Report: Big Ten plans to play more games in NYC

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The Big Ten Conference is adamant about expanding its presence on the East Coast, particularly in New York City.

Adding Rutgers to the league, reaching an agreement with the Pinstripe Bowl and opening an office in Manhattan wasn’t quite enough to sate the conference’s desires.

The Big Ten Conference is considering hosting regular season contests in New York City at Yankee Stadium and Washington D.C., according to cbssports.com’s Jeremy Fowler.

The conference would use the neutral sites to help cultivate rivalries between Penn State and its newest members, Rutgers and Maryland.

“Like with Yankee Stadium — would there be a case where Rutgers or Penn State or Maryland, would they want to move a game to an iconic stadium like that?” Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman posed to Fowler. “You could bring in, for Rutgers, probably another 10 to 15,000 people there. Is that a game that makes sense to move there? Probably.”

It can also serve as an opportunity for the new schools to benefit from the more established programs in the conference. Teams like Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin have national followings and their fans travel well. Bigger venues to host these programs will be beneficial for both the programs playing in the games and the conference.

High-profile venues can also be used to entice marquee opponents as additions to non-conference schedules. Rutgers, for example, will travel to Seattle this fall to open the season against the Pac-12’s Washington State Cougars at CenturyLink Field. Rutgers can use the lure of Yankee Stadium to bring in other opponents from the Pac-12, Big 12 or SEC.

By potentially using stadiums at key demographic locations, the Big Ten Conference will be taking full advantage of its expanded footprint and the markets it cherished when the decision was made to expand to 14 teams.

Walter Camp Award announces 15 semifinalists

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An award that many consider the second-most prestigious in the sport has further narrowed the field of players who can claim this year’s honor.

Wednesday, the Walter Camp Foundation announced its 15 “Players to Watch,” essentially semifinalists, for its prestigious Player of the Year Award. The Walter Camp Award is voted on by the 130 FBS head coaches/sports information directors and is the fourth-oldest award in the sport.

“It’s been another exciting college football season with many teams and players still in the hunt for national recognition,” Camp Foundation president Michael Madera said in a statement. “We’ve identified some outstanding players and we know the final weeks of the regular season should be even more thrilling.”

Top-ranked Alabama is the only team with two semifinalists — quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.  UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor are the only 2017 semifinalists to make the cut this year.

The 2017 Walter Camp Award winner was Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Josh Allen, Senior, Linebacker, Kentucky
Deandre Baker, Senior, Defensive Back, Georgia
Devin Bush, Junior, Linebacker, Michigan
Travis Etienne, Sophomore, Running Back, Clemson
Will Grier, Senior, Quarterback, West Virginia
Dwayne Haskins, Junior, Quarterback, Ohio State
Darrell Henderson, Junior, Running Back, Memphis
Trace McSorley, Senior, Quarterback, Penn State
McKenzie Milton, Junior, Quarterback, UCF
Gardner Minshew, Senior, Quarterback, Washington State
Kyler Murray, Junior, Quarterback, Oklahoma
Tua Tagovailoa, Sophomore, Quarterback, Alabama
Jonathan Taylor, Sophomore, Running Back, Wisconsin
Jerry Tillery, Senior, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
Quinnen Williams, Sophomore, Nose Guard, Alabama

Knee injury to sideline UConn RB Zavier Scott until next summer

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A rather significant injury will cost one playing member of the UConn football program more than just the rest of this year.

Randy Edsall confirmed Tuesday that Zavier Scott is set to undergo season-ending knee surgery on Friday.  According to the head coach, the running back suffered tears to his MCL and PCL in last Saturday’s loss to SMU.

Not only will Scott be sidelined for the last two games of the regular season, but he’s also already been ruled out for spring practice as well.  Edsall expects the redshirt freshman to be healthy enough to participate in summer camp next year.

Scott is currently third on the Huskies with 194 yards on the ground.  Where they’ll arguably miss him the most is in the passing game as his 33 receptions coming out of the backfield are tops on the team.

Scott’s injury continues the spate of attrition at the position for the Huskies over the last couple of months.

In early August, Nate Hopkins, who led the Huskies in rushing touchdowns in 2017, decided to leave the football team.  Two weeks later, Donevin O’Reilly, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship over the summer and was on track to be the No. 1 running back, was lost to a season-ending ACL injury.  In late September, freshman Khyon Gillespie went down with his own ACL injury in the loss to Syracuse.

Quarterback David Pindell is the Huskies’ leading rusher with 1,118 yards.  Kevin Mensah has taken over as the lead back and is second on the team with 860 yards.  Those two have accounted for all 16 of UConn’s rushing touchdowns this season, with Pindell leading the way with 10.

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.