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Comcast drops Big Ten Network from some out-of-market areas

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Finding something to replace the Michigan spring game on the schedule is suddenly the least of the Big Ten Network’s worries this week. The same could be fans of the conference who live outside the league’s footprint too.

Reports started surfacing Thursday afternoon and evening that cable giant Comcast (who, full disclosure, is the parent company of NBC Universal) had dropped BTN from its lineup in a rather unexpected move given there was no word about any potential carriage battle between the two. As it turns out, this isn’t some wild rumor spreading on social media, the company is indeed dropping BTN from certain packages outside states within the Big Ten footprint.

Straight from the Comcast corporate account:

Markets in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will continue to receive the BTN feed like normal.

While some might worry first about whether or not they’re able to watch a certain game, there is a financial aspect to this news that should not go unnoticed. Comcast pays to carry the Big Ten Network and has a different price they pony up each month for the channel depending on what market it is. The out-of-market price is significantly lower than the in-market price but, when you add it all up over 12 months a year and millions of subscribers, this is still a potentially huge hit worth millions of dollars to the bottom line of BTN and, in turn, the schools themselves.

Needless to say this does not impact other providers such as Time Warner, DirecTV, Dish, Verizon and others but this remains an issue for those who have Comcast and want to watch BTN outside Big Ten territory. Based on the states listed above, even those near Big Ten areas like Maryland fans who live in Northern Virginia or Rutgers alumni in Connecticut could also be facing some changes.

You can still likely get the channel in your area on Comcast but it may now require a change to a different package so if you’re a Buckeye in Oregon or a Wolverine in California, you might want to double-check your channel lineup after today’s news.

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

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Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.

The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.

The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.

Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.

UCLA lands Texas Tech graduate transfer OL Justin Murphy

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Help is on the way for Chip Kelly‘s offensive line. One graduate transfer offensive lineman has the Bruins on his list, but another has already pulled the trigger for UCLA.

Texas Tech graduate transfer Justin Murphy on Tuesday committed to UCLA in a post on his Twitter account.

A native of Belton, Texas, Murphy signed with Texas Tech in 2014 and made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. He again started four games at right guard in ’15 before moving out to tackle, where he started another four games. But after battling a series of knee injuries, Murphy announced in the middle of the 2016 season he had medically retired from the game.

After sitting out 2017, Murphy announced in March he planned to make a comeback.

UCLA remarkably started the same offensive linemen in all 13 games last season, but tackle Kolton Miller entered the NFL draft, guard Najoee Toran and center Scott Quessenberry graduated.

Toledo posts, then deletes, tweet offering to change mascot to Shrek

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There are plenty of annoying trends on Twitter, but perhaps the worst is the “I’ll do X if this gets retweeted X-thousand amount of times.” I blame Wendy’s.

But blanket policies are never a good way to go through life, and an exception was made on Tuesday when Toledo offered to change its mascot from a rocket to Shrek with 500,000 retweets.

Sadly, some dreams are simply too beautiful to live in this fallen world, and the tweet was outed to be a hoax. “We are definitely not changing the school mascot to Shrek,” Toledo media relations specialist Christine Billau told USA Today. “The tweet was meant to be fun, but it caused too much of a distraction.”

Meanwhile, Bowling Green gleefully hopped on the dog pile with both elbows pointed out.

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

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It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.