It’s official: Brock Osweiler declares for the NFL

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Following up on the rumors and speculation that had been building over the last several days, Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler will indeed depart from Tempe a year early and head to the NFL Draft.

The announcement was made in a school release sent out Friday afternoon, which of course  mentions that he’s the tallest quarterback in the country (he’s 6’8″!).

Reports last night indicated Osweiler might hold a press conference for the announcement.

Osweiler finished a disappointing 6-7 season with 4,036 passing yards. He also set new school records for completions (326), attempts (516) and completion percentage (63.2), and threw for 26 touchdowns. He’s thrown for 5,082 yards and 33 touchdowns in his three-year career at ASU.

Below is a statement from the junior:

Winter Break was an important time for me and after much deliberation, I came to an important decision. In a lot of ways it was similar to my last year in high school. In high school, I was heavily recruited and visited a few of the top programs in the country. Of all of the recruitment trips, it was ASU that struck a lasting cord. Every person I encountered was so kind and it made my decision at the time more difficult to make. As a young man, I had some serious decisions to make, not even 18 years old and I had to make a choice that would ultimately impact my life forever.

As many of you know, before I chose to live in Arizona, I had a commitment to Gonzaga University to play basketball. For a over a year I was certain that this was my path, it wasn’t until May 16th of 2008 that I was certain I had to be ASU’s quarterback. My coach at the time, McCarvel stood by my decision and I graduated a semester early from my class. By January 2009 I was officially a Sun Devil.

ASU has taken excellent care of me and the city of Tempe has changed my life for the better. Not a single day has gone by where I have had to second guess or question my decision to enroll at ASU. I knew that in my heart this was part of my destiny. While I bleed and sweat Maroon and Gold I have now made the second-most difficult decision in my life. I have decided to declare myself eligible for the NFL draft. It was an exceptionally difficult decision to make, but having spoken to my family and close friends it became clear to me that this is the next path I must take to advance my personal and professional career.

I wish I could truly thank everyone that has helped me through my years at ASU, but there isn’t a proper way to match what everyone has done for me. I have been touched by the most amazing people and have made relationships I know will last my entire life. When I arrived in Arizona I was spellbound and culture shocked by Kush stadium. Seventy-two-thousand people could fit in the stadium which is 40,000 more people then the entirety of my hometown of Kalispell, Montana.

ASU has been my home for the last three years. I will never forget how many people have gone out of their way to make ASU home for me. I would like to thank the fans that have supported me through out all of the trials and tribulations. Sincerely, there is nothing like walking onto Kush Field before kick off and having the crowd erupt. There are so many things that I will miss about ASU, but I know that I will be a Sun Devil until I die. I have a pitchfork tattoo on my ribs to symbolize the BEST three years of my life. Thank you again for all of the support and positive wishes throughout this process.

Ex-UCLA OC helped convince Wilton Speight to transfer to Westwood

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When Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight announced he was going to graduate and transfer to UCLA, many were caught by surprise given that the 6-foot-6 pro-style passer is not your typical fit for Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense. While the new Bruins’ head coach brought up how Sam Bradford and Nick Foles ran his system to convince the quarterback to pick the school for the 2018 season, it was a former assistant at the program who appears to have been just as convincing in bringing the big QB to Westwood.

That would be Jedd Fisch, who was Speight’s coach in Ann Arbor for two years before he left to take the offensive coordinator job with the Bruins when Jim Mora was still in charge last season. The veteran coach returned to the NFL as an assistant with the Los Angeles Rams shortly after Kelly was hired but he reconnected with his old pupil to give him an honest assessment of how he’d fit in with a school sporting a different shade of blue.

“As a coach, you can kind of sniff out the B.S.,” Speight told the LA Times, “and he was able to do that and say, ‘Look, you’re getting what you see at UCLA and I think it’s the right fit,’ and I couldn’t have agreed more.”

Speight will join a very competitive race to be the starter for the opener against Cincinnati when fall camp rolls around. Devon Modster is the incumbent having gotten experience last year when Josh Rosen was held out of several games while incoming freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson is considered the future at the position and figures to see early playing time.

It remains to be seen just how good UCLA will be in their first season with Kelly in charge but the head coach will certainly have a variety of options to choose from at the most important position on the field this year.

Proposed California amendment would cap coaches salaries at $200,000

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Some states do everything they can to help out athletics programs in their borders, that is something that California has never really been accused of doing. A state-wide travel ban has already caused some ripples with regards to scheduling for some teams and it seems lawmakers in Sacramento are back with a new constitutional amendment that could hamper schools ability to pay their coaches.

UCLA student paper The Daily Bruin passes along news that a new constitutional amendment was announced last week “that aims to restrict the University of California’s autonomy by reducing staff salaries, the length of regents’ terms and the authority of the UC president.” That first item is the biggest to take note of, which would institute a cap on non-faculty salaries to $200,000 per year — something that would affect everybody from coaches to the athletic director and everybody in between.

The University of California (UC) system most notably includes Pac-12 schools like UCLA and Cal, which means coaches like Chip Kelly and Justin Wilcox could be affected. To take Kelly as an example, he signed a five-year contract worth a total of $23.3 million when he was hired by the Bruins this offseason.

Head football coaches salaries are not typically paid completely by a school directly however, so there is some wiggle room should this amendment wind up passing. Often a separate athletics organization will foot most of the bill using funds raised from donors while other outside companies sometimes also get involved. Things might be a little more interesting when it comes to assistant’s salaries or non-football/men’s basketball head coaches and support staffers however, who could fall under the purview of the cap.

In other words, some creative accounting practices might have to be implemented by schools like UCLA or Cal or else they’ll be at a significant disadvantage compared to their private school peers like USC or Stanford as well as conference rivals like Arizona or Oregon.

It’s far from certain the amendment will pass given that it requires a two-thirds vote in the state legislature as well as passing muster on a state-wide ballot measure during a general election. We don’t typically see college coaches wade too far into political waters but, in this case, they might be forced to because its one that directly affects their wallets.

Arkansas moving back to natural grass field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in 2019

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It’s a new era at Arkansas with Chad Morris and a new athletic director in charge and not even the turf will be spared from seeing changes.

Per the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the school will be moving to a natural grass field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium instead of replacing their current artificial turf again as it nears the end of its lifespan.

“Let me say my preference is I love natural grass,” Morris told the paper a few months ago. “That’s just me. Maybe that’s just the high school coach in me.

“Worrying about what the next surface out here looks like is irrelevant to me. I just want to get through a practice and get better today. But I prefer, I’m a natural grass type of guy. I love being on a grass field. There’s nothing better than that in college football, or football period.”

Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek confirmed this weekend that the change was being made in Fayetteville after the 2018 season concludes. The current turf was put in back in the Bobby Petrino era in 2009 and will need to be replaced after a decade or so of heavy use.

This will not be the end of Razorbacks playing on turf however, as they will not only see the stuff for games at neutral sites and at other SEC opponents but also when they make their annual trek to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock — which had turf installed a dozen years ago.

West Virginia President on old Big 12 expansion craze: ‘Little bit messy’

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E. Gordon Gee is one of college athletics’ most recognizable figures, which isn’t exactly what you typically say about school leaders like him. The West Virginia President known for his trademark bow tie (and who has never shied away from an interview or a quip he didn’t like) is on the cusp of his first set of spring meetings in the conference as the new chairman of the Big 12 board of directors.

Speaking to the Dallas Morning News about a range of issues around the league prior to meeting in Dallas, Gee seems to have come around on conference expansion from a few years ago and thinks it not only could have been handled better, but it probably shouldn’t be done in the first place because being the smallest Power Five league has its advantages too.

“I’m not certain it was the best way to do it,” Gee told the paper. “It was a little bit messy — and I was part of the mess.

“Intimacy gives us an opportunity to do something that a lot of other places can’t do… We’ll play to our strengths. We’re small, but we can be very aggressive in positioning ourselves uniquely.”

I’m sure the folks at places like Houston and BYU would agree the entire process was messy but will certainly disagree with Gee about the Big 12 sticking with just 10 members. It certainly sounds as though the issue has been put to bed for the foreseeable future but if the merry-go-round gets going once again, at least we know that the process everybody goes through will be a lot different.