LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 19:  Sportscaster Brent Musburger appears before a game between the New Mexico Lobos and the UNLV Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center on February 19, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. New Mexico won 68-56.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Brent Musburger insists Joe Mixon comments had nothing to do with ESPN departure

7 Comments

Brent Musburger has called his final college football game, hanging up the play-by-play headset for good following tomorrow night’s Georgia-Kentucky basketball game. This means Musburger’s final college game was marred by some poorly-worded comments regarding former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, wishing the player a long NFL career while discussing recently-surfaced video showing him hitting a female Oklahoma student in 2014.

Blowback was such that he felt compelled to defend those comments one quarter later of OU’s eventual win in the Sugar Bowl.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Musburger insisted the comments had nothing to do with the departure and, in fact, received very little attention from ESPN or Disney proper.

“We had already started the process of me leaving,” Musburger said. “The morning after the Sugar Bowl I had breakfast with [ESPN president] John Skipper and [senior vice president of event & studio production] Stephanie Druley, and they wanted to work out a plan to keep me at ESPN. There was not even a discussion about what had been said specifically about Mixon. In fact, the only person who mentioned it to me was a telephone call two days later from [Disney chairman] Bob Iger, who is an old friend, and he said, ‘This too shall pass.’ That was the only comment. There was no blowback. There is absolutely no connection.

 “I did not want them to be in the middle [of gambling issues]. I am sure they have had some phone calls about [gambling] comments that I have made on the air over the years. It certainly never came back to me, but I have no doubt it happened. I just wanted no connection whatsoever. I will tell you that my relations with ESPN and everyone there could not be better. We have been completely up front in this process. I leave with nothing but good feelings about these people. I never had a bad day for them and enjoyed it very much.”

Musburger is leaving to join a sports book start up in Las Vegas while co-hosting a gambling talk show on SiriusXM, appropriately titled My Friends in the Desert.

Pair of Oklahoma students arrested for breaking into LSU’s Tiger Stadium

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 19:  A general view of play between the Auburn Tigers and the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Getty Images
4 Comments

In your “yeah, what?” news of the day, two Oklahoma students were arrested over the weekend after breaking into LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

According to WBRZ, LSU police responded to a call of two men trespassing inside Tiger Stadium. When police approached them, they both attempted to run away, resulting in their arrests. They were charged with unauthorized entry of a place of business and resisting an officer by flight.

WBRZ reported that the two students didn’t cause any property damage or steal anything, so this wasn’t like some rivalry-fueled defacing spree. In all honestly, I thought most of these big stadiums were open to the public when not in use, given they’re on campus grounds and all.

And since we’re here, Oklahoma and LSU have only played twice in their illustrious football histories, with the Sooners winning the 1950 Sugar Bowl and the Tigers winning the 2004 Sugar Bowl.

 

Dabo Swinney fills two holes on Clemson coaching staff

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers celebrates with the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Somewhat lost amidst Clemson’s ongoing celebration of its first national championship in more than three decades was the fact that Dabo Swinney had two holes to fill on his title-winning coaching staff.  In one fell swoop Tuesday, Swinney filled both.

Mickey Conn and Todd Bates, the school confirmed in a press release, have been hired by Swinney as part of his nine-man on-field staff.  Bates will coach the Tigers’ defensive line, while Conn, who spent 2016 as a senior defensive analyst for the Tigers and was a teammate of Swinney’s on Alabama’s 1992 national title team, will handle cornerbacks.

The two assistants will replace defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks and defensive line coach Marion Hobby, with the former retiring at season’s end and the latter leaving for the same job with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

“These are two outstanding men who are very good fits with our staff,” said Swinney. “Of course Mickey was on our staff last year and already has a strong knowledge of what we do. Todd is the same age I was (33) when I came to Clemson. He has worked our camp in recent years. I remember one of the camp days Coach (Dan) Brooks came to me and said, ‘Todd Bates is the best coach we have out here.’ I have been following his career closely.”

Bates, also an Alabama graduate, spent the past three seasons as the line coach at FCS Jacksonville.  This will be his first on-field job at the FBS level.

Prior to coming to Clemson last year, Conn had spent the previous 16 seasons as a high school head coach in Colorado.

A Look Ahead: CFT’s Way-Too-Early 2017 Top 25

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the USC Trojans passes the ball against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Getty Images
13 Comments

The last bit of confetti has barely settled onto the Raymond James Stadium turf and the carcass of the 2016 season isn’t even cold yet, and we’re already rolling out a way-too-early Top 25 for the 2017 season? Yep. Because that’s how we roll. Or something.

In our role as preseason Nostradumbass, the first 10 of CFT’s Top 25 consisted of No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Clemson, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Notre Dame (ouch), No. 7 Washington (yeah us!), No. 8 TCU, No. 9 Michigan State (whoops) and No. 10 Tennessee. A little over 4½ months later?

Three of the four playoff participants were in our Top 10; the fourth, Ohio State, was just outside at No. 11. While not No. 1, Oklahoma came into the postseason ranked seventh in the College Football Playoff Top 25, and will likely move up thanks to the 16-point Sugar Bowl win over No. 14 Auburn (not in our preseason Top 25). Florida State (No. 11), LSU (No. 20) and Tennessee (No. 21) were all ranked at least eight spots lower when the postseason began, but all three won their respective bowl games.

On the flip side, TCU, at 6-6, earned a bowl bid… and subsequently lost to finish under .500. And then there was Notre Dame and Michigan State, which combined to win a total of seven games so let’s just forget about that and move on.

The point of this whole review-before-we-look-ahead exercise? Preseason polls are meaningless — but not nearly as meaningless as polls produced nearly eight months ahead of the start of a new season. With that in mind, enjoy this way-to-early Top 25 that will put the “mean” in meaningless. And the “less” in it, for that matter.

Oh, and as always, feel free to complain/whine/moan/bitch away in the comments section below.

NO. 1 USC
WHY? As a redshirt freshman, Sam Darnold emerged as one of the most electrifying playmakers at the quarterback position in college football, and should, to the chagrin of opponents, get even better with a full offseason as the man at the position.  Winning nine straight to close out the season doesn’t hurt either.
WHY NOT? There’s always at least one team that’s way overhyped — hello 2016 Notre Dame — and the hoopla and attention proves to be too much for the young Trojans to bear.

NO. 2 ALABAMA
WHY? Nick Saban + top-ranked recruiting classes year-in, year-out + a burning desire to be the greatest there ever was at this level = a permanent spot inside the Top 10 as long as The Nicktator resides in Tuscaloosa.
WHY NOT? An NFL team (finally) entices Saban to go back and finish what he started — and abruptly ended — in the big boy league of football.  It’s not going to happen, of course, but that’s about the only thing that could derail the Crimson Tide juggernaut — well, that and a Tiger named Deshaun.

Clemson v Florida StateNO. 3 FLORIDA STATE
WHY? The Seminoles are once again loaded with top-flight talent on both sides of the ball and at every positional unit, with Deondre Francois showing flashes in his first season as the starter of being one of the best young quarterbacks in the sport.
WHY NOT? They face Alabama on a (ahem) neutral field to open the season, then travel to Gainesville to face Florida in the regular-season finale.  In between, there’s a trip to Death Valley for their annual ACC Atlantic grudge match with Clemson.

NO. 4 OKLAHOMA
WHY? With Baker Mayfield returning, and the rest of the conference still trying to play catch-up, the Sooners are clearly the cream of the Big 12 crop.
WHY NOT? The twin backfield loses of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine can’t be overcome and Mayfield has to shoulder too much of the offensive burden. Plus, the road trips to Ohio State, Baylor and Oklahoma State for Bedlam.

NO. 5 WASHINGTON
WHY? They have a talented arm in quarterback Jake Browning, a very staunch defense and a schedule that’s very favorable, with the toughest road game being the trip to Stanford.
WHY NOT? They are losing a significant amount of talent that helped get them to the College Football Playoffs.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v ClemsonNO. 6 OHIO STATE
WHY? Given the personnel losses after the 2015 season, 2016 was thought to be a rebuilding year but turned into another playoff appearance.  The target was always the 2017 season for this young Buckeyes team, and a squad loaded with this much talent will be a factor throughout.
WHY NOT? J.T Barrett continues to regress as a quarterback despite Urban Meyer shaking up the top of his offensive coaching staff, and none of the other young quarterbacks are quite ready for prime time.

NO. 7 CLEMSON
WHY? Despite losing a couple of pieces, Brent Venables‘ defense will once again be one of the best in the nation.  The Tigers won 10 or more games in each of the three seasons prior to Deshaun Watson‘s arrival, so it’s far from a one-man show that Dabo Swinney has built.
WHY NOT? Losing Watson, a three-year starter at quarterback, proves to be too much as his replacement simply can’t handle the burden.

NO. 8 MICHIGAN
WHY? For all of his well-publicized off-field antics, Jim Harbaugh is simply one of the best head coaches in the sport and will settle for nothing less than getting his beloved Wolverines back into the national title discussion on an annual basis.  Wilton Speight was a breakout star in 2016 and should flourish despite the loss of his quarterbacks coach, while Don Brown continues to be one of the best defensive minds in the game.
WHY NOT? Too much talent was lost to the NFL, and Harbaugh simply hasn’t gotten the requisite time to completely restock the cupboard in Ann Arbor to compete with the Ohio States of the college football world.

Oklahoma State v BaylorNO. 9 OKLAHOMA STATE
WHY? One of the best quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the country, Mason Rudolph and James Washington, eschewed an early shot at the NFL and returned for one more season in Stillwater.
WHY NOT? A defense that was 53rd in scoring as it was loses nearly half its starters, plus OSU will have to play at Pittsburgh, Texas and West Virginia.

NO. 10 PENN STATE
WHY? They return a bunch of talent from their Big Ten-winning squad, including Heisman contenders in quarterback Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley, and get Michigan, Nebraska and Pittsburgh in Happy Valley.
WHY NOT? They lost a very talented wide receiver in Chris Godwin and have to play at Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State.

NO. 11 STANFORD
NO. 12 AUBURN
NO. 13 TEXAS
NO. 14 LSU
NO. 15 WISCONSIN
NO. 16 LOUISVILLE
NO. 17 GEORGIA
NO. 18 WEST VIRGINIA
NO. 19 SOUTH FLORIDA
NO. 20 FLORIDA
NO. 21 KANSAS STATE
NO. 22 COLORADO
NO. 23 WASHINGTON STATE
NO. 24 SAN DIEGO STATE
NO. 25 OREGON

Reports: Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon declares for 2017 NFL Draft

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts after a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Getty Images
6 Comments

To the surprise of nobody, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is moving on from Norman and is headed to the 2017 NFL Draft.

Reports from The Oklahoman and ESPN both reported the news on Thursday night ahead of an official announcement by the school.

The controversial tailback was the star of the team’s romp over Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, rushing for 91 yards and two touchdowns to go along with his game-high five receptions for 89 yards. Mixon wraps up his two year career with the Sooners with 2,027 rushing yards and 894 receiving yards on 65 receptions.

While Mixon was one of the best running backs in the country between the lines, his actions off the field largely defined his reputation. Just after arriving on campus as a five-star true freshman, Mixon punched a woman in a 2014 incident that forced him to take a plea deal with prosecutors and caused him to miss the entire season as a school-imposed punishment.

Fellow back Samaje Perine already announced his intentions to declare for the draft, giving Oklahoma two departures from the backfield in as many days. Rising sophomore Abdul Adams is expected to take over as the top option in the ground game for what should be a somewhat thin position for the defending Big 12 champions.