Florida State a team with nothing to fear in 2014

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For the first time since 2000, Florida State will enter the new football season looking to successfully defend their national championship crown. They will do so in a new era for college football as equipped as they can be.

Jimbo Fisher has been building Florida State to compete at this high of a level since the day he succeeded Bobby Bowden. The 2013 season may not have even been the year to most fear Florida State heading in, because who knew Jameis Winston would be as dominant as he turned out to be. Nothing rattled Florida State at any point during the 2013 season, including various moments of tension in the BCS Championship Game against Auburn. This team plays with no fear, a tremendous credit to the mindset instilled by the coaching staff and veteran players.

Winston’s cool confidence also plays a huge factor in to the equation. In one year playing college football Winston has claimed a Heisman Trophy, ACC championship and a BCS national championship. There will be plenty of confidence shown by Winston in 2014, and his leadership role will continue to expand. Winston will be back under center in 2014 and given the way Florida State has been stocking their roster under Fisher it should be expected Florida State will be a talented and athletic team once again in 2014.

If Florida State is going to make a run at a repeat, they will benefit from having some juniors decide to return for one more year in Tallahassee. Who comes back on the offensive line, which started three juniors, one fifth-year senior and one redshirt junior in the BCS championship game? The defense looks to be in good shape in 2014 as well. The entire starting defensive line should be back, although juniors Mario Edwards and Timmy Jernigan may think about leaving. Four seniors in the second and third level of the defense will be moving on, so there will be holes to plug as well.

With four spots available for a playoff spot next season, Florida State should start high enough in the rankings to put themselves in a good position to grab one of the spots. Can they be as dominant as they were on a weekly basis in 2014? The odds would suggest not, but they will still be a darn tough team for most teams to beat.

Bovada has Purdue’s Jeff Brohm as heavy favorite to replace Bobby Petrino as head coach at Louisville

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This latest wagering line will come as no surprise to those who have been paying any attention at all.

In the immediate aftermath of Louisville’s decision to fire Bobby Petrino over the weekend, Jeff Brohm was one of the first, and most prominent, names to be mentioned as a potential replacement.  Brohm, currently in his second season as the head coach at Purdue, is a natural fit as he was born in the city of Louisville and played his college football for the Cardinals.

With that as a backdrop, Bovada.lv released its first set of odds on Petrino’s replacement Tuesday and (surprise surprise surprise) Brohm is a heavy favorite at 1/10.

Troy head coach Neal Brown is next at 4/1, with Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day, who could be in line for the OSU job when Urban Meyer steps down, right behind at 9/2.  Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, always a popular name on the coaching carousel even as he’s in the midst of his seventh season with the Tigers, is next at 9/1.

Others receiving odds from the sportsbook are Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell (11/1), Syracuse head coach Dino Babers (12/1), Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell (12/1), Toledo head coach Jason Candle (16/1) and Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield (16/1).

Ex-Michigan State staffer suing Mark Dantonio, other MSU officials

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Curtis Blackwell may be gone but, thanks to a recent development, he won’t soon be forgotten in East Lansing.

In May of last year, Michigan State confirmed that the university had “parted ways” with Blackwell after opting not to renew the staffer’s contract.  Blackwell, whose official title with the football program was director of college advancement and performance, was suspended with pay February 9, the same day three unidentified Spartan football players were suspended in connection to sexual assault allegations.  While Blackwell was a part of the police investigations into the allegations, he was not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault but rather failing to disclose information he knew about the incident.

Monday, the Associated Press reported, Blackwell filed a lawsuit in U.S. District court alleging that his employment contract was violated when it wasn’t renewed.  Head football coach Mark Dantonio is named in the suit, as are former MSU athletic director Mark Hollis and other MSU officials.  The AP wrote “[t]he suit alleges that the defendants did not honor Blackwell’s employment agreement, which the suit says required that he be allowed to speak with the athletic director before any discipline was imposed.”

A university spokesperson declined to comment on the development.

Also named in the lawsuit are two university police officers who arrested Blackwell for obstruction of justice.  Blackwell, who was never formally charged, claims that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the officers.

According to mlive.com, Blackwell is seeking at least $150,000 in damages, plus attorneys fees and punitive damages.

Clay Helton announces dismissal of four-star 2017 LB Levi Jones

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Levi Jones‘ forced sabbatical has turned into a permanent one.

The linebacker was suspended from USC’s loss to Cal this past Saturday because of unspecified violations of team rules.  Following practice Tuesday night, Clay Helton announced that Jones has been dismissed from the Trojans football program and is no longer on the roster.

No specific reason for the dismissal was given by the head coach.

Multiple media outlets have reported that Jones was arrested on a charge of public intoxication in early July of this year.  It’s unclear whether that off-field issue played a role in his forced departure four months later.

Jones was a four-star member of the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 93 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  The Austin product was the highest-rated linebacker signee in USC’s class that year.

After playing in 10 games as a true freshman, Jones had played in eight games this year prior to his dismissal.

Former Alabama signee commits to rival Tennessee

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This is quite the turn of events.

In December of 2017, Davis signed on as an early piece of Alabama’s 2018 recruiting class.  Expected to enroll at the university early, Jordan Davis instead enrolled at a junior college, Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College, in mid-July as he failed to qualify academically at UA.  In October of this year, the defensive lineman took to Twitter to announce that he was recommitting to the Crimson Tide and head coach Nick Saban.

A month later?  Never mind as Davis confirmed on the same social media site that he has verbally committed to Tennessee and former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

In an interview with 247Sports.com not long after that announcement, the Tennessee native expounded on his decision.

“It’s just somewhere I wanted to truly go, somewhere I feel that I can really make a difference,” Davis told the recruiting website. “I just want to do something different. I want to do something big. I want to do something big for my hometown and my state.

“I mean, I shocked the world with that one.”

Davis was a consensus four-star 2018 signee, rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 6 weakside defensive end in the country; the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Tennessee; and the No. 108 player overall on that recruiting website’s composite board.  Only two defensive linemen in the Tide’s class this year — Eyabi Anoma and Stephon Wynn — were rated higher than Davis.

Whether Davis follows through on his latest commitment a month from now remains to be seen.