Wisconsin Badgers

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01:  Maurice Smith #21 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates a stop in the first half against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the All State Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Pair of transferring ‘Bama DBs could be headed for the Sunshine State

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On the move from Alabama, a pair of former (maybe, in one case) Tide defensive backs could remain in the South to continue their collegiate playing careers.

Earlier this week, al.com reported that senior Maurice Smith (pictured, No. 21) has decided to leave ‘Bama and move on as a graduate transfer. In a subsequent interview with SBNation.com, Smith said he is “highly considering” a transfer to Miami. From the State of the U website:

According to our conversation, Smith loved the outlook of Coach Richt, and already has a relationship with Diaz, from his days at Texas. He felt that Miami was on the “come up”.

However, in a statement attributed to the Smith family, a return to Tuscaloosa is not out of the question. “[Smith] has chosen to entertain options for his senior season of college football… [having] positioned him[self] with the option to either complete his college football career at Alabama, or exercise his graduate-transfer option to play his true Senior season at another institution.”

Oregon, Oregon State and Wisconsin have also reportedly been in play for the defensive back.

One of Smith’s former Tide teammates, Shawn Burgess-Becker, had announced earlier this month his decision to transfer from the school. According to a report from al.com, there’s a “98-percent” chance Burgess-Becker transfers to UCF. The same source added that “[o]ne of the only things that could lead to Burgess-Becker going somewhere other than Central Florida is a scholarship offer from Miami.”

A final, public decision from the rising sophomore is expected to come no later than Friday.

A four-star member of the Tide’s 2015 recruiting class, Burgess-Becker was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 10 athlete in the country; the No. 24 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 166 prospect overall on that recruiting website’s composite board.

As a true freshman, Burgess-Becker played in 13 games, mainly on special teams. He was credited with three tackles.

Also a four-star recruit, albeit in the Class of 2013, Smith was rated as the No. 9 corner in the country and the No. 84 prospect overall. All told, Smith played in 41 games for the Tide. He started a pair of those contests.

Smith will be eligible to play immediately as a graduate transfer. Burgess-Baker will be forced to sit out the 2016 season, then have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

Big Ten reportedly set to cash in again

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 30: Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman pose with the Big Ten mascots and Natioanls mascot Screech before the game between the Washington Nationals and the Colorado Rockies at Nationals Park on June 30, 2014 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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The other Big Ten sports broadcast rights shoe is reportedly ready to drop, and it is full of cash for the oldest major conference.

Sports Business Daily reported Monday morning ESPN has agreed to pay $190 million per year for six years to continue broadcasting Big Ten football and basketball games.

Of course that figure gets more impressive when we recall it is for only roughly half of the conference’s games. The other half already went to Fox Sports for a reported $240 million per year, and CBS is expected to retain some basketball games for $10 million per year.

Then of course there are still the rights owned by the Big Ten Network.

How does it all add up?

SBJ offers some perspective:

The $2.64 billion deals with Fox, ESPN and CBS average $440 million per year and nearly triple the amount ESPN and CBS had been paying for the same programming. ESPN signed a 10-year deal worth $100 million annually in 2006 — a payout that increased to $150 million this year due to the addition of Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers to the conference. CBS paid an average of around $6 million for its current basketball-only deal.

Also of note: Fox managed to secure the first choice of which weeks it will get first choice of games, meaning the network could pluck away the storied Ohio State-Michigan game that traditionally takes place in late November as the season finale.

That game has been fixture on ESPN/ABC for decades.

Previously, ESPN generally had first pick of games with the Big Ten Network taking what was left.

42 defensive players named to Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list

Ronnie Lott
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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

ESPN selections set for epic opening weekend

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Clemson Tigers fans cheer in the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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We already knew that the opening weekend of the 2016 was going to be epic.  Now we know on which channels (most of the) said epic-ness will take place.

Tuesday, ESPN announced its channel selections for the Week 1 slate of games, with the World Wide Leader kicking off its coverage with South Carolina-Vanderbilt on ESPN Sept. 1 — hold on, it gets better — and being bookended by Ole Miss-Florida State on Labor Day.

In between, it’s highly-anticipated opening Saturday matchups such as Oklahoma-Houston (noon ET, ABC), LSU-Wisconsin (3:30 ET, ABC, Lambeau Field), Georgia-North Carolina (5:30 ET, ESPN), USC-Alabama (8 ET, ABC) and Clemson-Auburn (9 ET, ESPN).  For those with an international lean, and are early risers, the Georgia Tech-Boston College will be broadcast live from Dublin, Ireland, beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

Oh, and lest we forget the clash of iconic programs: Notre Dame-Texas, kicking off at 7:30 ET Sunday night as the NFL season will be a week away from kicking off.

And all of that is without even mentioning games that have yet to have their broadcast destination announced, including UCLA-Texas A&M, Kansas State-Stanford, Missouri-West Virginia and Arizona-BYU, among others.

So, yes, it’ going to be one hell of an opening weekend.  Go ahead and prepare your goodbyes to family and friends now, informing them you’ll see them on the other side of Labor Day.