UConn Huskies

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 15: Mike Aresco, Commisioner of the AAC poses with Russ Smith #2 of the Louisville Cardinals and the tournament MVP trophy after defeating  the Connecticut Huskies during the Championship of the American Athletic Conference Tournament at FedExForum on March 15, 2014 in Memphis, Tennessee. Louisville defeated Connecticut 71-61. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Getty Images

With Big 12 expansion oncoming, AAC commish Mike Aresco bracing for the inevitable

7 Comments

The Big 12 is (probably) expanding. Perhaps you’ve heard.

While it’s too early to tell exactly which schools and how many of them will leave their respective homes to join the Big 12, it’s a safe bet to assume the American Athletic Conference will feel the effects of the Big 12’s manifest destiny. In fact, it’d be downright surprising if it didn’t.

In that light, American Athletic Conference Mike Aresco is bracing for his league to be hit by the swirling wave of dollar bills coming his conference’s way.

“We’re going about our business,” Aresco told CBSSports.com. “We have initiatives we’re working on. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I’m working hard for this conference, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished with this conference. You just tune out the distractions. We’ve got members here who are relying on the conference to support them. That’s our focus.”

And, really, what else can he say?

The Big 12 pays its members upwards of $20 million a year. The American doesn’t. There’s nothing he can do to change that. Despite the fact that some combination of Houston, Memphis, Cincinnati, the Florida outposts and perhaps even Connecticut may leave the league before next season, Aresco will continue to ask his conference to march to the beat he set this spring.

“I keep telling our membership, if we continue to be relevant and get fans interested in what we’re doing and we’re a really scrappy underdog that becomes a competitor, the networks will have an interest in us,” he said earlier this year. “It’s that simple.”

It’s a go: Big 12 to pursue expansion

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 25:  The Big XII logo on a pylon at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Getty Images
25 Comments

Presidents of American Athletic Conference and Mountain West schools, grab your phones. You’ve got some calls to make.

After a seemingly endless string of “will they or won’t they?” stories, brought on by the league itself, the Big 12 announced following a Board of Directors meeting Tuesday afternoon it has authorized commissioner Bob Bowlsby to pursue expansion candidates.

Not a lot of details are ironed out as of yet — this wouldn’t be the Big 12 if they were — but the concept is a go.

Oklahoma president and board chair David Boren said the Big 12 could become 12 again or balloon all the way up to 14.

While no one’s coming out and saying it now, the top candidates for expansion figure to be Cincinnati, Memphis, Connecticut, Houston, South and/or Central Florida, BYU and Colorado State in some order.

One thing that differentiates the Big 12 from others: Bowlsby has used the term “negotiate” when discussing the expansion process. With more interested parties than spots to give, the Big 12 can afford to be selective.

While no one attached firm dates to anything, the implication Tuesday was that this would be taken care of sooner rather than later.

One thing is certain: this is the Big 12 we’re talking about. No amount of craziness is off the table here.

 

2015 finalists Leonard Fournette, Christian McAffrey part of Walker Award watch list

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 07:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers runs the ball against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

With 2015 winner Derrick Henry of Alabama off to the NFL, there will be a new winner of the Doak Walker Award in 2016.  Based on the projected performances of a couple of other finalists from a year ago, this year’s winner could very well come from the group below.

Thursday, the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announced a watch list that contains a whopping 76 players.  The Walker Award has ben handed out annually since 1990 to the nation’s top running back and is named in honor of former SMU great Doak Walker.

Two finalists for last year’s award have made the cut this preseason — LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey.

The SEC led all conferences with 13 watch listers, followed by the Big 12 (9), Big 12 (9), Pac-12 (9), ACC (8), Mountain West (6), Sun Belt (6), MAC (5), Conference USA (4) and AAC (3).  There were also four from independents (BYU, Notre Dame).

Those two independents were two of the 13 schools with two running backs listed, the others being Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Cal, Duke, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, USC, Western Kentucky and Western Michigan.

Below is the complete 2016 Doak Walker Award preseason watch list:

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 1.10.32 PM

Headed by ACC’s 15, record 88 player named to Wuerffel watch list

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Quarterback Danny Wuerffel #7 of the Florida Gators readies to throw during a game against the Kentucky Wildcats on September 28, 1996 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  The Gators defeated the Wildcats 65-0.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Records were made to be broken, even this kind of a record, I guess.

Continuing the watch list avalanche is the Wuerffel Trophy, which announced 88 players have been recognized as part of the annual preseason grouping.  That number is a record for the award, which is named in honor of former Florida great Danny Wuerffel and is awarded to the FBS player that “best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.”

The 2015 winner of the Wuerffel was Oklahoma’s Ty Darlington.

As far as the conference-by-conference breakdown?  From the release:

The Atlantic Coast Conference led all conferences with 15 players appearing on the 2016 watch list. Following the ACC are the SEC with 12 players, Conference USA with 10 and the Big 10 and Big 12 with 9 players each. The American Athletic followed with 8 players while the Sun Belt added 7, the PAC 12 submitted 6 and the MAC and Mountain West followed with 4 each. All FBS Conferences are represented on the list, as were Independent representatives BYU and United States Military Academy (Army) with 1 nominee each.

Below is the complete 2016 Wuerffel Trophy preseason watch list:

JK Scott, Alabama, Junior, P
O.J. Howard, Alabama, Senior, TE
Darian Small, Appalachian State, Senior, DL
Vilami “Laiu” Moeakiola, Arizona State, Senior, LB
Brooks Ellis, Arkansas, Senior, LB
Blaise Taylor, Arkansas State, Junior, DB
Andrew King, Army, Senior, LB
Daniel Carlson, Auburn, Junior, PK
Seth Russell, Baylor, Senior, QB
Mitchell Juergens, BYU, Senior, WR
Jonny Linehan, BYU, Senior, P
Jack Austin, California, Junior, WR
Jamal Covington, Charlotte, Senior, OL
Deshaun Watson, Clemson, Junior, QB
Sefo Liufau, Colorado, Senior, QB
Zack Golditch, Colorado State, Junior, OL
DeVon Edwards, Duke, Senior, DB
Zay Jones, East Carolina, Senior, WR
Jarrad Davis, Florida, Senior, LB
Shalom Ogbonda, Florida Atlantic, Senior, DL
Michael Montero, Florida International, Senior, OL
Alec Eberle, Florida State, Sophomore, OL
Jeb Blazevich, Georgia, Junior, TE
Keith Rucker, Georgia State, Senior, TE
KeShun Freeman, Georgia Tech, Junior, DE
Greg Ward, Jr., Houston, Senior, QB
Joe Spencer, Illinois, Senior, OL
Mitchell Paige, Indiana, Senior, WR
LeShun Daniels, Jr., Iowa, Senior, RB
Cole Netten, Iowa State, Senior, PK
Fish Smithson, Kansas, Senior, DB
Dante Barnett, Kansas State, Senior, DB
Antwan Dixon, Kent State, Sophomore, WR
Nick Cuthbert, Kent State, Senior, LB
Karmichael Dunbar, Louisiana, Senior, DL
Brandon Radcliff, Louisville, Senior, RB
Colin Jeter, LSU, Senior, TE
William Likely, Maryland, Senior, DB
Ryan Yurachek, Marshall, Sophomore, TE
Jake Elliott, Memphis, Senior, PK
Brad Kaaya, Miami, Junior, QB
Josiah Price, Michigan State, Senior, TE
Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee, Sophomore, QB
Damarius Travis, Minnesota, Senior, DB
Evan Engram, Mississippi, Senior, TE
Brandon Holloway, Mississippi State, Senior, WR/RB
Drew Brown, Nebraska, Junior, PK
Jeremy Maculey, Nevada, Senior, OL
Nick Weller, North Carolina, Senior, PK
Tony Adams, North Carolina State, Junior, OL
Drew Hare, Northern Illinois, Senior, QB
Matthew Harris, Northwestern, Senior DB
Jarrod Barnes, Ohio State, Senior, DB
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, Junior, RB
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State, Junior, QB
Tyler Compton, Old Dominion, Senior, OL
Ryan Nall, Oregon State, Sophomore, RB
Adam Biniswaty, Pittsburgh, Senior, OL
James Conner, Pittsburgh, Junior, RB
Mike Caprara, Pittsburgh, Senior, LB
Darik Dillard, Rice, Senior, RB
Daniel Brunskill, San Diego State, Senior, TE
Tim Crawley, San Jose State, Senior, WR
Nick Mullins, Southern Mississippi, Senior, QB
Jason Emerich, Syracuse, Senior, OL
Aaron Curry, TCU, Senior, DL
Brendan McGowan, Temple, Senior, OL
Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee, Senior, QB
Trevor Knight, Texas A&M, Senior, QB
Felix Romero, Texas State, Junior, OL
Patrick Mahomes, II, Texas Tech, Junior, QB
Brad Spelman, Toledo, Junior, LS
John Johnson, Troy, Junior, WR
Marshall Wadleigh, Tulane, Senior, TE
Dane Evans, Tulsa, Senior, QB
Justin Holman, UCF, Senior, QB
Bobby Puyol, UConn, Senior, PK
John Plattenburg, USC, Junior, DB
Travis Seefeldt, Utah State, Senior, DL
Oren Burks, Vanderbilt, Junior, LB
Matt Johns, Virginia, Senior, QB
Sam Rogers, Virginia Tech, Senior, RB
Ryan Janvion, Wake Forest, Senior, DB
Jeff Lindquist, Washington, Senior, TE
Skyler Howard, West Virginia, Senior, QB
Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky, Senior, OL
Marcus Ward, Western Kentucky, Senior, DB
Zach Terrell, Western Michigan, Senior, QB

2015 winner Desmond King of Iowa headlines Thorpe Award watch list

AMES, IA ? SEPTEMBER 14: Defensive back Desmond King #14 of the Iowa Hawkeyes breaks up a pass meant for wide receiver Tad Ecby #6 of the Iowa State Cyclones late in the 4th quarter of play at Jack Trice Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Ames, Iowa. Iowa defeated Iowa State 27-21. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Watch list season continues to roll along, with defensive backs getting their turn in the spotlight.

Monday, the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame released the annual preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award.  Given annually to the nation’s top defensive back, this year’s watch list includes 39 players from all 10 FBS conferences.  No players from football independents were included.

Included in the group is Iowa’s Desmond King, the 2015 winner of the Thorpe Award.

The Pac-12 paces all conferences with six selections, followed by five each from the MAC and SEC.  The AAC, ACC, Big Ten and Mountain West all have four apiece, while the Sun Belt has three.  Along with Conference USA, the Big 12 brings up the rear with two.

Air Force (two), LSU (two) and Washington (two) are the only teams with more than one player on the list.

Most of the watch listers are juniors (13) or seniors (23), with the lone exceptions being a trio of sophomores — Florida State’s Derwin James, Pittsburgh’s Jordan Whitehead and Wyoming’s Andrew Wingard.

Below is the complete 2016 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list:

Jamal Adams, LSU, Jr.
Tony Annese, Central Michigan, Sr.
Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado, Sr.
Budda Baker, Washington, Jr.
Bobby Baker, Georgia State, Sr.
Quin Blanding, Virginia, Jr.
Cody Brown, Arkansas State, Sr.
Sean Chandler, Temple, Jr.
Jeremy Cutrer, Middle Tennessee, Sr.
Zach Edwards, Cincinnati, Sr.
Nate Gerry, Nebraska, Sr.
Adoree’ Jackson, USC, Jr.
Eddie Jackson, Alabama, Sr.
Derwin James, Florida St., So.
Sidney Jones, Washington, Jr.
Damontae Kazee, San Diego State, Sr.
Desmond King, Iowa, Sr.
Roland Ladipo, Air Force, Sr.
Jourdan Lewis, Michigan , Sr.
William Likely, Maryland, Sr.
Shawun Lurry, Northern Illinois, Jr.
Marcus Maye, Florida, Sr.
Demetrius Monday, Kent State, Jr.
Deatrick Nichols, USF, Jr.
Jeremy Reaves, South Alabama, Jr.
DeJuan Rogers, Toledo, Sr.
Boise Ross, Buffalo, Sr.
Weston Steelhammer, Air Force, Sr.
Jordan Sterns, Oklahoma State, Sr.
Jamar Summers, UConn, Jr.
Cameron Sutton, Tennessee, Sr.
Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson, Sr.
Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma, Sr.
Jaleel Wadood, UCLA, Jr.
Tre’Davious White, LSU, Sr.
Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh, So.
Marcus Williams, Utah, Jr.
Andrew Wingard, Wyoming, So.
Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech, Sr.