Brent Musburger insists Joe Mixon comments had nothing to do with ESPN departure

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Brent Musburger has called his final college football game, hanging up the play-by-play headset for good following tomorrow night’s Georgia-Kentucky basketball game. This means Musburger’s final college game was marred by some poorly-worded comments regarding former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, wishing the player a long NFL career while discussing recently-surfaced video showing him hitting a female Oklahoma student in 2014.

Blowback was such that he felt compelled to defend those comments one quarter later of OU’s eventual win in the Sugar Bowl.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Musburger insisted the comments had nothing to do with the departure and, in fact, received very little attention from ESPN or Disney proper.

“We had already started the process of me leaving,” Musburger said. “The morning after the Sugar Bowl I had breakfast with [ESPN president] John Skipper and [senior vice president of event & studio production] Stephanie Druley, and they wanted to work out a plan to keep me at ESPN. There was not even a discussion about what had been said specifically about Mixon. In fact, the only person who mentioned it to me was a telephone call two days later from [Disney chairman] Bob Iger, who is an old friend, and he said, ‘This too shall pass.’ That was the only comment. There was no blowback. There is absolutely no connection.

 “I did not want them to be in the middle [of gambling issues]. I am sure they have had some phone calls about [gambling] comments that I have made on the air over the years. It certainly never came back to me, but I have no doubt it happened. I just wanted no connection whatsoever. I will tell you that my relations with ESPN and everyone there could not be better. We have been completely up front in this process. I leave with nothing but good feelings about these people. I never had a bad day for them and enjoyed it very much.”

Musburger is leaving to join a sports book start up in Las Vegas while co-hosting a gambling talk show on SiriusXM, appropriately titled My Friends in the Desert.

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.