Iowa State Cyclones

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Iowa State QB Joel Lanning now Cyclones’ starting middle linebacker

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Joel Lanning began the 2016 season as Iowa State’s starting quarterback, but by the end of the year he’d ceded the job to Jacob Park.

But just because Lanning is no longer the Cyclones’ top quarterback doesn’t mean the coaching staff is letting his other talents go to waste on the sideline. He became a running specialist toward the end of last season and may reprise that role in 2017. But that’s not all.

Lanning, who Iowa State lists at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, is also practicing at linebacker. And doing quite well at it.

“He’s the No. 1 mike linebacker for us right now,” linebackers coach Tyson Veidt told the Des Moines Register. “(He’s) doing a great job there running with the ones. It’s certainly his job to lose.”

Lanning’s quarterback style made him familiar with frequent contact. He rushed 121 times for 518 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns in 2016, including a 17-carry, 171-yard, five-touchdown effort in a 66-10 thrashing of Texas Tech.

While both Lanning and the Iowa State coaches are still trying to figure out what, exactly, Lanning’s role will be this season, it’s clear it will be a prominent one. It’s looking now as if Lanning will play primarily on defense while playing spot duty on offense. (Note to Lanning: make sure you switch shoulder pads when transitioning from quarterback to linebacker and vice versa.)

“Coach (Matt) Campbell told me, ‘If everything works, you’re probably going to be throwing up after all the games because you’re going to be playing so much,” Lanning told the paper.

Jake Waters returns to Big 12… on Iowa State staff

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One of the most popular players in recent Kansas State history is coming back to the conference, albeit not at his alma mater.

Iowa State confirmed Friday that Jake Waters has joined Matt Campbell‘s football staff as an offensive graduate assistant. The move to Ames is a homecoming of sorts as Waters is an Iowa native and actually began the playing portion of his collegiate career at a junior college in the state.

His father also wanted his son to go to ISU coming out of high school, although an offer from the Cyclones didn’t come either then or as he was leaving that JUCO.

“I couldn’t be more excited about being a part of this program and the vision coach Campbell has here is something pretty special,” Waters told the Des Moines Register.

This will mark Waters’ first coaching job of any kind at the FBS level. He was a volunteer coach this offseason for Iowa Western Community College, the school at which he began his playing career.

Transferring from the JUCO to Kansas State, Waters started the 2013 and 2014 seasons at quarterback for the Wildcats. In that span, K-State went 17-9 with Waters under center. His last year as the starter, he set single-season school records for passing yards, passing touchdowns, passing efficiency and completion percentage.

The past two seasons, he attempted to carve out a career at the professional level in both the NFL and CFL.

Iowa State DB Mike Johnson suspended amid domestic violence arrest

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Iowa State has suspended defensive back Mike Johnson after he was arrested Thursday on the accusation that he choked his girlfriend.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, Johnson and his girlfriend were fighting over social media posts and music playing over each other’s phones when each tried to reach for the other’s device. That escalated to the point where Johnson allegedly had both hands around the woman’s throat, to the point where told police she “saw stars” and had trouble breathing.

She also had, according to police, bite marks on her right cheek, on her neck and behind her left ear, a swollen upper lip and had what appeared to be dried blood on her. Johnson also said he was bitten during the altercation.

“We are aware of Mike Johnson’s arrest and allegations associated with his arrest,” head coach Matt Campbell told the paper in a statement. “Our program has zero tolerance for domestic violence. Mike has been suspended from all team activities, including practice, under the student-athlete code of conduct policy as we gather more information. His long-term status with the team will be determined once we gain more facts.”

Johnson posted 44 tackles, three pass breakups and 1.5 tackles for loss in 12 games last season.

Big 12 to withhold 25 percent of Baylor’s revenue ‘pending third-party verification of changes’

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Baylor’s conference is laying down what could prove to be a very significant financial hammer on the university.  Or a means to change. One of the two.

The Big 12 announced Wednesday that it withhold 25 percent of future revenue payments to BU, only releasing the monies “pending the outcome of third-party verification review of required changes to Baylor’s athletics procedures and to institutional governance of its intercollegiate athletics programs, among other matters.” According to the conference’s release, its board of directors voted unanimously on the measure.

Baylor itself didn’t have a vote in the matter.

“The Board is unified in establishing a process to verify that proper institutional controls are in place and sustainable,” said Oklahoma president and Big 12 board chairman David Boren in a statement. “Effective immediately, the Conference is withholding 25 percent of Baylor’s share of any future revenue distribution until the proper execution of controls is independently verified. By taking these actions the Board desires to ensure that the changes that were promised are actually made and that systems are in place to avoid future problems. The proportional withholding of revenue distribution payments will be in effect until the Board has determined that Baylor is in compliance with Conference bylaws and regulations as well as all components of Title IX.”

The action is in direct response to the sexual assault scandal that enveloped the school last year and resulted in the head football coach, athletic director and president losing their jobs.

On its surface, the measure could cost the university’s athletic department upwards of $8 million annually if the revenue that’s being held doesn’t ultimately find its way to the school. The reality, though, is this is appears to merely be a way for the conference to push one of its members toward enacting changes that are wholly necessary.

In that vein, the university’s acting president, David E. Garland, released a statement shortly after the Big 12’s announcement, highlighting the actions the school has taken in the wake of the scandal.

Upon learning the scope and scale of the troubling incidents that occurred within our campus community through an independent investigation, Baylor University took unprecedented corrective actions that led to leadership changes within the University administration and athletic department and 105 recommendations to strengthen the safety and security of our students. No other university in the country has responded as aggressively and decisively as Baylor regarding incidents of sexual assaults on its campus.

“Under the University’s new leadership, Baylor has demonstrated a firm commitment to athletics compliance and integrity, increased awareness and prevention of sexual assault, implementation of Title IX best practices and providing comprehensive support services for any student in need of them. Baylor already had planned to hire an outside auditor to audit the implementation of our enhanced practices, and we welcome the Big 12 Conference’s request of an independent review. While the withholding of conference distributions is an unexpected financial event, we do not deem these actions to materially impact the overall financial position of the University. We pledge our full cooperation, and we will work with the Big 12 Conference to conduct the audit as expeditiously as possible.

“This third-party review at the request of the Big 12 Conference will provide an opportunity for us to demonstrate our progress to date and our ongoing commitment in establishing Baylor as a leading institution in athletics compliance and governance and for preventing and addressing sexual assaults on college campuses.

Big 12 records worst signing day in conference history

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Okay, it’s hard to prove the premise of the article precisely correct considering recruiting information wasn’t readily available (and archived) when the league founded in the mid 1990’s. But, still, it’s hard to imagine the Big 12 having a worse Signing Day than this. Or any major conference, for that matter.

The conference signed only four of the nation’s top 100 players as ranked by the 247Sports Composite rankings — No. 76-ranked guard Jack Anderson (Texas Tech), No. 79-ranked defensive back Justin Broiles (Oklahoma), No. 91-ranked wide receiver Jalen Reagor (TCU) and No. 97-ranked defensive back Robert Barnes (Oklahoma).

By comparison, Alabama signed five of the nation’s top 26 players and Ohio State inked five of the top 24.

The bloodletting started in Texas, the “home” recruiting area to over half the league and the main talent base for the conference. Anderson was the only Texan among 247‘s top dozen players, and only six of the state’s top 20 players elected to stay in the Big 12.

On the team front, Oklahoma pulled its weight, ranking No. 8 in the national ranking. But the next Big 12 team was Texas, all the way down at No. 26. TCU followed at No. 30, with Oklahoma State at No. 38 and Baylor at No. 39.

There are a number of factors for this, of course. Texas has been down for seven years running and just endured a coaching change. Baylor had a bomb go off in its football facility, essentially. But TCU and Oklahoma State are recruiting about as well as one could expect given their respective limitations, and that’s become a theme for this conference in the post-realignment area. The Big 12 is limited not only in total number, but in the number of marquee programs.

It’s also limited in the areas in which it can reliably pull players from. The Lone Star State is open for business now to suitors far and wide, obviously. Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and West Virginia offer next to nothing in terms of recruiting. Beyond that, Big 12 teams have to convince California players to leave the coast or kids from the Deep South to bypass the SEC.

That process isn’t going well, obviously, at least among the top-rated players. And until that changes, the chicken-egg scenario of the only conference to miss the College Football Playoff two times in three years will also be the only conference to place one team in the recruiting top 25.