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Minor league baseball team’s plans for Emmert Appreciation Night are fantastic

Mark Emmert

NCAA president Mark Emmert took aim at minor league sports while testifying on the witness stand last week in the Ed O’Bannon antitrust trial, and now one minor league organization is firing back. Fortunately, no organization is capable of manufacturing spur-of-the-moment promotion and themes the way minor league baseball teams do.

 

The single A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, the Lake County Captains, will host a “Mark Emmert Appreciate Night” on July 2. The special night is in response to a comment made during the trial last week while discussing the idea of paying student-athletes to play college sports. In explaining his rationale, Emmert suggested minor league sports “aren’t very successful.”

“To convert college sports into professional sports would be tantamount to converting it into minor league sports,” Emmert said Thursday. “And we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren’t very successful either for fan support or for the fan experience.”

So how does one go about planning a special “Mark Emmert Appreciation Night?” The Lake County Captains have it all planned out, and it is fantastic. For example, all fans will be allowed to transfer to a different seat subject to a one inning waiting period. Fans who participate in special promotions will not be rewarded with prizes but will have the satisfaction of having participated. The mascot “may or may not” be floating around the stadium giving $100 handshakes to any fan wearing a generic college jersey that may or may not resemble a current player.

There is plenty more planned by the minor league baseball team. The lesson here is never poke a stick at a minor league sports team.

 

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Jimbo says FSU will have QB competition, not controversy

Jimbo Fisher, Brian Kelly AP

Exiting spring practice, Sean Maguire was the odds-on favorite to replace Jameis Winston under center for Florida State in 2015.  With the addition of Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson earlier this month, however, the Seminoles will find themselves with a somewhat unexpected quarterback competition when summer camp kicks off a couple of months down the road.

And, according to head coach Jimbo Fisher, he’s not going to allow that competition devolve into another “c” word.

“Controversy and competition is two different things. It’s competition,” Fisher told Ralph Russo of the Associated Press. “And players on the team, when a guy is a competitor and he does well — whether it’s Sean, it’s Everett, it’s De’Andre [Johnson], it’s J.J. [Consentino], it’s Deondre Francois — whoever is on our team, they’ll follow the guys who play the best, respond the best and lead them the best.”

Golson certainly has an edge over Maguire when it comes to the experience department, starting for the Irish for the better part of the 2012 and 2014 seasons, with an academic suspension sandwiched in between. Golson, though, struggled turning the ball over last season — while he threw for nearly 3,500 yards and accounted for a combined 37 touchdowns (29 passing, eight rushing),

Some have (wrongly) assumed that Golson will be handed the starting job. Fisher has stated that Golson was never promised the starting job during his recruitment. He also went out of his way to ensure Maguire that both he and the new addition to the roster will be given an equal shot at winning the job.

“I just wanted to be honest with him and explain to him my thought process as the head coach,” Fisher said. “I’m open with all of our players like that. There’s never going to be anything I’m doing behind your back.

“He took it very well. He asked, is it really an open competition? I said yes it is. He knows I’ve never lied to him or any of our players.”

The Seminoles will begin summer camp in early August. Fisher and his coaching staff will likely want to name Winston’s successor somewhere in the middle of that month, giving the starter 2-3 weeks of solo No. 1 work ahead of the Sept. 5 opener against Texas State.

Perhaps the best news for whoever wins the job? FSU opens the season with back-to-back home games against non-Power Five schools — USF to go along with TSU — before traveling to Chestnut Hill Sept. 18 to face Boston College (7-6 last season) in the ACC opener.  There’s also a bye week and an Oct. 3 road trip to Wake Forest (3-9) before the first “real” test of the season: a home game against in-state rival Miami Oct. 10.

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Dabo Swinney takes home coaching award

Dabo Swinney

Suffice to say, this didn’t come from the LGBT community.

At a banquet in Dallas, Tex., Tuesday night, Dabo Swinney was on the receiving end of the 2015 Gene Stallings Award. The presenter of the award was a very familiar face for the Clemson head coach: his former Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who was named as the head coach at SMU this past December.

According to the release, “[t]he Stallings Award was created to honor college football head coaches who are also humanitarians and strive to promote healthy, vibrant communities through charitable and community service efforts.”

“I am Incredibly honored to receive the Stallings Award,” said Swinney in quotes distributed by the school. “Coach Stallings was my mentor for seven great years. The lessons I learned from him and the example he was to me as a father, husband and as a giver to the community definitely shaped me as a young man.

“Every day I think about Coach Stallings or apply one of the lessons of life that he taught me. There are a lot of awards out there, but this is one that I will cherish forever because of the man it is named for. I just want to say thank you for this great honor and for the opportunity to have my name associated with The Stallings Award.”

Swinney began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Alabama in 1993. Stallings was the Tide’s head coach at the time.

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LSU suspends Tiger lineman arrested on felony charge

Jevonte Domond

That certainly didn’t take very long.

It was reported Tuesday that reserve LSU offensive lineman Jevonte Domond was arrested and charged with a felony following a domestic violence incident Monday. A short time after the reports surfaced — specifically, Domond was charged with battery and domestic abuse — LSU confirmed that Domond has been indefinitely suspended by head coach Les Miles.

“I’m not familiar with the specifics. I knew right away when this incident occurred. I’m trying to get the specifics,” Miles said according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. “He’s suspended from the team. It’s a crime that we cannot condone and behavior that we will not tolerate.”

And, before you ask, no, I have no idea if a team vote will be conducted to determine the player’s future with the Tigers.

If the accusations are proven correct, though, Domond might have a lot more to worry about than a spot on a football roster.

The alleged victim, Domond’s fiancée, accused the lineman of strangling her as she stood over the crib of the couple’s child. She further alleged that he slammed her on a couch before, after she pepper sprayed him twice to no avail, he followed her to the police station.

Domond, who denied the charges, claims the alleged victim pulled a knife on him earlier in the day; she admitted to such a move, although it was claimed to be in self-defense. There’s also reportedly a witness to the incident.

Domond played in one game last season after signing with the Tigers from the JUCO ranks in the Class of 2014.

(Photo credit: LSU athletics)

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VIDEO: Former Ohio State walk-on creates Heisman hype video for Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott rushed 273 times for 1,878 yards with 18 touchdowns last season. Emeka Onyejekwe did not. Elliott was the MVP of Ohio State’s national championship run last winter. Onyejekwe was not. Elliott is the anointed Heisman Trophy front-runner heading into the fall. Onyejekwe is… not.

But there is one way the former Buckeyes walk-on has contributed to the cause. He gave Elliott his own hype video.

“I loved what he stood for, loved his family,” Onyejekwe, known as Mekka Don, told ESPN.com Tuesday. “The Heisman odds came out from one of the Vegas sports books and he was No. 1, so I wanted to do something for him. With him being named the front-runner after the season he had, that’s a big deal.”

Mekka Don cleared his plans to surprise Elliott with a hype video with the running back’s parents and then went to work.

The end result is what you see below, titled “Zeke.”

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Reports: Early enrollee Florida TE already planning a transfer

Florida v Tennessee Getty Images

Daniel Imatorbhebhe hasn’t played a college down yet. Heck, he shouldn’t even be out of high school. But the three-star prospect is already planning to transfer.

Florida’s Scout site first reported the news Tuesday, which was then corroborated by InAllKindsOfWeather.com and AlligatorArmy.com.

The return of injured starter Jake McGee plus a glut of depth at the position are the listed reasons for the Suwanee, Ga., native’s departure.

Imatorbhebhe is the second player to transfer this spring, following quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg.

Imatorbhebhe’s younger brother, Josh, was also pledged to join Daniel at Florida but recently decommitted for USC.

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Incoming SEC commish: Ban satellite camps… or else

Florida v Alabama

The SEC has descended upon Destin, Fla., for its annual spring meetings, and day one of the beach-side festivities have centered primarily around one topic: satellite camps.

The practice of holding a camp outside one’s campus has been around for a few years now, but the debate has metastasized this spring, thanks in large part to new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 are for them, while the ACC and SEC ban the practice within their conferences. Naturally, they’d like other conferences to do the same… even though the other three have no practical reason to do so.

Well, here’s a reason. As incoming SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Tuesday evening: if the satellite camp rule isn’t banned, the SEC will be forced to jump in.

The reason the SEC enacted a ban in the first place, of course, is to protect its coaching staffs from themselves. Otherwise LSU, for example, would hold camps in Tuscaloosa, Oxford, College Station, etc. Depending on how the legislation Mike Slive promised Tuesday to present turns out, the SEC may now be forced to jump in.

Elsewhere in league governance, the SEC will require its members to have a conference-supplied independent medical observer at all games on its campuses this fall.

One step backward, one step forward.

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LSU OL Jevonte Domond arrested on felony domestic abuse charges

Jevonte Domond

LSU offensive lineman Jevonte Domond was arrested Monday for felony domestic abuse, according to police records obtained by Ross Dellenger of the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate.

Domond is accused of attacking his fiancee – unnamed in the report – and strangling her. According to Domond’s fiancee, the 22-year-old approached the woman while she stood above the crib of their newborn and promptly “grabbed her behind the neck” and lifted her off the ground. From there the report includes phrases such as “almost blacked out” and “slammed her on the couch.”

The woman says she pepper sprayed Domond twice, but that did not stop him from following her to the police department.

Domond denies the charges, and claims his fiancee pulled a knife on him earlier in the day. The woman admitted to pulling a knife on him, but claimed it to be in self-defense.

Domond remains in East Baton Rouge Parish Jail, and bail has not been set as of the report.

An LSU spokesperson said the program is aware of the incident but has not commented further.

A transfer from Glendale (Ariz.) Community College, Domond saw action in one game last fall.

(Photo credit: LSU athletics)
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Michigan RB Justice Hayes heading to Southern Miss

Appalachian v Michigan

Former Michigan running back Justice Hayes is heading south. Hayes took to Twitter Tuesday to confirm his decision to transfer to Southern Mississippi for this upcoming season. As a graduate transfer, Hayes will be eligible to play right away for the Conference USA program in need of all the help it can get.

Hayes was fifth on the Michigan roster in rushing last season with 213 yards on 48 rushing attempts. The Michigan backfield is a crowded bunch heading into the 2015 season, but Hayes may have a chance to have a bit more of an impact at Southern Miss. The Eagles return their top two rushers from 2014 with Ito Smith (536 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns) and George Paynes (271 yards, 6 touchdowns), but Hayes and his veteran presence could be a benefit on and off the field.

Southern Miss won just three games last year, but that was an increase from the one win it recorded the previous season. Southern Miss has fallen hard since Larry Fedora coached the program to a 12-2 record in 2011, but Todd Monken is still putting the pieces together and building something that can compete for a Conference USA title once again.

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Oregon adds starting OL transfer from Notre Dame

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Getty Images

The Oregon offensive line may have been a slight concern for the Ducks this upcoming season, but some of those concerns should be reduced today. The Ducks announced Tuesday the addition of Matt Hegarty, who started 11 games for the Irish at center or offensive guard.

Hegarty announced his decision to transfer out of South Bend in early March in an interview with ESPN.com. As he said before, the push from the Notre Dame coaching staff to have him switch positions was not something he appeared to be comfortable doing in his final year of eligibility. At Oregon Hegarty could slide right into a starting role at center or left guard, two positions Oregon loses starters from last season.

This would be a tremendous addition for Oregon, which will also be breaking in a new starting quarterback. Vernon Adams from Eastern Washington could take over in the post-Marcus Mariota era, and having a veteran starting offensive lineman plug one position of need should be comforting for head coach Mark Helfrich.

Hegarty is a former four-star recruit in Notre Dame’s Class of 2011. He originally chose Notre Dame over offers from Oregon and a good handful of other top programs. Because he is a graduate transfer, Hegarty will be ruled eligible to play right away in Eugene.

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Clemson’s Dabo Swinney in the middle of LGBT issue

Dabo Swinney

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is a man committed to his religious beliefs, and those beliefs have created some off-field drama in the past. It appears it may we have another chapter to write in this tale.

As reported by Outsports.com, Swinney is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser for the Palmetto Family Council on June 2. The organization is dedicated to fighting against equality for the LGBT community and same-sex couples. Swinney’s role in the fundraising event is drawing plenty of attention and leading many to publicly request Swinney withdraw from the event entirely.

“Coach Swinney has an obligation to the players he leads and all students that attend Clemson to use his considerable profile to promote causes that bring us together, not tear us apart,” GLAAD vice president Zeke Stokes said in response. “The Palmetto Family Council’s values are out of line with the values of love and acceptance for all people, and I hope the Coach will reconsider the message that his [alignment] with them sends.”

Nobody has a right to step in and tell Swinney he is wrong to support his beliefs, no matter how backwards you think they may be on this subject, but it might be wise for Swinney to think about what his actions are saying. Swinney may promote a bit of a religious setting around his program, but what would his decision be if he knew he had a gay player on his roster?

Whatever the case may be, it is clear we still have some work to do to provide the same human rights to those in the LGBT community. Swinney would be a great example and leader for that effort if he backed out of this event, but that is his call to make.

Helmet sticker to Outsports.com.

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Dates set for Belk Bowl and Military Bowl

Belk Bowl - Georgia v Louisville Getty Images

College football is only 100 days away from kicking off, so that means we better get the postseason calendar in order. Today the Military Bowl and Belk Bowl each confirmed dates and start times for their respective postseason festivities.

The Military Bowl will be played on December 28, 2015 in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. The game will be given a mid-afternoon kickoff time of 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast by ESPN. The Belk Bowl will be played a couple of days later, on December 30 in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. It will also be given a mid-afternoon time, with kickoff scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.

This season will mark the eighth year the Military Bowl has been played, and third straight year the game has been played in Navy’s home stadium. The game has bowl tie-ins with the ACC and American Athletic Conference through the 2019 season. Last year’s game was won by Virginia Tech, defeating Cincinnati 33-17. The ACC is 3-1 in the bowl game.

The Belk Bowl was first played in 2002, meaning this year will be the 14th edition of the postseason bowl game. The game has tie-ins with the ACC and SEC through 2019. Last year’s game saw Georgia put away Louisville, 37-14. Georgia was the first SEC school to play in the game, but an ACC team has made an appearance each year since 2002.

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TCU and West Virginia to receive 85% of Big 12 revenue share

TCU West Virginia Football

Another year as a Big 12 member is in the books for TCU and West Virginia, and that means a slightly higher percentage of the Big 12 revenue shares are coming. David Ubben of FOX Sports reported the revenue share the Horned Frogs and Mountaineers will be receiving this year will jump to 85 percent as per the arrangements made when accepting membership in the conference.

Last year Big 12 schools received a revenue share valued at $23 million per school. TCU and West Virginia only received $14 million of that as first-year members in the new conference. This is generally the standard operating procedure for new schools in a conference. Next year at this time West Virginia and TCU will receive a full Big 12 revenue split.

Last year the Big 12 divided $213 million between its members, which was up from $198 million the previous fiscal year. How much will be in the pot for the Big 12 is expected to be announced later this week as the Big 12 spring meetings play out. Of all the power conferences, the Big 12’s $198 million in 2012-2013 was the lowest total revenue to share. Having two teams (Baylor and TCU) participate in the College Football Playoff bowl structure (although not actually in the playoff) figures to help the Big 12 revenue number jump to some extent this year.

On a related note, with the SEC meetings also going on this week, it will be interesting to see what kind of revenue numbers the SEC will have to share. With the introduction and success of the new SEC Network, the numbers figure to be pretty high.

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Get ready for more talk about satellite camps at SEC meetings

SEC Media

The SEC meetings are getting underway this week in Destin, which means another round of satellite camp talk. With the month of June now just days away, coaches from outside the SEC (and ACC) will begin taking part in football camps around the country. Some of those camps, as you may have heard by now, will be taking place in states with SEC schools, and SEC coaches and athletic directors and more are not pleased about it.

This week, expect to see more of a push from the SEC to try and convince the NCAA to adopt their conference rule as a national rule. That rule, of course, is to prohibit coaches from participating in any capacity at a football camp outside the normal regulations outlined by the NCAA rule book. Those NCAA allows coaches to work in camps within their own state or 50 miles from their campus if traveling across state borders. The NCAA rules also allow for coaches to work at another camp outside those boundaries so long as the coach or coaches are not advertising their appearance at another camp. The hosting school may go all out in advertising their special guests though.

The SEC and ACC each have conference rules prohibiting their coaches from working at camps in this manner. Fearing they may lose a couple of recruits to the Big Ten from their home soil, the conferences each have figureheads and coaches stumping for the NCAA to close the supposed loophole in the rule.

“We’re in an evolutionary period and the end result is that everything isn’t necessarily going to be the same for everybody,” outgoing SEC commissioner Mike Slive told the Associated Press last week. “That’s a difficult concept for them and it flies in the face of the experience of our coaches and our institutions for decades. The days of everything and every rule being grounded in a level playing field are gone.”

Of course, satellite camps is just one issue sure to be discussed this week. The SEC will also be reviewing cost-of-attendance issues, as well as the graduate transfer rules and more as the conference prepares for the upcoming year.

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Syracuse getting new HD carpet in Carrier Dome

Florida State v Syracuse

While the hope remains for a new football-only facility or a new roof option at Syracuse, the best it can do now is give the Carrier Dome some minor upgrades. This year the dome will have a brand new playing surface.

Syracuse has decided to install a new playing surface from FieldTurf. According to the press release from FieldTurf, Syracuse will install a FieldTurf Classic HD turf system. What makes it 3D is beyond me and perhaps best left to the turf managers out there, but the press release states Syracuse’s new turf will feature a 3-layer infill which should allow for an “elite-level artificial turf surface.” Sure, that sounds good.

“When we were looking to replace our synthetic field, I wanted to continue our relationship with FieldTurf,” said Pete Sala, Interim Director of Athletics/Carrier Dome Managing Director. “We like the quality and we are very excited about using the Classic HD product. The Carrier Dome is used year round for a multitude of events ranging from football to Monster Truck events and even ice skating shows. For this reason, it was important that we select a very durable product without compromising on quality. And that’s why we selected FieldTurf.”

It’s true. The Carrier Dome is used for much more than football, so having a dependable and low-maintenance field turf is key for Syracuse. And the Orange have already installed field truf from FieldTurf in other facilities. The company has also installed playing or practice fields for Ohio State, UCF, Arizona State, Louisville and more.

Syracuse looks to be going with a traditional field color as well, so if you were expecting or hoping Syracuse would install an orange playing field sure to burn your retinas, you will have to keep dreaming.

Now if we could just do something about those hideous uniforms.

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After making weekend visit, Blake Countess decides on Auburn

Blake Countess, William Fuller

So much for making trips to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Blake Countess has apparently decided he saw enough this weekend to be sold on Auburn. Countess announced on his Twitter account Tuesday morning he will transfer to Auburn, where he will step immediately into an opportunity to perform under defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

Countess visited Auburn this weekend and was reportedly planning on visiting Oklahoma and Oklahoma State before coming to a final decision. Before checking out Auburn, Countess previously visited Arizona and former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez. At Auburn, Countess will compete for a starting job right away after the Tigers have lost five defensive backs from the roster this offseason.

Countess is a graduate transfer from Michigan. As such, he will be eligible to play right away this fall. He announced earlier this month his intention to play the 2015 season somewhere else instead of Michigan. His announcement came a day after Jim Harbaugh welcomed another graduate transfer to Ann Arbor, defensive backWayne Lyons from Stanford.

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