WVU sticking with Holgorsen

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As has been the case more often this year than in pretty much any other in recent memory, an athletic director is standing behind an embattled head coach.

The most recent example is West Virginia’s Oliver Luck, who released a statement Tuesday confirming that Dana Holgorsen will return as the Mountaineers’ head coach in 2014.  The decision came after the athletic director and coach “met at length and reviewed this past season.”

“In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect,” Luck’s statement read, in part.

Left unmentioned by Luck was Holgorsen’s hefty buyout.

Reportedly, it would cost the university in excess of $11 million for Holgersen alone if he were fired without cause — and that doesn’t include buyouts for current assistants along with hiring an entire new staff.  While the move from the Big East to the Big 12 was made in large part for the additional conference revenue, the financial hit the athletic department would take for cleaning house is much too prohibitive — especially for an athletic department that’s still not receiving a full share of league revenue.

After going 10-3 his first season in 2011, Holgorsen has gone 7-6 and 4-8 in the Mountaineers’ first two seasons in the Big 12.

Below is the full text of Luck’s statement:

First, I want to thank all Mountaineer fans who supported our football team through a difficult and trying season.  Though there were some high points this year, including our upset victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State and the inspired play from many first year student-athletes, there were far too many disappointments.
 
We have high expectations at West Virginia University for success on and off the field and as Coach Holgorsen has acknowledged to me, we are not meeting those expectations on the field.  Coach Holgorsen and I met at length and reviewed this past season.  We discussed the coaching staff, recruiting, player development, strength and conditioning, academic support, facilities, in short, all the components that make up a successful program.  We are working diligently to improve our capabilities in all of these areas.
 
I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing.  In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect.
 
We had plenty of challenges this season; nonetheless, we should not and will not use those as excuses for our performance. We simply must get better.
 
Coach Holgorsen and his staff are on the road recruiting this week, securing the future for a successful Mountaineer football program.  We need to do our part as well by continuing to move forward with the facility improvements needed to compete at the highest level in our conference.
 
We have high expectations for the 2014 football team, and I have shared those with Coach Holgorsen.  He and his staff are eager to get started to prepare for our opening game against Alabama.  We are well aware that we have a lot of work to do.
 
We have tremendous student-athletes in our program and a very accomplished core of coaches who want to bring championships back to West Virginia University.  We will do all we can to help them in that endeavor, and I ask for your continued support as we move forward to a brighter future.

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.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.