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2014 CFT Preseason Preview: Playoff Primer & Predictions

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As you may have heard, we’re on the verge of a new era in college football.

Yes, 2014 will mark the first season since 1997 not played under the old and almost universally despised — and, thankfully, very much dead — Bowl Championship Series that had been used to determine an FBS champion.  Conversely, it will mark the first-ever four-team playoff dubbed, appropriately enough, the College Football Playoff, a system unveiled in June of 2012.

There are many questions and some trepidation as we enter a new frontier for the sport, one which will play for the right to hoist the Dr Pepper College Football Playoff trophy at season’s end..

Below I’ll attempt to answer some of those questions — and alleviate some of the fear and angst to some degree — some may have over the most exciting development in the game since the forward pass was legalized.  Take a deep breath, though; this is a long one.

WHAT
The College Football Playoff, a four-team — for now — mini-tournament that will feature two semifinal games played under the flag of a pair of so-called “contract bowls” and “host bowls,” with a stand-alone contest, having no ties to a current bowl other than potentially the venue, serving as the championship game.  A 13-person committee will determine the four playoff participants and seed them as well, with the No. 1 seed facing the No. 4 seed in one semifinal and the Nos. 2 and 3 squaring off in the other.

And, for those who are wondering: there is no rule that would prevent a team from one conference facing a team from the same conference in a semifinal game.  Nor is there a hard, fast rule that would preclude a rematch from the recently-completed regular season in a semifinal.  Of course, it’s possible the committee could steer the selections away from such scenarios — even by way of seeding — but there is no concrete rule in place that would prevent it.

Case in point on rematches and two playoff teams from one conference in one fell swoop?  Those associated with the CFP have already stated that, if this new system were in place last year, Florida State (#1 seed), Auburn (#2), Alabama (#3) and Oregon (#4) would have been the four playoff teams.  In other words, the SEC would’ve had two teams, including a non-champion, while the champions from the other two Power Five conference — Big Ten (Michigan State) and Big 12 (Baylor) — would’ve been shut out.  At least one Power Five conference will miss the playoff every year, and, as evidenced by last year, possibly two.  After X amount of time and missed playoffs, expect a conference or conferences to begin making noise very publicly about expanding the field to at least eight — and pushing their agenda that the system should consist of each Power Five conference champion to go along with three wildcards.

The initial phase of the CFP is a contract for 12 years in length — through the 2025 season — and for just four teams for those dozen seasons. However, many observers expect that, due to the lure of the almighty dollar and pissed-off leagues, the playoff will be expanded to eight teams at some point before the end of the 12-year contract.  If it doesn’t expand prior to the end of the first contract, just about anyone connected to the sport firmly believes it will be expanded for the beginning of the second contract.

MoneyAll three of the CFP games will be televised annually on ESPN, which paid in excess of $7 billion — that’s billion with a “b” — for the rights to the playoff for the entire length of the contract.  Roughly 75 percent of that money will go to the Power Five conferences and Notre Dame, which will split their cut up amongst their various members.  While the Non-Power Five conferences — the AAC, Conference USA, MAC, MWC and Sun Belt along with independents Army and BYU (Navy’s moving to the AAC in 2015) — will receive just a 25-percent(ish) cut of the billions, they will receive roughly five times as much per league as they did under the BCS.

In the first year of the CFP, the Power Five conferences are expected to make $50 million each, while the Non-Power Five conferences will share $75 million; in the final year of the BCS, those “mid-major” conferences split $15 million.  Over the course of the 12-year contract, the top five conferences are expected to receive an average of $90 million annually from the CFP.  By Year 12 of the first contract, the Power Five conferences are expected to see revenue in excess of $150 million per league.

Such a figure would be the starting point for Year 1 of the second contract, a starting point that would increase dramatically with the addition of four more teams and four additional (quarterfinal) games.

WHO
The “who” is the key, the linchpin, to the whole process.  How successful the CFP can end up being will in large part be determined by how the committee as a whole leaves its collective biases — or at least most of them, and as much as humanly possible — at the meeting room door.

As mentioned above, the committee that will select the four teams will consist of 13 members.  Five of those members will be current athletic directors from each of the Power Five conferences — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, with Arkansas’ Jeff Long serving as the chairperson.  Below is the entire 13-member committee and their respective affiliations, with tenure expiration listed in parentheses:

*Jeff Long, Arkansas athletic director (February 2018)
*Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin athletic director (February 2017)
— Lieutenant General Mike Gould, former superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy (February 2016)
Pat Haden, USC athletic director (February 2016)
Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive vice president (February 2018)
*Oliver Luck, West Virginia athletic director (February 2017)
Archie Manning, former Ole Miss quarterback (February 2017)
Tom Osborne, former head coach and athletic director at Nebraska (February 2016)
*Dan Radakovich, Clemson athletic director (February 2018)
Condoleezza Rice, Stanford professor, former Stanford provost and former United States Secretary of State (February 2017)
Mike Tranghese, former Big East commissioner (February 2016)
Steve Wieberg, former college football reporter, USA Today (February 2018)
Tyrone Willingham, former head coach Notre Dame, Stanford and Washington (February 2018)

Earlier we mentioned committee members leaving their biases at the meeting room door; there are provisions in place that should, in theory, aid in that part of the process.  Specifically, a recusal policy, the terms of which the CFP describes as “a recused member shall not participate in any votes, nor be present during deliberations involving the team’s selection or seeding, but may answer factual questions about the institution from which the member is recused.”

Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice

Of course, all five current athletic directors — denoted by asterisks above — will be recused when the conversation turns to their respective football programs.  Additionally, the following recusals were announced earlier this month:

– Lieutenant General Mike Gould, Air Force: the former superintendent of the Colorado Springs service academy.
Archie Manning, Ole Miss, former Rebels star quarterback who still maintains deep ties to the school and the football program.
Tom Osborne, Nebraska: former head coach and athletic director for the Cornhuskers
Condoleezza Rice, Stanford, current professor and former provost at the university

There is no conference-wide recusal policy, meaning that, for example, Long would be permitted to stay in the room if Alabama is being discussed.

Additionally, the 13 committee members receive no pay for their services, which will consist mainly of watching football and committee meetings.  The first in-person set of meetings will be Oct 27 (Monday) and Oct. 28 (Tuesday), with the first set of what are described as “interim rankings” released Oct. 28.  In-person meetings will be held every Monday and Tuesday thereafter, with the final set of meetings coming after the conclusion of the regular season, conference championship games included but excluding the Dec. 13 Army-Navy game.  The final set of rankings, including the seedings of the four playoff teams, will be released Sunday, Dec. 7.  There’s even a specific time for the release: 12:45 p.m. ET that Sunday afternoon.

The committee will also be responsible for slotting teams into the remaining four contract or host bowls that aren’t part of the semifinals a particular year.  The contract bowls are: Rose (Pac-12 vs. Big Ten), Sugar (SEC vs. Big 12) and Orange (ACC vs. Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame). The three host bowls are: Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A. If a conference champion from one of the contract bowls does not qualify for the playoff, they will be automatically slotted into their respective postseason game, provided it’s not a semifinal game that year. If conference champions from the contract bowls — more years than not this will involve multiple leagues — qualify for the playoffs, the committee would choose replacement teams.

The team with the highest CFP seeding will be placed in the closest semifinal game to it geographically.  For example, if Florida State is the No. 1 seed this year, they would go to the Sugar Bowl as that bowl is closer to Tallahassee than the Rose Bowl.  Same for a team like Alabama.  Should, say, Oregon earn the top seed, they would play at the Rose Bowl against the No. 4 seed, with the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds going to the Sugar Bowl.

As for the host bowls, the CFP “Frequently Asked Questions” describes it best, including how one Non-Power Five member will play in one of the marquee bowl games every year:

The highest ranked champion of the other five Football Bowl Subdivision conferences (the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt), as determined by the selection committee, will play in one of the six New Year’s bowls. Other available berths will be awarded to the teams ranked highest by the committee. The committee will assign teams to bowls.

When the Fiesta, Cotton and Atlanta bowls are not hosting semifinal games, their participants will come from three sources: (1) The highest ranked champion among the five conferences listed in the paragraph above, (2) conference champions that are displaced when their contracted bowls host semifinals and (3) the remaining teams ranked highest in the committee’s rankings.

How will the committee fill the slots in the marquee bowls? Again, from the FAQ:

The committee will assign teams to the non-playoff bowls to create the most compelling match-ups, while considering other factors such as geographic proximity, avoiding rematches of regular-season games and avoiding rematches of recent years’ bowl games.

Cowboys StadiumWHERE
The semifinals will rotate through six bowl games: the Rose (Pasadena, Cal.), Orange (Miami, Fla.), Sugar (New Orleans, La.), Fiesta (Glendale, Ariz.), Cotton (Arlington, Tex.) and Peach (Atlanta, Ga.). When those games don’t host a semifinal, they will serve as the so-called “marquee bowls.” The semifinals this season will be the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, with the semifinals moving to the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl for the 2015 season and the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl for the 2016 season before rotating back to the first two semifinal bowl games for the 2017 season.

The championship game will be bid out and played all across the country. The first stand-alone title game will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys and the Cotton Bowl. University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., was awarded the 2015 title game (played in 2016) while Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. submitted the winning bid for 2016 (played in 2017).

An announcement on the host stadiums for the 2017 and 2018 seasons likely won’t be made until sometime after the first CFP championship game is played in early 2015.

WHEN
The semifinal games will both take place either December 31 or January 1 of their respective years and on the same day, with the former serving as game days for the 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2024 and 2025 seasons and the latter for the 2014, 2017, 2020 and 2023 seasons.  For the 2014 season, the Fiesta, Orange and Peach bowls will be played Dec. 31, while the Cotton Bowl will be played Jan. 1, prior to the two semifinal games.

The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, incidentally, will be played on Jan. 1 every year, which is why most of the semifinal games will be played Dec. 31.

Below are the future dates for the 12 CFP championship games that have already been scheduled.  One thing to note is that every title game through this 12-year cycle will be played on a Monday night:

Jan. 12, 2015
Jan. 11, 2016
Jan. 9, 2017
Jan. 8, 2018
Jan. 7, 2019
Jan. 13, 2020
Jan. 11, 2021
Jan. 10, 2022
Jan. 9, 2023
Jan. 8, 2024
Jan. 13, 2025
Jan. 12, 2026

WHY
Manziel Money GIF
Money

HOW
Hope you brought a lunch, because the “How” could take a while.

First of all, we’ll give you the CFP’s official qualifier/disclaimer as to the selection process in which the four playoff teams will be decided:

Ranking football teams is an art, not a science. Football is popular in some measure because the outcome of a game between reasonably matched teams is so often decided by emotional commitment, momentum, injuries and the “unexpected bounce of the ball.” In any ranking system, perfection or consensus is not possible and the physical impact of the game on student athletes prevents elaborate playoff systems of multiple games. For purposes of any four team playoff, the process will inevitably need to select the four best teams from among several with legitimate claims to participate.

Now, with that out of the way, on to the meat & taters of the process.

As I noted up above somewhere, the committee will hold meetings every Monday and Tuesday and release a Top 25 every week, with the first set of rankings scheduled to be released Oct. 28. “How exactly will the committee arrive at its weekly Top 25?” you may be asking yourself. I’m glad you asked.

1. Each committee member will create a list of the 25 teams he or she believes to be the best in the country, in no particular order. Teams listed by three or more members will remain under consideration.
2. Each member will list the best six teams, in no particular order. The six teams receiving the most votes will comprise the pool for the first seeding ballot.
3. In the first seeding ballot, each member will rank those six teams, one through six, with one being the best. The three teams receiving the fewest points will become the top three seeds. The three teams that were not seeded will be held over for the next seeding ballot.
4. Each member will list the six best remaining teams, in no particular order. The three teams receiving the most votes will be added to the three teams held over to comprise the next seeding ballot.
5. Steps No. 3 and 4 will be repeated until 25 teams have been seeded.

It should be noted that, at no point in that five-step process, are committee members permitted to include any team from which they are recused on any of the lists mentioned above.

Of course, there were also notes attached to the five-step voting process (notes A-C dealt with recusals):

D. Between each step, the committee members will conduct a thorough evaluation of the teams before conducting the vote.
E. After the rankings are completed, any group of three or more teams can be reconsidered if more than three members vote to do so. Step No. 3 would be repeated to determine if adjustments should be made.
F. After the first nine teams are seeded, the number of teams for Steps No. 2, 3 and 4 will be increased to eight and four, respectively.
G. At any time in the process, the number of teams to be included in a pool may be increased or decreased with approval of more than eight members of the committee.
H. All votes will be by secret ballot.

There is one more important aspect of the CFP process that I haven’t mentioned yet which supersedes just about everything else mentioned thus far: criteria utilized by the committee members in their rankings. As previously noted, ranking football teams is more art than science, but there is some specific data on which the committee will lean.

The official CFP protocol states that the committee “will be instructed to place an emphasis on winning conference championships, strength of schedule and head-to-head competition when comparing teams with similar records and pedigree (treat final determination like a tie-breaker; apply specific guidelines).” Why pedigree — i.e. history, and whether said history is positive, negative or somewhere in between — should have anything to do with a specific year is a significant unknown.

Bill Hancock

Bill Hancock

Additionally, a company called SportSource Analytics will be providing the committee with an expansive and extensive statistical database on which to rely. Harkening back to the dark and dreary days of the BCS, CFP executive director Bill Hancock has stressed that analytics — i.e. computers — will not be a part of the equation. Rather, the committee will be receiving raw data that they, not a computer or company, will analyze and interpret for themselves.

“There’s no analytics,” Hancock said. “Obviously, the word analytics is in the company name, and they might be doing analytics for other clients, but not for us. There’s some hangover from the BCS days of people wanting the data to be manipulated or compiled. But we wanted just raw data. That’s what we asked for, and that’s what they’re giving us.”

In a similar vein, one piece of data that the committee is not permitted to take into account? Polls that are released before any games have been played, which means, technically, the Associate Press and coaches’ polls cannot be a part of the discussion. For that, we should all be thankful.

One piece of data that will be taken into account? “[R]elevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.” In other words, if a star quarterback goes down early and that injury contributes to a loss or two but the team finishes strong down the stretch, that team will remain under consideration for a playoff slot. Conversely, if a star player or players goes/go down with an injury late in the season, that would be a factor that would permit the committee to disregard that team regardless of the record.  That’s a slippery slope, one that could come back and bite the committee specifically and the CFP as a whole.

Also, the CFP explains that “[c]omparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory)” will be a principle that guides the committee.

The SwamiPREDICTIONS
So, with the minutia out of the way, on to the stuff that will cause the most bitching and/or whining and/or moaning: predictions!!!

If you look at most of these types of predictions, there is pretty much a consensus on three teams most feel will be a part of the four-team playoff field: last year’s BCS champion Florida State, Oregon and Alabama.  After that, it runs the gamut from Michigan State to Oklahoma to 2013 BCS runnerup Auburn to UCLA to South Carolina to Baylor as possibilities nationally.  Ohio State would’ve been a part of the discussion as well prior to The Injury, and could very well be a part of it by season’s end if they can get past MSU in East Lansing.

Below are how the four of us here at CFT see the first College Football Playoff playing out, with seeds, explanations and everything!  Enjoy, and unload on all/some/one of us below that:

KEVIN MCGUIRE
Rose Bowl: #2 Alabama vs. #3 Oklahoma
Sugar Bowl: #1 Florida State vs. #4 Oregon
Championship: Florida State vs. Alabama

Florida State enters the season as the team seemingly best equipped for a national title run. Now knowing what it takes to win, the Seminoles bring back a Heisman Trophy quarterback and a roster as deep as almost any in the country thanks to years of solid recruiting under Jimbo Fisher. In the same light, you have Alabama looking to prove it can plug in pieces to Nick Saban‘s program thanks to years of recruiting victories building a massively deep roster. No quarterback? Not yet, but somehow Saban will find a way. Oklahoma surged at the right time last season and enters the 2014 season a favorite in the Big 12, a conference not particularly deep in talent and obstacles this fall aside from a potent Baylor squad. Oklahoma should manage to wiggle out of the Big 12 and sneak in front of any champion from the Big Ten. The same holds true for Oregon, with the Ducks coming off a “down” year in Eugene, which seems silly to say when you look back at the 2013 season. The Ducks took a minor step back in a year of coaching transition, but Year 2 under Mark Helfrich should be better. When it comes down to the match-ups, I think Alabama is better suited for a rematch with the Sooners, if not just better prepared for it, and Florida State’s style will find a way to slow down Oregon’s offensive schemes, setting up what would be an epic Florida State-Alabama match-up for it all.

BRENT SOBLESKI
Rose Bowl: #2 Alabama vs. #3 Oregon
Sugar Bowl: #1 Florida State vs. #4 Wisconsin
Championship: Florida State vs. Oregon

To be the man, you got to beat the man. And Florida State is the team with the target on its back this season. The Seminoles should be ready for the challenge due to the amount of talent returning to this year’s roster. Florida State will likely cruise through the regular season and retain the No. 1 seed. It doesn’t mean the ACC’s best will be the best team in the country this season. Alabama and Oregon will be nipping at their heels. Alabama is always stacked and the SEC’s champion is essentially guaranteed to get a spot in the College Football Playoff. Oregon, meanwhile, will continue to put up points and receive elite play from its quarterback, Marcus Mariota. The fourth spot is completely up for grabs between the the champions of the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences. The Big Ten, in particular, is wide open after the devastating injury to Ohio State’s Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller. The Badgers should make a very good impression at the start of the season when they face the LSU Tigers, and their schedule should allow them to remain undefeated in Big Ten play before participating in the conference’s title game. Florida State would easily overpower the Badgers in the Sugar Bowl, though. And Oregon has the edge on offense and athleticism against the Crimson Tide. When the Ducks and Seminoles meet, the two best quarterbacks in college football will be on the field with the opportunity to will their team to the first national championship decided by the College Football Playoff.

JJ STANKEVITZ
Rose Bowl: #2 Alabama vs. #3 Oregon
Sugar Bowl: #1 Florida State vs. #4 Oklahoma
Championship: Florida State vs. Alabama

I really struggled with the No. 4 team here. I like UCLA more than Oklahoma, but UCLA plays a far tougher schedule with more than enough chances for a slip-up beyond Oct. 11’s showdown with Oregon. Braxton Miller‘s injury puts a serious dent in the Big Ten’s chances of getting a team in unless Michigan State can go to Eugene and win in Week 2. The rest of the SEC — Auburn, South Carolina, LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, etc — might eat itself alive. This isn’t to say I don’t like Oklahoma, but the Sooners get Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State at home and don’t have to worry about a conference championship game. Their path to the final playoff spot is far easier than other teams in the mix, so I’m going with them along with the ACC, SEC and Pac-12 champions.

JOHN TAYLOR
Rose Bowl: #2 Oregon vs. #3 Alabama
Sugar Bowl: #1 Florida State vs. #4 Oklahoma
Championship:  Florida State vs. Oregon

Heading into the season and at least on paper, most observers agree that Florida State, Oregon and Alabama, in some order, are the class of college football.  With Ohio State losing Braxton Miller to a season-ending injury, the fourth spot would now seemingly be up in the air.  I almost pulled the trigger on the biggest beneficiary of Miller’s injury, Michigan State, for the fourth seed before settling for an Oklahoma team that smacked Alabama around in the Sugar Bowl.  Well, that and I don’t see the Spartans getting past the Ducks early this season, which, combined with a Wisconsin loss to LSU, could damage whoever emerges as the champion of the Big Ten in the eyes of the playoff committee.  One additional note on potential semifinalists: if you’re looking for a conference that might have two teams represented in the CFP, look at the Pac-12, not the SEC.  Oregon is seemingly a given, and don’t sleep on UCLA.  They are a very, very underrated squad who could sneak in ahead of some of the other teams being mentioned as viable candidates for CFP spots — especially if the committee practices what it’s preaching in the preseason.  In the end, I see both Florida State and Oregon, the two most-talented squads in the country, trumping whichever team it is they face in the semifinals, setting the stage for an epic first-ever College Football Playoff title game.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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Ex-four-star WR Jamil Kamara latest Cavalier to leave UVa.

Jamil Kamara

For the fifth time since the end of the 2014 season, a Virginia Cavalier has decided to continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere.

In a missive posted to his Twitter account Friday, Jamil Kamara announced that he has decided to transfer out of Mike London‘s football program.  According to the wide receiver, he received a release from his UVa. scholarship the same day he announced his impending departure.

What if any restrictions were placed on potential transfer destinations weren’t revealed.

If Kamara transfers to another FBS program, he’d be forced to sit out the 2015 season.  He’d then have three years of eligibility remaining.  A transfer to an FCS program would mean immediate eligibility to go along with three seasons of eligibility as well as a redshirt year.

Based on his recruiting pedigree, though, Kamara might garner some interest from the highest levels of the FBS.

A four-star member of the Cavaliers’ 2014 recruiting class, Kamara was rated as the No. 17 receiver in the country; the No. 6 player in the state of Virginia; and the No. 123 prospect overall according to Rivals.com.  Kamara was the highest-rated offensive signee in that year’s class for UVa., and only two defensive players — both five-stars — carried a higher ranking overall.

As a true freshman last season, Kamara played in five games.  His lone catch of the season, good for six yards, came in the opener against Richmond.  The 6-2, 210-pound receiver was listed as a No. 2 receiver on the post-spring depth chart.

In addition to Kamara, quarterback Greyson Lambert (will visit Georgia and Florida), quarterback David Watford (FCS-bound), quarterback Corwin “Turtle” Cutler and wide receiver Dominique Terrell all announced plans to transfer. Cutler, who announced a departure earlier this month, eventually decided to remain at UVa.

(Photo credit: Virginia athletics)

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Ex-Herd RB faces felony civil rights violations for attack on gay couple

Western Kentucky v Marshall Getty Images

Not so unexpectedly, a former member of the Marshall football program is facing some very serious legal issues.

Earlier this month, reports surfaced that Marshall running back Steward Butler had been arrested and charged with battery in connection to the April beating of a same-sex couple.  Butler allegedly became angry after witnessing the couple, two males, kissing.  At the time, it was reported that the Huntington Police Department turned over evidence to the FBI for its review of any civil rights violations.

Saturday, the Associated Press reports, the former Herd player has been accused of two felony civil rights violations. The AP writes that “[t]he accusations against 23-year-old Steward Butler were contained in indictments unsealed Friday by a Cabell County [WV] grand jury.”

While “West Virginia’s civil rights law does not include protections on the basis of sexual orientation,” the Huntington Herald-Dispatch wrote, “[t]he indictment accuses Butler of violating the two men’s civil rights on the basis of their sex.”

In addition to the felony civil rights indictments, Butler was also indicted on two misdemeanor charges of battery.

A few hours after the reports of the assault first surfaced, Butler, who was the Herd’s second-leading rusher each of the last three seasons, was initially indefinitely suspended by and ultimately dismissed from the football program

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Former four-star Vol transferring from Terps as well

Florida v Tennessee

In January of this year, D’Andre Payne announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from Tennessee to Maryland.  Four months later, it appears the defensive back will be leaving College Park without ever having played a down for the Terps.

While the school has yet to confirm it, Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun is reporting that Payne has decided to leave Randy Edsall‘s football program.  According to Markus, Payne will be transferring to an unspecified junior college.

Even if Payne had stayed with the Terps, he wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2015 as he’d have had to sit out the season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

A four-star member of UT’s 2014 recruiting class, Payne was rated as the No. 18 cornerback in the country; the No. 2 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 230 player overall according to Rivals.com.  Only five players in UT’s class that year were rated higher than Payne.

As a true freshman for the Vols, Payne played in eight games and registered four tackles.

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Late-80s Penn State recruit claims sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky

Jerry Sandusky, Denny Nau AP

The sickening saga that is Jerry Sandusky has taken yet another sordid twist.

The Centre Daily Times is reporting that a lawyer, Daniel Kiss, for an unnamed individual is claiming that his client was sexually abused by the former Penn State defensive coordinator.  What makes this different from some of the other claims is that the alleged victim is being described as a former PSU recruit who claims the assault took place at a Nittany Lions football camp on the university’s campus.  Where the alleged assault took place — on-campus or off — wasn’t detailed

The incident also allegedly occurred in June of 1988, when Sandusky was in the midst of the 20th year of what would turn out to be a 31-year tenure as a trusted member of Joe Paterno‘s staff.

The alleged victim stayed silent for 23 years, not saying anything to authorities until 2011.  That was around the time the Sandusky child-sex abuse story exploded and, ultimately, led to Paterno’s firing.

The allegations were reported by the man to the state police, Kiss claimed, and were then forwarded to the state’s Attorney General’s office; “no action was taken” by that office, Kiss stated.

The reason no action was taken seems to be related to “concerns relating to the statute of limitations.” The ruling made by the AG’s office is now being appealed.

“(He) was destined for greatness. He was an excellent student, extremely gifted athlete and a model citizen,” a statement from the alleged victim’s family began. “[After the alleged sexual assault,] his life slowly began to spiral out of control, into a life of drugs, alcohol and serious crime, and none of us, including his parents, family or friends, could figure out what had happened. … He secretly lived with this guilt and shame for approximately 27 years before finally telling his story.”

Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse in June 2012 and sentenced to 30-60 years in prison four months later. The mandatory minimum of 30 years means that the 71-year-old Sandusky will likely die behind bars.

The Penn State football program was also slapped with historic NCAA sanctions, most of which were eventually rolled back.

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Davon Durant’s future as a Sun Devil in hands of ASU board

Davon Durant

Late this past week, a highly-touted member of Arizona State’s 2015 recruiting class took care of business when it comes to the legal system.  Now, his fate at the university is in the hands of a different set of “judges.”

According to the Arizona Republic, Davon Durant attended a hearing Friday in front of ASU’s University Hearing Board that will determine whether the JUCO transfer can remain at the institution as both a student and an athlete.  The hearing was in response to a March domestic violence incident in which Durant was initially charged with one count of felony aggravated assault and three counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

It was alleged at the time that the female victim was hit by Durant “in the face once and grabbed her around the neck,” leading to “visible injuries, including a bruise below her left eye and bruising around her neck that was consistent with finger marks.”

The Republic explained the university’s process moving forward.

The hearing did not produce an immediate decision. The University Hearing Board has up to three days to issue a recommendation to an ASU dean of students. A final determination on Durant’s fate could take up to 20 days.

The paper also explained that Durant has already been expelled from the university, and that the hearing was part of the linebacker’s appeal to be permitted to re-enroll.

Durant pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct at his court appearance Thursday, with sentencing scheduled for the middle of next month. Previously, the alleged victim had both recanted her claims and asked that a moratorium on contact between the two be dropped.

Transferring in from the JUCO ranks, Durant had been expected to be a significant contributor to the Sun Devils’ defense in 2015.

Coming out of Butler County Community College, Durant was a four-star member of ASU’s 2015 recruiting class.  Durant, a South Carolina native, had actually been a verbal commitment to South Carolina during part of his time at the Kansas JUCO, but flipped his commitment to ASU in October.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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KeiVarae Russell takes to social media to announce Irish return

KeiVarae Russell, Jeremy Gallon

Suspended for the entire 2014 season because of the findings rendered in an academic fraud investigation, KeiVarae Russell took to social media last October to vent his frustration over a school, Notre Dame, that he wrote “is becoming ridiculous.” Less than two weeks later, though, signs were pointing toward a return in 2015.

Seven months later? It appears he’s back.

While there’s been nothing official coming from Notre Dame — that’s expected to come at some point next month according to a school official — Russell took to the same social media website to announce a return to the Irish.

KeiVarae Russell

As explained by our buddy Keith Arnold over at Inside the Irish, Russell’s acceptance to re-enroll at the South Bend school has been imminent for a while. Still, Russell’s unofficially official confirmation portends good things for the Irish secondary as he’s a supremely talented football player.

Russell had started all 26 games during his two years in South Bend prior to his 2014 suspension. A freshman All-American in 2012, Russell finished fifth in tackles in 2013, tops among all defensive backs. His work in pass coverage is superb, as evidenced by the fact that he led all Irish players in passes broken up (eight) and passes defensed (nine) his true sophomore season.

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$20 armed robbery nets Rutgers’ Darian Dailey a dismissal, too

Kevin Snyder, L.J. Liston

To reiterate what was stated in the last post on this subject, I hope it was worth it.

In a statement released Thursday night, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood announced that Darian Dailey (pictured, No. 33has been dismissed from his Scarlet Knights football program. The dismissal comes a handful of days after Dailey, along with another business associate, was arrested and charged in connection to a Florida armed robbery that netted the entrepreneurs a whopping total of $20.

Padding their financial portfolios with a single Andrew Jackson wasn’t enough, though; they earned a felony charge by using what turned out to be a pellet gun.

“Every one of these situations is unique,” Flood said in his (under)statement. “We’ve made the decision and now as a football program we’re moving on from that decision.”

A two-star member of the Scarlet Knights’ 2014 recruiting class, Dailey took a redshirt as a true freshman. He had been expected to compete for significant playing time this upcoming season — prior to his hostile takeover of a well-heeled bicyclist, that is.

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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 springs 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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