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Davey O’Brien Award watch list highlighted by former finalists, semifinalists and SEC

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The Davey O’Brien Award (top quarterback) took the spotlight in the ongoing college football watch list tour on Wednesday morning. A total of 30 quarterbacks were named to the initial watch list for the award, including six from the SEC along with a few potential Heisman Trophy candidates and a Heisman Trophy winner.

Highlighting the watch list are two finalists from last season; Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has been a two-time finalist for the award. Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and Washington State’s Luke Falk are also on the watch list and are each two-time semifinalists for the award. Joining them on the watch list are former semifinalists Jake Browning (Washington), Sam Darnold (USC), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Josh Rosen (UCLA), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State)m and Wilton Speight (Michigan).

While the SEC led the way with six watch list players, the ACC, Big 12, and Pac-12 each had four players named to the watch list. The Big Ten had three, with Penn State’s Trace McSorley joining Barrett and Speight.

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson won the Davey O’Brien Award each of the past two seasons, becoming the second two-time winner of the award (Oklahoma’s Jason White in 2003-04). A player does not need to be included on the watch list in order to win the award, but only quarterbacks from the 130 FBS programs are eligible.

2017 Davey O’Brien Award Watch List

Austin Allen, Arkansas
Josh Allen, Wyoming
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Jake Bentley, South Carolina
Jake Browning, Washington
Shane Buechele, Texas
Sam Darnold, USC
Eric Dungey, Syracuse
Jacob Eason, Georgia
Jesse Ertz, Kansas State
Luke Falk, Washington State
Riley Ferguson, Memphis
Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
Quinton Flowers, USF
Deondre Francois, Florida State
Jalen Hurts, Alabama
Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Daniel Jones, Duke
Tanner Mangum, BYU
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Trace McSorley, Penn State
Shea Patterson, Ole Miss
Josh Rosen, UCLA
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Brett Rypien, Boise State
Brandon Silvers, Troy
Wilton Speight, Michigan
Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
Mike White, WKU
Logan Woodside, Toledo

The Davey O’Brien Award will be trim its watch list down to a handful of semifinalists on November 7. Finalists for the award will be unveiled two weeks later on November 21, and the winner will be announced on December 7 at the annual Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPN.

Title game rematch? Notre Dame AD “would love to play” Alabama

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The 2013 BCS National Championship was a meeting of college football heavyweights as Alabama and Notre Dame squared off for the seventh time in the schools’ illustrious history. The game itself turned out to be anything but interesting after kickoff though as the Crimson Tide ran right over the Irish on their way to a 42-14 bludgeoning and complete a run as back-to-back national champions.

While many Notre Dame fans would love to forget that night in South Florida, a rematch could be in store for the two programs down the road in the regular season. In a wide-ranging interview with the Indianapolis Star, Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick discussed a multitude of issues surrounding the football program and specifically addressed scheduling philosophy. The team recently added several SEC teams like Arkansas to their future schedules and it appears a rematch with the Tide could also be in the cards as well.

“Alabama is one of those opponents we would love to play. I hope we do get that done,” said Swarbrick. “It was interesting to see the list of teams we’ve never played (from the SEC, which include Mississippi State, Auburn and Kentucky). I frankly didn’t know it. I have a great relationship with the Auburn athletic director (Jay Jacobs), and I’d love to figure out how to do that. There’s something to be said for ticking off everyone on that list until you can say you’ve done it over the history of this program.”

The Fighting Irish are no stranger to going South as they’re scheduled to play an SEC school in each of the next four years. Alabama recently hired a new athletic director in Greg Byrne and it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see the two AD’s find time to schedule a game or two considering how many high-profile matchups are already on the docket for both sides.

Either way, given how scheduled out things already are for Notre Dame and Alabama, any such meeting would surely be several years into the future. That should give Irish fans plenty of time to erase that national championship game from their memory.

Alabama voted by media as favorite to win SEC

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I didn’t see this one coming.  Talk about being blindsided.

One day after putting the wraps on its annual media days shindig, the SEC released the media’s picks for conference champion and predicted order of finish.  And, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Alabama Crimson Tide, playoff participants in each of the first three years of the new system to determine a national champion, is the overwhelming favorite to claim yet another league championship.

‘Bama earned 217 points from the media when polled as to this year’s conference champ.  Next closest?  Auburn with 11, followed by Georgia’s six points and three each for Florida and LSU.  Showing that the media has a sense of humor and doesn’t take these preseason honors too seriously, even Vanderbilt was the recipient of a point.

Six times since 1992, the media has correctly picked the eventual champion in the preseason vote.  Two of those, though, came the last three years.

While ‘Bama was an overwhelming title choice, they weren’t a unanimous selection to win the West.  They did, however, reel in 225 first-place votes; Auburn (13), LSU (four) and Arkansas (one) were the only others to do so.

In the East Division, Georgia’s 138 first-place votes topped Florida’s 96.  South Carolina with five and Tennessee with three were the others to garner first-place votes in that division.

In addition to the predicted order of finish, the conference also released its Preseason Media Days All-SEC Teams. Alabama had the most first-team All-SEC selections with 10, which is a new record for this particular preseason squad.

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Calvin Ridley (Alabama) and Derrius Guice (LSU) received the most votes amongst individual players.

On the move? SEC reportedly considering Atlanta, Dallas and Nashville for media days

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SEC Media Days is the unofficial official start to the college football season every July and it’s been a tradition for hordes of national and local media to descend  upon Birmingham, Ala. every year to hear coaches share tidbits about their team and see what players have been up to during the offseason. While the event has expanded in terms of days — to almost a full week — and the number of people attending, one thing you could always count on was it being at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover.

That run however, could be coming to an end.

Conference officials told the Baton Rouge Advocate that they are considering relocation the annual kickoff event, with commissioner Greg Sankey telling the paper that Nashville, Dallas and Atlanta are all “pretty good” potential new spots.

“We’ve got a great tradition here in Hoover. As our footprint has expanded, it’s appropriate to look at options,” Sankey said. “I said back in April that’s on my mind. I don’t have a prediction of when or where, but I think at some point mobility can be a healthy thing for this particular endeavor.”

Though the league office is located in Birmingham, a move elsewhere for media days has been something rumored for several years and has picked up steam with the not-so-new additions of Texas A&M and Missouri. Based on those comments from the commish, it appears the SEC is finally starting to explore those options beyond just the customary check-in.

Atlanta probably makes the most sense in many ways given that it’s the spiritual home of the league as the host of the conference title game and offers plenty of easy travel connections to just about anywhere in the region. The fairly new College Football Hall of Fame would certainly be a potential site to host the gathering and the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium could also be an option. Nashville is a fun area that has plenty of expertise from when it hosts the SEC basketball media days later in the fall.

But if you’re looking for the most intriguing option, that would be Dallas. The headline for this piece probably already perked up the ears of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, an Arkansas grad who has done his best to bring plenty of college football events to the metroplex in recent years. He is hosting the Big 12’s media days at his massive new ‘The Star’ complex in nearby Frisco, Texas already this month and would almost assuredly make room next year for his favorite league if asked. Things might be a little awkward with the Big 12 and a few fans in burnt orange but that would probably be left to Sankey and fellow commissioner Bob Bowlsby to sort out.

The Advocate notes that the 2018 site has not been determined and a return to Hoover and the Wynfrey remains on the table with the SEC’s deal with the hotel renewed on a yearly basis. Still, the fact that league officials are discussing the possibility of hitting the road for media days is quite the bat signal to the three cities mentioned and numerous others.

SEC commish puts kibosh on divisional realignment talk

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At least for now, there’s seemingly nothing to see when it comes to changing the current makeup of the SEC.

Earlier this offseason, Auburn’s athletic director, Jay Jacobs, continued to bang the drum for a divisional shift in the conference — his football program to the East, Missouri to the West.  Not long after, Jacobs’ Mizzou counterpart, Jim Sterk, let it be known publicly that he’s fine with the Tigers being right where they’re at.

During his annual State of the Conference address as the SEC kicked off its media days Monday, Greg Sankey succinctly nipped any league divisional realignment square in the bud.  Again, for now.

“Has not been an agenda item in the meeting,” the commissioner said. “It is a conversation in most large press conferences in which I appear, and that’s the extent of the conversation.”

In other words, when it comes to the SEC tweaking its East-West divisions…