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Big 12 reportedly discussed a possible scheduling agreement with Pac-12, ACC and SEC

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With concerns about overall strength of schedule reaching new heights, the only two conferences to be left out of the College Football Playoff in the past three years have reportedly explored the idea of injecting a little juice into the overall conference strength of schedule with a conference vs. conference concept. The Big 12 and Pac-12 reportedly discussed the possibility of working together, according to a report from Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com. But don’t expect anything more to happen with those future schedules any time soon.

The discussions took place in an exploratory stage over the summer as the Big 12 was weighing future options for conference stability, including expansion. Unfortunately, that was about as far as the idea got as the Big 12 continued to follow through on its plan to add a conference championship game in 2017 and put any expansion plans on ice. For whatever reason or reasons, a deal with the Pac-12 could not gain any momentum and the talks essentially ended there. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby also said in the report the Big 12 had similar discussions with the ACC and SEC.

A few years back, before conference expansion really hit its stride, the Big Ten and Pac-12 worked out an arrangement that would see the two conferences schedule a conference vs. conference slate of games involving every member of the conference. It was a brilliant idea at the time, feeding off similar concepts employed in college basketball, but the Pac-12 ultimately backed out of the arrangement due to increasing concerns about adding this type of deal on top of a nine-game conference schedule (the Big Ten, with 12 teams at the time, had not yet committed to a nine-game conference schedule). With the Pac-12 backing out, the deal was done and there had been no talk about such a scheduling arrangement by the Big Ten or Pac-12 until now (that we are aware of).

It is a shame such a deal could not have been worked out, because it would seemingly solve a possible problem the Big 12 and Pac-12 each have compared to the stature of the ACC, Big Ten and SEC. Like the ACC, Big Ten and SEC, all Big 12 schools are required to schedule at least one game per year against another power conference opponent. Of course, having a deal in place with the Pac-12 would automatically satisfy such a requirement for Big 12 schools. The problem, albeit minor, is the conferences do not have even membership, which means there would be two Pac-12 schools left out of the fun each season.

It is good to know the Big 12 continues to explore such an idea, although knowing the Big 12 and witnessing how long it takes this conference to move on anything tells us it will be a long time before anything comes out of it. If any conference could benefit from a scheduling agreement with another conference, it might be the Big 12. The conference has missed out on the College Football Playoff twice, including this past season, in part because of the overall perception of the conference compared to its peers. One loss was enough to help keep the Big 12 co-champions TCU and Baylor from the playoff three years ago and two losses prevented even a red-hot Big 12 champion Oklahoma from surging into the playoff mix. A solid bowl season helps, but improving the strength of schedule as a conference is key to adding an extra ingredient to combat criticism of the conference. If the big 12 does work out an agreement in the future, will other conferences respond?

The ACC and Big Ten have a terrific basketball series that would also make for a fantastic football series as well if one were to be created, for example. Basically, the bottom line is the bottom line. If it makes fiscal sense for power conferences to arrange a full conference vs. conference scheduling agreement, then it will come together. It is hard to argue there would be no interest in a series from a fan standpoint, and network partners and advertisers would jump at the opportunity to get in on more attractive games.

Let’s make this happen, college football overlords.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.