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2018 Cal signee Chris Fatilua suffers ‘significant, serious spinal cord injury’

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Sadly, tragedy has struck yet another college football program.

In a pair of tweets posted to its official Twitter account Wednesday night, Cal revealed that 2018 signee Chris Fatilua sustained what was described by the family in a statement as “a significant and serious spinal cord injury from an accident that occurred Monday afternoon in San Diego.” No further details were available, although the family’s statement noted that “his long-term prognosis is unknown at this time.”

In his statement, head coach Justin Wilcox said that “the most important thing to focus on right now and in the immediate future is Chris’ recovery.”

Fatilua was a three-star member of the Golden Bears’ 2018 recruiting class.  247Sports.com rated the San Diego product as the No. 58 inside linebacker in the country.

Report: Pac-12 to require bowl teams to hit six-win benchmark

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The Pac-12 has approved a rule requiring its member teams to win at least six games to attain bowl eligibility, according to a report Monday from Ralph Russo of the Associated Press. The rule was authored by a subcommittee of athletics directors and approved by league presidents.

The rule means any 5-7 Pac-12 team would have to stay home for the postseason, even if a spot is available for them.

Five 5-7 teams have appeared in bowl games since the NCAA determined in 2015 that 5-7 teams are eligible to fill a surplus of bowl slots. Such slots are handed out through a ranked order of Academic Progress Ratings scores.

None of the five 5-7 bowl teams to date have hailed from the Pac-12, though UCLA did play against a 5-7 Nebraska team in the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl. The Bruins lost that game, 37-29.

UCLA-Oklahoma game this September likely unaffected by latest California travel ban

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It appears likely politics won’t have an impact on one of the marquee matchups in the early portion of the 2018 college football schedule.

Friday, California officially announced that it had extended its ban on state-funded travel to the state of Oklahoma. The Golden State bars its workers from traveling to states California leaders believe are discriminatory toward gay and transgender people, a law enacted in 2016 that now extends to nine states.

In a press release, California’s Attorney General stated that a new law recently enacted in Oklahoma led to the ban.

“California will not use state resources to support states that pass discriminatory laws,” Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “The law enacted in Oklahoma allows discrimination against LGBTQ children and aspiring LGBTQ parents who must navigate the adoption process. California taxpayers are taking a stand against bigotry and in support of those who would be harmed by this prejudiced policy.”

So, what exactly does this have to do with college football? On Sept. 8 of this year, UCLA is scheduled to travel Oklahoma to take on the Sooners in Norman.

However, because the first game of that home-and-home series was scheduled in 2013, this year’s matchup is likely to be exempted from the ban.  Last year, for example, UCLA traveled to Tennessee to play Memphis in football; Cal played at the North Carolina Tar Heels; and the Texas Longhorns hosted San Jose State despite all three of those states having already landed on the banned list.

That said, and even as it’s expected to, it’s not yet guaranteed that the UCLA-OU game this year will indeed go off as planned. From the Sacramento Bee:

Assemblyman Matt Harper, R-Huntington Beach, has asked Becerra’s department to issue a formal opinion on whether Low’s law applies to college sports. The department assigned an attorney to the question, but has not released a report.

In addition to Oklahoma, the Bee reports, “Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas [are] on the list of states where California public employees cannot travel for work-related purposes unless they are required to by a court, to investigate a crime, investigate a tax dispute or comply with a grant.”

Along with those exemptions listed at the end, schools in California’s public university systems are permitted to send their sports teams to postseason tournaments, including college football bowl games.  Additionally, sports teams from states on the banned list are permitted to travel to California to play, regular season, postseason and otherwise.

After all, money y’all.

Proposed California amendment would cap coaches salaries at $200,000

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Some states do everything they can to help out athletics programs in their borders, that is something that California has never really been accused of doing. A state-wide travel ban has already caused some ripples with regards to scheduling for some teams and it seems lawmakers in Sacramento are back with a new constitutional amendment that could hamper schools ability to pay their coaches.

UCLA student paper The Daily Bruin passes along news that a new constitutional amendment was announced last week “that aims to restrict the University of California’s autonomy by reducing staff salaries, the length of regents’ terms and the authority of the UC president.” That first item is the biggest to take note of, which would institute a cap on non-faculty salaries to $200,000 per year — something that would affect everybody from coaches to the athletic director and everybody in between.

The University of California (UC) system most notably includes Pac-12 schools like UCLA and Cal, which means coaches like Chip Kelly and Justin Wilcox could be affected. To take Kelly as an example, he signed a five-year contract worth a total of $23.3 million when he was hired by the Bruins this offseason.

Head football coaches salaries are not typically paid completely by a school directly however, so there is some wiggle room should this amendment wind up passing. Often a separate athletics organization will foot most of the bill using funds raised from donors while other outside companies sometimes also get involved. Things might be a little more interesting when it comes to assistant’s salaries or non-football/men’s basketball head coaches and support staffers however, who could fall under the purview of the cap.

In other words, some creative accounting practices might have to be implemented by schools like UCLA or Cal or else they’ll be at a significant disadvantage compared to their private school peers like USC or Stanford as well as conference rivals like Arizona or Oregon.

It’s far from certain the amendment will pass given that it requires a two-thirds vote in the state legislature as well as passing muster on a state-wide ballot measure during a general election. We don’t typically see college coaches wade too far into political waters but, in this case, they might be forced to because its one that directly affects their wallets.

Alabama (still) a massive favorite over Louisville, other Week 1 lines

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It’s been about four months since we checked in on the Week 1 betting lines in college football, highlighted by Alabama’s installation as a massive favorite for its date with Louisville in Orlando.

And in the four months since, the public has clearly lost faith in the Nick Saban Football Machine.

After starting as a 29.5-point favorite, Alabama has been downgraded… to a 28.5-point favorite, according to lines released by Bet Online.

Other lines of note:

  • UCF (-20.5) at Connecticut
  • Northwestern (+4.5) at Purdue
  • Colorado (-6) vs. Colorado State (at Denver)
  • San Diego State (+14.5) at Stanford
  • Florida Atlantic (+23) at Oklahoma
  • Oregon State (+38) at Ohio State
  • Texas (-10.5) at Maryland
  • Boise State (-10.5) at Troy
  • Arizona (-14) vs. BYU (at Phoenix)
  • Auburn (-3.5) vs. Washington (at Atlanta)
  • Ole Miss (-1.5) vs. Texas Tech (at Houston)
  • West Virginia (-7) vs. Tennessee (at Charlotte)
  • North Carolina (+6) at California
  • Michigan (+2) at Notre Dame
  • Alabama (-28.5) vs. Louisville (at Orlando)
  • Miami (-3) vs. LSU (at Dallas)
  • Virginia Tech (+6.5) at Florida State

Check out the entire list of lines here.