Roll Tigers! Auburn looking to pad historical title résumé

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Despite losing out to Florida State in the final BCS title game earlier this month, Auburn could be flying a handful of new banners at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the very near future.  Or, at the very least, recognizing a handful more than they currently do.

Officially, the Tigers claim two football national championships: 1957 and 2010.  Unofficially, AU could, as other schools do — hello, Alabama — claim multiple “unofficial” titles.

Utilizing the “all the cool universities are doing it” line of reasoning, AU athletic director Jay Jacobs confirmed that the football program is indeed considering recognizing seven additional national championships in football.

“If other schools are using these same polls to declare a national championship, we should at least consider it,” Jacobs told AuburnUndercover.com. “I don’t think there’s a better time for the Auburn family to consider it than right here at the end of the BCS era.

“As we transition into another playoff format for the national champion, I just think we need to look hard at it.”

The 1910, 1913, 1914, 1958, 1983, 1993 and 2004 teams, the 247Sports.com website notes, are all under consideration.  Three of those title teams — 1913, 1983 and 1993 — are recognized by the NCAA in its record book, although not through either the Associated Press or coaches’ poll.  The unbeaten 1913 team was named national champion by six organizations (Chicago and Harvard also claim titles for that year), the one-loss 1983 team by 10 (Miami was the AP, FWAA and UPI champ) and the undefeated 1993 team by four (Florida State was the AP, FWAA and UPI champ).

The most noteworthy of the seven under consideration, and the one that would likely cause the most debate, is the 2004 team.  The Tigers that year finished the season as unbeaten SEC champions; unfortunately for AU, there were two other Big Five conference teams — USC and Oklahoma — that went undefeated as well.  The Trojans and Sooners finished one-two in the final regular season BCS standings that year and met in the Orange Bowl in the seventh BCS title game.  Because of NCAA sanctions stemming from the Reggie Bush controversy, however, USC was forced to vacate the title for the 2004 season, with the NCAA officially recognizing no one as that year’s champion.

A book published in 2012 and written by Birmingham attorney Michael Skotnicki laid out the case for his alma mater to claim many more football titles than they already do.  In an interview with 247Sports.com, Skotnicki gave several examples of other football programs padding its football résumé, including two from the SEC.

“Texas A&M decided upon entering the SEC that they would add the 1919 and 1927 titles,” Skotnicki said. “Minnesota added the 1904 title last summer. USC added the 1939 title in 2004. Ole Miss claims three national titles and not one is AP, Coaches’ Poll or BCS.

“Why should Auburn be any different? In this day and age, why should Auburn be so stuffy about it?”

Left unmentioned was Auburn’s hated in-state rival.  Alabama claims 15 national championships, 10 of which came from the Associated Press, coaches’ poll or, in seven seasons, both.  The other five are pre-World War II titles added to the team’s media guide in the eighties.

While not mentioning their Iron Bowl rival specifically, Jacobs made it clear that if it’s good enough for other programs, it’s good enough for his.

“We’re so competitive. We compare ourselves to other schools,” Jacobs, who played on the ’83 team that’s under consideration for title recognition, said. “If they’re counting something that we’re not counting, and we’re on equal footing, wouldn’t it be wise to count it?

“I think it’s something we need to consider right now. It’s been talked about here and there, but let’s get it out there now and look at it and see what we should do.”

Former Nebraska OL coach Mike Cavanaugh hired by Syracuse

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Dino Babers has added a very experienced trenchman to his Syracuse coaching staff.

The school confirmed Tuesday that Babers has hired Mike Cavanaugh as his next offensive line coach. In a coaching career that spans 32 seasons, Cavanaugh has been a line coach in some form or fashion for 31 of them.

“Mike has an outstanding track record of teaching and developing quality offensive linemen,” Babers said in a statement. “He’s done it successfully at every level in college as well as the pros. This was an opportunity to add someone whose knowledge and experience will greatly enhance our staff and benefit our players.”

The past three seasons, Cavanaugh was the line coach at Nebraska. At the FBS level, he’s also served as a line coach at Oregon State (2005-14) and Hawaii (1999-2004).

From 1997-98, Cavanaugh was the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.

“I’d like to thank Coach Babers for this opportunity and for welcoming me into the Syracuse family,” Cavanaugh said. “He and his staff have coached some of the most prolific offenses in college football. I’m excited to learn from them and to be part of the championship-caliber program they are building at Syracuse.”

The 2018 season will mark the first time since 2004 Cavanaugh is not a part of a Mike Riley-coached staff.

Kevin Stepherson one of four dismissed by Notre Dame

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At least in South Bend, Kevin Stepherson‘s freefall is complete.

According to 247Sports.com, Stepherson, along with three other Notre Dame football players — sophomore running backs CJ Holmes and Deon McIntosh as well as junior defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum — have been dismissed from the Fighting Irish program.  No specific reason or reasons for the dismissals were given.

Stepherson was one of four Irish players who were suspended for the team’s Citrus Bowl matchup with LSU, with the wide receiver’s suspension stemming from a handful of off-field issues.

Dec. 15, Stepherson was arrested for shoplifting.  The day before that arrest, Stepherson was pulled over on a traffic stop and charged with marijuana possession, driving without a valid license and speeding (he was clocked doing 80 in a 60 mph zone). To make matters worse, at the time of his twin arrests the receiver was already on probation for a marijuana-related arrest in August of 2016.

Adding to the off-field issues, Stepherson was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for reasons unrelated to the arrest in August of 2016.

At the time of the second suspension, Stepherson led the Fighting Irish in receiving touchdowns with five and yards per catch at 18.9 despite missing one-third of the regular season because of the first suspension.  His 19 receptions and 359 receiving yards were both good for third on the team.

Another of the players who were dismissed, Holmes, was arrested along with Stepherson in the shoplifting incident.  Holmes ran for 32 yards on eight carries this season.

McIntosh was the fourth of the four players suspended for the bowl game.  At the time of his suspension, McIntosh was third on the team in rushing with 368 yards and five touchdowns.

Tiassum played very sparsely this past season, and wasn’t looking at much more playing time in 2018.

West Virginia, Pitt to renew Backyard Brawl in 2022 opener

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For those waiting for the renewal of the Backyard Brawl, we now know exactly how long you have to wait. The schools announced Tuesday that the Pitt-West Virginia rivalry will again be played on Sept. 3, 2022, in the season opener for both sides. The schools previously announced a four-game series from 2022-25, but the first matchup was set for Sept. 17, 2022.

The games in even numbered years will be held in Pittsburgh, while odd numbered games will switch to Morgantown.

Pitt and WVU last met on Nov. 25, 2011, a 21-20 Mountaineers win in Morgantown. West Virginia has won the last three meetings and 14 of the last 21, but Pitt holds a 61-40-3 all-time advantage in a series that dates back to 1895. Between 1929 and 1951, the Panthers and Mountaineers met annually, with West Virginia winning just once.

Pitt will complete its own rivalry renewal with Penn State over the next two seasons; the Panthers host the Nittany Lions on Sept. 8 of this coming season, and will visit Beaver Stadium on Sept. 14, 2019. Pitt hosts Notre Dame in 2020 and visits Tennessee in ’21. With today’s adjustment, Pitt is now set to open the 2022 season with back-to-back home games with West Virginia and Tennessee. Pitt is also set to visit both West Virginia and Notre Dame in 2023, and will face the Mountaineers and Irish again in 2025.

West Virginia opens this coming season with Tennessee in Charlotte, and visits NC State two weeks later. The Mountaineers visit Missouri and host NC State in 2019. WVU is set to double-up with Power 5 non-conference opponents every year through 2024: vs. Florida State (at Atlanta) and vs. Maryland in 2020, at Maryland and vs. Virginia Tech in 2021, at Pittsburgh and at Virginia Tech in 2022, at Penn State and vs. Pitt in 2023, and vs. Penn State and at Pitt in 2024.

Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione reportedly set to join CFP selection committee

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The College Football Playoff is set to replace six selection committee members before next season, and the first one is in. Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione will join the committee, according to ESPN’s Heather Dinich.

Castiglione will replace Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt, who also served as the committee’s chairman.

This will be the third selection committee on which Castiglione has served, finishing the Big Three trifecta after he worked on the baseball and men’s basketball committees. He will be on the committee for the 2018, ’19 and ’20 seasons.

Castiglione will be forced to recusal himself from any discussions involving Oklahoma, a 2015 and 2017 participant in the College Football Playoff. Ohio State AD Gene Smith and Clemson AD Dan Radakovich also did the same regarding their programs. Radakovich is also set to cycle off the committee this year, along with former Arkansas AD Jeff Long, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt, former Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham and former USA Today reporter Steve Wieberg.