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Sooners, Cowboys tied in Bedlam, but all eyes on Dede Westbrook’s health

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With a playoff berth seemingly out of the question, all Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have left to battle for is conference pride.  Well, that and the weather.

A rain-swept day in Norman begat a touchdown-less first quarter, which ultimately gave way to a quartet of touchdowns in a back and forth second quarter as the Sooners and Cowboys have slogged their way to a 17-17 halftime tie in the 111th edition of Bedlam.  The most noteworthy development in the half, though, involved the player responsible for the first of those touchdowns.

With under seven minutes left in the second quarter, All-American wide receiver Dede Westbrook was hit on a pass across the middle.  The combination of the legal hit plus his head bouncing of the turf led to the receiver laying briefly motionless as OU medical personnel rushed to his aid.  Westbrook ultimately left the field under his own power, but his status for the remainder of the game moving forward is unknown as he is under observation for a potential concussion.

Trailing 3-0 a few minutes earlier, Westbrook was on the receiving end of 69-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield. The quarterback bought time to find a wide-open Westbrook, who made a nifty juke on a Cowboy defender en route to the end zone.

A field goal three minutes later, after a first and goal at the three, pushed the Sooners lead to 10-3. With 5:05 remaining in the half, a Chris Carson six-yard touchdown run knotted the score at 10-all; three minutes later, it was quarterback Mason Rudolph from six yards out to give the Cowboys their first lead of the quarter.

With under :30 remaining, Mayfield tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to knot it up at 17-all headed into the locker room.

Both quarterbacks have struggled in accuracy with a wet ball, with Mayfield hitting on just five of his 10 passes before going 3-3 on his final drive of the half while his OSU counterpart has connected on only five of 12 attempts.  Mayfield, though, has thrown for 237 yards as he’s hit on a handful of chunk plays.

OSUs Justice Hill (92) and Carson (62) have combined for 154 yards on the ground.  The Sooners have run for just 40 yards on 19 carries.

UPDATED 2:42 p.m. ET: OU has confirmed that Westbrook will not return to the game.

Jim Delany announces Big Ten’s new six-year deal with ESPN and FOX; BTN heading to Hulu and YouTube

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As the Big Ten opened up its media day event in Chicago, commissioner Jim Delany brought with him an announcement regarding the future of the conference’s television package. Delany announced the Big Ten has reached a deal on a restructured television package with broadcast partners ESPN, FOX and CBS Sports (for basketball) and an extended deal with Big Ten Network that runs through 2032. And he had more to share a swell.

The exact terms of this new deal have not been disclosed at this time, but it would stand to reason the Big Ten will continue to turn a nice profit through their deals with both ESPN and FOX (and CBS Sports for basketball).

But Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman had some other news to share as well.

In addition to a new six-year contract with ESPN and FOX for regular season coverage of football (and FOX with the Big Ten Championship Game), Delany also announced the Big Ten Network will be heading to Hulu and YouTube TV, making the network more accessible to those consumers who continue to cut the cord on their TV providers. While there are still plenty of cable subscribers available to reach and the majority of TV viewers are still using cable to watch their TV, the trends are more and more leaning toward the cord-cutting methods.

Big Ten Network will be adding a handful of former Big Ten stars to its football coverage; James Laurinaitis, Braylon Edwards, and Corey Wootton. Big Ten Network, now in its 10th year of operation since launching as the first conference-branded network, will also be creating content for regional sports outlets, like an Ohio State show on SportsTime Ohio. The BTN will also work with ESPN to air a special series following new Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck and BTN’s Big Ten Elite program will chronicle the 2016 Big Ten champions, Penn State.

Report: Wisconsin and Notre Dame discussing Soldier Field series

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Notre Dame and Wisconsin have not met on the football field since 1964, but that drought in the series could come to an end in the somewhat near future. The Chicago Tribune reports the two schools are discussing plans for a potential football series that would be played in Chicago’s Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

Why Soldier Field? Why not?

Notre Dame last played in Soldier Field in 2012 when they played Miami as part of Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series of games traveling around the country. The Shamrock Series has also made stops in San Antonio, New York, Arlington, Indianapolis, and Boston. There is no Shamrock Series game in 2017, but it is expected to return in 2018 (playing Navy in San Diego). Notre Dame has never lost a game in Soldier Field. Wisconsin has also played in Soldier Field. In 2011, the Badgers dominated Northern Illinois.

Of course, the contrarian view here wonders why two programs with fantastic football environment s would want to abandon their locales in Madison and South Bend to play a game in Chicago. The obvious answers here are that it is easier to schedule one game on a neutral field and it tends to be more financially motivated to do so. Until an agreement is announced, it is just speculation to suggest both Notre Dame and Wisconsin will receive a nice paycheck out of playing in Soldier Field once or twice (or more).

Ideally, having Wisconsin and Notre Dame agree to a home-and-home deal would be the way to go, or a three-year deal with a home-and-home series and a neutral site game in Chicago. But we’ll just have to wait and see

Soldier Field hosted a 2015 Big Ten game between Northwestern and Illinois and the Illini are going to be hosting USF in Soldier Field in 2018.

From a Big Ten scheduling standpoint, a game against Notre Dame would satisfy Wisconsin’s non-conference scheduling requirement to include a game against another power conference program in whatever season or seasons the Irish appear on the schedule. Wisconsin currently satisfies that scheduling requirement in 2018 and 2020-2025. The non-conference schedule is full in 2019, meaning the Badgers need a road game against USF or a home game against Central Michigan or North Texas to be given approval from the Big Ten (or work out a deal to slide Notre Dame into that schedule. Notre Dame currently has a schedule vacancy on September 7, 2019, which is when Wisconsin is scheduled to play Central Michigan, but the Irish have a full 12-game schedule in place for the 2019 season.

The bottom line is whenever this scheduling arrangement is announced, it may not be happening until 2020 at the earliest.

Fire up the Les Miles rumor mill at Ole Miss, even if just for fun

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The head coaching vacancy that has opened up at Ole Miss has gotten the ball rolling on a number of potential coaching rumors for some notable names on the coaching free agent market. As noted this weekend, the betting favorites have been listed, and they include SMU head coach Chad Morris as the betting favorite, followed by former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley. Former LSU head coach Les Miles has been given some decent odds to land the job as well, and he is now one of the most interesting names being debated by those monitoring the situation at Ole Miss.

When Miles was pushed out of the way at LSU last season, he made it perfectly clear he was still looking to coach and win. It was just a matter of finding the right opportunity and having the right offer come along. He had his name attached to various coaching rumors during the last go around the coaching carousel last season, but remained a free agent when all was said and done, for whatever the reasons may be. But with a job in the SEC West suddenly on the market, Miles reportedly has expressed his interest in the job.

This should hardly come as a surprise, as Miles has made it known he wants to continue coaching, and the Ole Miss job could be in need of a coach who can weather the storm. The unknown and cloudy future Ole Miss has to navigate through makes the job less desirable on the surface, but a questionable outlook as far as the NCAA is concerned does not mean the job will be without its potential suitors. After all, it may not be Alabama or LSU, but a job in the SEC West will always be worth checking out regardless of the program.

One of the most popular questions asked during a handful of recent radio interviews since the firing resignation of Hugh Freeze has been where will Ole Miss turn next for its head coach? It may be too soon to accurately answer that question, although I have suggested we should not rule out the possibility of Ole Miss landing a good coach, even if that coach is flying well below the radar right now. It may be popular to suggest the Ole Miss job is toxic right now, but if Penn State and Baylor could end up finding decent coaches to take over their programs (and admittedly, Penn State got lucky with hiring Bill O’Brien and we’ll see if Matt Rhule works out at Baylor), then there is no reason to believe nobody would have any interest in the Ole Miss job.

As for Miles, if he wants to have one more chance at winning a championship, Ole Miss may not be the most desirable option. But if scoring revenge against LSU is the motivating factor, then Ole Miss can still work out. Ole Miss hiring Miles may feel like a reach and it feels like a combination that doesn’t quite fit at this point in time, but it would be advisable for Ole Miss to at least make the phone call to Miles and have a discussion.

And all of this may be for nothing. Maybe interim head coach Matt Luke will prove to be a solid coaching option for the Rebels moving forward. We can at least watch him coach a game or two before diving too deep into the coaching future of Ole Miss.

But having Les Miles back on a sideline somewhere will be fun if and when it happens.

UAB adds former Tennessee DE Mykelle McDaniel

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UAB is returning to the playing field this fall after a brief absence from the world of college football, and head coach Bill Clark is working hard to build a program once again. This weekend, Clark was more than happy to announce the latest addition to the program in the not-so-subtle ways college football coaches tend to do on Twitter.

A couple of hours after that tweet was posted by Clark, former Tennessee defensive end Mykelle McDaniel announced on his Twitter account he had committed to the Blazers, followed by a retweet of Clark’s previous post.

McDaniel will be forced to sit out the upcoming 2017 season due to NCAA transfers. He will be eligible to play again in 2018 with three years of eligibility remaining. McDaniel sat out the 2016 season at Tennessee as a redshirt.