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Rice confirms David Bailiff will return as Owls’ head coach

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As the coaching carousel continues to spin, there’s one Conference USA head coach we know of who officially won’t get caught up in its wake.

With reports surfacing Tuesday morning, Rice confirmed in a press release very early this afternoon that David Bailiff will return for his 11th season in 2017 coming off a three-win 2016 season.  Speculation had been growing in the midst of what would be the football program’s second consecutive losing season that Bailiff’s job could be in jeopardy.

While athletic director Joe Karlgaard confirmed Bailiff’s return, his statement also made it clear that not going bowling is wholly unacceptable and intimated that a repeat next season could lead to a change in leadership.

Below is Karlgaard’s statement, in its entirety:

Yesterday, Coach Bailiff and I met to review the 2016 season and to discuss the state of the Rice football program. While we are all disappointed with the results, there is a plan to turn things around under his leadership next season and I have made the expectations for 2017 very clear to Coach.

After two straight seasons without a winning record, we need to acknowledge that we are not meeting an acceptable competitive standard for this university. Our ambitions remain very high. We expect to be competitive in every game and to compete for conference championships. When nearly two-thirds of college football programs participate in bowl games every year—including slots for half of Conference USA members—bowl games should be a regular part of our seasons.

Our season-ending meeting yesterday gives me hope that Coach Bailiff can meet these expectations next year. He is prepared to make substantial changes to the football program to ensure our student-athletes are put in the best position possible to be successful on the field. We will work together to carefully implement those changes.

David, his staff, and his student-athletes have consistently represented Rice in a first-class manner throughout his ten seasons as our head coach. Together, we have accomplished much competitively as well, including four bowl appearances and a conference championship. It is also important to acknowledge that, despite our disappointments this season, our team did not quit. That’s a great testament to David’s leadership.

I am asking that all Owls fans continue to support our program and to believe that we will get back to our winning ways in 2017.

In 10 seasons with the Owls, Bailiff has compiled a 56-69 record.  Bailiff owns a pair of 10-win seasons at the school (2008, 2013), and won a conference championship in the latter season.

His 56 wins are second in school history behind Jess Neely‘s 144 from 1940-66.

The Owls had gone to three consecutive bowl games prior to going 5-7 and 3-9 the past two seasons.

“No one is more disappointed in the 2016 season’s results than me and I am resolved to do whatever is necessary to have success once again,” the coach said in his statement. “While many factors have contributed to our performance these past two seasons, I am focused on my responsibility as our head football coach. I am working with Joe on implementing the changes we need to be successful while also preserving the terrific attitude of our players who fought through a difficult season this year.

“I am excited to move forward and grateful for the support of our fans and this university.”

UNLV bringing all-you-can-eat ticket packages to college football

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It’s a tremendous challenge getting fans to come out to the stadium these days. When (nearly) every game is on TV, why go to the stadium when you have to miss out on the six other games on TV plus you have to deal with spotty in-stadium plus having to fight through traffic and parking and obnoxious fans to your left and right — and, oh yeah, you still have to pay for your tickets and concessions on top of all that.

UNLV has now eliminated one of those objections.

Borrowing a page from baseball, the Rebels have introduced an all-you-can-eat ticket package. For just $79, fans get tickets to UNLV’s games against UTEP (Sept. 8), Fresno State (Nov. 3) and Nevada (Nov. 24) while gaining access to all the hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and soft drinks they can stomach.

“It’s a great way for your family to enjoy first-class entertainment and create a memory for an affordable price,” UNLV athletics director Desiree Reed-Francois told the Las Vegas Sun.

Season ticket holders will also have the option of adding the all-you-can-eat option for $30 a ticket — which works out to $5 per ticket per game.

The move feels more like a promotion that will keep on-the-fence ticket buyers in the stadium rather than brining new people out, but Reed-Francois is determined to increase attendance as UNLV plays its penultimate season in the 47-year-old Sam Boyd Stadium. The Rebels drew 17,449 fans per game to the 35,000-seat stadium.

“I’m told all of the time that this isn’t a football town,” she said. “We’ll flip that (opinion). There’s an opportunity for football in this town.”

Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook wins Manning Passing Academy throwing competition

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It won’t affect the scoreboard one whit come September, but Wisconsin got a nice little victory on Saturday.

The annual Manning Passing Academy came to a close on Saturday with the Air It Out competition among the camp’s counselors, which was comprised of a who’s who of returning college quarterbacks. Among a group that included Penn State’s Trace McSorley, Missouri’s Drew Lock, UCF’s McKenzie Milton, Washington’s Jake Browning, Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Alabama’s Jalen Hurts and others, Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook was the only player able to hit the golf cart streaking down the right sideline.

Hornibrook, a rising junior, completed 198-of-318 passes (62.3 percent) for 2,644 yards (8.3 per attempt) with 25 touchdowns against 15 interceptions, good for a 148.61 efficiency rating, which rated 24th nationally. He led the Badgers to a 13-1 record, a Big Ten West championship, an Orange Bowl victory over Miami and a No. 7 final ranking in the AP poll.

LSU graduate transfer CB Terrence Alexander set to join team Monday

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LSU graduate transfer cornerback Terrence Alexander is set to get his purple-and-yellow stripes on Monday, according to Nola.com.

Alexander announced his intention to graduate transfer from Stanford to LSU in the spring, but the thing about graduate transfers is that you have to graduate before you can play. Alexander earned his degree from Stanford last Sunday, clearing him to play for LSU this fall. (Stanford operates on the quarters system, pushing its graduation ceremonies a month later than schools that follow the semester system.)

A New Orlean native, Alexander played in only one game in 2017 after suffering a season-ending injury in the opener against Rice. He appeared in 13 games as a reserve in 2016.

He figures to compete for the open cornerback spot opposite All-America candidate Greedy Williams against sophomores Kary VincentJontre Kirklin and Mannie Netherly. Kristian Fulton would be included in that group, but he remains suspended by the NCAA.

Father of USC freshman WR dubbed the ‘Lavar Ball of college football’

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The basketball world got to know LaVar Ball quite well the last few years. If there is a college football of that on the horizon, the LA Times seems to think they found him.

John Brown, the father of USC Class of 2018 wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, has drawn comparisons to LaVar Ball for a variety of reasons that include the demand and vision for excellence in professional sports for his son. St. Brown was a five-star recruit for the Trojans in the most recent recruiting cycle, according to his Rivals profile. He was also ranked as the top recruit in the state of California and the top wide receiver in the nation. That alone brings reason to expect big results for St. Brown at USC.

The genes are certainly running in the family. John Brown is a former championship body builder. St. Brown’s oldest brother is former Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown. Osiris St. Brown, the middle son in the family, will be a redshirt freshman this fall at Stanford. With so much talent in the family, John Brown may be tapping into his inner Lavar Ball by suggesting Amon-ra could play in the NFL right now.

This is, of course, a ridiculous thought considering that even the most talented college freshman still have a long way to go to be ready to compete at the high level the NFL demands. But where Brown differs from Ball is he expects his sons to have to earn any accolades that may come their way.

“I’m going to request [USC head coach Clay Helton] put his butt at the bottom of the charts and see what he’s made of,” John said in a featured story published by the LA Times this week. “Make him fight. Sharpen the knife.”

John even goes so far to suggest Amon-ra has his eyes on making some unprecedented (and likely impossible) college football history.

“He’s serious about everything,” John says.

Ask Amon-ra what his goals are for his first year with the Trojans. With an unblinking, straight stare he will tell you, “I want to win the Heisman. All three years.”

All three years, eh? Putting aside the prediction that Brown is already predicting his son is jumping to the NFL after his junior season (an idea that is not at all far-fetched if St. Brown plays out the way recruiting experts and USC expect he will), we have to smile at the historic bar Brown is setting for his son.

Only one player has ever won the Heisman Trophy twice (Ohio State’s Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975). It is also worth noting the last wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy was Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991. Tim Brown of Notre Dame (1987) and Johnny Rodgers of Nebraska (1972) are the only other receivers to win the award since the Heisman Trophy was first presented in 1935. This may not go down in the history books alongside Beano Cook predicting two Heisman Trophy awards for former Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus (which never came close to happening, of course), but that does set the bar high for Amon-ra’s personal goals.

Brown may lay the foundation for athletic success for his sons, but fortunately for the college football world, he seems to be far more tolerable than LaVar Ball.