BYU, NIU reach agreement on future series

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It’s no Auburn-Clemson, but still.

Northern Illinois confirmed via a press release Wednesday that it has reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series with BYU. Per the release, the series will begin on Oct. 27, 2018 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah, while the Cougars and Huskies will play at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb on Oct. 24, 2020.

The 2018 game will mark the first-ever between the two football programs.

“BYU is an opponent that will bring a national name and a long tradition of success to our schedule,” NIU athletic Sean Frazier said in a statement. “I think this is a series that will make Huskie fans take notice and realize that we are serious about bringing top-quality opponents to Huskie Stadium and that now is the time to get involved with NIU Football.”

NIU had previously reached an agreement on a two-game series with Iowa those same two years. Both of those games, however, will be played at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium.

As a football independent, BYU already has 2018 games scheduled against, among others, Arizona, Utah, Utah State and Wisconsin, and 2020 games against Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford and Virginia.

Report: four-star 2018 QB Jack Tuttle to transfer from Utah

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Jack Tuttle was the highest-rated quarterback ever to sign with Utah.  Now, Tuttle will go down as the highest-rated quarterback to never play a down for the Utes.  Reportedly.

Citing multiple sources, 247Sports.com reported overnight that Tuttle intends to transfer from the Utes.  The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that “another source familiar with Tuttle’s thinking told The Tribune that he intends to leave.”

As is stands now, neither the player nor the football program has publicly commented on his status moving forward.

The California product was a four-star member of the Utes’ 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 8 pro-style quarterback in the country.  Tuttle enrolled early and was a part of Utah’s quarterback competition, although he entered the season as the team’s No. 3 signal-caller.

Tuttle didn’t play in any of the Utes’ first six games.

As for Tuttle’s future, 247Sports.com writes that “[p]ossible destinations include Ohio State, Duke, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, and West Virginia.” Prior to signing with Utah, Tuttle held offers from, among others, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, LSU, Nebraska, USC and Wisconsin.

Matt Leinart says Lane Kiffin was ‘obviously joking’ about offering 11-year-old son a scholarship

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Haha. Good one, Kiff.

In a Twitter exchange with Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports/The Athletic Tuesday, Lane Kiffin indicated that he had indeed offered a scholarship to Cole Leinart, the 11-year-old quarterback son of former USC Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart.

Apparently, however, the current Florida Atlantic and former USC head coach — and former Leinart offensive coordinator with the Trojans — was just yanking everyone’s chain. At least, according to Cole Leinart’s father he was.

Following the ruckus kicked up by what was apparently an in-jest tweet, Kiffin explained his relationship with the elder Leinart. From the Sun-Sentinel:

Matt, we’ve always had a good relationship,” said Kiffin of Leinart, who after an NFL career is now a college football analyst for Fox Sports and covered FAU’s opener at Oklahoma. “We’ve been communicating a lot over the last couple of months. They had the opener, their broadcast and stuff. He lives right down the street from my kids in Manhattan Beach out there. There’s some crossover, kids in different sports and things like that.

And, for those wondering, Kiffin is permitted to discuss the younger Leinart, who would be a Class of 2025 recruit if he continues on his current trajectory, as he’s only in sixth grade; the NCAA doesn’t consider a player a recruitable prospect until they reach the ninth grade.

WATCH: Nick Saban appears in campaign ad endorsing U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)

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Involved in a hotly-contested U.S. Senate race, Joe Manchin is bringing out the big guns in the form of one West Virginia’s favorite football sons.

In a political ad that debuted Wednesday, Alabama head coach — and Fairmont, WV native — Nick Saban, along with other God’s Country hoops favorites Bob Huggins and Jerry West, gave an unflinching endorsement of the 71-year-old Manchin, the incumbent U.S. Senator who is running for re-election against Republican Patrick Morrisey.

“Joe and I grew up together in West Virginia and he never forgets where he came from,” Saban said in the ad. “I don’t have a better friend or know a better person than Joe Manchin.”

Other than not even realizing it was Election Day two years ago and some of his statements from the past — “I don’t really make political comments. So, if I say I like one person that means everybody who voted for the other person doesn’t like me. So, why would I do that?” — it’s not surprising that Saban has endorsed Manchin.

Manchin, who is five years older than Saban, was coached in Little League baseball by the Alabama head coach’s late father. “They used to take family vacations to Myrtle Beach together,” al.com wrote four years ago in profiling the relationship between the two that extended into adulthood. “Manchin laughs telling stories about going horseback riding with Saban.”

Manchin, who went to West Virginia University on a football scholarship before an injury ended his playing career, also wholeheartedly endorsed the high school-aged Saban, who ended up playing at Kent State, while at the same time lamenting his alma mater letting one get away.

“His size was always a challenge playing these tough sports,” Manchin said. “But Nick was as tough as anyone could be. My god, if he had a little more size, he would have killed everybody. I think the biggest mistake WVU ever made was not giving Nick Saban a scholarship.”

Alabama WR Devonta Smith questionable for Tennessee game

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Alabama could be down its second-leading receiver when it takes the field for one of its two annual rivalry games.

Devonta Smith suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter of the Week 7 win over Missouri, and was then labeled as questionable as ‘Bama began prep work for this year’s Third Saturday in October clash with Tennessee in Knoxville. As preparations hit the midway point Wednesday, Nick Saban indicated there hasn’t been much if any change in the wide receiver’s status.

A final decision on Smith’s availability likely won’t be made until closer to Saturday’s mid-afternoon kickoff.

Smith is second on the team in receiving yards with 409 and tied for second in receptions with 21. The sophomore’s 19.5 yards per catch are second on the Crimson Tide as well, while he’s fourth in receiving touchdowns with three.