Memorial Stadium in Norman is getting set to undergo a major and pricey renovation, former Oklahoma quarterback-turned-broadcaster Dean Blevins reported overnight.
According to the KWTV sports anchor, multiple sources have confirmed that “a Master Expansion Plan for Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium has been approved and is expected to be announced at a future OU Board of Regents meeting.” The renovation would commence shortly after the final regular season game of the 2014 season (Dec. 6 versus rival Oklahoma State) and would be completed before the 2015 season opener Sept. 5 against Akron.
The price tag for first construction on the stadium in more than a decade? At least $350 million, possibly reaching $400 million.
Here’s a partial list of the work the renovation plans entail:
— Current suites are expected to be upgraded and updated while new suites will be added in the south end zone.
— New press box.
— “Substantial facilities upgrades in the south end zone, where the players currently dress, meet and press conferences are held, would result in a state-of-the-art weight room and training facilities – a huge recruiting tool in today’s environment.”
— Additional seating that would increase the capacity from 82,112 to more than 90,000.
The added seating would move OU from 16th in the country to 12th, trailing, from 1-11, Michigan, Penn State, Texas A&M (upon completion of Kyle Field’s renovation), Tennessee, Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, USC, Georgia, LSU and UCLA. The television station’s website notes that there is a waiting list in excess of 15,000 people for season tickets.
(Photo credit: Oklahoma athletics)
In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”
Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.
At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August. The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.
“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”
Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.
Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5. The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.
De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland. Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.
“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”
Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.
Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).
In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well. The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury