Only three players in the history of college football have ever received a Rhodes Scholarship, the world’s most prestigious scholarship according to Time magazine that sends one international student to study abroad at the University of Oxford in England. Michigan State punter Mike Sadler (pictured, wearing No. 3 on the left) is hoping to become the fourth scholar football player.
Sadler had one of the plays of the weekend in Michigan State’s road win at Iowa last weekend. A fake punt resulted in Sadler running down the right side of the field for a huge gain and a first down to help the Spartans maintain control of the football. Sadler is among the Big Ten leaders in punting but it is his academic record that could land him one of the most difficult scholarships to receive. According to a report by MLive.com, Sadler has already graduated from Michigan State in three years with a 3.9 GPA and is underway in pursuing a Ph. D in economics. He also has his eyes set on a shot to receive one of 32 Rhodes Scholarships.
“It’d be tremendous,” Sadler said Wednesday on athletic director Mark Hollis‘ radio show, according to MLlive.com.”Honestly, the academics mean more than any athletic achievement that I could ever attain just because academics will stay with you for the rest of your life. At some point, you’re going to have to hang up the cleats, but hopefully you’ll always have your mind with you. A Rhodes Scholarship is just the epitome of achieving excellence in the classroom.”
That is some good perspective from a college football player clearly focused on life after football.
Colorado’s All-American halfback Byron White, who would later become a first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1938, was the first high academic scholar to receive a Rhodes Scholarship. USC athletics director Pat Haden, who played his college football for the Trojans, was the second to receive the scholarship in 1975. The most recent player to win the scholarship was Florida State safety Myron Rolle in 2008.
It’s a standard procedure for a head coach to suggest there is an open competition for any number of positions on a football team, but nobody seems to be buying the idea there is a competition at Oklahoma to replace Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. And when one of the players supposedly in the running for the job has a lucrative baseball career on the table, the idea is a little more comical.
Kyler Murray was drafted by the Oakland A’s with the No. 9 overall pick in the recent amateur MLB amateur draft. His contract with the A’s guarantees him $5 million and still allows for him to play one more year of football, which Murray has stated is his plan at Oklahoma. Still, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley addressed the quarterback situation at Big 12 media days on Monday and suggested Murray will have to win the job against redshirt sophomore Austin Kendall.
“Kyler’s not the quarterback yet,” Riley said when asked how the offense will change with Riley at the position following the departure of No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Mayfield to Cleveland. “There’s a really good competition going on and Kyler’s gonna have to fight like crazy to win this job.”
Sure. OK. Whatever you say, Riley.
It is worth noting Murray appeared in seven games for the Sooners last season with 18-of-21 for 359 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in backup duty for Mayfield. Kendall redshirted last season and was named one of the team’s Offensive Scout Team Players of the Year. Kendall did make appearances in two games in 2016 in a back-up role. While Kendall may have a bright future in Norman, few are willing to accept Oklahoma is welcoming back Murray to potentially be a back-up quarterback when he could jump right into his pro baseball career right now.
But this could just be nothing more than the latest example of a coach simply setting the tone for the offseason and holding the bar high for even the most talented of players on the roster. Riley may be blowing smoke, but it could also pay off in the long run of the 2018 season.
Tennessee defensive lineman Ryan Thaxton has been suspended by the football program after being arrested and charged for an alleged domestic assault of his girlfriend. The incident leading to the arrest and charge occurred over the weekend.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Thaxton was arrested Sunday night and charged with domestic assault and false imprisonment. According to police records, Thaxton is accused of pushing his girlfriend to his dorm room while she refused to follow him. It is reported Thaxton than carried the unidentified woman to his dorm room and blocked the door so she could not leave as an argument continued inside the room.
“We are aware of the incident,” a statement from Tennessee read. “The student-athlete has been suspended from all team activities while law enforcement and the university investigates.”
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt is scheduled to address the media at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.
After years of holding its annual media day extravaganza in Hoover, Alabama, the SEC set up shop in Atlanta at the College Football Hall of Fame this week for the 2018 media day event. The SEC will head back to Alabama next year, however, and the conference may evaluate moving the media day fun around the region in the years after that.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced the plan is to hold the SEC Media Day event in Hoover, Alabama next summer. After that is anybody’s guess. Tony Barnhart of SEC Network suggested there will be a “serious discussion” about where to hold the event after that.
The SEC certainly has plenty of worthy options to consider if the conference seriously considers moving the event around a bit. Atlanta figures to be a popular destination option, of course. But the SEC could also capitalize on other locations around the SEC with desirable options in Florida, Tennessee, and Texas just for starters. SEC Media Days in Nashville? Memphis? Houston?
The possibilities are quite interesting and moving the event to different locations could allow for more fans to get a taste of the media day fun, which this year included a fan fest the day prior to the official start of the media day schedule.
One of the main attractions the Big Ten saw in adding Rutgers as a member during its most recent expansion was the ability to bring the Big Ten Network to more viewers in the New York metropolitan area. Now, the SEC is looking to get a slice of the Big Apple pie.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced on Monday at SEC media day the SEC Network will be coming to cable provider Altice in the New York metro viewing area. That is a nice addition for the SEC Network, as it will make its way to more than 3 million potential viewers. According to subscriber data from Statista, Altice had 3.38 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2018. Of course, as many cable providers have come to realize, the subscriber total has been on the decline since 2016.
What makes this even more significant of a development for the SEC is the addition of Altice to the distribution map will bring the SEC Network to every major television provider in the United States. (Take THAT, Pac-12 Network).
The SEC Network first went on the air in 2014 and it has quickly paid dividends for the entire conference. This may also be encouraging news for ACC fans, as the conference inches closer to launching its own conference-branded network with the assistance of ESPN. The ACC Network figures to take advantage of many of the same distribution plans as the SEC NEtwork, especially on the east coast as it initially goes on the air. With more of a footprint in the northeast, the future also looks optimistic for the ACC Network.