Oregon State Beavers

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.

Mike Riley issues statement after gang-rape victim spoke to his Nebraska players

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 17: Head coach Mike Riley of the Nebraska Cornhuskers looks on during the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on October 17, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.Nebraska defeated Minnesota 48-25. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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When it comes to college sports in general and football specifically, sexual assaults and how to raise awareness to the escalating problem have been front and center of late. Wednesday, Mike Riley put his Nebraska Cornhuskers face-to-face with one such victim.

Nearly two decades ago, Brenda Tracy, a single mother to two young kids at the time, was gang-raped by four men, two of whom were football players on Riley’s Oregon State Beavers. The details, suffice to say, are disgusting.

“[W]hile visiting the apartment of her friend’s boyfriend,” the Lincoln Journal-Star wrote, “[Tracy] accepted a drink of gin and orange juice she will forever believe was drugged, and lost consciousness while she said four men took turns sexually assaulting her over the span of seven hours. In the morning, she said there were condoms and garbage stuck to her naked body.”  The Oregonian described the assault as Tracy having been “gang raped, sodomized, [and] robbed.

The four men were arrested but never charged, and Riley came under fire for suspending the players involved for just one game each. He also came under fire, especially from the alleged victim, for referring to their actions as merely “a bad choice.”

In 2014, however, Riley, following the publishing of Tracy’s story in a powerful article from The Oregonian, invited the victim to speak to his OSU football team.  While Tracy didn’t accept the invitation at the time, the two stayed in touch following Riley’s move to the Cornhuskers, with that long-distance relationship culminating in first a face-to-face meeting Wednesday followed by Tracy speaking to the Cornhuskers football players and sharing her story.

Following what was most certainly an emotional experience for all involved, Riley issued the following statement:

As part of our ongoing educational efforts, I invited Brenda Tracy to Lincoln, to share her experiences with the young men in our program. Brenda has suffered immeasurable pain and has shown the strength and willingness to share her story. Her story today was powerful and I know that it left an indelible imprint on our student-athletes, staff, and myself.

“Sexual assault and harassment are serious issues on campuses across America. We try to recruit young men of character with core values, and once they are here, we educate them on making good decisions and treating all people with the utmost of respect.

“Prior to speaking with the team, Brenda and I had a chance to meet at length. I expressed my sincere gratitude for her willingness to come and I offered my support in her efforts to impact others around the country. Out of respect to Brenda, I will not share details of our conversation but I hope to have the opportunity to continue our dialogue.

“This has been an important day for me and for our football program and we must keep the focus on the victims, and on preventing inexcusable acts in the future.

On her own Twitter account, Tracy posted a photo of her with Riley.

Second 2016 Oregon State signee fails to make the grade, won’t play for Beavers

CORVALLIS, OR - NOVEMBER 15:  The mascot "Benny" of the Oregon State Beavers performs on the field during the game against California at Reser Stadium on November 15, 2008 in Corvalis, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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Unfortunately for Oregon State, Shurod Thompson is not alone.

In April, it was reported that Thompson, one of two four-star signees in OSU’s 2016 recruiting class, would not be playing for the Beavers after all because of academic issues. Earlier this week, fellow 2016 signee Tyson Penn tweeted that he is “no longer committed to play football at OSU next season.”

Citing a source close to the situation, The Oregonian subsequently reported that Penn failed to qualify academically.

Penn was a three-star member of this year’s recruiting class, rated as the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Washington. It’s likely Penn will take the junior college route for at least a year.

Pac-12 to tamper down on select #Pac12AfterDark kickoffs

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 07:  Pac-12 Commissioner, Larry Scott stands in front of the Stanford Cardinal as they celebrate the Pac 12 Championship after defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils 38-14 at Sun Devil Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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When you allow television networks to pay you $3 billion to broadcast football games and happen to be located on the West Coast, you’re going to pay for it in the form of late kickoffs. ESPN and Fox want eyeballs on their networks as long as possible on fall Saturdays, and they’re not putting SEC games on at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

So, naturally, the Pac-12 drew those time slots.

And they absolutely hated it.

Remember, this is a conference that only recently joined the 21st century. For decades, the conference was happy with its 10 teams, its football games played on Saturday afternoons and its basketball schedule diced into a handy Thursday-Saturday format. Larry Scott was hired in 2009 to modernize the league while increasing the bottom line, and part of that required late kickoffs.

But on Tuesday the conference announced it has worked with its television partners to reduce the number of late kickoffs. ESPN and Fox won’t change their late slots, but the conference has received clearance to play Pac-12 Network games in previously exclusive windows of 2 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. local time. The change is expected to reduce the late night kickoffs by “up to” four games.

“The Pac-12 has some of the most loyal fans in college athletics and we appreciate our television partners working with us on this important issue for fans,” Oregon AD Rob Mullens said in a statement. “The increased exposure and revenue from our contracts with ESPN and FOX Sports have been instrumental to our success, but we continue to work hard to minimize as much as possible the negative impact late start times have on our fans who travel great distances to see our teams in person.”

Additionally, the conference announced it has instituted a field storming fine structure of $25,000 for a first offense, $50,000 for a second offense and $100,000 for a third offense. The SEC has a similar structure on its books.

“The Pac-12 Council carefully considered this policy and its impact on our fans who loyally support our teams,” Cal AD Mike Williams said. “This enhanced policy underscores the importance our universities place on the safety and welfare of our student-athletes, officials and fans, and will allow us to educate staffs and fans on procedures going forward.”

Finally, Pac-12 Network will start broadcasting eSports contests between member schools. Clear your schedule now.

One of two four-star OSU signees won’t be playing for Beavers after all

CORVALLIS, OR - NOVEMBER 15:  The mascot "Benny" of the Oregon State Beavers performs on the field during the game against California at Reser Stadium on November 15, 2008 in Corvalis, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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A 2016 recruiting class for Oregon State that garnered its highest Rivals.com rating (41st) since 2013 included a pair of four-star signees.  When the Beavers return to Corvallis for summer camp in a couple of months, that number will be cut in half.

In a tweet posted to his personal Twitter account, and citing “unforeseen circumstances,” Shurod Thompson revealed that he will not be attending Oregon State in the fall as previously.  While no specific reason was given, it’s believed academics played an overriding role in the decision.

247Sports.com had Thompson rated as the No. 7 safety in the country and the No. 34 player at any position in the state of California. Thompson and Texas athlete Christian Wallace were the highest-rated members of the Beavers’ most recent recruiting class.

The Oregonian writes that “Thompson was rated the No. 8 safety in the country and at one time held offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas and others, but several programs had backed off due to concerns about whether or not he would be admitted into college.” It’s believed Thompson will now go the junior college route in an effort to get his academic house in order.