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

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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.

LSU starting guard Garrett Brumfield out for Ole Miss game

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As has been pretty much par for the course thus far, LSU’s offensive line will once again be at less than full strength — although the injured cavalry could be on the way.

During the first quarter of this past Saturday’s closer-than-expected win over Louisiana Tech, Garrett Brumfield went down with a knee injury and didn’t return.  As a result of that injury, the starting left guard will miss this Saturday’s game against Ole Miss.

A timeline for a return has yet to be determined.

“We don’t know when Garrett will be back,” head coach Ed Orgeron said Monday. “I don’t know that yet.”

Brumfield’s injury is the latest offensive line issue that’s hit the fifth-ranked Tigers over the past month.  From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Starting left tackle Saahdiq Charles missed two of the last three games, and starting right tackle Adrian Magee has been out since Sept. 2 against Miami. If you add in the suspension of Ed Ingram before fall camp, LSU has played without four starters.

The good news is that Charles and Magee could potentially play this weekend, although they’re officially listed as questionable at this point in time.

Nation’s leading kick returner sidelined by torn ACL

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One of the most electrifying special teams players in the country won’t see the field again until 2019.

South Florida’s Terrence Horne has been diagnosed with a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the 2018 season, the football program has confirmed.  The freshman wide receiver suffered the injury during practice in the week leading up to this past Saturday’s win over East Carolina.

“You hate to lose a player, because he had worked so hard. Not only is he a good football player, he’s an unbelievable young man. Always has a smile on his face, would do anything you ask him to do,” head coach Charlie Strong said by way of the Tampa Bay Times. “That one kind of hurt us.”

Horne currently leads the FBS level in kick return average at an even 47 yards per.  In Week 1, he tied an NCAA single-game record by returning a pair of kicks for touchdowns.

Syracuse’s starting TE out indefinitely due to injury

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Ahead of a matchup of undefeated ACC teams, one of them has taken a hit to its passing attack.

After Syracuse pushed its record to a perfect 4-0 with a Week 4 win over UConn, head coach Dino Babers revealed that Ravian Pierce will be sidelined indefinitely because of an unspecified lower-body injury.  The starting tight end missed the non-conference win over the Huskies because of the issue.

At this point, it’s unclear when the injury took place.

“It’s really kind of disappointing, it kind of snuck up on us,” the head coach said by way of the Syracuse Post-Standard. “He’s such a tough guy. We don’t know exactly when it happened.”

In three games this season, all starts, the senior had caught six passes for 56 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  In starting nine games last season, the 6-3, 237-pound Pierce’s four receiving touchdowns were tied for second on the team.

Syracuse will travel to unbeaten and second-ranked Clemson this weekend.

Spinal condition forces Northwestern’s leading rusher to retire

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Harsh and decidedly unexpected news coming out of Evanston Monday afternoon will have a significant impact on Northwestern’s football team moving forward.

The football program confirmed earlier today that Jeremy Larkin will be forced to retire from the game of football as a result of a recent diagnosis of cervical stenosis.  The good news is that the condition is not considered life-threatening even as it precludes any future participation in the sport.

Obviously, the sophomore running back’s decision to retire, which came as the football program was coming off its one bye weekend of the season, is effective immediately.

“Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won’t be on that field again, given I’ve played this game since I was five years old,” said Larkin in a statement. “I’m extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first. I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline.”

“This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete,” head football coach Pat Fitzgerald. “But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him. The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can’t wait to see the impact he makes in our world.”

Through three games, Larkin’s 346 yards rushing were easily tops on the Wildcats.  In fact, Larkin currently accounts for an astounding 98.6 percent of the Wildcats’ 351 rushing yards as a team.  Additionally, he has five of their seven rushing touchdowns on the season.

Northwestern will open up Big Ten play this weekend as they host No. 14 Michigan.