Additional bowl to be added to playoff mix?

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It’s been nearly three months since the June approval of a four-team playoff that will be in place for the 2014 postseason.

While the who/what/where/how details have been few and far between, it was initially thought that the two semifinal games — the title game will be bid out — would come from a rotation of six current bowl games.  As it turns out, the new system’s eyes may have not been big enough for the playoff’s immense financial stomach.

Following an ongoing set of meetings involving conference commissioners, BcS executive director Bill Hancock confirmed that the group is considering adding a seventh game to the previously-planned rotation, another bowl that would add to the “marquee” of the revamped FBS postseason.  While Hancock technically spoke of access — presumably referring to the non-BcS conferences — to the new postseason table…

“They created a playoff and they had a working concept for access, but they knew that more conversations were needed. There was discussion about access and whether another game might be necessary. There was. … But how it comes out, we don’t know.”

… he’s practically referring to greater potential access to higher-revenue bowls for members of “The Big 5.5” conferences.  And further devaluing the already overvalued 20-ish other much lesser bowls in the process, but that’s another story for another day.

That said, and regardless of whether it’s a six- or seven-bowl rotation, there’s the question of which bowls will or would actually be a part of the playoff equation.

There are two bowls already contractually locked in — the Rose and Orange bowls.  The for-now-dubbed Champions Bowl, which in theory would pit the winners of the SEC and Big 12 against each other, will be locked in once the t’s and i’s are crossed and dotted, respectively.  The host site nod for that new bowl, at least initially, is expected to go to Dallas Cowboys Stadium, although Houston is reportedly very serious in its bid to land the game as well.

The Fiesta Bowl, despite its excessive graft past, will be another piece of the rotation.  That’s four.  The Sugar Bowl?  Another no-brainer, whether it’s part of a potential Champions Bowl rotation or not.

That makes five and leaves one or possibly two bowls left to be a part of the rotation.

The Cotton Bowl and Jerry Jones’ Ode to Excess Stadium is one significant double-dipping possibility, given the Dallas Cowboys owner’s propensity for throwing gobs of cash at the opportunity to host college football games.  Could the Champions Bowl, at Jerry World, as well as the Cotton Bowl, at Jerry World, be two-sixth or two-seventh of the playoff rotational equation?  As they say, money talks and bullsh…

It appears, then, there could be at least three bowls fighting for what right now would be a not-yet-created seventh spot in the rotation — the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Capital One Bowl and Outback Bowl.  The smart money, right now, would be on the Atlanta game.

Regardless of how the bowl rotation plays out, there are other, even more overriding factors on several levels that will play a significantly more important role in determining the success or failure of the FBS power structure’s attempt to move on from the train wreck that was the BcS:

— As far as fans or anyone else who cares anything at all about the sport are concerned, the makeup of the committee that will determine the four teams — yes, it should at least be an eight-team field; it’s not, so get past it — should be far and away the most important discussion point as it pertains to the new postseason system.  Hancock, who said he was in favor of a committee consisting of 15-20 individuals, was kind enough to offer a non-update update on that part of the equation:

“The working model has been that every conference would have a representative. And then that there would be enough people on the committee to accommodate recusals. The concept being that when your institution is discussed you would be recused.”

There are currently 11 FBS conferences for football, soon to be 10 once the WAC is officially put out of its misery.  There will then be six major/BcS conferences, four non-BcS conferences as part of the working model; you do the math on how the voting will go with a committee that consists of every FBS conference having a representative, and how access to the six or seven marquee bowls will play out.

— As far as the conferences and individual schools are concerned, however, how the revenue is distributed and protecting the brand “historic” leagues have developed — lookin’ at you, Delany — in the new postseason format is at or near the top of the list of concerns.

“The first championship game is 28 months away. And so the highest priorities are going to have to go to the television contract and site selection.”

We included this just to emphasize the fact that, despite the “progress” when it comes to the postseason, it remains all about the money student-athletes can make for a university by simply playing a game.

Fairness, equity or inclusion, thy name is not part of the latest big-time college football postseason ruse.

Jimbo Fisher doesn’t ‘know anything about’ report alleging NCAA violations, injury mishandling

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Not surprisingly, Sgt. Schultz showed up at the podium in College Station Tuesday night.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, a report surfaced in which Arizona’s Santino Marchiol, a transfer from Texas A&M, is seeking a waiver from the NCAA that would give him immediate eligibility with the Wildcats in 2018 if granted.  The details of Marchiol’s waiver application, though, are what’s causing some significant waves on multiple fronts as the linebacker is claiming, as a partial basis for his appeal, that an A&M assistant coach gave him hundreds of dollars in cash this past spring that was to be used to entertain Aggie recruits on unofficial visits.  Additionally, Marchiol alleged that the A&M coaching staff, under new head coach Jimbo Fisher, flouted NCAA bylaws in regards to summer workouts as well as alluding to the mishandling of injuries.

Following practice Friday, Fisher was asked about accusations contained in the report that, if pursued and proven, could result in NCAA violations and potential, albeit minor, penalties for the football program.

“I’ll comment on the players on our team right now,” Fisher said by way of 247Sports.com. “That’s all I can do.”

A&M lured Fisher away from Florida State late last year with a 10-year, $75 million contract.  Fisher replaced Kevin Sumlin, who was fired as A&M’s head coach in November of last year and now holds the same job at… Arizona.

Les Miles makes cameo in Dr. Pepper’s new college football ad campaign

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The college football offseason is a time of transition in what can be a volatile business with very little job security. That’s true for the coaches and, apparently, the commercial pitch men. Dr. Pepper, one of the leading ad buyers in college football and a lead sponsor of the College Football Playoff, shelved its concession salesman Larry Culpepper (played by Jim Connor) after four seasons.

“Larry Culpepper has been a great part of our Dr Pepper college football sponsorship for the past four years and has helped us delight fans throughout the season. With the renewal of our college football sponsorship, we’ve decided to take our football-related advertising in a new creative direction and are planning an all-new campaign this season,” a Dr. Pepper spokesperson told Ad Age in May.

The new campaign is now out, and the soft drink brand has replaced one over-the-top character with another. Exit, Larry Culpepper. Enter, Les Miles. Also making cameos are College Football Hall of Famers Brian Bosworth and Eddie George.

The former Oklahoma State and LSU head coach and current aspiring actor makes a cameo in Dr. Pepper’s new “Fanville” universe that will surely have you begging for mercy by the first of October.

If you didn’t notice the first time around, make sure you rewind to the 49-second mark and check out the bag Miles snacks out of.

Texas Tech RB Da’Leon Ward arrested on felony theft charge

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Texas Tech running back Da’Leon Ward was arrested Tuesday on a charge of theft between $2,500 and $30,000, a felony.

According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Ward was the subject of a Texas Tech Police Department investigation after three cell phones were reported stolen from Texas Tech’s student recreation center in a 20-minute period last Nov. 14. He was indicted in June, but the indictment was sealed.

Texas Tech did not have a comment on Ward’s arrest, because the Avalanche-Journal broke the news of Ward’s arrest to the Tech athletics department.

A Dallas native, Ward became the first true freshman since 1999 to lead the Red Raiders in rushing in 2016, carrying 103 times for 428 yards and three touchdowns while catching 18 passes for 131 yards. Despite playing sparingly or not at all until late October, Ward exploded late in the year. He rushed 23 times for 98 yards against TCU and rushed a combined 67 times for 272 yards against Texas, Iowa State and Baylor to close that year.

Ward, however, redshirted in 2017, to improve his “academics and maturity.”

Entering the year, Texas Tech expected Ward to pair with senior Tre King to handle the majority of the Red Raiders’ carries.

Former Texas A&M linebacker alleges recruiting, practice violations by Jimbo Fisher’s staff

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Former Texas A&M linebacker Santino Marchiol revealed in June he intended to transfer to Arizona. The Aggies had hired a new coach, Jimbo Fisher, and the coach who recruited him, Kevin Sumlin, was now in Tucson. Marichol enrolled at Texas A&M in January of 2017 and redshirted his first season in College Station, meaning to make the move to Arizona, he’d have to sacrifice a season of eligibility unless the NCAA granted him a waiver.

And as Dan Wolken of USA Today details, Marichol tried a perhaps unprecedented path to gain immediate eligibility at Arizona: by alleging NCAA violations at his old school. According to Marichol, he was handed hundreds of dollars in cash by Aggies assistant Bradley Dale Peveto to host recruits on official visits:

On two separate weekends this spring, Marchiol told USA TODAY Sports, he was given hundreds of dollars in cash by linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto to entertain prospects on unofficial visits. Those recruiting visits occurred, he said, following the April 14 spring game with Zach Edwards, a three-star linebacker from Starkville, Mississippi, and the second weekend in June with four-star linebacker Christian Harris (now a Texas A&M verbal commitment) and Nakobe Dean from Horn Lake, Mississippi, ranked as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the country by Rivals.com.

While NCAA rules at the time allowed schools to give a student host $40 a day to entertain recruits during official visits, prospects must pay their own expenses for unofficial visits, meaning any money provided by coaches would be an NCAA rules violation. Recruits are allowed to take up to five all-expenses-paid official visits each, but many also add unofficial visits to see other schools or make additional visits to a favorite school. News accounts of the visits that Marchiol discussed indicate all were unofficial.

Marchiol describes being taken aback after the spring game when Peveto pulled him into a bathroom near the coaches’ offices and handed him $300.

“There were coaches having meetings in the other office, and he said, here, come in the bathroom real quick because he’d just asked me to host the recruit,” Marchiol said. “So I went in the bathroom and it was just me and him in there, and he’s like, ‘Take this, if you need any more just text me and make sure they have a good time.’ ”

On the second occasion, Marchiol said, the money exchange took place in the bathroom at Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe in College Station, a restaurant where the team frequently takes recruits to eat. Marchiol said he received $400 in cash from Peveto and  that a teammate Marchiol identified in his waiver request was handed another $300 during the exchange.

“You know how you tip people in Vegas? He had the cash in his hand and he like handed it to us like, here (with a handshake),” Marchiol said.

But that wasn’t the only way in which current Aggies coaches have skirted NCAA rules, according to Marichol. Over this summer, Aggies defensive coordinator Mike Elko directed players to spend time at the football facility working on football activities far beyond the allowable levels as permitted by the NCAA.

When Texas A&M’s players returned after Memorial Day weekend, defensive coordinator Mike Elko brought his players into a meeting and made clear what he expected of them: “He said, ‘We’re going to have a lot of meetings and practices that aren’t technically required, but you guys have to be here because you’re way behind. We need to win,’ ” Marchiol said. 

Marichol said players were required to be at the facility from 9 a.m. until “well after” 6:30 p.m. four days a week through the summer and that coaches observed and instructed their 7-on-7 practices, with Elko demonstrating proper technique and alignment, as would be typical of a fall or spring practice but disallowed in the summer by NCAA bylaws.

Finally, Marichol said Aggies trainers mishandled an ankle injury he suffered in June.

Marchiol said he believes he was pushed to play through the injury because of a belief coaches frequently shared loudly with the players: The Aggies program had been like a country club under Sumlin. In fact, he said, everything in the message of Fisher and his assistants had been themed to demand more toughness, from the duration of workouts to the language coaches used on the field to players being told outright that highly rated recruits were coming to replace them.

Marichol is being represented by Thomas Mars, an Arkansas-based lawyer who represented Houston Nutt in his suit against Ole Miss. The NCAA does not comment on current or potential cases. A Texas A&M spokesperson said: “Texas A&M Athletics takes these allegations seriously, and we are reviewing the situation with the NCAA and the SEC Office.”

The Aggies open their first season under Fisher on Sept. 1 against Northwestern State (8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).