Beebe’s ouster, LHN tweaks could keep Sooners in Big 12

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What was the old saying attributed to Mark Twain, that reports of his death have been exaggerated?

Unbelievably, that late-19th century quote may — may — very well be apropos for the current state of the Big 12 — provided the conference’s most powerful member and the conference itself make some significant concessions.

Citing a high-ranking Big 12 source, the Daily Oklahoman is reporting that Oklahoma is open to remaining as a member of the Big 12 as long as two major conditions are met.

The first condition is the immediate removal of Dan Beebe as commissioner of the Big 12 and the appointing of an interim conference head.  Beebe has long been considered by many observers and those associated with the conference as being nothing more than a puppet whose strings are pulled by Texas and Texas alone.  As the Oklahoman notes, Beebe’s desire to appease Texas as the best hope for long-term stability in the conference is viewed by many as “the wrong decision” and has paved the way for the current mess the league is facing.

“The perception is, he answers only to one school,” the source told the paper. “That does not work. …

“The best commissioner’s a consensus builder. We need a consensus-builder commissioner.  You take the Big Ten, SEC, the Pac-12, their conference office runs circles around our conference in capability, not to mention bias. This commissioner totally cost us Texas A&M.”

And, some believe, Nebraska as well.

The second condition involves, of course, Texas and its beloved Longhorn Network.

The other reform the Sooners demand is Texas and ESPN retreating on some its plans for the Longhorn Network. The UT/ESPN partnership angered Big 12 members on two counts: 1) the network reached an agreement with Fox Sports to move a conference game to the Longhorn Network; and 2) The Longhorn Network announced it would show high school highlights even after the conference voted to keep televised high school games off school-branded networks.

The source said that OU could even push for revenue-sharing of individual networks. Texas is reaping more than $12 million a year from its ESPN contract with the Longhorn Network.

The source also makes a good point in regard to the LHN: UT, if it’s to go west with OU to the Pac-12, would be forced to tweak its network in order to fit into that conference’s regional network model; if that’s the case, why not just remain in the Big 12 with a tweaked LHN as well?

It remains unclear whether Texas would be willing acquiesce on the LHN as part of keeping the Big 12 together, or if the chancellors and the presidents of the member institutions would be willing to oust Beebe in order to prevent OU/OSU from bolting for the Pac-12.

Speaking of the Pac-12, Oklahoma is expected to decide sooner rather than later, perhaps by the end of this week, whether to pursue membership in another conference.  If that happens, Oklahoma State — T. Boone Pickensprotestations notwithstanding — is expected to follow suit.  There’s also the possibility, if OU and OSU do indeed pull the trigger on a move, UT and Texas Tech could follow suit.

The Pac-12 is reportedly expected to vote on whether or not to undergo further expansion this Friday.

That vote may very well be moot before it’s even taken — provided Texas does the unexpected and cedes a significant chunk of the power its been allowed to grab over the past few years.

Report: Cannabis oil not the reason C.J. Harris denied walk-on opportunity at Auburn

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A major brouhaha broke out on social media last last week when it was reported that C.J. Harris was denied by the NCAA an opportunity to walk-on at Auburn because of his prescription for cannabis oil, which he uses to prevent epileptic seizures. Harris claims to be seizure free since January 2017 thanks to the medication.

“After Auburn coaches and staff took a second look at his medical records, they told Harris’ father Curtis that his son could not compete in NCAA athletics while he was taking cannabis oil,” reported WGXA-TV, which broke the story.

“You’re taking something away from a kid who’s worked so hard in his life to get there,” Curtis Harris, the player’s father, said. “And you’re just taking it away because he’s taking a medication that’s helping with his disability.”

But according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover, the story is more complicated than that. A source told Marcello that it was Auburn’s doctors, and not NCAA rules, that will prevent Harris from suiting up for the Tigers. Writes Marcello:

Auburn’s team physician did not clear Harris due to the pre-existing medical conditions, a source close to the Auburn football program said. The Auburn medical staff was concerned about the epilepsy and wanted to protect his well being in a full-contact sport that could lead to head trauma, the source said.

That information will not stop people from ripping on the NCAA, however, largely because it’s fun to rip on the NCAA.

But the Harris situation is a flashpoint in a larger cultural issue. Public opinion on marijuana is changing — 61 percent of Americans believe it should be legal, according to a Pew Research poll in January, an increase from 57 percent in 2017 and a massive leap from the 31 percent who thought the same in 2000 — and cannabis is already legal for purchase on a medical basis in 29 states. And the opinion of Auburn’s doctors doesn’t change the fact Harris would still be ineligible under current NCAA rules.

However, the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has discussed “medical marijuana and CBD products at recent meetings” and will do so again at its next gathering in June, according to SB Nation. The Harris situation — and the subsequent public reaction — should be a a topic of conversation.

 

Michigan offers 8th grader who led varsity team in tackles

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MarMichigan has offered a scholarship to eighth-grade linebacker Tyler Martin, according to a post on Martin’s Twitter account on Thursday.

That would be the class of 2022, for those scoring at home.

Martin is not any ordinary eighth grader, though. A native of Cambridge, Mass., Martin led Buckingham Browne & Nichols with over 100 tackles and also started every game at tight end. Not Browne & Nichols’s eighth grade team, mind you. The varsity.

“He’s a tremendous kid that happens to be a tremendous athlete,” Browne & Nichols head coach Mike Willey told USA Today. “He’s worked exceptionally hard and put himself in a good position, that’s why I think Michigan says, yeah, this is the kind of guy they want.

The 6-foot-3, 227-pound linebacker is not the first junior high player to draw a maize and blue offer this year. Michigan offered Martin, Tenn., quarterback Ty Simpson in March.

Two Illinois players charged with theft for relocating deer sculpture

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A pair of Illinois players have been charged with theft between $500 and $10,000 after taking a sculpture from a Champaign park and relocating it to the top of their apartment building.

Jimmy Marchese, a junior linebacker, and Drew Murtaugh, a sophomore linebacker, told police they were walking home on the night of April 29 and saw a sculpture of a running deer, titled “Startled,” lying on the ground and took it home, placing the sculpture on the roof of their apartment. The Champaign Park District pleaded for the sculpture’s return on Facebook, and an anonymous tip led the authorities to Marchese and Murtaugh.

“Startled” has since been reinstalled at Champaign’s Scott Park, where the $5,000 sculpture will require touch-up work by the artist who created it.

“We had to have the artist come and do some work on it. We think we got it worked out to where it would be a lot harder for anyone to take it out again,” Champaign Park District director Joe DeLuce told the Champaign News Gazette.

The Illini pair has already appeared in court for a probable-cause hearing, and are due back on June 12. They face penalties ranging from probation to five years in prison.

Illinois spokesman Kent Brown told the News Gazette that head coach Lovie Smith is aware of the incident but has taken no action.

Marchese, a native of Vernon Hills, Ill., played in all 12 games in 2017 with two starts, and was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team. Murtaugh, hailing from Crystal Lake, Ill., did not letter as a redshirt freshman in 2017, but joined his partner in petty crime as an Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

 

Georgia DB Tray Bishop arrested on felony charge for alleged recording of sexual act

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Georgia freshman defensive back DetravionTray” Bishop was arrested on Wednesday on charges of felony eavesdropping/surveillance. The charges stem from an incident from this past fall, according to a report from Chip Towers of DawgNation.com. Bishop, who promptly turned himself over to the authorities after a warrant for his arrest was issued, has already been released from a county jail on a $5,700 bond.

The arrest follows an investigation by University of Georgia police responded to a complaint filed by a woman in April. The woman claimed Bishop recorded a sexual act between the two without her consent back in November.

“The complainant wished to report that there was a student going around showing people a sex tape of her … without her consent,” the police report said, according to the DawgNation report. “… A subsequent investigation into this incident led us into determining that the crime of unlawful eavesdropping occurred on [Nov. 5]. The investigation showed that Detravion Bishop had recorded [victim’s name] inside his dorm room without her permission and without her knowledge.”

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has responded to the situation, expressing concern over the circumstances Bishop is caught up in.

“We are investigating the matter and it’s important that we gather all information relevant to the situation before we determine what policies may come into play,” Smart said in his statement. “Then we can take appropriate action if necessary.”

Bishop was a three-star recruit in Georgia’s Class of 2017, according to his Rivals profile. Bishop red-shirted last season.