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Mark Dantonio steps down as head coach at Michigan State after 13 seasons

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The time has come for Mark Dantonio to part ways with Michigan State.  Not before, though, he collected a seven-figure check from the university.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Mark Dantonio announced that he is stepping down as the head coach at Michigan State.  The move comes the day before National Signing Day, a month after Dantonio finished up his 13th season as the Spartans’ head coach.

“Every February since 2007, I have reset this program in preparation for the next year’s challenge,” Dantonio wrote. “After much reflection and discussion with my family, I feel that it is now time for change as we enter a new decade of Michigan State football.”

According to Dantonio’s statement, he’ll remain with the university and the athletic department “in a role involving special projects, especially transitioning our players, both current and incoming, to their next challenge.”

In ending his statement, Mark Dantonio wrote, “It has truly been an honor and a privilege to serve as head football coach at Michigan State University. I will forever be a Spartan.”

Back in October, we noted that Mark Dantonio would be due a very hefty bonus if were still the head football coach at Michigan State on Jan. 15.  As that date has come and gone with Dantonio still the head coach at the time, he is due a retention bonus in the amount of a whopping $4.3 million.

His contract calls for the bonus to be paid on or before March 31 of this year.  Despite the resignation, Dantonio is still due the bonus.

Including the retention bonus, Dantonio would’ve pulled in $8.6 million in guaranteed compensation in 2020.  That would’ve made Dantonio the third-highest-paid head coach in college football.  The only two ahead of him?  Clemson’s Dabo Swinney ($9.32 million) and Alabama’s Nick Saban ($8.87 million).

In February of 2016, Michigan State announced that it had reached an agreement on a revamped contract for Mark Dantonio that pushed his annual guaranteed compensation to north of $4 million. Since that extension, which came off of three straight 10-win seasons and four in five years, the Spartans have gone 27-24, including a second-straight 7-6 record this past season. The Spartans are 17-19 in Big Ten play since then as well.  Combine that recent futility with an offense that has languished near the bottom of the Big Ten during that stretch — and was the impetus for the coach to chafe at reporter’s dumb-ass question on at least one occasion — and you had chatter surrounding Dantonio and his long-term viability growing louder by the week.

Michigan State announced that Mike Tressel will serve as interim head coach until a permanent replacement is found.

The initial speculation has Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell and Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi as the early favorites to take over.

Illinois LB Joseph Thompson enters the transfer portal

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Illinois has been on the right side of the football portal throughout the offseason.  Now, Lovie Smith‘s crew finds themselves on the wrong end.

First reported by Rivals.com, Joseph Thompson has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.  247Sports.com subsequently confirmed that the defensive back is intent on leaving the Illinois football program.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Thompson was a three-star member of the Illinois football Class of 2019.  The Chicago native was rated as the No. 27 recruit regardless of position in the state of Illinois.  As a true freshman, Thompson didn’t appear in any games and took a redshirt.

On the positive side for the Illini? Illinois has added seven transfers to its football roster this offseason.  Five of those have come from Power Five programs.

In mid-March, ex-Alabama linebacker Christian Bell tweeted that he was moving on to the Illini. Shortly thereafter, we noted that an FCS All-American offensive lineman had opted to transfer into the Illinois football program. New Mexico State wide receiver Desmond Dan did the same.  As did Miami wide receiver Brian Hightower.  And Mississippi State offensive lineman Brevyn Jones as well in early May  And Louisville defensive back TreSean Smith last week mid-May.  And Cal defensive tackle Chinedu Udeogu that same month.

Report: Oklahoma wants to move its 2020 opener up a week, to Aug. 29

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While seemingly everyone in the sport is looking to push games back, Oklahoma is actually looking to move its football opener up.

Oklahoma is currently scheduled to open the 2020 college football season at home in Norman against FCS Missouri State Sept. 5.  According to The Oklahoman, however, OU is looking to move that matchup up a week, to Aug. 29.  Reportedly, the FCS school is amenable to such a move.

The reasoning behind such a waiver?

OU athletic director Joe Castiglione’s rationale in this pandemic-stricken year is that moving the opener would give OU an off week after each of its first two games, which could be valuable with the testing of players for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

With constant testing and the subsequent contact tracing for those exposed, teams face a season with frequent quarantines and isolation of players who either have the virus or have been exposed to it.

At the moment, Oklahoma is scheduled to face Tennessee at Memorial Stadium Sept. 12.  Then coming off a bye, OU would travel

All of this, of course, is contingent on there actually being non-conference games in the sport.  The Big Ten was the first conference-only scheduling domino to fall.  The ACC and Pac-12 are expected to follow suit.  The Sooners’ conference, the Big 12, likely won’t make a decision on that front until the end of this month.  The same goes for the SEC as well.

Five-star 2020 Georgia signee Broderick Jones reportedly injured in motor bike accident

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There’s a health concern involving one of the crown jewels of the Georgia football Class of 2020.

With Auburn in hot pursuit, Broderick Jones confirmed back in February that he had signed with Georgia football. The offensive lineman stated on National Signing Day he is “a Georgia boy” and “wanted to be close to home so my family could support me.“

Now, though, 247Sports.com is confirming that Jones suffered “a lower leg injury related to an accident involving a motor bike.” No details surrounding the accident have been revealed, although the website noted that it didn’t happen in the last couple of days.

It’s expected that Jones will be recovering for multiple weeks, perhaps up to two months. As of yet, the Georgia football program has not commented on the development.

The No. 3 recruit regardless of position in the state of Georgia, the 6-5, 298-pound Jones is the No. 2 offensive tackle in the country.  On the 247Sports.com composite, he’s listed as the No. 11 prospect overall in the Class of 2020.  Only one signee in this year’s class for the Bulldogs, cornerback Kelee Ringo, was rated higher.

While Jones verbally committed to UGA in April of 2018, the departure of line coach Sam Pittman for the head job at Arkansas in December caused some concern.  In January, Jones took an official visit to Arkansas.  He took another to Illinois that same month.

With the Bulldogs, the expectation is that Jones will slide into a starting job as a true freshman.  Provided there is a season, of course.

Florida State’s Mike Norvell to take 25% pay cut

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Less than a year into his job, the Florida State head football coach is the latest to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

This past week, FSU announced a series of cost-saving measures within the athletic department.  Included in that is Mike Norvell, the new Florida State football coach who will take a 25-percent cut in his salary for the fiscal year.  Other coaches for the Seminoles, including men’s and women’s basketball, will take 15-percent cuts.  Athletic director David Coburn will see his salary reduced by 20 percent.

Additionally, 25 full-time jobs within the athletic department are being eliminated.  Overall, that department’s budget will be slashed by 20 percent.

”I am personally heartbroken over the impact this pandemic has had on our employees, and I am disappointed I must give you this discouraging news today,” Coburn said in a portion of his statement. “However, I am sure you have seen that other athletic departments around the country  are also making reductions.”

On that front, the FSU athletic director is absolutely correct.

Below is a partial list of FBS programs that have initiated various cost-cutting measures for athletic department personnel, including coaches:

Additionally, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who reportedly made north of $5 million a year ago, is taking a 20% pay cut.  Scott’s Big 12 counterpart, Bob Bowlsby, announced pay cuts for himself and the conference’s staff.