Five years ago today, Nebraska kicked off realignmageddon

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It may be hard to believe, but it was five years ago today Nebraska made the decision to leave the comfortable surroundings of the Big 12 for the Big Ten. A lot has happened in the years since.

Looking back on everything that happened during the realignmageddon (I made that word up, and it fits well in this discussion) phase of college football, it is still crazy to think about how much changed. Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten was just one domino in the process that eventually led to expansion in every conference, the destruction of one in football and the near dismantling of another. It was a crazy time we all lived in, yet here we are to tell the stories of how it all went down.

The Big Ten became a conference with 12 14 members while the Big 12 managed to play with 10. Maryland and Rutgers are now Big Ten members alongside Nebraska.

The Pac-10 was on the verge of becoming the Pac-16, depending on how much you trust some of the reports at the time. But just days after Nebraska joined the Big Ten, Colorado was added to the Pac-10 as the 11th member.

The Big East was a temporary home to three members that never played a single game in the conference; Boise State, San Diego State and TCU. Meanwhile, the conference underwent a complete makeover by becoming the American Athletic Conference after the core of its basketball membership left and took the Big East banner with them.

Texas A&M and Missouri were expected to be nothing in the almighty SEC, but A&M benefitted as Johnny Manziel became a household name and the Tigers reached two straight SEC championship games in short time. It’s even more ironic because Missouri once attempted to take the lead in keeping the Big 12 together and rejected multiple SEC rumors before giving in and accepting their fate.

Florida State and Clemson to the Big 12 never panned out, nor West Virginia to the ACC or SEC. But the Mountaineers did claw their way out of the Big East and to the Big 12. UConn meanwhile, well, at least they have their new rivalry with UCF to look forward to.

We were talking about Congress getting involved with saving the Big 12. Some lawmakers did get involved elsewhere.

The WAC, at least in football, was given an obituary courtesy of their regional neighbors from the Mountain West Conference, which managed to add and hold on to two BCS busters (Boise State and Hawaii — you forgot Hawaii played in a Sugar Bowl, didn’t you?) while losing two others (Utah and TCU). BYU also decided to celebrate its independence as a program as well after being left out of the power conference expansion phases in the west and southwest.

Dan Beebe.

It was a crazy time for college football fans. The realignment era shook the traditional conference molds just about everywhere, tossing geographical ties by the wayside with traditional rivalries in pursuit of increasing television revenue. Many of these moves, quite literally, have paid off as new media deals continue to skyrocket and conference revenue shares continue to increase. Oh, and we got a College Football Playoff out of the whole thing too.

From time to time I will be asked when the next shift in realignment will happen. We may see some subtle changes at times, but the power conferences look to be settled and there is no need for any to expand. That includes the Big 12. But expansion should never be out of the question, and if realignment taught us anything it is simply that anything can happen.

There is always a domino to fall waiting to be lined up.

California JUCO defensive back shot, killed

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Sadly, there’s yet another deadly shooting involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets in the Sacramento area, Sierra College defensive back Chancelor “Chance” Fields-Colbert was shot and killed very early Sunday morning following an incident during what was described as a college sendoff party in Fair Oaks.  Fields-Colbert was shot once inside the residence in which the party was being held and managed to get out of the house before collapsing in an intersection a short distance away.

The sophomore from Fairbanks, Alaska, was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It’s disbelief and shock,” the junior college’s head coach, Benjamin Noonan, told ABC’s Sacramento affiliate. “It’s been a nightmare these last 48 hours and the kids are, you know, pulling it together and just want to be around each other.”

As a freshman this past season, Fields-Colbert played in five games for the Wolverines.

Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton headlines Outland Trophy watch list

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With eight semifinalists from a year ago gone, the Outland Trophy’s 2019 preseason watch list takes on a decidedly fresh look this go ’round.

Headlining the 83-player group of the nation’s top interior linemen is Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton, who is the only Football Writers Association of American All-American from a season ago on this year’s watch list.  Throckmorton is one of 12 players from the Pac-12 listed, which is tied for third among all conferences with the Big 12; with 13 apiece, the Big Ten and SEC lead all leagues.

The ACC’s 10 is the fewest among Power Five conferences, while Group of Five leagues are paced by the AAC’s six.  All 10 FBS conferences are represented, including the Mountain West (four), Conference USA (three), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (three).  Independents account for four as well.

Throckmorton is one of four linemen from Oregon, tied with Michigan for the most of any single school.  Georgia has three, while another 15 schools have two each.

A total of 32 offensive tackles are on the watch list, the most for any single position.  That group is followed by 19 defensive tackles, 18 offensive guards and 14 centers.

Temple confirms changes to Rod Carey’s coaching staff

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Less than two weeks before training camp kicks off, Rod Carey has (again) finalized his first Temple coaching staff.

Earlier this month, it was reported that longtime Temple assistant and the program’s current special teams coordinator Ed Foley would be leaving the school and reuniting with Matt Rhule at Baylor.  Monday, the Owls confirmed that Carey has promoted Tyler Yelk to outside linebackers coach.  Yelk was a part of Carey’s Northern Illinois football staff this past season.

Additionally, it was announced by the football program that Brett Diersen has been hired as associate special teams coordinator.  Diersen spent the 2018 season as the defensive line coach at SMU.

This will mark the third time Diersen and Carey have worked together, first at Wisconsin-Stout in 2000 and then again at Northern Illinois from 2013-17.

“Tyler is an excellent young coach and we promoted him to add balance to the coaching staff,” said Carey in a statement, making reference to the fact that there are now six full-time coaches with an offensive background and five on defense. “We are very fortunate to get a coach of Brett’s caliber in the role of special teams coordinator. I’ve known him for 20 years and am excited that he and his family can join us at Temple.”

Nearly 100 defensive players land on Nagurski Trophy watch list

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Of all the watch lists released thus far this month, this one’s the biggest — literally.

Via the Football Writers Association of America, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Tuesday released its preseason list of players to watch, with a whopping 97 individuals making the award’s initial cut.  All 10 FBS conferences are represented, as are 65 individual schools.

One first-team FWAA All-American (LSU safety Grant Delpit) made the initial watch list for the award given annually to the best defensive player in college football, while a trio of second-teamers from a year ago (Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall, Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes, Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo) made the cut as well.

Conference-wise, the SEC has the most with 18, followed the other four Power Five leagues in the Big Ten (15), ACC (12), Pac-12 (12) and Big 12 (11). The AAC led all Group of Five conferences with six, followed by Conference USA (four), Mountain West (four), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (two).  Football independents accounted for five of the watch listers.

With four, Alabama led all individual schools. Iowa State, LSU, Notre Dame and Penn State placed three each, with another 16 schools placing two apiece on the list.

As for the positional breakdown, there are 36 linebackers, 28 backs, 21 ends and seven tackles.