Report: Boise State and AAC heading to mediation over exit fees

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Boise State never officially joined the Big East during the height of the conference realignment madness in the past couple of years, but the university will have to pay some sort of an exit fee after initially agreeing to join the conference. According to a report by The Idaho Statesman, Boise State and the American Athletic Conference are heading to mediation next month to come to a settlement over exit fees stemming from when the university left the conference at the altar.

Boise State decided to back out of an agreement to join the Big East when the conference lost the core of its basketball operations. The “Catholic Seven” took the Big East flag and started a new conference under the same name while the remains of the football conference rebranded under the American Athletic Conference. But Rutgers accepted an invitation to the Big Ten and Louisville accepted a spot in the ACC. Boise State and San Diego State decided it was best to stay put in the Mountain West Conference, but Boise State filed a lawsuit against the AAC claiming the school was damaged by the inability of the AAC to maintain the conference membership Boise State thought it would be a part of. The conference countered with its own lawsuit seeking $5 million from the university as a fee for backing out of a membership expansion agreement.

“I’m hopeful that we can put this to bed,” Boise State President Bob Kustra told the Idaho Statesman. “… There wouldn’t be a mediation if the two parties didn’t agree we were closer.”

Boise State actually may have come out ahead in the whole realignment process anyway by getting a better deal with the Mountain West Conference when it comes to media rights and not having to pay for increased travel expenses that would have come with playing in the AAC, which will add Tulsa, Tulane and East Carolina this fall. Had Boise State (and San Diego State) joined a Big East conference that managed to keep Rutgers, Louisville and Notre Dame (in all sports besides football), then things may have been different.

Before Boise State got cold feet with the Big East, TCU also left the Big East before ever officially joining. TCU accepted a spot in the Big 12 following the loss of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC. The Big 12 also added West Virginia. Though never officially a member, TCU agreed to pay the Big East an exit fee of $5 million. Boise State had a similar agreement in place, calling fo a $5 million penalty if it did not join the conference. The Big East sued TCU to get the money but dropped the suit once TCU agreed to pay.

This has been a busy couple of days for Boise State news of course. This week Kustra took aim at power conferences looking for NCAA reform and the university sold the naming rights to Bronco Stadium. Who knows what tomorrow might bring?

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.