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Report: Jim Leavitt’s verbal deal to take over at K-State nixed by Bill Snyder

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It’s not exactly a state secret that Bill Snyder wants his son, special teams coordinator Sean Snyder, to take over for him when he steps down a second, and presumably final, time as Kansas State’s head coach.  Thursday brought forth a striking example of just how far the Wizard of Manhattan will go to ensure his beloved football program remains a part of the family.

According to a Facebook post from former ESPN.com college football insider Brett McMurphy, K-State had an agreement in place last year with Jim Leavitt, a former KSU assistant who at the time was on the Colorado staff, that would have him succeed Snyder as head coach after joining.  Per the agreement, Leavitt would have joined Snyder’s staff and been guaranteed $3 million if he were not named head coach before Jan. 1 of 2018.

The 78-year-old Snyder, though, had other ideas.  From McMurphy’s post:

However, last December, Snyder pushed back on Leavitt, a former KSU assistant, being named his replacement because Snyder wanted his son Sean, currently KSU’s associate head coach and special teams coordinator, to replace him, sources said.

Snyder’s K-State contract stipulates when he’s done coaching at KSU he will be a “special assistant to the athletic director” and “shall also have appropriate input … regarding the selection of the next head football coach.”

In late 2016/early 2017, Kansas State officials were prepared to approach Snyder again about approving Leavitt as his replacement. However, Snyder, who turned 78 on Oct. 7, was diagnosed with throat cancer, so the school opted to no longer pursue the plan for Leavitt to replace Snyder.

Instead of returning to K-State, Leavitt, also the former head coach at USF who left the Bulls under a cloud of controversy, was hired as the defensive coordinator at Oregon last December.  Per McMurphy’s post, Leavitt has a clause in his UO contract that he won’t owe the university anything “should he voluntarily terminate this agreement to become the head football coach at Kansas State University.”

As of this posting, there’s been no comment from Snyder or the university on the report.

USC clinches Pac-12 South with win over Colorado, leaving three Power Five divisions unsettled

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Five down, three to go.

On the strength of Sam Darnold‘s right arm, USC eventually outlasted a feisty Colorado 20-0 in Boulder.  Darnold, who could be the overall No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL draft if he decides to forego his final season of eligibility, passed for 329 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  He added a touchdown run for good measure.

Ronald Jones chipped in 132 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground, while the Trojans returned one interception — and nearly a second late — for a score as well.

USC is now 7-1 in conference play with one game, rival UCLS, remaining.  Two teams, Arizona and Arizona State, are at 4-2 entering Week 11 although only one could potentially tie USC as the in-state rivals square off in the regular-season finale, leaving one with at least three conference losses.  That doesn’t matter, though, as the Trojans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over both teams.

As such, USC is headed to its first Pac-12 championship game since 2015 and its second ever since the game was first played in 2011.

Just who they will face remains very much up in the air as Stanford (6-2), Washington (5-2) and Washington State (5-2) are all still vying for the North’s spot.  The Cardinal beat the Huskies Friday night, but lost to the Cougars in Week 10.  Stanford will be hoping for a win over Cal next weekend and a Wazzu loss to UW in the Apple Cup two weeks from now to clinch.  If the Cougars win out, they will represent the division regardless of what happens with the Cardinal; the Huskies need to win their remaining two games and have the Cardinal trip up against the Bears.

The Pac-12 South is the fifth Power Five division to be decided, joining both the ACC Atlantic (today) and Coastal (also today), the Big Ten West (also today) and the SEC East.  That leaves, along with the Pac-12 North, the Big Ten East — Ohio State has essentially wrapped up that division, though — and the SEC West still without an official champion.

Second straight week of seven ranked-on-ranked matchups signals HUGE Showdown Saturday slate

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As yet another regular season begins to quickly and swiftly wind down, there’s yet another huge weekend on tap dripping with playoff and conference implications.

Last week, for the first time since the 2006 season and just the sixth time in history, there were seven games played in which both teams were ranked in the Associated Press poll. As we enter Week 11, it’s back-to-back for that particular phenomenon as, yet again, there are seven ranked-on-ranked matchups.

All 14 of the teams involved, incidentally, currently reside in the College Football Playoff Top 25, which is obviously the poll measure with the most import and the rankings for which are used in setting up the scrumptious Week 11 menu below.

  • No. 1 Georgia at No. 10 Auburn
  • No. 2 Alabama at No. 16 Mississippi State
  • No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 7 Miami
  • No. 6 TCU at No. 5 Oklahoma
  • No. 20 Iowa at No. 8 Wisconsin
  • No. 12 Michigan State at No. 13 Ohio State
  • No. 15 Oklahoma State at No. 21 Iowa State

Georgia has already clinched the otherwise woeful SEC East, but needs a win to keep pace in the national chase. Both undefeated Alabama (with an Auburn loss) and unbeaten Wisconsin can join UGA in a division-clinching Saturday with wins, the former the SEC West and the latter the Big Ten West; the winner of the Michigan State-Ohio State matchup all but clinches the Big Ten East as well. Oklahoma and TCU enter gameday tied atop the Big 12 at 5-1 in conference play, with the winner of that matchup grabbing very firm control of one of the two spots in the league championship game renewal with two games remaining and the loser falling out of playoff contention.

The lone non-conference matchup in the group, Notre Dame traveling to Miami, could very well find the loser, much like the Pac-12 and especially if it’s the Irish, on the outside of the playoff window looking in when the regular season is all said and done.

Outside of the ranked-on-ranked matchups, CFP No. 4 and defending national champion Clemson can clinch the ACC Atlantic by dropping stumbling rival Florida State at home, while No. 11 USC can do the same in the Pac-12 South if it takes care of business against Colorado on the road. In the Group of Five portion of the program, unbeaten and 18th-ranked Central Florida will look to strengthen its hold on a potential New Year’s Six berth by taking care of UConn, with No. 22 Memphis, the only other CFP ranked G5, facing a stiff test against SMU as it tries to stay within shouting distance of UCF.

So, other than all of that, there’s really not much at stake this weekend. At all.

USC DE Christian Rector, DB Iman Marshall could play against Colorado after missing two games

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If you had to guess which team leads the country in sacks, you’d probably say somebody like Alabama, Clemson or even N.C. State given all of their terrific defensive lines. That is not the answer though, as some might be surprised to find out it’s actually USC who is the FBS leader with 34 sacks on the year.

While that Trojans’ pass-rush has been productive, it could get even better heading into the team’s game at Colorado this Saturday as defensive end Christian Rector could be in the lineup for the first time in two weeks after breaking his hand in practice.

“The hand is cleared by the doctors,” head coach Clay Helton said on Thursday evening, according to the LA Times. “It’s just from a pain standpoint. He’s not experiencing any pain right now, so basically we’re going to take (Friday) and the next day, warm him up on Saturday and make a decision from there, and see how he’s feeling about it. He wants to go.”

The addition of Rector, who has been wearing a wrapped up club to protect his hand in practice this week, could be a nice boon to USC’s chances at winning the Pac-12 as the edge rusher has 6.5 sacks on the season — good enough for second in the conference despite missing the past two games. Jordan Iosefa will likely start or play significant time in the position as he has been after taking over for the injured Rector.

That’s not the only bit of good news for the Trojans defense either, as Helton also confirmed that defensive back Iman Marshall could also be good to go for the team’s game in Boulder on Saturday as well after missing two weeks with a knee injury.

USC can clinch the division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship game with a win against the Buffs.

Colorado’s Ralphie to be grand marshal for homecoming parade in honor of 50th anniversary

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Live mascots in college football are cool, and Colorado’s love affair with Ralphie has been going on for half a century. To honor the 50th anniversary of Ralphie the buffalo making her first appearance leading the Colorado football team to the field, the city of Boulder is having Ralphie V be the grand marshal for the homecoming parade this weekend. And the honors will continue over the weekend.

Saturday will be recognized as “Ralphie’s 50th Anniversary Day,” after proclamations were signed by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones.

“Ralphie is iconic for so many Coloradans across the country,” Hickenlooper said. “Her strength and majestic nature matches that of our great state. Congratulations to the University of Colorado Boulder and everyone associated with the Ralphie program on this momentous occasion.”

“Ralphie is a source of great pride for both the university and the Boulder community,” Jones said. “She has delighted our community for the past 50 years and that’s why the City Council declared this Saturday to be Ralphie’s 50th Anniversary Day.”

Colorado hosts Cal in Pac-12 play this weekend. Ralphie V will continue the tradition of running on the field with trained handlers. This is the 10th season of performing the pregame ritual for Ralphie V.