UCLA v USC

Michigan State, UCLA highlight weekend spring games on tap

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The defending Big Ten champions will wrap up spring practices this weekend with the annual spring game. Michigan State does so looking to set the tone heading into the start of the 2014 season by letting everyone know last season’s run to a Big Ten championship and victory in the Rose Bowl over Pac-12 champion Stanford was no fluke.

One of Michigan State’s new division rivals, Rutgers, will cap their first spring preparing for Big Ten play as well. The Scarlet Knights could benefit from finding some consistent offense after an up and down season in 2013. Rutgers will open the first season of Big Ten play at home in primetime against Penn State in September. Michigan State and Rutgers will be in the same division as Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Maryland and Indiana.

Out west, UCLA will bring an end to the spring looking to prove they will have what it takes to make their own run to Pasadena, or perhaps the College Football Playoff. Having Brett Hundley leading the offense gives the Bruins a leg up on the competition, and having Myles Jack on defense is certainly nice as well. Washington State will look to develop some more weapons on offense so Mike Leach‘s offense will not have to rely so much on a passing game that struggles in protection. The second spring for Sonny Dykes also comes to an end at California, with the program looking to take on more of offensive identity Dykes was known for having when hired.

Here is the full schedule of spring games and scrimmages on tap this weekend. All times are eastern.

Arkansas, 2 p.m.

Buffalo, 2 p.m.

California, 2 p.m.

Hawaii, 7:15 p.m.

Idaho, 10:30 p.m. (Friday)

Iowa, 3 p.m.

Kansas State, 2 p.m.

Kent State, 1 p.m.

Kentucky, 3:30 p.m.

Marshall, 2 p.m.

Michigan State, 2 p.m.

Nevada, 5 p.m.

New Mexico, 1 p.m.

Rutgers, 3 p.m.

Temple, 1 p.m.

UCLA, 8 p.m.

UTSA, 2 p.m.

Virginia Tech, 2 p.m.

Wake Forest, 2 p.m.

Washington State, 4 p.m.

Helmet sticker to FBSchedules.com for the spring game and scrimmage times.

ECU transfer QB Kurt Benkert moves on to Virginia

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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On April 25, East Carolina announced that Kurt Benkert had decided to transfer out of the Pirates football program.  Less than a week later, the quarterback has found himself a new football home.

On Twitter Sunday afternoon, Benkert confirmed that he will be enrolling at Virginia and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Cavaliers.  Beckert also acknowledged his decision in a text message to 247Sports.com.

“I’m really excited to be here,” Beckert said in a portion of the brief text.

As Beckert is headed to UVa. as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Hoos immediately in 2016.  Not only that, but he will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Beckert was named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, but sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  In Charlottesville, Beckert will join a competition that includes returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

Mark Richt continues to be the classiest of acts in college football

Mark Richt gestures after being introduced as the new University of Miami NCAA college football head coach, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015,  in Coral Gables, Fla.  (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
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In my seven-plus years at CFT, I’ve never been shy in expressing my absolute and utter respect for Mark Richt, whether it was for an honorable against-the-grain stance on transfers or honoring a high school football player who tragically drowned before he could become a walk-on at Georgia or myriad other things.  Sunday, Richt solidified that respect.

As you may know, Richt and UGA parted ways this offseason, with the head coach ultimately moving on to Miami to take over his alma mater’s football program.  As expected, his departure from Athens was classy.

Just as expected, one of Richt’s returns to his old stomping grounds further showed his class.

Not to be outdone, Richt’s replacement showed his class as well.

Bravo to both head coaches.  Sometimes, most times, being classy is the absolute right move — even as Richt’s successor could take some lessons from his predecessor when it comes to transfers.

Ohio State draftees to sign contracts worth in excess of $110 million

Urban Meyer
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Forget about going shirtless at a satellite camp or a sleepover or climbing up a tree or any of the like; this is what you call a recruiting pitch.

During the course of the three-day NFL draft, a dozen former Ohio State Buckeyes were drafted.  While OSU failed to break its own record for most picks in a single draft, the 12 selections in the first four rounds were the most ever.

And, not surprisingly, those players are going to get paid.

According to PennLive.com‘s David Jones, those players will sign contracts that could be worth a total of $120 million.  Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch has the number pegged slightly lower at $111,462,707.  Either way, that’s a lot of cash — and a lot dollar signs for Urban Meyer to flout in front of potential recruits.

Of course, not all of that money is guaranteed, although the guaranteed dollars involved aren’t too shabby either.  From the Dispatch:

Just the signing bonuses alone, which range from Bosa’s projected $17,017,226 to Jones’ $383,393, have an expected total of $60,526,660. Unless a player does something to cause his contract to be voided, signing bonuses are theirs to keep.

Regardless of how you spin it, former Buckeyes did quite well financially the last couple of days.  And, as Jones alludes to when it comes to James Franklin and Penn State specifically and the Big Ten in general, Meyer and the Buckeyes are in an entirely different zip code than the rest of the conference — a fact that will no doubt come up on the vast expanses of the recruiting trail.

The good news for Franklin and Penn State: They had three of those 11. The bad news for them and everyone else in the league: Urban Meyer is probably preparing a recruiting flyer right now with a 9-figure dollar amount printed in big bold numbers.

Veteran NFL assistant reportedly to fill Alabama’s coaching vacancy

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Buffalo Bills
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On the same day some details emerged on an Alabama assistant’s “resignation,” that assistant’s potential replacement has been identified.

Citing unnamed sources, al.com is reporting that Karl Dunbar is expected to be hired as the Tide’s new defensive line coach.  Dunbar would replace Bo Davis, who “resigned” Friday amidst allegations of potential NCAA violations.

Dunbar served as Nick Saban‘s strength & conditioning coach at LSU from 2001-02, and then returned to Baton Rouge as Les Miles‘ line coach in 2005 after spending two years (2003-04) in the same position at Oklahoma State.

Most of Dunbar’s coaching career, though, especially recently, has come at the NFL level.

From 2006-11, Dunbar was the line coach for the Minnesota Vikings, and then held the same job with the New York Jets from 2012-2014.  Hired by Rex Ryan to coach the Buffalo Bills’ line in 2015, Dunbar was fired in March of this year.

Dunbar is a former NFL defensive lineman who played for Arizona in 1994-95, when Ryan was one of his Cardinals assistant.