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North Texas to host Von Erichs wrestling event after SMU game

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Fans attending North Texas’s opener against SMU can see the beginning of what should be a big year in Season 3 under Seth Littrell and also get a heckuva nightcap.

The Mean Green will host a reunion of the First Family of North Texas Wrestling as three Von Erich offspring will stage a match after the conclusion of Mean Green-Mustangs on Sept. 1. Ross Von Erich and Marshall Von Erich, sons of Kevin Von Erich, will wrestle each other, while Lacey Von Erich, daughter of the late Kerry Von Erich, niece of Kevin and granddaughter of Fritz Von Erich, will also wrestle.

“What a day coming Sept. 1 in Texas!” Kevin Von Erich said in a statement. “My alma mater playing my dad’s alma mater on opening weekend. My two sons will be featured at the first wrestling event held at a college football game. It will be great to see my old UNT friends and teammates and wrestling friends like “Hacksaw” Jim Dugan and Bill Mercer. I can’t wait to return to my home state. God Bless Texas!”

Fritz Von Erich played football at SMU before becoming a legendary wrestler and promoter. His son, Kevin, played football at North Texas and once participated in a Von Erich family wrestling event that drew 50,000 fans to Texas Stadium.

“We are always looking for ways to make our game day environment unique and exciting,” North Texas AD Wren Baker said. “The Mean Green has deep roots with professional wrestling with connections to the Von Erichs, Bill Mercer, Stone Cold Steve Austin and others. Bringing two great traditions together to entertain fans is going to be fun. The football game vs. SMU will be the marquee match-up in Texas during opening weekend. This unique promotion adds great value for our fans and gives us a chance to honor our wrestling tradition and the Von Erich family.”

Also participating in the festivities: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, a former SMU player and the inaugural Royal Rumble winner, “Iceman” King Parsons, the first black heavyweight champion, and WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross.

North Texas and SMU will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT on Sept. 1, meaning the wrasslin’ should get under way at, oh, 11 p.m. SMU holds a 31-5-1 advantage over its neighbors to the north, including a 54-32 win last season.

Jabrill Peppers: D.J. Durkin’s coaching style felt “extreme at times”

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Jabrill Peppers‘s path crossed with D.J. Durkin for but a year. Peppers was a sophomore safety for Michigan, while Durkin a first- (and only-) year defensive coordinator for the maize and blue. But three years later, Peppers didn’t have much positive to say about his former coach.

“Coach Durkin, he was a different guy, you know what I mean. His tactics were different. It felt extreme at times,” he said in an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show. “I’m just as shocked reading all the stuff that’s going on now. I thought he was only like that because it was his first time coaching us. He was the defensive coordinator so he was just trying to get us to buy-in to how he wants his defense to play. I thought once he became a head coach that he would calm down a little bit, become more of a people person, a player’s coach.”

Durkin is now on administrative leave as three separate investigations probe into his tenure as Maryland’s head coach. Two are looking into the death of Terps offensive lineman Jordan McNair, while another — a four-person panel comprised of highly-accomplished legal minds and an unnamed former football coach — examine the culture established by Durkin. Durkin’s strength coach, Rick Court, has already resigned from his post.

And while a single interview from a former player (Peppers is now a second-year safety for the Cleveland Browns) is not likely to be entered as evidence into said probe, it certainly doesn’t help his cause. As Peppers himself alluded to, his testimony sounded consistent with the tales of Durkin’s allegedly abusive coaching style coming out of Maryland.

“It’s just the way that he goes about getting the most out of his players. Me, being from where I’m from, I didn’t like it, but at the end of the day, I knew what the overall goal was,” Peppers said.

“The way I would’ve described it was kind of like bully coaching. I don’t think he meant anything by it. It was just kind of how it comes up.”

Report: Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson to vacate post

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Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson will announce in a Thursday teleconference he is “leaving” his post, according to Tim Buckley of the Lafayette Daily Advertiser.

Benson, 67, is expected to work through the end of his contract, which expires in June. He is a career college administrator, working on the NCAA’s championship staff before beginning a near 30-year run as a conference commissioner, first with the MAC (1990-94), the WAC (1994-2012) and then the Sun Belt (2012-present). Benson is the Sun Belt’s fifth commissioner, having succeeded Wright Waters, who led the league for 13 years. Before him, current Mountain West commish Craig Thompson ran the conference from 1991-98.

Benson led the Sun Belt as it survived a raid from Conference USA, re-stocking the roster with the additions of Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State and Texas State. He also made the tough but necessary decision to boot Idaho and New Mexico State, anchoring the conference in its southeastern footprint.

The Sun Belt will stage its first championship game this fall, splitting into two 5-team divisions. Benson also oversaw the expansion of the Sun Belt’s bowl roster to five.

He claimed at SBC media days last month the league’s annual distribution to its schools has grown tenfold since 2014, though he declined to provide specific numbers.

“Every key indicator that can be used to evaluate the strength of a conference has indeed risen for the Sun Belt in the past four years,” Benson said last month.

Barry Sanders (and his OL) to serve as grand marshals for Oklahoma State homecoming

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Thirty years ago, Barry Sanders authored perhaps the greatest individual season any college football player has ever had. The eventual Heisman winner racked up 344 carries for 2,628 yards and 37 touchdowns — in 11 games. Count it by today’s standards and Sanders ripped off 2,850 yards and 42 touchdowns over the course of a single season.

Look at this work of art.

Voted in 2014 as the greatest individual season in college football history, Sanders’s 1988 campaign has become more impressive now than it was 30 years ago. In the day and age of pass-first offenses, Sanders’s record-breaking campaign may never be approached again, let alone duplicated. For instance, in 2014 Melvin Gordon rushed for 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns, but needed 14 games to get there.

On Tuesday, Oklahoma State announced it is getting the band back together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sanders’s Heisman campaign.

“Cowboy fans have very fond memories of watching Barry play,” said Blaire Atkinson, interim president of the OSU Alumni Association. “Given the anniversary, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Homecoming than with the addition of our Heisman award winner and his teammates.”

Added Sanders himself: “1988 was such a special year for OSU football. The fact that I get to celebrate the 30th anniversary at Homecoming with my coaches, teammates, and of course our fans, is very special to me.”

Sanders and his offensive line — known as the War Pigs — will serve as grand marshals of Homecoming, which means leading the Sea of Orange parade on Saturday morning and appearing at the Cowboys’ 98th Homecoming game later that day on Oct. 27 as Oklahoma State hosts Texas.

Texas DBs John Bonney, Eric Cuffee to transfer

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Near the midpoint of training camp, two Texas defensive backs have decided to pull the plug and cast their lot elsewhere. Senior John Bonney (24) and redshirt sophomore Eric Cuffee announced their intention to transfer on Tuesday.

Bonney graduated in December and is thus a graduate transfer, making him eligible to play for another team just over two weeks from now. As a fifth-year senior, Bonney, a Houston native, stretched across three Texas regimes: he was originally offered by Mack Brown, signed by Charlie Strong and transferred under Tom Herman.

Bonney played in 37 career games and started 15. He recorded 19 tackles with 0.5 sacks in 2017. He also was the first player to intercept Baker Mayfield during the former Sooner’s run to the Heisman Trophy last fall.

Cuffee signed with Texas as a 4-star out of Waco in Strong’s 2016 class, but never made his mark in Austin. After redshirting in 2016, Cuffee did not record a statistic in 2016 or ’17. He will play this season at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas before, presumably, returning to the FBS level as a fourth-year junior in 2019.

Texas signed one of the most highly-regarded defensive back classes in 2018, earning signatures from 5-star safety Caden Sterns, 5-star safety B.J. Foster, 4-star cornerback Jalen Green, 4-star safety DeMarvion Overshown, 4-star cornerback Anthony Cook and 4-star corner D'Shawn Jamison.