Houston Cougars

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 05:  Cameron Malveaux #94 of the Houston Cougars and Nick Thurman #91 kiss the AAC championship trophy after defeating the Temple Owls 24-13 at TDECU Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Houston wants to keep options open rather than focus just on Big 12

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The University of Houston wants a spot in the Big 12, but it will also look for ways to keep its options open just in case. The Houston Chronicle highlighted the current situation for the Univeristy of Houston as the ongoing Big 12 expansion rumor mill spins, with a few mentions of the Cougars popping up here and there.

“We want Houston to be at the top of that list,” said Hunter Yurachek, Houston’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics. Asked about focusing entirely on the Big 12, Yurachek said “I think that limits us. We have to keep all our options open.”

Aside from potential membership in the Big 12, which appears to be the top goal for Houston, the two other options mentioned by The Houston Chronicle include sticking with the American Athletic Conference and continuing to be a power player in what could be the top non-power conference (with the hope and dream of one day being considered a power conference with a new media deal in the future) or holding out for the Pac-12 in the event the conference wants to set foot in the state of Texas. That last option may be the biggest reach, but a school like Houston would be wise to keep every scenario on the drawing board.

“We’re thinking long term at the University of Houston,” Yurachek explained. “We’re not making these changes for the immediate future. These are investments for anything that can happen in the collegiate landscape, not just any decisions the Big 12 could make in their future meetings.”

If the Big 12 is going to expand, Houston has a good set of pros and cons to consider. Among non-power conference options, Houston is well-positioned for future success in a very attractive media market. Of course, the Big 12 already has a strong presence throughout Texas with the Longhorns. If the purpose is to expand viewership, as seems to be the case with many realignment moves, this is a big drawback for Houston and it is one they cannot overcome. Of course, the Houston market is starting to tune into more SEC football recently with the addition of Texas A&M. Houston could help regain a stronghold for the Big 12 in the Houston market, but then again so could a dominant Texas Longhorns program in all likelihood.

Houston leaders have now reportedly met with leaders at each of the current Big 12 members. It is clear Houston would jump at the opportunity to join the Big 12, just as TCU did after jumping from the Mountain West Conference to the Big East, where the Horned Frogs never played a down before accepting a Big 12 invite.If the Big 12 chooses to expand, which is still no guarantee to happen, Houston has plenty to offer as the program continues to grow.

If the Big 12 chooses to expand, which is still no guarantee to happen, Houston has plenty to offer as the program continues to grow. Whether adding Houston makes sense to the rest of the Big 12 is still up for debate, just as is the possible membership of other options like Cincinnati, UConn, UCF, Memphis and BYU.

2016 Las Vegas win totals think highly of Clemson, FSU, Sooners and Vols

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 31:  Wayne Gallman #9 of the Clemson Tigers scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma Sooners during the 2015 Capital One Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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The top two teams in the ACC, Clemson and Florida State, are widely expected to once again lead the way in the ACC and the first batch of season win totals from Las Vegas outlet The Golden Nugget back that up. The initial 2016 win totals for a handful of college football programs were released by The Golden Nugget this week, and it would appear the sportsbook expects a big season from the defending ACC champion and national runner-up Clemson.

As noted by The Sporting News, The Golden Nugget gave a regular season win total of 10 to Clemson and Oklahoma, both coming off an appearance in the College Football Playoff last season. Florida State also gets a double-digit win total, as does Tennessee. Defending national champion Alabama has a line of 9.5 for its win total.

Tennessee having a higher win total than Alabama? Well, consider the divisions each play in. The SEC West is still arguably a stronger division than the SEC East, suggesting Tennessee will have an easier path to hitting 10 wins during the regular season. Tennessee opens the season on a neutral field against Virginia Tech in Bristol, while Alabama hits the big stage in Arlington to take on USC. The Trojans have a win total of just 7.5. There was no number available for Virginia Tech.

Defending Big Ten champion Michigan State has a win total number of 8, which is half a game lower than the 8.5 given to Ohio State (take the over now while you can) and 1.5 games lower than in-state rival Michigan (9.5). Defending Pac-12 champion Stanford has to get to eight games to break even. The Golden Nugget set UCLA’s win total at nine, the highest among Pac-12 teams.

Clemson 10 (over -120)
Alabama 9.5
Florida State 10 (over -120)
Oklahoma 10 (under -130)
LSU 9.5 (over -140)
Michigan 9.5 (over -120)
Houston 9 (under -150)
Notre Dame 9 (under -125)
Ohio State 8.5 (over -115)
Tennessee 10
Baylor 9 (under -125)
Michigan State 8 (under -135)
Stanford 8 (under -130
Ole Miss 7.5 (under -115)
Georgia 8.5 (over -145)
Auburn 7 (over -120)
UCLA 9 (over -120)
USC 7.5 (over -120)
Oregon 8.5 (under -120)
Florida 8 (under -125)
Louisville 9
TCU 8.5 (under -125)
Oklahoma State (under -130)
UNLV 4.5

South Florida exploring possibility of on-campus stadium

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 14: Running back Marlon Mack #5 of the South Florida Bulls celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Temple Owls at Raymond James Stadium in the first half on November 14, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images)
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South Florida athletics director Mark Harlan unveiled his five-year strategic plan before the USF Board of Trustees, and part of that plan was the possibility of building an on-campus football stadium.

The Bulls have played in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium since their 1997 inception, but moving to a home of their own is a proper consideration for a program of USF’s stature. Rival Central Florida built its own stadium in 2007, and AAC foe Houston followed suit in 2014. Temple is moving forward with plans of its own, too.

And the time is ripe for iron striking, with Willie Taggart leading the Bulls to a second-place finish in the AAC East Division last fall and the program’s first bowl trip since 2010.

“The great thing about this campus is there are multiple (location) opportunities,” Harlan said, via the Tampa Bay Times.

“It’s time to zero in on which opportunity is best for this program. And then lastly, how are we gonna pay for it? Apparently these things aren’t free, so we need to really look into all those things and really decide if there’s an appetite for it.”

That question is a sticky one, as USF’s donor support was $2.5 million in 2014-15 — a third of the typical AAC public school. And the American’s per-school distribution is barely half of what the Big East doled out.

“Simply put, in 2012 and 2013 we had $11.4 million from the conference (Big East) that we were in,” Harlan said. “Today it’s closer to $6.4 (million).”

To make an on-campus stadium feasible (UCF’s Bright House Networks Stadium cost $55 million in 2007 dollars; Houston’s TDECU Stadium cost $128 million), Harlan noted South Florida will need the help of the South Florida business community. ”

We have to challenge our community to support us more profoundly. They’ve been waiting to invest in a winner over the last few years. I think we’ve got one now. We have to get our corporations behind our program, and that’s what we’re setting about doing,” he said.

42 defensive players named to Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list

Ronnie Lott
Associated Press
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Another day, another watch list.

One day after the Rimington Award released its initial spring watch list, the Lott IMPACT Trophy has followed suit, with the award named in honor of former USC great Ronnie Lott unveiling a watch list consisting of 42 players from seven of the 10 FBS conferences.  The trophy is handed out annually to the defensive player who most represents the qualities of the honor’s namesake – Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.

Last year’s winner was Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib.

Alabama is the only team with three players on the list. Six teams placed two players each: Michigan, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, USC and Virginia. There was also one FCS team represented — Harvard.

Conference-wise, the Big Ten paced all leagues with 10 players selected, followed by the SEC”s eight and the ACC’s seven. The Mountain West led all Group of Five conferences with two players. The only other G5 league to get an initial nod was the AAC (Houston).

Below is the complete 42-player watch list for the 2016 Lott IMPACT Trophy.

Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Sean Ahern, S, Harvard
Joey Alfieri, LB, Stanford
Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Dante Barnett, S, Kansas State
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Evan Berry, CB, Tennessee
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
Ben Boulware, LB, Clemson
Riley Bullough, LB, Michigan State
Jason Cabinda, LB, Penn State
Josh Carraway, DE, TCU
Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Dylan Haines, S, Texas
Charles Harris, DL, Missouri
Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
Derwin James, S, Florida State
Joshua Kalu, CB, Nebraska
Andrew King, LB, Army
Desmond King, S, Iowa
Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia
Jourdan Lewis CB, Michigan
William Likely, CB, Maryland
Dallas Lloyd, S, Stanford
Cameron Malveaux, DE, Houston
James McFarland, DE, TCU
Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
Viliami Moeakiola, LB, Arizona State
Calvin Munson, LB, San Diego State
Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
Cameron Smith, LB, USC
Arrion Springs, DB, Oregon
Weston Steelhammer, S, Air Force
M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina
Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma
Drue Tranquill, S, Notre Dame
Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
Jordan Whitehead, DB, Pitt
Tim Williams, LB, Alabama
A.J. Wolf, DL, Duke

57 centers named to Rimington Award spring watch list

AJ McCarron, Ryan Kelly
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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  The first watch list of the offseason has arrived.

The first for that honor this year is the Rimington Award, which on Tuesday released its spring watch list that is 57 players strong.  The Rimington Award, named in honor of former Nebraska standout Dave Rimington, is presented annually to the top center in the nation and is determined by the consensus All-American center pick from three existing All-America teams — Walter Camp. Sporting News and FWAA.

None of the finalists for the 2015 award, won by Alabama’s Ryan Kelly, are included on this year’s initial watch list as all three have since moved on with expired eligibility.

The ACC and SEC pace all conferences with eight watch listers apiece, followed by the AAC and Big 12 with seven each.  The Big Ten placed six, while the Pac-12’s three was the least of all of the Power Five programs.

All 10 of the FBS leagues, plus one independent (Notre Dame), are represented on the spring watch list, the full roster of which appears below.

AAC
Deyshawn Bond, Cincinnati, senior
Ryan Crozier, UConn, redshirt sophomore
Will Noble, Houston, sophomore
Drew Kyser, Memphis, sophomore
Evan Brown, SMU, junior
Brendan McGowan, Temple, redshirt senior
Chandler Miller, Tulsa, sophomore

ACC
Jay Guillermo, Clemson, senior
Alec Eberle, Florida State, redshirt sophomore
Freddie Burden, Georgia Tech, redshirt senior
Nicholas Linder, Miami, junior
Lucas Crowley, North Carolina, senior
Alex Officer, Pittsburgh, redshirt junior
Jason Emerich, Syracuse, redshirt senior
Jackson Matteo, Virginia, senior

BIG TEN
Joe Spencer, Illinois, senior
Sean Welsh, Iowa, junior
Brendan Moore, Maryland, sophomore
Mason Cole, Michigan, junior
Dylan Utter, Nebraska, senior
Michael Dieter, Wisconsin, sophomore

BIG 12
Kyle Fuller, Baylor, senior
Dalton Risner, Kansas State, sophomore
Jonathan Alvarez, Oklahoma, junior
Brad Lundblade, Oklahoma State, junior
Austin Schlottman, TCU, junior
Tony Morales, Texas Tech, senior
Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia, redshirt senior

CONFERENCE USA
Michael Montero, FIU, senior
Dillon DeBoer, FAU, redshirt senior
Daniel Stephens, Middle Tennessee State, senior
Nick Clarke, Old Dominion, sophomore
Cameron Tom, Southern Miss, senior
Max Halpin, Western Kentucky, redshirt senior

MAC
Tim McAuliffe, Bowling Green redshirt junior
James O’Hagan, Buffalo, sophomore

MOUNTAIN WEST
Jake Bennett, Colorado State, junior
Asotui Eli, Hawaii, redshirt sophomore
Nathan Goltry, Nevada, senior
Arthur Flores, San Diego State, senior
Austin Stephens, Utah State, senior

PAC-12
Toa, Lobendahn, USC, junior
Coleman Shelton, Washington, junior
Riley Sorenson, Washington State, senior

SEC
Frank Ragnow, Arkansas, junior
Brandon Kublanow, Georgia, senior
Jon Toth, Kentucky, senior
Ethan Pocic, LSU, senior
Jamaal Clayborn, Mississippi State, senior
Robert Conyers, Ole Miss, senior
Alan Knott, South Carolina, redshirt junior
Coleman Thomas, Tennessee, junior

SUN BELT
Devin Mondie, Arkansas State, senior
Andy Kwon, Georgia Southern, senior
Gabe Mobley, Georgia State, sophomore
Steve Matlock, Idaho, senior

INDEPENDENTS
Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame, junior