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Bill Snyder says he’s ‘doing fine’

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Bill Snyder made his first statement at Big 12 media days simply by showing up.

The Kansas State head coach has spent his offseason battling throat cancer. He originally planned to coach through the treatment but had to take a leave of absence in the spring before returning ahead of the spring game.

That is behind him now, though, and Snyder said Tuesday that he is back in the saddle.

“Well, I’m doing fine,” he said. “I mean, the recovery is ongoing, quite obviously, but I’m doing fine, getting around fine. Don’t have any issues right now other than trying to prepare for the season. That’s always an ongoing issue. That’s 365 a year.”

Snyder, who turns 78 in October, will coach his 26th Kansas State season this fall.

The Wildcats are picked to finish third in the Big 12 after a season in which they went 9-4, including a close that saw K-State win five of its final six games.

Pool party lands Penn State its sixth commitment in five days

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Big Ten media days are next week, and James Franklin may strut in like he’s Vince McMahon walking into a wrestling ring.

The Nittany Lions are not only the defending Big Ten champions and a preseason top-10 shoe-in with one of the most productive backfield tandems in quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley returning to Happy Valley. Penn State has also been on a recruiting tear this week.

Penn State landed Isheem Young, a 4-star defensive back out of Philadelphia, on Tuesday. Here’s how he committed.

In addition to Young, Penn State has also nabbed pledges from 4-star defensive end Judge Culpepper, 3-star wide receiver Shaquon Anderson-Butts, 3-star quarterback Will Levis, 4-star wide receiver Daniel George and 2-star kicker Jake Pinegar.

Those commitments give Penn State 20 for its 2018 class, good enough for third nationally in the Rivals rankings.

That’s reason enough for a mid-summer pool party if you ask me.

LSU safety John Battle gets fifth year from NCAA

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LSU safety John Battle received some good news from the NCAA recently. The 2017 season no longer has to be his final year of eligibility.

According to a report from The Advocate, the LSU safety received a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA, which means he will be a redshirt junior this fall rather than a senior. This allows him to return for another year in 2018 if he chooses to do so. The NCAA decided to give Battle an extra year of eligibility to make up for a lost 2014 season that ended quickly with an injury in a game against an FCS opponent (Sam Houston State) in 2014.

Having Battle back on the depth chart for another potential season is an obvious boost for Ed Orgeron and the Tigers, as it gives one more veteran player to rely on at a key spot on the field. Having Battle around allows for more developmental time to be used for younger players working to prepare themselves for a starting job down the line.

Conference USA media poll tabs Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky as division favorites

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In the relatively brief history of the Conference USA championship game, there has never been a rematch of the previous season’s title game. If all goes according to plan as predicted by the media, that could change in 2017.

Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech were each the clear favorites to win their respective divisions in the Conference USA preseason media poll released today. Both programs received 20 first-place votes to easily be named the preseason favorites in the Conference USA divisions, setting the stage for a potential rematch in the Conference USA championship game at the end of the season. Western Kentucky is the two-time defending Conference USA champion, and Louisiana Tech has played in two of the last three title games, so it was hardly a shock to see both programs be named the preseason favorites by the media.

UAB returns to the football field this season, and the preseason poll suggests it will be a rocky return. The Blazers were picked to finish last in the West Division. After Louisiana Tech, UTSA picked up seven first-place votes to come in second in the preseason poll. Southern Miss, now a year removed from playing for the conference championship, received the last remaining first-place vote in the West Division.

Western Kentucky failed to gobble up all of the first-place votes in the East Division as well. Middle Tennessee received four votes, while Old Dominion picked up three. Marshall also received a first-place nod from the voters. New FBS program and conference member Charlotte was picked last in the East, as expected. Lane Kiffin‘s FAU Owls were picked to finish in fifth place.

Here’s how the preseason media poll in Conference USA looks. No picks for conference champion were made.

Conference USA East Division

  1. Western Kentucky (20 first-place votes)
  2. Middle Tennessee (4)
  3. Old Dominion (3)
  4. Marshall (1)
  5. Florida Atlantic
  6. FIU
  7. Charlotte

Conference USA West Division

  1. Louisiana Tech (20)
  2. UTSA (7)
  3. Southern Miss (1)
  4. North Texas
  5. Rice
  6. UTEP
  7. UAB

Big 12’s new slogan is “guaranteed” to settle its one true champion issue

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The Big 12 is bringing back the conference championship game this season for the first time since being reduced in size to 10 members. Once the NCAA decided it was OK for conferences with fewer than 12 members to hold a championship game, it was only a matter of time before the Big 12 brought the money-making game 13th data point back to the table for its top playoff and conference championship contenders.

Of course, with the return of the championship game and the start of a new season brings a brand new slogan for the Big 12. As College Football Talk contributor Zach Barnett shows us, the new slogan is a neat little play on words, and may take a jab at its predecessor in the process.

The Big 12 has abandoned the “One True Champion” fiasco, which was doomed from the start, and replaced it with a bonafide guarantee that the Big 12 will once and for all be able to declare an unquestionable conference champion. The top two teams in the Big 12 will square off for the Big 12 championship this season, with the hope that the conference title game will help give a playoff contender one final push to get into the College Football Playoff. The Big 12 has been left out of the playoff mix two out of the first three years of the new national championship model. The Big 12 was ultimately passed over by the College Football Playoff selection committee, and this indecisiveness was believed to have hurt the Big 12’s chances (even though Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State had more than fair reasons for being included in the playoff that first year).

In 2015, Baylor and TCU tied for the conference championship. Despite Baylor winning the head-to-head matchup with the Horned Frogs, the Big 12 chose to award a split Big 12 title, thus making a mockery of the conference’s slogan of “One True Champion,” which was built on the emphasis that the Big 12 was the only power conference to play a full conference schedule where every team plays through the entire conference.

Last year, the Big 12 had Oklahoma go 9-0 in conference play to end the season as one of the hottest teams in the country, but two non-conference losses made it a tough uphill battle for the eventual Big 12 champions to get in (especially since one loss came against a playoff participant, one-loss Ohio State).

So here we are in 2017. The Big 12 held off on expanding the conference but is bringing the conference championship game back into the schedule. We will indeed get a guaranteed undisputed champion in the Big 12, but the Big 12 is guaranteed to be setup for a setback if a viable playoff contender is upset in a rematch in the Big 12 championship game.