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.

Four-star 2015 lineman Richie Petitbon to transfer from Alabama

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Regardless of the number of stars attached to a name or the recruiting pedigree, sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to.

Case in point: Richie Petitbon.  The touted offensive lineman came to Alabama as a four-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2015 recruiting class.  Three years later, al.com is reporting, and 247Sports.com is confirming, that the offensive lineman has decided to transfer from Nick Saban‘s football program.

Petitbon is on schedule to graduate from UA this coming May.  If that projected course holds, Petitbon would be able to use his final season of eligibility at another FBS school in 2019.

Coming out of high school in Washington D.C., Petitbon was rated as the No. 5 guard in the country and the No. 62 player overall on 247Sports.com’s composite board.  Only one offensive lineman, fellow guard Lester Cotton, was rated higher than Petitbon in a Tide recruiting class that was the top-ranked class in that cycle.

Injuries cost Petitbon early as, after redshirting his true freshman season, he suffered a torn ACL that kept him out of all but one game in 2016.  He played in three games the following season and then six this year.  His appearances in 2017 came at guard, the ones in 2018 at offensive tackle.

Marquise Brown’s status for Oklahoma-Alabama? ‘Not a definite no, not a definite yes’

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If Oklahoma is to knock off top-ranked and heavily favored Alabama, they’ll need all healthy hands on deck.  Whether that will be the case on the offensive side of the ball remains to be seen.

Marquise Brown went down with an unspecified injury to his lower left leg in the Big 12 championship game win over Texas that pushed OU into the College Football Playoff semifinals. The fourth-quarter injury sidelined Brown for the remainder of the game and saw him leaving the stadium wearing a walking boot.

With a date against the Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl looming in just over two weeks, the wide receiver’s availability for the Sooners is officially up in the air.

“Still too early,” head coach Lincoln Riley said Wednesday when asked about Brown’s status for the game. “Working through it. It’s not a definite no, not a definite yes. We’re hopeful, but he hasn’t done much to this point.”

Brown currently leads the Sooners in receptions (75) and receiving yards (1,318).  His 10 receiving touchdowns are tied for the team lead.

It’s widely assumed by most that Brown will leave his remaining eligibility on the table and make himself available for the 2019 NFL Draft whenever the Sooners’ season ends.

Despite retiring, K-State giving Bill Snyder his $3 million ‘buyout’

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This is, well, interesting.

In August of this year, Bill Snyder and Kansas State reached agreement on a contract extension that would’ve kept the 78-year-old head coach in Manhattan through the 2022 season.  That new deal called for Snyder to be paid $3 million in the form of a buyout should he be fired without cause.

Fast-forward four months and, for the second time, Snyder announced his retirement from the Wildcats earlier in December.  Wednesday night, K-State athletic director Gene Taylor confirmed to the Wichita Eagle‘s Kellis Robinett that the university will pay Snyder the entire $3 million even as the coach was not contractually obligated to receive it as he retired and wasn’t fired.

The $3 million, to which Snyder agreed to accept, will be paid out over the course of the next three years.

“The buyout is just something I wanted to do,” Taylor told Robinett. “I think he deserved it for everything he has done. …

“[H]e deserves every penny for what he has done for this program. I am happy to do it.”

Taylor is certainly correct when it comes to all that Snyder has done for the football program.

Of K-State’s 21 bowl appearances in its 123-year history, 19 have come with Snyder as head coach. In the 27 seasons in which Snyder served as head coach, the Wildcats won 215 games; in the other 96 seasons, the Wildcats have won 316. Or, put another way:

  • Winning percentage with Snyder: .647
  • Winning percentage without Snyder: .379

In addition to the $3 million buyout that Taylor said “really isn’t a buyout,” Snyder will also be paid, as detailed in the August contract extension, $225,000 annually as a special ambassador to the university.

“We don’t know yet exactly what his ambassador role to the university will be,” Taylor said. “It is probably going to be a little bit in athletics and a lot in his leadership studies and then anything else from a donor perspective.”

One Buckeye declares, but two more remain undecided

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Ohio State held a pre-Rose Bowl press availability on Wednesday, which turned into a will-you-or-won’t-you referendum on the draft-eligible Buckeyes.

First off, defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones announced he will enter the 2019 draft, but will play in the Rose Bowl. (As is a standard postscript for all early entrants these days.) A redshirt junior, Jones was pretty much a mainstay on Ohio State’s vaunted defensive line from the moment he hit the field. He started 12 games as a redshirt freshman, becoming just the third Buckeye to start at least 10 games along the defensive line as a freshman.

This season, Jones led the defensive line with 40 tackles, ranked second on the team with 13 TFLs, tied Chase Young for the team lead with 8.5 sacks, and broke the TCU game open with a 28-yard pick six.

On the offense, two major figures are still deciding whether or not they want to enter the draft as quarterback Dwayne Haskins and running back Mike Weber have yet to declare one way or the other.

The bronze medalist in the Heisman Trophy race, Haskins broke the Big Ten record for total yards and touchdowns in a single season, throwing for 4,580 yards and 47 touchdowns while rushing for 122 yards and four more touchdowns. With one game still to play, Haskins has a chance to become the first Big Ten quarterback to ever throw 50 touchdown passes in a single season.

He is expected to enter the 2019 NFL Draft, and like Jones could be a possible first-round pick.

Weber’s season has been, to boil it down to one word, odd. He began the year with a 22-carry, 186-yard, 3-touchdown game against Oregon State, then did not carry the ball 20 times again until Michigan State, where he rushed 22 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. Weber then missed the next week’s game against Maryland due to a quad bruise, while JK Dobbins racked up 37 carries in the 52-51 win.

Weber returned in the wins over Michigan and Northwestern with a combined 30 carries, and finished the regular season second on the team with 157 carries for 858 yards and five touchdowns.