Sparty, UL-L double up on football-hoops conference titles

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A week ago today, our very own Kevin McGuire posed the following question: who can pull off a college football-basketball conference title double-dip?

As it turns out, it was the two teams most likely to pull it off that did just that.

Both Michigan State and Louisiana-Lafayette — via a tiebreaker — claimed their respective conference championships in football this past fall.  Sunday, they both did the same in hoops, with the Spartans easily dropping in-state rival Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship game and the Ragin’ Cajuns doing the same to Georgia State — in overtime — to claim the Sun Belt crown and the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

Were it not for Ohio State stumbling against the Wolverines Saturday, though, we would’ve seen a rematch of the B1G’s football championship game in hoops.  Speaking of the Buckeyes, it was how OSU was handled by the Spartans that helped the latter’s basketball brethren do the same throughout the conference tourney.

Mark Dantonio has often talked that I kind of showed him the way early how to win championships, and this year he showed me the way,” MSU hoops coach Tom Izzo said Saturday, after his team earned a spot in the title game. “That was the way we started the (basketball) season, learning how to win a championship from our football buddies, and now we have a chance to win our own in the Big Ten. That’s a good year, that’s a good set of events.”

Baylor was the only other team entering the weekend with the opportunity to double down on league titles.  Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be as the seventh-seeded Bears, who claimed their first-ever Big 12 title in football in the fall, fell Saturday to Iowa State in the conference’s tournament championship game.

At the other end of the spectrum, Duke pulled off the ol’ reverse double-dip.  The Blue Devils earned a spot in both the football and basketball championship games in the ACC for the 2013-14 academic year, and lost both of them rather handily.  A 38-point loss to Florida State in Charlotte last December was followed a little over three months later by a nine-point loss to Virginia in Greensboro Sunday.

Below are this year’s champions for both football and basketball in all 10 FBS conferences.  But, before that, allow me to make you aware that you can — and should — go to CollegeBasketballTalk HERE or follow CBT on Twitter HERE for all of the March Madness… ummm… madness.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC
Football: UCF
Basketball: Louisville

ACC
Football: Florida State
Basketball: Virginia

BIG TEN
Football: Michigan State
Basketball: Michigan State

BIG 12
Football: Baylor
Basketball: Iowa State

CONFERENCE USA
Football: Rice
Basketball: Tulsa

MAC
Football: Bowling Green
Basketball: Western Michigan

MOUNTAIN WEST
Football: Fresno State
Basketball: New Mexico

PAC-12
Football: Stanford
Basketball: UCLA

SEC
Football: Auburn
Basketball: Florida

SUN BELT
Football: Louisiana-Lafayette
Basketball: Louisiana-Lafayette

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.