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CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: Pac-12 Predictions

Washington v Arizona State Getty Images

As the 2014 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the Pac-12. 

And while we’re at it, check out our CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository for our team’s looks at the upcoming season.

PAC-12 NORTH

1. Oregon (Last year: 11-2; beat Texas at Alamo Bowl)
The Ducks have been on the cusp of elite status as a program for the past four seasons. It’s time for the program to get over the hump and win a national title. This year’s squad may have the best chance to capture the school’s first national championship. It all starts with the quarterback position. Marcus Mariota is the best signal caller currently playing collegiate football. Yes, that includes Florida State’s Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston. Mariota may have hoisted the trophy last year if he didn’t suffer a knee injury late in the season which hampered his style of play. Mariota is extremely efficient as a passer, highly intelligent with his decision-making and a deadly athlete when he decides to run with the football. The Ducks also return key starters at vital positions. Cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and center Hroniss Grasu may have been the top players selected at their position in May’s NFL draft. Yet, they decided to return to Eugene.  The team’s leading rusher (Byron Marshall), tackler (Derrick Malone) and sack artist (Tony Washington) return as well. As Mark Helfrich enters his second year as head coach, there aren’t any excuses for the Ducks this season. It’s a national championship or bust. This is the year for Oregon to prove its more than a flashy offense and uniform trendsetters.

2. Stanford (Last year: 11-3; lost to Michigan State in Rose Bowl)
Cardinal faithful will almost certainly remind anyone who will listen that their team beat Oregon the past two seasons and claimed Pac-12 conference titles. However, the Cardinal simply aren’t as talented from top to bottom as the Ducks. The key players Oregon retained; the Cardinal lost. The team lost it’s leading rusher, tackler, sack artist and four of its starting offensive linemen. While Senior quarterback Kevin Hogan may be entering his second full season as the team’s starter, he’s a notch below the elite quarterbacks in the Pac-12 conference.David Shaw is one of the best coaches in college football. This team will continue it’s winning ways. But Stanford will likely take a slight step backwards as the Ducks reclaim the honor as the best team in the Pac-12 Conference.

3. Oregon State (Last year: 7-6; beat Boise State in Hawai’i Bowl)
College football’s leading-returning passer resides in Corvallis, Oregon. Quarterback Sean Mannion returns for his senior campaign after throwing for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns. But Mannion won’t have Biletnikoff Trophy winner Brandin Cooks to throw to anymore. And that ‘s a good thing. Mannion’s experience behind center is a major positive for the Beavers, but Oregon State head coach Mike Riley admitted the coaching staff became enamored with throwing the football due to their dynamic duo at quarterback and wide receiver. This season, the Beavers will be more balanced on offense and more closely resemble the team that went 9-4 in 2012 instead of the one that was 7-6 last season. Senior Terran Ward and junior Storm Woods combined for 1,060 rushing yards last season. They should receive bigger workloads. With a more balanced attack, the Beavers hope to avoid another five-game losing streak in Pac-12 play. The team seen during its 38-23 victory over Boise State in the Hawai’i Bowl is the one Pac-12 opponents should expect to face Saturdays this fall.

4. Washington (Last year: 9-4; beat BYU in Fight Hunger Bowl)
The University of Washington did the impossible; they pried Chris Petersen out of Boise and made him their new head coach. Petersen inherits a talented roster built slowly over time by previous head coach Steve Sarkisian. After three straight 7-6 seasons, the Huskies finally broke through with an 9-4 campaign in 2013. The team then lost it’s head coach, quarterback and workhorse running back. Change of that degree will likely cause the Huskies to take a small step back during the upcoming season. While Peterson was ultra-successful during his eight seasons at Boise State, his team stumbled last year and lost four games for the first time in eight years. The last coach to have that type of success at Boise then finish with a four-loss team before moving to the Pac-12 was Dan Hawkins. Furthermore, there are still questions at quarterback for the Huskies. Cyler Miles hasn’t shown he’s ready to take over the team. Until one of the quarterbacks does, the Huskies will have to rely on a talented defense, particularly a defensive line that features nose tackle Danny Shelton and defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha.

5. Washington State (Last year: 6-7; lost to Colorado State in New Mexico Bowl)
This will be Mike Leach‘s third year in Pullman, Washington. It was in Leach’s third year at Texas Tech he was able to lead the Red Raiders to a nine-win season. He won’t be as lucky with the Cougars. It’s taken Leach some time to implement the “Air Raid” offense that far north. This should be the first season in which it’s fully functional with senior Connor Halliday as the trigger-man behind center. However, the team’s defense struggled mightily in 2013 and finished 102nd overall. Leach’s run at Texas Tech was special, because he could out-scheme nearly everyone in the Big 12. But he could always rely on the talent he recruited in the state of Texas. The state of Washington doesn’t present the same level of talent. In three recruiting classes, only one former four-star recruit, wide receiver Gabe Marks, is expected to contribute for the Cougars this season. And that talent disparity will keep Wazzu toward the bottom of the Pac-12.

6. Cal (Last year: 1-11)
The hiring of Sonny Dykes as Cal’s head coach was an absolute disaster. The Golden Bears finished 1-11. They didn’t play any defense whatsoever. Players were leaving the program as soon as possible once the season ended. The only expectation for the team this season is to improve on last year’s record and actually win a conference game. Cal should be able to move the ball in Dykes’ version of the “Air Raid” offense. Quarterback Jared Goff enters his second season as starter after he put together a solid season as a true freshman. Plus, four of Goff’s top five receivers return. The Golden Bears will be able to throw the football, but the question is whether or not the defense will be able to stop anyone. History says no. Art Kaufman was hired as the team’s defensive coordinator this off season, and he has an uphill battle in front of him. Even when Dykes led Louisiana Tech to a 9-3 record, a national ranking and nearly defeated a Texas A&M team led by Johnny Manzielthe Bulldogs were the worst defensive team in college football. Dykes’ emphasis falls on the offensive side of the ball, and that is not going to change. It’s only a matter of time before Cal is looking for another head coach once the school’s new athletic director is named.

PAC-12 SOUTH

1. UCLA (Last year: 10-3; beat Virginia Tech in Sun Bowl)
Expectations are sky high at UCLA. And they should be. In two short years, Jim Mora has completely rebuilt the culture in Westwood. Plus, the Bruins are fortunate to have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Brett Hundley. If Hundley declared for the NFL draft this year, he would have been a first-round selection. He’s projected to be a Top 10 pick for next May. The quarterback is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to talent on this roster. Senior Jordan James and sophomore Paul Perkins return in the backfield after combining for 1,107 rushing yards in 2013. Devin Fuller is a dynamic play maker out of the slot. And the defense may be even more talented. The two-way superstar Myles Jacks is one of college football’s top linebackers and a pretty good running back too. Erik Kendricks is highly instinctive and a tackling machine. Sophomores Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes will be one year better and impossible to move along the defensive interior. And the secondary is experienced with Anthony Jefferson and Ishmael Adams returning. The No. 1 one goal for the Bruins will be to claim a Pac-12 championship, but this team has legitimate national championship potential. They simply have to get past Oregon and Stanford to prove they’re worthy of a berth in the College Football Playoff.

2. USC (Last year: 10-4; beat Fresno State in Las Vegas Bowl)
It’s hard to maintain momentum from one season to another. Although, USC appeared to regain its confidence and swagger as a program when it won six of its last seven games under the direction of interim head coach Ed Oregeron. Despite the team’s late season success, Oregeron wasn’t hired to become the team’s permanent head coach. Enter Steve Sarkisian, a former co-offensive coordinator under Pete Carroll. Despite sub-par seasons by USC’s standards in recent years, the team has two things in its favor. First, the talent from the top of the roster to the bottom is always among the best in college football. Second, the team’s depth will continue to improve as the bottom of the roster is rebuilt after being previously hamstrung by NCAA sanctions. The Trojans will be led by a strong defense which features the potential No. 1 overall pick in May’s NFL draft, defensive lineman Leonard Williams. The unit finished 13th overall in total defense last season. The offense, meanwhile, will continue to grow under the direction of offensive coordinator Clay Helton and junior quarterback Cody Kessler. The offense played at a much higher level once Lane Kiffin was fired and Helton became the primary play-caller. It was a smart decision by Sarkisian to retain Helton on his staff.  All the pieces are in place for the Trojans to become a factor in the Pac-12 again. USC faithful has to hope Sarkisian was the right hire to keep them in the national conversation.

3. Arizona State (Last year: 10-4; lost to Texas Tech in Holiday Bowl)
Since the Pac-12 South is generally considered the weaker division in the conference, it’s been somewhat overlooked that the Sun Devils played in the league’s championship game last year. Head coach Todd Graham has built a team that is known for its fast-pace offense and aggressive defense. In fact, Arizona State features the best quarterback-wide receiver tandem in the Pac-12 with Taylor Kelly behind center and Jaelen Strong creating mismatches for defenses. Kelly, in particular, has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the Pac-12 the past two seasons. And running back D.J. Foster is a dangerous weapon out of the backfield. Arizona State may even be able to challenge UCLA and USC atop the Pac-12 South, but the team’s previously devastating defensive front is being completely rebuilt. The team lost it’s top tackler, sack artist and two-time Pac-12 Defense Player of the Year Will Sutton to the NFL. Graham will continue to blitz every chance he gets, but he no longer has the talent to win individual match-ups on a regular basis. The offense will score points, but the defense will have trouble stopping anyone. 

4.  Arizona (Last year: 8-5; beat Boston College in AdvoCare V100 Bowl)
Is the year the Wildcats are ready to take the next step under head coach Rich Rodriguez? During his first two seasons with the program, Arizona finished with an 8-5 record. The problem with Rodriguez is the passing game and defense suffer from the coach’s insistence to implement his offensive scheme, which is a zone-read heavy. The x-factor this season will be whomever Rodriguez’s names as his starting quarterback. Last season, B.J. Denker didn’t provide any consistency throwing the football. It will either be redshirt freshman Anu Solomon or senior transfer Jesse Scroggins which takes over the offense. Solomon reportedly has a slight lead in the competition during fall camp. These two will have to be better dual-threats out of the backfield than Denker was. And the defense has to be better after surrendering 401.1 yards per game last season. If these two things happen, the Wildcats will finish higher in the standings than CFT currently projects. But, it’s unlikely.

5. Colorado (Last year: 4-8)
A 4-8 record for any other program would be a disappointment. Colorado, however, isn’t just any program. It’s a school that went through an ugly divorce with previous head coach Jon Embree. Four wins by first-year head coach Mike MacIntyre was actually a three-game improvement. MacIntyre has a history of rebuilding a program in a similar fashion. He took San Jose State from a one-win team to 10 wins in three seasons. While the growth at Colorado should be far more incremental, the Buffaloes will continue to improve under the current coaching staff. The team returns 16 starters, including quarterback Sefo Liufau, and has a manageable non-conference schedule. There are at least five games the Buffaloes could be considered the favorites to win. It will be up to the coaching staff and players to steal one or two more wins from Pac-12 opponents.

6.  Utah (Last year: 5-7)
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham enters his 10th season with the program, and it could be his last if the Utes fall to the basement of the Pac-12 South. The problems start on the offensive side of the football. Whittingham used numerous different play-callers in recent years, but the Utes’ offense continued to sputter. Utah finished 76th overall in total offense during the 2013 campaign. Last season the defense wasn’t the team’s saving grace either. The Utes finished 60th overall in total defense. Whittingham will need key players to step up this season if the team has any hope of consistently competing in the Pac-12. Quarterback Travis Wilson has to improve after throwing 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions as a sophomore. Another 5-7 season or worse will likely signal change within the program.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREDICTION
Oregon over UCLA

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Rutgers loses another DE, and 2014 signee, to transfer

PISCATAWAY, NJ - August 10: Rutgers Scarlet Knights Media Day at High Point Solutions Stadium on August 10, 2014 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz)

Earlier this month, Sam Blue became the fourth member of Rutgers’ 2014 recruiting class to either voluntarily or involuntarily leave the football program.  As we get to the end of June, that number reportedly has been bumped to five.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, nj.com is reporting that Donald Bedell has decided to transfer out of the Kyle Flood‘s team.  Not surprisingly, a logjam on the depth chart at the defensive end position likely was the overriding factor Bedell’s decision.

RU, for what it’s worth, has yet to address the defensive lineman’s status moving forward.

Last season, Bedell took a redshirt.  He was a three-star member of RU’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 25 player at any position in the state of New Jersey.

As for the other departures from last year’s signings?

Blue was a two-star member of RU’s 2014 recruiting class, with the Scarlet Knights being the only FBS program to offer the North Carolina native a scholarship.  The defensive end took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

Kam Lott, another 2014 signee, announced in late January that he was transferring to be closer to his family in Florida.  Two weeks later Jacob Kraut, projected to be RU’s starting fullback, announced a move for the exact same reasons.

In late May, Darian Dailey was dismissed after he was arrested on an armed robbery charge.

(Photo credit: Rutgers athletics)

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Jimbo discusses Saban, 2017 opener vs. Tide

Florida State Spring Game

Neither Alabama nor Florida State has publicly confirmed reports that the two football programs will square off a couple of years from now. That, though, hasn’t stopped one of the likely head coaches in the potentially epic 2017 opener from openly discussing the much-speculated-on matchup.

Speaking in his hometown of Clarksburg, WV, Monday, Jimbo Fisher acknowledged what the two athletic directors won’t: his Seminoles will open the 2017 season against Nick Saban‘s Crimson Tide.

“To be able to go against someone who you have a ton of respect for in Nick and the program in which they have just adds to it,” the FSU head coach said according to the Palm Beach Post.

“We’ve been two of the most consistent programs in the country the last few years. It’s a great kickoff and it’s great for the game of college football.”

That opener in Atlanta two years from now will not only be a great matchup on the field, it will have a personal feel to it on the sidelines.

Both 49-year-old Fisher and 63-year-old Saban were born and raised in God’s Country, with the latter growing up about 20 miles away from the former’s hometown. Fisher’s first offensive coordinating job at a Power Five school came in 2000 at LSU. The Tigers’ head coach at the time? Saban, of course.

While Saban left Baton Rouge for the NFL following the 2004 season, Fisher remained at LSU for another two years before moving on to FSU as coordinator and, ultimately, head coach. Those five years working under Saban, however, helped shape the coach Fisher is today.

“His structure and organization and focus and ability to see the future,” the 2013 BCS champion stated. “Those are a lot of things I got from him. … how to think and how you look at things.”

Fisher and Saban have never faced each other as head coaches, although it came close to happening following the 2014 season.  Both the Seminoles and Tide earned a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff, FSU going up against Oregon and UA against eventual champion Ohio State.  The meeting wasn’t to be, however, as the Tide lost by seven and the ‘Noles by 39.

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Mizzou’s Harold Brantley released from hospital

MISSISSIPPI MISSOURI AP

Injured in a Father’s Day car wreck, Missouri’s Harold Brantley was initially listed in serious condition with multiple injuries.  A day later, however, the defensive lineman was upgraded to good condition.

A week after that?  He’s on the path toward going home.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Tuesday afternoon that Brantley has been released from his Columbia hospital.  The lineman won’t be immediately headed home, however, as he will spend the next several days in what’s described as a transitional facility.

“Harold is making great progress and is no longer at University Hospital… and is hopeful of being able to go home near the end of this week,” a school official told the Daily Tribune.

Brantley, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, sustained a broken tibia, knee ligament damage and multiple fractured ribs in the rollover wreck. Surgery has already been performed on his broken leg, while knee surgery will take place at some pointy in the next 3-4 weeks.

There’s still no word on Brantley’s availability for the upcoming season.

Last season, Brantley started 10 of the 14 games in which he played.

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Report: UCLA coach shamed Diddy’s son over courtside seats

Sal Alosi

Just when you thought we had the UCLA/Puff Daddy drama in the rear-view, it comes back and bites you in the rear.

First, a brief recap: hip-hop mogul Sean Combs was involved in an altercation with a UCLA assistant, strength coach Sal Alosi, in the Bruins football offices a week ago yesterday and was ultimately arrested on multiple felony charges.  The confrontation occurred after Combs’ son, UCLA defensive back Justin Combs, was kicked out of a workout session by Alosi earlier that day, then scurried home to complain to his famous father.

Combs, through a spokesperson, claimed “any actions taken by Mr. Combs were solely defensive in nature to protect himself and his son.”  While UCLA would prefer charges not being pursued, it will be up to the District Attorney’s office whether the legal matter moves forward.

All of that bring us to a report from TMZ.com, which is claiming there is a previous history between the younger Combs and Alosi that could have played a role in the elder Combs’ alleged actions that day:

The coach who fought Diddy this week … brutally shamed Diddy’s son by using a paparazzi pic to drive home a point — that he thinks Justin Combs is a spoiled rich kid.

Sources connected to UCLA’s football program tell TMZ Sports … the humiliating incident went down in February. Coach Sal Alosi had several players in the the gym for a training sesh, which Justin missed because he was at the NBA All-Star game.

We’re told Alosi openly mocked Justin by putting a pic of him at the game — next to Diddy and Ben Stiller … in all the gym monitors. We’re told Alosi told players … “While you guys are training, this guy is sitting courtside with his dad.” The pic remained up for 24 hours.

The gossip website, citing the same sources, went on to claim that Alosi had told the player on various occasions that “You’re only here because of your dad,” and … “You never belonged here,” and … “You should just go work for your dad.”  The allegations made in this report shed new light on the football player publicly backing his famous father.

Diddy was released from jail the night of the incident after posting a $160,000 bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for July 13.

(Photo credit: UCLA athletics)

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Stepdad: Ole Miss’ Tunsil was with NFL agents at time of incident

Mississippi v Vanderbilt Getty Images

A strange story involving Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil has taken yet another strange turn.

Tunsil was arrested Friday and charged with domestic violence after he allegedly stepped into the middle of an argument involving his mother and stepfather Thursday, which led to the offensive lineman punching the latter.  The 53-year-old stepdad, Lindsey Miller, claimed in the notes taken by a sheriff’s deputy for a police report that his stepson was “riding around with football agents,” and that’s what the argument between the stepdad and mother was over.

From the Jackson Clarion-Ledger:

According to the police report, when deputy Rudy Howell arrived at the scene at 7:19 p.m. Thursday night, Miller was “very excited” and told Howell that “Tunsil and the agents” left in a yellow convertible.

According to Miller’s statements to Howell, Desiree Tunsil walked out of the house during the argument about Tunsil’s alleged contact with agents when Laremy Tunsil entered.

Miller, 53, then claims he extended his hand to give Tunsil a handshake, but Tunsil allegedly shoved him against a wall and started hitting him.

Under NCAA rules, the Sports Business Journal noted back in August of last year, Tunsil is permitted to speak to certified NFL agents, provided he doesn’t, one, sign with them prior to expired eligibility or submitting paperwork for early entry into the draft and, two, he doesn’t accept any impermissible benefits.

“It seems to serve everyone’s purpose,” Lal Heneghan, who works for a consulting company that provides agent advisory services to 12 major college football programs, including Florida State and Alabama, told the sports business website when asked about spring and summer meetings between college players and agents. “The player and the family can get an idea of this is what an agent is all about and they can get a sense if this person will be on a short list and focus on having a season.”

Tunsil, projected to be a likely Top-Ten pick in next year’s NFL draft if he leaves school early, was indefinitely suspended from the football program.  Both he and his mother are seeking charges against the stepfather.

Following the 2014 season, the Associated Press named him a first-team All-American.

UPDATED 4:04 p.m. ET: In response to this latest development, the school released a statement from head coach Hugh Freeze.

“We are aware that Laremy and his family have met with potential agents, which is within his NCAA rights as a student-athlete. Regarding the altercation, we will continue to gather facts and cooperate with the proper authorities.”

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Randy Edsall lands three-year extension from Terps

Rutgers v Maryland

A couple of years ago, it appeared that Randy Edsall might not make it to Year 3 at Maryland.  After a pair of (relatively) successful seasons, he now has some additional “job security.”

In a press release, Maryland announced that Edsall has signed a three-year contract extension.  The new contract would technically keep Edsall with the Terps through the 2019 season.

Terms of the new deal were not released, although the Baltimore Sun writes that “[t]he contract amendment… includes a raise of nearly $400,000 annually beginning in 2017 plus on-field performance bonuses.” Edsall was paid $2.033 million in 2014, which was 11th among the 14 head coaches in the Big Ten.

“Randy has made good strides in our first year in the Big Ten and our program is headed in the right direction,” said athletic director Kevin Anderson in a statement. “He has established a culture in which our students have made strong progress academically with outstanding graduation rates. We have made progress and we will look to continue to build upon what we have established with our goal of competing at the highest level in the Big Ten.”

In his first two seasons with the Terps, Edsall’s record of 6-18 put him squarely on the hots seat. A pair of seven-win seasons and bowl appearances — both losses — saved his job and led to the contract extension.

The 4-4 record in the first season of play in the Big Ten was good for third in the East division.

“I’m extremely proud of the work my players and staff have put in to making our program what it is today,” said Edsall. “It is rewarding for me that Kevin Anderson and Dr. Wallace Loh have recognized this process in getting the program headed in the right direction.”

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Auburn, Oregon to open 2019 season at Cowboys stadium

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game - Oregon v Auburn Getty Images

Nearly a decade after their epic championship game battle, Auburn and Oregon are set to go at it again on a neutral field.

On Twitter Tuesday, AU athletic director Jay Jacobs announced that his Tigers football program will open the 2019 season against the Ducks.  The game will be played at the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex, in the annual Cowboys Classic.

Barring a matchup in a bowl or playoff between now and then, the 2019 game will be the second-ever between the programs.  The first was in the BCS title game following the 2010 season, a 22-19 AU win in Glendale, Ariz., that was decided on a Wes Byrum field goal with no time left on the clock.  Byrum’s kick came after the Ducks had tied the game with a LaMichael James touchdown reception from Darron Thomas — and two-point conversion — with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter.

Jacobs’ announcement means that the next five Cowboys Classic games are set:

  • 2015 Alabama vs. Wisconsin
  • 2016 Alabama vs. USC
  • 2017 Florida vs. Michigan
  • 2018 LSU vs. Miami
  • 2019 Auburn vs. Oregon
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Suspended FSU QB charged with misdemeanor battery

Florida State Spring Game

A member of the Florida State football program officially has a legal issue with which to deal.

ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach is reporting that De’Andre Johnson has been charged with misdemeanor battery by the state attorney’s office of Florida.  According to reports at the time, it’s alleged that an unidentified female — well, unidentified to everybody but the Tallahassee Police Department — was punched by the quarterback at a local drinking establishment.

Schlabach added that the charge was filed “after reviewing video of incident from bar security cameras.”  An arrest warrant has been issued for Johnson, who has yet to turn himself in on the charge.

It was announced last Thursday that Johnson had been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

A four-star member of the Seminoles’ 2015 recruiting class. Johnson was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 39 player at any position in the state of Florida. He was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice.

With the addition of graduate transfer Everett Golson and the presence of 2014 backup Sean Maguire, Johnson was likely looking at a redshirt season even before his off-field issue surfaced.

UPDATED 5:55 p.m. ET: Johnson has turned himself in to the Leon County Jail and remains in jail as of this update in lieu of a $500 bond.  According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the alleged victim met with state’s attorney Willie Meggs, who will prosecute the case, on Tuesday.  The woman, who still had a black eye when she met with Meggs, is described as beign cooperative with authorities.

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Minnesota, UCLA added to Fresno State’s future slates

Fresno State v UCLA Getty Images

Last week, Alabama confirmed reports of a future game with Fresno State. This week, the Left Coast FSU confirmed a couple of additional future games with Power Five programs.

In a press release, Fresno announced that it has reached an agreement for a one-off game with UCLA. Additionally, an agreement has been reached for a home-and-home series with Minnesota.

The Bulldogs’ game against the Bruins will take place in Los Angeles on Sept. 18, 2021, three years after a previously-announced game between the two programs will have been played. The series with the Gophers will involve a trip to Minneapolis for a Sept. 8, 2018 game, with a Sept. 7, 2019, return game in Fresno scheduled to conclude the contract.

“These games reflect our future scheduling philosophy as we look to find consistency over a 10-year period where we can create opportunities to bring in necessary income for the athletic department while also being able to showcase Fresno State football across the country,” FSU athletic director Jim Bartko said in a statement. “We will always look to balance our schedules with a mix of big-time opponents coming into Bulldog Stadium for the Red Wave to see.”

Fresno and Minnesota have never met in football. Fresno and UCLA have met eight times previously, with the latter holding a 6-2 edge in the series; the former, though, has won the last two — 17-9 in the 2003 Silicon Valley Bowl in 2003, 36-31 in a 2008 road win.

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Court says LSU lawsuit vs. John Chavis will stay in Louisiana

John Chavis

Things may not be looking all that great for LSU in the headlines lately, but things certainly have gone slightly better in the courtroom. The victory came against former defensive coordinator John Chavis, in that the lawsuit filed by LSU against Chavis will continue while another legal battle between Chavis and Texas A&M is ongoing.

“The court is concerned there is any way the Texas court can keep this case,” State District Judge Timothy Kelley said, according to The Advocate, with regard to the lawsuit in Texas. “I don’t see how they can have jurisdiction.”

Last November Chavis and LSU reached an agreement for a one-year contract extension. Not long after that though, Chavis packed his bags and headed to Texas A&M instead. His hiring at Texas A&M was made official in February. Now LSU is pursuing a $400,000 buyout from Chavis, which the former defensive coordinator says he is not on the hook for. Chavis believes Texas A&M owes LSU that six-figure buyout. Texas A&M thinks Chavis should pay it. It’s a bit complicated.

Right now the parties involved are having a legal battle to determine which state will get to host the lawsuit, which is the legal equivalent of flipping a coin for home-field advantage. Eitgher way, LSU is going to get paid $400,000. It is just a matter of that money comes directly from Chavis or Texas A&M. Or perhaps some sort of settlement could come into play, with Chavis and Texas A&M each paying some part of a reduced buyout. Who knows where this goes from here.

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Academic leaders question Oregon’s football budget

Rose Bowl - Oregon v Florida State Getty Images

We all have come to a pretty general understanding that sports drives revenue for universities, with football bringing the most money into the university. No athletic program generates as much income as Oregon (thanks Nike!), but academic leaders in Eugene would like to see more of that money be put to academic uses.

“Our administration needs to take more responsibility to fully exploit the opportunity that our athletic department provides — on behalf of our students, our faculty and our institution,”former business school dean Dennis Howard said Friday, per The Register-Guard. He was not alone in challenging Oregon officials to think hard about how the budget will be formed.

“It would be really good if we were all in this together and the athletic department was trying to help the rest of the university,”Oregon economics professor Bill Harbaugh said.

Oregon football really cashed in this past year with an appearance in the College Football Playoff championship game, not to mention the revenue share it receives from the Pac-12 and any money funneled in through its relationship with Phil Knight of Nike. The problem some have with all of the money coming in through Oregon athletics is every dime of it is spent on athletics.

“They have $98 million in revenue and, strangely, exactly $98 million in expenses,” Howard explained. “If you look back year after year, you will find that revenue and expenses match up almost to a penny. … When they get extra TV revenue, they do what they just did in February. They go to the president and the Board of Trustees and the coaches and the athletic director get raises, so expenses go up.”

There is something to be said for a football program that is capable of being self-sufficient in its operations, and it is far better than operating in the red on an annual basis. But how much should Oregon’s athletics department be contributing to the academic side of things? There may be no perfect answer to this question.

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LSU dismisses DT Trey Lealaimatafao following bar fight arrest

Les Miles

There will be no team vote when it comes to the status of defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao at LSU. Les Miles has sent him packing.

In a brief statement released Monday afternoon, LSU announced Lealaimatafao has been dismissed from the team by Miles. The statement confirmed the dismissal is a reaction to an off-field incident involving Lealaimatafao previously reported.

“Trey is no longer a member of our football team,” Miles said in his brief statement. “We have gathered information on this incident and we feel it’s best for us to part ways.”

Earlier this month Lealaimatafao was arrested and charged for simple battery and simple robbery. The incident allegedly occurred in the parking lot of a bar in Baton Rouge. According to the original reports, Lealaimatafao beat another man unconscious and punched that alleged victim’s girlfriend in the face. As if that was not enough, he also allegedly picked the male victim’s pockets before fleeing.

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With attendance plummeting, Akron president says he “would not have built that stadium”

Terry Bowden, Kyle Pohl

When Akron opened the doors on InfoCision Stadium in 2009, the university likely did not expect to see such a poor draw in home attendance just six years later. Now there is almost nowhere to go but up.

The NCAA football attendance records show Akron had a total of 55,019 fans come out to see an Akron home game. That would be really good for the Zips if it were just for one game. It wasn’t. That was the total home attendance for Akron for the entire 2014 season. As noted by The Akron Beacon Journal, that is roughly half of the total home attendance from the 2009 season for Akron, which also included six home games. And to show you the complete other end of the spectrum of college football in the state of Ohio, Ohio State set an all-time spring game record of 99,391 fans at this year’s spring game. The drop in attendance has caused Akron president Scott Scarborough to admit he may have gone a different way if he was involved in the past planning.

I would not have built that stadium,” Scarborough said to The Beacon Journal. InfoCision Stadium was built with a price tag of $61.6 million, part of an expansive $300 million project across the university. Make no mistake about it, Akron was in need of a new football stadium after playing years in the old Rubber Bowl, a venue that was off-campus and cost more to maintain than projected with an on-campus stadium. It should be noted Scarborough was not a member of the Akron community at the time the stadium plans were approved. He was the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration at The University of Toledo and Medical Center.

So what was to blame? It’s not really that hard to figure out when you go back and look at Akron’s record in previous seasons. After winning just three games in 2009, Akron had back-to-back-to-back 1-11 seasons, a stretch that included a coaching change to bring in Terry Bowden. The past two seasons have shown signs of improvement, with two straight 5-7 seasons heading into 2015.

It is also worth mentioning the MAC’s schedule includes a number of weekday games later in the season. That resulted in two Tuesday night games at Akron in November, which is a tough time slot to attract fans to games. The 2015 schedule should be better for Akron fans though, with five home games played on a Saturday, and that includes a home game against Pittsburgh.

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Ex-UCLA QB Asiantii Woulard on his way to USF

Nevada v UCLA Getty Images

Weeks after announcing his intention to transfer from UCLA, quarterback Asiantii Woulard has reportedly found a  new place to call home. The Winter Park, Florida product will be heading a bit closer to home, as Woulard announced he will transfer to USF.

“Decided to come home and play at the University of South Florida,” Woulard said on Twitter. “No past regrets at all, but looking forward to a new beginning in Tampa!”

Woulard will be forced to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he will be eligible to compete for the starting job in Tampa starting in 2016.

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A quick review of this year’s realignment changes in college football

NCAA Football Navy Midshipmen vs Army Black Knights

In just two more days the latest round of college football realignment changes will become official. Don’t worry, the changes happening this season will barely move the Richter Scale compared to the seismic changes in past years. The realignment phase has died down in recent years, although we are keeping eyes on the Big 12 just in case. July 1 is the date on the NCAA calendar when any realignment changes become official, so it is worth reviewing just what changes are happening for this season so you are not confused later on.

There will be no changes in the power conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC), but there are some minor modifications in the Group of Five. Here they are.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

The conference with Big East roots will welcome Navy to the brotherhood this fall. The Midshipmen will be setting course for conference membership for the first time in program history after over a century as a football independent. With Navy now on board, the American Athletic Conference will have 12 football-playing members, split into two separate divisions and begin playing a conference championship game. The conference championship game will be played at the campus of the division champion with the best conference record (don’t worry, there are tie breakers in place).

AAC East: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, South Florida, Temple

AAC West: Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa

CONFERENCE USA

Conference USA will officially put UNC Charlotte in the conference football schedule this season, but of course there will be no UAB in 2015. UAB’s short-term decision to shut down the football program has since been reversed, but the damage had already been done. The Blazers have no program to field in 2015, and they may not return until 2017. So in the meantime Conference USA will have 13 members on the football field. In a way, Charlotte will replace UAB for the 2015 season in the East Division. Everything else will pretty much be the same in Conference USA.C-USA East: FAU, FIU, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, UNC Charlotte, Western Kentucky

C-USA East: FAU, FIU, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, UNC Charlotte, Western Kentucky

C-USA West: Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Mississippi, UTEP, UTSA

MAC

No changes in the MAC this season, but this is the last season UMass will be scheduled to be an associate member in the conference. There has been no update on what the Minutemen will be doing in 2016 and beyond, so stay on the lookout for news on that front.

Sun Belt Conference

Again, no changes to mention for the Sun Belt Conference, but it is worth mentioning Georgia Southern and Appalachian State will be elihgible for postseaosn play this season should they meet the NCAA postseason win minimum during the regular season. Georgia Southern won the Sun Belt Conference championship last season but was prohibited from playing in the postseason due to the transition restrictions for programs moving up from FCS to FBS.

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