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Big 12 reportedly discussed a possible scheduling agreement with Pac-12, ACC and SEC

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With concerns about overall strength of schedule reaching new heights, the only two conferences to be left out of the College Football Playoff in the past three years have reportedly explored the idea of injecting a little juice into the overall conference strength of schedule with a conference vs. conference concept. The Big 12 and Pac-12 reportedly discussed the possibility of working together, according to a report from Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com. But don’t expect anything more to happen with those future schedules any time soon.

The discussions took place in an exploratory stage over the summer as the Big 12 was weighing future options for conference stability, including expansion. Unfortunately, that was about as far as the idea got as the Big 12 continued to follow through on its plan to add a conference championship game in 2017 and put any expansion plans on ice. For whatever reason or reasons, a deal with the Pac-12 could not gain any momentum and the talks essentially ended there. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby also said in the report the Big 12 had similar discussions with the ACC and SEC.

A few years back, before conference expansion really hit its stride, the Big Ten and Pac-12 worked out an arrangement that would see the two conferences schedule a conference vs. conference slate of games involving every member of the conference. It was a brilliant idea at the time, feeding off similar concepts employed in college basketball, but the Pac-12 ultimately backed out of the arrangement due to increasing concerns about adding this type of deal on top of a nine-game conference schedule (the Big Ten, with 12 teams at the time, had not yet committed to a nine-game conference schedule). With the Pac-12 backing out, the deal was done and there had been no talk about such a scheduling arrangement by the Big Ten or Pac-12 until now (that we are aware of).

It is a shame such a deal could not have been worked out, because it would seemingly solve a possible problem the Big 12 and Pac-12 each have compared to the stature of the ACC, Big Ten and SEC. Like the ACC, Big Ten and SEC, all Big 12 schools are required to schedule at least one game per year against another power conference opponent. Of course, having a deal in place with the Pac-12 would automatically satisfy such a requirement for Big 12 schools. The problem, albeit minor, is the conferences do not have even membership, which means there would be two Pac-12 schools left out of the fun each season.

It is good to know the Big 12 continues to explore such an idea, although knowing the Big 12 and witnessing how long it takes this conference to move on anything tells us it will be a long time before anything comes out of it. If any conference could benefit from a scheduling agreement with another conference, it might be the Big 12. The conference has missed out on the College Football Playoff twice, including this past season, in part because of the overall perception of the conference compared to its peers. One loss was enough to help keep the Big 12 co-champions TCU and Baylor from the playoff three years ago and two losses prevented even a red-hot Big 12 champion Oklahoma from surging into the playoff mix. A solid bowl season helps, but improving the strength of schedule as a conference is key to adding an extra ingredient to combat criticism of the conference. If the big 12 does work out an agreement in the future, will other conferences respond?

The ACC and Big Ten have a terrific basketball series that would also make for a fantastic football series as well if one were to be created, for example. Basically, the bottom line is the bottom line. If it makes fiscal sense for power conferences to arrange a full conference vs. conference scheduling agreement, then it will come together. It is hard to argue there would be no interest in a series from a fan standpoint, and network partners and advertisers would jump at the opportunity to get in on more attractive games.

Let’s make this happen, college football overlords.

Vanderbilt transfer DL Rutger Reitmaier receives all-clear from NCAA

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Vanderbilt got some good news Wednesday when the NCAA approved transfer Rutger Reitmaier to compete this fall.

The Nashville native signed with Oregon out of high school in 2017 but did not compete for the Ducks. He left the team after spring practice, sat out the 2017 season and enrolled at Vanderbilt in January.

“Adding Rutger to our roster is huge,” head coach Derek Mason told Vanderbilt’s official site. “He adds depth, athleticism and will be a key piece for us. I’m excited about what an impactful player he is, and it’s great to add another quality player from Nashville.”

A 4-star recruit, Reitmaier was recruited by the likes of Tennessee, Ole Miss and South Carolina, but favored Vanderbilt when leaving Oregon.

“Vanderbilt was the first school I considered after deciding to leave Oregon,” he said. “It was one of my top-three schools during my initial recruitment in high school. Defense wins championships, so having a head coach like Coach Mason with that background was attractive for me. I’m excited to get going.”

 

Northwestern announces slew of schedule changes, including future home-and-homes with Tulane and Rice

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Northwestern claims they have the best home schedule in the country for the upcoming 2018 season and they have a pretty good case with Duke, Akron, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Notre Dame all coming to Ryan Field. Based on the latest moves on their future schedules however, that good run of big names doesn’t quite continue.

The school announced a slew of new games in the coming years on Wednesday, including a pair of home-and-homes with AAC and CUSA opponents. First up is a date with Tulane in Evanston on Sept. 12, 2020, followed by a return game in New Orleans on Aug. 30, 2025. As a result of that first game against the Green Wave, the Wildcats had to move their previously scheduled contest against Central Michigan from Sept. 12 to Sept. 19 in 2020 (also at home).

Another school in the South was also added to the NU docket with a second home-and-home series with Rice way out in the future. The pair will play in Houston on Sept. 8, 2029, while the return game at Ryan Field is set for Sept. 6… 2031. Yeah, 2031. The two teams will also meet in 2024 and 2025.

A single home game against FCS power South Dakota State was also announced by Northwestern and will be played on Sept. 12, 2026.

The moves mean the Wildcats’ non-conference slate is pretty much set in 2019 (at Stanford, vs. UNLV and UMass), 2022 (vs. Duke, Miami (OH) and Southern Illinois) and 2024 (vs. Duke, Miami (OH) and Rice). The games announced Wednesday fill in some of the holes left in other years but outside of the trip to the Farm next season and a home-and-home with Colorado in 2026/27, there’s not a ton to write home about.

At least Northwestern will always have that 2018 home schedule to point to.

NCAA data shows number of graduate transfers in football nearly doubled last year

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The biggest issue the NCAA is tackling at the moment is an easy one to pick out: transfers. Coaches have chimed in about potential changes and new rules have been enacted but even as we approach the Media Days portion of the calendar next month, transfer talk has been one of the hot topics across all major sports at the collegiate level.

Perhaps that interest is one reason why the NCAA released a new study this week looking into the numbers of one particular category of players: graduate transfers. While the number of actual graduate transfers remains relatively low (about 1% of the total number of student-athletes), the number itself continues to skyrocket year-by-year as more and more players take advantage of rules that allow them to graduate and play immediately at their next school.

According to the NCAA, that number of grad transfers is five times bigger in 2017 than it was in 2011 for men’s sports alone and football in particular saw the number of players moving around nearly double from 117 total in 2016 to 211 the following season. The rates are higher in men’s basketball but the overall number is naturally much bigger in football given the vastly bigger roster size.

Data for 2018 was naturally not made available since we’re just in the middle of the year but a similar increase wouldn’t be too surprising to see given the number of big names that have made headlines prior to the upcoming season. That includes players like Michigan’s Wilton Speight (to UCLA), Cal’s Tre Watson (to Texas), Notre Dame’s Jay Hayes (to Georgia) and Alabama’s Brandon Kennedy (to Tennessee) all among those taking the grad transfer route. It seems like nearly every week we see one or two players announce their intentions to take a similar path.

While we might not have 400+ players listed as graduate transfers in football when 2018 comes to a close, it certainly doesn’t appear that this trend will be slowing down anytime soon and the coaches that are complaining about this brand of “free agency” in college football will just have to get used to the new reality of player movement in light of a number of new NCAA reforms on the subject.

Notre Dame LB David Adams stepping away from football for medical reasons

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Tough news out of South Bend this week as redshirt freshman linebacker David Adams is leaving the Notre Dame football program as a player to take a medical exception. He tweeted a lengthy statement discussing the departure on his Twitter account Tuesday night:

The Pittsburgh native was a former three-star recruit coming out of high school and was an Under Armour All-American. He redshirted during his first year with the team in 2017 but will sadly not suit up for the team going forward.

The list of injuries Adams tweeted about shows why this isn’t super surprising news given that he had suffered, among other things, concussions, a torn left labrum, a torn rotator cuff, a knee injury and severe patellar tendonitis. He will remain on scholarship at Notre Dame but won’t count against the football team’s 85-man limit going forward.

Though Adams was expected to help contribute some depth to the Irish defense this year, the team is pretty set in the middle of their defense at linebacker on the two-deep but could see incoming recruits Jack Lamb and Bo Bauer take some snaps earlier than expected if somebody else gets hurt.