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Eyes of Texas on Tom Herman as ‘Horns hire Cougars coach

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The worst kept secret in college football is now out in the open.

Just hours after announcing the dismissal of Charlie Strong, Texas has officially tapped his replacement, naming Tom Herman as the 30th head football coach in the program’s history.  The announcement is the culmination of a couple of months worth of rumors, with speculation heating up over the past 24 hours or so. It also comes a little more than 24 hours after Herman stated “don’t believe anything you read” in chiding a reporter who asked about the speculation swirling around him.

Herman informed Houston of his decision to leave for Texas Saturday morning.  A short time later, at a team meeting early on in the afternoon, he informed his players.

“I’m thrilled to have Tom Herman joining us as our head football coach,” athletic director Mike Perrin said. “I am impressed with his insights on college sports, football and academic success, and his philosophy of developing the student-athlete into the complete person. He clearly has a passion and respect for the game of football, and also, a passion for teaching young men the game and the life lessons that come with that.”

“In Tom Herman, Longhorn football is getting a proven competitor, terrific recruiter, and committed mentor of student-athletes who has shown his ability to succeed at all levels,” UT president Gregory L. Fenves said. “Tom was the hottest young head coach in the country the past two seasons, and I am thrilled we are able to get him back to UT to lead Texas football.”

LSU had also pursued Herman — they were reportedly set to meet Saturday — but, when it became obvious that he had his eyes on his dream job at Texas, the Tigers turned to interim head coach Ed Orgeron for the permanent opening.

The move to Austin is a homecoming of sorts for Herman as he served as a graduate assistant for the Longhorns in 1999 and 2000.  That was his first coaching job at the FBS level.

“The opportunity to come back to Texas is a dream come true for me and my family, and I can’t thank President Fenves and Mike Perrin enough for providing me with this incredible opportunity,” a statement from Herman began. “Longhorn football has been – and always will be – a national power, winning and playing for national championships with great pride and passion, supported by an unbelievable fan base.

“When President Fenves, Mike and I met late last night and into the morning, I came away very impressed with their unified vision and commitment to football, and I’m excited to be the head coach at the flagship university of the greatest state in the union. I am eager to get to Austin as soon as possible, to spend time with our student-athletes and to get to work.”

An Ohio native, Herman began his coaching career at Texas Lutheran in 1998 and has had deep connection to the state ever since.  In fact, his first 11 years in the profession were in the state of Texas — the two jobs previously mentioned, plus Sam Houston State (2001-04), Texas State (2005-06) and Rice (2007-08).  Even after that last job, Herman remained connected to the Big 12 as the offensive coordinator at Iowa State from 2009-11.

Following a three-year stint as Ohio State’s coordinator, he left for his first head-coaching job at any level with Houston.

At UH, Herman has gone 22-4.  He went 13-1 his first season, then won his first five games in 2016.  Since then, however, the Cougars have gone a middling 4-3 after being viewed as a potential crasher at the College Football Playoff party.

Against ranked teams, Herman has gone a sparkling 6-0 as head coach.  However, he’s lost four games to unranked teams as double-digit favorites.

So, in the end, Texas got their man.  The question now, is he the man for the job?

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.