Updated: Tulane, ECU join the Big East

26 Comments

The move by Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten started up another round of realignment rumors. Most, as usual, are complete malarkey. However, one that emerged Tuesday morning caught just about everyone off guard. And it’s apparently as legit as it is hilarious.

Per multiple reports including WaveReport.com, ESPN, CBS, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Tulane will join the Big East in all sports. A press conference — reportedly for a formal announcement — is set for 2 p.m. ET. The university has yet to confirm or deny any realignment reports, but the press conference would be the response.

The AP and ESPN are also reporting that East Carolina (finally, y’all!!!!!) will join as a football-only member in 2014. A press conference for ECU is set for later this afternoon.

The Big East recently lost Rutgers to the Big Ten as part of the latest round of expansion. Maryland also joined the Big Ten from the ACC. Louisville and UConn are among the programs connected to the ACC through the rumor mill.

Boise State, San Diego State, Memphis, UCF, Houston and SMU are supposed to join the Big East in 2013 with Navy joining in 2015. That means in 2014, nine of the Big East’s members will have formerly resided in Conference USA.

More coming once — if — this becomes official.

Updated 2:00 p.m. ET: As expected, Tulane has joined the Big East as a full member. The Green Wave will move from Conference USA in the 2014-15 academic year. That’s the same year Tulane is expected to complete a 30,000-seat on-campus stadium.

“I am pleased and excited to welcome Tulane University to the BIG EAST Conference,” said Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement.  “Tulane University is an outstanding academic institution and is committed to excellence in athletics.  They will be a valued member of the BIG EAST.”

“Tulane University is pleased to accept membership in the BIG EAST Conference,” said Tulane President Scott Cowen.  “The BIG EAST is a distinguished collection of institutions that will be a wonderful home for Tulane.  We look forward to our mutual association and we are delighted to welcome the BIG EAST to the Big Easy!”

For ECU…

“We are very excited to welcome East Carolina University into the BIG EAST Conference for football,” said Aresco.  “They have a strong football tradition and a consistently successful program that will help elevate our football league.  The University is an outstanding academic institution that reflects the values important to the BIG EAST Conference.”

“ECU is excited to become a football member of the BIG EAST Conference,” said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard.  “We know we will be successful and add value to the BIG EAST.  While hundreds of dedicated Pirates have contributed to this day, I especially want to recognize the relentless energy of Terry Holland and Nick Floyd in making this day a reality.  It is a great day to be a Pirate.”

Conference USA also issued a statement this afternoon:

“We thank East Carolina and charter member Tulane for all their contributions to the league and wish them well. These are unprecedented times in higher education. Notwithstanding the changes, we are excited about our future and we remain committed to our strategic plan – a major market, two-division conference that is student-athlete friendly.

“To be clear, we have several options but no new member agreements have made at this time. We appreciate the support of our members and will immediately begin a presidentially led process to evaluate our future options.”

Ex-Baylor DC Phil Bennett calls legal firm interview a fraud, says Art Briles deserves to coach again

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
3 Comments

Former Baylor head coach Phil Bennett says an interview he did for a law firm reviewing Baylor’s response to sexual assault scandal was a fraud because he was unable to go through the interview without an attorney by his side. In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bennett took issue with the review conducted by the Pepper Hamilton law firm.

“It was somewhere in January or February after our bowl game,” Bennett said of the interview he had with representatives from the law firm. “I told (staffers) it was a fraud set up from the get-go. I wanted to bring a lawyer in and to record it. I wanted protection. They would not talk to us if we did. They didn’t have a recording of it, either. That’s what bothered me. I was in there for 4 1/2 hours. They wrote notes. I wrote notes. They looked at mine. I looked at theirs. (The two investigators) were so out of touch with the structure of college football, it was comical.”

Bennett went on to explain when he realized there was no progress he was going to make in the interview.

“I said, ‘We are bringing these kids in and we take great pride in keeping them within the lines of university procedures. That’s our jobs. We are not getting the normal student.’ I wanted to be as real as I could with them. We are trying to teach these kids how to be in college and how to react in situations. She says, ‘Judicial Affairs should have known.’ As soon as she said that, I knew this was over.”

Despite the scale of the scandal at Baylor and the fallout that ensued, Bennett remains confident Baylor was really no different from any other college football program in the country.

“We had the same issues that everybody had,” Bennett claimed at one point in the video interview. “We tried to stay on top of things. Now, were we just a hammer? Probably not.”

Previous reports have detailed how members of the Baylor coaching staff worked around the typical Title IX procedures, which is what really brought the entire situation at Baylor to a boil.

Bennett also came to the defense of former Baylor head coach Art Briles, suggesting Briles was targetted because Baylor could not successfully fire Ken Starr as university president.

“Yes. I remember when this all started, my wife told me, ‘This is the sort of thing that gets you fired.’ I don’t know if this was true, but I was told by a member of the board that Art was never the objective. They were looking to fire Ken Starr. But Starr lawyered up. And the next on the pole was Briles.”

During the course of the interview, Bennett suggested Baylor was no different from other college football programs around the country

“Every night I say a prayer for him, that he will [coach again],” Bennett said of Briles. “I think without question he deserves to.”

Briles, of course, has struggled to land a coaching job since being fired by Baylor. A job in the CFL never took off after public outcry about his hiring, and he remains a bit of a pariah around college football as the dust still settles from the impact of the scandal in Waco.

Tom Herman says ideal Texas schedule would include Texas A&M rivalry

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images
4 Comments

Let’s face it. Until the day comes when Texas and Texas A&M get back on the same football field for a regular season game, this topic is never going to die. In the latest example of proving you can set your offseason calendar to the moment anyone from Texas or Texas A&M merely mentions the dormant rivalry, Longhorns head coach Tom Herman suggested reviving the rivalry with the Aggies would be a part of his ideal football schedule in Austin.

“In my perfect world, you would play one big-time Power 5 [non-conference] opponent,” Herman said in SiriusXM ESPNU Radio interview with Andy Staples and Rick Neuheisel this week. “To me, there’s a very logical one an hour-and-a-half east of us.”

Herman was clearly referring to Texas A&M when mentioning a logical option just 90 minutes east of Austin. Herman also expressed a desire to be able to play a true rivalry game at home in an alternating series similar to other Big 12 schools like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State playing each other and Iowa State playing in-state Big Ten rival Iowa. Texas A&M would fit that bill Herman is trying to address.

Of course, this is all the same old stuff we have been talking about since Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC and the rivalry was put on ice after the 2011 season. Fans of both schools appear to have a much greater desire for the series to be revived, and coaches who have come and gone make it a routine to sound off on wanting to play their old rival to win fans over. But the fact remains the powers that be at both Texas and Texas A&M are standing firm on not wanting to play the other school again, even if there is a hint there are higher-ups who would be interested in seeing the series continue.

Both the big 12 and SEC require their members to schedule one game against another power conference opponent in non-conference play. It seems to be a perfect way for the rivalry to resume for both the Longhorns and Aggies. Instead, both schools continue to line up non-conference schedules without including the other, as is the case now through 2020 for sure, and likely for years beyond that with other matchups against power conference teams already lined up for years.

Larry Fedora says war on football could lead to downfall of country

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images
7 Comments

It’s not very often when a head coach can lose on a conference’s media day, but UNC head coach Larry Fedora went down swinging on Wednesday. On the first day of the ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte, North Carolina, Fedora stood firm on some interesting takes on the current state of the game and how it could lead to the downfall of the country. He also suggested there is no connection to playing football and CTE.

It was a doozy of an afternoon for the head coach of the Tar Heels.

“Our game is under attack,” Fedora suggested when discussing new rules being implemented into the game with the focus on improving the safety of players. “I fear that the game will be pushed so far from what we know that we won’t recognize it 10 years from now. And if it does, our country will go down too.”

Some of what Fedora said is not an original thought. With more and more rules being changed or added to the game at all levels of the game, including the NFL, it is clear the sport of football is being changed in dramatic ways that would leave some from a former era hanging their heads. Of course, players from previous eras were not able to compete in a time when medical advancements and research were on par with what is available today. Still, Fedora seemed to take up a stand on this topic as well by suggesting he does not think it has definitely been proven that playing football causes CTE. Fedora said he believes the CTE data has been put out as fact and it has swayed some people away from football entirely.

It may be unwise to suggest there is a stone-cold fact that indisputably links football to CTE, but more and more research is connecting the dots fairly strongly. A report from the New York Times last summer showed 110 of 111 brains of former NFL players had symptoms of CTE. The study comprised of 202 former football players from various levels of the game. The link between playing football and CTE has been strong enough to have the NFL begin modifying its procedures and regulations, and more and more colleges and conferences are addressing these concerns as well. Still, Fedora is taking up his side in the so-called war on football.

Let’s be crystal clear here; playing football significantly increases the risk a player will experience CTE in their life. There is no disputing that. And no, if football is changed for the benefit of player safety, it will have zero impact on the country as a whole.

Fedora also raised some eyebrows for his comments about why football is part of what makes the United States so great, which he defended by sharing a comment he received from a former military general. After his initial media session at the ACC media day event, Fedora later gathered a handful of selected media members to clarify his comments. But rather than change one word in his statement to make himself look better, Fedora held firm with his comments.

Fedora is coming off a 3-9 season in Chapel Hill, and he may be on one of the hottest seats the ACC has to offer this fall. Starting the year off sounding like a cranky old-school football meathead may not be the best way to get the new season started for Fedora, but he’s all in on the idea that the decline of football will inevitably lead to the fall of the entire country.

If Fedora doesn’t make UNC great again, he may be taking his war on football to the unemployment line.

Delaware new home for Penn State transfer Andre Robinson

Getty Images
Leave a comment

More than seven months after leaving Penn State, Andre Robinson has found his landing spot.

The mother of the running back confirmed to PennLive.com that her son has transferred to Delaware to continue his collegiate playing career.  As the Blue Hens play at the FCS level, Robinson will be eligible to play immediately for the program.

Including this season, Robinson will have two years of eligibility remaining.

“All parties are excited for this opportunity for continuing his education and playing football for Delaware, the mom, Jennifer Mellinger, told the website in a portion of a statement.

Robinson was a four-star member of Penn State’s 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 20 running back in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Pennsylvania.

A redshirt sophomore, Robinson was third among Nittany Lions running backs this past season with 55 yards and one touchdown on the ground in 2017.  He finished the PSU portion of his playing career with 196 yards and six touchdowns on 30 carries.