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QB Brandon Connette tweets he is a Fresno State Bulldog

Brandon Connette

As expected, quarterback Brandon Connette will join Fresno State after transferring from Duke. Connette was looking to transfer to be closer to his family at home in California. Fresno State was thought to be a likely destination and a visit there this week was expected to result in the decision becoming final.

Connette took to his Twitter account to announce the news himself.

Connette has one final year of eligibility to play and will be eligible to play right away for Fresno State. Because he will be a graduate of Duke, he will be allowed to play right away according to NCAA transfer rules.

Connette would have been a productive player in Duke’s offense if decided to stay, but Connette’s decision to transfer is strictly influenced by the health of his mother. Connette’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer in December.

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe had nothing but positive things to say about Connete this week during a conference call of ACC football coaches with the media, nor should he. Connette would have been a productive player in Duke’s offense had he stayed for another run at a division title in the fall in Durham, but this decision to transfer had everything to do with family. Connette’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer in December, and rather than spend his final year of eligibility on the other side of the country, family clearly comes first in this situation.

As far as football is concerned though, Connette will have a chance to compete for a starting job at Fresno State. The Bulldogs look to replace record-setting Derek Carr under center. Connette will not put up the same kind of numbers Carr leaves behind, but the Bulldogs will have an option with experience capable of contributing to the offense right away.

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Auburn QB Nick Marshall’s $1,000 fine is paid

Nick Marshall

Auburn’s preseason All-SEC quarterback Nick Marshall has had his fine for possession of marijuana paid in full. As far as the police are concerned, the case is now closed.

According to a report by Al.com, Marshall was fined $1,000 for possessing a small amount of marijuana and another $100 for illegally tinted car windows. The fine was paid in full by Marshall’s mother. Because the fine was paid, Marshall will not be required to attend a court hearing, which was to be scheduled for September 10.

Marshall was originally scheduled to attend SEC Media Week last week, but in light of this infraction with the law head coach Gus Malzahn decided not to bring the quarterback to the highly covered event as a punishment. Malzahn has not announced any decision on potential lost playing time to be served by Marshall, although it appears he may not have to miss playing time based off the school’s drug policy.

Marshall was named to the preseason All-SEC First Team offense during SEC Media Week.

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U.S. passport glitch only adds to potential problems for Conference USA

US passport

One of the more difficult tasks in organizing and running a college football program may be the responsibility of arranging for the travel of the team. Throw in the need to get passports for all players and coaches and other staff members, and a headache probably enters severe migraine territory for those in charge of travel plans. Schools in Conference USA and the MAC are working now to ensure their programs would be prepared for a potential trip to the Bahamas this holiday season, but delays in receiving passports are not helping that cause right now.

As reported by NBC News, the U.S. State Department’s global database for issuing travel documents has crashed, leading to even more delays in the process for many. Fortunately, Conference USA and MAC schools would not need the passports until December.

UAB head coach Bill Clark said at Conference USA media day this week his team is still working to get their passports. Although there is plenty of time between now and the Christmas Eve kickoff, now is the time to get in the required paperwork.

“They’re trying to get everyone in our conference to get passports,” Clark said to Al.com. “We have not (gotten our passports yet) but we need to get them. I’ve got mine, but we’ve got to get the players passports.”

Of course, every school in Conference USA needs to prepare for the possibility of playing in the Bahamas Bowl, not just one or two schools. The same is true for the MAC, so in all a total of 26 schools are likely scrambling to make sure they get the passport paperwork filed quickly, if it is not already submitted.

“Nobody else in the league had either,” Clark added. “Two of the coaches said to please remind our athletic directors that we’ve all got to get those. We’re planning on getting them.”

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Notre Dame’s new fake turf has been installed

The turf makeover in South Bend has been completed. After decades of playing on one of college football’s most iconic grass fields, Notre Dame’s new artificial turf has been installed in Notre Dame Stadium, complete with a logo at midfield.

Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick announced during Notre Dame’s spring game in mid-April the plan to tear up the natural grass turf and replace it with a top-of-the-line artificial turf. The plan was to have the field ready by mid-August, so it would seem Notre Dame is ahead of schedule with that initial plan. As previously noted, Swarbrick had been contemplating making the move from natural to artificial grass for years but finally received support last fall as the field had been heavily criticized.

This is a blow for traditionalists of course, but most changes in college football these days are. Notre Dame not cutting the grass to slow down teams excelling in speed is now gone, perhaps now giving an added advantage to any visitor with a good reputation for speed, but now Brian Kelly and his staff can look to use the turf to their advantage as well. The cost to maintain an artificial turf should also be an advantage for the university over the long run. Notre Dame started selling off pieces of the natural turf in May, starting at $149.95.

Still, this just doesn’t seem right for some reason.

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Reserve GaTech QB transfers to Oregon

Ty Griffin

This offseason has seen Oregon lose two reserve quarterbacks to transfers.  With today’s development, that net loss at the position has been cut in half.

In a tweet posted to his Twitter account, Ty Griffin announced that he is officially transferring into the Ducks football program.  Griffin will have to sit out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.

Griffin served as a backup to the backup in his lone season at Georgia Tech.  He was a two-star member of the Yellow Jackets’ 2013 class coming out of high school in Georgia.

Griffin also happens to be the older brother of Taj Griffin, a four-star 2015 recruit rated by Rivals.com as the No. 1 all-purpose running back in the country.  Coincidentally or not, the younger Griffin verbally committed to the Ducks in April.

(Photo credit: Georgia Tech athletics)

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Report: ex-Wazzu QB headed to Louisville

Tyler Bruggman

Less than two weeks ago, it was reported that Tyler Bruggman was leaving Washington State. At the time, Bruggman was rumored to have been released from his Wazzu scholarship to Arkansas, Duke, Indiana and Louisville.

As it turns out, it appears the latter ACC school has won out.

According to 247Sports.com, Bruggman has decided to transfer to Louisville to continue his collegiate playing career. The UofL has yet to announce the player’s addition to the roster.

More than likely, Bruggman will be forced to sit out the 2014 season. He would, though, have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.

Bruggman was a four-star member of Mike Leach‘s first Wazzu recruiting class in 2013, rated as the No. 18 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Arizona. He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

Shortly before national Signing Day in 2013, he flipped to Wazzu from Arizona State. He also held offers from, among others, Arizona, Arkansas, BYU, Duke, Michigan State and Ole Miss.

(Photo credit: Washington State athletics)

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Injured LSU frosh released from hospital

Trey Lealaimatafao

The news regarding an incoming freshman keeps getting better and better.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, LSU defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao was released from a local hospital Wednesday. Two days earlier, Lealaimatafao was rushed to the hospital after reportedly punching a glass window in LSU’s weight room.  The player was reportedly upset following an argument with his girlfriend.

Initial reports that Lealaimatafao was facing an amputation of his arm proved incorrect.

“He’s recovering and the family has asked that no other details be released,” a school spokesperson told the Times-Picayune. “They appreciate all the concern and outpouring of support but have nothing further to say.”

Lealaimatafao, a three-star member of the Tigers’ most recent recruiting class, is expected to miss the entire 2014 season because of the injury.

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James Franklin opens up about daughter’s sickle-cell

James Franklin AP

Since taking over at Penn State, and even dating back to his time at Vanderbilt, James Franklin may have ruffled a feather or two or 50.  The following story, however, might soften some of those rough edges.

Wednesday, the new Nittany Lions head coach and some of his players visited a children’s hospital in Hershey, Pa.  During the course of a meeting with the media, Franklin dropped some 411 on something that, as far as we can ascertain, has never been made public.

“You know, this (hospital visit) is important to us, too, because our youngest daughter has sickle-cell disease, the full-blown disease,” Franklin said according to PennLive.com.

Five-year-old Addy, the coach revealed, was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia shortly after her birth. As the website notes, the disease affects 100,000 people, most of whom are black.

Franklin also acknowledged that the presence of experts in the blood disorder’s field in the state played a role, at least on some level, in him leaving Vanderbilt for Penn State.

“It was a big factor in us coming to Penn State, making sure that we were going to have the right type of support,” said the coach. “We’re fortunate, our daughter’s doing great but I know then when they come, we’re going to come and have a trip down here and sit down and talk to the doctors.

“And then fortunately, the person that used to run the sickle-cell branch here at the (Hershey) hospital now is in State College. So it’s a tremendous blessing.”

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher revealed back in August of 2011 that his young son was battling a rare blood disorder, and subsequently announced a foundation that would raise money to research and combat the illness. Franklin said during his visit to the hospital today that they talked “about possibly getting my wife involved in, and fundraising at the hospital or starting a foundation” to raise money for sickle-cell research.

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January the ETA for ex-Vols QB in Charlotte

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptcyzdfhode2nwjlnwq4nwiynmzknwuwyjzmmjkzntyx AP

Earlier this month it was reported that erstwhile Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson would be transferring to Charlotte.

While that still appears to be the case, it won’t happen for a little bit further down the road.

Josh Ward of Knoxville radio station WNML tweeted earlier this evening that Ferguson will enroll at Charlotte in January of next year.  Ward confirmed the development with the player’s father. Ferguson’s brother Zach is a redshirt sophomore on the football team, which likely played a role on some level in his move to the school.

UT head coach Butch Jones confirmed in late May that it was very likely Ferguson would be leaving the Vols.

Because he will sit out the 2014 season, Ferguson will be eligible to play for the 49ers in 2015, when the current FCS program makes its official transition to the FBS as a Conference USA member.

A three-star member of the Vols’ 2013 recruiting class, Ferguson was rated as the No. 23 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school in North Carolina. He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

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Dave Wannstedt back in college football — as TV analyst

Dave Wannstedt AP

For those college football fans who’ve yearned for the return of the mustachioed Camaro man, today’s your lucky day.

Since “resigning” — winkwinknudgenudge — as Pittsburgh’s head coach December of 2011, Dave Wannstedt has served as an assistant at the professional level, spending two years with the Buffalo Bills and 2013 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Now, however, he’s back in college football, albeit in a slightly different capacity.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wannstedt revealed that he will serve as a television analyst for the 2014 season.  The long-time coach will be a part of FOX Sports’ college football pregame, halftime and postgame shows along with co-hosting a weekly show on the Big Ten Network.

“I guess I am moving to the dark side, so to speak,” the coach told the Post-Gazette. “I reached out to several media outlets to see if I could get into the TV side of things and Fox offered me this job after several discussions.

“I have always had it in the back of my mind that this is what I wanted to do and now I have the opportunity and it should be really a lot of fun and I think it is something that will be a challenge but that I’m really looking forward to.”

The paper writes that Wannstedt “will be based in Chicago but will fly to Los Angeles for the Fox Shows each weekend.”

The 62-year-old Wannstedt didn’t state either way whether he’d like to continue his coaching career.

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Five-star recruit facing felony ‘denies the charges’

Darnell Salomon

There’s been yet another development in a situation involving a highly-rated member of the Class of 2016.

Earlier today it was reported that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of 17-year-old Darnell Salomon.  The five-star wide receiver has been accused of stealing items — iPhone 5, credit cards, cash — from a dorm room on the Georgia campus while he attended an UGA football camp.

In a statement sent to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, Salomon’s attorney did the expected and proclaimed his client’s innocence.  He also said he is working with authorities in Georgia to have his client, who lives in Florida, turn himself in on the warrant.

“Darnell and his family were informed of the issuance of a warrant for his arrest earlier today. Since that time our office has been in contact with the Athens-Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and the Athens-Clarke County District Attorney’s Office. We are currently working in cooperation with these officials to arrange his surrender. Our client denies the charges presented against him. Darnell and his family wish to thank those who have offered words of encouragement and support during this difficult time.”

I should also point out that I received some bad information earlier today — the charge Salomon is facing is a felony, not a misdemeanor as I had previously been told.

It’s unclear how this incident and the charge will impact the recruitment of Salomon, who holds more than a dozen offers from high-profile schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Tennessee and USC.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Bearcats, Hoosiers make future home-and-home official

Football vs. Bowling Green State University, 09/14/13_Mike Dickbernd

A short time after it was first reported, the two football parties made it official.

In twin press releases, Cincinnati and Indiana confirmed that the two football programs will square off in a future home-and-home series. The Hoosiers will host the Bearcats on Sept. 18, 2021, with UC returning the hosting favor Sept. 24, 2022.

The Bearcats have future games scheduled against Ohio State (2014, 2019), Miami (Fla.) (2015), Michigan (2017) and Boise State (2019, 2020) while the Hoosiers have, well, nothing even remotely resembling that level of non-conference competition.

“Facing Cincinnati reinforces our commitment to adding strong non-conference programs to our future schedules,” IU athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement. “It is a great opportunity for our large alumni base in the Greater Cincinnati Area to come out and watch the Hoosiers. Along with the addition of UConn (2019, 2020), we are set up to reach our goal of playing seven home games every season and are consistent with the Big Ten’s policy that each school play at least one major conference opponent in the non-conference each year.”

The two teams have met on a football field 14 times, with Indiana holding a 9-3-2 advantage that includes wins in the last five games played. The last time they squared off was in 1998.

(Photo credit: Indiana athletics)

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Future Stanford-SJSU games might be at 49ers’ new home

Levi's Stadium

Earlier this offseason, the Pac-12 announced that Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, would host its conference championship game for the next three years.

Depending how things shake out in the coming months, the NFL stadium could be seeing some regular season college football action as well.

San Jose State head coach Ron Caragher confirmed to the San Jose Mercury News Wednesday that talks have been initiated between his school and Stanford about renewing their series.  If that series returns, the coach also confirmed, it would likely take place at a neutral site, Levi’s Stadium.

There’s some fringe talk about it,” Caragher said about playing a neutral site game/games with the Cardinal. “Has anything been finalized? Not necessarily. But I think it’d be great.”

SJSU and Stanford have met on a football field 67 times since the first game was played in 1900.  However, last year’s game — a 34-13 Cardinal win in Stanford Stadium in the season opener — was the final game between the two programs until a new contract is signed.

Stanford comfortably leads the in-state series 52-14-1, with San Jose State’s last win coming in 2006.

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Larry Scott’s the anti-Bowlsby, optimistic on future of college sports

Alfred E. Neuman

In leading off the Big 12 media Days Monday, commissioner Bob Bowlsby painted a bleak picture of the future of athletics at the collegiate level, stating that, because of the O’Bannon lawsuit and the like, both men’s and women’s Olympic sports could be eliminated.

His Pac-12 counterpart, on the other hand, has taken the Alfred E. Neuman approach to the sports horizon on the college front.

Speaking as he kicked off his conference’s media days Wednesday, Larry Scott (pictured) acknowledged the gloom and doom some have espoused as of late.    For his part, however, the future’s so bright he might as well wear shades.

“While we’ve heard some doomsday and some threats over the last week, I am very confident and optimistic about where college sports is going,” the commissioner said during his address to the media. “We know there are some significant challenges out there, and we know it’s time to make significant changes. Today requires that we do more for student-athletes who work so hard to find balance for their passions for their sport while still wanting to get an education.”

It wasn’t all puppy dogs and rainbows from Scott as the commissioner warned that going to the professional model — i.e. paying athletes as employees of the universities — for football and perhaps basketball could make Bowlsby’s comments very prescient.

“We need to make necessary reforms, and we will,” he said. “But radically changing the model into a professional model or trying to reinvent the construct where student-athletes are treated as employees would threaten the existence of many women’s sports (and) Olympic sports.”

Our best guess? The future of college sports will fall somewhere closer to Scott’s optimism than Bowlsby’s dire pessimism. There’s too much money at stake, and too many smart individuals like Scott involved, for it to not work itself out in the end. Certainly collegiate athletics will have a different look even just a decade down the road, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Change is necessary, whether it’s forced through the courts or voluntarily with the universities and the NCAA coming to their collective senses and realizing the current system is broke and in dire need of a major renovation.

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Warrant issued for five-star WR implicated in UGA dorm theft

iPhone theft

A couple of days later, we now have a name to go with the accusation.

Monday it was reported that an unidentified 2016 football recruit was the prime suspect in the burglary of a Georgia dorm. The player, who was staying with a pair of Bulldog football players during a camp, allegedly stole a wallet with cash and a pair of credit cards in it as well as an iPhone 5 out of the room of two female Bulldog athletes.

It was initially reported that the player likely wasn’t facing an arrest or extradition because he was a juvenile from out of state. That turned out to not be the case as multiple media outlets Wednesday reported that Darnell Salomon, the recruit in question, has a warrant out for his arrest in connection to the incident.

It’s believed the charge will be of the misdemeanor variety.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

It’s unclear at this point whether Salomon plans to turn himself in to fight the charges. According to the police report, UGA Police Sgt. Dale Parrish of the notified Salomon’s mother that a warrant had been taken and the procedure for turning himself into the Athens-Clarke County Sherriff’s Office.

The 17-year-old Salomon’s high school football coach proclaimed his player’s innocence.

“When the facts in the case come out we’re all sure Darnell Salomon will be cleared of all charges,” Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat Catholic Mike Tunsil told 247Sports.com in a statement.

That same recruiting website lists Salomon as a five-star prospect and the No. 3 wide receiver in the Class of 2016. The same holds true for Scout.com.

The 6-2, 186-pound high schooler holds scholarship offers from a veritable who’s who of the college football elite: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina Tennessee and USC just to name a few.

Salomon has yet to verbally commit to any school, although he still has two seasons worth of high school football to get through. Well, that and this legal hiccup.

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Aggravated assault arrest leads to Georgia dismissing DT Taylor

Georgia Bulldogs logo

Following an arrest for aggravated assault earlier this week, Georgia has dismissed defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor. As reported yesterday, Taylor was arrested for the second time this offseason, this time being charged for aggravated assault on a female.

According to The Telegraph, Taylor was released from jail after 28 hours. Soon after his release from jail, the University of Georgia athletics department released a brief statement confirming his dismissal from the football program. Taylor is now the third player on Georgia’s defense to be given the boot this offseason.

Taylor was arrested in March following theft by deception charges against he and three other Georgia players. To avoid a suspension by the team at that time, Taylor entered a pre-trial intervention program. Unfortunately, it appears Taylor was unable to stay out of trouble and will now have bigger problems to worry about. Any arrest or citation is considered a violation of the program.

As far as football is concerned, which really is trivial at best when discussing a player accused of strangling a woman, Georgia should be able to survive the depth concern on the defensive line. The Bulldogs return five players with experience and have recruited well at the position, but now the focus on recruiting for the future will have to shift a bit more on the defensive front than initially expected.

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