Nashville group wants high-profile college kickoff game

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In a matter of time, college football could be adding one more neutral site game to the early season line-up. A group in Nashville is beginning to make a push to add a game in Nashville, Tennessee that would ideally feature one SEC team clashing with a relatively high-profile opponent.

“Music City Sports and Entertainment Group has been working on a significant college football event for Nashville, and we are about 60-90 days from making an announcement,” said Tammy Genovese, CEO of MCSEG according to a report by The Tennessean. The Music City Sports and Entertainment Group is targeting hosting a game in LP Field, the home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. LP Field has a stadium capacity of  69,143 and 177 executive suites. The idea of the game would be to mimic the Chick-fil-A Kickoff that is played in Atlanta, with the hopes of becoming as successful and attractive for an early season neutral site game. As The Tennessean reports, Atlanta has seen $44.3 million injected in to the local economy since the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic launched in 2008. The earliest season a neutral site game in Nashville could likely be played is in 2016, so there is time to find a pair of schools willing to play a neutral site game at the expense of potentially losing a home game and for the financial details to be sorted. Concerns over the state’s occupational privilege tax on athletes are some of the issues standing in the way at this time.

Nashville currently is the host city for the Music City Bowl, which has conference tie-ins with the ACC and SEC. The bowl game has been played in Vanderbilt Stadium and is currently played in LP Field. LP Field also is the home stadium for FCS Tennessee State, so the Tigers would have to be on the road or serving a bye week. The Tennessee State schedule is far down the list of potential obstacles though.

Need a somewhat buzz worthy match-up? How about home-town Vanderbilt going up against former head coach James Franklin and Penn State? Penn State actually has a full non-conference schedule with games against Kent State and Temple scheduled at home and a road game at Pittsburgh, so it would be unlikely the Nittany Lions would have any interest in a Franklin Bowl in 2016 away from home. Vanderbilt also has three non-conference games already scheduled in 2016 with road games at Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky and a home date against Middle Tennessee. Vanderbilt may be more open to moving a home game to LP Field, and Middle Tennessee would bring in some more local interest but this is not quite the caliber of game the Nashville group may be hoping for.

Tennessee is out of the picture. The Vols will be kicking off with Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016. Alabama will be playing neutral site games in 2014 (vs. West Virginia in Atlanta) and 2015 (vs. Wisconsin in Arlington, Texas). LSU will face Wisconsin in Green Bay in 2016. Texas A&M will play Arizona State in Houston in 2015.

Baylor interim president to Texas senators: “We were not trying to cover up what happened at Baylor”

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Texas senators are taking aim at Baylor University and are hoping to persuade the university to be more open and transparent despite being a private university.

Baylor interim president David Garland faced criticism from senators during a hearing with the Senate Higher Education Committee on Wednesday regarding the coverup of rape accusations found throughout the football program in recent years.

“We were not trying to cover up what happened at Baylor,” Garland said to the committee. Unfortunately for Garland, that was far from enough to sway the senators on the committee from playing nice with him and Baylor University.

I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that for a minute,” Senator Kel Seliger replied, according to The Texas Tribune. “I don’t buy that for a minute. I think that is exactly what was going on.”

The exchange between the interim president at Baylor and the senator came during a hearing regarding a state bill that requires any school receiving more than $5 million in Tuition Equalization Grants from the state to comply with open records and open meetings laws in the state of Texas. Baylor, being a private university, believes it should not have to comply with the bill, which would open up the doors to more information regarding Baylor’s handling of vile accusations within its university and athletics department.

The exchange comes a day after Baylor moved to dismiss a lawsuit claiming 52 rapes over a three-year period occurred at the university.

If you thought the ugliness around the Baylor situation was going to be limited to athletics, you thought wrong. This is clearly a state-wide concern and battle now. And things are always bigger in Texas, right?

A&M-UCLA opener in 2017 moved from Saturday to Sunday

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Grab your calendars as there’s been a change to your opening(ish) weekend college football agenda.

Texas A&M road trip to UCLA is one of a handful of high-profile games that will help launch the 2017 season Labor Day weekend.  The game, which will be played at the famed Rose Bowl, had been originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2.  However, it was announced Wednesday that the game will be pushed back to Sunday, Sept. 3.

The game will kick off at either 7:30 or 8 p.m. ET, with the actual time being determined at a later date.

This year’s game will serve as the back-end of a home-and-home series between the two schools.  The Aggies claimed a 31-24 win over the Bruins in overtime last season in College Station.

The 2017 season will actually commence the weekend of Aug. 26 with five games featuring FBS teams, including Stanford against Rice in Australia and Colorado State opening their new on-campus stadium against Oregon State.  The first full weekend kicks off the following Thursday — Ohio State-Indiana highlights that day’s lean slate — and continues with a handful of games the next day — hello Colorado-Colorado State, Washington-Rutgers and Utah State-Wisconsin among others.

The first full Saturday features the likes of Alabama-Florida State, Florida-Michigan, West Virginia-Virginia Tech, LSU-BYU, Louisville-Purdue, Cal-North Carolina, Maryland-Texas and South Carolina-North Carolina State squaring off Sept. 2.

A&M-UCLA is the only Sunday game, while Tennessee and Georgia Tech will close out the weekend at the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Labor Day night that Monday.

Ken Sparks, fifth-winningest coach at any level in college football history, dies at age 73

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College football has lost a coaching legend of the sport that you may never have heard of.

Carson-Newman announced Wednesday morning that its legendary former head football coach, Ken Sparks, passed away earlier in the day at the age of 73.  Sparks had been battling prostate cancer since being diagnosed in 2012, but doctors stopped treating him in January of this year.

According to WBIR-TV, Sparks had been in hospice care for the last several weeks.

Sparks was the head coach at Carson-Newman from 1980 through November of 2016, when he stepped down because of health concerns. During his time at the Div. II program — the first baker’s dozen years they were an NAIA school — the Eagles went 338-99-2. Sparks laid claim to five NAIA national championships and qualified for the Div. II playoffs 15 times in 24 years, although they failed to win a title at that latter level.

The 338 wins for Sparks are the fifth-most at any level of college football, behind only John Gagliardi (489), Joe Paterno (409), Eddie Robinson (408) and Bobby Bowden (377).

Alabama won’t be rushing Bo Scarbrough back this spring

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Not surprisingly, Alabama is going to err on the side of caution when it comes to one the most productive horses in its backfield stable.

On a second-down carry late in the third quarter of the national championship game loss to Clemson, Bo Scarbrough went down with an injury that turned out to be a fractured bone in his lower right leg.  The rising sophomore running back has recovered enough to be a participant in the Crimson Tide’s spring practice during some drills, albeit in non-contact mode.

Following the fourth practice of the spring Tuesday, Nick Saban made it clear made it clear that, while Scarbrough is getting some work in, the football program won’t be pushing him.

“Bo is doing more and more every day,” the head coach said according to al.com. “He did quite a bit today in practice, non-contact stuff, but he’s sort of gaining confidence. Our goal for Bo is by the end of spring, he’s fully confident that he can do everything he needs to do. Whether he ever scrimmages or is really something that we’re not that concerned about.”

It’s expected Scarbrough, barring a setback between now and then, will be fully recovered well ahead of the start of summer camp in early August.

Scarbrough’s 812 yards rushing year was second amongst Tide backs, while his 11 rushing touchdowns were second on the team.  He ran for 180 of those yards and two of the touchdowns in the College Football Playoff semifinal win over Washington, then had 93 yards and two more touchdowns before going down with the injury in the title game.