Rich Rodriguez searching for pipeline in SEC country

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There is no denying the southeastern portion of the country is ripe with college football talent. This is part of the reason the SEC has become so dominant on the national playing field. It is also why we are now seeing programs that have historically lacked any presence in the region starting to dip their toes in the waters of the southeast more and more. Penn State’s James Franklin, previously from Vanderbilt, has made an effort to take his coaching staff into the region, much to the ire of some SEC coaches. Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez also knows the value of establishing a presence in the area as well.

“We still come out here to the Atlanta area a little bit in recruiting,” Rodriguez said to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Our coaching staff has a good bit of experience out here. If we can get guys to visit, that’s the key. If we can get guys from this area to come out to the desert in Tucson, we’ve got a great shot to get them. And once we do that, it’ll be a pipeline that keeps coming out West.”

Arizona currently lists one player from the state of Georgia on its roster, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jack Banda. The Wildcats also have seven players listed from the state of Florida. Most of the recruits Arizona picks up will still be from the western states like Arizona, California and Nevada, but if Rodriguez keeps poking his head around the southeast he will eventually establish some new inroads to that talent.

Rodriguez may not be able to lure away any of the top recruits from the southeast, but if he can plug in some three or some four stars from the region that may be overlooked by some of the other SEC or ACC schools in the region, perhaps that is all Arizona will need to compliment the roster put together with a southwestern flair.

Bovada has Purdue’s Jeff Brohm as heavy favorite to replace Bobby Petrino as head coach at Louisville

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This latest wagering line will come as no surprise to those who have been paying any attention at all.

In the immediate aftermath of Louisville’s decision to fire Bobby Petrino over the weekend, Jeff Brohm was one of the first, and most prominent, names to be mentioned as a potential replacement.  Brohm, currently in his second season as the head coach at Purdue, is a natural fit as he was born in the city of Louisville and played his college football for the Cardinals.

With that as a backdrop, Bovada.lv released its first set of odds on Petrino’s replacement Tuesday and (surprise surprise surprise) Brohm is a heavy favorite at 1/10.

Troy head coach Neal Brown is next at 4/1, with Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day, who could be in line for the OSU job when Urban Meyer steps down, right behind at 9/2.  Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, always a popular name on the coaching carousel even as he’s in the midst of his seventh season with the Tigers, is next at 9/1.

Others receiving odds from the sportsbook are Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell (11/1), Syracuse head coach Dino Babers (12/1), Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell (12/1), Toledo head coach Jason Candle (16/1) and Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield (16/1).

Ex-Michigan State staffer suing Mark Dantonio, other MSU officials

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Curtis Blackwell may be gone but, thanks to a recent development, he won’t soon be forgotten in East Lansing.

In May of last year, Michigan State confirmed that the university had “parted ways” with Blackwell after opting not to renew the staffer’s contract.  Blackwell, whose official title with the football program was director of college advancement and performance, was suspended with pay February 9, the same day three unidentified Spartan football players were suspended in connection to sexual assault allegations.  While Blackwell was a part of the police investigations into the allegations, he was not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault but rather failing to disclose information he knew about the incident.

Monday, the Associated Press reported, Blackwell filed a lawsuit in U.S. District court alleging that his employment contract was violated when it wasn’t renewed.  Head football coach Mark Dantonio is named in the suit, as are former MSU athletic director Mark Hollis and other MSU officials.  The AP wrote “[t]he suit alleges that the defendants did not honor Blackwell’s employment agreement, which the suit says required that he be allowed to speak with the athletic director before any discipline was imposed.”

A university spokesperson declined to comment on the development.

Also named in the lawsuit are two university police officers who arrested Blackwell for obstruction of justice.  Blackwell, who was never formally charged, claims that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the officers.

According to mlive.com, Blackwell is seeking at least $150,000 in damages, plus attorneys fees and punitive damages.

Clay Helton announces dismissal of four-star 2017 LB Levi Jones

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Levi Jones‘ forced sabbatical has turned into a permanent one.

The linebacker was suspended from USC’s loss to Cal this past Saturday because of unspecified violations of team rules.  Following practice Tuesday night, Clay Helton announced that Jones has been dismissed from the Trojans football program and is no longer on the roster.

No specific reason for the dismissal was given by the head coach.

Multiple media outlets have reported that Jones was arrested on a charge of public intoxication in early July of this year.  It’s unclear whether that off-field issue played a role in his forced departure four months later.

Jones was a four-star member of the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 93 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  The Austin product was the highest-rated linebacker signee in USC’s class that year.

After playing in 10 games as a true freshman, Jones had played in eight games this year prior to his dismissal.

Former Alabama signee commits to rival Tennessee

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This is quite the turn of events.

In December of 2017, Davis signed on as an early piece of Alabama’s 2018 recruiting class.  Expected to enroll at the university early, Jordan Davis instead enrolled at a junior college, Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College, in mid-July as he failed to qualify academically at UA.  In October of this year, the defensive lineman took to Twitter to announce that he was recommitting to the Crimson Tide and head coach Nick Saban.

A month later?  Never mind as Davis confirmed on the same social media site that he has verbally committed to Tennessee and former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

In an interview with 247Sports.com not long after that announcement, the Tennessee native expounded on his decision.

“It’s just somewhere I wanted to truly go, somewhere I feel that I can really make a difference,” Davis told the recruiting website. “I just want to do something different. I want to do something big. I want to do something big for my hometown and my state.

“I mean, I shocked the world with that one.”

Davis was a consensus four-star 2018 signee, rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 6 weakside defensive end in the country; the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Tennessee; and the No. 108 player overall on that recruiting website’s composite board.  Only two defensive linemen in the Tide’s class this year — Eyabi Anoma and Stephon Wynn — were rated higher than Davis.

Whether Davis follows through on his latest commitment a month from now remains to be seen.