SEC prefers status quo on signing day, but open to earlier date

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The quagmire that is the effort by some to have an early signing period for recruits instituted is still as muddled and muddied as ever.

Case in point?  The SEC.  At its annual spring meetings Wednesday, the football coaches in that conference voted unanimously for an early signing period the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Such an early signing period would be for one day only and solely for recruits who had not taken any official visits; in other words, for example, a kid from Tuscaloosa who’s had his heart set on going to Alabama his whole life could end his recruitment and not put up with an additional two months or so of recruiting pitches from rival programs.

While the vote was unanimous, it’s far from cut and dry.

“Not everybody agreed there should be an early signing date,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt, the dean of SEC football coaches, said. “But everybody agreed on a date if there is going to be an early signing day.

“Our biggest fear was making our season crazy with recruiting. We want to coach our teams. We didn’t want the recruiting calendar to move up, but if you have a guy that wants to sign early, let him sign.”

Additionally, SEC commissioner Mike Slive, one of the most powerful men in the sport, stated this evening that he hopes there’s no early signing period added, that he wishes early February would continue to be the only National Signing Day.

As you can imagine with not even everyone in the same conference agreeing on whether there should be an early signing day, it will be damn-near impossible to get a consensus nationally.  The ACC, for example, is pushing for an early signing day of Aug. 1.

Recruiting savant Nick Saban addressed that very subject in Destin Tuesday.

“Well, I don’t know that we’re ever going to come to a common ground or anyone’s gonna agree on something,” he said. “Some of the Northern schools, they don’t want an early signing date, because they want to be able to visit guys during the season. A lot of coaches, including myself, don’t want an inordinate amount of visits during the season because it takes away from your football team and your preparation and preparation for the next week. So I really think we’re gonna have a hard time agreeing on something that’s good for everybody, just because the regions of the country. A lot of the Northern schools don’t want kids visiting in January because it’s freezing cold and they lie to them and tell them it’s warm year-round.

“That’s something that you’ve gotta deal with. I don’t know if we’re ever going to come to common ground, in my opinion.”

Or, as Florida’s Will Muschamp said, “I don’t know if we’re ever going to come to a common ground where we’re all going to agree on something.”

The SEC’s resolution will be sent to the Conference Commissioners Association — this is a CCA issue, not an NCAA one — for evaluation and, potentially, discussion at its next scheduled meeting in June.

It’s Slive’s hope, however, that the CCA doesn’t even tackle the issue and the status quo remains in place for the foreseeable future.

“There are varying opinions as to what an early signing date should be… and for us we will continue to encourage our colleagues in the CCA to retain the current model,” Slive said. “I think our coaches have demonstrated that.”

A recruiting quagmire indeed.

BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

California’s state-funded travel ban to discriminating states raises mild football scheduling concerns

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The state of California is banning state-funded travel to the states of Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Those states are added to the previous state-funded travel bans that included Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee due to what California lawmakers say are laws that allow for discrimination against gay and transgender people.

So what does this have to do with college football? My colleague, Bryan, notes this latest decision from the state means scheduling any potential road games for a handful of schools just got a tad trickier.

This development poses a couple of issues for some California schools to address moving forward.

San Jose State is the school affected by this latest news right off the bat. San Jose State has a road game scheduled at Texas on September 9 this season. San Jose State may have to rely on some of that guaranteed money from Texas to cover the expenses, which would put a dent in the total takeaway from playing the game in the first place.

Cal is also scheduled to play at North Carolina on September 2. Cal also plays at TCU in 2021 and at Auburn in 2024. If the ban is still in operation at those times, then Cal will have to budget ahead of time to tackle the expenses. UCLA will play at Memphis on September 19.

The state-funded travel ban to these states may not be an issue for the postseason, as bowl game expenses tend to be carried by the conference and their revenue shares.

Fresno State has a road game at Texas A&M scheduled in 2020. San Diego State has no future scheduling hassles to worry about for the time being.

When ‘physically, mentally ready,’ door wide open for Keyshawn Johnson Jr.’s return to Nebraska

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Keyshawn Johnson Jr. has yet to play a down for Nebraska, but, if it’s up to Mike Riley, he will at some point down the road.

Earlier this month, the son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  This past week, the younger Johnson decided to take a leave of absence, with his father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and will not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.

Left open at the time was the question of whether Johnson Jr. would ever play for the ‘Huskers, period.  Friday, Riley left the door wide open for a return.

“We’re disappointed that he’s not here with us right now today,” the head coach said according to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “I think there’s kind of a wellness factor for Keyshawn going home. We talked to him about the possibility of maybe enrolling part time and taking care of his progress toward his degree, and also getting in great shape.

“And we opened the door for return, which is just kind of left open that we’ll deal with at the time that he is physically and mentally ready to do that.”

A three-star 2017 signee who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, the younger Johnson had been expected to be an immediate contributor for the Cornhuskers this season.