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Headlinin’: West Virginia claims FSU’s schedule as its latest victim en route to the Big 12

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

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Making the morning rounds.

Thanks for RSVPing. West Virginia is still tangled in a legal thicket in its defection from the Big East to the Big 12, but here's the best sign yet the Mountaineers are planning to be in their new digs by this fall: WVU abruptly called off a Sept. 8 game at Florida State over the weekend, almost certainly to accommodate a Big 12 conference game on that date instead. The cancelation will cost West Virginia a $350,000 escape, and possibly more if FSU can't scrounge up a comparable replacement on short notice. Among the early candidates: Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and (of course) a potential lawsuit if the Seminoles have to fill the date with a lower-division punching bag. [Orlando Sentinel, Charleston Gazette, Associated Press]

In the meantime, West Virginia's pending exit leaves the Big East scrambling for a replacement ahead of the arrival of five new members next year, and sorry, guys, but it's not going to be Boise State. "It's too late. I can't imagine how anyone can pull that off," BSU president Bob Kustra told the Idaho Statesman. "We would never want to pull it off in a fashion that dealt shabbily with our existing partners in the Mountain West. I don't think that could ever work." [Idaho Statesman]

The shape of the ACC to come. Two schools that will be playing in the Big East in 2012: Pittsburgh and Syracuse, though it seems increasingly unlikely that either will still be there next year after the ACC unveiled plans for a 14-team conference alignment on Friday afternoon. The blueprint for football will put Syracuse in the conference's Atlantic Division (along with Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State and Wake Forest) and Pitt in the Coastal (with Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech) and expand the conference schedule from eight games to nine. Whether it goes into effect in 2013 or 2014, though, is still in the air. [Associated Press, Roanoke Times]

Total world domination isn't just for the weekends. ESPN's Thursday night college football lineup isn't going anywhere, but it's going to have a little more company: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced in his "state of the league" address Friday that the league is expanding to a full schedule of Thursday night games next year on the NFL Network. Last year, the NFL's limited Thursday night slate averaged 6.2 million viewers, up eight percent from 2010 and more than twice as many sets of eyeballs as ESPN drew (2.56 million) for its average Thursday night college game. If you'd rather watch Browns-Seahawks than Pittsburgh-South Florida, that's on you. [Orlando Sentinel]

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Hey, the song never said anything about how long to be true to your school. Last Thursday, former Northern Illinois wide receiver P.J. Fleck was hired from Rutgers to take over as the new offensive coordinator at his alma mater, where he remains one of the most beloved players in school history. On Friday morning, he abruptly resigned, according to head coach Dave Doering, because Fleck "said he wasn't comfortable with the coordinator's role." He was comfortable, however, with immediately accepting another job under his old boss at Rutgers, Greg Schiano, as the new wide receivers coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. [Newark Star-Ledger, Chicago Tribune, Tampa Tribune]

That would explain it. Former Texas defensive tackle Calvin Howell was arrested late last month on a misdemeanor marijuana charge, just a few days before coach Mack Brown announced Howell's departure from the team for "personal reasons." According to the arrest report, Howell was pulled over for speeding at 4:44 a.m. on Jan. 29, and arrested for possessing less than two ounces of pot in his pocket. Howell started seven games last year but registered just 16 tackles and a sack. [Austin American-Statesman]

Quickly… Southern Miss' leading rusher is out for the 2012 season with a knee injury that's going to require surgery just to prepare it for a second surgery. … Robert Griffin is embracing the competition with Andrew Luck. … USC prints up a few "Unfinished Business" T-shirts for season ticket holders. … Washington has plenty of options for replacing Chris Polk in the backfield. … Bill O'Brien's ambition in prep school was "to dunk a basketball by the age of thirty." … And don't get the wrong idea just because James Franklin called a new Vanderbilt signee "beautiful" with his shirt off. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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