Mizzou board grants Deaton autonomy in deciding conference future

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Inevitable and imminent indeed.  Probably.

Following a path blazed by Texas A&M in September, and after what some perceived as the institution dragging its feet on a decision, Missouri is on the verge of joining their conference brethren in leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.

A couple of month’s worth of speculation continued to trudge toward a conclusion Friday as Mizzou’s Board of Curators gave president Brady Deaton sole power to determine the school’s future conference affiliation, which is academia code for “send an application to the SEC”.  The latest announcement comes after two days of curator meetings and one back-door exit.

The decision was unanimous among the board members to empower Deaton to make a unilateral decision — pending legal approval by the school’s attorneys — on whether to move to another conference or remain in the Big 12.  In other words, if Deaton decides to move to another conference, which is expected, he would not have to go back to the board for approval.  This move comes exactly 17 days after the curators gave their president limited power to look into moving into another conference.

In addition to the board giving Deaton autonomy on deciding the school’s future conference, the curators passed another resolution that involved keeping an MU sports presence in Kansas City, specifically future football games — i.e. continuing the Kansas rivalry — as well as hosting an invitational basketball tournament.  It’s believed boosters of the school are concerned about those issues if Mizzou were to leave the Big 12, particularly as it involves the Big 12’s hoops tourney.

Once Deaton officially decides on the school’s conference course he will chart, the next two step for Mizzou would be to inform the Big 12 of its decision to withdraw from the conference and officially apply for membership to another conference, which, barring an unexpected development, will be the SEC.  It’s highly unlikely Mizzou would have taken this latest step, or any of the other steps they’ve taken since last month for that matter, unless they had received back-channel assurances from the SEC that they have enough votes for membership approval.  SEC bylaws state that nine of the current 12 members — the Aggies will not have a vote as they won’t officially become a member until July 1, 2012 — must vote in the affirmative for a new school to officially enter the conference.

Perhaps the biggest unknown is when exactly Mizzou would join the SEC, if that’s indeed the culmination of this process.  Schedule-wise, the SEC would like nothing more than to add Mizzou for the 2012 season, giving the conference 14 members and a balanced slate of football games.  During the press conference this afternoon, Deaton indicated that any actions he takes would result in Mizzou playing in that conference in 2012.

Another unknown?  The division in which the Tigers would reside.  Some assume that would be the West — with Auburn moving to the East — although at least one current member favors sending Mizzou to the East.

As for the Big 12, it’s operating under the assumption that Mizzou will be in the conference in 2012 regardless of their future SEC intentions and that the league will have 10 members next year.  Irrespective of Mizzou’s timeline for a departure — again, we’re operating under the assumption that there will be a departure — the Big 12 will look to add a replacement for MU.  Or, as the case may be, replacements if the conference decides to get back to 12 members.

It appears that a school from the Big East would be the Big 12’s top target for a new 10th member, with some reports suggesting West Virginia is that school while most others point to Louisville as the likely candidate.

Charles Woodson: Michigan isn’t putting emphasis on Ohio State game like they should

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Since retiring from the NFL, Charles Woodson has become increasingly vocal about his alma mater. Not only has the Michigan alum shouted out his love for the Wolverines, he’s also not shy in calling out the team after a few years of sub-par results — particularly when it comes to the game against their heated rival Ohio State.

You can add another chapter for Woodson in that matter over the weekend as the Heisman Trophy winner did not mince words in calling out how ‘The Game’ is being treated by some in Ann Arbor.

“You know what, to be quite honest, I really feel like in recent years there hasn’t been the emphasis I’m used to being put on that game,” Woodson told the Detroit Free Press on Saturday. “Every game has been put on the same level as that game. That’s not the way we were brought up. Not the way we were raised around here.

“We had no shame in saying (we were going to beat Ohio State). And every time I watch our teams in recent years, it’s ‘oh, it’s another game.’ It’s not.”

Woodson has already guaranteed a victory over the Buckeyes this spring at a commencement speech he gave to UM graduates and has been vocal about the program getting back to the position he had it in back in the late 1990’s when they were winning titles and — most importantly — beating Ohio State. The Wolverines have never beaten Urban Meyer since he arrived in Columbus and have just two wins in the series in the past 15 tries. Jim Harbaugh, who is certainly familiar with beating OSU as a player, is 0-3 against the Buckeyes as head coach.

It goes without saying that the team is very much aware of the current six-game losing streak they have against their chief rival and, given everything that has gone on this offseason, could be in their best position in years to get a win when the two meet in Columbus this November. However, Woodson might be getting a text message or phone call from Harbaugh to tone down the rhetoric just a tad given that he’s writing a check the players will have to cash.

Certainly everybody in Ann Arbor knows how big ‘The Game’ is to the school and will be emphasizing a win this year more than ever even without the extra push from one of the all-time greats in maize and blue.

WATCH: Paralyzed Georgetown football player walks across the stage at graduation

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You probably have never heard of TY Williams the football player but what the former Georgetown linebacker did this weekend at the school will surely bring a tear to your eyes.

Williams injured his spinal cord in a game back in September 2015 and suffered a fractured vertebra that left him partially paralyzed. Despite that, he followed up years of rehab on the injury to walk across the stage at the Hoyas’ graduation ceremony on Saturday to receive his degree from the university.

Boy, it sure is a little dusty up in here after watching that. Congrats to Williams and his family on an incredible achievement.

Ohio State led nation for total fan attendance in 2017, Michigan tops in average attendance at home

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In some not exactly breaking news, there are a lot of Ohio State fans out there. Not to be left out, their rivals to the North have quite a few people following the team in maize and blue too.

The National Football Foundation released an interesting set of facts and figures last week that was designed to call attention to just how popular the sport of college football is across the country. The whole list is worth a look if you’re interested in all the little details about the 2017 season but a few of the big highlights are:

  • Ohio State led the nation for total fan attendance, attracting 1,254,160 spectators to all of their games in 2017, including home, away, neutral and postseason tilts. Eleven other teams eclipsed the million mark in 2017: Georgia (1,246,201), Alabama (1,228,376), Auburn, Penn State, Michigan, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Clemson and Texas.
  • Michigan led all FBS schools again with an average attendance of 111,589 fans per home game in 2017. Three other schools also averaged more than 100,000 fans per game: Ohio State (107,495), Penn State (106,707) and Alabama (101,722). The Wolverines have led the nation in home attendance for 41 of the past 43 seasons.
  • The SEC led all FBS conferences in attendance for the 20th straight year, averaging 75,074 fans per game or a total of 7,357,228 in 2017, followed by the Big Ten (66,227), Big 12 (56,852), Pac-12 (49,601) and the ACC (48,442).
  • The overall attendance for NCAA football games across all divisions (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III) drew 47,622,196 fans at home games, neutral-site games and postseason games in 2017. The number represents a 3.3 percent drop from the 2016 season.

There’s a bunch more in there from the NFF on everything from TV ratings to fan interest and a bunch of other nuggets. Needless to say, college football is pretty popular around the country and we at CFTalk certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Andrew Ward becomes latest Nebraska player to announce plans to transfer

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Everybody figured that Scott Frost’s arrival with a new way of doing things in Lincoln would prompt a few transfers out of the program but the latest name to leave Nebraska is on the defensive side of the ball as linebacker Andrew Ward became the latest name to announce a transfer after just a year with the Cornhuskers.

As Ward mentions in his post, he was originally recruited to the school by the prior coaching staff under Mike Riley. He redshirted as a freshman in 2017 and seemed to fall down the pecking order at his position during spring practice. Originally from Michigan, the linebacker was rated as a three-star coming out of high school according to 247Sports and held offers from Penn State and Virginia Tech among others.

Ward adds to the growing list of roster turnover this offseason for the Cornhuskers. Also on Saturday it was confirmed that center Michael Decker was retiring from football, while wideout Kenyan Williams, fullback Ben Miles, quarterback Patrick O’Brien, and receiver Zack Darlington all announced intentions to leave the program.