• Free at last. The Big 12 is expected to release its 2012 schedule at some point today, and all indications are that West Virginia will be on it: After months of legal dueling, multiple outlets reported late Thursday night that WVU has reached an undisclosed settlement with the Big East that will allow the Mountaineers to start play in their new conference this fall. (Most reports set the exit fee at $20 million, some significant portion of which may be picked up by the Big 12.) "I can't confirm the numbers," an anonymous West Virginia source told the Charleston Gazette, "but the Big East has accepted our offer."
With the Big 12 made whole for the foreseeable future, then, the question shifts to the hole left by the Mountaineers' exit from the Big East. As it stands, the league is moving forward with just seven teams in the fold for 2012 — Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Florida and Syracuse — and looks like it will be stuck with that number barring the unexpected, short-notice arrival of one of the six teams — Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State and SMU — set to join the conference in 2013. The Big East has pushed hard this week to convince Boise State to make the leap a year early, to no apparent avail, although that could still change if the Broncos' non-football sports are able to find a new home in their old stomping grounds, the WAC. [Charleston Gazette, Orangebloods.com, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Idaho Statesman]
• Safety first. Acting on data suggesting injuries are more likely on kickoffs than any other phase of the game, the NCAA football rules committee has proposed a new rule that would move kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35 and limit the running start by players on the kicking team to five yards. The NFL made the same change last year, resulting in much preseason consternation and a dramatic increase in touchbacks.
Other safety-related proposals on the agenda: Requiring a player who loses his helmet during a play to sit out the following play and prohibiting blocking below the waist on punt returns. All new rules must be approved by the rules oversight panel, which meets on Feb. 21. [Associated Press]
• He's already got the pitchfork handy. While other power brokers appear to be warming up to a four-team playoff within the existing BCS model, Arizona State president Michael Crow is calling for a revolution, telling the Arizona Republic that he wants to do away with the BCS altogether in favor of an eight-team playoff consisting solely of conference champions. The dagger: He wants to run it through the NCAA, leaving the traditional bowl games — including the one in his backyard, the Fiesta Bowl — to rot in an NIT-like purgatory."In the Pac-12, we are not strong supporters of the present model," said Crow, the first major university president in any conference to publicly denounce the BCS on such explicit terms. "We are open-minded, and we'll continue to look at some creative approaches. I am confident we can improve upon post-season college football." [Arizona Republic]
• Last man standing. Recruitniks are already on to obsessing over the class of 2013, but there's still one more blue chip on the board in the 2012 crop: Five-star Olney, Md., wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who is expected to announce today that he's signing with Maryland over Auburn, Florida and Ohio State. Rivals ranks Diggs as the No. 2 receiver in the incoming class and the No. 8 overall player, comparing his undersized shiftiness to DeSean Jackson's. [Washington Post]
Quickly… Former Virginia Tech star Maurice DeShazo is one of 15 men arrested in a prostitution sting. … A Pitt offensive lineman is granted a sixth year of eligibility. … A recently dismissed Georgia cornerback lands in a Kansas junior college. … James Franklin clarifies his position on de-commitments and "men of honor." … And I would not have wanted to be the man assigned to stand between Cortez Kennedy and his refrigerator.
- Big East
- Boise State