BYU Cougars

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 6: Taysom Hill #4 of the BYU Cougars drops back to pass against the Texas Longhorns on September 6, 2014 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
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Back on top (still): Taysom Hill named BYU’s starting QB

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Earlier this offseason, Taysom Hill decided to change his uniform number to honor the memory of his brother, who passed away a couple of months earlier.  Now, Hill will be able to wear that number on the field and not merely on the sidelines holding a clipboard.

Following a quarterback competition that began in the spring and continued deep into summer camp, new BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer announced that Hill has been named as the Cougars’ starter.  As it turns out, today is also Hill’s 26th birthday, and is also just a little over six months after Hill announced that he would be returning to the Cougars for another season.

He beat out the younger Tanner Mangum to continue what’s been, thanks to injuries, a roller coaster of a career.

Hill’s 2014 season was cut short because of injury after just four complete games, while his 2015 season ended after just one game; the latter virtually guaranteed he’d be granted a waiver for a sixth season. His 2012 season also ended prematurely after an injury.

The return of Hill had set up an interesting dynamic at the quarterback position for the Cougars. Following his Lisfranc injury in the 2015 opener against Nebraska, Hill was replaced by Tanner Mangum, who proceeded to beat the Cornhuskers on a Hail Mary. A week later, Mangum pulled off a last-minute miracle again.

As Hill’s replacement, Mangum completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,377 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In Hill’s best season, his only healthy season in 2013, he too completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,938 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Hill, though, offers something Mangum can’t — the ability to beat opposing defenses with his legs.

In that 2013 season, Hill ran for 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 13 games this past season, Mangum ran for minus-96 yards.

The upcoming season will be Hill’s final season of eligibility… maybe.  Hill could apply for a sixth season of eligibility if that’s the direction he wants to take and, based on his truncated 2014 and 2015 seasons, he would be a shoo-in for a waiver.

Arkansas State, Air Force, Northern Illinois, San Diego State on Big 12’s expansion list, too

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Friday it was reported that Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be conducting videoconferences with the 17 schools that have contacted the conference expressing interest in becoming a member of the league.  Of those 17, 14 schools were known.

Now we know the other three schools, as well as an 18th interested in membership.

As we had previously noted, San Diego State was believed to be one of the original 17 mentioned by ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy.  McMurphy confirmed SDSU is one of the now-18 that’ll state their case to the league, while also noting that the Sun Belt’s Arkansas State, Mountain West’s Air Force and MAC’s Northern Illinois will do so as well.

So, for those keeping score at home, below is a conference-by-conference breakdown of potential additions to the Big 12.

AMERICAN
Cincinnati
East Carolina
Houston
Memphis
SMU
Temple
Tulane
UCF
UConn
USF

INDEPENDENT
BYU

MAC
Northern Illinois

MOUNTAIN WEST
Air Force
Boise State
Colorado State
New Mexico
San Diego State

SUN BELT
Arkansas State

While 18 schools will be afforded the opportunity to stump for their inclusion, it’s believed that some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn will ultimately be part of any expansion.  While it remains to be seen whether the Big 12 expands by two or four, McMurphy also reported that it’s “less and less likely” that current 10-team conference will expand by four.

It has previously been reported that the Big 12 would like to settle the expansion issue before the start of the upcoming season, although that appears, like adding four schools, less and less likely.  Instead, a decision might not be made until a board of directors meeting scheduled for October.

Report: Big 12 will talk to 17 schools, expanding by two more likely than four

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While no announcement is imminent, it appears there’s some additional clarity on the Big 12 expansion front.

First and foremost, ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy is reporting, it’s becoming what sources described as “less and less likely” that the Big 12 will expand to 14 from its current 10-school membership.  Instead, the conference likely either stand pat or add just two teams.  The latter move would allow the conference to split into two six-team divisions.

As for potential expansion candidates, McMurphy reports that commissioner Bob Bowlsby will conduct videoconferences with the 17 schools that have contacted the conference expressing interest in becoming a member of the league.  Those 17 schools include oft-mentioned suspects such as Boise State, Cincinnati, BYU, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Houston, Memphis, Tulane, UCF, UConn and USF.  Additionally, East Carolina, New Mexico, SMU and Temple are part of the large group looking for inclusion.

Only 14 of the 17 schools that will be a part of the videoconferences were listed by McMurphy.  It’s believed San Diego State is another of the 17.  Air Force, Fresno State and Hawaii have also been previously mentioned as possibilities.

It’s believed that some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn will ultimately be part of any expansion.  The first one mentioned when it comes to presumptive front-runners will, however, have to overcome some negative attention some of its policies have received as of late.

It has previously been reported that the Big 12 would like to settle the expansion issue before the start of the upcoming season, although that appears, like adding four schools, less and less likely.  Instead, a decision might not be made until a board of directors meeting scheduled for October.

Bama’s still the favorite, but LSU makes significant gain in Bovada title odds

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 07:  Les Miles, head coach of the LSU Tigers, reacts during the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Back in February, four other teams had, per Bovada.lv, better odds to win the 2016 College Football Playoff than LSU.  Six months later, and less than a month before the start of a new season, the Tigers lag behind just one.

Currently, Alabama, 7/1 in February, is listed as Bovada‘s favorite at 6/1.  Right behind them is SEC West rival LSU at 7/1 and 2016 playoff runnerup Clemson at 17/2.

Ohio State, Bovada‘s wagering favorite earlier this year, has seen its odds grow longer at 9/1.  Those are the same odds hated rival Michigan (15/2 in February) is getting from the gambling website.

Houston (66/1) and Boise State (150/1) are the only Group of Five teams listed.  BYU (250/1) as a football independent (for now?) is also included.

Below are the updated odds for the 2016 College Football Playoff championship, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

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BYU AD responds to LGBT advocacy group’s letter to Big 12

PROVO, UT - SEPTEMBER 11:  The BYU Cougars fans hold a banner as the team enters the field before a game against the Houston Cougars on September 11, 2014 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Jay Drowns/Getty Images)
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Monday, a report surfaced that a coalition of national LGBT advocacy groups urged the Big 12 in a letter to not admit BYU into the Big 12 because of what was described as “active and [open]” discrimination against the LGBT community by the university.

The letter, sent to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby as well as all 10 chancellors/presidents in the conference and which can be read in its entirety HERE, claims the Mormon school’s “anti-LGBT policies are bad for the Big 12 sports community, especially student-athletes.”  From the school’s stringent Honor Code:

Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.

Facing a backlash, BYU’s athletic director, Tom Holmoe, took to Twitter to get a message to the masses.

Given the attention the letter has received, BYU’s policies toward the LGBT community will certainly be a point of discussion as the Big 12 decides which expansion direction the conference will take.

In a statement, Bowlsby told the advocacy group that the comments contained in the letter will be taken into consideration.

“Thank you for your note,” the commissioner began. “As we move forward with our processes we will certainly take your comments into consideration. I appreciate your having taken the time to express your thoughts