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Sports Business Journal: Big 12 expansion not sitting well with Fox, ESPN

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Could the Big 12’s expansion plans actually hurt its relationship with college football’s most important TV partners?

John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reported Monday morning that, actually, the answer to that question could be yes.

Ourand reports ESPN and Fox are non-plussed with the thought of the 10-team conference adding the likes of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis and/or UConn, programs which would “water down the Big 12 and make it less valuable.”

ESPN and Fox would owe the Big 12 a combined $20 million per team added to the conference — so $40 million for two teams or $80 million for four teams. The Big 12’s TV deal with both networks runs through 2024-2025.

Read Ourand’s full story here.

The question now becomes for the Big 12: Is the short-term financial windfall worth damaging its relationship with ESPN and Fox?

Both networks easily could walk away from renewing with the conference — or put in a lowball offer —  after 2025 if they feel the quality of play decreased because of, for example, Houston and Cincinnati’s presence. That’s a significant risk for Bob Bowlsby and the Big 12 to take, especially without the safety net of a conference network (as the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC will all have by 2019).

But nine years is a long time in today’s media landscape. If the TV rights bubble is already beginning to burst, what will rights payouts look like in 2025? Will cable TV still hold a certain level of importance with alternative offerings proliferating over the the last few years? Will ESPN and Fox even be the best destinations for distributing the Big 12’s product?

In a sense, it’s a risk either way. The Big 12 may very well damage beyond repair its relationship with ESPN and Fox over expansion, but it also may not matter when those networks’ contracts are up. But in the short term, it’ll be fascinating to see how — or if — ESPN and Fox are able to influence the Big 12’s expansion efforts, given that, to paraphrase the Wu-Tang Clan, C.R.E.A.C.F. (Cash Rules Everything Around College Football).

 

West Virginia QB Will Grier announces return in 2018

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West Virginia quarterback Will Grier will be back for another season of football in Morgantown. Grier announced today he will be back in the blue and gold in 2018, his senior season.

Citing a desire to see his team accomplish more next season, Grier said he is “completely focused and looking forward to building off the success” experienced in 2017.

“West Virginia is my home, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future here,” Grier said in his released statement.

Grier’s return to West Virginia will be a boost for the offense next season. In his first year back playing college football after parting ways with Florida amid a drug-related suspension, Grier played in 11 games and passed for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns for the Mountaineers. He was one of three quarterbacks in the Big 12 to average more than 300 passing yards in a game, with the other two being Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. With Mayfield and Rudolph moving on to the NFL next year, Grier will be one of the top offensive players returning to play football in the Big 12 in 2018.

UCF RB Adrian Killins: SEC football doesn’t have a lot of speed

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UCF has won all 12 games they have played this season because they have a distinct advantage with the talent on the roster. At 12-0 with an American Athletic Conference championship, the Knights are heading to the Peach Bowl to take on SEC West Division champion Auburn. When the two collide, UCF running back Adrian Killins will hope to back up his words with his performance on the field.

Speaking to the media this week, Killins said Auburn has not seen speed like the kind UCF will bring to the game in Atlanta on January 1. Defying the popular narrative over the years about how much speed the SEC has, Killins does not seem to be too impressed.

“SEC football, they don’t have a lot of speed, honestly,” Killins told The Orlando Sentinel. “So, Auburn hasn’t seen any speed like we have here.”

It’s worth noting that Auburn has faced Clemson this season. Just to throw that out there. But that said, is the SEC speed narrative a thing of the past? Killins suggests the SEC is more about being physical and not so much looking to strike quickly. But the SEC has had some fast-moving offenses, including this season with Missouri and, of course, Auburn. But in terms of raw speed from the players, maybe that is where UCF will look to create an advantage against the Tigers.

“I will say they’re in for a rude awakening, because UCF football, we’re UCF fast and UCF fierce,” Killins said.

And with that, Killins has just given Auburn’s defense some good bulletin board material ahead of the Peach Bowl.

DA: No charges will be pursued against Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson

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The attorney for Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson labeled the allegations against his client “patently false.” A few days later, the Sooners football player has been vindicated.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Cleveland County (Okla.) District Attorney Greg Mashburn announced that his office would not pursue charges against Anderson.  The decision came after the prosecutor met with a Norman Police Department detective Tuesday afternoon and again Thursday morning.

Earlier this month, a woman filed for an emergency order of protection against Anderson; additional details subsequently emerged, with the woman describing the player in a written statement to the court as the “alleged rapist” and herself as the “victim of rape.” A hearing on the protective order had been scheduled for Dec. 18.

The alleged assault occurred Nov. 16, with the alleged victim claiming that she began recalling details of the alleged attack the weekend of Dec. 2 as she was speaking to a friend.

Late last week, it was reported that Anderson passed a three-hour lie detector test administered to him this past week by a retired FBI polygraph examiner. Bill Brown, the retired FBI investigator who has reportedly performed in excess of 3,500 such polygraph exams, was hired by Derek Chance, Anderson’s attorney, to administer the test.  That attorney claimed that the accuser only went to the authorities with her claims after Anderson had rejected several of her advances.

Anderson currently leads the Sooners with 960 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on the ground.  He’s also caught 16 passes for 283 yards and another five touchdowns coming out of the backfield.

No. 2 Oklahoma is set to face No. 3 Georgia in the Rose Bowl New Year’s Day, with the winner facing the Clemson-Alabama winner for the right to play for the 2017 College Football Playoff championship.

Scott Frost bests three playoff coaches for Eddie Robinson Award

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For the second time since the regular season ended, Scott Frost is on the receiving end of some coaching hardware.

For his work at UCF, the Football Writers Association of America announced Thursday that Frost has been named as the recipient of the 2017 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.  Frost, who was named as the new head coach at Nebraska upon the completion of the regular season, was also honored as the Home Depot Coach of the Year last week.

“Scott Frost is one of the up-and-coming coaches in college football,” said FWAA president Dave Jones in a statement. “What he did at UCF was nothing short of remarkable in just two seasons.”

Taking over a team that went 0-12 in 2015, Frost coached UCF to a 6-7 record last season.  This season, Frost has the 12th-ranked Knights sitting at 12-0 after winning the football program’s second outright AAC championship and earning the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid.

After some initial uncertainty, it was confirmed earlier this week that Frost will coach UCF in its Peach Bowl matchup with Auburn.

There were seven other finalists for this year’s Robinson Award, including Bill Clark, UAB; Lane Kiffin, FAU; Jeff Monken, Army; Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma; Kirby Smart, Georgia; Dabo Swinney, Clemson; and Jeff Tedford, Fresno State.  Riley, Smart and Swinney all led their respective teams to this year’s College Football Playoff.