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Nine current, former football players suing Minnesota for $45M in federal discrimination lawsuit

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The fallout from an ugly incident in 2016 involving the football team continues to affect the University of Minnesota and the latest battle ground now appears to be a federal court.

ESPN has obtained a new lawsuit filed against the school on Friday, which alleges “racial and gender discrimination; intentional, willful, and malicious misconduct; and deliberate indifference” from the university that caused damage to nine current and former Gophers football players. Ten players were initially involved in the original sexual assault incident that led to various suspensions and expulsions from the program but the report does not say which of the group is not participating in the lawsuit. It does however point out that three current members of the 2018 team are involved with the lawsuit: Antoine Winfield Jr., Seth Green and Antonio Shenault.

“We are aware of the lawsuit served on behalf of several current and former students,” the school said in a statement released to ESPN. “The University thoughtfully and thoroughly responds when faced with disturbing allegations, and provides extensive process to students accused of misconduct, including the opportunity to be heard during thorough investigations, panel hearings, and Provost review. Further, aggrieved students have a right to review by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. We will vigorously defend the University.”

The lawyers for the group are seeking $45 million in damages, or about $5 million per player.

While there are a lot of details involved in the story, most will remember the initial fallout from 10 players getting suspended when the Gophers entire football team held a short boycott of activities shortly before they played in the Holiday Bowl. The team eventually relented from the boycott and went on to beat Washington State in the game but the damage was already done to many involved and then-head coach Tracy Claeys was eventually fired after supporting his players in the matter (he somewhat ironically was later hired by the Cougars as their new defensive coordinator).

No charges were brought in the matter by prosecutors but the heart of the lawsuit alleges mishandling by the university in how they dealt with the case internally — including the eventual suspensions and expulsions of the 10 players. It goes without saying that this will be something to keep an eye out for over the coming months and years, to say nothing of the awkwardness of having three Gophers playing for and suing their own school at the same time this season.

Defense leads Minnesota to Holiday Bowl win over Washington State

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The Holiday Bowl built its reputation over 39 Decembers by producing wild results. Tuesday night’s definition of wild was a game involving Mike Leach that didn’t produce a touchdown for either side until the 3:23 mark of the third quarter.

Minnesota’s defense shut down Washington State like few clubs have this season, leading the Gophers to a 17-12 victory in San Diego.

The game started as a typical outing for Washington State, as its first possession moved 76 yards over 17 plays and ended in a 26-yard Erik Powell field goal. A string of four straight punts was ended when Minnesota matched Wazzu’s field goal, a 43-yarder from Emmit Carpenter at the 7:26 mark of the second quarter.

Washington State led 6-3 at the half, but a pair of bad luck plays in the same corner of the same end zone defined the night for both teams. Facing a 3rd-and-22 with 38 seconds left in the first half, Washington State quarterback Luke Falk was ruled to have completed a 23-yard strike to C.J. Dimry, momentarily setting the Cougars up with a 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line. But the completion was overturned upon review, forcing Wazzu to settle for a 41-yard Powell field goal.

After a long Washington State drive to open the second half produced no points, Minnesota took its time crossing the field when it found itself facing its own third down at the Wazzu 13. Mitch Leidner overthrew a streaking Shannon Brooks in the end zone, but Marcellus Pittman inadvertently deflected the ball right into Brooks’s outstretched arms, literally handing Minnesota (9-4) what turned out to be the game’s deciding touchdown.

The clubs traded punts on the next six possessions until Washington State (8-5) went for a 4th-and-6 near midfield with 3:05 remaining. Falk had all day to throw but no one to throw the ball to, and his desperation heave was intercepted by Adekunle Ayinde and returned to the Wazzu 30. Four rushes later, Rodney Smith raced in for a 9-yard insurance touchdown with 2:06 to play. Washington State finally found the end zone with 19 ticks remaining on an 8-yard pass from Falk to Kyle Sweet, but his 2-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful. Falk came in needing two touchdown passes to match the Washington State school record of 92, but that record will have to wait until next season.

Minnesota defended 51 passes from Falk, surrendering 30 completions for only 264 yards — a 5.2 yards per attempt average that stands as the lowest of Falk’s season. Wazzu ran the ball 23 times for 39 yards on the night.

That performance allowed Minnesota to win a game in which Leidner completed 11-of-20 passes for only 129 yards with a touchdown while the Gophers mustered only 151 rushing yards on 3.8 yards per carry as a team.

Big Ten latest Power Five to release list of players attending media days

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The SEC and Big 12 did it yesterday.  Now the Big Ten is following suit.

The “it,” of course, is releasing the list of players who will attend this year’s Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon, which this year will take place July 25-26 in Chicago.  Along with their respective head coaches, each of the 14 teams in the conference will send three players apiece to the event.

According to the conference, the media opportunity will feature 15 returning All-Big Ten selections from last season, including six first-team honorees in Iowa’sDesmond King, Maryland’s William Likely, Michigan’s Jake Butt and Jourdan Lewis, Northwestern’s Anthony Walker Jr. and Ohio State’s Pat Elflein. Attendees who have earned second- or third-team all-conference accolades include Indiana’s Dan Feeney, Iowa’s C.J. Beathard and Josey Jewell, Michigan State’s Riley Bullough and Josiah Price, Nebraska’s Jordan Westerkamp, Northwestern’s Justin Jackson and Matthew Harrisand Ohio State’s Raekwon McMillan.

Below is the complete list of attendees:

EAST DIVISION

INDIANA
Dimitric Camiel, Sr., OL
Dan Feeney, Sr., OL*
Marcus Oliver, Jr., LB

MARYLAND
William Likely, Sr., DB*
Jermaine Carter, Jr., LB
Michael Dunn, Sr., OL

MICHIGAN
Jake Butt, Sr., TE*
Amara Darboh, Sr., WR
Jourdan Lewis, Sr., CB*

MICHIGAN STATE
Riley Bullough, Sr., LB*
Josiah Price, Sr., TE*
R.J. Shelton, Sr., WR

OHIO STATE
J.T. Barrett, Jr., QB
Pat Elflein, Sr., C*
Raekwon McMillan, Jr., LB*

PENN STATE
Brandon Bell, Sr., LB
Brian Gaia, Sr., C
Nyeem Wartman-White, Sr., LB

RUTGERS
Darius Hamilton, Sr., DT
Andre Patton, Sr., WR
Julian Pinnix-Odrick, Sr., DL

WEST DIVISION

ILLINOIS
Wes Lunt, Sr., QB
Dawuane Smoot, Sr., DE
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, So., RB

IOWA
C.J. Beathard, Sr., QB*
Josey Jewell, Jr., LB*
Desmond King, Sr., DB*

MINNESOTA
Mitch Leidner, Sr., QB
Jack Lynn, Sr., LB
Damarius Travis, Sr., S

NEBRASKA
Tommy Armstrong Jr., Sr., QB
Josh Banderas, Sr., LB
Jordan Westerkamp, Sr., WR*

NORTHWESTERN
Matthew Harris, Sr., CB*
Justin Jackson, Jr., RB*
Anthony Walker Jr., Jr., LB*

PURDUE
Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jr., LB
Jake Replogle, Sr., DT
DeAngelo Yancey, Sr., WR

WISCONSIN
Vince Biegel, Sr., LB
Dare Ogunbowale, Sr., RB
Sojourn Shelton, Sr., CB

Four-star 2017 QB Kellen Mond decommits from Baylor, lists Auburn/Ohio State/A&M as Top 3

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Kellen Mond was the crown jewel of Baylor’s 2017 recruiting class after committing to the Bears in the summer of 2015.  The key word in the preceding sentence is, of course, “was.”

As the fallout from the burgeoning scandal in Waco continues, Mond announced Wednesday on Twitter that he has decided to decommit from the Bears. “When I committed last summer,” the quarterback wrote, “the primary basis was due to having the leadership of Art Briles and Kendal Briles as a great football foundation.”

The former was dismissed as BU’s head football coach late last month, although the latter remains — for now — as the Bears’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Shortly after decommitting from Baylor, Mond announced a new Top Three: Auburn, Ohio State and Texas A&M.  Those schools are listed in his order of preference at the moment, with the Tigers the current leader for the 6-2, 205-pounder’s services.

Mond, a Texas native who is playing his senior season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is rated as a four-star prospect on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. That recruiting website rates him as the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 103 player overall.

Mond’s decommitment is the biggest blow to a class that was already decimated.

Prior to Briles’ May 26 firing, the Bears held six 2017 commitments and were 34th in the country. Since then, and with Mond’s announcement, that 2017 class is now down to just one commitment — three-star athlete Jalen Pitre — and has plummeted to 94th in the rankings.

And that’s without even mentioning that seven 2016 signees are attempting to get out of their National Letters of Intent.

Big Ten Network announces 10 primetime kickoffs

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A week after ESPN announced its Big Ten primetime slate, the Big Ten Network rolled out 10 games slated for evening kickoffs this upcoming season (which is less than four months away now!).

The BTN games are below, all of which are played on Saturdays. Kickoffs are in Eastern Time.

Sept. 3: Fresno State at Nebraska (8 p.m.)

Sept. 10: Iowa State at Iowa (7:30 p.m.)

Sept. 10: North Carolina at Illinois (7:30 p.m.)

Sept. 17: Duke at Northwestern (8 p.m.)

Sept. 24: Nebraska at Northwestern (7:30 p.m.)

Oct. 1: Michigan State at Indiana (8 p.m.)

Oct. 22: Michigan State at Maryland (7:30 p.m.)

Nov. 5: Iowa at Penn State (7:30 p.m.)

Nov. 12: Minnesota at Nebraska (7:30 p.m.)

Nov. 19: Penn State at Rutgers (8 p.m.)

BTN will also televise games Thursday, Sept. 1 (Oregon State at Minnesota) and Friday, Sept. 2 (Furman at Michigan State).