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Charlie Strong era (likely) ends in Texas’ 22-point loss to TCU

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If this was the curtain call for the Charlie Strong era at Texas, it ended just the way more than half of his other previous did — with a loss.

With speculation regarding Tom Herman enveloping the football program, there was a school of thought that, with a blowout win over TCU Friday afternoon, Strong had a chance to save his job and make it back for a fourth season in Austin.  If that’s the case, it’s not meant to be for Strong as red zone woes played a role early on before the Longhorns’ fourth-quarter mini-meltdown pushed the Horned Frogs to a 31-9 win.

Darius Anderson ran for 103 yards on just three carries, including a backbreaking 70-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter that put an emphatic exclamation point on the win.  With one game remaining, TCU has now hit the six-win mark and will go bowling for the third straight season and 14th time in 16 seasons under Gary Patterson.

As has been the case most of the season, one of the few bright spots for UT was D’Onta Foreman.  The junior running back ran for 165 yards, his 13th straight game with 100-plus yards.  The performance also pushed him over 2,000 yards on the season, making him, along with Ricky Williams, just the second player in UT history to go for 2K yards in a single season.

He failed, though, to find the end zone, which was an overriding theme of this latest loss.

The ‘Horns made six trips into the red zone through the first three quarters, and came away with just nine points in what was a 17-9 game at the end of the third.  Twice they turned the ball over on downs, and once they gave the ball back on a missed field goal.

It was not only symptomatic and symbolic of this game, but of Strong’s first three years at UT as a whole as he simply couldn’t get his team over the hump regardless of how close people thought he was.

After a 6-7 mark his first year, Strong has gone 5-7 in back-to-back seasons.  Those 16 wins are the fewest in a three-year stretch since David McWilliams hit the same number in his first three seasons from 1987-89.  McWilliams ended up getting two more seasons at the helm, although patience isn’t what it was three decades ago.

This will also be the first time since a three-year stretch from 1991-93 that the ‘Horns have failed to go bowling in two or more consecutive seasons, yet another data point trending toward a dismissal.

The true lowpoint under Strong, and what will likely prove to be the proverbial final nail in his coaching coffin, though, was the loss to Kansas last Saturday, the first to the Jayhawks since the 1938 season.  The group think is that no UT head coach could survive a loss to KU, especially a sub-.500 one like Strong.

With the Longhorns’ 2016 season over, all the attention will now turn to when, possibly (probably?), the trigger is pulled and Strong is dismissed.  If Strong is to be fired, UT’s administration needs to do it immediately and not string it out.  You may have questions about his coaching ability, but Strong is a good and honorable man who doesn’t deserve any further embarrassment and indignity.

The rumor mill has done more than enough of that these last couple of months, especially the past week or so.

NCAA considering changing transfer rules

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The NCAA’s Division I Council Transfer Working Group on Wednesday unleashed a set of suggestions that could either radically change or slightly tweak the way transfers are handled in college sports’ highest level.

Let’s start with the (possible) radical changes. The working group is considering a suggestion that would make all transfers immediately eligible, provided they hit certain academic benchmarks:

Establishing uniform transfer rules — which would require everyone to follow the same rules regardless of the sport they play — was a topic that the group agrees will likely take longer to resolve. While most members agreed the concept of uniformity would be positive, what the specific rules would be is less clear.

Members discussed two models: One model would require every transfer student to sit out a year to acclimate to a new school; the other would allow all transfers to play immediately provided they present academic credentials that predict graduation at the new institution.

Walking back from that, the working group did recommend changing the transfer process to where players seeking new destinations would no longer need their former school’s approval. Considering the NCAA formally argues its athletes are merely students, and there is no limit on normal students receiving financial aid upon transferring to a new institution, this change should pass without a word to the contrary. But, you know, the NCAA is the NCAA.

Group members believe financial aid should not be tied to whether a school grants permission to contact. They want to know if others in the membership feel the same way. The group also agreed that enhancements should be made to the formal process students use to notify a school of their desire to transfer. The group will seek input from the membership on appropriate enhancements.

To curb a possible spike in transfers, the working group suggested upping penalties for coaches caught tampering with scholarship athletes at other schools.

The group expressed interest in increasing the consequences for coaches who break recruiting rules to seek out undergraduate and potential graduate students. The working group will ask the Committee on Infractions and enforcement staff to review the concept and provide feedback.

Finally, the working group suggested adding academic accountability to the graduate transfer market by either making graduate transfers count against the 85-man scholarship limit for two years or tweaking the APR formula to up the impact graduate transfers’ academic progress has in the system.

One potential approach could be to require that the financial aid provided to graduate students count against a team’s scholarship limit for two years, regardless of whether the graduate student stays for two years or leaves when their eligibility is complete.

Another concept for increasing that accountability is through the Academic Progress Rate calculation, specifically the eligibility and retention points for which a student would be held accountable as they pursue a graduate degree. The Committee on Academics discussed the calculation and the working group plans to continue conversations on the topic.

“I am thrilled with the great progress made this week, and I’m confident we can move forward with some initial concepts for consideration in this year’s legislative cycle,” South Dakota State AD and working group chair Justin Sell said in a statement. “We are working toward academics-based, data-driven decisions that benefit student-athletes, teams and schools.”

Any changes proposed by the working group are merely suggestions. The earliest any proposals could be voted on would be April 2018.

Michigan WR Grant Perry pleads guilty to felony resisting of a police officer

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Michigan wide receiver Grant Perry on Wednesday pleaded guilty to resisting of a police officer in a Lansing, Mich., court, according to the Lansing State Journal. The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Perry also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault and battery, but did so to avoid two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and one alcohol charge.

The case stemmed from an October incident in which Perry was accused of groping a female outside an East Lansing bar. (The Wolverines were off that weekend.) A Michigan State student said Perry “started licking his lips and smiling and pushing his chest up against her chest” before groping her.

Police were called to the scene, and Perry attempted to escape.

“When (police) arrived on scene, we tried to grab onto him, and we had to chase him,” East Lansing P.D. spokesman Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth said at the time. “In the midst of that fracas, one of our officers suffered a minor hand injury.”

Prosecutor Christina Johnson said Wednesday she has not ruled out sentencing Perry under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which, pending Perry’s completion of certain requirements, would wipe Wednesday’s conviction from his record by his 24th birthday.

In the meantime, Perry has been suspended by Michigan but has since resumed practicing with the team. Jim Harbaugh has said Perry will not play for the Wolverines until his case is resolved, which it will be by the time Michigan opens the season against Florida on Sept. 2. Sentencing for the case is set for Aug. 2.

Eastern Michigan extends Chris Creighton through 2022

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Eastern Michigan has extended head coach Chris Creighton through 2022, the school has announced.

“I feel as though we have made progress all the way through,” Creighton said in a statement. “The vision of making the football program a real source of pride for the department, the university, the alumni, we are making progress, but that vision has not been realized yet.

“So I’m really excited about our program and the Championship Building Plan. There is a lot of momentum going on right now.”

Creighton is 10-27 in three seasons as the Eagles’ head coach, but that mark obscures the progress EMU made in his third season. After starting 3-21, Eastern Michigan rocketed to a 7-6 mark in 2016 with a Bahamas Bowl trip, the school’s first postseason appearance since 1987.

The new deal raises Creighton’s base salary by 2.5 percent, according to MLive. He made a total of $434,840 in 2016, according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

Beer sales approved for Marshall home football games

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Let the beer taps start flowing at the next home Marshall football game. The University announced today that beer sales at Joan C. Edwards Stadium have been approved by the Board of Governors starting this fall.

This is the latest decision in an evolving stance on alcohol sales at Marshall. Last year, the school began expanding the sale of alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine from the Big Green Room to chairback seating. Now, the majority of fans attending a football game in Huntington will be able to purchase alcohol. The expanded alcohol sales plan will help to build the infrastructure of Marshall’s facilities moving forward.

“This is a continuation of our goal to provide more amenities for our fan base that makes attending Marshall Football games a more enjoyable experience,” Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick said in a released statement. “We have played a lot of winning football in our stadium over the past five years and we have great opponents such as Pittsburgh, Boise State, North Carolina State, and Navy just to name a few over the next five years, and it is imperative that the investment in our fan experience matches our football brand.”

Marshall will keep some sections of the football stadium free of alcohol for those fans who wish not to be near the booze-loaded fans.

The announcement was coupled with some other stadium news regarding the future renovation plans for the football stadium. Construction on the west side of the stadium should be completed by August, in time for the start of the 2017 college football season. The southwest side of the stadium will have a new retail location for fans.