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Civil Conflict Trophy
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UCF still has no use for faux rivalry with UConn, walks off field without ‘Civil Conflict Trophy’

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Normally when one side wins a rivalry game, they can’t wait to get their hands on the traveling trophy and hoist it high as they head off the field.  Of course, in order, for there to be a rivalry, both sides have to agree that, well, there actually is a rivalry.

Last year, to the surprise — and chagrin — of UCF, UConn abruptly revealed that there were “just 130 days until the next Civil Conflict” with @UCF_Football!”  The university even had a trophy created for the rivalry.  All of that was news to the Knights as they stated at the time that they “have no involvement with the trophy or creating a rivalry game with UConn.”

Fast-forward nearly a year and a half, and the, ahem, Civil Conflict was back on as UCF traveled to East Hartford to tangle with UConn for the fourth meeting in a storied series that began in 2013.  Four quarters later, the Knights walked off the field with a 24-16 win… and without the trophy.

Oh, UConn, this is not a good look. This is just sad.  And embarrassing.  If you have any dignity or self-respect left, give it up already.

Two UConn football players arrested on weed, ‘weapons’ charges

PROVO, UT - OCTOBER 2: Head coach Bob Diaco of the Connecticut Huskies talks to his team on the bench during their game against the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium on October 2, 2015 in Provo Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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Two UConn football players were arrested Wednesday evening following a traffic stop, multiple media outlets are reporting.

According to the Daily Campus, the school’s student newspaper, linebacker Nazir Williams and defensive lineman Felton Blackwell were both charged with one count each of weapons in a motor vehicle.  The weapon, it turned out, was an unmarked, loaded BB gun “that initially appeared to be a real gun,” the paper wrote.

Williams, the driver of the vehicle, was also charged with possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana and possession of alcohol by a minor.

The traffic stop that led to the arrests was triggered by Williams’ vehicle having a headlight out.  The incident report detailed that, in a search of the vehicle, four grams of marijuana, an open container of vodka and the BB gun were found.

Neither Williams nor Blackwell are listed on the two-deep depth chart released ahead of Saturday’s game against UCF.  Both players took redshirts as true freshmen last season.

Houston, BYU, UConn and others release statements on Big 12 non-expansion

PROVO, UT - OCTOBER 14: General view of LaVell Edwards Stadium and the field logo before the game between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Brigham Young Cougars on October 14, 2016 in Provo Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The Big 12 officially announced on Monday evening that the league would not be expanding and will not add any universities to the conference.

The news puts an end to a rather lengthy process that involved nearly every school outside of the Power Five in some form or fashion. As the result of the decision, many of those programs rumored to be on the Big 12’s short list released statements on the matter.

Here’s BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe:

“The announcement by the Big 12 Conference against expansion is not unexpected and is indicative of the volatile world of college athletics administration,” UConn president Susan Herbst said in a statement, while also releasing the promotional materials the school used in their pitch to the Big 12. “While I am sure many in our community are nervous about what this means for our future, I am confident that we have put our best foot forward in considerable effort to demonstrate how we currently operate our university and athletics programs at a ‘Power 5’ level and will continue to do so.”

“The Big 12’s decision in no way changes the mission of the University of Houston that began long before there was talk of conference expansion. UH is a diverse Tier One research institution that is on the move,” Cougars president Renu Khator said in a statement. “We remain committed to strengthening our nationally competitive programs in academics and athletics that allow  our student-athletes to compete on a national stage. We are confident that in this competitive athletics landscape, an established program with a history of winning championships and a demonstrated commitment to talent and facilities in the nation’s fourth largest city will find its rightful place. Our destiny belongs to us.”

Even South Florida released a statement on Monday after the Big 12 Board of Directors meeting.

“We are on a path to greatness at USF, reminding everyone in the Bulls Family why we are proud of who we are, how far we have come and what lies ahead,” athletic director Mark Harlan said. “Our student-athletes, coaches, staff, donors, alumni, fans and community members have propelled our program to profound success in recent years in the American Athletic Conference and I am confident that they will continue to do so in the future.”

The news that the Big 12 would not expand is no doubt disappointing for many fans from everywhere from Provo to Storrs to Houston to Tampa.

While administrators had a much more realistic idea of the process and what the eventual outcome was going to be, one thing everybody can agree on is to be thankful that this dog and pony show of Big 12 expansion is finally over.

It’s official: Big 12 unanimously decides not to expand

FILE - In this July 18, 2016, file photo, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby addresses attendees during Big 12 media day in Dallas. The Big 12 board of directors meets Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Dallas and the topic of expansion will be addressed.  Not necessarily decided, but definitely addressed. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
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It’s official.

In a “unanimous” decision, the Big 12 Board of Directors announced on Monday that the conference would not be expanding and adding any new schools to the league.

“We decided after a very thorough discussion to remain at 10 members,” Oklahoma president and board chair David Boren said. “We came to the decision that this is not the right time for expansion.”

Among the other highlights from the league’s press conference in Dallas:

  • There was no discussion of any individual schools getting into the conference
  • There was no vote on any schools or any polls of support for any university
  • The process to expand or not is no longer an agenda item being considered by the Big 12. Both Boren and Bowlsby said “never say never” however.
  • There will be no Big 12 Network at the current moment as the result of “market place forces” but it is not being ruled out completely in the future
  • Extending the conference’s grant of rights did not come up in the board’s discussions
  • The process of holding a conference title game moved forward and further details will be handled by the 10 athletic directors
  • There was no talk about the ESPN/Fox television contracts being renegotiated at this time

“I made one recommendation. We should bring this process to closure,” commissioner Bob Bowlsby added. “We shouldn’t kick the can down the road.”

The news no doubt comes as a blow to schools like Houston, BYU and Cincinnati among others who were hoping the Big 12 would expand by two or four schools and they would be able to join the Power Five as a result.

Big 12 expansion decision coming Monday?

Matt Ritchey
Associated Press
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After months of speculation, the end, one way or another, could be near for one of the biggest off-field storylines in college football over the past several months.

The Big 12’s board of directors will gather Oct. 17 for a previously-scheduled meeting that will continue the conference’s discussion on expanding the league from 10 to 12 or 14 teams — or staying put — with some previously noting that that date could prove to be D-Day for the group.  With that date fast approaching, that could very well be the case as Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News writes that “[a] news conference has been scheduled after the… meeting, presumably to let everyone know whether the Big 12 will” expand or not.

The speculation of late, especially as it pertains to the reported waning of Oklahoma’s support for expanding, is that the Big 12 could indeed be leaning toward staying at 10 teams, or at the very least tabling the expansion discussion for now.  While “pretty much all the options are on the table,” Carlton writes, the likelihood of standing pat has grown of late.

Sources confirmed Wednesday that pretty much all the options are on the table, including the possibility of football-only membership with Houston and BYU the most likely members. The sources also confirmed that expansion has gone from likelihood about six weeks ago to maybe a 1-in-3 chance.

A total of 20 Group of Five schools, including 10 alone from the AAC, made initial pitches to the Big 12 for inclusion if the conference opted to expand.  Ultimately, nearly a dozen of those made the cut as “finalists.”

Of the 11 that are currently under consideration, seven come from the AAC — Cincinnati, Houston, SMU, Tulane, UCF, UConn, USF — two from the Mountain West — Air Force, Colorado State — and one from Conference USA — Rice. The lone remaining school, BYU, is a football independent.