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Big Ten ADs chirping for College Football Playoff expansion

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The Big Ten has seen its champion left out of the College Football Playoff three times overall and twice in the past two seasons. Now, as the Big Ten powers gather for spring meetings, the talk about potential changes to the College Football Playoff are picking up some steam among Big Ten athletic directors.

Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez has previously been outspoken about the idea of expanding the playoff format beyond four teams. As a member of the selection committee, Alvarez has one of the most prominent voices in the game when it comes to playoff expansion, even if the company line from the College Football Playoff is that four teams is the best possible number right now. But the Big Ten is in the midst of changing the discussion as best it possibly can as Jim Delany has begun speaking more favorably for discussing potential expansion, and other Big Ten ADs are beginning to step up to the plate as well.

“I’m open to the consideration and to looking at it and to thinking about it,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said this week, according to MLive.com. “Anytime our Big Ten champion is left out of the playoff … that’s something that needs to be discussed. Because I obviously believe that you go through and you win the Big Ten championship in this league, you’ve accomplished something that deserves to put you in position to play for the national championship.”

Of course, maybe the Big Ten champion just has to avoid having one major bad loss on its schedule at the end of the season. That has been the biggest setback for Ohio State the past two seasons and was at least a part of the reason why Penn State didn’t make the cut a few years ago too.

Even if the Big Ten takes a hard stance in favor of playoff expansion, there is no guarantee that will be nearly enough to lead to any imminent changes to the system. The ACC and SEC remain confident in the current structure, for example, which would seem to make it difficult to pass any proposed changes to the format at this current time. The current contract for the College Football Playoff runs through the 2025 season, the 12th and final year of the initial 12-year TV and media contract for the playoff format with ESPN. Executive director Bill Hancock has said on multiple occasions no changes to the playoff model as far as how many teams may be involved would happen until at least the end of the current contract. As we creep closer and closer to the current contract’s expiration date, the discussions about the future of the playoff will begin to be heavily scrutinized. Contracts can always be adjusted at any time, of course, but the standard response from the College Football Playoff representatives has stayed true to the idea no changes would happen during the current 12-year deal.

Whether you like the current four-team model or not, history in sports has shown the trend is for playoff fields to expand at some point in time. They have expanded in pretty much every sport for as long as postseason sports have been in existence. And it wasn’t really all that long ago the powers that be in charge of the BCS were adamant a playoff would never happen. Now, those same people are running a four-team playoff field that is likely to be inevitable to succumb to the idea of expansion, for better or worse. Right now, the Big Ten is showing its hand in favor of expansion, or at least opening up a dialogue about the future of the College Football Playoff. If you are in favor of expansion, this is your battle cry.

Oregon’s leading receiver, TE Jake Breeland, suffers season-ending leg injury

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It turns out the leg injury suffered by Oregon tight end Jake Breeland was pretty serious. Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal confirmed the news on Monday that Breeland will miss the remainder of the 2019 season with a left leg injury.

“It hurts you personally and it hurts everyone when a guy that’s worked so hard, has overcome as much as he has and the type of season he was having, to have to endure something like this,” Cristobal said in a press conference on Monday, according to The Oregonian. “He’s ready to attack the whole process of getting healthy again so he can play again.”

Breeland will have his 2019 season brought to a premature close after leading the team with 405 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Oregon’s receivers have been banged up at times already this season, and losing the top tight end in the offense won’t make things any easier. Oregon visits Washington this week for a pivotal Pac-12 North matchup with the defending conference champions.

So, who replaces Breeland at the position? Oregon’s latest depth chart currently has Ryan Bay and Hunter Kampmoyer filling the top spots at the tight end positions for the Ducks. Bay, a senior, has appeared in all six games and has caught three passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. Kampmoyer, a junior, has caught one pass for 21 yards and a touchdown in six games this season.

Knee injury knocks Boston College QB Anthony Brown out for a second season

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Anthony Brown had his redshirt freshman season cut short due to a knee injury, battled back to start all 12 games in 2018 and BC’s first six contests this fall, until yet another knee injury knocked him out for another season.

Boston College head coach Steve Addazio revealed Monday that Brown will miss the remainder of the season with what the school is calling a “lower leg injury.” Brown made a cut avoiding a tackle during BC’s Oct. 5 game against Louisville and immediately clutched his left knee. Boston College lost the game, 41-39, though Brown began the contest 6-of-7 for 193 yards and a touchdown.

“We’re very, very sad for Anthony. He worked hard to get himself where he was. He’s seventh all-time in passing in BC history and heading towards greater things this year. He’s had a great career and he’s prepared and practiced and put so much into it. We’re so proud of him,” Addazio said.

The fourth-year junior from Cliffwood, N.J., finishes his season 81-of-137 for 1,250 yards with nine touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing for 128 yards and two scores.

“It’s a tough deal, but he’s a tough guy and he’ll bounce back,” Addazio said. “We’re gonna love him and support him and get him back to where he was, but his season has come to an end.”

Brown can return as a fifth-year senior in 2020, with two year-ending knee injuries under his belt, literally and figuratively.

Virginia loses CB Bryce Hall for the season

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Virginia has lost cornerback Bryce Hall for the season, head coach Bronco Mendenhall revealed Monday.

He suffered an ankle injury in Virginia’s loss to Miami on Friday and underwent surgery on Monday, which will spell the end of his college career. The injury came while Hall was blocking on a punt return. Trainers put the injured ankle in an air cast and, while players on both teams gave him good wishes, ESPN decided the injury was gruesome enough that it would not air replays of the play.

“Bryce Hall is in good spirits,” Mendenhall said. “We expect a good recovery, he sustained a left ankle injury and had surgery Monday. We do not expect him back this season. He is an amazing young person, I am thankful for his efforts and to be his coach. On the bus after the game, Bryce was sitting behind me and he said to me, ‘Coach, I’m a human buoy.’ He has been exemplary in everything he has done here.”

Hall is the best player on Virginia’s roster. The Harrisburg, Pa., senior entered the season a Preseason All-American on multiple lists and led the nation in 2018 with 24 passes defended. He also posted two interceptions and 62 tackles, earning him First Team All-ACC honors.

 

South Carolina apologizes for hedge-ripping after Gamecocks upset of No. 10 Georgia

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South Carolina pulled the upset of the season on Saturday, knocking off then-No. 3 Georgia 20-17 in overtime, in Athens. And the ‘Cocks left Sanford Stadium with souvenirs, claiming some of Georgia’s famous hedges for themselves.

Some hedges were even seen in the hands of South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, a Georgia player and former Bulldog.

While some may call it good, old victory fun, Georgia AD Greg McGarity did not have a sense of humor about his shrubbery getting ripped up.

“I don’t like it all,” he told DawgNation. “We sure don’t do that when we win at an opponents’ venue under Kirby’s leadership.”

McGarity also said his South Carolina counterpart, Ray Tanner, apologized for his team’s postgame celebration.

“Ray just apologized for those actions,” he told the site.