Thanks to Bahamas Bowl, NCAA shelling out big bucks for passports

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My first thought after clicking on this story from USA Today’s Dan Wolken: Hey, at least the NCAA isn’t making college students pay for their own passports.

With the Bahamas Bowl debuting this winter, college football will have its first international bowl game since 2010 — the last year the International Bowl took place in Toronto. The Bahamas Bowl will pit a Conference USA team against a MAC squad Dec. 24, and a few teams from those conferences are thinking ahead and getting players passports now instead of trying to rush things later in the fall.

The NCAA, though, is picking up the tab for the passports — $135 per person, which equates to around $11,000 for scholarship players. That’s refreshingly reasonable, not only because players don’t have to pay the cost but because these C-USA and MAC athletic departments don’t either.

The process described by Wolken in the story of getting an entire roster of scholarship players sounds like quite a headache. But trying to corral the necessary paperwork (birth certificates, etc.) in the summer sounds like a lot less of a headache than squeezing it in come November, or having to expedite the process in December.

Wildcats see attendance spike after allowing beer and wine sales at Arizona Stadium in 2018

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Arizona posted a disappointing 5-7 campaign in Kevin Sumlin’s first season in Tucson but Arizona fans still came out and enjoyed themselves thanks, in part, to the school allowing beer and alcohol sales for the first time.

As the Arizona Daily Star reports, attendance for the Wildcats home football games actually ticked up last year an average of 2,804 people while incidents of ejections at the stadium did the same — though were below historic averages.

“We’ve been very pleased with the rollout across the board in Arizona Stadium and McKale,” athletic director Dave Heeke said. “This was really focused around a number of things that we’ve done in the area of fan amenities and food service, and beverage selection was a key component.”

Some 43 people were kicked out of seven home games at UA, which is double the 21 from 2017 but well below the numbers the school reported for seasons when they played in-state rival Arizona State. It seems that Territorial Cup contest was the biggest indicator of above-average ejections in a year though game-by-game data was not given.

“I really haven’t noticed an increase in any type of criminal behavior due to beer and wine sales,” UAPD spokesman Sgt. Sean Shields told the paper. “Obviously from year to year the ejections and different numbers change and they fluctuate, but it’s very hard to pinpoint the reason why those happen.”

The amount of revenue generated by beer and alcohol sales wasn’t detailed by the school but Heeke noted it covered the additional costs on game days and the profit overall wasn’t hugely significant. Still, it seems the atmosphere at Arizona Stadium was still enough to lure fans into their seats despite plenty of late starts and a football team that was largely up-and-down in 2018.

Ex-FAU defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro joins Kansas staff in off-the-field role

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Not many people can say they worked for the very different styles of head coaches Lane Kiffin and Les Miles back-to-back but Tony Pecoraro certainly can.

The recently let go Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator has apparently landed a new gig in Lawrence as a senior defensive analyst, primarily serving under Jayhawks DC D.J. Eliott.

Pecoraro took over the Owls defense in 2018 after spending the previous two seasons running things on that side of the ball for Southern Miss. Things didn’t quite work out in Boca however as FAU couldn’t get off the field like they did in Kiffin’s first year and allowed 31.8 points per game.

The veteran coordinator, who has Power Five assistant experience from a stint at Florida State, was replaced at FAU by longtime Oklahoma State DC Glenn Spencer back in December.

Wisconsin unlikely to join trend of selling beer and alcohol at football games anytime soon

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Wisconsin fans are known to hold more than their own when it comes to enjoying an adult beverage or two before, during and after Badgers football games but they apparently will have to keep waiting for the opportunity to buy a cold one at Camp Randall on game days.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, a decision on whether or not to allow beer/alcohol sales in the general seating sections of the stadium rests with school chancellor Rebecca Blank and that she is not inclined to change the status quo on such prohibition anytime soon.

“The university believes that there is already an atmosphere of energy and excitement around Badger game days,” a school statement to the paper read. “The addition of alcohol to general seating areas isn’t needed to improve that experience and could detract from it for our students and fans.”

Just in the last two months, Indiana, Rutgers and Illinois have turned on the taps for football games in 2019. That will result in fully half of Big Ten schools allowing such sales in general seating areas as a result this season and it’s turned into yet another lucrative revenue stream for those that have too.

Wisconsin appears resistant to the idea however, doing so in the face of declining attendance for games too. While it is certainly too early to remark ‘never say never’ when it comes to the Badgers, it’s pretty clear this trend isn’t making its way to Madison anytime soon.

Ex-Ohio State coach Urban Meyer downplays USC rumors: ‘I think I’m done’

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Urban Meyer is not your typical retiree.

He’s not soaking up the Florida sun, watching cable news for hours upon hours nor sitting back to remember the good ol’ days to pass away the time. Instead the now ex-Ohio State head coach is learning a new job not all that different from his old one helping out the Buckeyes athletic department for a cushy six-figures a year.

Despite that though, the talk is still out there that despite triumphantly walking away from the game at the Rose Bowl in January, Meyer will eventually feel the need to scratch the coaching itch down the road. One of the most talked about possibilities is not too far from Pasadena as luck would have it, as rumors linking him to the USC job if/when Clay Helton is fired have been stirred up almost since the moment he had his farewell press conference.

Speaking to the Columbus Dispatch about his new daily life out of football however, the title-winning coach isn’t yet taking the bait when commenting on such talk.

“I learned my lesson long ago,” Meyer told the paper. “All I’m going to say is I believe I’m done (coaching). I think I’m done.”

That’s not exactly a hard no… but it doesn’t exactly sound like a man pining to get back in the game either.

Meyer’s new Fox Sports coworkers Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart have already said they will try to recruit him to lead the Trojans if the position comes open after this season. His still-current boss, OSU athletic director Gene Smith believes Meyer is done but wouldn’t rule it completely out of the question.

Either way, keeping tabs on Meyer’s potential landing spot figure to occupy a fairly decent storyline for much of the coming year just like they did after Bob Stoops suddenly retired from Oklahoma. And nothing the former Buckeyes coach can say will change that.