Karl Benson

Karl Benson: 12 still desired number for Sun Belt membership

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Get ready for continued offseason conference expansion and realignment rumors this offseason, because the Sun Belt Conference still wants to do what they can to reach a football membership of 12 members. Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson addressed the topic in a Q&A with AL.com Friday in Mobile during a luncheon for the GoDaddy.com Bowl before hopping on a plane for Pasadena. In it Benson reflected on a successful year for the Sun Belt and confirmed the conference is still hoping to get to 12 football members in the near future.

“There are schools who want to be the 12th member,” Benson said to AL.com, suggesting discussions of some sort have been ongoing, although Benson did not specify which schools may have been showing interest. One of the draws for a conference getting to 12 football members is the ability to hold a conference championship game. Benson noted the Sun Belt is the left out of the championship mix between Conference USA, the MAC, Mountain West Conference and, soon, the American. The American Athletic Conference is expected to play a championship game following upcoming realignment changes that will see Louisville (ACC) and Rutgers (Big Ten) leave but Tulane, Tulsa and East Carolina join and Navy on the way in 2015.

“I know that this past December 7th when the MAC and Conference USA and the Mountain West had their championship games and next year the American will have their championship game and the Sun Belt will be the one in our peer group that doesn’t have a championship game,” Benson said. “We miss out not having that type of exposure on that championship Saturday.”

Asked about a timeline for finding a 12th conference member, Benson said in order to make it official for 2015 the conference will have to have a deal done by June 1 of this year, although he says it is too early to speculate on the confidence level of having a school confirmed by then.

Western Kentucky will leave the Sun Belt for Conference USA officially on June 1. Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will join the conference in their transition from FCS to FBS at that time. Idaho and New Mexico, left abandoned following the crumbling of the WAC’s football operations and unwanted by the Mountain West Conference, will also join the conference as affiliate members. Those changes leave the conference with 11 members for 2014.

The Sun Belt will not be likely to pry a school away from any of the other FBS conferences, so the most likely route for the Sun Belt may be to add another FCS program. Benson suggested finding a school situated within the current footprint of the conference may be ideal, suggesting it would be nice if Appalachian State could have a travel partner. That would seem to suggest another school in or nearby North Carolina would be the ideal addition for the Sun Belt. Charlotte and Old Dominion are each heading to Conference USA, so those options are off the table for the Sun Belt.

Two schools to keep an eye on might be Coastal Carolina and Liberty. Both have been improving their football programs in recent years and would be in a good location as a traveling partner for Appalachian State.

LB Nick Holman makes ‘hard decision’ to transfer from USF

Nick Holman
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A little over a week after the end of spring practice, USF has seen its depth at linebacker take a bit of a hit.

Calling it “a hard decision,” Nick Holman took to Twitter Wednesday night to announce that he has decided to transfer out of the Bulls football program and “pursue other opportunities” elsewhere. The linebacker gave no specific reason for his decision to transfer.

Barring something unforeseen, Holman would be forced t sit out the 2016 season if he moves on to another FBS program. He’d then have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

Holman came to USF as a three-star member of the Bulls’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 31 player at any position in the state of Alabama. After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Holman played in 11 games in 2015.

The Tampa Bay Times wrote that “Holman led the White team with five tackles in the April 16 Green and White intrasquad game, and was listed as the backup to senior Nigel Harris at weakside linebacker on the post-spring depth chart.”

In statement, SEC reaffirms league to rescind its satellite camp ban

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The SEC had fought hard in pushing the NCAA’s Div. 1 Council to ban the practice of satellite camps, and then continued to push for The Association’s Board of Directors to reaffirm the ban.  In the end, though, that conference has taken the “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em” tack.

Shortly after the NCAA confirmed that its Board of Directors had, at least for the foreseeable future, rescinded the ban on coaches taking part in football camps outside of their regions, the SEC confirmed that it will be rescinding its own ban on the practice.  That rescinding follows through on the “threat” made last year by the conference that it would, essentially, unleash its football programs on the rest of the country if a ban wasn’t enacted.

The SEC’s lifting of the ban on such camps is not effective immediately; rather, it will take effect May 29.  After that date, as outgoing commissioner Mike Slive said in late May last year, “our folks will be free to fan out all over the country and have at it.”

In a statement, Slive’s replacement, Greg Sankey, lamented the lifting of the ban while at the same time reaffirmed that “SEC coaches will be allowed to engage in summer camps as a result of Conference legislation approved during the 2015 SEC Spring Meetings.”

Below is the entirety of Sankey’s statement.

While we are disappointed with the NCAA governance process result, we respect the Board of Directors’ decision and are confident SEC football programs will continue to be highly effective in their recruiting efforts.

“We continue to believe football recruiting is primarily an activity best-focused in high schools during the established recruiting calendar, which has provided opportunities for football prospective student-athletes from all across the country to obtain broad national access and exposure but with appropriate guidance from high school coaches, teachers and advisors that focuses on both their academic and athletic opportunities as they decide where they will play college football.

DUI charge against Vols’ Charles Mosley dropped

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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.