Report: Bayou Classic discusses replacing Grambling

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Few games from the world of FCS football receive much national exposure. Aside from The Game between Ivy League rivals Harvard and Yale, the most notable or recognizable FCS game each year may be the Bayou Classic, played in New Orleans between Grambling and Southern. The two schools have faced each other each season since 1974 and feature the most entertaining halftime show in college football with the battle of the bands. Despite the history and tradition of the game, organizers of the Bayou Classic could be looking to mix things up in the future.

According to a report by WWLTV.com, managers of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the host site for the Bayou Classic, have discussed potentially replacing Grambling as a participant. Low attendance by Grambling fans in recent years is to blame. Grambling has an enrollment of just under 5,000 students. It should be noted Southern has roughly double the enrollment of Grambling.

“If Grambling has fallen off that bad, maybe Southern could take the lead and it could be an earned-in game and bring in somebody else,” said Robert Bruno, the commissioner of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District. “I just don’t know if Grambling can carry the load.”

The 2011 Bayou Classic saw a crowd of 40,175 attend the game. That marked the lowest attendance for the game in 38 years. From 2000 through 2004 the game had an average attendance of 70,198 fans, before Hurricane Katrina blew through the area. The game has rebounded with attendance since Katrina though, although the numbers continue to trend downward. The 2012 game saw just 32,000 fans attend. Is Grambling to blame, and would replacing the Tigers with another program help reverse the attendance trend?

Grambling is coming off two dismal seasons and last year may have been the ultimate low point in the program’s history with players coming together to skip out on practices and forcing a boycott. Now, as the program looks to restore the pride that has been a part of the history of the school, the possibility of being replaced in one of the true iconic games on the football schedule would be a shame.

There could be a couple of different plans in the works for the Bayou Classic, including moving it from the annual post-Thanksgiving spot on the calendar. Would moving the game to the start of the season fix the attendance problem? It could, although it would fall even farther in the pecking order of games earlier in the season. Holding the game after Thanksgiving gives the game a chance to draw in a wider audience.

There has been no word on what school or schools have been considered as alternatives to Grambling, but for the sake of tradition here’s to hoping Grambling can convince the organizers to keep the school involved.

Running back Deshawn McClease is latest player to leave Hokies

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It has been quite a busy couple of days for Virginia Tech transfer news. Within hours of Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente releasing a statement about the program’s dedication to strengthening the culture of the Virginia Tech football program after a handful of players had decided to leave the program, running back Deshawn McClease added his name to the list of transferring Hokies.

“After discussing with my family, we believe that it is best for me to transfer to another university following graduation this spring,” McClease said in a statement shared on his Twitter account Wednesday evening. “I am very eager to continue my football journey and further my education.”

McClease did not say where he is heading next. His departure is another blow to Virginia Tech’s offensive outlook for the 2019 season on a day that also saw starting quarterback Josh Jackson decide to transfer out of Virginia Tech a day after a couple of other transfer headlines surfaced around the program. As McClease mentioned in his statement, he is scheduled to graduate from Virginia Tech this spring. That will mean he will be eligible to play right away next fall for whatever team he ends up joining. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

McClease was Virginia Tech’s second-leading rusher in 2018 and likely would have been the starting running back in Blacksburg for the 2019 season had he decided to stick around. McClease rushed for 433 yards and two touchdowns last fall behind senior starter Steven Peoples.

Oklahoma State QB Keondre Wudtee leaving Stillwater via transfer

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The quarterback competition at Oklahoma State this spring has been reduced by one. Keondre Wudtee is one his way out of Stillwater after entering his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal, it was reported on Wednesday.

As noted by Pistols Firing, redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders appears to be the most likely candidate to land the starting job at quarterback for the Cowboys in 2019 following the graduation of Taylor Cornelius. Wudtee was the only other quarterback to record any passing stats for Oklahoma State in 2018 in his backup role, completing two of five attempts for 26 yards and a touchdown. A pair of wide receivers, Tylan Wallace and Dillon Stoner, were the only other players to attempt a pass for Oklahoma State in 2018.

Oklahoma State’s quarterback depth chart will still be padded even with the departure of Wudtee. Dru Brown, who transferred to Oklahoma State from Hawaii, is still around and the Cowboys added an early enrollee in three-star Class of 2019 quarterback Brendan Costello. Being enrolled early will allow Costello to get started with spring practices this semester in Stillwater and could potentially have him prepared to step in if needed in the fall.

As for Wudtee, we’ll see where he heads next. He will have to sit out the 2019 season due to NCAA transfer rules, of course.

After dustup with Uga, Texas president says Bevo is not leaving the sidelines

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Finally, a story NOT about the transfer portal.

Prior to the Sugar Bowl between Texas and Georgia, somebody decided it would be fun to do a photo with the live animal mascots of the Longhorns and Bulldogs. As Uga made his way over to see Texas mascot Bevo, the longhorn burst out of his caged area and made it known he was not about being a part of a fun photo opp. Fortunately, there were no injuries to report for any people or animals in the incident, but concerns about the handling of Bevo were certainly raised.

And despite pressure from PETA to stop including live animal mascots as part of the gameday experience and any others who may have voiced concerns about the worst-case scenarios involving a live steer, Texas president Gregory Fenves says Bevo will not be retired and forced to watch Longhorns football games from the ranch.

“We take the safety very seriously, but we’re going to continue to have Bevo as our mascot,” Fenves said in a recent interview with the American-Statesman. “He’s an incredible animal and a great symbol for the university. Seriously, we’re always looking at the protocols for Bevo at public events. I don’t think they need to be revised.”

So there you have it. Bevo stays. Sorry, not sorry, PETA. Unless Bevo does decide to enter the transfer portal…

Wisconsin TE Kyle Penniston enters transfer portal

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I have never seen it myself, but the transfer portal must be the place to be. Wisconsin tight end Kyle Penniston is just one of the many players putting his name in the transfer portal, as reported Wednesday, as he begins to look for a new place to finish up his college football career.

First reported by 247 Sports, Penniston will have one year of eligibility left to use for the 2019 season. He will be eligible to play right away this fall as a graduate transfer. Penniston enrolled at Wisconsin in 2015 after accepting an offer from Wisconsin over offers from Oklahoma and a handful of other top programs in the Class of 2015.

Penniston appeared in 13 games for the Badgers in 2018 with three receptions for 18 yards and a touchdown. The instant rise of Jake Ferguson at the tight end position on his way to becoming the second-leading receiver for Wisconsin meant Penniston likely wasn’t going to play a pivotal role in the offensive gameplan in 2019. Wisconsin should still be in decent shape at the tight end position this fall, not that losing an upper classmen at the position is ever a good situation for a program. It’s worth noting Penniston was recruited under former head coach Gary Andersen, who adopted a different type of offensive scheme that would have potentially been a better fit for Penniston.

Where Penniston goes next remains to be seen.