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Big House sets U.S. soccer attendance mark

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The futbollers may not have been happy with the pitch, but that didn’t stop the fans from coming — in record-setting droves —  to Ann Arbor.

According to multiple accounts, a whopping 109,318 packed into Michigan Stadium to take in a friendly between Manchester United and Real Madrid, two of the most recognizable names in international soccer. That number easily surpassed the previous record for a soccer match on U.S. soil, besting the 1984 Olympic final between Brazil and France at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena that drew 101,799.

The world record of 173,850 for a soccer match was set in 1950, for the World Cup final match between host-country Brazil and Uruguay.

For a further reference point, the 2014 NHL Winter Classic at the Big House saw 105,491 in attendance for a professional hockey game. A college hockey game at the stadium was attended by 104,173.

It still, though, doesn’t compare to the Big House record for any sport: the 2013 Notre Dame-Michigan game that saw 115,109 crammed into a stadium with an official capacity of 109,901.  That was ans still is the most-attended game in the history of college football.

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USF officially adds ex-Badger S Austin Hudson to its roster

Two months after leaving Wisconsin, and three weeks after it was reported he was headed back to his home state, Austin Hudson officially has a new college football home.

In a press release sent out Friday afternoon, USF announced that Hudson has transferred into Willie Taggart‘s Bulls football program.  Because of NCAA transfer rules, Hudson will be forced to sit out the 2015 season.

Beginning in 2016, he will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Hudson was a two-star member of the Badgers’ 2014 recruiting class. He held offers from Georgia and Missouri prior to signing with UW.

As a true freshman last season, Hudson played in all 14 games.

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Terps’ pass-catching corps spring another Leak

Maryland v Syracuse

Last month it was reported that running back Jacquille Veii, a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, had decided to leave the Terrapins.  A month later, the Terps’ passing game has taken another hit.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun is reporting that Marcus Leak has withdrawn from school due to personal reasons.  In May of 2013, Leak left under similar circumstances, although he ultimately returned.

It’s unclear if a return is in the cards this time around as well.

Last season, Leak was third on the team in receptions (20) and receiving yards (297), while he was second in receiving touchdowns (three).  With Leak’s departure, the Terps won’t return their top four in receiving yards from the 2014 season: Stefon Diggs (792, early entry into NFL draft), Deon Long (575, expired eligibility) and Veii (230).

Those four departures mean that the leading returning receiver in terms of yards is Amba Etta-Tawo (222). The leading returning receiver in receptions is running back Wes Brown (21). The good news for the Terps is that Levern Jacobs, the team’s leading receiver in 2013, is returning from an injury that cost him most of the 2014 season.

Leak’s departure comes one day after Maryland announced the addition of quarterback Daxx Garman as a graduate transfer.

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Field-rushing could cost SEC schools $250,000

Alabama v Mississippi Getty Images

Earlier this week, outgoing SEC commissioner Mike Slive confirmed that his conference was looking to stiffen penalties for schools whose fans rush the field/storm the courts following wins.

With the league’s annual spring meetings coming to a close, those stiffer penalties have officially been enacted — and they are more than a slap on the wrist.

The previous penalties were on a sliding scale, with $5,000 fines for a first offense, $25,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for each violation thereafter within a three-year period.  After that three-year period, the slate was wiped clean.

Moving forward, the fine is $50,000 for a first offense, $100,000 for a second and a whopping $250,000 for a third offense.  The biggest news, however, may be that there is no three-year period to be wiped clean; rather, the $250,000 penalty will be in force for, well, forever.

For example: If a third offense is committed in, say, November of this year, and then a fourth in 2019, the $250,000 fine is applicable.

That said, given the new revenue numbers that came in today, and the projections for future years, I’m thinking the SEC schools will be able to bite the financial bullet if its fan deem it necessary to rush the field/storm the courts three or more times.  Or, as Ole Miss fans did last year after their post-Alabama win field rush, they’ll just donate the money to pay for the fines themselves.

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Big 12 sets record for big revenue, too

Raining Money

The SEC isn’t the only conference announcing record financials at the end of the work week.

Friday afternoon, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced that eight of his conference’s schools will received full shares of $27 million each.  New-ish members TCU and West Virginia will receive $24 and $23 million apiece, respectively; next year, each of those schools will receive full shares.

In 2014, Bowlsby announced what was a then-record payout of $23 million per school.

Bowlsby also noted that “several Big 12 schools [are] close to or over SEC numbers given third-tier rights.” Texas and Oklahoma, of course, would be the big winners in that revenue stream, while WVU made up somewhat for its lack of a full share.

As a reminder, SEC schools are expected to receive a shade over $31 million each for the 2014-15 fiscal year.  Those numbers don’t include multimedia rights deals — no third-tier rights in that conference because of the SEC Network — worked out by the individual schools, like the lucrative new deal signed by Alabama in April of 2014.

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SEC to ban adding transfers disciplined for ‘serious misconduct’

Jonathan Taylor Mugshot

Most casual college football fans wouldn’t consider the SEC holding the high moral ground on many if any issues.  When it comes to a certain type of transfer, however, they now most certainly do.

Georgia had proposed a rule change that would bar SEC schools from accepting transfers who had been disciplined for what was labeled as “serious misconduct” at that student-athlete’s previous institution.  Some observers believed that the initiative had little chance of passing; they were wrong.

Friday afternoon, the conference announced that the “UGA rule” had passed muster with its member institutions and will be implemented for the 2015-16 sports season.  It’s believed that the SEC is the first conference to enact such a policy.

As for the specifics of what’s being described as a groundbreaking rule, let’s go to the tweets from those in Destin for the league’s annual spring meetings:

While the rule is being hailed as the “UGA rule,” it might as well be called the “UGA rule, brought to you by Jonathan Taylor.”

In July of 2014, Taylor was dismissed by Georgia following a domestic violence arrest.  In a controversial move, Taylor signed with Alabama in January of this year.  Two months later, Taylor was arrested again on a domestic violence charge, leading to his second dismissal from an SEC school in less than a year.

Now that the SEC has set the standard when it comes to transfers such as Taylor, look for most, if not all of other Power Five conferences to follow suit in relatively short order.

One final bit of business (I’ll have a separate post on the new field-rushing-court-storming penalties in short order): Mike Slive announced that Greg Sankey will take over as commissioner of the SEC June 1.  Slive’s contract runs through July 31, and he had been expected to fulfill that obligation before stepping down.

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HS coach: backup QB John Franklin transferring from FSU

John Franklin

The first post-Everett Golson casualty is unofficially in the books.

Exactly 10 days after the former Notre Dame quarterback became a current Florida State quarterback, John Franklin‘s high school coach revealed to the Orlando Sentinel that his former player has decided to move on from the Seminoles. It’s relatively big news as Franklin had exited the spring as the unofficial No. 2 on the depth chart behind Sean Maguire, although most observers thought Franklin would be able to continue pushing for the job once summer camp kicked off.

In confirming the decision to move on, South Plantation (Fla.) coach Doug Gatewood stated that Franklin “is just looking for an opportunity” at another school.  Gatewood added that he’d be open to that opportunity being at another position, although why he couldn’t play another position at FSU if he’s open to it is unknown.

Franklin was a three-star member of FSU’s 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 25 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  Tennessee was the only other Power Five program to offer Franklin a scholarship.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Franklin appeared in two games.  According to his official FSU bio, he also practiced at wide receiver in 2014.

(Photo credit: Florida State athletics)

UPDATED 2:39 p.m. ET: On Instagram, Franklin confirmed that he is indeed transferring from FSU.  In addition to his confirmation, he wrote out a lengthy statement, which appears below.

I want to first and foremost thank Coach Jimbo Fisher for being the first coach to take a chance on me at playing Quarterback out of high school. He saw something in me that many other schools looked over and for that I will forever be greatful. I want to thank all the coaches for taking me under their wing and treating me as one of their own. Want to thank the one and only Nole Nation for supporting me while I was here at FSU. No matter where I end up I will always be a Nole at heart. Lastly, want to thank my teammates for being a family away from home. I’ve built relationships with yall boys that no one will ever be able to understand nor break up. I’m going to miss grinding on the field and all the love we shared together. Some people may not understand why I decided to leave, but this is my life and I’m doing what is best for me to continue reaching my dreams and making them reality. I appreciate all the love and support as I go through this transition and I’m looking forward to see what God has in store for me in the near future. Thank you.

Franklin also added a rather amusing postscript.

PS: Any schools that are interested in me or want to talk feel free to message me on any social media. I’m open to all schools right now.

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Urban, on Braxton: ‘He’s playing for Ohio State’ this fall

Braxton Miller, Urban Meyer AP

Maybe now any last speculation ember when it comes to a Braxton Miller transfer will be extinguished?  Probably not, but Urban Meyer‘s giving it that ol’ college try.  Again.

The rehabbing Ohio State quarterback had indicated at a rally earlier this year to celebrate the squad’s national championship that he will return to the Buckeyes for his senior season.  Meyer has seemed fairly confident all along that he’ll have a three-man quarterback competition this summer that will include Miller; he reiterated as much as recently as late April.

Even Miller’s athletic director addressed the situation publicly, becoming the latest member of the university to express confidence in the senior staying with the Buckeyes.

Still, that hasn’t stopped the speculation from swirling.  Most recently, Miller was connected to Alabama, which was only fueled by the perception that Nick Saban was tap-dancing around the possibility.

Friday, Meyer was again asked about Miller’s future status with his football team.  And, once again, Meyer reiterated what’s been his public stance for nearly a half-year.

Meyer added that Miller, in the latter stages of his recovery from shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2014 season and, in essence, triggered the signal-calling speculation in Columbus, is now up to throwing the ball 35 yards and is expected to be at or near 100-percent healthy for the start of summer camp.  Additionally, there has been no talk of a position switch for Miller.

So, barring something completely unforeseen, Miller will enter August in a three-way competition with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.  Just the way the football gods intended it.

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SEC set to dole out record revenue to its membership… again

Money AP

Last year around this time, the SEC was announcing record revenues to be divvied up amongst its member schools.  12 months later, it’s lather, rinse and repeat… even more.

According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, the SEC will distribute $435 million earned in 2014-15 to the 14 schools in the conference.  That averages out to roughly $31.07 million per member; in 2009, $13.8 million was distributed to each school.

That total far surpasses last year’s “paltry” record of $20.9 million per member.  For comparison’s sake, the Big 12 last year doled out $23.9 million each to eight of its 10 members — “new” members TCU and West Virginia received partial shares of $14 million each — while each Big Ten member received in the neighborhood of $24 million.

The Big Ten could slice into the SEC’s financial lead this year, though, as projections pegged B1G institutions at $30.9 million each in revenue for the 2014-15 cycle.  The Pac-12, meanwhile, is projected to hand out close to $23 million per — in 2018, meaning the Left Coast conference is lagging far behind the two Power Five Superpowers.

As for from where the SEC’s revenue comes, McMurphy writes “[t]he total amount of the distribution is composed of revenue generated from the SEC Network, televised football, bowl games, the SEC football championship, televised basketball, the SEC men’s basketball tournament, NCAA championships and a supplemental surplus distribution.”

The SEC Network printed more money in Year 1 than initially projected, which, combined with the wildly-successful College Football Playoff and its substantial windfall, means that the conference should, or more likely will, continue to set annual record revenues standards for the foreseeable future.

UPDATED 2:43 p.m. ET: The official numbers are out, and each SEC school will actually receive a whopping $31.2 million in revenue.

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Ex-Virginia QB Greyson Lambert to visit Florida, Georgia

BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 28: Quarterback Greyson Lambert #11 of the Virginia Cavaliers looks to throw in the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on November 28, 2014 in Blacksburg, Virginia. Virginia Tech defeated Virginia 24-20. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Having fallen short in their respective pursuits of Everett Golson, it appears Georgia and Florida have their collective sights set on another transfer quarterback.

Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald is reporting that UGA has received permission to talk to transfer target Greyson Lambert.  247Sports.com, meanwhile, reports that Lambert will visit Athens this weekend, and will then follow up that with a visit to Florida Monday.

Nearly two weeks ago, it was announced that Lambert had received a release from his Virginia scholarship.

Entering spring practice, Georgia’s quarterback competition to replace Hutson Mason was a three-player race: Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park.  Ramsey and Bauta exited the spring 1-2 — or 1a-1b, to be technically correct — on UGA’s unofficial depth chart.

Florida’s quarterback situation is equally unsettled, with neither Treon Harris nor Will Grier able to grab the job by the throat this spring, although Grier will enter the summer as the slight favorite.

Lambert could immediately enter either the Bulldogs’ or Gators’ signal-calling fray as he will receive his degree from UVa. late next month and will be eligible immediately at any FBS school.  Colorado State, Fresno State and Purdue have also shown an interest in Lambert, who will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Last season, Lambert started nine of the Cavaliers’ 12 games.  He threw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (10) while completing just under 60 percent of his 261 passes.  That performance, as well as their collective performances in the spring, allowed Matt Johns to wrest control of the starting job exiting those 15 sessions and contributed to Lambert pulling the trigger on a transfer.

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Gopher De’Niro Laster transferring to be closer to Ohio home

Minnesota v Wisconsin

After a couple of years in the Twin Cities, De’Niro Laster has a personal need to get back closer to his Ohio roots.

In a text message to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Laster confirmed that he has decided to transfer out of the Minnesota football program. The Cleveland native told the Star-Tribune in the text that his family is going through an unspecified situation and he wants to be closer to them.

“I’m transferring home to be closer to my family, as we are going through a difficult family situation right now,” Laster wrote in the missive to the paper. “I will miss all of my teammates and the fans dearly! I don’t have a school picked right now, but I will have one in the upcoming week.

“I love Coach [Jerry] Kill, and I am thankful and honored for what we did there as a program. I wish the best to all my teammates and coaches!”

Regardless of the family situation, Laster will have to sit out the 2015 season if he ends up at another FBS program. The linebacker would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016; he could play immediately at an FCS school and have three years left.

Laster, a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2013 recruiting class, was rated as the No. 35 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 34 player at any position in the state of Ohio. He took a redshirt as a true freshman, then played in nine games in 2014.

Coming out of high school, he held offers from, among others, Akron, Bowling Green and Toledo. According to Rivals.com‘s profile of the player, Ohio State showed some level of interest, although that interest never morphed into an actual scholarship offer. In fact, Minnesota and Illinois were the only Big Ten teams to officially offer Laster.

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After leaving Iowa, John Kenny ‘reunites’ with RichRod in the desert

Henry Krieger Coble, John Kenny AP

In the run-up to National Signing Day in 2013, Rich Rodriguez and Arizona offered John Kenny a scholarship. The potential marriage didn’t work out at the time but, two years later, RichRod’s got his man.

While nothing is officially official, Kenny (pictured, No. 47) announced via Twitter Thursday night that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career with the Wildcats. A little over two weeks ago, Kenny had confirmed that he would be transferring out of the Iowa football program.

After sitting out the 2015 season, Kenny will have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

Kenny later added a post to his Instagram account, which contained the following farewell to his former football home:

Excited to continue chasing my dreams at another great program! Thank you Iowa for blessing me with great friends and countless memories that will last a lifetime. A new journey starts shortly in Tucson.

Kenny was signed as a linebacker by the Hawkeyes, but moved to fullback last season. He will move back to linebacker with the Wildcats.

A three-star member of Iowa’s 2013 recruiting class, Kenny was rated as the No. 34 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Indiana.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, he played in 11 games last season, starting two of those contests. While he had no rushing attempts, he did catch four passes for 27 yards.

Exiting spring practice, he wasn’t listed on the Hawkeyes’ two-deep depth chart at any position.

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About face: Baylor AD plans to beef up non-conference schedules after all

Baylor West Virginia Football

SMU, Lamar, Rice, Northwestern State, Liberty, UTSA, Duke, Abilene Christian, Incarnate Word, and Lousiana Tech. That’s the full list. The names of schools you just read comprise the entirety of Baylor’s non-conference schedule through 2020. The entire thing. This isn’t the filler in between home-and-homes with Penn State or neutral site games with North Carolina and Oregon – that’s it.

No matter how many times athletics director Ian McCaw and head coach Art Briles denied it, that schedule – this year’s slate included SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo – and the stigma surrounding it were the reason Baylor played in last season’s Cotton Bowl and not the Sugar Bowl. Trade the road game at Buffalo for a trip to Boston College and the Bears are probably the last team in the inaugural College Football Playoff, not eventual champion Ohio State.

On Thursday, McCaw finally acknowledged that fact. Sort of.

When we’re in the midst of a 14-year bowl drought, our scheduling philosphy is: ‘Let’s try to find six wins,’ because we needed to end that drought. We were scheduling with an eye on let’s try to find a way to get to six,’ McCaw told David Ubben of FoxSportsSouthwest.com. “Obviously, as we’ve won back to back Big 12 championships and our program’s in the national stage and we’re recruiting at an extremely high level and have McLane Stadium in place, we’re able to take on a higher level of competition and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

McCaw said to having “two or three discussions” with fellow Power Five foes about scheduling games between 2016 and 2020, but made no promises the Bears would line up a major-conference foe on a yearly basis. “It’ll vary a little bit from year to year because we have a number of years still fully committed and a number of years still looking to schedule games, but we’re certainly open to playing a Power 5 game in addition to the nine we’re playing,” he said. “Probably not every year, but a good number of years.”

Outside the home-and-home with Duke, Baylor’s lone Power Five foe lined up for upcoming schedules is Utah, with whom the Bears will meet in 2023 and ’24.

 

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Kickoff set for inaugural American championship game

On Wednesday, the American set kick times for its opening-weekend games and a number of contests afterward. And on Thursday the league set the time and date for its inaugural championship game.

The first American championship will be held Saturday, Dec. 5 at noon ET on either ABC or ESPN. Last year, ESPN showed Houston at Cincinnati at noon ET on Championship Saturday, so this isn’t much of a change from years past.

Of note above: the title game will be hosted by the team with the best conference record and not the highest-ranked division championship, which sometimes isn’t necessarily the same thing.

As a refresher, the American divisions are divvied up as follows:

EAST
Connecticut
Temple
Cincinnati
East Carolina
Central Florida
South Florida

WEST
Memphis
Tulane
Houston
SMU
Tulsa
Navy

Yes, Navy is in the West Division. Best get used to it now, people.

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Gary Pinkel inducted into MAC Hall of Fame

Gary Pinkel

Gary Pinkel is about to enter his 15th season as Missouri’s head coach. That’s a long time in any job, and especially long as a head football coach at a Power Five institution. Long enough for Pinkel to pass a pair of College Football Hall of Fame coaches in Don Faurot and Dan Devine as Mizzou’s all-time winningest coach. It’s three coaching lifetimes, really.

But there was a Gary Pinkel before he arrived in Columbia. And, kids, he was pretty darn successful.

From 1991-2000, Pinkel guided Toledo to a 73-37-3 mark. He guided the Rockets to an 11-0-1 mark in 1994, claiming a MAC championship and a top 25 final ranking. Pinkel’s teams also won the MAC West Division in 1997 and 1998, losing to those great Marshall teams in the title game each time, and won a share of the division crown in 2000 before leaving for Mizzou before the 2001 season.

Pinkel won enough to become Toledo’s all-time winningest coach, joining him with Steve Spurrier as the only active coaches to hold the all-time wins mark at two separate schools.

And on Wednesday, Pinkel was inducted into the conference’s hall of fame.

“When I got the call that this happened I had tears in my eyes, that I could be honored like this,” Pinkel told Cleveland.com. “I am very, very appreciative of this award. This (getting to the dinner) was really important to me.”

In addition to his coaching exploits, Pinkel was also honored for his accomplishments as a player. Playing with teammate Nick Saban and for College Football Hall of Fame head coach Don James at Kent State, he earned All-MAC and honorable mention All-America honors as a tight end.

Wednesday night’s honor gave Pinkel the distinction of residing in the Kent State, Toledo and MAC halls of fame.

In perhaps the most interesting anecdote of the story, Pinkel nearly missed the ceremony after his Cleveland-bound plane could not make it out of Destin, Fla., but Kentucky head coaches Mark Stoops and John Calipari, also making their way north from the SEC’s spring meetings, let him bum a ride, even pleading with their pilot to drop Pinkel off in Cleveland before heading to Lexington. “It’s a miracle,” he said. “I really wanted to be here.”

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Arizona State linebacker Davon Durant pleads guilty to assault

Davon Durant

In March, Arizona State juco signee Davon Durant was arrested and suspended for a domestic violence incident. Durant’s accuser officially recanted her claim a day later… and the story didn’t go anywhere in the two months that followed. Until Thursday.

Facing charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct for his Tempe arrest, Durant pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, an offense that carries up to six months in jail, supervised probation, up to $2,500 in fines, possible restitution and participation in a domestic violence treatment program.

The Arizona Republic reported that sentencing is set for June 15.

Durant’s attorney Benjamin Taylor called Thursday’s results a win for his side, saying he was “happy to get a positive result in the case.”

David Dow, attorney for Durant’s one-time accuser, argued the judge to drop a moratorium on contact between his client and Durant, saying the two sides would prefer to remain in contact. Dow also said his client would not seek restitution.

Durant was accused of striking the woman once in the face and grabbing her around the neck. Though his accuser dropped her story, a spokesman for the Tempe police department told ESPN multiple witnesses were on the scene.

A five-star prospect out of Butler (Kan.) Community College, Durant has not rejoined the Sun Devils’ roster since his March arrest.

(Photo credit: Tempe police department, Arizona Republic)

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