the case concluded in such a favorable fashion.”

The proof presented in court wasn’t detailed.

After “internal discipline” from head coach Butch Jones, Mosley appeared in 12 games for the Vols in 2015.  He exited spring practice this year as a second-team offensive lineman.

In July of 2014, Mosley was involved in a car wreck the Tennessee Highway Patrol deemed serious enough that the 2014 UT signee was said to be “lucky to be alive.” The lineman sustained a broken leg in the accident, one in which he was a passenger in a vehicle that was being driven by a family member.

Because of the injury, he missed the entire 2014 season and was limited during spring practice earlier that year.

Bob Stoops ‘not relying on’ QB Cody Thomas returning to Sooners

NORMAN, OK - DECEMBER 6:  Quarterback Cody Thomas #14 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks to throw against the Oklahoma State Cowboys December 6, 2014 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. The Cowboys defeated the Sooners 38-35 in overtime.  (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
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It appears Oklahoma will head into the summer and on into camp relatively thin at the quarterback position.

In January of this year, Cody Thomas announced that he had decided to leave the Sooners’ football team for OU’s baseball team.  There have been rumblings that Thomas, who started three games in 2014 but saw his playing time decrease dramatically in 2015, could return to the football team for the fall.

During a radio interview Thursday, Thomas’ former head coach essentially quashed such speculation.

“That hasn’t been talked about. I don’t think so. That isn’t something that we’ve talked about at all,” Bob Stoops told The Sports Animal by way of Tulsa World. “(Thomas’ return) isn’t something that we’re relying on.”

Baker Mayfield will enter the 2015 season firmly entrenched as the starter, and his name will likely litter preseason Heisman lists coming off a season that many felt should’ve earned him finalist recognition for the award.  Thomas served as Mayfield’s backup in 2015, and was expected to assume the same role in 2016.

Instead, that responsibility will likely fall on the shoulders of Austin Kendall, a true freshman early enrollee who very much impressed Stoops this spring.

“I really loved what Austin Kendall did,” Stoops said in same interview. “As a young guy, he was exceptional. I was really excited about that as a true freshman right out of high school.

“To play the whole spring – not just one day – the way he did was really exciting for everybody.”

The only other quarterbacks on the roster are Kyler Murray, Reece Clark and Connor McGinnis.  Murray is a transfer from Texas A&M who’s ineligible to play this season, while Clark and McGinnis, both redshirt freshmen, will likely settle in as the No. 3 quarterback, with the latter walk-on the favorite entering summer for that job.

Ban on satellite camps rescinded, NCAA announces

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh plays shirtless with participants during the Coach Jim Harbaugh's Elite Summer Football Camp, Friday, June 5, 2015, at Prattville High School in Prattville, Ala. (Albert Cesare/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)  NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
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Somewhere, Jim Harbaugh is dancing a jig.  And his SEC counterparts are pitching a fit.

Earlier this month, the NCAA Div. 1 council controversially voted to ban the practice of satellite camps.  A short time later, NCAA executive Oliver Luck confirmed that the rule would likely be revisited, which it was at a Board of Directors meeting Thursday morning.

Ahead of that meeting, Harbaugh hoped the board “gets it right” by rescinding the ban; coming out of the meeting, the Michigan head coach — along with the rest of the Big Ten and most of the Group of Five conferences, not to mention recruits who will now have more opportunities for additional exposure — will be ecstatic as the board did just that, with the NCAA announcing the directors have “rescinded a rule prohibiting Football Bowl Subdivision coaches from holding or working at camps and clinics away from their school.”

While the lifting of the ban is effective immediately, meaning coaches can continue on with their planned “satellite camps,” it doesn’t mean the issue has completely run its course.  The board has requested that the council, which implemented the ban initially, “conduct a broad assessment of the FBS recruiting environment” as well as “consider the entire recruiting model, including potential modifications to camps and clinics participation.”

The Div. 1 council consists of all 10 FBS conferences with the votes of the Power Five leagues (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) holding twice the weight as their counterparts from the Group of Five (AAC, Conference USA, MAC, MWC, SBC).  That group approved the initial ban by a by a 10-5 margin. Those voting for the ban included the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, Mountain West and Sun Belt; those against the ban were the Big Ten, AAC, Conference USA and the MAC.

It subsequently surfaced that the Pac-12 representative, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrerodid not vote the way he was supposed to on the satellite camp issue.  Prior to that vote, 11 of the 12 schools in that conference were in favor of the status quo and against banning the practice, with UCLA the lone abstention.

The SEC as well as the ACC will no doubt continue stumping against the practice and pushing for the ban to be reimplemented as the camps mostly infringe on “their” recruiting territory.  In the meantime, the SEC, at least, is expected to rescind its own conference ban on the camps, allowing its coaching staffs to spread out across the country if they so desire.

For now, however, Harbaugh’s program seems pleased with winning this particular battle in the recruiting war.

Also for now, the practice is back on, with the not-so-thinly-veiled implication, however, that it could be back off at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The Board of Directors is interested in a holistic review of the football recruiting environment, and camps are a piece of that puzzle,” said Board of Directors chair Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina, in a statement. “We share the Council’s interest in improving the camp environment, and we support the Council’s efforts to create a model that emphasizes the scholastic environment as an appropriate place for recruiting future student-athletes.”

UPDATED 2:34 p.m. ET: Officials from both the ACC and SEC have confirmed to CFT that their bans on satellite camps will be rescinded.  The former’s lifting is effective immediately, while the latter’s will go into effect at the end of May.

Idaho makes move to FCS, Big Sky official

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Idaho athletics
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Less than 24 hours after the first reports surfaced, Idaho has confirmed it is dropping down a rung on the college football ladder.

The university announced at a press conference Thursday that the Vandals football program will indeed move down from the FBS to the FCS and compete in the Big Sky conference, where all of its other varsity sports are housed.  Idaho will remain a member of the Sun Belt for the 2016 and 2017 seasons before making the move to the FCS for the 2018 season.

Idaho becomes the first FBS program to ever drop back to the FCS level.

The announcement comes less than two months after the SBC announced that Idaho, along with New Mexico State, would no longer be a part of the league when their four-year terms expired following the 2017 season.  At that time, university officials indicated they would decide whether to accept an invitation to join the Big Sky of the FCS or compete as an independent at the FBS level.

In the end, the university “concluded that competing as an independent with an extremely uncertain future conference affiliation would be irresponsible” and opted for a return to the Big Sky.

“I know many passionate Vandals view football’s place in the FBS as a mark of our institution’s ‘prestige’ and ‘relevance.’ But we consider prestige and relevance in an institution-wide context,” UI president Chuck Staben said in a portion of his statement. “UI is our state’s land-grant institution, the unquestioned statewide leader in higher education.

“Success on the football field will complement UI’s prestige and relevance, but we will be defined by our individual and societal impact, measured by the entire student body experience, including our student-athletes; our academic excellence; our research, scholarly and creative success; and our deep engagement with communities across the state. Providing the best student experience for all students, across all aspects of university life is our responsibility and privilege.”

Idaho spent the past 20 seasons at the FBS level after moving up from the FCS for the 1996 season. Since making that move, the Vandals have appeared in just two bowl games (1998, 2009) and won more than five games in a single season five times, the last in 2010. In the five years since that 6-7 season, the Vandals have gone 9-50.

“We are extremely motivated to compete in the Sun Belt for the next two years,” said athletic director Rob Spear,”and then align with like institutions that make geographic sense in the Big Sky Conference that will provide our student-athletes with a quality experience.”