Big 12 announces return of title game, 20-percent increase in revenue payouts

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For those members of the Big 12 who are fans of title games and money, Friday was a very good day.

In the biggest news of the afternoon, commissioner Bob Bowlsby revealed that the conference has approved a measure that will allow for the implementation — or re-implementation, as the case may be — of a league championship game in football.  The return of the Big 12 title game will come at the end of the 2017 regular season, although details, such as location, are still up in the air.

In perhaps the most surprising news coming out of this particular development, the vote to reinstate the title game was unanimous.

The first-ever Big 12 title game in football coincided with the league’s first season in 1996.  It was played every year through the 2010 season, when conference expansion — the league lost Colorado and Nebraska prior to the 2011 season — and NCAA rules forced the Big 12 to abandon the game.  In January of this year, the Big 12 won approval to stage a championship game without 12 members as previously required by the NCAA.

The Big 12 will continue on with its round-robin schedule — every team playing the other nine schools every season — as required by the new rule.  On twist, however, is that, per Bowlsby, the Big 12 will likely split into two, five-team divisions; how those divisions will be split is to be determined.

And now we come to the money portion of the program, as it relates to this topic specifically and revenue in general.

That financial windfall is on top of the $30.4 million in revenue distribution each member institution received for the previous year, Bowlsby announced Friday. That’s up 20 percent from a year ago, and third among Power Five conferences behind only the SEC and Big 10.  It also doesn’t include third-tier media rights (Texas makes $15 million from that category, Oklahoma $6 million).

There won’t, however, be an additional revenue stream for conference membership as a whole as Bowlsby also confirmed that the conference has scrapped its plans for a league-wide television network. “Not the time for us to consider [a network],” the commissioner stated, with Oklahoma president David Boren saying the idea is effectively dead..

One final note: the conference’s board has authorized the Big 12 staff to work with consultants on “conference composition” — i.e. expansion.  Earlier this month, Bowlsby stated that he hoped the expansion issue would be resolved, one way or the other, before the end of summer.

It still appears unlikely that the Big 12 will add two additional members — Texas is believed to be staunchly against expansion — but it’s a situation that will bear monitoring throughout the next couple of months.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.