College Football
NCAAF News Wire
  • Monday, July 28, 2014
    Franklin believes in having fun at Penn State
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHICAGO -- James Franklin says he'll put as much effort and hours as it takes to make Penn State football successful.

    • But he also wants to have fun.

      "We're going to work really hard but if we're going to work for 16 hours, I'm going to have fun for 16 hours," he said at Monday's Big Ten media days. "If I'm going to do a 17-stop caravan, I'm going to find a way to have fun at all 17 stops, that's who I am."

      Franklin, a 42-year-old Langhorne, Penn., native, revived a struggling Vanderbilt program and had consecutive 9-4 seasons before coming to State College.

      But Franklin also joined a program that faces the reality of sanctions imposed in 2012 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. Penalties included a $60 million fine, loss of scholarships and a four-year bowl ban.

      Franklin is the third Nittany Lions head coach since the late Joe Paterno resigned in 2011. Tom Bradley coached the final four games in 2011 and Bill O'Brien restored some luster with a 15-9 record over two winning seasons.

      Penn State has 75 scholarships available this year and will be restored to the full 85 permitted by the NCAA by the 2016-17 academic year.

      Franklin didn't specifically address Penn State's limitations in two media sessions. But he said he has told recruits that there's opportunity to break into lineups or see significant time.

      "Right now we have some challenges and issues we have to overcome," Franklin said he tells prospective players. "So guys are going to have an opportunity to come in and impact the roster quickly."

      The spring was spent getting to know personnel and when a depth chart was recently released "we just basically listed out by position by seniority," he said.

      Penn State returns 15 starters, including seven on defense and a placekicker.

      Seven are also back on offense, including sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg, tabbed as a player to watch in the Big Ten East.

      "I think Christian's got a lot of tools, there's no doubt about it," Franklin said. "The thing I'm most impressed is how humble and hungry and how open he is to coaching,"

      Hackenberg was 231 of 392 for 2,955 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2013. Also returning is senior running back Bill Belton, who rushed for 803 yards and five touchdowns.

      Linebacker Mike Hull, who had 78 tackles last season, is back to help anchor the defense.

      Media members picked Penn State fourth in the new Big Ten East, part of revamped conference configuration with the additions of Rutgers and Maryland.

      Penn State opens against Central Florida on Aug. 30 in Dublin, Ireland, then kicks off the home season on Sept 6 against Akron. Big Ten play begins Sept. 27 at home against Northwestern.

      NOTES: Five Pennsylvania congressmen have asked the NCAA to ease Penn State's sanctions in a letter dated last week. "Continuing these unprecedented sanctions harms innocent student athletes and further erodes the increasingly specious credibility" of the NCAA, they wrote. ... Senior S Adrian Amos enters 2014 with 25 career starts, tops on the team. ... The Aug. 30 game in Dublin is Penn State's first international game and the Big Ten's first since Michigan State and Wisconsin met in Tokyo in 1993.

  • Monday, July 28, 2014
    Maryland on a learning curve this season
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHICAGO -- Maryland and the Big Ten will quickly find out a lot about each other in their first year together.

    • Terrapins coach Randy Edsall said he's already initiated a steep learning curve on teams that Maryland has -- for the most part -- rarely, if ever played.

      "The biggest challenge is getting to know all the teams that you're going to play in a short amount of time," Edsall said at the Big Ten football media days on Monday. "We have 10 new opponents to prepare for, so the spring and summer were a whirlwind for us from the standpoint of getting to know the teams ... and understanding their schemes and what they like to do."

      Maryland went 7-6 overall, 3-5 in its final Atlantic Coast Conference and dropped a 30-21 decision to Marshall in the season-ending Military Bowl. The school joined Rutgers as the Big Ten's newest members on July 1.

      Edsall set a direct tone at his introductory appearance.

      "We've got to be who we are," the fourth-year Terrapins coach said. "We're not going to change who we are just because we're going into the Big Ten. We've recruited to a philosophy and style we believe in and we're going to continue to do that."

      A media poll projects Maryland fifth in the Big Ten East while conference coaches named returning wide receiver Stefon Diggs one of five players to watch in that division.

      Diggs made the most of seven games in an injury-plagued 2013 season with 34 receptions for 587 yards and three touchdowns.

      Diggs is among the nine returning offensive and defensive starters and two special team players.

      Quarterback C.J. Brown returns for a sixth year after earning offensive player and team MVP honors last year while throwing for 2,242 yards and 13 touchdowns.

      "Hopefully he has all the injuries (shoulder in 2010 and ACL in 2012) behind him now," Edsall said. "He had a good year last year and we expect big things out of him this year."

      Defensive back Jeremiah Johnson is also fully recovered from injuries that cost him 10 games last year. In 2012 he had 43 tackles, including 32 solo.

      The Big Ten revamped and renamed its conference divisions and assigned Maryland and Rutgers to the East. Division champs play in the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 6 at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.

      Maryland opens at home against James Madison on Aug. 30 and makes its Big Ten debut on Sept. 27 at Indiana. The first conference home game comes a week later against Ohio State.

      NOTES: Head coach Randy Edsall said his prime recruiting emphasis remains the Maryland/Washington D.C. market, reflected in 33 local athletes among 63 signed since 2012. ... Among new Big Ten foes, Maryland has played Penn State 37 times, the last in 1993. Next is Michigan State with five meetings. ... Edsall said there was no temptation to check on his old conference during last week's ACC media day. "No, I was in St. Thomas and I was enjoying the heck out of it."

  • Monday, July 28, 2014
    Minnesota looks to build on 8-5 season
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHICAGO -- Jerry Kill says he's feeling healthier these days and his Minnesota football program reflects those improved conditions.

    • The 52-year-old Golden Gophers coach missed two games last year following epileptic seizures -- a condition he hass had since 2005 -- but reportedly has had none since last October.

      "I'm feeling fine, thanks for asking," was Kill's brief response when asked about his health during Monday's Big Ten football media days.

      The fourth year coach was more expansive about the turnaround executed in just three seasons.

      Minnesota went 8-5 last year -- the Gophers' first winning season since 2005 -- and reached a bowl game for the second straight year. Minnesota dropped a 21-17 decision to Syracuse in the Texas Bowl.

      "I don't think anybody picked us to win eight games," Kill said. "Now we have to build on what we did a year ago and continue to make progress."

      A preseason media poll tabbed Minnesota fifth in the seven-team Big Ten West, the first year of a division realignment.

      "We did a couple of things last year that we haven't done in a long period of time," Kill said. "I think we're a little farther along than I thought we'd be. It usually takes three recruiting classes and we were able to do this last year with two."

      Minnesota returns eight offensive starters and seven on defense plus sophomore quarterback Mitch Leidner, who shed his redshirt and played in 10 games, starting four.

      "He's done a great job," Kill said of Leidner. "We redshirted him and then he came in and what he did was a natural progression and now it's his team."

      Leidner completed 43 of 78 passes for 619 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed 407 yards and scored seven times.

      Rejoining Leidner in the backfield is senior running back David Cobb, who ran for a team-best 1,240 yards and tied with Leidner with seven rushing touchdowns.

      Defensive back Cedric Thompson, meanwhile, has embraced a leading defensive leadership role after topped with a team-high 52 tackles.

      "He came up to me after the season and said: 'Hey, I want to be that guy, I want to have that pressure, it's my time to lead,'" Kill said of Thompson.

      Junior defensive end Theiren Cockran, a second-team all-Big Ten defensive end, also returns after recording 30 tackles (18 solo).

      Minnesota opens Aug. 28 at home against Eastern Illinois and by mid-September begins a challenging slate with a non-conference games at TCU followed by Big Ten clashes at Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin plus home games with Ohio State.

      "Nobody can say we didn't have the strength of schedule," Kill said.

      The Big Ten revamped and renamed its conference divisions with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers, assigning both to the East. Division champs play in the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 6 at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.

      NOTES: Head coach Jerry Kill said he's pleased with this year's new national championship playoff system that preserves the bowl system. "I've been a part of both coming up," he said. "I think combining the two -- to have a true No. 1 team -- I think that's good." ... Minnesota has lost 10 straight games to Wisconsin and beating the Badgers is one among his objectives. "You have to beat the border schools," he said. "So there's certainly a focus on that. But we focus on everybody."

  • Monday, July 28, 2014
    Reloaded Wisconsin embraces expectations
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHICAGO -- Wisconsin might have some rebuilding ahead as it replaces 13 starters from a team that went 9-4 last fall -- including 10 that went to the NFL.

    • But media are convinced the Badgers are merely reloading and tabbed Wisconsin as favorites to win the new Big Ten West in a preseason poll conducted by the Columbus Dispatch.

      Second-year head coach Gary Andersen is unconcerned about outside expectations.

      "First I heard of that was when we got here last night," said Andersen at Monday's Big Ten Football media days. "The fact that somebody says you may be first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth really has no bearing on where we sit as a football team. We'll worry about what we can worry about."

      Still, it's Wisconsin, winner of consecutive Big Ten titles between 2010-12 and a postseason regular with 12 straight bowl appearances. Entering preseason practice Wisconsin ranks as high as 14th in preseason national polls.

      "The expectations are always high," Andersen said. "You're expected to do things well off the field; you're expected to do things well on the field."

      In his first season, Andersen also finished 6-2 in the Big Ten Leaders Division and was a semifinalist for the Maxwell Coach of the Year Award. He guided Wisconsin to the Capital One Bowl, a 34-24 loss to South Carolina.

      The Badgers lost five starters on offense and eight on defense, many on the line.

      Among the returnees is running back Melvin Gordon who opted out of the NFL draft to come back for his junior season.

      "Regrets? No, but I did think about it," said Gordon, who rushed for a team-leading 1,609 yards and scored 12 touchdowns, one behind the departed James White. "But camp's coming up and I don't have time to think about it."

      Melvin and right tackle Rob Havenstein were selected as two of five West Division preseason players to watch.

      Replacing departed defensive starters, particularly on the front line and at linebacker, will be a top priority when fall practice begins next week.

      "We're not as experienced obviously, which is a concern," Andersen said. "I believe we're athletic. We're tough-minded. We need to make substantial gains in camp with our ability to consistently play with pad level, hands, technique, pre-snap awareness."

      There's also competition at quarterback between junior returnee Joel Stave and junior Tanner McEvoy. Stave played all 13 games and threw for 2,494 yards and 22 touchdowns.

      "Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy will come in and split the reps," Andersen said. "It's going to be interesting to watch. … As far as a timeline, I really have no timeline. I've been through this a few times in my career and it will all settle out just like every position battle does."

      The Big Ten revamped and renamed its conference divisions with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, assigning both to the East. Division champs play in the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

      Wisconsin kicks off Aug. 30 against LSU in Houston. The Badgers open their home season on Sept. 6 against Western Illinois and begin Big Ten play Oct. 4 at Northwestern.

      NOTES: Half the Wisconsin roster is home-grown with 54 players hailing from the Badger State. … Six returning players earned All-Big Ten honors last year, including second teasers Gordon and Havenstein. … Andersen plans to add additional duties this fall directly coaching the Badgers boundary or "B" linebackers.

  • Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Marshall boots RB Grooms off team
    By The Sports Xchange

    Marshall running back Kevin Grooms has been kicked off the team, the athletic department announced via a news release on Saturday.

    • Grooms, who was Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2012, was arrested early Saturday and charged in a domestic dispute. He faces charges of petit larceny, burglary as well as domestic assault by threats.

      It didn't take long for Marshall coach Doc Holliday to cut Grooms. Saturday's news release said Grooms had been dismissed from the team for "a violation of team rules and policies."

      In November, he was suspended indefinitely from the team after being arrested on misdemeanor domestic battery and obstruction charges. In April 2013, Grooms was arrested for underage consumption. He allegedly gave police a fake name and was charged with obstructing.

      Grooms rushed for 503 yards and six touchdowns last year.

  • Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Penn State hires Barbour as AD
    By The Sports Xchange

    Penn State named Sandy Barbour as its new athletic director on Saturday.

    • Barbour stepped down as Cal's athletic director earlier this month.

      She replaces the retiring Dave Joyner.

      "Sandy is an excellent fit for Penn State and the Big Ten," Penn State president Eric Barron said in a statement. "She stood out among a highly qualified pool of candidates. I am excited by her energy, her experience and her knowledge of intercollegiate athletics. I look forward to working with her to further strengthen Penn State's rich athletics tradition and student-athlete success."

      Barbour, who spent a decade as Cal's athletic director, also announced her new job via Twitter.

      It was reported that Barbour was forced out of her position at Cal, and she took a job with the school on the academic side. However, Barron said that Barbour was the "clear choice, first choice" for the job.

      Barbour received a five-year agreement that will pay her $700,000 per year.

      At Cal, Barbour was successful in fundraising efforts that netted a newly-renovated football stadium. However, the school's athletic department also struggled with decreasing graduation rates and budget problems during her tenure.

      Barbour also had mixed results with the hires she made. Mike Montgomery had success as the men's basketball coach. On the other hand, Sonny Dykes guided the football team to a 1-11 mark in his first season after Jeff Tedford was fired.

      Joyner announced his retirement in June after nearly three years as Penn State's athletic director. He replaced Tim Curley in 2011 after the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal.

  • Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Georgia LB Bellamy arrested for DUI
    By The Sports Xchange

    Georgia freshman linebacker Davin Bellamy was arrested and charged with DUI and speeding Saturday morning, reported.

    • Bellamy was arrested at about 5 a.m. and released at 6:22 a.m. after posting a $2,000 bond, according to Athens-Clark County police records. He was charged with misdemeanors.

      Per the school's athletics policy, Bellamy faces at least a two-game suspension.

      Bellamy was not expected to start for the Bulldogs this season, but contribute off the bench at outside linebacker.

      Bellamy is the second Georgia defensive player arrested this week. Defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor was dismissed from the team following his arrest for felony assault last Tuesday.

  • Friday, July 25, 2014
    Texas dismisses Bergeron, three others
    By The Sports Xchange

    University of Texas dismissed running backs Joe Bergeron and Jalen Overstreet and defensive back Chevoski Collins from the team for violating team rules, the Austin American-Statesman reported Friday.

    • reported that a fourthTexas player, senior safety Josh Turner, was also dismissed. Turner was a projected starter who started three games last season.

      The dismissals came just a day after wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander were indefinitely suspended stemming from sexual assault charges.

      First-year Texas coach Charlie Strong said earlier this week that Bergeron, a senior, was "back in the mix" after he spent the spring away from football to focus on school. He has 20 touchdowns in the last two seasons.

      Johnathan Gray, who is recovering from an Achilles' tendon injury, was medically cleared to resume workouts. The Longhorns will depend on his return even more with Bergeron gone. Last season, Gray rushed for 780 yards with four touchdowns before missing the final four games with the injury.

      Cornerback Quandre Diggs was outspoken at Big 12 media days about Strong's stance of getting rid of players who were not buying into the program.

      "I want to weed guys out. That's just me," Diggs said, according to "I'm an up-front person. All my teammates know me. I'm going to tell you how I feel. I'm not going to jab at anything. I'm going to take an uppercut, take the hardest swing I can take, and I'll try to knock you out.

      "I don't sugarcoat anything just like (Strong's coaches) don't sugarcoat anything. That's just how I am, how I was born, how I was raised. I love the way they're taking the approach of getting guys out of here that don't belong."

  • Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Washington QB Miles suspended for opener
    By The Sports Xchange

    Washington quarterback Cyler Miles has been suspended for the team's season opener against Hawaii, the school announced Thursday.

    • Miles' suspension stems from his role in a fight after the Super Bowl that also led to a suspension that kept him out for all of spring practice. He was reinstated to the team on May 14.

      Former Washington receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault and one count of malicious mischief as a result of the incident. He has since left the team. Miles was never charged.

      Miles is expected to replace Keith Price as the Huskies' starting quarterback, but coach Chris Petersen has not officially named a starter.

      Miles, a redshirt sophomore from Centennial, Colo., started one game for the injured Price in 2013, helping the Huskies to a 69-27 victory at Oregon State. He appeared in eight games, completing 37 of 61 passes for 418 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 200 yards on 23 carries.

      With Miles suspended, sophomore Jeff Lindquist or redshirt freshman Troy Williams will likely start the opener against Hawaii on Aug. 30.

  • Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Texas WRs charged with sexual assault
    By The Sports Xchange

    University of Texas wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander were arrested Thursday and charged with criminal sexual assault stemming from an incident July 22.

    • The second-degree felony is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and additional fine of up to $10,000.

      Sanders, a junior, faces a second charge of improper photography. Sanders was suspended by former coach Mack Brown for the 2013 season opener following a drunken driving arrest.

      Both players were suspended indefinitely by first-year head coach Charlie Strong.

      "We've been monitoring and addressing the situation with Kendall (Sanders) and Montrel (Meander) since it was brought to our attention," Strong said in a statement. "It's been made clear to everyone on our team that treating women with respect is one of our core values, and I'm extremely disappointed that two young men in our program have been accused of not doing that. With the recent charges against them, they have been suspended indefinitely from our football team and will no longer participate in any team functions."

      Bail was set at $95,000 for Sanders -- including $20,000 for the second charge -- and $75,000 for Meander, a freshman.

      University of Texas police said both players were cooperating with the investigation, and claim the alleged victim consented to the encounter.

  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    CFB roundup: DE Fields separated from TCU
    By The Sports Xchange

    TCU defensive end Devonte Fields, named the Big 12 preseason defensive player of the year on Monday, was separated from the university while an investigation is conducted into allegations that he threatened a former girlfriend with a gun.

    • According to a Fort Worth police report, Fields allegedly aimed the gun at Haley Brown and said, "I should blast you" early Sunday. The university announced the separation with Fields on Tuesday while Fort Worth police investigate the domestic incident.

      Brown told police that Fields shouted at her and punched her in the head after knocking out a bedroom window early Sunday. Brown had a cut under an eye and a swollen cheek, according to the report. Fields fled before police arrived at the Fort Worth home where the alleged attacked occurred.

      ---Steve Spurrier and Dabo Swinney are sworn rivals, so much so that the leaders of South Carolina and Clemson cannot even agree on their planets of origin.

      Spurrier said Tuesday that all the banter is really "just a bunch of talking" but that didn't slow down the 68-year-old's wisecracks.

      Swinney joked Monday that the coaches were from different planets, Spurrier from Pluto and Swinney from Mars. Spurrier said during his live gauntlet through ESPN's battery of programming in Bristol, Conn., Tuesday that "Dabo probably thinks there's only, what, nine planets out there. I think I read where Pluto may not be considered one now."

      Spurrier wanted to remind the public of Swinney's penchant for stirring the pot, since it's typically the South Carolina coach who draws criticism for firing arrows directly at the Tigers.

      "The only thing I remind Dabo of is his comments three years ago of the real Carolina being in Chapel Hill and the real USC being in California," said Spurrier, whose Gamecocks have won five in a row over the Tigers. "Sometimes he forgets he throws some stuff out there also. He wants to make people believe that I'm the only one that throws a little stuff out."

      ---Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was not subject to additional discipline for shoplifting seafood at a supermarket in April.

      Winston was suspended from the baseball team, ordered to reimburse the supermarket $32 for the goods and complete community service. After conferring with Winston and baseball coach Mike Martin, Fisher decided Winston had paid proper penance.

      Sophomore wide receiver Jesus Wilson is suspended from the team for theft of a scooter, a crime to which he confessed in an email to investigators. Offensive lineman Ira Denson was dismissed from school when he was charged as an accessory to a first-degree felony.

      "Let me ask this: When your kids get in trouble at home, do you tell the neighborhood what you did to them?" he said. "Kids are going to make mistakes. Nobody's perfect. Our whole thing at Florida State is teaching kids to make decisions.

      ---Tennessee and West Virginia are scheduled to play Sept. 1, 2018, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

      Tennessee plays its first game next season at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans, in Nashville next season and at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in 2016 against Virginia Tech.

      West Virginia has played two previous bowl games at Bank of America Stadium. It will be the first game for the Volunteers in Charlotte.

      Tennessee opens the 2014 season with three non-conference games, including a Sept. 13 visit to Norman and Big 12 favorite Oklahoma.

      West Virginia plays in the 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Aug. 30 against Alabama in Atlanta.

  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    DE Fields separated from TCU during investigation
    By The Sports Xchange

    TCU defensive end Devonte Fields, named the Big 12 preseason defensive player of the year on Monday, was separated from the university while an investigation is conducted into allegations that he threatened a former girlfriend with a gun.

    • According to a Fort Worth police report, Fields allegedly aimed the gun at Haley Brown and said, "I should blast you" early Sunday. The university announced the separation with Fields on Tuesday while Fort Worth police investigate the domestic incident.

      Brown told police that Fields shouted at her and punched her in the head after knocking out a bedroom window early Sunday. Brown had a cut under an eye and a swollen cheek, according to the report. Fields fled before police arrived at the Fort Worth home where the alleged attacked occurred.

      According to USA Today, Sgt. Raymond Bush said Fields is considered a subject in a domestic disturbance and is not under arrest. The woman did not to file charges, saying the couple dated for two years but broke up on June 1.

      Fields was suspended at the start of the 2013 season for violating team rules and then suffered a foot injury that required surgery in October. He ended up playing in only three games last year but nonetheless was named to this year's watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is given annually to the nation's top defensive player.

      TCU coach Gary Patterson was surprised Monday that Fields was named the conference's preseason defensive POY considering his limited action last season.

      "I haven't watched him since you watched him," Patterson said.

      As a freshman in 2012, Fields was named the Associated Press Big 12 defensive player of the year after posting 18 1/2 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.

  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    Big 12 notebook: Off to Strong start at Texas
    By The Sports Xchange

    DALLAS – New Texas coach Charlie Strong's first order of business while making his formal introduction to Big 12 Conference peers on Tuesday was to slightly play down high expectations.

    • "You expect them to have expectations at the University of Texas because you're looking at a premier program," Strong said on the second and final day of the conference's media assembly. "But it's all about our players and just making sure we go compete. We as a coaching staff need to make sure the preparation is there.

      "When you get caught up in the expectations, I don't ever want to put pressure on our team. I just want them to go out and just go to work each and every day."

      Strong will begin his first season at Texas in the Longhorns' opener at home against North Texas on Aug. 30.

      He replaces Mack Brown, who resigned in January after an 8-5 season -- disappointing by Texas standards -- and wilting under the expectations of a fan base that wants to be a national contender every year.

      Under Brown, Texas became just that for a while.

      Brown compiled a 158-48 record with the Longhorns while winning the BCS national championship in 2005 and playing in another in 2009.

      By virtue of his hiring in January, those expectations have been transferred to Strong, who left Louisville to take over at Texas.

      "I followed an icon in Coach Brown 16 seasons at the University of Texas," Strong said. "The foundation has been laid. Now it's up to us to … to build on it.

      "It's going to be very challenging, but we're looking forward to it."

      Strong indicated that David Ash would be his starter at quarterback but said sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and true freshman Tyrone Swoopes will get good looks.

      Strong was the last of five Big 12 coaches to address the media on Tuesday. He was preceded by Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Iowa State's Paul Rhoads, West Virginia's Dana Holgerson and Kansas State's Bill Snyder.

      "I think Charlie's a great coach," said Stoops, coach of Texas' archrival. "We've really enjoyed the times I have been around him. So I gotta be careful. I can't wish him too much luck, but I know he'll do a great job and he's a great coach."

      --TCU defensive end Devonte Fields has been separated from the team while under investigation by Fort Worth police in a case involving an alleged domestic disturbance, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

      Fields' ex-girlfriend accused him of pointing a gun at her and threatening "I should blast you!" before punching her in the head in the early morning hours on Sunday, the paper reported. Fields, who only played in three games in 2013 because of injury and suspension for violating team rules, was selected the Big 12 preseason defensive MVP.

      --Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he is hopeful transfer wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and transfer quarterback Baker Mayfield will be eligible to play this year.

      Green-Beckham was dismissed from Missouri for off-field issues and Mayfield was a starter at Texas Tech as a walk-on true freshman.

      "I think it's one thing if you've invested a scholarship in an individual," said Stoops, who added that the school has an appeal before the NCAA regarding Green-Beckham. "But a guy that you haven't invested a scholarship in, I don't know why that would ... be an issue."

      --Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads gave new offensive coordinator Mark Mangino a warm embrace.

      "We're going to be a spread system. It's a generic term, but we're going to deploy a lot of three wide receiver sets and one-back offense. We're not going to huddle. We want to be simple where our kids can execute at a high rate of speed, and I think that's exactly what Mark brings to our offense."

      --College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock paid a visit and said Minnesota and Atlanta, both building new stadiums, and Indianapolis are all expected to receive strong consideration to host national championship games in 2018 through 20.

  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    West Virginia, Tennessee open 2018 in Charlotte
    By The Sports Xchange

    Tennessee and West Virginia are scheduled to play Sept. 1, 2018, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

    • The game was announced by the Charlotte Sports Foundation.

      Tennessee plays its first game next season at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans, in Nashville next season and at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in 2016 against bordering rival Virginia Tech.

      West Virginia has played two previous bowl games at Bank of America Stadium. It will be the first game for the Volunteers in Charlotte.

      Tennessee opens the 2014 season with three non-conference games, including a Sept. 13 visit to Norman and Big 12 favorite Oklahoma.

      West Virginia plays in the 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Aug. 30 against Alabama in Atlanta.

  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    ACC notebook: Winston faces no additional discipline
    By The Sports Xchange

    Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was not subject to additional discipline for shoplifting seafood at a supermarket in April.

    • Winston was suspended from the baseball team, ordered to reimburse the supermarket $32 for the goods and complete community service. After conferring with Winston and baseball coach Mike Martin, Fisher decided Winston had paid proper penance.

      "People need to realize, when you suspend him in baseball, you understand how important baseball is to him? That cut his heart out," Fisher said Monday. "If it was done maliciously, we may have done other things. It was a silly mistake and not done with any malicious doing, and you don't punish a guy twice for the same crime."

      Sophomore wide receiver Jesus Wilson is suspended from the team for theft of a scooter, a crime to which he confessed in an email to investigators. Offensive lineman Ira Denson was dismissed from school when he was charged as an accessory to a first-degree felony.

      "Let me ask this: When your kids get in trouble at home, do you tell the neighborhood what you did to them?" he said. "Kids are going to make mistakes. Nobody's perfect. Our whole thing at Florida State is teaching kids to make decisions.

      "What you need to do is accept it, learn from it and don't repeat it. Everything doesn't need to be known. Kids have to have room to grow as individuals. Everything is not out there. Do you whip your kids in public? Don't think anyone is more upset at them than we are, but also nobody cares more for them than we do. There's got to be some privacy for these kids to grow and develop as human beings."

      Florida State's opponent in the 2014 national championship game in January, Auburn, is dealing with a discipline issue with quarterback Nick Marshall. Marshall, a projected Heisman Trophy candidate, was cited for marijuana possession during a traffic stop. He was apologetic, but coach Gus Malzahn said he will face consequences to be determined. It's possible Marshall could be suspended for the Aug. 30 opener against Arkansas, but he was not arrested and possessed a relatively small amount of pot.

      --Virginia is counting on quarterback Greyson Lambert to bring the Cavaliers up to the level of competition in the ACC after a 2-10 season.

      Head coach Mike London said Monday at ACC Media Days in Greensboro, N.C., that there is never a doubt about Lambert's level of commitment.

      "Greyson is the type of young man that is always studying the game of football. He loves football," London said Monday. "As a matter of fact, you go in his room, he's got plays all on his wall and his ceiling. Now, it might cause some of us concern about being overly in love with football, but the fact that he is a guy that wants the team to rally behind, he's a guy that wants to be out in front, he's a guy that wants to take the responsibility of leading this team. As I said, as far as an experience level, he's been in college games, and he has an opportunity the first time in a while that we've had two quarterbacks that have played in college football games that have experience other than our rivals that are in the ACC. You know, Greyson is a guy that the team will rally behind and a guy that wants to lead this team to championships."

      Lambert opens fall camp as the starter, London said, with experienced starter David Walker backing him up.

      --North Carolina freshman running back Elijah Hood might be ready to carry the Tar Heels on his back. At least a few of his linemen. Or three receivers.

      Hood was a star of the offseason at Chapel Hill, even if coach Larry Fedora didn't witness the weight-room wonder setting a new freshman record, squatting 605 pounds.

      "He could have gone higher, but they didn't want that to happen," Fedora said Monday. "He's 18 years old. That's a lot of weight from my understanding. I've never had 605 pounds on my back, so I don't know what that's like."

      Hood, a 220-pound freshman five-star recruit, enrolled in January to take part in spring practice. An instant, and lasting, impact is expected around the program. He rushed for 3,690 yards and 53 touchdowns as a senior at Charlotte Catholic High School.

      "I think he's a very special kid," Fedora said. "He's extremely intelligent. He picked up the offense as quick as any kid I've ever had, especially at that position, and it will be interesting to see what he does this year and how he does it. I mean, we haven't been in the heat of the battle yet so we'll find out, so I don't know what the ceiling is at this point."

  • Monday, July 21, 2014
    Big 12 notebook: Bowlsby rips NCAA, claims 'cheating pays'
    By The Sports Xchange

    DALLAS -- The NCAA is in a dire situation.

    • That is how Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby put in during a 45-minute state of the league address with reporters at conference media day on Monday. Bowlsby touched on the seven lawsuits facing college athletics, college athletes and unions, the possibility of cutting men's Olympic sports and the inability of NCAA enforcement to nab rule breakers.

      "It's not an understatement to say that cheating pays presently," Bowlsby said. "If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions."

      Bowlsby painted a bleak picture of the present, and a dark forecast of the future of the NCAA. He said the organization as it stands likely won't exist in the future and that several "Armageddon" situations could arise from lawsuits like the O'Bannon case, where former NCAA athletes are suing for compensation over the use of their likeness, or the fight for college athletes to unionize.

      "If you like intercollegiate athletics the way it is you are going to hate it going forward," Bowlsby said. "There is a lot of change coming and I fear that we will get past the change and then will realize all the gymnastic programs."

      Bowlsby said men's Olympic sports could be cut as a response to the O'Bannon case. Bowlsby also said the NCAA is on "a path of significant financial difficulty" because the organization's annual revenue growth is about 2 ½ percent while growing at about 4 percent a year.

      Bowlsby wants NCAA reform and change and is working with fellow commissioners and athletic directors to bring it about, including in NCAA enforcement, where Bowlsby suggested it may be best for the federal government to take it over because of its ability to issue subpoenas.

      "I am really not very far of being of the mind that some form of federal statute is not a good idea," he said. "You could say it's against the law to influence where a student athlete would go to school, influence the outcome of a contest, to provide a benefit that is outside of the rules."

      Rare Bear? Briles wants QB Petty in Heisman picture

      Baylor is coming off the best season in program history. And coach Art Briles made the short trip to the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas feeling more than a little agitated.

      It has nothing to do with the Big 12 title or 11 wins. The angst is over quarterback Bryce Petty failing to be named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

      Briles on Monday all but said Petty should go to the Big Apple with a big 2014 season.

      "I certainly felt like he should have been in New York without question," Briles said. "I mean, you're a first-year starter -- you win 11 football games, win the Big 12 Championship for the first time in school history, throw 4,200 yards, 33 TDs, three picks and … you sit at home in December?

      "Do those numbers again this year, he'll be in New York. Might win it."

      Petty, the preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year, has a good chance to repeat, if not top, his stellar 2013 campaign. The Bears were picked second in the Big 12 preseason poll, behind Oklahoma. The offense returns All-Big 12 preseason selections at running back, in Shock Linwood, and wide receiver, in Antwan Goodley.

      The Bears could be in for a good season, but Petty doesn't want to get ahead of himself with the Heisman talk.

      "My job is to play and be the best I can," Petty said. "It's something I'm not going to worry. That is all I can do. The rest is up to the voters."

      Big 12 to make officiating history

      Catherine Conti will become the first female official to call a Power 5 college football game this season when she takes the field for Southeast Missouri-Kansas on Sept 6.

      Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced the move during his Big 12 state of the union address on Monday.

      "It's significant that she's doing it," Bowlsby said. "And I don't know that (Big 12 coordinator of officials) Walt (Anderson) made the selection for gender equity purposes; I think he made the selection because she is just a darned good official."

      Conti has worked smaller Division I conference contests in the past. Kansas coach Charlie Weis is a fan of the move and jokingly said he'll only making one change to his approach to that game.

      "I'll try to watch my language," Weis said. "I believe in the old-fashioned way. So I'll try not to use as many bad words.

      "But it means nothing to me. It's great that a woman is put in a position where she can be put on equal footing with men. And if I said anything other than that, I'd be in trouble with my wife. So all the power to her."

      TCU's DPOY pick surprises coach

      TCU defensive end DeVonte Fields, who missed most of last season, was selected the preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year. The move caught his coach, Gary Patterson, off guard.

      "I haven't watched him since you watched him," Patterson said.

      Fields was suspended to start the 2013 season for violating unspecified team rules, and a foot injury ended his season. The defensive player award projection could not have been based on statistics. Fields had four tackles last season.

      Fields obtained a medical redshirt and is looking to regain his freshman form, when he was one of the best pass rushers in the league and named the Associated Press Big 12 defensive player of the year after recording 53 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.

      "If he is able to play and do the things we need him to do, then obviously I think we'll have a chance to be better anytime you have that kind of player," Patterson said.

  • Monday, July 21, 2014
    ACC notebook: Florida State's mystique has returned
    By The Sports Xchange

    GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Florida State is all the rage in the Atlantic Coast Conference, too.

    • The Seminoles are the defending national champions and they figure to be in the mix to repeat.

      Another season of change is upon the ACC, which has Louisville on board -- and joining the Seminoles and Clemson in the Atlantic Division -- and a scheduling model that involves Notre Dame for selected games that will count as non-league encounters.

      But for now, the mystique that Florida State enjoyed throughout the 1990s and beyond seems to have returned.

      "We've developed the culture," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "That's why we're Florida State."

      The Seminoles have Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston at quarterback and that's just part of the buzz that was created around Grandover Resort for the two-day ACC Kickoff that wrapped up Monday.

      Florida State is the overwhelming favorite to win another conference title, selected on 104 of 108 media ballots, with the other two votes going to Clemson and Virginia Tech. Florida State was dubbed as the Atlantic Division favorite as well.

      The Seminoles figure to have all the ingredients on both sides of the ball.

      "We have size, we have length and we have speed," Fisher said in giving a description of the defense.

      Winston's presence created such attention that players from other schools were almost ignored at times when he was in the same room.

      Balloting for the Coastal Division was much closer, with Miami the pick as favorite but Duke notching the most first-place votes. In fact, Miami was first on 26 ballots compared to Duke's 33 first-place votes. Virginia Tech was the top pick by 23 voters and North Carolina received 27 top picks despite ending fourth in the division in the poll.

      LOOK, IT'S LOUISVILLE: Not only did the ACC Kickoff mark the beginning of another college football cycle in the league, but it signaled the debut of Louisville as a league member.

      And the Cardinals have coach Bobby Petrino back as well.

      Petrino said Louisville might have had an edge in talent in the old Big East Conference. He said those days are in the past when Cardinals might simply be better than league opponents.

      Louisville was picked third in the Atlantic Division behind Florida State and Clemson.

      ACC commissioner John Swofford called Louisville's athletic department perhaps making more strides than any other school in the country across the past 15 years.

      JUST SIGN THEM UP: The ACC is on board as an advocate of an early signing period for football.

      Swofford said exactly when that should take places is something in the discussion stage among league members. Either way, he said the conference hopes there's movement on that topic.

      "We feel it's something that would be healthy for the game, healthy for the institutions and healthy for the young men being recruited," Swofford said.

      Swofford said the ACC welcomes NCAA reform in connection with the so-called Big Five power conferences. He said change is coming in one way or another.

      "The Goodship Status Quo has sailed," he said.

      TIGERS DO THEIR THING: Clemson had one of the most powerful offenses in the country last season.

      Because of the Tigers' failure against Florida State (and later loss to South Carolina), they dropped from the national scene last season. Still, they ended up as Orange Bowl champions.

      Now the quarterback controls are turned over to Cole Stoudt, a senior who will be a first-year starter.

      "I think when it's all said and done, we'll still have one of the best offenses in the country," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.

      Stoudt covets the opportunity.

      "I'm very comfortable with the situation that I'm in," Stoudt said. "I've always been a relaxed kind of guy."

      DON'T SLEEP ON DUKE: Duke is the reigning Coastal Division champion in the ACC, if anyone cares to remember.

      "Last season doesn't really matter to me," offensive guard Laken Tomlinson said. "It's what we can do this upcoming season."

      The Blue Devils have lost bowl games the past two years, including a memorable Chick-fil-A Bowl clash with Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel on New Year's Eve.

      "Getting the taste of what almost winning a bowl game is two years in a row, that amplifies the intensity so much," Tomlinson said. "We're hungry as ever to go out and win as many games as we can and hopefully win the ACC championship."

      Even though Duke wasn't picked as the preseason favorite in the division, the Blue Devils being second on that list in the division is a sign of progress.

      Coach David Cutcliffe said the recent success for the Blue Devils is something to use going forward.

      "There has to be a sense that ... if you like the way this tastes, you're going to have to get better," Cutcliffe said.

      REMEMBER HIM? Nothing unusual about seeing Jim Grobe at the annual ACC Kickoff. Except he's no longer the Wake Forest football coach.

      This time, Grobe was in a media role.

      He will be part of the ACC Gridiron Live show, which is a new ACC-focused football show that will debut at 10 p.m. Aug. 27 on Fox Sports South. The show is scheduled to air for 16 consecutive weeks.

      Grobe coached Wake Forest for 13 seasons, ending with a 4-8 record. Dave Clawson was named the new coach in December.

      Grobe said he moved to Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga., about five weeks ago.

      "You can breathe a little bit," he said. "I wanted to get out of Dave's way."

      Clawson, who came from Bowling Green, said he had no prior relationship with Grobe, but praised the former coach for helping in the transition.

      "He has gone out of his way in my seven months to help me and I'm grateful for that," Clawson said. "If you don't like Jim Grobe, you don't like people."

      MAKE A PICK: North Carolina's initial summer depth chart shows Marquise Williams or Mitch Trubisky as the starting quarterback.

      Williams is the incumbent after leading the Tar Heels to a 4-1 mark, including a Belk Bowl victory against Cincinnati. He took over when Bryn Renner suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

      Williams said he welcomes the competition.

      "I haven't been able to really show myself in a whole season," he said. "Once I'm able to establish myself in a whole season and let everybody know what I can really do, that's when you can judge me."

      Trubisky is a redshirt freshman who arrived highly touched from Mentor, Ohio.

      Williams said he gained more confidence this summer by attending the Manning Passing Academy and receiving positive reviews from Peyton Manning.

      Williams said battles for starting roles is healthy at all positions.

      "If you don't have a position battle on a football team, then I don't know why you have a college football team," he said.

      ONLY CAN GO UP: Without winning a conference game in last year's 3-9 season, North Carolina State has all sorts of work to do.

      There's some reflection on the season heading toward the 2014 schedule.

      "We didn't talk about 3-9," running back Tony Creecy said. "We talked about the seven games that we were in that we could have won."

      The Wolfpack are counting on the addition of quarterback Jacoby Brissett, a transfer from Florida who sat out last season per NCAA regulations, as making a difference.

      "He came in humble," Creecy said. "He's such a great leader. Jacoby brings that sense of feeling good."

  • Monday, July 21, 2014
    WR Carter's TCU career likely over
    By The Sports Xchange

    Wide receiver Brandon Carter's career at TCU appears to be over. The senior was arrested in April for possession of marijuana, but it's academics that are keeping him off the field.

    • According to TCU head coach Gary Patterson, Carter "will not make it" this season due to poor grades, and the coach believes that it's time for the wide receiver and TCU to part ways.

      "He has a redshirt year and I think the best thing for him is to get a new start," Patterson said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, when asked if Carter would be invited back to the team when eligible. "It's setting a precedent - you have to go to school."

      The charges from Carter's April arrest were later dropped due to insufficient evidence, but immaturity questions have followed him since high school. Carter sat out spring practices in April due to academics and it is not yet known if he will attempt to transfer to a lower level of college football or sit out the 2014 season.

      Rated as the No. 25 senior wide receiver prospect by entering the 2014 season, Carter was considered a possible mid-round draft pick by several NFL evaluators. He was a four-star recruit out of Euless, Texas and originally committed to Oklahoma, but shocked many when he switched to TCU. Carter has recorded 90 catches in his three seasons with the Horned Frogs, flashing exciting talent with the ball in his hands.

      Carter did most of his damage out of the slot, using the middle of the field as his playground to catch-and-create with elusive feet and smooth acceleration to quickly get up to full speed and race to the end zone. At 5-feet-11 and 186 pounds, he doesn't have the ideal body type for the NFL level, but his 4.46-second speed in the 40-yard dash and big-play potential are what will earn him a shot in the NFL.

      Dane Brugler is an analyst for, a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    NCAA denies use of helmet cams
    By The Sports Xchange

    The NCAA will not allow the ACC to use helmet cams and coach-quarterback communications systems this season, according to

    • The NCAA's rules committee rejected the conference's request to experiment with the communication devices, partly due to timing. The committee said the June request did not allow for enough time to formally discuss it.

      University of Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman wore a helmet cam during a spring game.

      However, the ACC will be allowed to use biometric systems. The most common one is the Catapult system, a biofeedback vest that Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher credits for helping the Seminoles win the BCS championship last season.

      ACC commissioner John Swofford is expected to address the rules issues when he gives his state of the conference address Sunday during the first day of the ACC media days.

      The intent of the devices is to record, document and measure data on head contacts. The Catapult system measures even more data. Fisher uses the data in practices to measure the health of individual players.

      The NCAA allows the use of biometric vests for one-way communication and the data only for health and safety.

      "It's allowed (by the NCAA in games) anyway," said Doug Rhodes, ACC coordinator of officials. "It's never been formalized. You can use it in practice all along. It's always been fuzzy about the game."

      Helmet cams can be used to track head impact and trauma issues but Rhodes said such cameras could also be safety hazards.

      In-helmet communication between coaches and quarterbacks have been used in the NFL for several years.

      How they are used in the college game is what the NCAA wants to discuss.

      "This has been something we've talked about at a national coordinator discussion," said Steve Shaw, the SEC coordinator of officials. "We think it could help clean up sidelines because coaches don't have to come out and signal plays. What's the cost of it? Could every team purchase it?

      "But it's become a topic."

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Comcast agrees to add SEC Network
    By The Sports Xchange

    Comcast jumped on board with the SEC Network on Friday, reaching agreement on a long-term deal to include the new channel when it launches on Aug. 14.

    • Comcast, the largest cable carrier in the country, will make the SEC Network available on is basic tier in SEC states and on its digital basic elsewhere.

      The only major distributors yet to pick up the network are Time Warner and DirecTV. Both expect to reach a deal to provide the network to subscribers before the first football game airs on Aug. 28.

      According to Sports Business Daily, Comcast's rate card will $1.40 per subscriber per month in the 11-state SEC area and $0.25 per month in other parts of the country.

      With the Comcast agreement locked up, the SEC Network is now available to 46 million homes. Others carriers who previously signed on were AT&T, Dish Network and Cox.

      ESPN has stated its goal is to reach 75 million cable and satellite subscribers when the SEC Network goes on the air next month.

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Saban claims Alabama in 'rebuilding situation'
    By The Sports Xchange

    Nick Saban knows defense.

    • Alabama has led the SEC in defense six straight seasons, winning three national titles in five years with a vice grips group that continues to churn on first-round draft picks by the fistful.

      He also understands a thing or two about beating defenses. His last two quarterbacks, AJ McCarron and Greg McElroy, were a combined 60-7.

      Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is presumed the favorite in new coordinator Lane Kiffin's offense.

      "We're basically an unproven team in a lot of areas," Saban said Thursday during his press conference at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. "In some cases -- they are critical positions, like quarterback. We have a transfer player, Blake Sims was our quarterback in the spring and is certainly going to compete for the position and a couple of young guys. … It does create a question mark as to when is this going to resolve itself?"

      One thing is new about Alabama -- the Crimson Tide is learning how to handle an offseason that kicked off with a second straight loss in January, a lopsided loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl on the heels of the "Kick Six" gut punch in the Iron Bowl.

      Saban even used the phrase "rebuilding situation" to describe his approach to this season.

      "Our situation as a team is a lot different," Saban said of balancing previous years when he spent the offseason battling complacency. "It's a little bit different mindset with our players. We have to re-establish our identity as a team at Alabama. It's going to take every player to have a tremendous amount of buy-in for us to do that. I think you basically need to check your ego at the door … trust in the things that have helped us be successful. And certainly have the willingness as a family and a group to serve each other."

      Blake Sims, a mobile quarterback, will likely have a role in the offense but Kiffin's system of pro-style root concepts makes Coker, a 6-5, 225-pound pocket passer, a more ideal starter.

      "The development of that position -- no matter who it is -- is going to be critical to the team," Saban said, adding that the outside perception of Coker being the starter is not shared inside the program.

      The media pick to win the SEC -- the poll that stands as the perennial bane of Saban's offseason -- has yet to select a starter, but Saban has readymade options at his disposal after leading the nation in recruiting three years running.

      Elite freshman Cam Robinson projects as the starter at left tackle in the opener Aug. 30 against West Virginia. The acclaimed recruit has the size and potential to become the next blocker to reach the NFL via early round draft choice, but the newcomer will be tested in Kiffin's shifting, audible-reliant scheme.

      To his benefit, Robinson will have a pair of seniors next to him at center and left guard.

      He's hardly the sole newbie to watch in Tuscaloosa. The skill position talent around Coker should be special. Experienced receivers such as Christion Jones and Amari Cooper will be joined by sophomore Chris Black, and an exceptional freshman class give Alabama its best collection of pass catchers in decades.

      Running back T.J. Yeldon, one of seven returning starters on offense, is a Heisman Trophy candidate who could find the new offense very much to his liking. The junior, a former Mr. Football in Alabama,

      Alabama, the media pick to win the West division and SEC, plays at LSU on Nov. 8 and hosts Auburn three weeks later (Nov. 29).

      Those games will be significant in determining Alabama's fate in the first College Football Playoff selection on Dec. 7.

      "I do think when you look at the history of the BCS, they usually got it right," Saban said, adding that he's hopeful the playoff leans on 13 years of the BCS to tweak the system to get the right four teams. "The criticism always came when there were more than two teams that were deserving. Now, the same thing is going to happen with a four-team playoff.

      "I think if we continue to expand, whether it's a playoff system or whatever it is, I think we're getting to a saturation point of how many games can a college football player play without overdoing it relative to responsibilities he has academically and the other things going on in his life. There's only going to be a few teams that do that, and we'd certainly -- I'm sure every coach -- would like to be one of the teams with the opportunity."

      NOTES: Saban said to avoid schedule manipulation, he hopes the College Football Playoff selection committee eventually picks all bowl games. "I know that everybody thinks I'm crazy, but I think every player that comes to an SEC school should play a game against every SEC school," Saban said. "But I'm the only coach that's interested in doing that." … Saban said he didn't have any conversations with Texas and "nobody offered me anything" in response to questions about the book claim the University of Texas pitched a $100 million contract to lure him to Austin. "(Alabama) is where we choose to end our career someday," he said. … Saban told media members that voted Alabama preseason favorites "just to let you know, we're evaluating you." Saban was expounding on the media streak of not voting the correct conference champion in five consecutive preseason polls.

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Ole Miss graduating from whipping boy status
    By The Sports Xchange

    It's good not to be Steve Spurrier's whipping boy at SEC Media Days.

    • Ole Miss and coach Hugh Freeze were the target of a Spurrier zinger two years ago when the South Carolina coach answered a scheduling question by saying he'd like to play the Rebels every year.

      "I don't blame Steve for saying that," Freeze said Thursday at the Hyatt Regency in Hoover, Ala. "At that point, who wouldn't have wanted to play Ole Miss? I don't take it personally.

      "I do think standing here today that you would rather be in my shoes with a Bo Wallace coming back. … But standing here last year, nobody was talking about (Auburn's) Nick Marshall either. And two years ago, nobody was talking about Johnny Manziel."

      Ole Miss was 3-5 in the SEC last season but won eight games, including at Texas and beating Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl, and with nine defensive starters back and six on offense, Freeze is optimistic the turnaround project is going the right direction.

      "The journey we've been on, it's been faster than I thought possible," said Freeze, who said he expects the Rebels to look like an SEC team and be competitive in every game this season.

      Freeze said he will be much more aware and in tune with his players this season after a series of late kickoffs and road games drained a team that relied heavily on young players.

      "Fatigue took place -- if not physically, definitely mentally," he said. "I had a learning curve on that too. We depended on so many young kids. … I do believe it took somewhat of a toll on them whereas an upperclassmen has experienced those things."

      Freeze said wide receiver Collins Moore will miss up to six weeks with a knee injury, a blow to his progress following a strong spring. But it's also a positive for Ole Miss that for the first time depth concerns are not as steep.

      "Being perfectly candid I think we're ahead," Freeze said. "This will be our first season that we have 85 guys that we recruited to be on scholarship. I just didn't think, knowing the SEC and being around it my whole life and following it, I wasn't sure we could accomplish what we did in year two."

      NOTES: Freeze said his 15-year-old daughter Ragan keeps personal rankings of conference head coaches -- dad not included -- and the current No. 1 is LSU's Les Miles. Miles spent 10 minutes with her on the field before the game two years ago, and last season the two talked on the field before Freeze ever left the locker room. … LT Christian Morris (Achilles) has not yet been granted a waiver to play this season. … Junior college transfer cornerback Tee Shepard and freshman defensive tackle Chris Williams have not been cleared academically eligible.

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Richt: Second not Georgia's spot
    By The Sports Xchange

    Second place is not a fit for Mark Richt and Georgia, even after the Bulldogs finished third in the SEC East division last season and with the task of replacing four-year starter Aaron Murray.

    • "We're not cheering about being No. 2," Richt said.

      He sternly added, "I'd have us first."

      "We’ve got a good team,” he said of the 2014 Bulldogs. “We’ll see how good we are once get going. We’ve got a lot of things to put together between now and then. But I think we’ve created a very good culture this summer. I think, just listening to our guys on the plane ride here, just asking 'How's it going?' -- they're very optimistic, they’re very proud of their teammates and the work that’s been put in this summer."

      To revisit, the Bulldogs were banged up with injuries hitting at a constant rate to Murray (ACL) and each of Richt's bell-cow running backs.

      Todd Gurley is a Heisman Trophy candidate with size and speed to become a first-round pick, a growing rarity in the pass-crazed NFL, which should be a boon as the Bulldogs break in a new quarterback.

      Huston Mason got his feet wet when Murray went down last season, but how will he handle the flamethrower of a season-opening set of games against Clemson and South Carolina.

      "Leadership," said senior wide receiver Chris Conley. "He goes out there on the field and takes control. He's a great communicator. He may have had to sit behind Aaron for so long, but we believe he can make plays."

      Gurley is expected to leave for the pros after this season, but Richt will not discourage him from waving goodbye to Athens. Murray returned to Georgia after his junior season and blew out his knee last season.

      "I talked to him about embracing it," Richt said.

      Running back Keith Marshall is expected to be back on the field early in the season. Richt said his progress returning from a torn ACL is significant.

      "I've watched him running straight ahead. He looks outstanding," Richt said.

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Media: Alabama to win SEC
    By The Sports Xchange

    Alabama is the preseason favorite again in the Southeastern Conference.

    • The Crimson Tide, the overwhelming favorite, received 154 points in the media poll released Thursday at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Auburn was second with 75 points and South Carolina received 32.

      However, it was noted the media poll correctly predicted the conference champion just four times in the past 22 years. Auburn was picked last in the West division in July 2013 and went on to win the SEC title.

      1. Alabama

      2. Auburn

      3. South Carolina

      4. Georgia

      5. LSU

      6. Ole Miss

      7. Arkansas

      7. Mississippi State

      Below are the results of the SEC media preseason poll by division:

      SEC East

      1. South Carolina, 1895 points

      2. Georgia, 1,777

      3. Florida, 1,362

      4. Missouri, 1,263

      5. Tennessee, 893

      6. Vanderbilt, 619

      7. Kentucky, 395

      SEC West

      1. Alabama, 1,915

      2. Auburn, 1,735

      3. LSU, 1,453

      4. Ole Miss, 1,069

      5. Mississippi State, 890

      6. Texas A&M, 791

      7. Arkansas, 351

  • Sunday, July 20, 2014
    CFB roundup: Alabama-USC to play in 2016
    By The Sports Xchange

    Alabama and USC will play in the 2016 Cowboys Classic on Sept. 3 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

    • The teams have combined for 17 national titles -- Alabama has 10 -- and last met in the 1985 Aloha Bowl. Alabama won that game, 24-3.

      "We are excited to participate in a game that is such an attractive matchup for the nation's fans," said new USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian. "The 2016 Cowboys Classic not only brings together two of college football's most tradition-laden and successful programs, but teams that in 1970 played a significant role in shaping the history of the game.

      "At USC, we have always tried to schedule as many outstanding non-conference opponents as possible because we believe that should be part of the experience our players get when they come here. The Trojans versus the Crimson Tide in Arlington will certainly be such a game."

      Alabama leads the all-time series 5-2.

      ---Fans now know exactly what the 2014 national championship trophy will look like. The road to the first title game in Arlington, Texas, remains a bit unclear.

      "The format is very simple," said Bill Hancock, College Football Playoff executive director, during a media conference Wednesday as part of SEC Football Days at Hyatt Regency in Hoover, Ala. "It's symmetrical, it's beautiful -- a four-team bracket. The committee will select the best four teams -- no strings attached."

      Selection Committee is now a vital part of the college football glossary.

      Hancock said it was important to preserve the importance of the regular season and the bowl season. It was also a goal to revitalize the New Year's Eve holiday with a football bonanza -- the Peach, Fiesta and Orange bowls. The semifinals will be played Jan. 1.

      "The playoff wasn't done for the money, it was done for the fans," Hancock said. "They wanted more football, and they wanted a bracket."

      Conferences will manage the playoff, unlike the men's and women's basketball tournaments.

      The first ever College Football Playoff, a four-team tournament replacing the Bowl Championship Series to determine the 2014 national champions, will be played in January to end the upcoming season.

      The No. 1 seed will play the No. 4 seed, and 2 against 3. The top seed is granted the right to play as close to home as possible based on available sites.

      ---Most of the preseason buzz about Missouri follows a thesis of what the Tigers lost in top-line personnel.

      Co-SEC defensive player of the year Michael Sam, edge rusher and second-round pick Kony Ealy, quarterback James Franklin and wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham lead the list of players head coach Gary Pinkel must replace.

      But that's only the start. Just eight starters return from Mizzou's 2013 roster,

      "We do a very good job of developing players," Pinkel said at SEC Media Days. "We call it Mizzou Made. We never once pay attention to how many stars a player has next to his name. Never. We trust our system."

      Four-star recruit Maty Mauk steps to the forefront of Mizzou's spread offense after starting four games for an injured Franklin as a redshirt freshman last season.

      ---LSU coach Les Miles lost 16 underclassmen to the NFL draft in the past two years, leaving the Tigers with two choices: reload or reverse draft.

      "I keep approaching the NFL on an opportunity for us to draft back some of our players that they take," Miles joked at SEC Media Days before allowing the underclassman issue is genuine. "I would like to see some of those guys return. It is not necessarily optimal. But we will absolutely deal with those young guys that are capable. Look forward to leave in what will be three years."

      A permanently stocked recruiting stable helps the Tigers stand a chance in the SEC a year after going 10-3 with a seasoned quarterback and established defensive stars. The thoroughbred in Baton Rouge entering 2014 is No. 1 national recruit Leonard Fournette, whose skills at running back draw comparisons to Adrian Peterson and Herschel Walker.