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John Swofford turns down volume on Notre Dame to ACC talk

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If there are any serious conversations behind closed doors between the ACC and Notre Dame about potential football membership, ACC commissioner John Swofford is not showing his cards. In a radio interview Friday morning, Swofford was asked about the rumor the conference and the Fighting Irish have had discussions, to which Swofford avoided any controversy.

Swofford said the ACC and Notre Dame have not had any such discussions about Notre Dame joining the conference in football to complete its membership in the conference, but he also didn’t slam the door shut on the potential option down the line.

Earlier this month the rumor mill got turning in wild fashion after a radio interview saw FOX Sports broadcaster Tim Brando say “conversations have taken place” about the ACC adding Notre Dame as a full member. That comment alone got the gears working on some exaggerated headlines across the Internet, some going so far as to suggest the Irish were on the verge of joining the ACC and abandoning their football independence once and for all. As I suggested at the time, there is absolutely reason to believe Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick has had at least some degree of conversation with the ACC about the possibility, because a good AD would at least test the water on any and all potential scenarios should the time come the university approaches its football program differently.

The latest edition of the Notre Dame to ACC rumors followed the scheduling announcement from the ACC and Notre Dame for future game sin the ACC schedule rotation with the Irish through 2037.

Swofford did drop an interesting, although completely unsurprising, nugget of information as well when he mentioned the ACC would explore adding a 16th team to the fold if Notre Dame could be added in football. That alone will be enough to keep fans of certain programs interested in the ACC’s future, although they will all have to wait for a while in all likelihood, as no changes would be expected until current media rights deals expire and are up for renewal in the next decade.

Starting slotback leaves Army for Elon

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Even as Tyler Campbell seemed determined to transfer from the Army football program, head coach Jeff Monken had held out hope that the starting slotback would reverse course and return to the service academy.  In the end, that hope proved futile.

According to Sal Interdonato of HudsonValley.com, Campbell has followed through with his departure plans and has transferred to Elon.  As the Phoenix play at the FCS level, Campbell will be eligible to play immediately in 2017.

A third-year junior, Campbell will have two seasons of eligibility at his disposal.

Last season, Campbell started 11 of the 13 games in which he played.  He ran for 326 yards on 34 carries — his 9.6 yards per carry was tops on the Black Knights — while adding another 71 yards on a pair of receptions.  He saved his best for last, rushing for a career-high 88 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown, in the Heart of Dallas Bowl win over North Texas.

While in the offensive backfield at Army, he’ll play in the defensive backfield at Elon as he’s currently listed as a cornerback for the Phoenix.

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.

Recent tax return shows NCAA President Mark Emmert made more than $1.9 million

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Being a punching bag of public criticism is not without its benefits, as NCAA president Mark Emmert’s pay package shows.

USA Today obtained the NCAA’s most recent tax return listing the compensation paid out to top executives and not surprisingly the organization’s leader was the runaway leader when it came to cashing checks. Emmert was listed with a base salary of $1,462,838 in 2015 (a 3.5% increase over 2014 per the paper) and the rest of his remaining payout coming in the form of benefits and deferred compensation. He is signed through October of 2020 to run the NCAA in a recent contract extension that was signed last year.

The figure puts Emmert behind many of his peers in college athletics, namely the Power Five commissioners who are all over the $2 million mark. The association’s president wasn’t the only one to be well compensated however, as a whopping 10 others made more than $415,000 in 2015, the most recent figures provided by the NCAA’s 2016 fiscal year return.

Most notable among that group was former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, who is essentially Emmert’s second in command and holds the title of NCAA executive vice president. Luck received the highest bonus doled out by the association ($50,000 bonus) and wound up taking just over $800,000 home.

Somewhat buried in the report was also the NCAA’s legal costs, which have been spiraling in recent years as they’ve gone to court to defend many of their core beliefs. Outside legal costs were reported as $33.5 million and bring the combined total up to a remarkable $72.4 million over the past three tax returns the association has released.

College athletes may not be allowed to be compensated but it certainly seems pretty clear based on these figures that is not the case for those that run the $1 billion enterprise.

QB Malik Zaire pushes back transfer decision, which may mean Florida is still in the mix

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Former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire remains hanging in college football’s equivalent of free agent limbo. Zaire will reportedly stay hanging in the balance until some time after the SEC’s spring meetings before he makes his final decision regarding his pending transfer.

According to multiple reports surfacing today on Twitter, including the preliminary report from Anwar Richardson of Rivals, Zaire plans to sit back and enjoy his graduation from Notre Dame this weekend and announce his decision after the SEC spring meetings, with Texas one of two supposed finalists.

It is worth noting Richardson previously reported Zaire was intending to announce his transfer decision today, before the SEC spring meetings. At the time, that was taken as a sign Florida may no longer be in the mix. Now, as Zaire pushes that announcement back, could Florida be back in the running?

Florida has long been reported to be one of the leading possibilities to land Zaire as a graduate transfer, although SEC rules prohibiting players to be added to a football roster as a graduate transfer if that player previously failed to meet academic requirements after enrolling. That rule is planned to be discussed at the SEC’s spring meetings. If the SEC amends the rules in a way that would allow Florida to welcome Zaire without hassle, then the Gators could once again look like the favorites to add Zaire to the roster this fall.

Both Texas and Florida would benefit from adding a quarterback with Zaire’s potential. He may have had a rough end to his run in South Bend as he was overtaken as starting quarterback by NFL-bound Deshone Kizer, but Zaire may still have something left to prove and could thrive in a team with the athleticism and talent he could surround himself with at Florida or with the coaching of Tom Herman at Texas.