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PETA urges Mississippi State to retire its live mascot after Week 5 sideline incident

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You just knew this organization, which has shoved itself into the sport of college football on multiple occasions over the years, was going to toss its two copper Lincolns into the conversation.

Early in the first quarter of what would turn into an Auburn win over Mississippi State, running back Boobee Whitlow scored on a 30-yard run for the first touchdown of the SEC West matchup.  As Whitlow crossed the goal line, though, he was pushed by a Bulldogs defender, a push that sent him flying into MSU’s live mascot, Jak.

Monday, MSU offered an update on the dog, stating that “Jak is okay” and “will spend the football bye week making a full recovery from bruising to his chin and right hind leg.” The mascot is expected to be on the sidelines when MSU takes on Tennessee Oct. 12 in Knoxville.

If People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals PETA has its way, however, Jak — or any other university with a live mascot for that matter — won’t be on the sidelines ever again as the organization sent a letter to MSU “urging [it] to retire Jak and pledge not to use live animals in the future.”

“It was sheer luck that this close call didn’t leave Jak severely injured or even dead, and it’s never been fair game to subject a dog to the bright lights, screaming fans, and booming noise of a football stadium,” PETA senior director Marta Holmberg said in a statement. “PETA is urging MSU to be a dog’s best friend and end its live-mascot program—and we’ll gladly help find Jak a loving adoptive home where he can live out the rest of his days in peace.”

In its statement, we’re reminded that “PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that ‘animals are not ours to use for entertainment’ — opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview.”

For those interested in the entire letter sent to MSU president Dr. Mark Keenum, read on:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the world’s largest animal rights organization, with more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide. Concerned citizens are contacting us about an incident in which a football player apparently collided with Jak, Mississippi State’s live bulldog mascot, during the September 28 game against Auburn University.

In light of this close call—which could easily have left Jak severely injured or even dead—as well as the cruelty inherent in using living beings as “mascots,” I urge you to retire Jak and pledge not to use live animals in the future.

Using vulnerable animals as mascots is a recipe for disaster. For example, at this year’s Sugar Bowl, Bevo, the longhorn steer used by the University of Texas, apparently broke out of an enclosure and charged the University of Georgia’s bulldog mascot, Uga, nearly trampling him.

Even if animals survive their stints as mascots without losing a limb or their life, it’s hard to imagine that they enjoy appearing before raucous crowds. Being forced into a stadium full of bright lights, screaming fans, and loud noises can be stressful—and even terrifying—for sensitive animals like dogs, who would much rather be at home with loving guardians.

Bulldogs like Jak are also predisposed to many congenital ailments as a result of inbreeding and being bred for distorted physical features, including severe breathing difficulties, hip dysplasia, and heart disorders. Poor ventilation and hot or humid weather can be deadly for bulldogs, and traveling is especially taxing on them. What’s more, breeding dogs to use as mascots—or for any reason—is unconscionable, given our country’s staggering canine overpopulation crisis.

Public opinion has turned against using animals for “entertainment,” and most universities and professional sports teams have switched to using costumed human mascots instead of real animals. Unlike animals, human mascots can lead cheers, interact with the crowd, and pump up the team—all willingly.

May we please have your assurance that you will bring Mississippi State into the 21st century by giving Jak the retirement he deserves and pledging not to use real animals as mascots? Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Kirby Hocutt says Big 12 acknowledged botched call at end of Texas Tech-Baylor game

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We’ll never know how the game would have ended, but we can say with a high degree of statistical certainty that Texas Tech would have won the game. Instead of taking the ball in the bottom of the first overtime knowing any score would win the game, the Red Raiders had to remain on defense and eventually lost to No. 18 Baylor, 33-30 in double overtime.

The turning point came on a snap by Baylor center Jake Fruhmorgen, which hit off his own rear end and was subsequently recovered by Texas Tech defensive tackle Jaylon Hutchings. However, Brad Van Vark‘s Big 12 officiating crew ruled Fruhmorgen committed an illegal snap, assessing a five-yard penalty and nullifying Hutchings’ fumble recovery.

“It is important to state that we have been in constant communication with the Big 12 Conference office from the immediate end of the game and throughout Sunday regarding the illegal snap call in the first overtime,” Hocutt said in a statement Sunday night. “It has been confirmed that the ruling on the field of an illegal snap was incorrect.

“The play is not reviewable by rule because it is a dead ball judgment call by the official. I am confident that the Big 12 Conference will deal with the matter internally as they complete the review of the game in its entirety. While this is a very unfortunate circumstance, I could not be more proud of our team and the competitive fight and effort with which they competed.”

NCAA rules state an illegal snap must consist of the center moving the ball up or forward before hiking the ball, neither of which Fruhmorgen did.

Regardless, Texas Tech will have to move forward with the loss, dropping the club to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in Big 12 play in Matt Wells‘ first season.

Nebraska, Illinois to open 2021 season in Ireland

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Nebraska and Illinois will open their 2021 seasons in Dublin, Ireland, the programs jointly announced Monday.

“The University of Illinois, our football program, our alumni and fans, and the entire Fighting Illini family are in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the Emerald Isle,” Illini AD Josh Whitman said. “When first approached about this game almost two years ago, we had immediate interest. This game will provide an incredible educational opportunity for our football student-athletes who, because of their schedule, generally do not receive the same international experiences as many of our other student-athletes. For our fans, I hope they will journey with us across the Atlantic for a wonderful trip and a major football game, all set against the beauty of Ireland.”

The game will take place Aug. 28, 2021 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, the same site that hosted Notre Dame vs. Navy in 2012 and will host the Irish and Midshipmen again in 2020. College GameDay will broadcast from the Notre Dame-Navy game in 2020. Penn State and UCF played in Ireland in 2014, and Georgia Tech and Boston College did the same in 2016.

“It is a privilege to be here at the University of Illinois for the announcement of the teams for the 2021 Aer Lingus College Football Classic,” Dublin mayor Paul McAuliffe said. “I welcome the news that both the University of Illinois and University of Nebraska teams and fans will travel to Dublin in 2021 and I look forward to seeing the colour and energy that they will bring to the city of Dublin. Dublin and Ireland are ready to welcome you! This fixture is an important date in our calendar and showcases Dublin as a destination for hosting major international sporting events.”

The game was originally scheduled to be played Nov. 13, 2021 in Champaign, and likely will not be the last in Ireland, as the nation works to make Dublin the European capital of American college football.

Clemson moving forward with $70 million renovation for Death Valley

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Clemson’s building spree around campus for the football program isn’t slowing down anytime soon thanks to the Tigers winning two of the last three national titles.

The school’s Board of Trustees on Friday approved a massive $68.7 million renovation of Frank Howard Field at Clemson Memorial Stadium — better known as Death Valley — and a further $7 million devoted to expanding the already impressive football operations building.

“We haven’t had a major redo of the west end since 2006 so it’s time to pay some attention to that side [after] we redid the suites on the north side and created the south club on the south side,” Athletic Director Dan Radakovich told WNCT.

The stadium renovations are pretty typical of schools nowadays as it will add premium seating (i.e. suites), a new video board and upgraded LED lighting that peers like Georgia and Alabama have used to rave reviews in recent years.

New locker rooms at the stadium are also set to be the first thing accomplished in the project, which officials hope will be completely wrapped up prior to the 2021 season.

Given everything the school is doing for the program lately, ‘If you win it, they will build it’ might just be the unofficial motto at Clemson nowadays. Sure seems more accurate in 2019 than ‘BYOG.’

Thanks to alcohol sales, UNC made over $1 million from concessions in just three home games

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The state of North Carolina opening up beer and alcohol sales at sporting events has had a big impact on the flagship university’s bottom line so far this year.

According to WTVD ABC 11, UNC sold over 43,000 “units” of alcohol (beer/wine/hard seltzers) in the Tar Heels’ first three home games of the year. The end result to all those purchases? The team took in over $1 million in concessions in games against Miami, Appalachian State and Clemson, with all three contests selling more alcohol than soda (and nearly as much booze as water).

The school confirmed a number of figures, including roughly $325,000 in concession sales for the home opener against the Hurricanes and $393,000 against the in-state rival Mountaineers. The defending national champions’ visit on Sept. 28 was the high point however, with $416,000 worth of goods sold and some 15,737 units of alcohol bought.

WRAL reports that all three games exceeded the previous record amount UNC took in from concessions, set back in November 2016 against local rival N.C. State.

Kenan Stadium will host three more home games in 2019 against Duke, Virginia and FCS Mercer. Safe to say all three can already get counted as wins for the bottom line regardless of the result on the field for Mack Brown’s team.