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Rain-fueled delay will keep LA Rams in USC’s Coliseum home for 2019, too

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One college football team will have some professional company for a little longer than expected.

In making the move from St. Louis back to Los Angeles, the Rams used USC’s home, the iconic (United?) Coliseum, as its home for the 2017 season. As their $2.6 billion new stadium in Inglewood, which they’ll share with the Chargers, had not been scheduled to open until 2019, the NFL team will spend the next two seasons at the home of the Trojans as well.

That stay has been extended as, according to the Los Angeles Times, construction delays in the building of the stadium will push the opening back to 2020, meaning the Rams will spend the 2019 season in the Coliseum as well. And the reason for the delay? An inordinate amount of rain, with over 15 inches of the wet stuff falling from November, when construction began, and February. That total is more than double the average amount for those times of the year.

From the Times:

The continuing rains really knocked us for a loop,” Bob Aylesworth, principal in charge for the Turner/AECOM Hunt joint venture that is building the stadium, told The Times. “It was a very unforgiving two months for the project. And speaking from a building perspective, it really couldn’t have come at a worse time.”

The weather brought work on the project to a standstill for two months earlier this year. The rain fell at a crucial stage of construction when work centered on digging the enormous hole — 5 million cubic yards of dirt were excavated — in which the stadium will sit. At times, the site looked like a lake, with water standing 12 to 15 feet deep.

The Rams lease with USC and the Coliseum carried an option for the NFL team to play in the stadium, just in case delays such as this pushed the project behind schedule.

USC reportedly sells naming rights to L.A. Coliseum to United Airlines

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Fly the friendly skies… to USC football? That’s apparently the case as one of college football’s most historic venues is going corporate.

Sports Business Journal is reporting that USC and the Los Angeles Coliseum have entered into a 15-year naming rights agreement worth a whopping $70 million with United Airlines. It’s unclear what the name of the new venue will be (or if the field at the site is what is being named) going forward in the wake of this but SBJ notes that officials involved have stressed in the past that ‘Memorial Coliseum’ will remain no matter who the sponsor is.

The deal is understandable on both sides even if Trojans supporters can’t be happy about seeing the corporate influence on the venerable stadium pop up. The Coliseum is undergoing a reported $270 million renovation in various stages that is expected to be completed in time for USC’s 2019 home opener. The city is a large hub for the airline and United CEO is apparently a USC alum as well.

That’s not the only news at the site either, as Thursday also brought word that the Los Angeles Rams would remain a tenant at the Coliseum for another year — through 2020 — as the result of construction delays at their new stadium in Inglewood.

With the additional year of revenues from the Rams and the new sponsorship agreement, USC appears well on their way to paying for those significant renovation costs that are quickly approaching.

Lane Kiffin reportedly offers another 7th grade quarterback

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No matter how many passes he winds up catching, David Sills will always have a place in college football history. Way back in the prehistoric era of 2010, Sills received a scholarship offer as a seventh grade quarterback by then-USC head coach Lane Kiffin.

Sills, of course, did not become USC’s next great quarterback. He signed with West Virginia out of Wilmington, Del., and caught seven catches from 131 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in 2015, then threw for 1,636 yards and 15 touchdowns as a quarterback at El Camino College in 2016. Sills is now back at West Virginia and once again listed as a wide receiver, a perfectly fine player at the highest level of college football (which, lest we forget, is still better than 99.9 percent of us slobs could ever say) but not at all what Kiffin’s offer suggested he would one day become.

Similarly, Kiffin’s career is now what we thought it would be way back then. He’s now the head coach at Florida Atlantic — and he’s still reportedly offering seventh grade quarterbacks.

According to a Facebook post from Fox Sports’s Bruce Feldman, has offered seventh grade quarterback Kaden Martin. Standing 5-foot-11 and checking in at 175 pounds, Martin stars for Adams Middle School in Redondo Beach, Calif. And unlike Sills, there’s a complicating factor that may have led to this offer — Martin is the son of former Tennessee quarterback and current USC assistant Tee Martin.

Call me crazy, but I think the likelihood of Kaden Martin leading a Lane Kiffin-led Florida Atlantic team to the 2026 Conference USA championship are lower than that of Sills fulfilling his destiny as the next Matt Leinart.

Ex-USC coach finally lands court date with NCAA over Reggie Bush case

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After years and years of meandering through the court system, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair finally has his day in court with the NCAA.

ESPN is reporting that the two parties will meet in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 18, 2018. The trial will finally get underway next year after nearly a decade of appeals on both sides.

McNair was the Trojans’ running backs coach during the glory days under Pete Carroll and responsible for coaching or recruiting many of the team’s top players. He was one of the few links to the program that the NCAA cited when determining that former star Reggie Bush received extra benefits, later leading to brutal sanctions back in 2010. McNair was given a one-year show-cause as a result of the Committee on Infractions findings and never coached again after the school let his contract expire shortly thereafter.

That wasn’t the end of the story however, as McNair later filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA in which he accused the association of violating protocol and showing bias against himself and the program in order to level unprecedented sanctions. Documents in the case have continued to seep out that have given credence to McNair’s case and the NCAA’s lawyers have fought bitterly at every turn in order to prevent the trial from actually getting underway.

Those efforts were unsuccessful however and it appears an already nasty legal battle is still not over. It remains to be seen if the trial will even happen, as a settlement could eventually take place between now and next April. If it does indeed go in front of a jury though, it just might be one of the most fascinating insights into one of the biggest NCAA scandals of the past few decades.

Nearly three-fourths of 2017 first-round NFL draft picks were 4- or 5-star recruits

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For those who completely dismiss recruiting rankings, the NFL draft showed again last night that they do mean something.

The 2017 version of the annual player selection meeting kicked off Thursday night in Philadelphia, with a total of 32 players selected in the opening round.  Of those 32, nearly 75 percent — 22 to be exact — were either four- or five-star recruits.  Nine were the latter, 13 the former.

Four of the first six selections, and three of the first four, were five-star recruits.  Myles Garrett of Texas A&M, the No. 1 overall pick, was the No. 2 player in the 2014 recruiting class; LSU’s Leonard Fournette, drafted fourth by the Jacksonville Jaguars, was the top recruit in that same class.

Just two of the 32 selections came from non-Power Five conferences, Western Michigan’s Corey Davis and Temple’s Haason Reddick.  Davis was one of two two-star recruits, Missouri’s Charles Harris being the other, while Reddick began his career with the Owls as a walk-on.

There were also six three-star recruits drafted, the highest being Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes at No. 10 overall.  He was also the second quarterback taken, behind only Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina (four-star).

Add all of those up, and you get 31 of the players selected last night.  The 32nd?  Wisconsin offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk, who had an interesting, to say the least, route to major college football.  From Ramczyk’s NFL.com draft profile:

Ramczyk (pronounced RAM-check) is a rare case of a Division III student-athlete making the jump to major college football. Even though he was an all-state pick from Wisconsin, he chose to turn down offers from FBS and FCS schools (one from Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst, who was at Pitt at the time) to attend a local technical college. After a year off, he decided to play at his hometown school, the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. Ramczyk was a two-time all-conference pick there at left tackle before deciding to transfer to play for Chryst at Wisconsin.

Appropriately, Ramczyk was the last player selected in the first round, taken at No. 32 by the New Orleans Saints.

1.) Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M, 2014 5-star (Cleveland Browns)
2.) Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina, 2013 4-star (Chicago Bears)
3.) Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford, 2014 5-star (San Francisco 49ers)
4.) Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU, 2014 5-star (Jacksonville Jaguars)
5.) Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan, 2013 2-star (Tennessee Titans)
6.) Jamal Adams, DB, LSU, 2014 5-star (New York Jets)
7.) Mike Williams, WR, Clemson, 2013 4-star (Los Angeles Chargers)
8.) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford, 2014 4-star (Carolina Panthers)
9.) John Ross, WR, Washington, 2013 4-star (Cincinnati Bengals)
10.) Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech, 2013 3-star (Kansas City Chiefs)
11.) Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State, 2014 4-star (New Orleans Saints)
12.) Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson, 2014 4-star (Houston Texans)
13.) Haason Reddick, LB, Temple, walk-on (Arizona Cardinals)
14.) Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee, 2014 4-star (Philadelphia Eagles)
15.) Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State, 2014 4-star (Indianapolis Colts)
16.) Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama, 2015 4-star (Baltimore Ravens)
17.) Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama, 2013 5-star (Washington Redskins)
18.) Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC, 2014 5-star (Tennessee Titans)
19.) O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama, 2013 5-star (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
20.) Garett Bolles, OL, Utah, 2016 4-star (Denver Broncos)
21.) Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida, 2013 3-star (Detroit Lions)
22.) Charles Harris, DE, Missouri, 2013 2-star (Miami Dolphins)
23.) Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss, 2013 3-star (New York Giants)
24.) Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State, 2013 4-star (Oakland Raiders)
25.) Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan, 2014 5-star (Cleveland Browns)
26.) Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA, 2013 3-star (Atlanta Falcons)
27.) Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU, 2013 4-star (Buffalo Bills)
28.) Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan, 2013 4-star (Dallas Cowboys)
29.) David Njoku, TE, Miami, 2014 3-star (Cleveland Browns)
30.) T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin, 2013 3-star (Pittsburgh Steelers)
31.) Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama, 2013 5-star (San Francisco 49ers)
32.) Ryan Ramczyk, OL, Wisconsin, no rating (New Orleans Saints)