Boren praises Neinas for keeping the Big 12 together

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It’s like Oklahoma and Kansas got together with the eight other Big 12 institutions and decided to spin the loss of the conference’s fourth member in just over a year (Missouri) into an addition by subtraction cliche or something.

At a Barry Switzer statue dedication on Saturday, interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas was introduced by Oklahoma president David Boren with the following laud that would only be fit for Michael Scott from “The Office”:

“I want to tell you the Big 12 today is here, it is stronger, it is stable. There is no doubt the Big 12 is going to be here next year and the year after and for many, many years to come. Because the heartland of this country deserves a great football conference, and the heartland is going to be a great football conference.

“A lot of people played a role in turning this thing around and reestablishing trust and reestablishing harmony and reestablishing stability. I simply want to tell you, and I’ll tell you one story in particular…

“There were several reforms we wanted to put in place in terms of grant of rights, handcuffs, to keep members of the conference together. Long-term commitment. Sharing of revenue. Not letting anyone that shall not be named today use their own network to play high school highlights of possible recruits.

“I may not know much. I know those athletic experts always smile when I speak at these events. But I do know how to count votes. And I will tell you when it came time to count the votes about those high school highlights, it was 9-0 with one abstention. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to which one abstained.

“But this man brought us together. One of the most unusual things that’s ever happened, these basic reforms that we’ve been working on for 10 years to stabilize the conference… In two weeks he came and joined us as our commissioner, and in two weeks he hammered out an agreement that resulted in a joint motion, a joint motion, of the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma, to enact all of these reforms to provide long-term stability for our conference.

I’ll preface the following display of cynicism with this: of course Boren and every other Big 12 official is going to paint the current foundation as structurally sound. That’s their job — to be Chip Diller of “Animal House” and exclaim that all is well.

But enough with the TV and movie references.

While some may continue to scoff at Missouri’s departure to the SEC as nothing more than a geographical gerrymandering for TV markets, the fact is that Mizzou left the Big 12 for a reason.  “When people start talking about limits, that doesn’t indicate something that’s really strong,” Mizzou athletic director Mike Alden said about the Big 12’s six-year grant of rights for equal revenue distribution.

But in today’s college football landscape? Maybe six years is the new definition of long-term. Coaches come and go from jobs at alarming rates; heck, TCU switched conferences twice without ever having played a game in one. I’m not sure the possibility doesn’t exist of Mizzou leaving the SEC for the Big Ten if that phone call ever came.

“Long-term” is now a saturated phrase with interpretive meaning. It could indicate six years and not a moment more for Texas and Oklahoma, who despite what the Sooners say, were ready to leave their conference on the side of the highway (again) as they headed west.

Think about it: West Virginia is willing to sue the Big East to get into a conference next year that apparently (at least it was felt on WVU’s end) was all good to include them, then spent the couple of days tapping the brakes, before officially extending the invite.

As my father told me once in his advice about relationships: “If it’s not yes, it’s no.”

Boren can spin this how he wants, although his remarks and shots at Texas don’t induce a ton of confidence, but the questions that remain about the long-term security of the Big 12 don’t give us a solid “yes.”

LSU lands commitment from nation’s No. 1 cornerback

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LSU rarely loses a player it wants out of Louisiana. Now add in that said player isn’t just from Louisiana, but lives in Baton Rouge. Now add in that he’s regarded as the No. 1 player at his position. Yeah, this kid was never going anywhere else.

Derek Stingley, Jr., committed to LSU on Wednesday, beating out Texas and Florida.

Rivals ranks Stingley as the No. 1 corner and No. 1 overall player in its 2019 rankings. Stingley stands as the No. 1 corner and the No. 8 overall player on the 247Sports ratings. ESPN is more bullish on Stingley, slotting him as just the No. 3 cornerback and the No. 67 overall player. (247Sports lists Lewis Center, Ohio, defensive end Zach Harrison as its No. 1 overall player, while ESPN favors Westlake Village, Calif., defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.)

Stingley was previously committed to LSU, but de-committed to take his time and make an informed decision. All that information led him to the exact same conclusion.

“There are a lot of reasons I love LSU, but the main thing is coach Corey Raymond. We have built a strong relationship over a long period of time. We have really gotten to know each other. I am relaxed around him, we can talk about anything and I know he will be there for me at any time. Our connection is what really pushed LSU to the top,” he told Rivals. “This commitment is completely different. I took my time. I put more time into it and really looked at other schools. I got caught up in the hype before and I did not know anything about recruiting or other schools. I know all I need to know now and LSU is the school for me. I am done now and I will not visit any other schools.”

LSU’s 13-man class is rated No. 10 nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Vanderbilt transfer DL Rutger Reitmaier receives all-clear from NCAA

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Vanderbilt got some good news Wednesday when the NCAA approved transfer Rutger Reitmaier to compete this fall.

The Nashville native signed with Oregon out of high school in 2017 but did not compete for the Ducks. He left the team after spring practice, sat out the 2017 season and enrolled at Vanderbilt in January.

“Adding Rutger to our roster is huge,” head coach Derek Mason told Vanderbilt’s official site. “He adds depth, athleticism and will be a key piece for us. I’m excited about what an impactful player he is, and it’s great to add another quality player from Nashville.”

A 4-star recruit, Reitmaier was recruited by the likes of Tennessee, Ole Miss and South Carolina, but favored Vanderbilt when leaving Oregon.

“Vanderbilt was the first school I considered after deciding to leave Oregon,” he said. “It was one of my top-three schools during my initial recruitment in high school. Defense wins championships, so having a head coach like Coach Mason with that background was attractive for me. I’m excited to get going.”

 

Northwestern announces slew of schedule changes, including future home-and-homes with Tulane and Rice

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Northwestern claims they have the best home schedule in the country for the upcoming 2018 season and they have a pretty good case with Duke, Akron, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Notre Dame all coming to Ryan Field. Based on the latest moves on their future schedules however, that good run of big names doesn’t quite continue.

The school announced a slew of new games in the coming years on Wednesday, including a pair of home-and-homes with AAC and CUSA opponents. First up is a date with Tulane in Evanston on Sept. 12, 2020, followed by a return game in New Orleans on Aug. 30, 2025. As a result of that first game against the Green Wave, the Wildcats had to move their previously scheduled contest against Central Michigan from Sept. 12 to Sept. 19 in 2020 (also at home).

Another school in the South was also added to the NU docket with a second home-and-home series with Rice way out in the future. The pair will play in Houston on Sept. 8, 2029, while the return game at Ryan Field is set for Sept. 6… 2031. Yeah, 2031. The two teams will also meet in 2024 and 2025.

A single home game against FCS power South Dakota State was also announced by Northwestern and will be played on Sept. 12, 2026.

The moves mean the Wildcats’ non-conference slate is pretty much set in 2019 (at Stanford, vs. UNLV and UMass), 2022 (vs. Duke, Miami (OH) and Southern Illinois) and 2024 (vs. Duke, Miami (OH) and Rice). The games announced Wednesday fill in some of the holes left in other years but outside of the trip to the Farm next season and a home-and-home with Colorado in 2026/27, there’s not a ton to write home about.

At least Northwestern will always have that 2018 home schedule to point to.

NCAA data shows number of graduate transfers in football nearly doubled last year

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The biggest issue the NCAA is tackling at the moment is an easy one to pick out: transfers. Coaches have chimed in about potential changes and new rules have been enacted but even as we approach the Media Days portion of the calendar next month, transfer talk has been one of the hot topics across all major sports at the collegiate level.

Perhaps that interest is one reason why the NCAA released a new study this week looking into the numbers of one particular category of players: graduate transfers. While the number of actual graduate transfers remains relatively low (about 1% of the total number of student-athletes), the number itself continues to skyrocket year-by-year as more and more players take advantage of rules that allow them to graduate and play immediately at their next school.

According to the NCAA, that number of grad transfers is five times bigger in 2017 than it was in 2011 for men’s sports alone and football in particular saw the number of players moving around nearly double from 117 total in 2016 to 211 the following season. The rates are higher in men’s basketball but the overall number is naturally much bigger in football given the vastly bigger roster size.

Data for 2018 was naturally not made available since we’re just in the middle of the year but a similar increase wouldn’t be too surprising to see given the number of big names that have made headlines prior to the upcoming season. That includes players like Michigan’s Wilton Speight (to UCLA), Cal’s Tre Watson (to Texas), Notre Dame’s Jay Hayes (to Georgia) and Alabama’s Brandon Kennedy (to Tennessee) all among those taking the grad transfer route. It seems like nearly every week we see one or two players announce their intentions to take a similar path.

While we might not have 400+ players listed as graduate transfers in football when 2018 comes to a close, it certainly doesn’t appear that this trend will be slowing down anytime soon and the coaches that are complaining about this brand of “free agency” in college football will just have to get used to the new reality of player movement in light of a number of new NCAA reforms on the subject.