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Big 12 is only conference with College Football Playoff and Final Four participant

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A basketball tournament that opened with 68 teams vying for a chance to win in all has come down to four final contenders. Over the weekend, Villanova, Kansas, Michigan, and Loyola-Chicago all captured their respective regions to advance to next weekend’s Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. With Big 12 champion Kansas reaching the final weekend, the Big 12 is the only conference this year to place a team in both the College Football Playoff and the Final Four of the men’s basketball tournament.

The Oklahoma Sooners won the Big 12’s football championship last fall and were sent to Pasadena, California to play SEC champion Georgia in the Rose Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff. The Oklahoma men’s basketball team also was selected to play in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, although they did not stick around for very long. The Sooners were bounced in the first round by Rhode Island. This marks the second time the Big 12 has had a final four team in both sports. The last time it happened was 2016 when Oklahoma played in their first College Football Playoff and the Sooners reached the basketball Final Four. Oklahoma is still the only school to reach the Final Four in both sports in the same season in the young College Football Playoff era.

This year marks the first season in which the ACC was not represented in each sport’s final four since the introduction of the College Football Playoff, thanks to Kansas knocking out Duke in a regional final on Sunday. The ACC was represented by Florida State and Duke in the College Football Playoff and Final Four, respectively, in the 2014-2015 season. Clemson football has appeared in the past three College Football Playoff brackets while the Final Four was represented by the ACC thanks to North Carolina and Syracuse in 2016, and UNC again in 2017 (The Tar Heels won it all last season).

The SEC has had a final four team in both sports twice in the CFB Playoff era. Alabama has been in every College Football Playoff to date and in 2015 (Kentucky) and 2017 (South Carolina), the SEC had a basketball team win a region to get to the Final Four.

The Big Ten has had a team in the final four of both sports in the same season just once. Ohio State played in the inaugural College Football Playoff in 2014-2015, and the basketball Final Four included both Wisconsin and Michigan State to represent the Big Ten a few months later. This year’s Michigan team is the first Final Four team out of the Big Ten since then. This is also the first year the Big Ten was not included in the College Football Playoff.

The Pac-12 has also had a team in the final four in both sports just once, and it occurred last year. Washington was selected to play in the College Football Playoff and Oregon reached the Final Four. This year the Pac-12 was left out of the College Football Playoff and the conference went 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament.

A non-power conference has never been represented in the College Football Playoff (although that hasn’t stopped UCF from claiming a national championship), but a mid-major in the Final Four has happened each of the past two seasons (which of course does not include the Big East, since the Big East is considered a major conference in basketball).

The ACC is the only conference to get a team to reach the championship game in both sports in the same season. Clemson’s back-to-=back College Football Playoff national championship appearances against Alabama in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 was accompanied by North Carolina’s back-to-back national championship game appearances in the same seasons (against Villanova and Gonzaga, respectively). Of course, that means the ACC is the only conference to win it all in the same season in the brief College Football Playoff era with Clemson and UNC winning it all in 2016-2017.

Helmet sticker to Diehards.

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.