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Report: Big 12 still raking in SEC-level cash

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It’s a bad time for the Big 12. The conference isn’t signing blue chip prospects at the rate of its peers, isn’t producing draft picks at the rate of its peers and isn’t reaching and winning big games at the rate of its peers.

But the Big 12 is still getting paid at the rate of its peers.

The league’s contracts with ESPN and FOX combined with its 10-team set up have allowed the Big 12 to keep pace with the SEC and Big Ten and remain ahead of the ACC and Pac-12 in financial distribution. The Dallas Morning News‘s Big 12 writer Chuck Carlton tweeted on Friday the league’s per-school distribution will again grow 10 percent to more than $33 million in 2017-18.

The SEC distributed just north of $40 million in 2016-17, while the Big Ten was at $33 million by 2014-15.

However, since the Big 12 does not have its own television network, its conference distributions do not include third-tier rights, which its schools keep and sell on their own — like the Longhorn Network. So schools like Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas are likely getting paid equal or above their SEC and Big Ten peers.

Now if only they could start recruiting and winning like them, too.

Rimington watch list details list of returning centers

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It’s the dead time of the college football calendar, which means it’s time for this sport’s oldest, most antiquated tradition: watch lists.

First one in line is the Rimington Trophy, given to the best center in college football. And to help voters narrow down their choice for when voting picks up six months from now, the Rimington has helpfully provided this watch list of essentially every returning starting center in college football.

The 2017 list includes (deep breath):

– Aaron Mitchell, Fresno State
– Alan Knott, South Carolina
– Alac Eberle, Florida State
– Antonyo Woods, Florida Atlantic
– Asotui Eli, Hawaii
– Austin Doan, Central Michigan
– Austin Golson, Auburn
– Austin Schlottmann, TCU
– Billy Price, Ohio State
– Blaise Fountain, New Mexico
– Brad Lundblade, Oklahoma State
– Brad North, Northwestern
– Bradley Bozeman, Alabama
– Brendan Moore, Maryland
– Brian Allen, Michigan State
– Bryce Holland, Army
– Cameron Ruff, South Florida
– Chandler Miller, Tulsa
– Coleman Shelton, Washington
– Colton Prater, Texas A&M
– Danny Godloveske, Miami (Ohio)
– Dennis Edwards, Western Kentucky
– Drew Keyser, Memphis
– Erick Wren, Oklahoma
– Evan Brown, SMU
– Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
– Gabe Mobley, Georgia State
– Garrett McGhin, East Carolina
– Jake Bennett, Colorado State
– Jake Hanson, Oregon
– Jake Pruehs, Ohio
– James Daniels, Iowa
– James O’Hagan, Buffalo
– Jesse Burkett, Stanford
– John Keenoy, Western Michigan
– Jon Baker, Boston College
– Julian Good-Jones, Iowa State
– Keoni Taylor, San Jose State
– LaVonne Gauthney, Akron
– Levi Brown, Marshall
– Luke Shively, Northern Illinois
– Mason Hampton, Boise State
– Matt Hennessy, Temple
– Mesa Ribordy, Kansas
– Michael Deiter, Wisconsin
– Nathan Puthoff, Kent State
– Nick Allegretti, Illinois
– Nick Clarke, Old Dominion
– Reid Najvar, Kansas State
– Ryan Anderson, Wake Forest
– Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame
– Scott Quessenberry, UCLA
– Sean Krepsz, Nevada
– Sean Rawlings, Ole Miss
– Sumner Houston, Oregon State
– T.J. McCoy, Florida
– Tanner Thrift, Baylor
– Tejan Koroma, BYU
– Tim McAullife, Bowling Green
– Trey Martin, Rice
– Will Clapp, LSU
– Will Noble, Houston
– Zach Shackelford, Texas

Exhale.

Got all that?

Ohio State’s Pat Elflein claimed the honor last season.

Oklahoma receiver Zach Farrar announces transfer

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Redshirt freshman wide receiver Zach Farrar has announced his intention to transfer away from the Oklahoma football program this year. Farrar announced his decision via Twitter over the weekend.

Per NCAA transfer rules, Farrar will have to sit out the 2017 season should he transfer to another FBS program, which makes him eligible to play again in 2018. He can play immediately this fall if he transfers to a lower division program at the FCS level or below (in which case he could still transfer to an FBS program and play in 2018 if he decided).

Where Farrar ends up remains to be seen. Prior to committing to Oklahoma during his recruiting process, Farrar had committed to Mississippi State. Other schools in the running for Farrar at the time in the Class of 2016 included Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Whether he will be blocked from transferring to another Big 12 program is unknown at this time.

Helmet sticker to Gridiron Now.

Oklahoma extends Lincoln Riley’s contract through 2019

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Oklahoma has experienced nothing but success in the two years since Bob Stoops hired Lincoln Riley to call plays.

The Sooners have won two Big 12 championships — becoming the first team to post a perfect 9-0 mark in the league’s 6-year round-robin era in 2016 — reached the College Football Playoff in 2015 and scored a whole bunch of points under Riley’s direction. The Sooners have finished fourth and third in scoring, respectively, in 2015 and ’16.

As such, the folks in crimson and cream have locked their wunderkind offensive coordinator into a long-term deal.

Oklahoma announced Thursday a contract extension that keeps Riley in Norman through 2019 at an advanced salary of $1.3 million.

It’ll be the second time in as many off-seasons Riley has enjoyed a $400,000 raise. He made $500,000 in arriving from East Carolina and $900,000 after the success of the 2015 season where he helped OU reach the CFP and won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach. As pointed out by, uh, me at FootballScoop Riley earned $151,000 as ECU’s offensive coordinator in 2012.

“This has been in the works for a few months,” Stoops said in a statement. “Lincoln’s done a phenomenal job in his two years here and we’re excited for him and his family. They’re great people and have fully immersed themselves into the Oklahoma community. He’s fully committed to OU and what we’re doing as a university and football program, and all of us are looking forward to continuing to work together to develop young men on and off the field, and bring more championships to Norman.”

Riley sent this not-so-coincidentally timed tweet earlier today.

“I appreciate OU and Coach Stoops taking a chance on me a couple of years ago and the loyalty they’ve shown to my family,” Riley said. “We are extremely grateful, and I want to display my strong loyalty to this school and program in return. We absolutely love living here. It’s a place we relate to, a place we feel very much at home. I love the people I work with at OU and I love the players I coach. It’s been a fantastic first two years, but I’m excited for what’s ahead in Norman. We’re looking forward to being a part of this university and community for a long time.”

Today’s extension makes it abundantly clear Riley will remain in Norman until the 33-year-old takes his first head coaching job, whenever that happens to be.

Big 12 coaches for some reason unconcerned about Draft drought

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As I’m sure you’re aware by now, the Big 12 produced only 14 picks in last weekend’s NFL Draft. The league’s coaches have heard about it, and they say (on the record, at least) that they’re not concerned about it and, frankly, they’re tired of talking about it.

“You have cycles. You have waves,” Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg. “We’re obviously down when it comes to top, top prospects. We have good players, but maybe not the elite level that some of the other leagues have. I don’t think it’s panic mode yet.”

Added West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen: “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. I’m a little tired of [the media] making it a big deal.”

And TCU’s Gary Patterson: “I don’t go out and recruit saying, ‘This guy, the only reason I’m going to take him is he fits the NFL model.'”

While it’s true that the Big 12 coaches’ jobs is to find players that win games first, second and third and find players the NFL may one day like somewhere around sixth or seventh, it’s impossible to NFL’s tepid interest in Big 12 players as anything other than another problematic data point in a disturbing ongoing trend for this once proud conference.

It’d be easy to ignore last weekend’s NFL Draft if the Big 12 didn’t also produce a then-low 17 picks in 2014.

It’d be easy to ignore last weekend’s NFL Draft if the Big 12 wasn’t also consistently behind its peers in signing top 250 recruits.

It’d be easy to ignore last weekend’s NFL Draft if the Big 12 wasn’t also the only Power 5 conference to miss the College Football Playoff twice in three years.

Bottom line: the Draft is another data point proving the Big 12 is suffering through a significant down period right now. There’s nothing saying that can’t change. Tom Herman and Matt Rhule succeeding at Texas and Baylor, respectively, would go a long way toward lifting the conference out of the ditch it currently finds itself in, as would winning high-profile non-conference games like Oklahoma at Ohio State and TCU at Arkansas. More than anything else, though, the conference’s fortunes won’t turn until its coaches find a way to recruit a large influx of talented players. The NFL Draft is the best arbiter of judging who has the most talent, as Herman himself admitted in the piece that the NFL will go wherever it has to go to find talent. And it hasn’t been going to Big 12 campuses as much as it used to.

Big 12 football is down right now and last weekend was another low point in a period full of them for this conference. Believing otherwise is as intellectually dishonest as believing Big 12 coaches wouldn’t turn around and thump their collective chests if the league started producing SEC-like draft numbers.