No surprise: Alabama crowned 2013 recruiting champion

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Signing Day 2013 is over (for highlights, click here) — at least enough for Rivals.com to go ahead and declare Alabama the champion of this year’s recruiting battle. Yes, rankings are subjective, but would you have expected anything less from the three-time BCS champion of the past four years?

Likewise, it makes sense that the conference housing the last seven national champions has 11 of the top 25 recruiting classes this year. In fact, five SEC West programs pulled in a top-10 recruiting class. Ole Miss, coming off a 7-6 season under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, had arguably the biggest day with the No. 7 class in the country. Florida, at No. 4, is the only SEC East program to climb into Rivals’ top-10.

Of the five other BCS conferences, the Pac-12 has four top-25 classes, and the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 all have three. Notre Dame ends the day with the No. 3 class in the country.

In the Big Ten, the arrival of Urban Meyer at Ohio State has the makings of a two-horse race between the Buckeyes and arch rival Michigan for years to come. No other Big Ten program came close to matching what the two rival programs did during this year’s recruiting tour.

USC had one of the smallest classes this year thanks to NCAA-mandated scholarship reductions, but for the second year in a row, no other program did more with less. The Trojans landed four five-star commits and seven four-star commits. Still, Lane Kiffin was beat out in the recruiting rankings by cross-town rival UCLA. The Bruins finished the day with its class just outside the top 1o one season under Jim Mora

If you love good rivalries, recruiting classes from Michigan and Ohio State, as well as UCLA and USC, indicate there will be some fun games ahead for years to come.

Rivals has a complete breakdown of how each BCS program did this Signing Day. Below are the individual rankings:

(All rankings in this post reflect Rivals.com; 247Sports, Scout.com rankings in parenthesis) 

1. Alabama (No. 1, 247Sports; No. 3, Scout.com)

2. Ohio State (No. 2, 247Sports; No. 1 Scout.com)

3. Notre Dame (No. 3, 247Sports; No. 4, Scout.com)

4. Florida (No. 4, 247Sports; No. 8, Scout.com)

5. Michigan (No. 5, 247Sports; No. 2, Scout.com)

6. LSU (No. 7, 247Sports; t-No. 6, Scout.com)

7. Ole Miss (No. 6, 247Sports; No. 9, Scout.com)

8. Auburn (No. 11, 247Sports; No. 13, Scout.com)

9. Florida State (No. 8, 247Sports; No. 16, Scout.com)

10. Texas A&M (No. 10, 247Sports; t-No. 6, Scout.com)

11. UCLA (No. 9, 247Sports; No. 5, Scout.com)

12. Georgia (No. 12, 247Sports; No. 10, Scout.com)

13. USC (No. 14, 247Sports; No. 18, Scout.com)

14. Clemson (No. 13, 247Sports; No. 12, Scout.com)

15. Oklahoma (No. 15, 247Sports; No. 15, Scout.com)

16. South Carolina (No. 21, 247Sports: No. 21, Scout.com)

17. Nebraska (No. 23, 247Sports: No. 11, Scout.com)

18. Washington (No. 18, 247Sports; No. 14, Scout.com)

19. Vanderbilt (No. 30, 247Sports; No. 19, Scout.com)

20. Tennessee (No. 25, 247Sports; No. 32, Scout.com)

21. Oregon (No. 19, 247Sports; No. 17, Scout.com)

22. Virginia (No. 29, 247Sports; No. 41, Scout.com)

23. Texas (No. 16, 247Sports; No. 23 Scout.com)

24. West Virginia (No. 35, 247Sports; No. 26, Scout.com)

25. Mississippi State (No. 24, 247Sports; No. 20, Scout.com)

Notre Dame LB Te’Von Coney pleads guilty to marijuana possession

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Notre Dame linebacker Te’Von Coney on Tuesday pleaded guilty to marijuana possession as part of a case stemming back to 2016. Coney was one of five Irish players arrested on Aug. 19, 2016, when an Indiana State Police trooper made a traffic stop for speeding and discovered marijuana and an unregistered handgun in the car. Notre Dame safety Max Redfield, wideout Kevin Stepherson, cornerback Ashton White and running back Dexter Williams were also arrested.

Through a plea deal, Coney was sentenced to 363 days of probation and had a 180-day jail sentenced suspended down to time served.

White, Redfield and Stepherson were either booted from the team or transferred, while Coney and Williams have gone on to shine in South Bend. Williams rushed 39 times for 360 yards and four touchdowns last season and is expected to split starting duties this fall, while Coney was Notre Dame’s leading tackler a year ago, collecting 116 stops and 12.5 TFLs.

A Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., native, Coney’s plea is not expected to impact his status on the team. Irish head coach Brian Kelly said earlier this month he expected Coney, who is taking summer classes at Notre Dame right now, to play this fall “if he takes care of it (the court case) in the manner I expect him to.”

Wake Forest adds pair of graduate transfer kickers

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Wake Forest was active on the graduate transfer market Tuesday, picking up two kickers to add to its 2018 roster.

The Deacons announced Darren Ford as a transfer from Division III Hope College in Michigan and Eric Osteen from Army.

Ford connected on 25-of-38 field goals and 99 PATs at Hope while also averaging 40 yards per punt over the past two seasons. He also handled kickoffs for the past three seasons at Hope.

Osteen is a rare case; he graduated from Army back in 2013 and recently completed a 5-year tour of duty in the U.S. Army. He will kick for Wake Forest while pursuing an MBA. He was the Black Knights’ kickoff specialist in his former career, totaling 40 touchbacks in 110 kickoffs from 2011-12. He recorded five kickoffs in six tries during Army’s 2012 game against Wake Forest.

Ford and Osteen figure to slide into starting roles for the Deacons’ 2018 squad. Mike Weaver, a senior, handled place-kicking and kickoff duties for Wake Forest a season ago. He made 21-of-25 field goals and 52-of-56 extra points and posted 33 touchbacks in 83 total kickoffs.

WATCH: Netflix releases “Last Chance U.” trailer

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Netflix’s smash hit “Last Chance U.” is back next month for its third season, but in a way it’ll be its first. After following East Mississippi Community College and its firebrand head coach Buddy Stephens for two seasons, college football’s answer to Amazon’s “All or Nothing” has moved to a new subject. After considering a number of schools, “Last Chance U.” will follow Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas, coached by Jason Brown, for its third season.

“Last Chance U.” will follow the Pirates as they navigate the entire 2017 season, which concluded with a 9-2 record, a Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference championship and a win over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the Midwest Bowl.

The new season premiers July 20.

FCS team suspends head coach amid probe into ‘alleged violations of university policy’

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We don’t normally do much with the FCS level of football here at CFT; when we do, though, it normally doesn’t trend toward the positive.

Such is the case in this instance, with Stephen F. Austin announcing Monday night that head coach Clint Conque has been suspended.  In its statement, the university wrote that the suspension is “pending an investigation into alleged violations of university policy.”

The alleged violations weren’t detailed.

“The investigation is expected to take several weeks,” the school’s statement read, in part. “No comments will be made by the university until the investigation is complete.”

The Magnolia Reporter wrote that “Conque’s suspension comes two weeks after SFA appointed Ryan Ivey as the new director of Athletics – a position he is set to officially assume on July 1.”

Conque has been the head coach at SFA the past four seasons.  In that span, he went 21-25 overall and 17-18 in Southland Conference play.  Since going 8-5 and qualifying for the FCS playoffs his first season, the football program has gone 4-7, 5-5, 4-7 the last three years.

Prior to that, Conque was the head coach at Central Arkansas from 2000-13, with the last seven of those years spent in the Southland Conference.  During his time with the Bears, he went 105-59.

In a statement released by that university in July of 2010, prior to the start of his 11th season with that FCS team, Conque admitted to what he described as “an inappropriate relationship” that stemmed from “some poor personal decisions.”

During a period of time in my life I made some poor personal decisions. I had an inappropriate relationship in the past that I regret and these mistakes and missteps have hurt the ones that I love the most. While we have been dealing with these issues privately, I regret that we must now deal with this in a public manner.

“I take sole and complete responsibility for my actions as my family and I continue the process of healing and rebuilding. I want to once again sincerely apologize first to my family, also to the university community, the administration, the university’s athletic staff, and to our football staff and team. I will emerge from this a better man, husband, father and coach. I appreciate the support that I have received from the Board of Trustees, President (Allen) Meadors, (Athletic Director) Dr. (Brad) Teague, and the university during this extremely difficult time.

“I would genuinely appreciate everyone extending Angele and my three sons the privacy and compassion needed to move forward in our personal lives. I look forward to the 2010 football season and the beginning of fall practice.

Conque remained on as the head coach at Central Arkansas for four more seasons, going 32-16 in that post-admission span and qualifying for the FCS playoffs twice for good measure.