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FBS commissioners thinking about doing something about ever-growing game length

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The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one, and college football is well beyond that point. As ESPN’s Brett McMurphy points out, the average game in 2016 lasted three hours and 24 minutes. That 3:24 figure, McMurphy writes, has grown seven minutes over the past four years despite the average number of plays dropping slightly over that span — from 143 in 2013 to 142.6 in ’16.

Reporting on the ground from Tampa, McMurphy canvased the powers-that-be in college football, and nearly all of them agreed there’s a problem.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: “I would like to see shorter games.”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey: “Fundamentally, we have to have that conversation,”

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze: “I firmly believe we have to shorten games for the good of the game.”

While (most) everyone is in agreement games need to be shorted, there is no consensus in how to shorten them. Writes McMurphy:

These were some of the most common suggestions on how to shorten the games: a running clock on first downs (until the final two or five minutes of each half); shortening halftime; limiting the number of replays; reducing the number of timeouts; a shorter play clock; changing in-game substitution rules; and limiting the number of commercial breaks.

Shortening halftime, reducing television timeouts and limiting commercial breaks are all non-starters. Each would ask television networks to give back money, money those networks need to recoup after buying each commissioner, head coach and AD their second homes and third country club memberships. A shorter play clock seems like it would actually lengthen games.

The only sure-fire way to shorten games would be to limit replay reviews and/or to move toward an NFL-style timing system. While the former move may be possible, the latter would meet a brick wall of resistance. Reducing the number of plays in the average game would mean less reps for players, writing off a number of team and individual numeric standards and records as unattainable, and losing another differentiator between the college game and the NFL.

“There is a consensus, if not unanimity, the games need to be shortened, but there is also a strong belief that we don’t want to reduce the number of plays in a game,” Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said. “So until the majority agrees that shorter games will require fewer plays, we will be at a standstill.”

Report: North Texas adds FCS running back transfer

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North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.

Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.

Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.

As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.

Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger signs extension, vows to fix football

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Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.

Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.

“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”

Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.

David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.

Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:

Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”

“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”

The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.

Alleged victim of Tennessee WR Josh Smith threatens $3 million civil suit

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Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.

According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.

“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’

“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.

The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.

How some college football teams are recognizing Memorial Day on Twitter

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It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.

If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.