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Alabama RB Tyren Jones ‘suspended for now’

Florida Atlantc v Alabama

While it’s not yet AIRBHG level, the 2014 season has not been particularly kind to Alabama’s deep stable of running backs.

Kenyan Drake was lost for the season due to injury earlier this month. Leading rusher T.J. Yeldon is dealing with a foot issue and likely won’t practice at all this week.

Compounding the situation at the position? Nick Saban confirmed Tuesday that Tyren Jones is “suspended for now” from the football team. The why of Jones’ suspension was, of course, left unstated by the head coach.

It must not be something too serious, however, as Saban left the door wide open for a quick return.

“If Tyren Jones does what he’s supposed to, maybe he’ll be back sometime soon,” Saban said.

Jones is currently fourth on the team, and third among running backs, with 123 yards rushing.

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NCAA: Todd Gurley suspension to last two more games

Todd Gurley AP

Now we have a final answer as it pertains to the Todd Gurley situation.  Probably.

In a press release sent out Wednesday morning, the NCAA announced that the star Georgia running back must sit out a total of four games after The Association concluded he had accepted “more than $3,000 in cash from multiple individuals for autographed memorabilia and other items over two years.” The release stated that Gurley acknowledged violating NCAA rules.

Gurley has already sat out the Oct. 11 win over Missouri and the Oct. 18 win over Arkansas because of the NCAA issue. The four-game suspension means he will miss this weekend’s game against Florida and the following week’s road trip to Kentucky. He will be eligible to return for the Nov. 15 Auburn game.

UGA is also appealing the ruling, which could mean, if successful, Gurley could return before the AU game. That appeal will be heard this week.

The NCAA also said it considered suspending Gurley for more than the four games due to the violations occurring “over multiple years with multiple individuals and the student received extensive rules education about the prohibition of receiving payment for autographs.” Because of “the university’s due diligence in its investigation and the student’s full disclosure of his involvement in the violations,” however, further penalties were not meted out.

The university requested that Gurley be reinstated last Wednesday. Per the release, the NCAA requested additional information on Friday, Oct. 24, which it received from the school on Saturday, Oct. 25, and Sunday, Oct. 26. The NCAA issued its decision to the university on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 28.

In addition to the four-game suspension, Gurley must repay a portion of the money received to a charity of his choice and complete 40 hours of community service as additional conditions for his reinstatement.

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Jimbo’s Jameis defense led 5-star 2015 RB to pick FSU

Jacques Patrick

Florida State’s image may have taken a hit during the extended and multi-faceted Jameis Winston melodrama, but, at least in one case, it’s had the exact opposite effect on the recruiting trail.

Monday, 2015 prospect Jacques Patrick announced that he had given Florida State a verbal commitment. Patrick chose FSU over a group of finalists that also included Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Texas A&M. More to the point, it was down to the ‘Noles and the Tide, with the former coming out on top in this recruiting skirmish.

Patrick’s non-binding verbal is a coup for the recruiting-rich Seminoles as the Orlando, Fla. running back is a five-star prospect and rated by Rivals.com as the No. 2 player at his position in the country and the No. 17 overall player in the Class of 2015.

Not only is it a coup talent-wise for Jimbo Fisher and company, it’s a coup for one part of the reason why the player verballed FSU.  From 247Sports.com:

Patrick noted that his family, especially his mother, has seen the way Fisher has defended Winston. The trust between FSU’s staff and the entire Patrick family was what eventually led him to picking the ‘Noles today.

“The relationship we’ve built over the years has gone a long way. I feel like I can trust those guys (FSU staff). When my family approves, it was just a no-brainer after that,” Patrick said.

Patrick had long been considered an FSU lean, so the verbal should in no way be surprising. One of the reasons behind it, though, should serve notice to whatever teams using the Winston situation as a negative on the recruiting front.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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MAC states commitment to cost-of-attendance aid

Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher, Matt Johnson

The Mid-American Conference is stepping up to play with the power conferences, at least when it comes to financial aid to student athletes. After the Pac-12 unveiled information for sweeping reforms the idea of Texas paying student-athletes $10,000 had been floated, the MAC issued a statement confirming a dedication to provide full cost-of-attendance aid to its student-athletes.

As claimed in a statement released by the conference, the MAC will support the redefinition of an athletics grant-in-aid to include cost of attendance if autonomous legislation is enacted during the annual NCAA Convention in January, 2015.

“The MAC is dedicated to supporting our student-athletes in the classroom, the community and on the playing field with the ultimate goal of graduating and having a great collegiate experience,” said MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher.

Full cost of attendance was thought to be one of the barriers that could end up separating the power conferences from the non-conferences, but the MAC looks ready to keep pace in this area. The American Athletic Conference has stated its intentions to do the same in the past as well.

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College Football Playoff ranking shows Baylor schedule needs more beef

Bryce Petty

The College Football Playoff selection committee is supposed to take head-to-head results into strong consideration when ranking teams. The committee is also supposed to pay attention to strength of schedule. The debut of the committee’s top 25 ranking proved this logic prevailed for the most part, although there were some minor exceptions. Baylor trailing TCU by six spots may have been the most egregious, considering the BEars rallied from 21 points in the fourth quarter to send TCU home with a loss.

So Baylor fans might be asking what gives? It’s the scheduling Baylor has organized. It ain’t pretty, and it cost them. College Football Playoff selection committee chair Jeff Long, Athletics Director at Arkansas, set the record straight following the release of the rankings with a small media contingent. Why was Baylor ranked behind TCU?

It is just one ranking, with many more to come as the season continues to sort itself out on the field, but the tone has now been established. The committee is going to take a hard look at schedule strength. Teams taking the easy way out with a weak non-conference schedule will have to do a little more to receive votes from the committee. Baylor may also want to take a second look at some upcoming non-conference schedules to see if anything can be done to add a little more something to it.

We will see where Baylor ends up this season. There is still a good chance Baylor ends the season with one loss and repeat as Big 12 champion. But if Baylor wants to continue to grow as a program, it is never too late to start reworking some non-conference scheduling agreements.

And let this not be a lesson just for Baylor, and let this not serve as a way to pile on Baylor. This can be a lesson for all schools moving forward.

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Tuberville: If Gunner’s ready, he is our QB

Gunner Kiel, Munchie Legaux

When Cincinnati faces Tulane Friday night, it could do so with quarterback Gunner Kiel back on the field to lead the offense. Kiel is probable for this week’s American Athletic Conference contest after having his ribs bruised in Cincinnati’s last game against USF.

“If Gunner is ready to go, and I’m pretty sure he is going to be, he is our quarterback,” Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville said Tuesday, per Cincinnati.com. “He is the guy that earned the starting spot.”

Kiel was forced to sit out the second half against USF last week. Fortunately for Cincinnati, Munchie Legaux proved to be more than capable of stepping in to lead the offense. This should come as no surprise, of course, as Legaux was Cincinnati’s starting quarterback last season before injuring his leg. Legaux has been a terrific teammate as he saw his starting job be handed to Kiel, and Tuberville should feel as confident as any coach in the country if he needs to use his back-up quarterback.

Tuberville said Legaux is expected to see some playing time as well. Legaux is a native of New Orleans, so a chance to play in front of his home town will be a nice reward for his leadership role on the team. He is expecting a nice cheering section to come to the game as well.

“Probably half the city,” Legaux said. “I have a lot of relatives who have been calling, texting me, asking me, ‘Can I get tickets for the game?’ “

Cincinnati plays at Tulane on Friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

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College Football Playoff Rankings: SEC West places 3 in top four

The wait is finally over, and our first glimpse at the product of the logic being used by the College Football Playoff selection committee has been revealed. The selection committee released its first ranking of the season, and Mississippi State is sitting in first place.

The Top Four

Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss are your top four, in that order. No real surprises here, given this is a reflection of season to date results and the high level of play seen in the SEC West this season. Ole Miss and Auburn have each lost this season, so this means they are currently the top one-loss teams in the hunt. Oregon is currently the first team out. The Ducks are ranked fifth, just ahead of Alabama.

The Group of Five Leader Is…

East Carolina. The Pirates, with two victories over ACC schools (Virginia Tech and North Carolina) received the only spot in the top 25 among Group of Five schools. Marshall is undefeated, but did not finish in the top 25. With one spot in an access bowl reserved for the highest-ranked champion from a Group of Five conference, this is good news for East Carolina. They are now, officially, the Group of Five school to chase if you are Marshall, Colorado State or Boise State etc.

Full College Football Playoff Selection Committee Ranking

1. Mississippi State

2. Florida State

3. Auburn

4. Ole Miss

5. Oregon

6. Alabama

7. TCU

8. Michigan State

9. Kansas State

10. Notre Dame

11. Georgia

12. Arizona

13. Baylor

14. Arizona State

15. Nebraska

16. Ohio State

17. Utah

18. Oklahoma

19. LSU

20. West Virginia

21. Clemson

22. UCLA

23. East Carolina

24. Duke

25. Louisville

Quick Thoughts

Ohio State has some work to do. The Buckeyes are the third Big Ten team ranked in the first playoff ranking, behind Michigan State and Nebraska. The Buckeyes visit the Spartans next week and will hope to potentially play a ranked Nebraska team in the Big Ten championship game. Michigan State is currently in striking position, ranked No. 8. Next week’s game in East Lansing will be pivotal for the Big Ten’s chances to get a team in the playoff field.

There is going to be a good amount of cannibalism among the teams in the ranking still to come, so the ranking could quickly change on a weekly basis. For instance, Alabama still plays host to Mississippi State and Auburn before the season is done. Mississippi State and Ole Miss will also face each other, of course.

There seems to be some good respect given to head-to-head results where possible. Oregon is ahead of Michigan State. Ole Miss is above Alabama. Baylor trails TCU, which would go against the grain here.

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Jimbo Fisher: Karlos Williams to play vs. Louisville

Karlos Williams

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher addressed the status of running back Karlos Williams briefly Tuesday, and left no other comment about it. Fisher said Williams will play Thursday night when the Seminoles play at Louisville in an ACC Atlantic Division match-up.

Tallahassee police are investigating Williams in connection to an alleged domestic battery incident. Williams was also connected to another investigation regarding a robbery, which was blasted by his lawyer. Despite the ongoing investigation, Williams has not been charged with any crimes at this time, which is the reason Florida State has not felt a need to change the status of the running back. If Williams happens to be charged with anything between now and Thursday, it should be expected his status for Thursday night will change.

Florida State has come under fire for its handling of a number of incidents related to players, but Florida State and Fisher are right to allow the legal investigation play out before making any change to the playing status of Williams. Florida State may have an image problem going on right now in the public eye, but until Williams is charged with anything there is no reason to suspend him.

Florida State will be without at least one running back though. Mario Pender is ruled out this week due to an ankle injury.

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CMU suspends back-up WR following arrest over stolen cell phone

Central Michigan redshirt freshman wide receiver Eric Cooper was arrested Wednesday for the alleged theft of a cell phone last month. The school has suspended him from the team while the legal process plays out.

As originally reported by Central Michigan Life, Cooper is charged with one count of receiving or concealing stolen property. The charge is a misdemeanor crime. He is accused of stealing a cell phone from a Central Michigan student last month at a party. The alleged victim of the cell phone theft noticed her phone was missing the day after a party.

Cooper was linked to the investigation after sharing a message on his Twitter profile asking if anyone was looking to buy a Samsung Galaxy S5, which is the model of the phone reported missing. Cooper reportedly claimed he was looking to sell the phone for a family member when questioned by police.

Cooper is scheduled in court or a settlement conference Wednesday afternoon. Cooper has not recorded any stats this season and has been listed as a third-string receiver on the depth chart all season.

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Auburn looking for neutral site game in 2018

Jonathan Jones

Auburn and California announced plans for a home-and-home series in 2019 and 2020, but Auburn is looking to fill a scheduling vacancy in 2018 with another power conference opponent. Auburn also appears to want a one-year deal that will be played on a neutral field.

Auburn is looking for a power conference opponent to play in 2018, and a neutral field option may be the best possible scenario for the Tigers.

“We’ve got to find an opponent that is willing to play us, which is getting more and more difficult to do with the offense Gus (Malzahn) runs and the way this league (SEC) is playing,” Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs said, according to AL.com. Yes, this sounds like Auburn’s AD thinks schools are scared to play Auburn. Maybe that is true in some respect, but the complication also comes in finding schools that work out a home-and-home series years in advance in 2018. Many power conference schools fill non-conference schedules years in advance, so for some 2018 schedules there are not enough vacancies to fill with Auburn.

“Teams are getting booked up as well,” Jacobs said. “There are a lot of dynamics involved in football schedule.”

The available weeks on the schedule also come into play. With the Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 playing nine-game schedules by 2018, and the ACC having a similar scheduling requirement as the SEC to fill, it is not exactly like Auburn can just walk into the store and pick a power conference opponent off the shelf and be done. The supply of power conference opponents might struggle to meet the demand. After all, it is not the Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12’s responsibility to comply with the SEC (or ACC) non-conference scheduling requirement.

In 2016, the SEC will begin requiring all conference members to schedule one game in non-conference play against another power conference school (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, or Pac-12; Notre Dame counts, but not BYU or Army). For some members of the SEC, this is no problem due to rivalries with ACC schools (Kentucky-Louisville, Georgia-Georgia Tech, South Carolina-Clemson, Florida-Florida State), but schools in the SEC West do not quite have that luxury, including Auburn.

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Freshman receiver leaves Iowa and the return of the AIRBHG?

LeShun Daniels Jr., Ray Mitchell

Iowa was having some luck with the health of running backs for a while, but the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God can only stay silent for so long. On Tuesday Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz announced sophomore running back LeShun Daniels Jr. will be out for the remainder of the 20124 season due to an undisclosed injury. Ferentz also confirmed the departure of freshman wide receiver Derrick Willies.

Ferentz says Willies left the program to be closer to his family, because his father is having some health issues. Willies has played in four games this season and leaves Iowa with 71 receiving yards and one touchdown. It is unknown if Willies will eventually return to Iowa in the future, although considering the circumstances it would seem the door is open if he chooses to do so.

Daniels had only appeared in four games in a back-up role behind leading rushers like Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri. Daniels had 14 rushing attempts for 42 yards and one touchdown this season for the Hawkeyes. The sophomore still has two years of eligibility remaining.

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Doug Flutie gives you a crash course on the College Football Playoff (video)

Well, today is the day college football kinda sorta changes forever. The College Football Playoff selection committee will unveil its first batch of rankings tonight, providing college football fans with our first collective look behind the metaphorical curtain to the selection committee’s operations and an idea on just how this committee might be evaluating teams this season.

Doug Flutie, a former Heisman Trophy winner at Boston College and currently an analyst for NBC, is here to give you the basics of the new system, in case you are still trying to figure things out.


The rankings released tonight may not necessarily suggest which teams have the best chance to be selected in the four-team playoff field. An emphasis on winning a conference championship is supposed to, in theory, be given some consideration from the committee. We’ll see. One thing the rankings will give us a more accurate barometer is just where the top teams in the Group of Five fall compared to each other. With one spot in the access bowl line-up reserved for the highest ranked conference champion form the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference, these rankings will be important to pay attention to. This will be of particular interest to fans of East Carolina, Marshall and Colorado State or Boise State. We’ll sort that out later.

OK, there are still a few hours to go, so feel free to share your predictions on which teams will be on top of the College Football Playoff selection committee rankings tonight.

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Texas A&M hitting a reset button on quarterback situation

Texas A&M v Alabama Getty Images

Texas A&M is in a bit of a state of panic this season after losing three straight games in SEC West play. After starting the year with five straight wins, with quarterback Kenny Hill throwing 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions, the Aggies have lost to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama by a combined score of 142-51. Hill was intercepted six times in those games, and now it may be costing him his job as the team’s starting quarterback. On Tuesday, Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital confirmed the quarterback competition has been reopened as the Aggies look to turn things around.

“We opened it back up,” Spavital said, per ESPN.com. “It’s still wide open. We’re going to split the [first-team] reps [Tuesday] and possibly on Wednesday and by Thursday we’ll probably have a declared starter and they’ll take all the reps for that Thursday practice.”

Head coach Kevin Sumlin suggested Texas A&M was going to have to evaluate the quarterback situation as well as just about every position during the bye week last week. The Aggies return to action this week, at home against Louisiana-Monroe. It figures to be a good week to fix some issues before finishing the season in sEC play, with games against Auburn, Missouri and LSU still to play.

Kyle Allen is the other option for Texas A&M. Allen has been backing up Hill this season, and he has appeared in four games so far. In his time on the field, the freshman has completed 23 of 38 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions. Allen was the nation’s top pro-style quarterback and the top prospect in the state of Texas in the Class of 2014 according to Rivals. He arrived in College Station with loads of talent and high expectations.

A decision on which quarterback will take over as the starting quarterback for the final stretch of the season is expected to be announced on Thursday. It is still early to suggest Hill will be unable to turn things around. Let’s not completely dismiss the difficult stretch he and Texas A&M just ran into on the schedule. However, if Allen is perceived to be the future quarterback at Texas A&M, then giving him some meaningful starts now could pay off in 2015. Sumlin has a good history with quarterbacks, and Allen could be his next prodigy. With Texas A&M out of the SEC West title chase, it may be worth seeing how Allen leads the offense as the starter.

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‘Bama back to being Bovada’s title favorite

Nick Saban AP

After nearly a month’s absence — at least as far as our updates go — Alabama’s back to being the apple of one wagering website’s betting eye.

In the latest set of College Football Playoff odds released by Bovada.lv, the Tide is listed as the 5/1 favorite to win the 2014 national championship.  ‘Bama had been Bovada‘s favorite at the end of September at 6/1 before being passed by defending BCS champ Florida State (11/2) a week later.

FSU, incidentally, sits at 15/2 after being 7/1 a week ago.

Continuing the run of SEC gambling love are two of the three teams directly behind UA: Georgia and Mississippi State are both listed as 7/1 favorites.  Oregon holds the same odds as well.  Both UGA (8/1) and UO (15/2) have shorter odds than a week ago, while MSU’s are slightly longer (13/2 on Oct. 21).

The team seeing the biggest jump from last week is Utah, which went from off the board to 75-1.  Undefeated Marshall, meanwhile, was taken off the board, meaning there are no Group of Five teams represented on Bovada‘s latest set of odds.

Disappointing and underwhelming UCLA, for some reason, is the only two-loss team listed.

Below are the complete set of odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

Bovada Week 9 CFP Odds

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Statement: Rod Smith left OSU to ‘deal with some personal issues’

Cincinnati v Ohio State Getty Images

Yet another twist has reared its head in the Rod Smith conundrum at Ohio State.

It was first reported Monday that the running back had been dismissed from the football program for unspecified violations of team rules.  It was subsequently reported that Smith received the boot after failing a drug test.

In a statement released early Tuesday afternoon attributed to head coach Urban Meyer, the word dismissal — or any word that could mean dismissal, for that matter — wasn’t used at all.

Rod Smith has left the Ohio State football team in order to deal with some personal issues. We will continue to support Rod and we wish him the best.

In a conference call, Meyer did confirm that Smith, a senior, will not be returning to the team at any point in the future. He did say that the player will remain on scholarship.

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