Mike Aresco still stumping for AAC in Power 5 conversation

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American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco was dealt a bad hand when he took on the job and responsibilities as commissioner of the conference, but he is doing what every good conference commissioner does and continues to stump for the best possible situation. For Aresco, the battle is to have the American Athletic Conference thought of in the same regard as the power conference members — ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — instead of the Group of Five. It is a fight he is not going to be waving a white flag in anytime soon it seems.

We saw it last November when the conference committed to full cost of attendance. It has been a  theme of recent media day events for the conference. It is not going away as long as Aresco is in charge. He may never see this fight end with the AAC being given the same treatment as its power conference brethren, but gosh darn it he wants to see it happen.

“We want to be in that conversation and eventually we want to be viewed as one of the autonomy conferences, that’s our ultimate goal,” Aresco told the Orlando Sentinel last week. “But in the meantime, in order down the road to negotiate a better TV deal to provide more value, we need to not only win games — and I think we’re on the cusp of having some pretty good seasons — but I think we want to, we absolutely need to be in that conversation.”

The American Athletic Conference’s current media deals do not expire for another few years, but Aresco would prefer to get a jump on the talks earlier if he can. The conference’s seven-year $130 million deal with ESPN expires at the end fo the 2019-2020 seasons. ESPN may have a few reasons to refrain from making any financial commitment just yet, especially with Conference USA, BYU and the Big Ten media deals due to expire before the AAC comes up. The Mountain West Conference’s deal with ESPN also expires at the same time. But at least Aresco is thinking long-term. That’s his job.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting your conference to be playing on the same playing field as the Big Ten or SEC or ACC. In fact, you probably would not want a commissioner in charge that did not have that vision for your conference. If the American is ever going to get there though, it needs to take steps in that direction. Right now, the American has more to prove when stacked up against a conference like the Mountain West Conference. Of the Group of Five conferences, the MWC appears to be the most stable at the moment, although the American may be in a firm second place ahead of the MAC, Conference USA and the Sun Belt Conference.

So what does the American have that other conferences do not? It has better TV markets and more programs with legs to run if all goes well. Programs like Cincinnati and UCF and Houston should be in the running for Group of Five autobids fairly regularly along with Boise State of the MWC. The addition of Navy brings a bid of national prestige to the conference as well. But the conference has a long way to go before even sniffing the power conference table.

Nebraska WR Darien Chase transferring to Portland State

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One of the baker’s dozen scholarship players who have left Nebraska has found a new college football home.  Unofficially.

Citing struggles with mental health and depression, Darien Chase entered the NCAA transfer database in mid-February.  That was the first step in leaving the Nebraska football program.

On Twitter this week, the wide receiver took the next step.  By committing to FCS Portland State.

“First I would like to thank God for getting me through these difficult times,” Chase wrote, ” and my family’s amazing support while being home.  I’ve chosen to stay off social media when it came to my recruiting process so I could make a clear decision on my next steps and commit to the school that makes the most sense for me.

“Thank you to all the universities who gave me the opportunity to play at their program.  I’ll forever be grateful.

“With that being said I’m proud to announce that I will be staying home and attending… Portland State University.”

Chase was a three-star 2019 signee. He was the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Washington.

Prior to committing to, then signing with Nebraska football, Chase had received scholarship offers from, among others, Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah and Boise State. He took official visits to the latter two schools.

As a true freshman, Chase played in four games for the Cornhuskers. That will allow him to take a redshirt for the 2019 season.

In that limited action, Chase caught one pass for 13 yards.

In statement, Nick Saban ‘shocked, angered by tragic deaths of George Floyd,’ others

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Nick Saban has one of the most powerful voices in college football.  Some would argue the most powerful voice.  Sunday, he’s using that voice as the nation careens deeper into crisis.

In the aftermath of the despicable, abhorrent, unconscionable murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, at the knee of a white police officer, myriad FBS head coaches have spoken out and spoken up.  In fact, nearly six dozen of them have done so as of this posting.

Sunday evening, Nick Saban added his voice to the burgeoning call for change.  Below is the Alabama head football coach’s statement, in its entirety:

I am shocked and angered by the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. We’re at an important moment in out country, and now is the time for us to choose kindness, tolerance, understanding, empathy, and most importantly … it’s time to love each other.  Every life is precious, and we must understand we have so many more things that unite us than divide us.

I’ve always been inspired and encouraged by examples set by those who came before us like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and so many others who devoted their lives to find peaceful ways to rid our society of social inequities. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We are all part of this and we must banish these types of injustices in not just our country, but our world. The ultimate future of our nation is in our hands, and like the teams I’ve been privileged to coach, we must depend on and respect each other no matter our differences. We must come together as a society and treat one another with respect and dignity.

Wisconsin RB Bradrick Shaw to transfer to Cal

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Cal football is the latest to benefit from a Power Five-to-Power Five transfer.

Bradrick Shaw announced in January that he had been granted a sixth season of eligibility.  Instead of using that added year at Wisconsin, however, the running back opted to enter the NCAA transfer database.

Four months later, Shaw revealed on Twitter that he will be transferring into the Cal football program.

Suffice to say, Shaw will be eligible to play for the Bears in 2020.  Just as obviously, this will be his final season of eligibility.

One final academic postscript: Shaw earned two degrees from the University of Wisconsin.  As for athletically?

Shaw came to the Wisconsin Badgers football team as a three-star 2015 signee.  He was rated as the No. 16 player regardless of position in the state of Alabama.  The back took a redshirt as a true freshman, then missed the entire 2018 season because of a knee injury.  All of that helped lead to the sixth season.

In 2016, Shaw was third on the Badgers in rushing with 457 yards and tied for second in rushing touchdowns with five.  The following season, his 365 yards and four scores were both second behind Jonathan Taylor‘s 1,977 and 13 as a true freshman.

Coming off the knee injury, Shaw ran for 116 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in 2019.  All told, Shaw carried the ball 202 times for 938 yards and 10 touchdowns during his time with the Badgers.

Shaw’s initial social-media announcement came exactly three weeks after Taylor confirmed he will be leaving UW early for the 2020 NFL Draft.  With the departures of Taylor and Shaw, the Badgers’ leading returning rushers in 2020 will be freshman Nakia Watson (331 yards) and junior Garrett Groshek (194).  UW also has a commitment from four-star 2020 running back Jalen Berger.

Tennessee RB Tim Jordan arrested on multiple charges in Florida, including a felony firearm count

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A Tennessee football player would be the latest to trigger a reset of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.  If it were still a thing, of course.

Multiple media outlets reported overnight that Tim Jordan was arrested Saturday on multiple charges.  The Vols running back is facing one count each of carrying a concealed firearm, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.  The firearm charge is a third-degree felony.  The other two are misdemeanors.

According to the Knoxville News, the Tennessee football player was seen speeding and swerving into the bicycle lane.  From the News:

The officers stopped the vehicle and reported smelling “a strong odor of cannabis emanating from inside.” Jordan, 20, was behind the wheel, and a 17-year-old male was in the passenger seat. Both seemed “extremely nervous,” the warrant reads.

Jordan told the officers he was carrying a gun in his back pocket without a concealed carry permit, according to the warrant. The handgun, a Ruger LCP pistol, was found in his back pocket, loaded and unholstered.

Inside the vehicle the detectives reported finding a small bag containing about 9.25 grams of marijuana, as well as a scale and several small plastic bags.

Thus far, the Tennessee football program has not commented on the development.

Jordan was a four-star member of the Class of 2017 for the Volunteers.

The past three seasons, Jordan has appeared in 36 of UT’s 37 games.  This past season, Jordan’s 428 yards were third on the Vols.  The year before, he was second on the team with 522 yards on the ground.

All told, Jordan has rushed for 1002 yards and four touchdowns during his time in Knoxville.  The Florida native has also added 26 receptions for another 227 yards coming out of the backfield.