Sparty, UL-L double up on football-hoops conference titles

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A week ago today, our very own Kevin McGuire posed the following question: who can pull off a college football-basketball conference title double-dip?

As it turns out, it was the two teams most likely to pull it off that did just that.

Both Michigan State and Louisiana-Lafayette — via a tiebreaker — claimed their respective conference championships in football this past fall.  Sunday, they both did the same in hoops, with the Spartans easily dropping in-state rival Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship game and the Ragin’ Cajuns doing the same to Georgia State — in overtime — to claim the Sun Belt crown and the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

Were it not for Ohio State stumbling against the Wolverines Saturday, though, we would’ve seen a rematch of the B1G’s football championship game in hoops.  Speaking of the Buckeyes, it was how OSU was handled by the Spartans that helped the latter’s basketball brethren do the same throughout the conference tourney.

Mark Dantonio has often talked that I kind of showed him the way early how to win championships, and this year he showed me the way,” MSU hoops coach Tom Izzo said Saturday, after his team earned a spot in the title game. “That was the way we started the (basketball) season, learning how to win a championship from our football buddies, and now we have a chance to win our own in the Big Ten. That’s a good year, that’s a good set of events.”

Baylor was the only other team entering the weekend with the opportunity to double down on league titles.  Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be as the seventh-seeded Bears, who claimed their first-ever Big 12 title in football in the fall, fell Saturday to Iowa State in the conference’s tournament championship game.

At the other end of the spectrum, Duke pulled off the ol’ reverse double-dip.  The Blue Devils earned a spot in both the football and basketball championship games in the ACC for the 2013-14 academic year, and lost both of them rather handily.  A 38-point loss to Florida State in Charlotte last December was followed a little over three months later by a nine-point loss to Virginia in Greensboro Sunday.

Below are this year’s champions for both football and basketball in all 10 FBS conferences.  But, before that, allow me to make you aware that you can — and should — go to CollegeBasketballTalk HERE or follow CBT on Twitter HERE for all of the March Madness… ummm… madness.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC
Football: UCF
Basketball: Louisville

ACC
Football: Florida State
Basketball: Virginia

BIG TEN
Football: Michigan State
Basketball: Michigan State

BIG 12
Football: Baylor
Basketball: Iowa State

CONFERENCE USA
Football: Rice
Basketball: Tulsa

MAC
Football: Bowling Green
Basketball: Western Michigan

MOUNTAIN WEST
Football: Fresno State
Basketball: New Mexico

PAC-12
Football: Stanford
Basketball: UCLA

SEC
Football: Auburn
Basketball: Florida

SUN BELT
Football: Louisiana-Lafayette
Basketball: Louisiana-Lafayette

Lincoln Riley suggests there is a competition for QB that nobody should believe

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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 DL Ryan Thaxton suspended, charged with domestic assault

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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.

SEC Media Days will return to Hoover, AL in 2019, could explore new options in 2020

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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?

New Orleans?

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.

SEC Network making its way to more viewers in… New York?

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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.