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Big 12 coaches for some reason unconcerned about Draft drought

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As I’m sure you’re aware by now, the Big 12 produced only 14 picks in last weekend’s NFL Draft. The league’s coaches have heard about it, and they say (on the record, at least) that they’re not concerned about it and, frankly, they’re tired of talking about it.

“You have cycles. You have waves,” Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg. “We’re obviously down when it comes to top, top prospects. We have good players, but maybe not the elite level that some of the other leagues have. I don’t think it’s panic mode yet.”

Added West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen: “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. I’m a little tired of [the media] making it a big deal.”

And TCU’s Gary Patterson: “I don’t go out and recruit saying, ‘This guy, the only reason I’m going to take him is he fits the NFL model.'”

While it’s true that the Big 12 coaches’ jobs is to find players that win games first, second and third and find players the NFL may one day like somewhere around sixth or seventh, it’s impossible to NFL’s tepid interest in Big 12 players as anything other than another problematic data point in a disturbing ongoing trend for this once proud conference.

It’d be easy to ignore last weekend’s NFL Draft if the Big 12 didn’t also produce a then-low 17 picks in 2014.

It’d be easy to ignore last weekend’s NFL Draft if the Big 12 wasn’t also consistently behind its peers in signing top 250 recruits.

It’d be easy to ignore last weekend’s NFL Draft if the Big 12 wasn’t also the only Power 5 conference to miss the College Football Playoff twice in three years.

Bottom line: the Draft is another data point proving the Big 12 is suffering through a significant down period right now. There’s nothing saying that can’t change. Tom Herman and Matt Rhule succeeding at Texas and Baylor, respectively, would go a long way toward lifting the conference out of the ditch it currently finds itself in, as would winning high-profile non-conference games like Oklahoma at Ohio State and TCU at Arkansas. More than anything else, though, the conference’s fortunes won’t turn until its coaches find a way to recruit a large influx of talented players. The NFL Draft is the best arbiter of judging who has the most talent, as Herman himself admitted in the piece that the NFL will go wherever it has to go to find talent. And it hasn’t been going to Big 12 campuses as much as it used to.

Big 12 football is down right now and last weekend was another low point in a period full of them for this conference. Believing otherwise is as intellectually dishonest as believing Big 12 coaches wouldn’t turn around and thump their collective chests if the league started producing SEC-like draft numbers.

 

Miami Beach Bowl officially moves to Frisco, Texas

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The Miami Beach Bowl was an unnecessary bowl game played in a metro area already populated by bowl games — but at least it was in Miami. Bowl games may have lost their luster over the past decade-plus, but it’s hard to complain about being sent to South Beach in December for a football game.

The Miami Beach Bowl is no more, and it’s now been reincarnated as another unnecessary bowl game to be played in a metro area even more populated by bowl games — and it won’t be anywhere near as interesting as Miami.

Meet the Frisco Bowl, the newest ESPN-created postseason college football game to be played in the scenic locale of Frisco, Texas.

The north Dallas suburb will host the game at Toyota Stadium, a 20,500-seat outdoor venue that’s home to MLS club FC Dallas as well as the FCS National Championship every January. The Frisco Bowl will also compete for sponsorship dollars and public attention with the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, the Heart of Dallas Bowl in Dallas and the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.

“We are pleased to be able to host this game in one of the most vibrant football markets in the country,” said ESPN vice president of events Clint Overby. “The infrastructure and facilities that exist in Frisco are outstanding and will be an excellent venue for the teams, players, administrators and fans traveling into the marketplace. We look forward to working with civic organizations and businesses in the area to create an annual event that embraces the spirit of the community.”

The first annual Frisco Bowl will pit an American Athletic Conference team against a to-be-determined conference at 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 20.

2017 Texas signee sees felony drug charge reduced to misdemeanor

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It appears the door to one member of Texas’ 2017 recruiting class arriving in Austin this summer has opened a little wider.

In late February, Reese Leitao was arrested at his Oklahoma high school on a charge of possession/delivery of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to sell within a thousand feet of a school, a felony.  Tuesday, the Austin American-Statesman is reporting, Leitao pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug possession charge.

As part of the plea agreement, Leitao received a four-year deferred sentence; provided he stays clean during that time, the charge will be wiped off his record.  The American-Statesman writes that, “[a]ccording to Leitao’s attorney, Leitao has ‘some probationary work,’including speaking engagements at schools, and will be under the supervision of the district attorney.”  A $1,000 fine was part of his punishment as well.

The ball is now in the hands of first-year UT head coach Tom Herman as to whether Leitao will have a football future with the Longhorns.

“I’m happy,” the attorney, Allen Smallwood, told the newspaper. “Hopefully the University of Texas will be happy.”

At the time of Leitao’s arrest, a statement attributed to Herman said that “[w]e’re collecting information, will talk to Reese and his family, let the legal system run its course and then address it further at the appropriate time.” As of this posting, the university has yet to publicly address the development.

Leitao was a three-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 19 tight end in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma.

Miami All-American, NFL Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy dead at 48

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One of the most physically-gifted and talented players in the history of Miami Hurricanes football is gone way, way too soon.

The Orlando Police Department confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Cortez Kennedy passed away earlier today.  He was just 48 years old.

No cause of death has been determined, with the OPD stating that “at this time there is nothing suspicious to report but we are conducting an investigation regarding his unattended passing.”

After starting his collegiate playing career at the junior college level, Kennedy moved on to the University of Miami, earning All-American honors in 1989.  In 2004, he was inducted into the university’s Sports Hall of Fame.

The third overall pick of the 2000 NFL draft, Kennedy spent his entire 11-year pro career with the Seattle Seahawks.  In 2012, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Not surprisingly, Kennedy’s sudden passing has brought an outpouring of emotion from those connected to the football program.

LSU RB Lanard Fournette arrested for illegal gambling at Baton Rouge casino

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The younger brother of Leonard Fournette has finally made a name for himself, albeit for all of the wrong reasons.

Monday afternoon, WAFB-TV reported, LSU running back Lanard Fournette was arrested on a charge of using a fake ID to gamble at a Baton Rouge casino this past weekend.  The 20-year-old Fournette was subsequently released on a $1,000 bond.

The Baton Rouge Advocate has obtained some of the details  led up to the arrest of the redshirt sophomore.

Fournette… was arrested Monday after surveillance video showed and casino personnel confirmed he gained access to the gaming floor Saturday with a different ID than his own driver’s license, according to his arrest report.

Security video showed Fournette playing at a “craps table” for 16 minutes around 1:30 p.m., before walking to the player’s services counter. Fournette then allegedly presented his real ID to the cashier for a cash withdrawal, who determined his accurate age and contacted security, the report says.

Fournette, of Slidell, was detained at the casino, but left before the officer’s arrival, the report says. When casino security asked Fournette about the incident, Fournette said he used another person’s ID to enter the casino, the report says.

Head coach Ed Orgeron is aware of the incident and any discipline will be handled internally.

A three-star 2015 signee, Fournette took a redshirt his true freshman season.  In three games last year, he ran for 13 yards on five carries.

Fournette’s older brother was the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft following an Al-American career at LSU.