Getty Images

As players begin speaking out on social media, Louisville ‘evaluating’ football stadium naming rights amid Papa John N-word controversy

3 Comments

A rapidly-developing situation could have steep repercussions for one Power Five football venue.

Wednesday, John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s, resigned not only as the chairman of the pizza giant but also gave up his seat on Louisville’s Board of Trustees after he acknowledged that he used the N-word during a business conference call this past May.  The slur usage came during a call that involved, among others, a marketing agency that was helping “prepare him for an interview to try to repair his public image” in the wake of the NFL’s national anthem controversy.

Papa John’s Stadium, of course, is the home of the U of L’s football Cardinals.  Given the controversy surrounding Schnatter, U-L president Neeli Bendapudi confirmed Thursday that she and the university are “evaluating” the status of the stadium’s naming rights.

“We haven’t had a chance to discuss it formally but yes, certainly we are aware that there is a lot of interest in this and we are hoping to come together to discuss it,” Bendapudi said by way of WDRB.com, adding that she needs more time “to think this through.”

Schnatter contributed $20 million toward the construction of the stadium that bears the name of the company he founded.  Of that total, $14 million came from Schnatter personally and the remaining through Papa John’s International on a deal that runs through 2040. The structure of that deal, though, could prove troublesome for U-L officials.  From ESPN.com:

In a complicated arrangement, the school’s deal is with Schnatter himself, not the Papa John’s brand, and provides that if he leaves the company, Schnatter can rename the building. His current deal with the university runs through 2040.

Another complication could come from the players themselves as a pair of prominent Cardinals took to Twitter Thursday to voice their opinions on the development, with a handful of others, including tight end Jay Banks (HERE), linebacker P.J. Blue (HERE), wide receiver Josh Johnson (HERE), defensive lineman GG Robinson (HERE) and wide receiver Keion Wakefield (HERE), retweeting the tweets below in a show of solidarity.

So, if players — and a growing segment of the fan base — get their wish and the name of the stadium is changed, what should it be moving forward?  While defensive lineman Henry Famurewa had an admirable idea recognizing the recent past…

… it was Wakefield who had a slamdunk suggestion and one that Schnatter should seriously consider if his agreement does indeed allow him to rename the stadium if he leaves his company.  Which he has.

You win, Mr. Wakefield.  There are a lot of ways to honor the life and legacy of the Louisville Slugger, and this would be one of the greatest ones for The Greatest — especially given the circumstances that led to this discussion in the first place.

Report: Ex-Clemson QB Kelly Bryant to announce grad transfer destination on Dec. 4

Getty Images
4 Comments

The first time Kelly Bryant was recruited, as a member of the class of 2015, he was a 4-star. A product of Wren High School in Piedmont, S.C., and the younger cousin of former Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant, Bryant chose Clemson over offers from Florida, North Carolina and Ole Miss, according to his Rivals profile.

This time around, Bryant is definitely a 5-star. Bryant led Clemson to an ACC title and a College Football Playoff berth in his lone season as Clemson’s starter, then guided the Tigers to a 4-0 mark before giving way to freshman Trevor Lawrence in September. Along the way, Bryant threw for 3,263 yards, rushed for 795 and accounted for 28 total touchdowns in leading Clemson to a 16-2 record.

Bryant is a proven, effective college player, which wasn’t enough for him to remain ahead of Lawrence on the Clemson depth chart but is plenty good enough to start at a number of other schools — and many of those other schools have courted Bryant.

Just like a high school recruit, Bryant is permitted five official visits, which he’s taken to Arkansas, Missouri and North Carolina, with future visits planned for Mississippi State this weekend and Miami on Nov. 24. He’s also taken an unofficial vis to Auburn.

According to a report from Woody Wommack of Rivals, Bryant has set a date of Dec. 4 to pick his graduate transfer destination. That’s the Tuesday after Selection Sunday.

“I’m still trying to talk to more schools and make sure I get this right,” Bryant told Rivals earlier this month. “I need to make sure I establish the right type of relationship and make the right choice.

Among those six schools, three (Mississippi State, Missouri and Auburn) have senior starting quarterbacks, and three (Arkansas, Miami and UNC) are set to return their starters.

It’s clear that Bryant plans to start at whatever school he chooses. Whether he’ll be gifted the starting spot or have to earn it remains to be seen.

Report: ‘Mutual interest’ between Kansas, Todd Graham

Getty Images
1 Comment

Kansas needs a coach. Todd Graham needs a job.

On that basis, the two sides have talked about the KU opening, according to a report Monday from Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports.

It is not known how far the discussion(s) went, nor where Graham stands on Jeff Long‘s list. But Graham does have experience building a program as the former head coach at Rice, Tulsa, Pittsburgh and Arizona State.

Coincidentally, Graham was current KU head coach David Beaty‘s boss for one season, as Beaty coached wide receivers on Graham’s Rice staff in 2006.

Graham is a Texas native and a former high school coach in the Dallas area, so he would present an opportunity to mine the Texas recruiting fields if Long opts to go that direction.

Overall, Graham is 95-61 with 10 bowl trips and four division championships in a dozen seasons as a head coach.

Long has also reportedly discussed the Kansas job with fellow out-of-work coaches Les Miles and DJ Durkin.

“KU fans, you don’t know me very well if you believe the latested [sic] speculation, I attempt to run a very confidential search and I am doing so now,” Long tweeted after the Durkin report went public. “The search is ongoing. Rock Chalk!!”

Mike Gundy rants on ‘liberalism’ and ‘the snowflake’ in question about transfers

Getty Images
14 Comments

On Sunday, Oklahoma State safety Thabo Mwaniki announced his intention to transfer. On Monday, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy was asked about his decision, and Gundy had plenty of thoughts about it.

While insisting he’s not talking about Mwaniki specifically, Gundy launched into a soliloquy about “liberalism” and “the snowflake.”

“I’m talking about every millennial young person. Generation Z, I think is what they ‘call em,” Gundy said. “It’s the world we live in because if they say, ‘Well, it’s a little bit hard,’ we say, ‘OK, well, let’s go try something else’ vs. ‘Hey, let’s bear down and let’s fight and do this.’

Here’s the full quote, via The Oklahoman‘s Nathan Ruiz:

Mwaniki is the second Cowboy to announce a transfer during this season. Wideout Jalen McCleskey left the team earlier this year.

By the way, Gundy, who is paid $5 million a year, has attempted to use his post to transfer to similar jobs at Arkansas and Tennessee in order to leverage more money out of Oklahoma State.

Alabama has spent as much time as the AP No. 1 since 2009 as the rest of college football combined

Getty Images
3 Comments

Nick Saban‘s Alabama continues to rack up milestone after milestone. The Crimson Tide are already on a record streak of 11 consecutive seasons with at least one AP No. 1 ranking. They hit win No. 900 a week ago. They’re on record streaks as favorites and wins over unranked opponents.

But on Sunday, with yet another unanimous No. 1 ranking, Alabama hit a milestone that seemed unfathomable. According to SEC Network, Alabama has spent 79 weeks as the AP No. 1 since 2009, which is equal to the number by the rest of the sport combined.

Alabama has been the AP’s No. 1 every week during the 2018 season, and collected 13 of a possible 16 No. 1 rankings. They were No. 1 all throughout the 2016 season until finishing at No. 2. In 2015, Alabama was not the AP No. 1 at all during the season — until knocking off Clemson in the title game to ascend to No. 1.

Dating back to the final poll of the 2015 season, Alabama has been the AP No. 1 in 41 of the last 45 polls.

It’s a level of consistency unmatched in college football, and one that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.