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Minnesota confirms seven-year contract extension for P.J. Fleck

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And there you have it.

Overnight, reports surfaced that Minnesota was closing in on an agreement with head football coach P.J. Fleck on a contract extension.  Tuesday afternoon, the football program confirmed that Fleck has indeed agreed to a seven-year extension that would keep him with the Gophers through the 2026 season.

The reworked deal still needs rubber-stamped by the university’s Board of Regents.

“Coach Fleck has built a program that competes academically, athletically and socially,” said athletic director Mark Coyle in a statement. “He recruits at an extremely high level and the program is seeing success it has not seen in nearly 80 years. His students are succeeding off the field, as the team has posted a record GPA and continually gives back to the community. I am thankful to President Gabel and the Board of Regents for their continued support, and I look forward to Coach Fleck continuing to lead this program.”

No financial particulars, including buyout information on both sides, have been divulged.  Fleck, whose name has been mentioned in connection to the Florida State job, will make $3.6 million this year, which, according to USA Today‘s coaching salary database, puts him 11th in the 14-team Big Ten.

After 5-7 and 7-6 seasons to start his time at Minnesota, the 38-year-old Fleck (he’ll turn 39 later this month) has the Gophers sitting at a perfect 8-0 this season, with a home date against No. 5 Penn State looming this weekend that’s one of the biggest games in the program’s history.  Minnesota, ranked 13th in the latest Associated Press poll, is 8-0 for the first time since 1941 and has a chance to go 9-0 for the first time since the unbeaten 1904 team.

“It is a tremendous honor to lead this team and represent the University of Minnesota and this great state,” a statement from Fleck began. “Our family absolutely loves Minnesota, and we are excited to continue to call this state home. We are building a championship culture – one that our fans can be proud of – through the academic, athletic, social and spiritual development of our student-athletes. Heather and I are so thankful to our staff, Mark Coyle, President Gabel and the Board of Regents for seeing the vision we have for our football program.”

Indiana TE Peyton Hendershot arrested in domestic violence incident

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Indiana tight end Peyton Hendershot was arrested late Saturday night in connection to an ugly alleged domestic violence incident.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Bloomington police picked up the redshirt sophomore on multiple charges and he will remain in a local jail for at least 24 hours as a result.

Some of the details of the incident in question are quite awful. Per the Star:

A Bloomington Police Department news release says Hendershot went to a former girlfriend’s apartment in the 2300 block of South Brandon Court and entered the apartment without permission, accusing the woman of infidelity. He reportedly took her cellphone from her to look at calls and texts and when she tried to retrieve the phone, Hendershot — who is 6-4 — “grabbed her by the neck and shoved her against the wall.”

She said Hendershot threw her phone into the kitchen as he left the apartment, breaking the screen. She called 911, and police then went to Hendershot’s residence and arrested him there.

Hendershot was eventually charged with felony residential entry, domestic battery, criminal mischief and criminal conversion.

The school released a short statement in response to the paper’s inquiry about the tight end.

“Indiana University Athletics is aware of the arrest of redshirt sophomore Peyton Hendershot,” a department spokesperson said. “IU Athletics will continue to gather facts, cooperate with and monitor the legal and administrative processes, and take further action as the evolving situation warrants.”

While they didn’t confirm that he was suspended from the team, that is an action that appears likely in the coming days.

Hendershot was a big part of the Hoosiers’ passing game last season. He earned third-team All-Big Ten honors and set school records for receptions and yards by a tight end. Now his future at the program seems very much in doubt going forward in the wake of this alleged domestic violence incident.

State legislators looking to wipe New Mexico, NMSU debt in hopes of decreasing ‘money games’

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Politics and football are colliding in the state of New Mexico. Luckily for the two FBS programs in the region, that could wind up working out quite well.

As detailed by the Albuquerque Journal, lawmakers recently made a few changes to their annual state budget. One item that made it into the lengthy bill this year? A measure that could result in millions of debt being wiped from New Mexico and New Mexico State’s ledgers.

Per the Journal:

The language in the budget prohibits the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University from using any state money – which includes money appropriated from the Legislature as well as any other state money that ends up in the athletics departments’ coffers – to pay back the accumulated deficits.

At UNM, that totals a nearly $4.4 million debt the Athletics Department has run up with the main campus through years of overspending.

At NMSU, the debt is $3 million.

The heart of the matter? Not just making sure the universities take proper accounting steps with their athletic departments but the play of both the Lobos and Aggies on the field.

Namely, their reliance on so-called ‘money games.’ Also termed ‘buy games’ or ‘guarantee games,’ these are when Group of Five programs get paid millions to essentially be fodder for larger Power Five programs during the non-conference slate.

While there have been cases of the ones getting the checks still emerging with a surprise victory or two, typically these are pretty lopsided affairs. They happen a lot and have turned into a way of life at programs like in the state.

Now there’s hope that by cancelling some debt, the two teams won’t have to take on such games as often.

“I’m sick and tired of both universities having to take money games. We’re not competitive, and we’re getting crushed, but they’ve got to play those games to get enough money for their athletics departments,” State Sen. John Arthur Smith told the paper.

Both teams lost games by over 50 points on the road in such games last season. Their future schedules also contain plenty more. UNM will travel to USC and Mississippi State in 2020 for example. FBS independent NMSU starts the season off at UCLA and concludes it by going to Florida in late November.

There’s still plenty of work left to be done before things change on the field and with the state budget but perhaps this is the start of some interesting financial relief for two programs that have some of the toughest roads to wins in all of major college football.

Clemson linebacker tears ACL for a third time

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Clemson coaches will hope that the third time really is the charm for unlucky linebacker Bryton Constantin. 

The redshirt freshman was just recently set to return to the football field this spring. Instead, he will apparently head back under the knife after injuring his knee for a third time. He confirmed the diagnosis on Twitter late last week.

Constantin was one of the nation’s top recruits at his position coming out of Baton Rouge, La. and picked the Tigers as part of the class of 2019. However, he never made it onto the field. He originally tore his ACL playing basketball in high school last February. Then he re-injured it in September after getting on campus.

The former four-star was expected to be eased into spring practice next month at Clemson but obviously those plans are out the door. Given the timetable for such injuries plus his history, the 2020 season could be too. 

This is a Dabo Swinney and Brent Venables defense however so there’s at least enough depth at the position to lean on for a team likely ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls. James Skalski is a returning starter in the middle while Mike Jones Jr., Jake Venables and Baylon Spector all have experience on the outside. The team does need to replace likely top five pick Isaiah Simmons but do add several talented freshmen to the group that is coming back from a disappointing loss in the national title game. 

Still, just about everybody on the roster would have loved if Constantin could have worked his way in the mix given his earlier knee injuries. That won’t be the case though as the youngster hopefully undergoes ACL surgery for a third and final time in the coming weeks.

Texas reportedly suspends WR Kennedy Lewis for spring practice

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Texas head coach Tom Herman has been busy this offseason remaking his coaching staff. That doesn’t mean he’s kept an eye on what his players have been doing however.

According to Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the program has suspended wideout Kennedy Lewis. The redshirt freshman will miss spring practice with the team but appears to be in line to return in time for summer workouts. 

Provided, of course, he does what he needs to in order to get back in the graces of Herman and company. There was no word on what Lewis did to get the (temporary) boot. 

Either way, it’s a missed chance for Lewis to make an impression for Texas’ rich new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. The Longhorns are also looking for several new targets for QB Sam Ehlingher this spring given that seniors Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay both are off to the NFL. The youngster was expected to be one of those in the mix behind the likes of Jake Smith and Brennan Eagle to see some serious playing time.

Now that’s not longer the case.

Lewis arrived on the 40 Acres as a three-star recruit prior to last season. He made it into two games and took a redshirt, recording just a single catch against Rice for 37 yards.

Now, others like Josh Moore and Marcus Washington figure to get extra reps when the ‘Horns opens their 15 practice slate next month.