Cincinnati still batting its eyes at ACC

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Even as the Big East is on the verge of inking a new television deal, one of its members is still very publicly hiking up its skirt and showing some leg to another conference.

Back in late November, a report surfaced that Cincinnati had attempted to enlist the help of former Bearcat defensive back and current Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer in UC’s efforts to garner an invitation from the ACC.  While Meyer declined, those efforts continued into the next month.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, and subsequently followed up on by CBSSports.com, the university “sent a video description of the $70 million project to all of the Atlantic Coast Conference presidents, the latest sign that it’s still campaigning for a spot in that league.”  The $70 million project refers to improvements to Nippert Stadium, the football home of the Bearcats.

The paper further writes that “[a]s part of the process of selling UC to ACC member schools, [president Santa] Ono also sent holiday cards to each of the ACC presidents.”  Based on the latest reports, a greeting card is the least a Big East school could/should do as part of its wooing efforts; membership in the ACC could be worth at least eight times as much in annual television revenue — $17 million versus a rumored $2 million — when compared to the future financial prospects of current Big East members.

As far as the Nippert renovations go, the proposed project would add about 1,200 box seats, 44 loge boxes and 28 private suites, and would be completed late in the summer of 2015.

After the ACC lost Maryland to the Big Ten, Cincinnati and fellow Big East members Louisville and UConn were mentioned as potential replacements, In late November, it was announced that Louisville had been added as an ACC member, continuing an 18-month-long mass exodus from the Big East. Unfortunately for all involved, that may not be the last defection.

Rumors continue to persist that the Big Ten could be looking to perform another raid on the ACC.  In fact, just this afternoon the 247Sports.com website dedicated to Maryland sports tweeted that Virginia is “being mentioned as likely to join” the B1G, while Georgia Tech — another source of speculation as it relates to the Midwest conference — is still in the mix.  The website went so far as to write that North Carolina, “the big domino, has an offer” from the Big Ten.  The website goes on to refer to the Tar Heels as “the apocalyptic domino.”

Such a development involving any of those current ACC schools would certainly be good news for the likes of Cincinnati and UConn, but yet another round of bad news for the Big East.

It should be noted that, back in early December, reports that Georgia Tech and Virginia were in the midst of negotiations with the Big Ten were almost immediately shot down and debunked by all involved.

One thing appears to be certain in the latest round of speculation, though: anyone hoping for a quiet offseason on the expansion front (raises hand vigorously) will likely be sorely disappointed.

Oregon LB arrested for removing parking boot dismissed by Ducks

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In April, Fotu Leiato was arrested on a couple of charges related to the illegal removal of a parking boot from his vehicle.  A month later, we’ve learned Leiato was given the boot from his current football program for good measure.

247Sports.com was the first to report that Leiato has been dismissed by first-year Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal.  Further to the point, the linebacker’s dismissal came a day after his April arrest but the news didn’t surface until Thursday.

In the April incident, Leiato was arrested on charges of second-degree criminal mischief, second-degree theft and criminal trespassing.  That was actually his second arrest this year as he was charged with misdemeanor trespassing in January.

The combination of the two arrests led Cristobal to pull the trigger on a dismissal.

Coming to Eugene as a three-star safety, Leiato played in 37 of 38 games the past three seasons.  The Washington native earned the first start of his collegiate playing career during the 2017 season.

The senior had been in line to earn a starting job exiting spring and heading into the summer phase of the offseason.

LB Darrin Kirkland announces transfer from Tennessee

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Darren Kirkland‘s injury-plagued time on Rocky Top has come to an end.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday evening, Kirkland announced that he has decided to transfer out of first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt‘s Tennessee football program.  The linebacker gave no specific reason for his decision to move on from the Volunteers.

“Tennessee will always hold a special place in my heart,” Kirkland wrote. “These moments have been priceless and I’m a better player and man from this experience.”

As a graduate transfer, Kirkland would be eligible to play for another FBS program in 2018.  Not only that, but he will have two seasons of eligibility remaining counting this year.

A four-star 2015 signee, Kirkland started 10 games as a true freshman and then another six in a sophomore campaign marred by a high-ankle sprain that forced him to miss four games.  In summer camp last year, he suffered a knee injury severe enough to sideline him for the entire 2017 season.

The rehab from that injury kept Kirkland from being a full participant in Pruitt’s first spring practice this year.

North Texas dropping $625,000 to install new turf that naturally includes new design

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Seth Littrell has done a great job turning around the program at North Texas but fans getting a look at the 2018 edition of his team will notice something right away that’s different when they take the field for the home opener: new turf. The Denton Record Chronicle reports that UNT is ponying up $625,245 for the latest “FieldTurf CoolPlay” turf at Apogee Stadium.

“We are excited about the turf,” Littrell said recently, according to the paper. “It was much needed. That turf has been used a lot and has gotten worn down. The new field will improve safety and will be a great resource for our kids.”

The old turf had a good run at the stadium after being installed back in 2011 but obviously the summer heat and 300+ pound bodies playing football will cause a little wear and tear. The Record Chronicle says that “North Texas” and “Mean Green” will be the end zones text while the midfield school logo will include a “dark green outline of the state of Texas.”

Completion of the project is expected to be done well in time for the first game against SMU in September. The school has released some shots of Apogee Stadium without the old turf and it certainly looks kind of wild to see a stadium sans a playing field:

Kansas State AD open to scheduling Nebraska in the future

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Conference realignment ended a bunch of big rivalries, from the major (Texas-Texas A&M) to the mundane. Former Big 8 and Big 12 rivals Kansas State and Nebraska were somewhere on the middle of that scale after playing each other in football for decades. While nobody is clamoring for the two to get together quite like they are the Longhorns and Aggies, there’s plenty who would still love to see them schedule a non-conference series given how close Lincoln and the Little Apple are to each other (135 miles across the border).

Wildcats athletic director Gene Taylor has been in the job just over a year and it seems like he’s very aware of the scheduling situation between the two schools and is open to getting something done eventually. He was asked about adding the Cornhuskers to the slate in a Q&A on the school’s website and had this to say:

“That is a school that makes a lot of sense,” said Taylor. “We are pretty well-scheduled out in football with our one Power Five opponent, but we do play them in baseball and have had conversations in men’s basketball. If the opportunity were to arise, they are someone we would certainly entertain if it made sense for us.”

KSU is fully booked on the scheduling front through 2022 but have been open to adding home-and-homes with former Big 12 opponents with Missouri on tap for 2022/23 and Colorado on 2027/28. They’ve got a Power Five opponent on the docket until 2031 so it seems like the team wouldn’t be able to get something done with Nebraska until after then. That is, to say the least, a long ways away.

Who knows, maybe they’ll be able to meet in a bowl game at some point over the next few years. The Cornhuskers and Wildcats last met in 2010 in a series that is heavily weighted to Big Red. At least Taylor is leaving the door open and leaving a chance of the two programs hooking back up on the gridiron.