Big 12 spring games wrap-up

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Recapping the Big 12 spring games from Saturday: 

Iowa State
Iowa State’s offense took off during the Cyclones’ spring game on Saturday, with both offenses combining for nearly 900 yards and 68 points. Grant Rohach completed 19-of-31 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown. Sam Richardson, a starter late last season, completed 9-of-12 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns

— Running backs played especially well yesterday. DeVondrick Nealy rushed 18 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns; Rob Standard had 65 yards on 10 carries; and Aaron Wimberly had 89 yards on 15 carries
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“I had felt the running back position overall had the best spring,” Rhoads said. “DeVondrick Nealy is running as he was capable. He is going into his third season and that is encouraging to see. James White is James White. He runs hard, smart, and knows everything about the offense. Aaron Wimberly showed why we are excited to have him and why we recruited him. Rob Standard is productive every time we play him.”

Oklahoma State
Though Oklahoma State finished the 2012 season with an 8-5 record, it could be considered one of Mike Gundy‘s better coaching jobs in Stillwater. Now, with three quarterbacks with starting experience competing for the No. 1 job this fall, the Cowboys could also be in a position to make a run at another Big 12 title. But Gundy won’t tip his hand as to who will start Week 1: Clint Chelf, Wes Lunt or J.W. Walsh. 

“We are not really going to talk about that from this point on,” Gundy said. “There is no reason for us to talk about what our quarterback situation is. I think we have been very open about it throughout the spring. Our players have been very open about it.

— Believe it or not, but Oklahoma State’s defense held the advantage in Saturday’s spring game. Linebacker Caleb Lavey and cornerback Justin Gilbert combined to intercept three passes, one of which went back for a touchdown. Afterward, Gundy pointed out Gilbert’s strong spring.

“Justin played very average last year, and he would be the first to admit that,” Gundy said. “He’s certainly very talented, and he was in position to make plays today, and that’s what he needs to do for us. He needs to be a guy who has several interceptions and runs the ball back. As fast he as he is, if he’s in the right area, he can get the ball off a tip–and that’s what he did today. He played very well.”

— Overall, Gundy was pleased with the defensive effort in its first spring following the departure of DC Bill Young.

“I know the crowd here is not used to it. We dropped some passes on offense that contributed to it, but I’m really excited about the play we’re getting on defense. In the long run, we’re going to move the ball and score a lot of points here, because that’s what we do and who we are, but if we want to consistently compete for a championship, we have to play better on defense,” Gundy explained. “I’m excited about our group, I think their attitude is different and I think they have a chance to be better this season.”

Texas Tech
Tommy Tuberbille is out. Kliff Kingsbury is in. And on Saturday, over 16,000 fans made their way to watch Texas Tech’s spring game. Quarterbacks Michael Brewer and Davis Webb combined for 506 yards and three touchdowns through the air during the scrimmage.

Jace Amaro led all receivers with 11 catches for 80-yards, but Derrick Edwards had the most receiving yards with 101, including an 83-yard touchdown pass from Webb. Senior linebacker Will Smith led the defense with 10 tackles.

“I loved the atmosphere,” Kingsbury said.  “It was a great crowd and our kids were fired up.  I thought the defense came out and really competed well.  Both sides kept it base but their effort was really, really good.”

West Virginia
Coming off a 10-win season with Orange Bowl victory in 2011-12, West Virginia was predicted by some *ahem* to immediately compete for a Big 12 title. Yeah, about that. The Mountaineers went on a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season and finished 7-6. Now with the likes of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey gone to the NFL, WVU must replace the core of its offensive production. Battling to succeed Smith are junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress.

Though both QBs posted solid passing numbers, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson wasn’t happy with their tendency to hold on to the ball. “Taking sacks gets you beat,” Dawson said. “We’re giving up sacks we shouldn’t give up. If you sit in the pocket for three, four, five seconds and get sacked, you can’t do that. If that’s what they’re going to do, then neither one of them can play.”

— Running back Dustin Garrison shined as a freshman in 2011, but was limited last year because of an ACL tear he sustained right before the Orange Bowl. Garrison came back strong in WVU’s spring game with 51 yards on seven carries.

— Though it will be difficult if not downright impossible to replicate what Tavon Austin did for WVU’s offense, receiver Jordan Thompson could emerge as a similar shifty playmaker. Thompson had three touchdowns during yesterday’s game.

— Defense will still be a concern for WVU, but Travis Bell‘s move from safety to corner could be an upgrade for a unit that was picked on often during last season. “He has embraced the change, and he’s excited about it. He can run fast, and he has great conditioning,” Dana Holgorsen said. “It is an experiment that we talked about a week ago, and we moved him. We’ll keep looking into it.”

— The Mountaineers will be sporting some new unis this fall as well.

Sun Bowl returns to noon time slot on New Year’s Eve for 2018

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After four years in various time slots, the Sun Bowl is back where it’s used to being: on New Year’s Eve.

The Sun Bowl association announced on Wednesday that the game would be moved back to December 31st for the 85th edition of the annual postseason outing, with a 12 p.m. Mountain Time kickoff on CBS.

“We are happy to announce that we are returning to our traditional New Year’s Eve slot,” Executive Director Bernie Olivas said in a release. “Many of our local fans had expressed to us that the New Year’s Eve date had become a family tradition and we are excited to have the game back on that day.”

The El Paso, Texas institution will once again pit an ACC (or Notre Dame) team against a Pac-12 school in what has developed into a fun game the past few years. Last year, N.C. State beat Arizona State 52-31 in a high-scoring affair while the season prior saw Stanford squeak out a win over North Carolina 25-23 thanks to a goal line stand on a two-point conversion.

The Sun Bowl last took place on New Year’s Eve back in 2013 but was on a different day in the last week of December the past four years. The 31st is the traditional home for the game dating back to the early 1990’s. With the date, time and TV network now in place for the game, the entire 2018-19 bowl picture is set following the release of the bulk of the schedule last week.

West Virginia AD: We’re hiring more compliance staff as result of legalized sports betting decision

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Far and away the most discussed topic across all sports the past few weeks has been what the future landscape will look like following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. It is widely viewed as a landmark day for fans and states around the country by opening the door to legalized sports betting in places far beyond its typical home of Las Vegas.

One state that is among those at the forefront of the movement is West Virginia, which is especially notable for the various schools in the state having to deal with betting on their sports in their own backyard. The state legislature already passed a bill on the subject in early May and it won’t be long before you’ll be able to bet on Mountaineers football games later this year. That is naturally a bit of a new headache for somebody like WVU Athletic Director Shane Lyons, who told wvnews.com this week that the school is having to beef up compliance as a result of the changes.

“My job is first and foremost is to protect the integrity of the institution of the athletic department and the other part is to protect the integrity of the institution as a whole,” Lyons said. “With legalized gambling coming up I will have to hire additional compliance staff for monitoring and looking at it as well as the educational aspect of it. There is going to be cost associated with that and we’re going to have to step our game up.”

Not exactly surprising to hear and it will be interesting to see if fellow schools will also start beefing up their compliance staffs as other states get in on the action. While it might be fairly easy for a Power Five program from a conference like the Big 12 to add staff members, it is probably a little more difficult if you’re down the road at Marshall on a Conference USA budget.

Also notable? Lyons said “there is 100 percent” (more potential for scandal) as a result of gambling and NCAA athletics mixing much more than they have in the past. It seems that line of thinking is one reason why he’s beefing up the personnel involved and he may not be alone in doing so.

Alabama, USC will meet at AT&T Stadium for 2020 opener

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If at first you don’t succeed, try again, right?

That must be the thinking in Los Angeles as both USC and Alabama officially confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that the two college football powerhouses would open the 2020 season at AT&T Stadium in the AdvoCare Classic.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to open another season at the AdvoCare Classic in 2020,” Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said in a statement. “Our team and our fans have always enjoyed playing in North Texas and AT&T Stadium is a fantastic competitive environment. This event has always been first class with the intensity of a bowl game. We are also pleased to have the chance to once again face USC, and we look forward to a great game.”

The pair met in the same game to open the 2016 season in an affair best known for who didn’t start at quarterback for both teams in what wound up as a 52-6 shellacking of the Trojans by the Tide. Notably, Max Browne started for USC at quarterback while Sam Darnold watched on as the backup and Blake Barnett took the first snaps for Alabama before eventually giving way to Jalen Hurts. Both Barnett and Browne wound up transferring from the schools while Hurts and Darnold guided the teams to New Year’s Six bowl games.

This will be the ninth game between the two schools (should they not meet in a bowl the next two seasons), which was perhaps most famously played back in the 1970’s when Bear Bryant and John McKay famously ruled the sidelines for both sides. Alabama leads USC 6-2 in the wins department, with the most recent coming in that opener two years ago.

The move will be the centerpiece of the Tide’s non-conference slate in 2020, with Georgia State and Kent State also on the docket in Tuscaloosa. USC now has their 2020 non-conference schedule done with home games against New Mexico and their yearly contest with Notre Dame rounding things out.

LSU and Miami are slated to play in the AdvoCare Classic game later this year on Sept. 1st to open the season while Auburn and Oregon will meet in the game to start off the 2019 campaign.

NCAA releases latest APR data, which means bonus money for many coaches

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It’s APR — academic progress rate — day around the NCAA which means a bunch of schools are celebrating how well their teams did in the classroom. While many programs are doing a fist pump over hitting certain thresholds, there are a number of head coaches who are picking up a nice check as the result of players staying eligible.

Like, six-figures worth of cold hard cash thanks to their players showing up to class and taking tests.

USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz knows coaches contracts better than anybody and has been tweeting out some of the bonus money that various coaches are getting as a result of APR scores. While a few amounts are somewhat modest, a few others are collecting a very, very nice check.

Lunch is on Paul Johnson today!

Northwestern led all football programs with a multi-year APR rate of 997, followed closely in the FBS ranks by Air Force, Vanderbilt and Duke among others. The overall average score for football teams across Division I ticked up two points to 964 for the 2016-17 school year. Student-athletes receive points for both staying eligible and staying in school, with a formula then determining the program’s single-year and multi-year scores.

Teams can be ruled ineligible for postseason play if their score is too low but only one program suffered that fate (Morgan State of the MEAC). Grambling also was hit with a Level One penalty for their APR score, which includes a reduction in practice time for the upcoming season. The lowest multi-year APR score for a FBS program belonged to Florida State with a 941.