Rutgers officially becomes the Big Ten’s 14th member

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(So, yeah, more math/counting jokes go here.)

John got y’all primed earlier today on Rutgers’ imminent move from the Big East to the Big Ten as the conference’s 14th member, following Maryland’s steps on Monday. This afternoon, the move became official with unanimous approval, though when the Scarlet Knights will make the jump to their new home is yet to be determined. Big East bylaws call for, along with a $10 million exit fee, a 27-month waiting period. However, former members West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse all were able to leave (or will leave in the case of the latter two) before that specified timetable with the price tag of a higher exit fee.

Below are statements on the move:

Rutgers President Robert Barchi:
“The Big Ten includes America’s most highly regarded academic institutions, known for both their athletic success and academic achievement. This is exactly the right conference for Rutgers. Our university is one of the nation’s leading research universities and our student-athletes excel in the classroom and on the playing field.

Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti:
“This is a historic day for Rutgers University. It is an honor to join such a prestigious conference and begin our partnership with the outstanding institutions in the Big Ten. There is no finer conference in the nation that combines top-notch academics and athletics.”

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany:
“The Big Ten Conference is pleased to announce that Rutgers University will soon join the conference family. The additions of Rutgers and the University of Maryland further expand the Big Ten’s footprint while helping solidify our presence on the East Coast. Both institutions feature a combination of academic and athletic excellence and will prove a great fit for our future.”

Big East commissioner Mike Aresco:
“Although we are disappointed that Rutgers has decided to leave the Big East Conference, we wish them well. They have been a valued member of the Conference for many years. We realize that conference realignment is currently a fact of life in college sports. In the context of this realignment, changes in our membership have been taking place, including important additions. In fact, the Big East has expanded its scope with new members in California, Texas, Florida, Idaho, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. As a result, the Big East has created a unique national football conference that is a factor in the BCS Championship, remains the nation’s strongest basketball conference top to bottom, and is a major force across the full spectrum of men’s and women’s college sports. We remain committed to, and confident in, the continued growth and vitality of the Big East Conference.”

As we noted yesterday, the Big East is still in the open market for a new TV deal. If Boise State and San Diego State are having second third fourth thoughts about joining the league, it could affect the negotiation process. Likewise, the lack of a concrete number could be a concern to the likes of BSU and SDSU. Certainly losing Rutgers doesn’t help.

Either way, the Big East will continue to be at a disadvantage moving forward even with a TV deal. No media rights payout is going to be high enough to keep any member if another conference (like, say, the Big Ten for example) comes calling. That’s not to say the Big East won’t be better off with a finalized TV deal  — it will — but the league is simply at the mercy of other conferences.

Three former Pac-12 refs blast Larry Scott in private letter over Woodie Dixon scandal

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Eventually, the Bad News Train tearing a hole up and down the West Coast will eventually come to a stop. Until that day arrives, though, that train just keeps on truckin’.

The latest incident arrives from the San Jose Mercury-News, where Jon Wilner — the Woodward to The Oregonian‘s Bernstein, with embattled commissioner Larry Scott serving as Richard Nixon in this metaphor — has the published a letter written by three former Pac-12 officials blasting the commissioner over his handling of the Pac-12’s officiating scandal.

As you’ll recall, last fall it was revealed that Pac-12 general counsel Woodie Dixon remotely intervened to incorrectly overturn a targeting call in favor of USC during the Trojans’ 3-point win over Washington State in late September. Scott said the incident was an isolated one and then triggered a comprehensive review of the league’s officiating process, but three refs have stepped forward to rebuke Scott, saying he’s looking at the wrong people.

The trio — Chuck CzubinFred Gallagher and Mack Gilchrist — have more than a century as Pac-12 refs between them, and in December they sent a letter to Scott and Pac-12 vice president of officiating David Coleman. They then sent the email to Wilner last month and to Pac-12 ADs Ray Anderson (Arizona State), Rob Mullens (Oregon), Scott Barnes (Oregon State), and Rick George (Colorado) three days after they sent it to Wilner; Wilner published it today. On the Dixon incident, the group writes:

Mr. Scott, you know from personal experience this is not the first time he has overstepped his bounds…. Woodie singlehandedly caused the exit of the former Supervisor of Officials, and it is well known that several years ago he wanted to fire the gentleman who is now your Replay Supervisor. After the latest incident there is no question the Conference was far more interested in covering this up and finding the source of the info, rather than dealing with Woodie. You did so by removing a very valuable training tool for IR (instant replay). In your blind and bumbled approach you hid our reports and grades. This info had previously been transparent, which allowed IR to confer within itself…. Instead of dropping the hammer on Woodie you dropped it on IR. 

The Pac-12 declined to comment on the letter, but Scott himself responded to Czubin, Gallagher and Gilchrist on March 5. “[W]e are always seeking new ways to improve our program, and have recently made the decision to hire an outside expert to initiate a review of our football officiating program. The review will include assessments of many of the areas you highlight in your letter, and will definitely take into account feedback from officials,” he wrote. The conference announced it had hired Sibson Consulting to examine its refereeing program on Feb. 23.

If further reporting details that Dixon has intervened on more games than just last year’s Wazzu-USC game and Scott was aware of it, it would call into question the integrity of Pac-12 football itself under Scott’s watch, and the commissioner’s tenure may then follow the footsteps of Nixon’s all the way out the door.

Injured former Southern WR Devon Gales lands job as Georgia HS coach

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Devon Gales is back in football. The Southern wide receiver, who was paralyzed during a 2015 game at Georgia, will join the staff as an assistant coach at Jefferson High School in Georgia, according WDUN-AM.

Gales has remained in Georgia since the injury, transferring from an Athens hospital to an Atlanta rehabilitation facility soon after the collision that left him unable to move his extremities. He was released from the hospital five months later, and Georgia fans helped fund a handicapped-accessible home for him and his family in Jefferson, Ga., a town 20 miles north of Athens, where the family has lived since July.

Gales spoke to the Jefferson High School senior class, which led Jefferson superintendent Dr. John Jackson to invite Gales to join the staff.

“It was brought to our attention upon meeting this wonderful family that Devon missed the game and practices and being part of a football team in the game he still loved so much,” Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart told WDUN. “Dr. John Jackson had the idea of getting him involved in our program in some way and how our young men would benefit from his living example, character, strength in facing adversity and perseverance.”

 

Mississippi State offensive lineman arrested for numerous traffic violations

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In the SEC, it just means more… traffic tickets.

At least that’s the case for Mississippi State offensive lineman Tommy Champion, who was arrested by the school’s police department for a litany of traffic violations that far exceed his accomplishments on the field.

Per the Clarion Ledger, Champion hit the trifecta of driving with an expired tag, an expired license and no insurance. He faces as much as six months-worth of jail time as a result, a $1,000 fine and his license further being suspended for up to a year according to the paper.

A backup offensive tackle, Champion arrived in Starkville after a stop in junior college and redshirted his first year with the team. He was a reserve last season and was expected to add depth along the line for Joe Moorhead’s squad again in 2019.

The news of Champion’s arrest comes just as the Bulldogs were starting spring practice back up this week.

Tennessee DB Kenneth George Jr. arrested after reportedly punching police officer

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Attention in Tennessee is largely focused on the Vols basketball team this month but somehow the Power T’s football squad managed to find a way to steal more than a few headlines on Thursday.

And not in a good way for those back in Knoxville.

Redshirt junior defensive back Kenneth George Jr. was arrested in Miami Beach early on Thursday morning according to local station WPLG 10. However he wasn’t just picked up by police for anything you would normally associate with spring break in South Florida…no, he was arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, resisting an officer without violence and disorderly conduct.

Per WPLG:

“Police said George was cursing at one of the officers and ignoring his commands. As the officer tried to get him out of the street, George punched him and knocked the police radio out of his hands, the report said.

George then ran away before other officers caught up with him near Espanola Way and Washington Avenue, the report said.

According to the report, once in custody, George said, “He hit me first. Why can’t I hit him back?”

So far the school has not made any concrete statement beyond saying they are gathering facts on the story but we’re guessing that George’s days with the Vols are limited as a result of his actions. The Louisiana native is a junior college transfer into the program but missed most of last season with an injury.