Arizona Wildcats

Getty Images

Michigan pulls recruiting director away from former Michigan coach’s staff

5 Comments

Michigan is set to add Arizona recruiting czar Matt Dudek as its new director of recruiting, according to a report from FootballScoop on Saturday.

CBS Sports’s Dennis Dodd confirmed the report, adding that Michigan is expected to formally announce the move at Big Ten media days on Monday.

The irony, of course, is that Dudek will leave the staff of former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez.

Dudek had been with Rodriguez shortly after his late 2011 hiring, first as on-campus recruiting coordinator and player personnel director before being named college football’s first general manager after the 2015 season. He helped the Wildcats win the 2014 Pac-12 South championship and was named a finalist for FootballScoop‘s Player Personnel Director of the Year award multiple times. (Disclaimer: I also write for FootballScoop.)

Prior to Arizona, Dudek worked as director of football branding and events at Rutgers and as assistant director of football operations and recruiting coordinator at Pittsburgh.

At Michigan, Dudek will join a staff that already recruits quite capably under head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines have finished eighth and fifth nationally in 247Sports‘s composite team rankings in Harbaugh’s two full cycles as Michigan’s head coach.

Dudek’s departure will be viewed by some as an anti-show of faith in Rodriguez’s tenure at Arizona. Since that 10-4, top-20 season in 2014, the Wildcats have slipped to 7-6 in 2015 and 3-9 last fall.

Starting K-State LT Scott Frantz comes out as gay

Getty Images
8 Comments

Last offseason, Scott Frantz divulged to his Kansas State teammates a long-held secret.  Wednesday, he did the same to a much broader audience.

Speaking to ESPN‘s Holly Rowe, Frantz revealed that he told his Wildcats teammates at a team-building exercise last offseason that he is gay. So strong is the football bond that the offensive lineman, who started 13 games at left tackle last season, told his teammates before he even told his own family.

Still, it wasn’t without some trepidation that Frantz took that huge personal step — only to find himself overwhelmed by the support he received in the locker room.

“So the very first time I said those words were in front of, you know, 110, 120 football guys,” Frantz told Rowe. “So you can imagine how scared I was, how nervous I was. … This could go either really bad or could go really good. And thankfully my teammates embraced me with open arms, and it was great. …

“I came out to my teammates, and I’ve never felt so loved and so accepted ever in my life than when I did that. And ever since then it’s been great. I’ve grown so much closer to my teammates since. So it’s been an amazing experience.”

Frantz is the second active or soon-to-be-active FBS player to come out this year.  In February of this year, 2017 Arizona signee My-King Johnson revealed in an interview that he is gay as well.

In 2014, Arizona State’s Chip Sarafin became the first active player at the FBS level to be openly gay.

Pac-12 Networks president denies schools were promised revenues like Big Ten, SEC ventures

Getty Images
1 Comment

Ask any Pac-12 fan what their biggest source of frustration is right now and more likely than not ‘Pac-12 Networks‘ will be at, or near, the top of their list.

That can at times be the same response given by the league’s athletic directors as revenues from the venture fall further and further behind rivals like the uber-successful Big Ten Network and SEC Network. With those two leagues pushing conference payouts over the $50 million mark as soon as next year, the Pac-12 appears in danger of slipping further and further behind on the finance front.

Speaking to industry publication CableMax this weekPac-12 Networks’ outgoing president Lydia Murphy-Stephans understands that the balance sheet isn’t quite the same out West but parity with the two other conference networks was never something that was promised to schools when the channels were formed several years ago.

“There is a gap between what Pac-12 Networks delivers and the Big Ten Network and the SEC Network,” said Murphy-Stephans in a Q&A with the magazine. “What has to be factored in is the revenue specifically from Pac-12 Networks is only one part of the overall revenue each university receives from the Pac-12. I understand there is frustration, though no athletic director or administrator was ever told the Pac-12 Networks would deliver the same or more revenue than what its peer conferences are currently getting from their networks.

“I don’t think it’s fair in any way to call out Pac-12 Networks as the source of the deficiency the universities or maybe those particular athletic directors or administrators are citing.”

Not exactly the kind of comments that will thrill some around the Pac-12 when it comes time to pay for facility upgrades or to give a coach a raise but probably pretty on the nose as to what was said back when realignment was getting hot and heavy around the country. Murphy-Stephans is leaving her post in the not too distant future so it’s not like she will have to massage some of these comments with Pac-12 administrators like her boss Larry Scott will likely have to do in the coming days.

Rich Rodriguez not overly thrilled with NCAA rule changes

4 Comments

A bunch of new rule changes are set to take effect this football season, and Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez appears to be not-so-enthusiastic about some of the key changes. Rodriguez took aim at the new recruiting guidelines that include an early signing period in December and new rules regarding official visits. He was not complimentary, according to quotes provided by the Arizona Daily Star.

“December’s better than February, but it doesn’t solve the problems,” Rodriguez said when reacting to the addition of an early signing period in December. “I still think it makes more sense to have no signing day. I was one that voted against the December one, because I think there should be none.”

Rodriguez has been in favor of having no official signing day and instead allowing student-athletes to sign with a team whenever they are ready to do so. It remains to be seen just how much of an impact an early signing period will truly have on the game, but the expansion of the dates recruits can make official visits (beginning April 1 of recruit’s junior year, ending in late June) could be a negative change for a school’s budget, warns Rodriguez.

“Right now, you’re allowed 56 official visits. We only use 36. So we save the school money,” Rodriguez said of Arizona’s approach to official visits. “You kind of zero in on the guys you know (will come) by the time the official visits come. Now everybody’s going to use 56, because it’s so early in the process. So it’s going to cost schools more money.”

In addition to having concerns about how much schools will spend on additional official visits, Rodriguez also suggests the time is taken away from assistant coaches will take a toll.

“The life of an assistant and the work that they do now is already pretty hectic. Which is OK; they get paid well,” Rodriguez said. “But to have official visits in those months is way too much to ask for kids, coaches and schools. I think it’s a bad idea.”

When the acting president of the American Football Coaches Association comes out with this kind of reaction to the new rules, you cannot help but wonder how many other coaches feel the same way.

North Carolina confirms signing of ex-LSU QB Brandon Harris

Getty Images
2 Comments

In late March, Brandon Harris announced that he had committed to North Carolina.  Friday, the quarterback’s new school made the move officially official.

UNC confirmed via a press release that Harris has signed his scholarship agreement with the university and will play football for the Tar Heels this fall.  The fourth-year senior, who has yet to use his redshirt, is scheduled to graduate from LSU this month, and will join his new team this summer.

Harris, who announced his decision to transfer from LSU in mid-February, had also considered, among others, Arizona and Texas.

After starting all 12 games in 2015 for the Tigers, Harris started the first two games of this past season. He lost his job to Danny Etling prior to Week 3 and never regained it.

The Tar Heels will be looking to replace one-year starter Mitch Trubisky, who left school early and was the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft.  Harris will join a quarterback competition that includes Logan Byrd, Nathan Elliott and Chaz Surratt, with the redshirt freshman Surratt the favorite to replace Trubisky at the moment.