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Report: Michigan State finalizing “significant raises” for Dantonio and staff

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Coming off a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff, Michigan State is reportedly set to pay Mark Dantonio and his coaching staff like kings.

A breaking report from Hondo Carpenter of Spartan Nation, Michigan State officials are believed to be preparing to finalize significant raises for Dantonio and his coaching staff. According to the report, Michigan State and Dantonio have been working behind the scenes to come together on the finer details of the pay upgrades as they find the numbers that work for Michigan State, Dantonio and his staff. There is no timeline for when the new contract details will be announced, although it could happen soon.

In 2015, Dantonio was the nation’s 21st highest-paid coach, earning $3,671,520 before bonuses. That put Dantonio fifth among Big Ten coaches in salary, trailing four coaches he defeated in 2015; Jim Harbaugh ($7 million), Urban Meyer ($5.86 million), James Franklin ($4.4 million) and Kirk Ferentz ($4.075 million). Aside from Meyer, no coach in the Big Ten has accomplished as much as Dantonio, with a pair of Big Ten championships to his name and victories in the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl in recent seasons. Michigan State’s staff salary ranked 24th in the nation last season with a combined salary of $3,195,154. This also ranked fifth in the Big Ten, trailing the same four schools; Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa.

Michigan State has not traditionally stayed ahead fo the curve when it came to Dantonio’s contract, but base don the level of performance the football program has achieved over the past few years it is wise to make sure that is no longer the case. This is especially true when lumped in the same division as Michigan and Harbaugh and Ohio State and Meyer. Michigan State has more than held its own in the division and shows no signs of backing down from the competition. Somewhat lost in the shadows of Michigan’s star-studded signing day festivities and another top-notch class in Columbus, Michigan State did pretty well with its class as well.

Dantonio’s name was floated around to some degree by some as a potential coaching candidate for South Carolina. Following the in-season retirement of Steve Spurrier, Dantonio was seen as an intriguing possibility, being a former South Carolina football player. Dantonio kept himself out of that conversation though and went on to win the Big Ten and play in the playoff this past season. He has built a good thing in East Lansing, and now the Spartans are rewarding him for it.

After stops at TCU, Arkansas State, Cameron Echols-Luper to give WKU a try

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Maybe the third time will be a charm for Cameron Echols-Luper?

On his personal Instagram account Wednesday, Echols-Luper revealed that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Western Kentucky.  According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the decision was made following a visit to the school earlier this week.

As a graduate transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Hilltoppers. However, he has to finish up some schoolwork at his former school, Arkansas State, before officially moving on to WKU.

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Echols-Luper began his collegiate career at TCU in 2013, transferring to ASU in 2015. After sitting out that season, he was third on the Red Wolves in receptions (26) and receiving yards (407). His 15.7 yards per reception was second on the team.

Ex-USC DL Noah Jefferson won’t be transferring to Arizona after all

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In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona.  Nearly five months later?

Never mind.

Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season.  No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.

The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.

Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.

A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.

Hugh Freeze makes first public comments since exiting Ole Miss in disgrace

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For the first time since his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has spoken publicly.  Somewhat.

In what was described as a brief interview with USA Today Sports Wednesday, the former Ole Miss head coach said his family and church have helped him get through the storm of the last few days. When asked if his family was standing by him, Freeze responded, “Oh, gosh, yeah.”

“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze told the website. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”

“I got some good friends,” the former head coach added.

The stunning news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service.  While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.

After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.

Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.

Five-star 2017 Auburn signee undergoes ‘minor procedure,’ should be a go for start of summer camp

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It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently.  SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.

The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.

The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.

A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.

The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.