Five finalists for 2013 Butkus Award announced

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The finalists for the award given to the nation’s most outstanding linebacker were announced Monday morning, and all I have to say is good luck to whoever is tasked with selecting a winner.  This will not be an easy choice.

The Butkus Award revealed its five finalists for the 2013 version of the trophy and, without any further ado, here they are — in alphabetical order so as not to prejudice the voting pool:

  • Anthony Barr, UCLA
  • Khalil Mack, Buffalo
  • C.J. Mosley, Alabama
  • Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
  • Shayne Skov, Stanford

Mosley is the only one of the five who was also a finalist for the 2012 Butkus Award, which was won by Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o.

Shazier (19.5, 3rd), Barr (17, T-8th) and Mack (16.5, T-13th) are in the Top 15 nationally in tackles for loss.  Mack is tied for eighth in the country in sacks with 10.5, while Barr is tied for 26th with eight.

ESPN-owned Myrtle Beach Bowl to debut in 2020

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Another bowl game.  Yippie???

Tuesday afternoon, the MAC and Conference USA announced the creation of the Myrtle Beach Bowl, which will first be played following the 2020 regular season.  The postseason game will be owned and operated by ESPN and will be played at 21,000-seat Brooks Stadium, home of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.

There will be three conference tie-ins to the bowl game: the two already mentioned as well as the Sun Belt.  Each league will play in the Myrtle Beach Bowl four times over the six years of the current contract.

“Myrtle Beach will be a great addition to the Mid-American Conference bowl line-up, and a destination we have been actively pursuing to develop a bowl game,” said MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher in a statement. “A family-friendly destination with outstanding facilities for competition, entertainment, and lodging, Myrtle Beach is very accessible by ground or air transportation from throughout our geographic footprint. I have no doubt our student-athletes, staff, and fans will have a unique and exceptional experience at the Grand Strand. The Mid-American Conference is appreciative of the efforts of ESPN Events and the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau in bringing this exciting new bowl game to fruition.”

At the moment, it’s unclear if this new bowl will replace an existing bowl or if it’ll simply be added to a lineup that currently consists of 782 postseason games.

Brawling Baylor, Iowa State players suspended for first half Saturday

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As Iowa State looks to stay in the Big 12 race, the Cyclones will be without a key piece for half of its next step in that chase.

Early in the third quarter of this past Saturday’s Baylor-Iowa State game, the Bears’ Chris Miller was penalized 15 yards for giving the business to the Cyclones’ David Montgomery out of bounds.  With temperatures rising and tempers flaring, the next play devolved into an all-out brawl featuring Montgomery and BU’s Greg Roberts throwing haymakers at each other.

Both Montgomery and Roberts were ejected from the contest.  Monday, it was confirmed that both players will also miss the first half of their team’s respective games this weekend, Montgomery against Texas and Roberts against TCU.

Iowa State is currently tied with Texas for third in the Big 12, a game behind Oklahoma and West Virginia with two remaining.

Coming into this past Saturday’s game, Montgomery’s 101.7 yards rushing per game was second in the conference and 23rd nationally.  The junior’s 765 yards rushing are easily tops on the Cyclones; Kene Nwangwu‘s 112 are second among ISU running backs.  Montgomery has also accounted for six of the team’s 10 rushing touchdowns.

On his personal Twitter account Saturday, Montgomery issued an apology for the on-field incident.

Current, former Buckeyes, OSU officials blast report of racially-charged incident involving Zach Smith

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Regardless of how hard they try, Ohio State simply can’t distance itself from Zach Smith.

According to a report from college football reporter Brett McMurphy, the father of Trevon Grimes claims that his son, a former Ohio State wide receiver, was the victim of a racial epithet lobbed at him by former OSU receivers coach Zach Smith.  Specifically, LeBron Grimes claimed, Smith called his son a “bitch ass [N-word]” during a late September practice in 2017.

Grimes declined to answer questions about the allegations, telling McMurphy “I have no comment on that.” However, three of Grimes’ current Florida teammates — the receiver transferred from the Buckeyes in October of last year and landed with the Gators two months later — claimed that Smith directed the N-word at Grimes.  Those players were not identified as they spoke to McMurphy on the condition of anonymity.

“I’ve never said [the N-word] in my entire life. I’ve never been in a fight with a player in my life. Never. That never happened,” Zach Smith stated.

“If my ex-husband is the person spreading these rumors, everyone should know that neither I nor TreVon have any contact with him whatsoever,” Leah Grimes, Trevon Grimes’ mother and LeBron Grimes’ ex-wife, said in a portion of a statement. “He knows nothing about my health and nothing about TreVon’s transfer to UF. He is an abuser and the worst kind of role model, and he is no longer in TreVon’s life.”

In McMurphy’s report, it’s also alleged that Urban Meyer had essentially covered up the incident and swept it under the rug.  In very strongly-worded statements, both OSU president Michael Drake and athletic director Gene Smith refuted the report and said they stand behind their head football coach.

“The accusations made today by Brett McMurphy regarding our coach and the reasons for the transfer of Trevon Grimes are unequivocally false,” Smith said. “Urban Meyer embraces diversity and would absolutely never support an environment of racism. It simply isn’t tolerated here. And as an African-American, football player and collegiate administrator, I personally can say that our coaches, student-athletes and support staff know there is no place for any such behavior within our programs, at The Ohio State University or anywhere.”

Additionally, numerous current and former Buckeye football players — most of whom said nary a word when Smith’s domestic issues surfaced — took to Twitter to very vociferously dispute allegations made in the report that something racial occurred between Smith and Grimes.

The tweet from Martell, incidentally, was retweeted by Trevon Grimes, who, through a UF spokesperson, told McMurphy for his story to “not believe anything [LeBron Grimes] tells you” as he has not seen or talked to his father in more than two years.

Report: Mike Sanford’s fate at WKU directly tied to last two games

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There are already four openings (maybe five) at the FBS level. Depending on how things play out over the rest of this month, one Conference USA program could throw its name into the 2018-19 coaching carousel mix.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, “Mike Sanford’s future as Western Kentucky’s coach hinges largely on the outcomes of his team’s final two games.” The Daily News reports that, if WKU wins its last two games — vs. UTEP, at Louisiana Tech — Sanford will be retained.

However, if the Hilltoppers drop both of those contests, Sanford is expected to be fired.

“Sanford’s future if the Hilltoppers split those two contests is unclear,” the newspaper added.

Sanford, the former offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, took over a WKU program in 2017 that had won 23 games the previous two seasons under Jeff Brohm before he left for Purdue. In his first season in Bowling Green, Sanford’s 6-7 record was the program’s worst since 2009; the Hilltoppers are currently 1-9, which even if they win out would be WKU’s worst since that winless 2009 season.