Updated: New Orleans will host ‘Champions Bowl’

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Good news, everyone. You can stop calling the “Champions Bowl” the Champions Bowl and start calling it the Sugar Bowl.

According to ESPN.com, New Orleans has been selected as the site for the bowl game that will also reportedly serve as a rotating site for the semifinal round of college football’s new playoff beginning after the 2014 season. In other words, the Sugar Bowl is adding a Big 12 tie-in. New Orleans beat out the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Tx., and the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, among others. The “Champions Bowl” title was simply a placeholder.

The first Sugar Bowl with the Big 12 tie-in will take place Jan. 1, 2015. The deal is for 12 years.

All other details in the report have been known for a while. For instance, in the event that either the Big 12 champion or SEC champion is selected to the four-team playoff, the respective conference would select another team. In the event that the bowl is selected as a semifinal game, it would not host the SEC – Big 12 matchup. The expected payout from the bowl is, again, reported to be $80 million.

The other bowls expected to be among the six rotating semifinal sites are the Rose, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta and Chick-fil-A. There is a possibility of a seventh “access bowl”, but that has yet to be nailed down. So far, the Rose, Orange and Sugar have conference tie-ins; the other three access bowls are expected to be filled with at-large teams (the Fiesta Bowl’s tie-in with the Big 12 ends after 2014).

The Cotton Bowl in Arlington was the other finalist for the ‘Champions Bowl’. Now that New Orleans has secured the bid for the next dozen years, don’t be surprised if JerryWorld hosts the 2015 college football championship game, which will be held at a neutral site.

Updated 6:36 p.m. ET: And now it’s official. The SEC and Big 12 have announced that the Sugar Bowl will host the champions of the respective conferences. Here’s a portion of the release from the SEC:

“New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl are synonymous with post-season college football.  For many years, fans have enjoyed the color and pageantry that New Orleans offers,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.  The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has hosted many Super Bowls, Sugar Bowls and National Championship Games and having teams from the Big 12 and the SEC in a post-season college football game together only adds to this list.  We look forward to competing against the Big 12 as a new championship tradition begins on New Year’s Day.”
               
“From the moment this game was announced, there has been tremendous excitement associated with the collaboration between these two conferences.  That excitement is reflected in the bids received to host this game.  There were great cities, attractive destinations, and impressive venues to consider,” commented Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby.   Now Big 12 fans can look forward to a New Year’s tradition and coming to New Orleans to support their team.  We are thrilled about our long-term association with our SEC colleagues and to be in partnership with the Allstate Sugar Bowl.“     
               
“We’re pleased to have been selected to host this great game.  This gives us the chance to extend the Sugar Bowl’s long-standing relationship with the Southeastern Conference and to develop a new relationship with the Big 12 Conference,” said Paul Hoolahan, Chief Executive Officer of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.  “The result will be, without a doubt, one of college football’s best bowl games on an annual basis, one that brings tremendous national prestige and millions of dollars in economic impact to our city and state over the New Year’s holiday.  We look forward to the tremendous promise this game, and these two great conferences, have to offer.”
               
“This is a great day for the Sugar Bowl Committee, the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.  What this means for our city and state is hard to fully explain,” said Jack Laborde, President of the Allstate Sugar Bowl.  “With the privilege of hosting this game comes a national spotlight, a position at the top of the college football world and untold tourism dollars.  We couldn’t be happier and are grateful for the opportunity.”

Ohio State DL coach Larry Johnson denies facilitating player payment at Penn State

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The ongoing federal corruption case against College Basketball, Inc., took an unplanned-but-not-unexpected swerve into college football on Tuesday when a witness for the government said he facilitated payments for numerous college football players from 2000 through 2013.

Pittsburgh-based financial advisor Marty Blazer, who has already pleaded guilty to defrauding clients, is now testifying on behalf of the government during the New York-based trial, and said he paid players representing a handful of programs ranging from Alabama and Michigan to Northwestern and Pitt, funneling them funds ranging from three to five figures.

Blazer did not name names for any coaches on Tuesday, but he did name the name of a player — former Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin — which led anyone who follows college football to figure out his coach — former Penn State defensive line, and current Ohio State defensive line coach, Larry Johnson.

According to Blazer, Maybin was considering leaving school early to enter the 2009 draft when Johnson (without naming his name) arranged a meeting between himself, Blazer and Maybin’s father. There, Johnson got Blazer to give Maybin’s father $10,000, with the hope that the cash-in-hand would keep Aaron Maybin a Nittany Lion while ensuring the player would become a Blazer client when he eventually went pro.

Maybin, as we all know, entered the 2009 draft and was selected 11th overall. Blazer said Maybin’s father later returned the money.

Johnson was reached by Yahoo Sports on Tuesday and vehemently denied the accusation.

“That is not accurate at all,” Johnson said. “That is absolutely false. I would never, ever ask anybody to do that. That is not me.”

“Why is it that something like that comes out and nobody says anything to me?” Johnson Sr. said. “This is the first call I’ve gotten. All of a sudden this Marty Blazer guy can just say whatever he wants? That is absolutely amazing. Wow.”

Johnson coached Penn State’s defensive line from 1996 through 2013 and has been at Ohio State since 2014. The 67-year-old is generally regarded as one of the best defensive line coaches in college football, and while it’s unclear if the NCAA would even take an interest in the case, Johnson obviously wants to make sure the testimony of an admitted fraudster does not ruin his reputation.

Clemson lands No. 1 overall player in Class of 2020

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Clemson has managed to dominate college football without really dominating the college football recruiting rankings. Since 2015, the Tigers’ classes have ranked, in order, No. 9, No. 11, No. 16, No. 7 and No. 10, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Those are good classes, to be sure, but not necessarily great ones; they’re the type of classes you’d expect to lead to a team competing for ACC championships and New Year’s Six bowls, not beating Alabama in the national championship game twice in three years.

Clearly, Clemson’s coaches have cornered the market on finding a few great players and a bunch of really good ones, then developing them to all play like great players. The question then becomes: What happens if Clemson starts recruiting a bunch of great players? What happens if, in addition to playing like Alabama, Clemson started recruiting like Alabama?

We’re about to find out.

The Tigers on Tuesday landed Bryan Breese, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound defensive tackle from Damascus, Md., who happens to be the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2020, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

“At the end of this little run I was really between Clemson, Georgia and Penn State and over that last visit everyone talks about you’ll feel it and I didn’t understand that till the last visit and I got the feeling and knew where I was supposed to be,” Bresee told 247Sports.

But Tuesday’s news wasn’t just about Breese. He became Clemson’s first 5-star commitment of this class, joining a group of 11 4-stars that vaults the Tigers over Alabama for the No. 1 spot in the 2020 team rankings, with three less players on board than the Crimson Tide. Beyond Breese, Clemson is also favored to land 5-star quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, 5-star defensive end Jordan Burch and 5-star Myles Murphy, all of whom rank in the top 10 nationally, plus 5-star linebacker Antoine Sampah, who ranks No. 31 in the country.

If all that comes to pass, Clemson could follow one of the best seasons ever with one of the best recruiting classes ever.

“This class could be by far one of the best classes ever,” Bresee said. “I think definitely one of the best classes for Clemson.”

Transfers from Rutgers, Coastal Carolina land at same FCS school

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The same FCS program has double-dipped in the NCAA transfer portal, FBS division, in bulking up the talent on its football roster.

Monday afternoon, Albany announced via social media that running back Alex James and fullback Max Anthony have officially signed with the program.  James, a redshirt junior, comes to Albany from Coastal Carolina, Anthony, a fifth-year senior, from Rutgers.

As both players come to the Great Danes from the FBS ranks, they will each be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

The past two seasons for the Chanticleers, James has rushed for 475 yards and seven touchdowns on 114 carries.  He also caught 16 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Anthony had started six of the 27 games in which he played for the Scarlet Knights.

Witness in hoops trial claims he paid football players from Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, others

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A sweeping college hoops scandal that’s engulfed the sport has now touched its gridiron counterpart.

Marty Blazer, a Pittsburgh financial advisor-turned government informant after pleading guilty to securities fraud charges, took the witness stand Tuesday in the college basketball fraud trial and levied some potentially explosive allegations.  As part of his testimony, Blazer alleged that, between 2000-14, he paid football players from, among others, Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Pitt.  The payments, some of which were in the thousands of dollars, were aimed at convincing the player to remain in college and not enter the NFL draft in the hopes that they would retain him as their financial adviser when they did turn pro.

The names of specific players were, for the most part, not mentioned by Blazer.

The most damning of the accusations made by Blazer seems to involve Penn State during the Joe Paterno era.  Specifically, Blazer alleges that he paid the father of then-Penn State player Aaron Maybin $10,000, with the payment being made at the behest of an unnamed Paterno assistant coach.

If accurate, the NCAA would consider such an arrangement a major infraction.  It’s unclear what, if any, action The Association will take on the football side of the accusations made under oath.

Requests for comment from each of the football programs mentioned in Blazer’s testimony have not yet been met with a response.