• I'll be back. Junior linebacker Manti Te'o is apparently coming back for his senior season at Notre Dame, telling an audience at a weekend award banquet that he plans to eschew the first round of the NFL Draft to finish his career in South Bend. This year, he led the Irish in tackles for the second year in a row and was a finalist for the Butkus Award as the best linebacker in the nation.
"Just a month or two ago, I felt Manti was really valuing being a professional," Te'o's father, Brian, told the Chicago Tribune on Sunday night. "We had a long three hour talk with him about where he felt his priorities were. … In a nutshell, Manti told me and my wife that he felt he came to Notre Dame — and I'm going to reiterate exactly what he said three years ago — he was led there to do something. He just feels there are so many unfinished things left there." [Chicago Tribune]
• Viva las Vontaze. At the other end of the spectrum, there's Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict, whose appearance against Boise State in the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl will almost certainly be his last in a Sun Devil uniform — that is, if he appears at all. Burfict is still scheduled to travel to Las Vegas with the team, but coach Dennis Erickson said his playing time will depend on how hard his star 'backer practices after sitting out the entire fourth quarter of ASU's season-ending loss to Cal. According to the Arizona Republic, Burfict was only supposed to be benched for a series after committing a personal foul in the third quarter, but refused to go back in the game.
"There's no truth to any of that," Erickson said on Saturday. "It's amazing the rumors that are created in your business. We'll see how he practices. ... If he practices hard, then he'll play." [Arizona Republic]
• Either way, we're a little short. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen confirmed Saturday that quarterback Dylan Favre — nephew of Brett — has left the team and plans to transfer after two years in Starkville, leaving the Bulldogs with just two quarterbacks for their Music City Bowl date with Wake Forest and just one (junior-to-be Tyler Russell) scheduled to return in 2012. As a recruit, Favre was largely ignored despite smashing state passing records and leading his high school to a state championship, and his 5-foot-10 frame didn't help his cause on MSU's depth chart. In September, he openly complained on Twitter after failing to appear in the Bulldogs' loss to LSU; he was also nailed to the bench in the regular season finale, a blowout win over Ole Miss, just a week after getting his most significant playing time in a loss to Arkansas.• Money everywhere is equally green. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott left Sunday for a four-day "fact-finding mission" in China, where he plans to discuss (among other things) the possibility of staging a Pac-12 football game within the next five years. According to the New York Times, Notre Dame and Stanford have discussed moving the Cardinal's 2013 home game against the Irish to China, and Oregon has "a strong interest" in overseas expansion thanks to its strong ties to Nike founder/chairman Phil Knight. Of course, the forthcoming Pac-12 Network could eventually find a market there, as well.
"As we've tried to push the boundaries and redefine what our conference can do for our schools in the U.S., we're pushing boundaries to try and value the university more broadly, including their international aspirations," Scott told the Times. "I don't know if this is a model for every conference." [New York Times]
• Happy birthday. You have the right to remain silent. Maryland linebacker Alex Twine was arrested and charged with a pair of misdemeanors on Friday morning — his 18th birthday — after being spotted "ranting and punching cars" at a shopping center near campus. An officer told Twine to stop; instead, he ran, picking up an additional charge for failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order on top of disorderly conduct. There were no reports of damage to the cars. [Washington Post]
Quickly… Defensive coordinator Norm Parker is retiring from Iowa after 13 seasons, one year after having his foot amputated due to complications from diabetes. … 3,500 Georgia fans remember Larry Munson. … Penn State cuts all licensing ties with Joe Paterno. … And Army's system for signaling in plays just burned your system to the ground.
- Vontaze Burfict