Low APR to cost Okla. St. practice time

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While not nearly as severe as UNLV’s or Idaho’s punishment, another FBS program will be getting slapped by The Association for failing to meet minimum classroom expectations.

As first reported by Jon Helsley of The Oklahoman, Oklahoma State will be stripped of one practice day per week during the 2014 season for failing to reach the minimum 930 on the Academic Progress Report (APR) required by the NCAA over a four-year period.  The Cowboys avoided a postseason ban because its two-year average was half a point above the 940 threshold.

USA Today wrote that “the Cowboys probably will cease their customary Sunday evening practice, which was a brief on-field session used to correct mistakes from the previous day’s game.”

“We are taking steps to ensure that our APR numbers improve moving forward,” OSU azthletic director Mike Holder said in a statement released by the school. “We are accountable for what we do and ultimately, we are here to serve our student-athletes and do our best to keep them on track to be lifelong contributors to society.”

While OSU failed to make the grade academically, it did so by a razor-thin margin.  From the paper’s report:

OSU fell a fraction of a point shy of avoiding penalty, with its number at 929.41 for the last four years. Had the Cowboys been at 929.50, the number would have been rounded up, meaning they missed by nine-one-hundreds of a point. The Cowboys avoided a more damaging postseason ban.

That bowl ban will be felt in 2014 by UNLV and Idaho, as previously reported, while those two teams will also be hit with the practice time penalty.  Along with OSU, New Mexico State was the only other FBS program to lose only practice time because of low APR scores.

There were also total of seven FCS teams who are banned from the postseason playoffs.

On the positive side, the Top 10 in APR scores consisted of four schools from the ACC (Duke, 992, No. 1 to keep its historic streak alive; Georgia Tech, 983, T-No. 7; Clemson, 983, T-No. 7; Boston College, 981, No. 9), two from the Big Ten (Northwestern, 991, No. 2; Wisconsin, 989, No. 3), two from the Mountain West (Utah State, 988, T-No. 4; Boise State, 988, T-No. 4) and one from the Pac-12 (Stanford, 984, No. 6).

“Ten years ago, the membership designed the APR to encourage student-athletes to stay in school and earn good grades. We are pleased to see that more and more student-athletes are doing that every year,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “The significant academic standards adopted by our membership help us support success in the classroom to the same degree that we support success on the playing fields.”

The four-year average for the programs at the FBS level is 956, the second-lowest of 20 college sports.  The lowest?  The FCS level of football with a 947.

Below are the highest and lowest APR scores for the top seven FBS conferences (membership as of July 1, 2014):

AAC: UCF, 978; Houston, 937
ACC: Duke, 992; North Carolina 938
Big 12: Kansas State, 968; Oklahoma State, 929
Big Ten: Northwestern, 991; Penn State, 954
Mountain West: Boise State and Utah State, 988; UNLV, 925
Pac-12: Stanford, 984; Cal, 938
SEC: Missouri and South Carolina, 980; Tennessee, 932

While the Vols may have the lowest four-year average of the programs in the SEC, UT has undergone a significant academic transformation under Butch Jones, whose focus on the classroom that was vowed last year likely helped his team avoid penalties that could very well have included a postseason ban.  The Vols’ 962 APR for the 2012-13 academic year was the highest one-year mark since the system was implemented nine years ago; last summer, that number was a lowly 924.

And, for those wondering, here’s a handy infographic provided by the NCAA that shows how the annual APR is calculated:

APR Formula

Lincoln Riley finalizes defensive staff for 2019

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Oklahoma’s defense was flat-out awful in 2018, as we know. The Sooners were 114th in total defense (453.8 yards per game), 102nd in yards per play (6.13) and 101st in scoring (33.3 points per game). Their ineptitude indirectly handed Kyler Murray the Heisman Trophy as the Sooners’ signal caller had to pull his rabbit out of a hat on a weekly basis throughout the fall, but without Murray’s exploits Oklahoma might’ve been a 7- or 8-win team in 2018.

Murray is gone, so the defense has to improve or Oklahoma will take a significant fall in 2019.

Lincoln Riley has spent the past three weeks reshaping his defensive staff, and on Sunday he finalized his staff and their assignments.

New hire Alex Grinch will coach safeties while coordinating the defense. He spent 2018 as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Ohio State. (The Buckeyes’ pass efficiency defense slipped from 13th to 42nd in Grinch’s one season on staff, but Riley hired him for his success coordinating Mike Leach‘s defenses at Washington State.)

Assisting Grinch in the secondary will be cornerbacks coach Roy Manning. He spent 2018 as the outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at UCLA but worked with Grinch at Wazzu from 2015-17.

Brian Odom was hired away from Missouri to coach the Sooners’ inside linebackers, where he’ll team with new outside linebackers coach Ruffin McNeill. Riley’s mentor, McNeill is one of two holdovers from the 2018 staff. He was hired upon Riley’s promotion to head coach as assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach but took over the entire defense following Mike Stoops‘ midseason firing.

The only Oklahoma defensive coach to coach the same position from 2018 to ’19 will be defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux. The OU graduate has been on staff since 2016, when he returned to Norman as defensive ends coach.

Former South Carolina DE announces transfer to TCU

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TCU loses its top two sack artists from 2018 to 2019, but some help just arrived.

Shameik Blackshear (above, top) announced on Saturday he will spend his final year of college football in Fort Worth.

The Bluffton, S.C., native played his first three seasons at South Carolina, where collected 34 tackles and one sack. He appeared in all 13 of the Gamecocks’ games in 2018, including two starts.

He’ll have a chance to compete for an immediate starting role following the graduations of Ben Banogu and LJ Collier plus the departure of Michael Collier. Banogu and Collier combined for 14.5 sacks in 2018, more than 40 percent of the Frogs’ 35 total sacks.

Blackshear is the second Power 5 graduate transfer to pick TCU this week. The Frogs also secured the services of former Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton.

Penn State LB Jarvis Miller announces graduate transfer to UMass

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UMass signed one of its biggest recruits since joining FBS, four years after he left high school.

Penn State linebacker Jarvis Miller has announced he will leave State College to spend his final season in Amherst.

“After much prayer and consideration with my family I have decided to play my 5th year of eligibility at the University of Massachusetts (UMASS), Amherst will pursuing my Masters (sic) Degree,” Miller wrote in a note posted to his Twitter account. “To the Penn State fan base you are the best fans anyone could ask for ! It has been the most memorable 4 years of my life.”

A consensus 3-star recruit, Miller was viewed as a top-10 player in the state of Connecticut when he signed with the Nittany Lions out of Suffield.

Miller redshirted in 2015, then played in 33 career games as a special teams player and reserve linebacker. He collected 23 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack while in blue and white.

Florida State QB James Blackman reportedly not considering transfer after all

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It appears a bad debut season for Willie Taggart at Florida State is not going to get worse.

After it was reported Wednesday that Seminoles quarterback James Blackman had entered his name into the transfer portalWarchant reported that no such entry had been made as of the end of the business week.

Of course, entering one’s name into the transfer portal wouldn’t guarantee a transfer, but it’s simply not possible to transfer without putting your name in, so it appears that — as of this writing, at least — Blackman is intent on returning to Tallahassee for his junior season.

Starting quarterback Deondre Francois also dealt with a similar rumor last month. As of now, he remains a Seminole as well.

While playing for the injured Francois, Blackman completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 2,230 yards with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a true freshman in 2017. Francois returned to health and the starting lineup this past season, connecting on 57.3 percent of his passes for 2,731 yards with 15 scores against 12 picks. Blackman went 33-of-51 for 510 yards with five touchdowns and one interception as his backup.

As Francois’ numbers indicated, the Seminoles sputtered offensively in Taggart’s debut campaign. Florida State finished 110th nationally in yards per play, 93rd in passing efficiency and 113th in scoring. However, both signal callers would be wise to stick around. Taggart hired Kendal Briles to run his offense. In 1-season stints at Florida Atlantic and Houston, Briles pushed the Owls from 80th to eighth in scoring and the Cougars from 65th to fifth.