Washington State Cougars

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Eight-win season activates extension clause in Mike Leach’s contract

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After another successful season last fall, Washington State is keeping Mike Leach around for another season. Not just because they want to, but also because they have to.

As detailed by Stefanie Loh for the Seattle Times, an 8-5 campaign in 2016 extended an automatic 1-year extension as spelled out in Leach’s contract. He is now signed with the Cougars through Dec. 31, 2021. The 2021 campaign would be Leach’s 10th season at Washington State, when he would be 60 years old.

His salary is set at $2.9 million.

It’s actually the second straight season Leach’s automatic rollover clause has been activated. He’s led the Cougars to a 17-9 mark over the past two seasons, including a 13-5 mark in Pac-12 play.

Additionally, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has triggered a 1-year extension at a $600,000 salary, which will rise $25,000 a year thereafter.

College football spring games: Dates, TV times

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As the calendar flips from March to April, the rush of college football spring games commences in earnest.

On the Power Five side alone, there are nearly 60 spring games scheduled to be played in the month of April.  Last year around this time, Urban Meyer was urging Ohio State fans to show up en masse; the Buckeye faithful responded with a record-breaking turnout.  That six-figure record should be safe — maybe.

Channeling his inner Urban, James Franklin earlier this month very passionately challenged fans to attend Penn State’s spring game to showcase to recruits and the rest of the country that “football is a very, very important part of Penn State.” Texas seemingly has momentum, what with Tom Herman replacing Charlie Strong as head coach, and that hire could cause a spike in interest and spring butts in the seats.  Clemson, coming off its first national championship in three decades and with some question marks given key departures, will certainly see a surge in attendance, although the official seating capacity of 81,500 at Memorial Stadium would preclude them from doing anything other than (barely) cracking the Top 10 in all-time spring game attendance.

Alabama historically fares well in spring attendance — four of the Top 10 — although the last huge crowd was six years ago.  Coming off the first title-game loss under Nick Saban, don’t expect a big jump this year either.

With those storylines in mind, below is the complete slate of spring games for the next four-plus weeks.

FRIDAY, MARCH 31
Arizona, 9 p.m. ET

SATURDAY, APRIL 1
Northwestern, 11 a.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
South Carolina, noon ET (SEC Network)
North Carolina State, 1 p.m. ET
Michigan State, 3 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Texas Tech, 4 p.m. ET

FRIDAY, APRIL 7
Florida, 7 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

SATURDAY, APRIL 8
Ole Miss, noon ET (SEC Network)
Purdue, 1 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Auburn, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Iowa State, 2 p.m. ET
Oklahoma, 2 p.m. ET
Texas A&M, 2 pm. ET (ESPNU)
Clemson, 2:30 p.m. ET
Florida State, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
North Carolina, 3 p.m. ET
Wake Forest, 3 p.m. ET
Mississippi State, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
TCU (time still to be determined)

THURSDAY, APRIL 13
Indiana, 7 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)

FRIDAY, APRIL 14
Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

SATURDAY, APRIL 15
Ohio State, 12:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Louisville, 1 p.m. ET
Minnesota, 1 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. ET
Utah, 1 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
West Virginia, 1 p.m. ET
Kansas, 2 p.m. ET
Missouri, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Nebraska, 2 p.m. ET
Oklahoma State, 2 p.m. ET
Texas, 2 p.m. ET (Longhorn Network)
USC, 3 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Stanford, 4 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Arizona State, 5 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

FRIDAY, APRIL 21
Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. ET
Wisconsin, 7:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Iowa (time still to be determined)

SATURDAY, APRIL 22
Syracuse, 10 a.m. ET
Boston College, noon ET
Maryland, 12:30 ET (Big Ten Network)
Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m. ET
Baylor, 1 p.m. ET
Cal, 2 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Georgia, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Kansas State, 2 p.m. ET
Virginia Tech, 2:30 p.m. ET
Alabama, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Penn State, 3 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Washington, 3 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Tennessee, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Rutgers, 5 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Washington State, 5 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
LSU, 8 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

SATURDAY, APRIL 29
Arkansas, 1 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Oregon, 2 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Virginia, 3 p.m. ET
UCLA, 4 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

*Neither Miami nor Michigan will conduct traditional spring games.
*Arizona, Duke, Illinois, Oregon State and Vanderbilt played their spring games in March.

Lucas Gravelle going from Wazzu to TCU as grad transfer

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TCU has picked up some immediate special teams help, courtesy of a Pac-12 school.

On his personal Twitter account late last week, Lucas Gravelle announced that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career at TCU. The longsnapper decided earlier this offseason to transfer from Washington State and finish up elsewhere.

As Gravelle will be coming to the Horned Frogs as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017. This coming season will be his final year of eligibility.

TCU subsequently confirmed on its official Twitter account Sunday evening the official arrival of the lineman.

Gravelle, who originally began his career at the junior college level, was Wazzu’s starting longsnapper for each of the last 25 games over the past two years.

Report: Pac-12, Larry Scott strike deal on contract extension

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Depending on your vantage point, this is either tremendous news when it comes to stability or another sign that the league will continue to remain stuck in neutral behind the two current conference behemoths.

According to a report from Pete Thamel of SI.com, Larry Scott has reached an agreement on a contract extension with the Pac-12.  The new deal would keep Scott as the conference’s commissioner through 2022.

Scott had one year remaining on his old deal.

Thamel writes that “terms of the deal aren’t known.” According to a report from USA Today‘s Steve Berkowitz in May of last year and based on tax return filings, Scott was paid nearly $4.1 million for the 2014 calendar year, making him the highest-paid commissioner in collegiate athletics.  By comparison, the Big Ten’s Jim Delany pulled in $3.1 million for the same period.

Scott’s tenure with the Pac-12 was initially marked by what was a then-record television deal with ESPN and FOX Sports in 2011.  Since then, that conference has watched both the Big Ten and SEC secure new deals that earn its members anywhere from $8 million to $13 million more annually than their Pac-12 counterparts.

And then there’s the inability of the Pac-12, under Scott’s guidance, to secure a distribution agreement with DirecTV for its collection of conference networks, causing it to lag well behind the networks offered by the Big Ten and SEC.

Barry Odom bringing his brother aboard at Mizzou

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With his latest hire, Barry Odom is keeping it all in the family.

Missouri announced Friday morning that Odom has hired Brian Odom to be his outside linebackers coach.  Brian Odom is, of course, the younger brother of the Tigers head coach.

“I’m excited to have Brian join our staff, he will be a great fit for us in a variety of roles,” a statement from the elder Odom began. “He has an understanding of the defensive structure we’re going to run, he’s been around it extensively his last couple of years at Washington State, and he and I have spent a lot of time together personally prior to that studying and sharing defensive philosophies. He’s got a great mind for football, and he has a strong background in leading, mentoring and motivating players to improve themselves and attain goals.

“I know what I’m getting with Brian, and I know the opportunity to be back at Mizzou means a lot to him.”

Odom’s first coaching job came as a graduate assistant for Gary Pinkel in 2005.  He comes back to Mizzou after a two-year stint at Washington State.  This will mark Odom’s first on-field job at the FBS level.