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WVU wideout Dillon Spalding transfers to James Madison, will play against old team in Week 1

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In the NFL, you’ll often see teams sign a player who was just cut off another team the week or two before they wind up playing that opponent. We could sort of have a college football version of that scenario in the case of wide receiver Dillon Spalding.

The former West Virginia redshirt freshman announced on Twitter that he had committed to James Madison and would be transferring to join the team in 2019. The team’s opponent in Week 1? None other than the Mountaineers in Morgantown.

Of course any knowledge Spalding might bring with him is limited given that both JMU and WVU have new coaching staffs in place this year. The former three-star recruit is moving a little closer to his Lorton, Va. hometown and will have all four years of eligibility remaining between redshirting last season due to an injury and the drop down to the FCS level.

The Dukes have added a solid amount of FBS talent recently for new coach Curt Cignetti. In addition to Spalding, former Penn State wide receiver Brandon Polk joined the program this offseason and both will catch passes from ex-Pitt QB Ben DiNucci.

Ex-FAU defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro joins Kansas staff in off-the-field role

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Not many people can say they worked for the very different styles of head coaches Lane Kiffin and Les Miles back-to-back but Tony Pecoraro certainly can.

The recently let go Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator has apparently landed a new gig in Lawrence as a senior defensive analyst, primarily serving under Jayhawks DC D.J. Eliott.

Pecoraro took over the Owls defense in 2018 after spending the previous two seasons running things on that side of the ball for Southern Miss. Things didn’t quite work out in Boca however as FAU couldn’t get off the field like they did in Kiffin’s first year and allowed 31.8 points per game.

The veteran coordinator, who has Power Five assistant experience from a stint at Florida State, was replaced at FAU by longtime Oklahoma State DC Glenn Spencer back in December.

Jim Delany was highest paid conference commissioner in 2017-18; NCAA president Mark Emmert’s salary climbs to nearly $4 million

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The life of a conference commissioner is not an easy one given the amount of criticism from just about every level but at least they are well compensated for their troubles.

Really well in most cases.

Thanks to the latest round of 2017-18 tax returns from the various Power Five conferences and the NCAA being released, we now have a good picture at how everybody stacks up and business booming has resulted in even larger paychecks for most. Here’s the latest figures for the Power Five and NCAA President Mark Emmert:

  • The Big Ten’s Jim Delany moved into the top spot as the highest paid commissioner thanks to a reported $5.5 million paycheck, per USA Today.
  • Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was not far behind his Rose Bowl counterpart with over $5.2 million in compensation, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
  • Big 12 head honcho Bob Bowlsby was bumped to a total of $4.1 million.
  • ACC commissioner John Swofford took home slightly over $3.5 million.
  • SEC leader Greg Sankey was by far the best bargain of the group, with the most recently appointed commissioner making right around $2 million last year.
  • Emmert’s salary was the biggest mover of the group of power players as Yahoo! Sports notes his take-home pay jumped 60% by going from $2.4 million the previous year to $3.9 million. All told, the NCAA’s public face has seen his salary jump by some $2 million since 2015 alone.

As you all know, the compensation for the student-athletes officially remained at $0 in pay for the same time period.

Art Briles named head football coach at Texas high school

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Still a pariah at the collegiate level — and the professional level in North America, for that matter — Art Briles has returned to his coaching roots in dipping his scandal-stained toes back into the profession’s pool.

Mount Vernon High School in Texas announced Friday evening that its Board of Trustees has approved a two-year contract for Briles to serve as the program’s head football coach.  Briles spent nearly three decades as a head coach in the state of Texas before, after a three-year stint as an assistant at Texas Tech, landing head jobs at Houston (2003-07) and, most infamously, Baylor (2008-15).

“High school football is a Texas institution.  As a coach, it’s my first love,” Briles said in a statement provided by his new employer. “You’ll make no bigger impact in this world than when you shape the lives of young people — one practice, one game, and one life at a time.

“I am excited to be coaching at Mount Vernon this fall.”

In its release, the school system noted “that Briles never incurred a single recruiting infraction during his time at the collegiate level, and previous supervisors and other references also provided strong recommendations.” It was further stated that the hiring was made because, “[a]fter a thorough due diligence process and several earnest conversations, we believe our students will benefit greatly from his skills and experience.”

Given Briles’ past, the school’s wordsmithing in announcing the decision is understandable considering the amount of heat and outside public pressure the system is set to endure.

Briles was fired by Baylor in May of 2016 amidst a sexual assault scandal involving his Bears football program.  In August of 2017, the disgraced coach was hired by a CFL team; a couple of hours later, after the hiring was denounced by fans and sponsors, the organization announced that Briles would no longer be joining the team.

In late January of 2017, damning details in one of the handfuls of lawsuits facing Baylor University emerged, with that suit alleging that 31 Bears football players had committed 52 acts of rape over a period of four years beginning in 2011.

Not long after, a legal filing connected to the libel lawsuit filed by a former BU football staffer produced emails and text messages that painted a picture of the former Bears head coach and/or his assistants as unrestrained rogue elements concerned with nothing more than the image of the football program off the field and its performance on it. The details in a damning document dump included allegations that Briles attempted to circumvent BU’s “judicial affairs folks” when it came to one player’s arrest… and on Briles asking, in response to one of his players brandishing a gun on a female, “she reporting [it] to authorities?”… and asking “she a stripper?” when told one of his players expected a little something extra from a female masseuse… and stating in a text “we need to know who [the] supervisor is and get him to alert us first” in response to a player who was arrested on a drug charge because the apartment superintendent called the police.

In reference to a woman who alleged she was gang-raped by several Bears football players, Briles allegedly responded, “those are some bad dudes. Why was she around those guys?

“Hindsight is a blessing and a curse. I’ve always been about trying to be fair and honest with everyone I came into contact with,” Briles said in July of last year on his unceremonious and controversial ouster from the Bears. “The thing that hurts me as much as anything [was] the culture at Baylor at the time; I don’t think victims, I know they didn’t feel comfortable going to report assaults that took place. I don’t think they were represented and taken care of with the level that needed to be handled with. That’s something that through all of this and as time goes will become more clear.

“Not only me but many of us felt betrayed because we were not privy to the information that was available in a way we wanted to respond. … With the way things are going, with some of the transparency starting to take place, I am confident the truth will come out. It’s not just important for me.”

In August of last year, Briles was named as the head coach of the Guelfi Firenze American Football team in Florence, Italy.  That was his first coaching job at any level since his ouster in Waco.

Brenda Tracy, a gang-rape survivor and victim’s advocate, is the most high-profile of many already publicly questioning the high school’s hiring of Briles.

ESPN announces times and dates for 35 bowl games in 2019

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If you were anxiously waiting around for the bowl game schedule to make your holiday plans this year, you’re in luck because ESPN has their calendar all set.

The network released the times and dates for a whopping 35 bowl games on Thursday, covering everything from the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl to the College Football Playoff. The calendar itself this year did present some challenges given that there’s 15 weeks in the regular season instead of the normal 14 for most teams. Bowl season will thus span 17 days before and after the semifinals — which are the Peach and Fiesta Bowls this season — and have nine bowls plus the national title game played after the calendar turns to 2020.

Without further ado, the 2019 bowl slate (sans the RedBox Bowl, Arizona Bowl and the Holiday Bowl, which are TBA):

December 20

2 p.m. ET, ESPN — Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl

7:30 p.m.  ET, ESPN2 — Frisco Bowl

December 21

Noon ET, ABC — Celebration Bowl

2 p.m. ET, ESPN — New Mexico Bowl

2:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network — AutoNation Cure Bowl

3:30 p.m. ET, ABC — Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl

5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN — Camellia Bowl

7:30 p.m. ET, ABC — Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl

9 p.m. ET, ESPN — R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

December 23

2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN — Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl

December 24

8 p.m. ET, ESPN — SoFi Hawai’i Bowl

December 26

4 p.m. ET, ESPN — Walk-On’s Independence Bowl

8 p.m. ET, ESPN — Quick Lane Bowl

December 27

Noon ET, ESPN — Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman

3:20 p.m. ET, ESPN — New Era Pinstripe Bowl

6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN — Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN — Cheez-It Bowl

December 28

Noon ET, ABC — Camping World Bowl

Noon ET, ESPN — Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

4 or 8 p.m. ET, ESPN — Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal)

4 or 8 p.m. ET, ESPN — PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal)

December 30

12:30 p.m., ESPN — SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

4 p.m., ESPN — Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

8 p.m., ESPN — Capital One Orange Bowl

December 31

Noon ET, ESPN — Belk Bowl

2 p.m. ET, CBS — Hyundai Sun Bowl

3:45 p.m. ET, ESPN — AutoZone Liberty Bowl

7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN — Valero Alamo Bowl

January 1

1 p.m. ET, ABC — Citrus Bowl

1 p.m. ET, ESPN — Outback Bowl

5 p.m. ET, ESPN — Rose Bowl Game

8:45 p.m. ET, ESPN — Allstate Sugar Bowl

January 2

3 p.m. ET, ESPN — Birmingham Bowl

7 p.m. ET, ESPN — TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

January 3

3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN — Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

January 4

11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN — Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

January 6

7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN — Mobile Alabama Bowl

January 13

8 p.m. ET, ESPN — College Football Playoff National Championship