The Fifth Quarter: Week 7 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

NO. 1 A MOVING, FLUID TARGET
There wasn’t the historic Week 6 shakeup in Week 7, but there’s certainly going to be some tweaking in the Top 10 of the new Top 25 polls.  And, perhaps, even at the very top.

Florida State came into the weekend ranked No. 1 by both the Associated Press and the coaches, although the Seminoles have seen their lead in the former poll decrease every week since the final preseason Top 25 and just reclaimed the top spot in the latter poll after Alabama’s Week 6 loss.  Depending on voter preference, there could be a seismic shift as Mississippi State has certainly proven its poll mettle over the past three games against ranked teams.

Then again, so has Ole Miss the past two weeks.  Either of the Mississippi Power Five teams could rightly stake their respective claims to the top spot over FSU — and in what kind of bizarro world are we living in when such a scenario involving that state is even possible in the game of college football?

Some in Big 12 country would point to Baylor as a potential No. 1, as would some Midwesterners when it comes to Notre Dame; neither of those teams has the résumé that the other three have, although both should sit comfortably in the Top Five Sunday afternoon.  Then again, FSU’s résumé, like BU’s and ND’s, contains only one win over a team that was ranked at the time the game was played, although the Seminoles can add Oklahoma State (unranked in the opener, No.16 after Week 6) to its portfolio to justify a spot ahead of those two.

Adding to the upper-echelon murkiness?  Florida State plays Notre Dame next weekend, while Mississippi State and Ole Miss will square off in the regular-season finale, further guaranteeing additional upheaval in and around the top of the rankings moving forward.

Yes, it’s virtually meaningless which team is No. 1 at what’s almost the midway point of the 2014 regular season; hell, the first meaningful rankings won’t be released for another 16 days.  The positioning for seeding in the first-ever College Football Playoff — and a potentially favorable locale for a semifinal game —  has begun in earnest, however, and that’s something that will shape the storyline in the sport for the remaining eight weekends left on the regular-season calendar.

SATURDAY RESET
Below is a list of links out to a handful of the gamers posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.

  • For the third-straight game, Mississippi State dropped a Top-10-ranked SEC West team to remain unbeaten and firmly stated its case for the top spot in the rankings.  Auburn, meanwhile, suffered its first loss of the season and will likely fall into the bottom half of the Top 10.
  • Wait a minute… or did Ole Miss stake its claim as the top team in the country with a dominating win over Texas A&M?
  • Bonkers on the Brazos indeed: Baylor overcame a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to stun TCU 61-58 in what was the dictionary definition of an old WAC shootout.
  • If there were ever a case of a team letting another off the hook, it was Arkansas’ loss to a suddenly bumbling, stumbling and disorganized Alabama.  Or, to paraphrase an old tongue-twister, how much throat could a Sabanchuck choke if a Sabanchuck could choke throat.
  • Oklahoma lagged behind Texas in nearly every major statistical category except the one that matters most: the scoreboard.
  • Oregon’s time out of the national spotlight lasted all of one week as the Ducks’ scored a bounce-back win over UCLA.
  • Arizona was a missed 36-yard field goal away from improving to 6-0; instead, UA kicked away a 28-26 decision to USC that dropped the Wildcats to a half-game behind the Trojans and into a tie with Arizona State in the Pac-12 South.
  • Georgia’s shutout of Missouri shows once again why it is the Beast of the SEC East.
  • Previously unbeaten Georgia Tech’s loss to Duke ensures that the ACC Coastal is still literally anyones for the taking.
  • The ACC Atlantic, meanwhile, continues to be Florida State’s personal playground as the Seminoles extended its winning streak to a nation’s best 22 straight after dropping overmatched Syracuse.
  • Driskel is as Driskel does: Florida quarterback coughs up late pick, game to LSU.
  • Clemson’s six-point win over Louisville could’ve come with a very significant personnel loss.
  • The ugly win over Penn State may have lowered the hot seat temperature for Michigan’s Brady Hoke a bit — a very, very, very wee bit.

Auburn v Mississippi State
Auburn v Mississippi State

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.

1. Mississippi State — The last three games, MSU has beaten (rankings at the time) No. 8 LSU on the road, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 2 Auburn at home in Starkville.  They are just the fifth team in FBS history to pull of that feat.  That’s more than good enough for me to pull the trigger on a change at the top. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: bye

2.  Ole Miss — The last two weeks, the Rebels beat then-No. 3 Alabama (not as impressive after today’s Fayetteville debacle) and No. 14 Texas A&M.  While you may never know which Bo Wallace you’re going to get on a week-to-week basis, that Landshark defense is as stifling and as real as it gets, and is a unit that could almost single-handedly carry the Rebels into an epic Egg Bowl at the end of the regular season. And, yes, Mississippi State and Ole Miss being 1-2 in any football rankings, regardless of how meaningless, is the fourth sign of the apocalypse, so stock up now. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Tennessee, Oct. 18

3. Florida State — The defending BCS champions have extended its winning streak to 22 straight despite numerous injuries that have played a significant role in FSU’s uneven play.  All the Seminoles have to do is win out and they will claim one of the four seats at the College Football Playoff table.  At least on paper, their next big test could also be its last prior to the postseason. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. No. 6 Notre Dame, Oct. 18

4.  Baylor — The Bears were down 21 points with just under 12 minutes remaining at home to the No. 9 team in the country.  That and a weak résumé coming in — no wins over ranked opponents — prevents Baylor from leap-frogging FSU into the No. 3 hole. (Last week: No. 5)
Next up: at West Virginia, Oct. 18

5. Notre Dame — With the addition of the Irish, the Seminoles are the only team that was in my Week 1 Top Five that remains there six weeks later.  The Golden Domers, though, have been less than aesthetically pleasing, so I very nearly pulled the trigger on one-loss Oregon in this spot.  In the end, the unblemished record wins out… for now. In six days, the entire country will see just how real the Irish are — or aren’t — in 2014. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at No. 1 Florida State, Oct. 18

(Dropped out: No. 1 Auburn)

Heisman TrophyHEISMAN RACE, BY THE NUMBERS
A statistical look at how some of the top contenders for this year’s stiff-armed trophy fared this weekend, listed in alphabetical order so as not to offend any of the delicate sensibilities readers in the audience may possess or get their unmentionables all wadded up over “their” player being excluded. Also, each week at least one name will be sliced from a list that began in Week 6 at a baker’s dozen and, if need be, names will be added as well.

J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State (4-1, No. 20)
Saturday: bye weekend
Season: 88-133 (66.2%), 1,354 yards, 17 touchdowns, five interceptions; 276 rushing yards, two touchdowns

Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina (4-1, No. 22)
Saturday: 24-33 (72.7%), 250 yards, one touchdowns, one interception; seven rushing yards
Season: 166-252 (65.9%), 2,129 yards, 16 touchdowns, four interceptions; 73 rushing yards, three touchdowns

Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall (5-0, unranked)
Saturday: 17-33 (51.5%), 337 yards, three touchdowns, one interception; five rushing yards, one touchdown
Season: 104-177 (58.7%), 1,698 yards, 15 touchdowns, five interceptions; 202 rushing yards, four touchdowns

James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh (3-2, unranked)
Saturday: bye weekend
Season: 156 carries for 874 yards (5.6 ypc), nine touchdowns; two catches for 20 yards

Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame (5-0, No. 9)
Saturday: 21-38 (55.3%), 300 yards, three touchdowns, one interception; 71 rushing yards
Season: 135-216 (62.5%), 1,683 yards, 16 touchdowns, four interceptions; 209 rushing yards, four touchdowns

Melvin Gordon, Eaton Spence
Melvin Gordon, Eaton Spence

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (3-2, No. 17)
Saturday: 27 carries for 175 yards (6.5 ypc), four touchdowns
Season: 132 carries for 1,046 yards (7.9 ypc), 13 touchdowns; six receptions, 27 yards, one touchdown

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (4-1, No. 2)
Thursday: 17-27 (63 percent), 210 yards, two touchdowns, zero interception; 75 rushing yards, two touchdowns
Season: 128-187 (68.4%), 1,897 yards, 19 touchdowns, zero interceptions; 215 rushing yards, five touchdowns; one reception, 26 yards

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor (6-0, No. 5)
Saturday: 28-55 (50.9%), 510 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions; 23 rushing yards
Season: 101-178 (56.7%), 1,534 yards, 15 touchdowns, three interceptions; 109 rushing yards, three touchdowns

Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (5-0, No. 12)
Saturday: 18-34 (52.9%), 246 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions; 121 rushing yards, two touchdowns
Season: 96-156 (61.5%), 1,569 yards, 15 touchdowns, four interceptions; 576 rushing yards, eight touchdowns

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (5-0, No. 1)
Saturday: 30-36 (83.3%), 317, three touchdowns, zero interceptions; minus-three rushing yards
Season: 126-180 (70%), 1,605 yards, 11 touchdowns, five interceptions; 19 carries for 39 rushing yards, two touchdowns

(Dropped out: Georgia running back Todd Gurley, the Heisman front-runner whose off-field NCAA situation has his availability for the remainder of the season in doubt, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper)
(Added: Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty.)

Hot Seats
Hot Seats

COACHING HOT SEAT
I begin my weekly look at a trio of the current head coaches who could most likely be ex-head coaches by season’s end — if not sooner.

1. Brady Hoke, Michigan
In what turned out to be Rich Rodriguez‘s last season at Michigan in 2010, the Wolverines’ began the year 6-1; in what could turn out to be Hoke’s last season at Michigan, the Wolverines are 3-4.  From Oct. 3, 2009, through Oct. 9, 2010, UM went 7-8 under Rodriguez; from Oct. 12, 2013, through Oct. 11, 2014, UM has gone 5-10 under Hoke.  In his first 31 games at UM, Rodriguez was 14-17; in his last 31 games at UM, Hoke is 16-15.  You see where this is going, right?  So should Hoke, athletic director Dave Brandon and the entire UM football program as a different direction is needed on that hallowed sideline.

2. Will Muschamp, Florida
Let’s take another dip from the comparison well, shall we?   In his three years at UF, Ron Zook was 23-14 overall and 16-8 in the SEC.  Since beginning his Gator career at 4-0, Muschamp has gone 22-19 overall and an even 13-13 in the conference.  The last 17 games, Muschamp’s record is 7-10 and 5-7.  In other words, there’s been nothing but regression instead of the progression that an 11-2 second season portended.  The worst part?  There’s no hope as far as the eye can see.

3. Tim Beckman, Illinois
With the loss to Wisconsin, the Flailing Illini are now 9-22 in Beckman’s two-plus seasons in Champaign.  That mark includes an embarrassing 1-18 record in Big Ten play.  The lone conference win came in 2013 against a Purdue team whose only victory in the midst of an 11-loss season came against a team from the FCS.  The media covering the team makes it appear like it’s a matter of when, not if, Beckman is canned.  Based on the record, that tack makes perfect sense.

North Carolina v Notre Dame
North Carolina v Notre Dame

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured single-digit close shaves vs. unranked opponents

No. 6 Notre Dame 50, North Carolina 43: Entering their game against the Tar Heels, Irish opponents had scored 26 points off of ND’s eight turnovers the first five games.  UNC produced 21 points off of three Irish turnovers in Week 7, nearly turning what’s been a dream season thus far for the Irish into a nightmare.  Still, the skin-of-their-teeth win sets up a midseason battle of unbeatens next weekend: No. 6 Notre Dame vs. No. 1 Florida State in Tallahassee in a game that will go a long way in setting up a portion of the four-team College Football Playoff field.

No. 7 Alabama 14, Arkansas 13: Was AJ McCarron correct in his midweek admonishment of his former team?  No, but the Tide picked an inopportune time to lay another offensive egg.  In its win over a Razorbacks team that has now lost 15 straight SEC games, the Tide managed just 227 yards of offense and 10 first downs.  Even more stunningly, the Tide ran for just 66 yards and averaged a paltry 2.1 yards per carry.  This comes one week after scoring 17 points and putting up less than 400 yards of total offense (396) for the first time this season in its first loss of the year to Ole Miss.  It may not be fair to say teams have figured out Lane Kiffin‘s offense, but it is to state they now have a book on which to study.  Now it’s up to Kiffin to counter… if he can.

No. 11 Oklahoma 31, Texas 26: The first four games of the season you could’ve made a very good case for OU being the best team in the country.  The last two, not so much.  So, just what’s happened?  Katy Perry, that’s what.  Since the pop superstar propositioned Trevor Knight during ESPN’s College GameDay pregame show in Week 6, the Sooners starting quarterback has completed 26-of-55 passes (47.3 percent) for 438 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

No. 16 Oklahoma State 27, Kansas 20: A 99-yard Tyreek Hill kickoff return for a touchdown was the only thing standing in the way of an embarrassing loss for the Cowboys, one that would’ve served as the Jayhawks’ first win over a ranked team since Sept. 11, 2010 (28-25 over No. 15 Georgia Tech), and their first win over a ranked Big 12 team since Nov. 29, 2008 (40-37 over No. 12 Missouri).

Washington State v Stanford
Washington State v Stanford

HE SAID IT
“The physical nature of the Stanford players. Our technique has to be sharper, we have to play harder, we got to play better. I think their defensive line and their offensive line exposes any weakness and we have to be sharper technically in order to offset, because their bigger and stronger than we are.” — Washington State head coach Mike Leach, when asked what the difference was in the 27-17 loss to Stanford Friday night.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“No.” — Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker, when asked if Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes (384 yards of total offense) showed him anything in OU’s win.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“Obviously we’re remarkably disappointed. I’m responsible. … It’s about execution and obviously we’re struggling right now. We turned the ball over five times; I don’t ever remember in my career if we’ve turned the ball over five times before.” — Gary Pinkel, following Missouri’s shutout home loss at the hands of Georgia.

HE SAID IT, THE QUADQUEL
“I’ve been doing this 36 years, and this was the greatest game ever. You tell everyone I said that, tell everyone!” — Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, after watching his defense give up 58 points in a wild three-point win over TCU.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“What was he doing?” — lip-reading Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin after Blake Sims‘ vertical quarterback sneak on fourth-and-one failed, giving the ball back to Arkansas midway through the fourth quarter near midfield. Nick Saban lit into Sims as well as he was coming off the field, after the game labeling it the “ugliest-looking quarterback sneak I’ve ever seen.”

TWEET OF THE DAY
If you wanted to encapsulate the sentiment that one of the greatest rivalries in college football, the Oklahoma-Texas Red River Shootout, was reduced to a mere afterthought in 2014, the must-follow Twitter feed of the Dallas Morning NewsChuck Carlton does the trick in less than 140 characters:

(Seriously, give Chuck a follow HERE, especially if you’re a Big 12 fan)

KICKER TWEET OF THE DAY

That’s West Virginia’s Josh Lambert, booter of the game-winning 55-yard field goal against Texas Tech, referencing Dana Holgorsen‘s assertion earlier this season that the head coach had never spoken to the kicker.

CROWD OF THE DAY
Or lack thereof, as is ofttimes the case at Miami.  Saturday afternoon was no exception as The U’s non-conference home game, at least near the start of the contest, was sparsely attended by Hurricane “fans.”

The scant few who were in attendance were witness to this flying ominously over the stadium.

I don’t know that Al Golden‘s job is in danger, but I do know that some of his assistants, especially his defensive coordinator, should probably be concerned about remaining a part of the Hurricanes beyond 2014.

GOLF SHOT OF THE DAY
Here’s Wisconsin alum and professional golfer Steve Stricker at halftime of his alma mater’s game vs. Illinois, hitting off what appears to be a crappy driving range mat consisting of worn-out Astroturf.

BEER OF THE DAY
The OU-UT game may not have meant as much nationally, but the hatred in the rivalry was just as real and just as visceral as it’s ever been on the alcohol front.

JUXTAPOSITION OF THE DAY
Want startling visual proof of the Kyle Field expansion?

That’s staggering.

CATCH OF THE… EVER?
This was last weekend, but it bears mentioning as it’s astounding and superhuman and un-freaking-believable all rolled into one.

 

That would be Fabian Guerra of Nick Saban‘s old West Virginia stomping grounds Fairmont State making one of the best one-handed catches you’ll ever see.  Just, wow.

STREAKING
Florida State has won a nation’s-best 22 straight games, extending the record for an ACC school by beating up on Syracuse  Saturday. The Seminoles’ last loss came Nov. 24, 2012, a 37-26 home setback to in-state rival Florida.  FSU has won 18 of those games during this current streak by at least 14 points. Of those, 11 wins have come by 30-plus points, with three being by 50-plus points and two by 60-plus. FSU is the only team in the country with a double-digit winning streak, although Mississippi State at nine in a row is closing in.

At the opposite end of the W/L spectrum is Idaho’s 13 straight losses. UMass had lost 12 straight until beating winless Kent State this weekend.

GOING BOWLING
For the first time this season, we had teams reach bowl eligibility.  Six of them, in fact.  Here they are:

Baylor
Florida State
Marshall
Mississippi State
Notre Dame
Ole Miss

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK
With 36 states represented on the Army roster, the Black Knights lead the nation in the stately reach of their squad. Fellow service academy Navy is next at 32. The non-service academy with the most players from different states is Nebraska with 25, followed by Alabama and Syracuse with 24 each.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK II
Prior to the Week 7 game against Toledo (4-2), Iowa State’s first five opponents had a combined 22-3 overall mark, the highest opponent winning percentage (92.0 pct.) in the FBS. The Cyclones have faced three ranked teams (Kansas State, 4-1; Baylor, 5-0; Oklahoma State, 4-1). Iowa (4-1) was receiving votes at kickoff and North Dakota State (5-0) is the No. 1-rated team in FCS and three-time defending national champion. The three losses by Cyclones’ opponents: ISU, No. 1 Florida State, No. 2 Auburn.  After Week 7, ISU’s opponent winning percentage is at 80 percent (24-6).

OFF THE CHARTS
Courtesy of the Air Force sports information department, with GSR standing for “graduation success rate”:

Top NCAA Football GSR Programs

OFF THE CHARTS II
Courtesy of the North Carolina State sports information department, a chart featuring the top dozen teams with the most freshmen currently on their roster:

Most Freshmen

SAY WHAT?
Entering Week 7, the Big Ten featured four of the top six rushers in the nation in average yards per game. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon led all FBS players with 174.2 yards per contest, followed by Indiana’s Tevin Coleman at 168.2 yards per game. Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah ranked fourth with an average of 146.3 yards per outing while Minnesota’s David Cobb was sixth at 144.4 yards per contest.  Two of those surpassed their season averages this weekend — Coleman (219) and Gordon (175) — while one didn’t — Cobb (97).  Abdullah and the Cornhuskers were on a bye.

DULY NOTED
The five youngest head coaches at the FBS level are Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck (33), Toledo’s Matt Campbell (34), Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury (35), Boise State’s Bryan Harsin (37) and USF’s Willie Taggart (38). Fleck, Campbell and Harsin all have birthdays coming up in November.

Penn State v Michigan
Penn State v Michigan

DID YOU KNOW THAT…
… Alabama (77), Boise State (73) and Oregon (72) are the only FBS teams that have won 70-plus games since 2008? LSU is next-closest to that plateau with 66.

… in conference games this season, Pac-12 visiting teams are 14-4?  The only home team of the four league games contested in Week 7 to win was Stanford.

… Michigan hosting Penn State Saturday marked the first-ever Big Ten night game in Michigan Stadium’s 88-year history? It was also the third ever played under the Big House lights, with the other two coming against Notre Dame in 2011 and 2013.  With the win, the Wolverines are now a perfect 3-0 at night in Ann Arbor.

… the 2014 Red River Shootout (screw the PC police) was the 86th consecutive game in the Oklahoma-Texas rivalry played in Dallas? 91 of the 109 games in the rivalry have been played in that city. The last non-Dallas game came in 1923, in Austin.

… Saturday marked the first time since 1989 that both LSU and Florida went into the game unranked?

… No. 5 Baylor’s game against No. 10 TCU was its first Top-10 matchup since the No. 6 Bears’ Cotton Bowl loss to No. 9 Alabama following the 1980 season? It’s the football program’s first in the regular season since 1956 (No. 8 Baylor vs. No. 7 Texas A&M).

… with the last-second loss to West Virginia, Texas Tech is 0-3 in conference play to start a season for the first time since 1990?  The Red Raiders have also lost eight Big 12 games in a row, making the Kliff Kingsbury contract extension on the eve of the 2014 season opener look even more suspect.  Six of those eight losses have been by 10 or more points.

… Minnesota is 5-1 to start a season for the first time since 2008?  They’re also 2-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 2004.

Northwestern v Minnesota
Northwestern v Minnesota

Jerry Kill has six of his former players — H-back/tight ends coach Rob Reeves, offensive grad assistant Trevor Olson, director of player personnel Jeff Jones, defensive quality control coach Melvin Rice and defensive grad assistants Cory Hanson and Mike McElroy — on his Minnesota staff? The loyalty doesn’t extend to only his former players as three other members of his staff — strength & conditioning coach Eric Klein (21). defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys (20) and offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover (16) — have been with Kill for more than 15 years total.

… Alabama and Boston College, with 15 apiece, have the most players currently on their rosters who have already graduated? Cincinnati, Minnesota and Utah State are next with 13 each.

… Marshall is the only team at the FBS level to have scored 40-plus plus in every game this season? The Herd came into the Middle Tennessee State game averaging 47.6 points per game, fourth in the nation behind Baylor (51.0), Cal (50.0) and Texas A&M (47.8).  They scored 49 in the win over MTSU.

… three American Athletic Conference teams (Memphis, USF, Temple) have already matched or exceeded their wins totals from last season?

… among the Group of Five schools, Navy has the most wins over Power Five conferences since 2003 with 20? BYU is second with 17.

Pac-12 responds to football players threatening opt-outs

Pac-12
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The Pac-12 responded Monday to football players who have threaten to opt-out of the season because of concerns related to health and safety, racial injustice and economic rights with a letter touting the conference’s work in those areas and an invitation to meet later this week.

A letter from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, dated Aug. 3, was sent to 12 football players leading the #WeAreUnited movement. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press and first reported by Sports Illustrated.

The players say they have been communicating with more than 400 of their peers throughout the Pac-12. The group released a lengthy list of demands Sunday and said if they are not addressed they will not practice or play. The group said it reached out to the Pac-12 on Sunday to request a meeting. In the letter, Scott said he was eager to discuss their concerns.

“I will come back to you in the coming days following discussion with our members and student-athlete leaders to schedule a call for this week to discuss the matters that you have raised,” Scott wrote.

Also Monday night, Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said in a statemen t he regretted cautioning one of his players about being part of the #WeAreUnited movement. A recording of a conversation between Rolovich and receiver Kassidy Woods obtained by the Dallas Morning News revealed the coach seemingly warning the player that being involved with the group would hurt his standing with the team. Woods had called Rolovich to inform him he was opting out of the season for health reasons related to COVID-19.

“I spoke with Kassidy Woods in a private phone conversation last Saturday afternoon. This was before the #WeAreUnited group had released its letter of concerns,” said Rolovich, who is in his first season was Washington State coach. “Without knowing the concerns of the group, I regret that my words cautioning Kassidy have become construed as opposition. I’m proud of our players and all the Pac-12 student-athletes for using their platform, especially for matters they are passionate about. WSU football student-athletes who have expressed support for the #WeAreUnited group will continue to be welcome to all team-related activities, unless they choose to opt out for health and safety reasons.”

The #WeAreUnited players’ demands focused on four areas: health and safety protections, especially protocols related to COVID-19; guarding against the elimination of sports programs by schools during an economic downturn; ending racial injustice in college sports; and economic freedom and equity.

Scott addressed each area, highlighting the conference’s:

— Medical advisory committee working on COVID-19 protocols and webinars for student-athletes and their parents;

— Support for reforming NCAA rules regarding name, image and likeness compensation for college athletes;

— Recent initiatives to address racial inequities such as the formation of a social justice & anti-racism advisory group that includes student-athletes representatives.

Scott also listed 10 areas in which, he wrote, “The Pac-12 has been a leader in supporting student-athlete health and well-being …” Included were enhanced medical coverage post-eligibility; cost-of-attendance stipends added to the value of scholarship; mental health support; and the Pac-12′s support of reforming NCAA transfer rules to allow athletes more freedom to switch schools.

Pac-12 football teams are scheduled to begin preseason practices Aug. 17 and the league’s conference-only regular season is set to start Sept. 26.

Big 12 to allow teams to play 1 non-conference football game

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Two people involved with the decision say the Big 12 will permit its teams to play one nonconference football game this year to go along with their nine league contests as plans for the pandemic-altered season continued to fall into place.

The people spoke Monday night to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference was still preparing an official announcement.

The Big 12 university presidents signed off on the conference’s scheduling model, which gives schools the ability to play one nonconference game at home. The conference’s championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5, but one of the people told AP that the conference is leaving open the possibility of bumping it back a week or two.

The 10-team Big 12 already plays a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule. Unlike other Power Five conference that have switched to either exclusively (Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) or mostly (ACC) league games this season, the Big 12 could not add more conference games without teams playing each other more than once.

Several Big 12 teams have already started preseason practice, with Kansas and Oklahoma slated to play FCS teams on Aug. 29.

As conferences take steps toward a football season that seems to be in precarious shape, the NCAA is expected to weigh in Tuesday on fall sports other than major-college football.

The association’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet and whether to cancel or postpone NCAA championship events in fall sports such as soccer, volleyball and lower-division football is expected to be a topic.

Only the Pac-12 has a full football schedule with matchups and dates in place among Power Five conferences. The Pac-12 will begin Sept. 26, along with the Southeastern Conference, which is still working on its new 10-game slate.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has opponents set for its 10-game conference schedule and will start the weekend of Sept. 12, but no specific game dates. The ACC has also said it will permit its teams to play one nonconference game.

The Big Ten, first to announce intentions to go conference-only this season, has yet to release a new schedule, but that could come later this week.

Now that the Power Five has declared its intentions the Group of Five conferences can start making plans and filling holes on their schedules.

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has said the AAC could stick with its eight-game conference schedule and let its members plays as many of their four nonconference games as they can salvage or replace.

The Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences are likely to take similar approach.

Early Monday, Texas State from the Sun Belt announced it was moving a nonconference game against SMU up from Sept. 5 to Aug. 29.

Good morning and, in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and good night! CFT, out…

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CFT is no more. At least, when it comes to NBC Sports.

The first of last month, I — this is John Taylor (pictured, catching the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXIII) — began my 12th year with CFT and NBC Sports. This morning, I was informed that my position was being eliminated and I would not be completing that 12th year. Which, of course, meant I wouldn’t be eligible for the traditional 13th-anniversary gift of lace. Which really bummed me out. Because I really like lace.

The jarring phone call was both a slap in the face and a relief. Jarring because, well, it was completely unexpected. Out of the blue, even amidst the pandemic that is wreaking absolute and utter havoc across the country. A relief, on the other hand, because, every single day for the past four months, I woke up wondering if this would be the day I get that call.

Would this be the day? Would this be the day? A question played on an endless loop that just f***s with you mentally, emotionally, physically.

That’s no way to live.

Then again, being job-less is no way to live, either. But, here we are.

So many people I want to thank. First and foremost, Mike Florio and Larry Mazza. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Especially Mr. Mazza on the food front. Hopefully, lunch at Oliverio’s — best damn stuffed shells I have EVER had — can still be a thing, Larry.

And so many people that have worked for me. Not to single anyone out, but I’m going to single one out in Ben Kercheval. Ben, non-biological son of Hoppy, you were and continue to be the man. I appreciate you more than you know.  Rasheed Wallace may indeed be your biological father, but I will forever consider you my illegitimate Internet stepson.

Mike Miller is the best boss anyone could ever ask for.  Hire that man.  You can thank me later.

Kevin McGuire, Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, I will always treasure what we did, together, these last few years. Things were on the uptick, and it’s sad that we won’t be able to see it through. Together.  We should’ve — SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE — been given that opportunity.  And it will forever piss me off that we weren’t.

Brent and Chris and JJ, much love to you all as well.

Shortly after I received the job call of death, I called my dad. Told him what was going on in his son’s life.  After I hung up the phone, he sent me a GIF in a text message a few minutes later.  I’ll link it here to end whatever this is, because it’s appropriate.  And old school.

And, well… bye.

via GIPHY

2018 FCS All-American RB commits to Virginia

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Virginia joined South Carolina over the weekend as Power Five football schools realizing a personnel benefit from a lower-level program’s loss.

Two weeks ago, the Colonial Athletic Association announced that it was canceling its 2020 college football season because of the coronavirus pandemic.  One member of that FCS conference is Towson.  Coincidentally or not, one standout member of the Tigers, Shane Simpson, took to Twitter last week to announce that he has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

On that same social media service Sunday, the running back confirmed that he has committed to the Virginia football team.  Simpson had his transfer to-do list down to Virginia and Texas.

As Simpson was a fifth-year senior in 2019, it appears he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility.  Or, is fairly confident he will receive one.

Simpson would likely be eligible for that sixth season as he missed all but four games of his true freshman season in 2015 because of injury, then missed all but the first three games last season because of a serious knee injury.

In 2018, Simpson earned first-team All-American honors.  He finished second in all of FCS with 171.5 all-purpose yards per game, totaling 2,058 yards on the season.  That same season, the Pennsylvania product was the CAA’s Special Teams Player of the Year and earned three different all-conference honors: first-team at running back, second-team as a kick returner and third-team as a punt returner.

Simpson would be eligible to play immediately in 2020 at the FBS level.