Oddsmakers still high on USC’s 2012 title hopes

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Thanks to a 10-win 2011 season that included a road win against then-No. 4 Oregon as well as a plethora of returning talent, USC has been viewed by most observers — including one you may recognize — as a serious contender for the 2012 BcS title.

Less than three months ahead of the start of the new season, degenerates those who make their living wagering on sports are in full agreement with that offseason assessment of the Trojans.

In the latest odds released by Bovada.com, the betting website has the Trojans as the 3/1 favorite to hoist the crystal football at season’s end.  USC is coming off a two-year bowl ban as part of its NCAA sanctions and will be eligible for the postseason — including the second Pac-12 title game — for the first time since after the 2009 season.

Next up after the Trojans in the eyes of bettors are the two participants in last year’s title game at 11/2, defending BcS champion Alabama and LSU.

Oklahoma (10/1); Florida State and Oregon (12/1); Georgia (14/1); Arkansas and Michigan (20/1); and — brace yourselves — Notre Dame and Texas (28/1) round out Bovada’s “Top Ten” (and ties).

As far as conference odds go, Florida State (1/1) is favored over Virginia Tech (3/1) to win the ACC; Oklahoma (1/1) over Texas (4/1) in the Big 12; Michigan (2/1) over Wisconsin (5/2) in the Big Ten; USC (5/8) over Oregon (2/1) in the Pac-12; and Alabama and LSU are co-favorites at 11/5 to claim the SEC crown.

After the jump, you can peruse the entire list of preseason odds for both the BcS title as well as the conference favorites, again courtesy of Bovada.

Odds to win the 2012-2013 BCS National Championship
USC 3/1
Alabama 11/2
LSU 11/2
Oklahoma 10/1
Florida State 12/1
Oregon 12/1
Georgia 14/1
Arkansas 20/1
Michigan 20/1
Notre Dame 28/1
Texas 28/1
Virginia Tech 30/1
West Virginia 30/1
South Carolina 30/1
Clemson 33/1
Nebraska 40/1
Wisconsin 40/1
Florida 50/1
TCU 50/1
Auburn 60/1
Michigan State 60/1
Boise State 65/1
Kansas State 75/1
Miami (Florida) 75/1
Oklahoma State 80/1
Mississippi State 100/1
Missouri 100/1
Texas A&M 100/1
Tennessee 125/1
Cincinnati 150/1
Iowa 150/1
Louisville 150/1
Penn State 150/1
Arizona 200/1
Boston College 200/1
BYU 200/1
California 200/1
Georgia Tech 200/1
Pittsburgh 200/1
Stanford 200/1
UCLA 200/1
Washington 200/1
NC State 250/1
South Florida 250/1
UCLA 250/1
Oregon State 300/1

CONFERENCE ODDS

ACC – Odds to Win
Florida State 1/1
Virginia Tech 3/1
Clemson 5/1
Miami (Florida) 9/1
Georgia Tech 15/1
North Carolina 15/1
Virginia 18/1
NC State 20/1
Wake Forest 35/1
Boston College 50/1
Duke 100/1
Maryland 100/1

ACC Atlantic Division – Odds to Win
Florida State 1/2
Clemson 11/4
NC State 9/1
Wake Forest 16/1
Boston College 22/1
Maryland 30/1

ACC Coastal Division – Odds to Win
Virginia Tech 10/11
Miami (Florida) 9/2
North Carolina 11/2
Georgia Tech 6/1
Virginia 13/2
Duke 30/1

BIG 12 – Odds to Win
Oklahoma 1/1
Texas 4/1
TCU 11/2
West Virginia 11/2
Kansas State 12/1
Oklahoma State 22/1
Texas Tech 30/1
Baylor 40/1
Iowa State 65/1
Kansas 100/1

Big East – Odds to Win
Louisville 9/4
South Florida 7/2
Cincinnati 5/2
Pittsburgh 13/2
Rutgers 13/2
Syracuse 20/1
Temple 20/1
Connecticut 25/1

Big Ten – Odds to Win
Michigan 2/1
Wisconsin 5/2
Nebraska 7/2
Michigan State 15/2
Penn State 12/1
Illinois 20/1
Iowa 20/1
Northwestern 35/1
Purdue 50/1
Indiana 65/1
Minnesota 100/1

Big Ten – Leaders Division Winner (Without Ohio State)
Wisconsin 1/2
Penn State 3/1
Illinois 15/2
Purdue 10/1
Indiana 15/1

Big Ten – Legends Division Winner
Michigan 11/10
Nebraska 9/4
Michigan State 4/1
Iowa 8/1
Northwestern 12/1
Minnesota 40/1

PAC 12 – Odds to Win
USC 5/8
Oregon 2/1
Washington 12/1
California 18/1
Stanford 25/1
Arizona 35/1
Utah 35/1
UCLA 40/1
Arizona State 50/1
Washington State 50/1
Oregon State 60/1
Colorado 100/1

PAC 12 – North Division Winner
Oregon 2/5
Washington 5/1
California 17/2
Stanford 10/1
Washington State 15/1
Oregon State 22/1

PAC 12 – South Division Winner
USC 1/6
Arizona 10/1
Utah 10/1
UCLA 15/1
Arizona State 18/1
Colorado 30/1

SEC – Odds to Win
Alabama 11/5
LSU 11/5
Georgia 11/2
Arkansas 7/1
South Carolina 10/1
Florida 12/1
Auburn 22/1
Mississippi State 30/1
Missouri 35/1
Tennessee 35/1
Texas A&M 40/1
Vanderbilt 60/1
Kentucky 100/1
Mississippi 100/1

SEC – East Division Winner
Georgia 17/10
South Carolina 5/2
Florida 3/1
Missouri 11/1
Tennessee 11/1
Vanderbilt 16/1
Kentucky 25/1

SEC – West Division Winner
Alabama 8/5
LSU 8/5
Arkansas 4/1
Auburn 12/1
Mississippi State 15/1
Texas A&M 20/1
Mississippi 50/1

Arkansas State’s Justice Hansen, Appalachian State’s Clifton Duck named Sun Belt preseason players of the year

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The SEC isn’t the only league in the South to release their preseason all-conference team on Friday as the Sun Belt named Arkansas State QB Justice Hansen and Appalachian State defensive back Clifton Duck as the preseason offensive and defensive players of the year for 2018.

Hansen is looking to repeat as Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year after winning the award at the end of last season after throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and accounting for 44 touchdowns with the Red Wolves. Duck had six interceptions last year to help pace the Mountaineers’ defense and is tied with fellow first-team selection Blace Brown (who plays at Troy) for the most in the nation the past two seasons with 11.

All told though, the Neal Brown’s Trojans had the most selections across the two All-Sun Belt preseason teams with 11 players earning a nod.

The full 2018 Preseason All-Sun Belt team is below:

First Team Offense

QB – Justice Hansen

RB – Jalin Moore (Appalachian State), Warren Wand (Arkansas State)

WR – Justin McInnis (Arkansas State), Penny Hart (Georgia State), Marcus Green (ULM)

TE – Collin Reed (Appalachian State)

OL – Victor Johnson (Appalachian State), Lanard Bonner (Arkansas State), Kevin Dotson (Louisiana), Tristan Crowder (Troy), Deontae Crumitie (Troy) 

First Team Defense

DL – Ronheen Bingham (Arkansas State), Logan Hunt (Georgia Southern), Hunter Reese (Troy), Trevon Sanders (Troy)

LB – Anthony Flory (Appalachian State), Michael Shaw (Georgia State), Tron Folsom (Troy)

DB – Clifton Duck, Justin Clifton (Arkansas State), Monquavion Brinson (Georgia Southern), Blace Brown

First Team Special Teams

K – Gavin Patterson (South Alabama)

P – Corliss Waitman (South Alabama)

RS – Marcus Green (ULM)

Second Team Offense

QB – Caleb Evans (ULM)

RB – Wesley Fields (Georgia Southern), Trey Ragas (Louisiana)

WR – RJ Turner (ULM), Jamarius Way (South Alabama), Deondre Douglas (Troy)

TE – Ellis Richardson (Georgia Southern)

OL – Jacob Still (Arkansas State), Curtis Rainey (Georgia Southern), Hunter Atkinson (Georgia State), Shamarious Gilmore (Georgia State), Aaron Brewer (Texas State)

Second Team Defense

DL – Myquon Stout (Appalachian State), Marterious Allen (Georgia State), Tyree Turner (South Alabama), Marcus Webb (Troy)

LB – Silas Kelly (Coastal Carolina), Bull Barge (South Alabama), Bryan London II (Texas State)

DB – Tae Hayes (Appalachian State), BJ Edmonds (Arkansas State), Marcus Jones (Troy), Cedarius Rookard (Troy)

Second Team Special Teams

K – Tyler Bass (Georgia Southern)

P – Cody Grace (Arkansas State)

RS – Marcus Jones (Troy)

Hotels, recruiting trips and meals among the things on the chopping block at New Mexico due to budget cuts

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Operating a Division I athletics program can be tough but few face the inherent hurdles of running a department quite like the two FBS schools in the state of New Mexico. For years the Aggies of New Mexico State have had one of the smallest budgets in the country and their rivals at New Mexico are not immune to the same challenges either. Case in point came this week as the Lobos moved to cut four sports on Thursday by a unanimous vote from the UNM Board of Regents.

While football was not on the chopping block for the school (it’s a required sport to remain in the Mountain West), the program itself is not immune to penny-pinching the department is facing in the near term. According to the Albuquerque Journal, this includes no longer staying at a hotel the nights before home games, a reduction in the recruiting budget for trips and a potential reduction in the number of meals the school provides to players.

“We are talking about football internally,” athletic director Eddie Nuñez said. “Football, as well as every other sport, is going to be held to the same accountability when it comes to managing their budgets.”

According to recent records, the football team spent a reported $8.3 million during the most recent fiscal year and failed to turn a profit. The Lobos will soon be reducing the total number of players on the team from 116 to 113 (there will remain 85 scholarships available) for both budgetary and Title IX reasons as well. While it was certainly not intended, the program did see some additional cost savings earlier this year when they suspended head coach Bob Davie without pay for 30 days.

Still, times are tough in the state and nobody knows that better than the athletic departments who are facing a money-crunch and trying to do what they can to dig themselves out of it.

North Carolina’s self-reported NCAA violations the result of players selling their shoes

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We learned two things about the North Carolina football program this week and neither of them are all that great for the Tar Heels or their brand.

The item that generated the most headlines was head coach Larry Fedora discussing his misguided views on CTE at ACC Media Days but in terms of impact, it may very well be the fact that the school self-reported several NCAA violations that could lead to player suspensions this season. Now we know what the whole mess was about and let’s just say that it’s a lot less serious than the last time the school underwent the NCAA microscope.

Per WRAL, the secondary violations that were agreed upon were the result of players “selling university-issued shoes and athletic gear.” Yep, selling shoes.

“It’s disappointing,” athletic director Bubba Cunningham told The News & Observer about the matter. “You know we do a great job. I think our compliance office does a great job with education, and students know the rules, and occasionally we make mistakes. We had a couple of students who made some mistakes, and there’s obviously penalties associated with that.”

Adding a layer to this story is that the school recently switched to the Jordan Brand for their apparel prior to the 2017 season as a nod to the Tar Heels’ most famous alum. As part of a uniform unveil that summer, players were given a free pair of Retro 11s and understandably went nuts upon receiving them. They also received some Air Jordan 3 retros in January. It’s unknown whether those shoes are the ones in question that were sold or if it were some other items that players were given to wear but the bottom line is selling such items is against NCAA rules.

At well over $100 for each pair, the players in question face not only repaying the money to a charity to regain eligibility but also the prospect of several games worth of suspensions. It seems like we’ll find out soon who will be held out and for how long but that trip to face Cal in the season opener could be a lot tougher than Fedora and his staff thought thanks to the latest bit of scandal in Chapel Hill.

Watch list season rolls on with Rimington Trophy latest to release list of 58 (!) centers to keep an eye on

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Are you a center that plays college football? Congrats, there’s a nearly 50% chance that you’re on the latest watch list to be released to the media for a postseason award.

On Friday, the Remington Trophy followed in the footsteps of its counterparts and released the 2018 Fall Watch List featuring centers from all over the country. In total, some 58 (!) players made the cut after getting nominated by their schools. The Pac-12 led the way this season with a full 10 players on the list, followed by the ACC with eight centers and the SEC just behind with seven.

Among those that you could say headline the entire group are Alabama’s Ross Pierschbacher, Georgia’s Lamont Gaillard, Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy, Texas’ Zach Shackelford, Penn State’s Connor McGovern, Florida State’s Alec Eberle and Clemson’s Justin Falcinelli.

You can find the full Remington Trophy watch list here.

And if you’re in the preseason watch list mood… the Doak Walker Award, Mackey Award, Biletnikoff Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Bednarik Award and Maxwell Award have all released their watch lists for various positions as well.

We’re still a month away from the regular season actually starting in college football but media days and award watch lists are a sure sign every summer that the long, long offseason is coming to an end.