Houston’s board chair wants to bully, threaten way into Big 12

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The Big 12 has made it abundantly clear that, at least for the moment, the conference is very comfortable with 10 members and has no desire to expand beyond that number.

It’s well-known that Houston, meanwhile, craves a spot at the Power Five table.  An overtures made by UH at the conference have been rebuffed thus far, with the league going so far as to state that, if they were to expand, they’d look east instead of west in deference to West Virginia.

At least one very powerful person at UH wants to change the conference’s mindset, and wants to do it the way most powerful Texans know how: bully and/or threaten their way into achieving their goals.  Or, more specifically, have a very powerful entity bully its way for you.

In a meeting with the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle, Tilman Fertitta, chairman of UH’s Board of Regents, suggested that the Texas state legislature should pressure and/or threaten the Big 12 into giving UH a spot in the conference.  And by suggested I mean he just flat-out said it.

“Put pressure on the presidents; say, ‘If you don’t do this, we’re not going to fund you for this,'” Fertitta said of the state legislature’s role in meeting his goal. “It’s just the way it is. That’s the way to do it. …

“Be a big boy, step up and put this school that has almost 50,000 students and is so high-profile, has so many of the top schools in the United States, it’s a tier one university — we belong in the Big 12. We’re a big, major school with an unbelievable history in athletics and academia.”

Another very powerful individual at UH, however, seemed to distance herself from the board chair’s tack.

“I don’t want to go there on that issue,” Renu Khator, UH president and chancellor of the UH system, said at the same meeting.

Aside from what essentially amounts to idle threats, why the Big 12 would consider UH, currently a member of the AAC, is unclear.

The Big 12 already has Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech and, more importantly from a state-wide stance, the University of Texas as part of its membership, and therefore have the state locked down when it comes to television markets. Could Houston, the fourth-largest television market in the country, add to conference’s financial bottom line? Possibly, but not likely enough to offset splitting the financial pie 12 ways — adding UH would mean adding a 12th member — instead of the current 10.

The only way the Big 12 will expand is if it makes financial sense for all 10 of its current members. In the here and now, adding Houston makes no financial sense; in fact, adding markets such as Cincinnati or Memphis or UCF (Orlando) would make eminently more fiscal sense than adding another school from a market you already have covered.

Add in the Big 12 not wanting any more recruiting competition for the talent-rich area in and around Houston, and, good luck on this crusade, Mr. Fertitta.

2017 starting LT Josh Ball, suspended after being accused of dating violence, won’t return to Florida State

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It appears Josh Ball‘s playing career at Florida State has come to an end.

In November of last year, reports surfaced that Sandra Sellers, an FSU student who dated Seminoles football player Josh Ball for a year and a half, had accused the offensive lineman of dating violence, including allegations that he physically attacked her on at least three occasions.  In mid-May, in connection to those allegations, Ball was suspended by the university after a ruling by the school’s judicial panel and led him to play at the junior college level in 2018.

While there was speculation earlier this month that Ball would attempt to rejoin the Seminoles football team, the lineman posted on Twitter Thursday evening that his time in Tallahassee is over.  Ball did, though, state that he is leaving the university “in good standing.”

“I have made the determination to stay closer to family and not return to Florida State even though I have been cleared and [am] in good standing to do so by the Florida State administration,” Ball wrote.

Ball started the last nine games of the 2017 season at left tackle for the Seminoles.  Exiting spring practice this year, and with last year’s starter Rick Leonard no longer around due to expired eligibility, the redshirt sophomore was penciled in as FSU’s starting right tackle.

A Fredericksburg, Va., native, the 6-8, 335-pound Ball spent the 2018 football season at a Kansas junior college.

Minnesota again extends P.J. Fleck’s contract

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In November of last year, not even all the way through his first season with the Golden Gophers, P.J. Fleck was given a contract extension.  A year and a month later, it’s lather, rinse and repeat on the contractual front.

Early Friday afternoon, Minnesota announced that the university and its head football coach had agreed to another contract extension.  The extended deal was formally approved by the university’s Board of Regents earlier in the day.

With the tweaked contract, Fleck, whose original five-year contract was agreed to in January of 2017, is now signed through the 2023 season and on into 2024.  Fleck made $3.35 million in 2018; there was no word on what if any financial adjustments were included in the extension.

“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead this team and represent the University of Minnesota and our great state,” a statement from Fleck began. “Our family loves living in Minnesota, and I look forward to leading our football program into the future. Through the academic, athletic, social and spiritual development of our student-athletes, and through recruiting, we are building a championship culture that our fans can be proud of.

“Heather and I are so thankful to our staff, [athletic director] Mark Coyle, President Kaler and the Board of Regents for seeing the vision we have for our football program. We are so excited and humbled with the contract extension!”

Taking over a program that won nine games in 2016, Fleck has guided the Gophers to records of 5-7 and 6-6 his first two seasons at the school.  This year, Minnesota beat rival Wisconsin for the first time since 2003 and, in the process, became bowl-eligible for the first time under Fleck.

Pitt mourns death of College Football Hall of Famer Bill Fralic

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The extended Pitt football family is mourning the loss of one of the greatest Panthers ever.

Following a battle with cancer, Bill Fralic passed away Thursday, the football program announced in a press release Friday.  The former Pitt All-American was 56 years old.

“Bill is truly one of the iconic figures in the history of Pitt Athletics,” athletic director Heather Lyke said in a statement. “He set a tremendous standard for our current generation of student-athletes, not only as an athlete but also for what he went on to accomplish once his playing days concluded. Bill’s reputation for giving back might even transcend his Hall of Fame football career. He was a passionate supporter of Pitt and Penn Hills. Our deepest sympathies to his wife, Susan, and his many loved ones and friends.

Fralic, whose No. 79 jersey was retired more than three decades ago, was a three-time first-team All-American at Pitt, earning unanimous honors his last two seasons with the Panthers.  Twice Fralic finished in the Top 10 of the Heisman Trophy voting, the first-ever offensive lineman to do so.

Fralic’s prowess on the gridiron also led to a word that’s still a part of the football lexicon.

Fralic’s collegiate career led to the phrase “Pancake Block” being added to the football lexicon. Pitt publicists used “Pancakes” as a statistical barometer for each time Fralic put an opposing defensive lineman on his back.

The passing of Fralic comes less than a week after he paid for the hotel rooms for all of the players and coaches at Penn Hills High School, his alma mater which played for the PIAA Class 5A championship last Friday night.

Dismissed UAB RB Kingston Davis arrested for domestic violence

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Kingston Davis‘ downward spiral has hit yet another new low.

According to al.com, Davis was arrested Thursday morning on one count of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation in connection to a late-September incident while he was still a member of the UAB football program.  Details of what led to the arrest and charge have not yet been released.

The arrest comes nearly three weeks after a tweet surfaced that contained videos allegedly showing “Davis brandishing a gun in one video and threatening violence in another.” That tweet has since been deleted.

Around that same time, Davis’s name had been removed from UAB’s online roster.  In late September, Davis was indefinitely suspended from the Blazers football team for what was described as an unspecified student-conduct issue.

In three games this season prior to the original suspension, Davis rushed for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 22 carries. The two rushing touchdowns were tied for the team lead at the time.

In mid-December of last year, Davis announced that he would be transferring from a Kansas junior college — hello “Last Chance U” — to UAB after being dismissed by the JUCO.  In March of that same year, Davis had decided to transfer from Michigan.

A three-star member of the Wolverines’ 2016 recruiting class, Davis was rated as the No. 1 fullback in the country. As a true freshman in Ann Arbor, the 6-1, 245-pound back carried the ball twice for 17 yards.