It’s official: Terps moving to Big Ten

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And there you have it.  The next domino in the inane game of conference expansion has officially tumbled.

Following up on reports that first surfaced Saturday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed Monday that Maryland is indeed leaving the ACC for the Big Ten.  The school’s board of regents approved the move Monday morning, which came after the Big Ten approved Maryland’s application for admission.

The move will be effective beginning in 2014, meaning the Terps will play one lame-duck season in the ACC.

A press conference has been scheduled for 3 p.m. ET today to officially announce the move, with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany (pictured) in attendance.

“I did it to guarantee the long-term future of Maryland athletics,” university president Wallace Loh said in an interview with The Diamondback about the reasons behind the decision to leave the ACC. “No future president will have to worry about cutting teams or that Maryland athletics will be at risk.”

Due to financial concerns, the athletic department was forced recently to cut seven programs.

Maryland was one of the eight founding members of the ACC back in 1953, so it is ditching nearly six decades of history and tradition for… what exactly?  That answer can be described with one simple color: green.

In the ACC’s television deal announced last year, member schools were expected to receive in the neighborhood of $17 million annually per institution.  The Big Ten, on the other hand, will pay out nearly $25 million to every member but Nebraska, which as a new-ish member does not yet receive a full share.

That per-year, per-school number is expected to increase exponentially with the addition of Maryland and, likely, Rutgers.  One report stated that, with the Big Ten Network expanding into the Washington D.C./Baltimore/New Jersey/New York City television markets, the network could realize an additional $100-$200 million annually with the increased conference footprint. While the $200 million figure is admittedly on the absurdly high-end, even the low-end would bring in an additional $7 million or so per school and push the annual per-member payout to between $30-$35 million for the near future.  That figure could move to $40 million and beyond within several years.

Those numbers are very relevant for Maryland, particularly in the short-term as the ACC recently instituted a $50 million exit fee for any member that looked to leave.  However, multiple reports indicate that Maryland believes it can cut the penalty by at least half if not more, with the Big Ten perhaps covering the initial payout in exchange for a percentage of Maryland’s future revenue.

With the conference and the network  pulling in hundreds of millions annually, it’s something the Big Ten can afford to do for one of its own.

The addition of Maryland and Rutgers — that announcement could come as early as Tuesday — would give the Big Ten a footprint that stretches contiguously across 11 states, from Nebraska in the nation’s heartland to New Jersey on the Atlantic seaboard.

Certainly the recruiting corridors in the east, where the likes of Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan already do well, will open up a little more for the conference and could help middle-of-the-pack football members on that front.  But make no mistake, money — Maryland and Rutgers being premiere academic and research institutions doesn’t hurt either — is the driving force behind this latest round of conference expansion.

Not the athletic programs at either school, not for some type of historical football relevance as was the case with Penn State and Nebraska.  No, this is all about the hundreds of millions of dollars the Big Ten can stuff its coffers with by expanding its reach into those television markets.

Maryland and Rutgers brings nothing to the B1G brand but cable eyeballs, it’s as simple as that.

“[The Big Ten] is going national because of a phenomenon,” the school’s president said. “Attendance among college-aged students is dropping. The reason is because this generation is completely wired, and they are getting their education and entertainment on tablets and mobile devices. Everyone thinks you make your money in seats. You make it on eyeballs on a screen.”

It also, though, brings the question of divisional alignment to the table.  The Big Ten is currently separated into two six-team divisions, and on the surface it would make the most sense to add both Maryland and Rutgers to geographic rival Penn State’s division, the Leaders.

Such a move would give the Leaders eight teams, meaning one current member of the division would need to shift.  Illinois, given its geography, would appear to be a likely candidate to switch to the Legends division, which could give the conference the following divisional look:

LEGENDS
Illinois
Iowa
Michigan
Michigan State
Minnesota
Nebraska
Northwestern

LEADERS
Indiana
Maryland
Ohio State
Penn State
Purdue
Rutgers
Wisconsin

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Second App State assistant added to Eli Drinkwitz’s Mizzou staff

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For the second time Thursday, Eli Drinkwitz has added an assistant to his new Missouri coaching staff. And, for the second time, it’s a member of his old Appalachian State.

First, Charlie Harbison was announced as a defensive assistant whose specific duties will be spelled out later. Next, it’s Erik Link being the second confirmed addition as part of Drinkwitz’s 10-man on-field staff.

Unlike Harbison, though, Link’s role has already been defined — special teams coordinator. That’s the same job Link held with the Mountaineers in 2019, his first and only season with the Sun Belt Conference school.

“Erik is a man of high character with a background in teaching and coaching,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “His special teams units are detailed and very sound, and his guys play hard. They focus on effort, execution and high energy.”

Link was the special teams coordinator at Louisiana Tech in 2018, his first season as an on-field assistant at the FBS level. In 2011-12, he was the special teams coordinator at FCS Montana State.

In two separate stints at Auburn, he served as a quality control assistant (2010) and special teams/offensive analyst (2013-15).

Lane Kiffin adds two to first Ole Miss staff, including OC Jeff Lebby

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The Lane Train is wasting little time rolling out members of his first coaching staff in Oxford.

Officially confirmed as Ole Miss’ head coach Saturday, Lane Kiffin on Thursday unveiled the first two members of his on-field staff — offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and offensive assistant Kevin Smith.

While Smith wasn’t given an official title, he spent the past three seasons as Kiffin’s running backs coach at FAU. That was the 43-year-old Smith’s first on-field role at any level of football as he had spent the previous three seasons at his alma mater UCF as both a coaching intern and quality control coach.

Smith, a consensus All-American as a running back at UCF, played five years for the NFL’s Detroit Lions and one season in the Canadian Football League.

Lebby, coincidentally enough, spent the past two seasons at UCF, the first as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to coordinator following the 2018 season. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Baylor for five years, primarily as running backs coach.

Lebby’s father-in-law is disgraced former Baylor head coach Art Briles. His brother-in-law is Kendal Briles, who was Kiffin’s offensive coordinator at FAU for one season before leaving for the same job at Houston and then, ultimately, Florida State.

In addition to those on-field hires, Wilson Love was announced as the Rebels’ head strength & conditioning coach. Like Smith, Love was a part of Kiffin’s Owls program the past three years.

LSU, Ohio State headline 130th Walter Camp All-American team

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Both No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Ohio State showed out well during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show Thursday night. Not surprisingly, both football programs did the same on one of the most prestigious teams in the sport as well.

Earlier tonight, the Walter Camp Football Foundation released its 2019 All-American teams, the 130th such squad recognized by the organization. LSU and Wisconsin led all schools with three first-team selections, while Ohio State led the way overall with five first- and second-team honorees (two on the first team, three on the second). LSU ended up with four overall, while Clemson had three (two first team, one second).

LSU and OSU were also one-two at the quarterback position, with Joe Burrow, also named the Camp Player of the Year, earning first-team honors and Justin Fields being the second-team selection.

Conference-wise, the Big Ten’s 15 selections on both teams led the way, followed by the SEC’s 13 and Pac-12’s seven. All told, eight of the 10 FBS conferences are represented — the Sun Belt’s Arkansas State (wide receiver Omar Bayless) claimed its first-ever Camp All-American — while 32 different schools claimed spots on one of the two teams. Two of those schools, Florida Atlantic (tight end Harrison Bryant) and Boise State (defensive end Curtis Weaver), had their first-ever first-team Camp All-Americans.

The AAC and MAC were the only FBS conferences without a player selected.

Individually, two players repeated as first-team All-Americans — Wisconsin running back and Doak Walker Award winner Jonathan Taylor, LSU safety and Jim Thorpe Award winner Grant Delpit. Taylor is actually a three-time Camp All-American as he was named to the second team as a true freshman in 2017.

Delpit’s teammate, defensive back Derek Stingley Jr., is the only freshman among the 51 All-Americans.

Mike Norvell brings Memphis DC Adam Fuller to Florida State

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Wednesday, Mike Norvell confirmed the identity of his offensive coordinator at Florida State. A day later, it was the coordinator on the other side of the ball who was identified.

In what amounts to a reunion after a very brief time apart, Norvell announced Thursday that, as had been speculated, Adam Fuller has been hired as Florida State’s defensive coordinator. Fuller spent the 2019 season in the same position for Norvell at Memphis.

“We are so very excited about the addition of Adam Fuller to the Florida State football family,” Norvell said. “Adam is one of the top defensive minds in college football and has been a part of developing some of the most productive defensive units in the nation throughout his career. Coach Fuller will bring an aggressive and detailed approach to our Seminole defense. It will put our great student-athletes in a position to showcase all their skills and talents while being developed at the highest level.

“Adam has recruited the state of Florida, specifically the Tampa area, throughout his career, which will assist in fostering relationships throughout the state. I am excited to see him elevate our Florida State defense back to one of the nation’s elite.”

Memphis was Fuller’s second coordinating job at the FBS level. The first came at Marshall the year before.

“My family and I are very excited to join the Seminole program,” Fuller said. “The history and tradition of Florida State’s defense brings a major responsibility. I look forward to embracing the pride that comes along with that.”

Fuller and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham are the second and third FSU staff additions for Norvell. The first was Odell Haggins, who served as the Seminoles’ interim head coach after Willie Taggart was fired and was quickly retained by the new head coach.