Dr. Saturday - NCAAF

  • The Big 12's meetings this week didn't elicit any sweeping changes. A title game isn't likely to happen in 2016 and the conference hasn't unveiled any firm plans for expansion.

    The lack of a final decision regarding a title game and any clarity on possible expansion means speculation regarding the two will continue until the league meets again over the summer. And while college football observers will freely discuss expansion publicly, the presidents of Big 12 schools won't be doing so.

    The conference decided Friday that school presidents won't talk about expansion singularly. Rather, all comments on the matter will come from one voice.

    “If you’re gonna have a family argument, is it better to have it at Applebee’s or at home?” Kansas State president Kirk Schulz said via the Tulsa World. “We decided to do it at home with the doors shut.”

    (Applebee's is perhaps the perfect Big 12 restaurant when you think of it.)

    That voice will be of Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. The move means we won't get to hear from people like Oklahoma president David Boren, who has been outspoken in his feelings about expansion for the conference.

    The Big 12 now has the right to stage a title game with 10 teams after the 12-team mandate for conference title games was waived by FBS conferences. But Bowlsby is, rightfully, being pragmatic. Oklahoma made the College Football Playoff in 2015 after the conference didn't have a team in the inaugural playoff. With two years of contradicting data, there's no point in the conference acting rashly.

    The conference has been pragmatic about expansion too. It hasn't rushed to fill the two spots vacated by the departures of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M (and the additions of TCU and West Virginia) when the realignment circus was rolling in 2010 and 2011.

    But there are clues that it's seriously considering the matter now. According to Cincinnati.com, the University of Cincinnati is refusing to release things like emails and travel records that could relate to possibly joining the Big 12. The paper asked for the records and after the school's attorneys reviewed the info requested, the board of trustees asked for the information and the paper hasn't gotten them.

    Cincinnati would be a logical fit. It's in a major market and in an area of the country where the Big 12 doesn't currently have a foothold. And it makes West Virginia less of a geographical outlier.

    Perhaps a Cincinnati possibility is why the Big 12 made the move it did to silence all but one official voice regarding expansion. Or maybe the Bearcats – or any other specific candidates – have nothing to do with it. We can publicly wonder these things even if the conference's school presidents can't.

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    Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • Oregon running back Thomas Tyner is done playing football.

    The school announced Friday that Tyner had elected to medically retire after he missed the 2015 season with a shoulder injury.

    “We thank Thomas and wish him well,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said in a team statement. “We will continue to support his efforts to graduate from the University of Oregon.”

    News of Tyner's possible 2015 absence broke in August when his father said he had shoulder surgery. Tyner was also dogged by a right shoulder injury in 2014 and had tried to carry on without surgery.

    Tyner was a five-star recruit in the class of 2013. He was ranked the No. 2 running back in the country by Rivals and the No. 17 player overall. A native of Oregon, he chose the Ducks over USC, Tennessee and others.

    He ran for 711 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman in 2013. He had 573 yards and five scores in 2014 as Oregon made it to the College Football Playoff Championship Game. He had two fewer carries in 2014 than he did in 2013 despite missing five games with the shoulder injury. He ran for 124 yards against Florida State and 62 yards against Ohio State in the title game.

    Tyner would have likely split time with Royce Freeman in the Ducks' backfield in 2016. Freeman ran for 1,836 yards in 2015 as Oregon's bellcow back. No other Ducks' RB had over 77 carries; Freeman had 283.

    For more Oregon news, visit DuckSportsAuthority.com.

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    Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • 14 months after it was shut down, the University of Alabama-Birmingham football program is getting a $15 million facility.

    The University of Alabama board of Trustees approved plans for the facility on Friday. The 46,000 square-foot building would have locker rooms, offices, weight rooms and a practice field. The goal for the project is to have the building ready to go when the football program makes its official return in 2017 and the schedule is being sped up in attempt to get it accomplished.

    "Do the stars need to align a little bit? Yes, but so far they are," UAB athletic director Mark Ingram told Al.com. "We feel great about the design efforts... People are making pledges."

    Football at UAB got the ax at the end of the 2014 season. After six months of passionate lobbying by supporters to bring the program back, football was reinstated at the school on June 1, 2015. Funds for the project will come from bonds and donations will be used to repay the bonds, according to Al.com.

    Despite not participating in the 2016 season, UAB signed 18 2016 recruits on National Signing Day. One of those recruits is quarterback Tyler Johnston, the 2015 Alabama Mr. Football. Johnston is set to miss the 2016 season anyway after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. He injured the elbow in the Alabama high school football playoffs.

    For more UAB news, visit BlazerSportsReport.com.

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    Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • The NCAA could change the way that graduate students' performance fits in to the calculation of a school's academic progress rate.

    The sanctioning body said Friday that the NCAA Division I Committe on Academics "learned that just slightly more than one-third of postgraduate students competing in men's basketball and football complete a graduate degree."

    APR is a tool used by the NCAA to measure how schools' athletes are doing academically. Schools' scores are released yearly in the spring and poor scores can lead to a postseason eligibility ban. Because there weren't enough football teams at 6-6 or better to fill all of the spots available in bowl games at the end of the 2015 season, three 5-7 teams got to play in bowls. Those teams were chosen based off their APR scores.

    The Council asked the committee to determine if the Academic Progress Rate could be used to hold schools more accountable for the academic progress of graduate transfer students. The Academic Performance Program awards one APR point for remaining eligible and one point for staying in school. However, current policy dictates that student-athletes in post-baccalaureate or graduate programs after earning an undergraduate degree always earn the retention point, regardless of whether they continue in their postgraduate program after their eligibility expires.

    The committee members reviewed membership feedback on several different models and concluded postgraduate students who enroll in graduate programs should earn retention points by continuing until they complete their degree. Meanwhile, postgraduate student-athletes who enroll in undergraduate classes are not eligible to earn a retention point and can receive a point only for remaining academically eligible.

    The change would, most notably, affect graduate transfers. Players with eligibility remaining who have received their undergraduate degree from a university can immediately transfer to another school provided that school has a graduate program to enroll in that is not offered at the current school.

    The release said the changes outlined above "would likely result in minimal change" to national APR distribution and an approximate two-point change to team's football APR scores. A minimal change, but one that could potentially decide a bowl game if there continues to be more bowl spots than .500 or better teams.

    The proposal would have to be approved by the Division I Council and, if approved, would go into effect for the 2017-2018 school year.

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    Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Pat Haden will retire from his position as USC athletic director, effective June 30. The news was announced Friday in a letter from university president C.L. Max Nikias.

    "It has been a tremendous honor serving my alma mater, a school I love so much, as well as serving Max Nikias, our coaches and staff and, most importantly, our student-athletes," Haden said in a statement. "I am proud of what has been accomplished here the past six years and knowing that USC Athletics is on an upward trajectory. I look forward to finishing out this academic year as athletic director and then spending time on the Coliseum project."

    Once his tenure reaches its conclusion, Haden will stay with the university for a one-year term to “guide (USC’s) renovation of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.”

    “Beginning July 1, 2016, and ending June 30, 2017, he will maintain an office in the Bovard Administration Building, working closely with me and reporting directly to me as he heads a fundraising initiative focused on renewing the nation’s most venerable stadium and the home of Trojan football,” Nikias wrote.

    Haden, 63, has served as athletic director since August 2010, when he replaced Mike Garrett after the football program was hit with sanctions related to the Reggie Bush situation.

    From Nikias' letter:

    He took on this role at a time when the department faced unprecedented pressure, externally and internally, requiring nothing less than a Herculean effort to rebuild its foundation for the long term. USC Athletics had received NCAA penalties of unprecedented harshness only weeks earlier; and its physical and academic infrastructure urgently required improvement to bring it in line with the university’s overall dramatic progress in recent years.

    Pat has accomplished USC’s objectives here through his distinct blend of integrity, energy, wisdom, and character. He moved into Heritage Hall on August 3, 2010, the same day I stepped into the USC presidency. And during a time in which intercollegiate athletics has been undergoing unpredictable transformation at a national level, Pat developed and executed a blueprint for how athletics and academics can reinforce one another at an academically elite private research university with a public-minded mission. 

    Working with Dave Roberts, vice president of athletics compliance, Pat has created a model for NCAA compliance at a top intercollegiate athletics program, especially one such as ours, which operates under the brightest of spotlights. Together, they have strengthened compliance during one of the most volatile and high-stakes periods in Trojan Athletics’ history.

    The disproportionate severity of the NCAA penalties on Trojan football, which Pat inherited on his first day as athletic director, posed an unprecedented short- and long-term challenge; indeed, every other program facing the same penalties ended up enduring losing seasons, lengthy rebuilding processes, or both. Because of Pat’s leadership during the sanctions period, USC came through it with the third-best record in the Pac-12.

    His adamantine priority has been the growth and academic success of each and every USC student-athlete—and, as a consequence, he has improved student-athlete grade point averages and graduation rates to all-time highs. 

    Haden fired Lane Kiffin during the 2013 season and hired Steve Sarkisian from Washington. The Trojans went 9-4 in Sarkisian’s first season in 2014, but Sarkisian was fired after five games in 2015 due to substance abuse issues. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton assumed the head-coaching role on an interim basis, and Haden later named Helton the team’s permanent head coach in November.

    Haden also served on the College Football Playoff selection committee, but stepped down in October due to health reasons.

    Moving forward, Nikias said in his letter that he will work with the Brill Neumann executive search firm to help with the hiring of USC’s next athletic director.

    “His firm brings valuable experience working with USC, and me directly, on previous executive searches, including senior vice president positions,” Nikias wrote. “The process will be national in scope, with all proceedings held in the strictest confidence, for the benefit of USC Athletics and all qualified candidates.”

    For more USC news, visit TrojanSports.com.

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    Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

  • Jake Spavital has reportedly found a home in the Pac-12.

    More than a month after he and Texas A&M “mutually decided to part ways,” the former Aggies’ offensive coordinator has reportedly landed at Cal. Both Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports are reporting that the 30-year-old Spavital is expected to take the same position for Sonny Dykes and the Golden Bears. Additionally, per Fox Sports, Spavital will call plays.

    Spavital will replace Tony Franklin, who left Cal last month to take the OC job at Middle Tennessee. Franklin said he wanted to be closer to his family.

    Spavital spent the past three seasons at A&M. He first served as quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator before being promoted to offensive coordinator prior to the 2014 campaign.

    Before his time at A&M, Spavital was a graduate assistant under A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and Dana Holgorsen at Houston. When Holgorsen left Houston to become the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, Spavital joined OSU’s staff as a graduate assistant.

    Holgorsen then accepted the head-coaching job at West Virginia and took Spavital with him as the Mountaineers’ quarterbacks coach. Spavital served in that capacity in 2011 and 2012 before joining A&M.

    At Cal, Spavital inherits an offense that put up big numbers in 2015. However, record-setting quarterback Jared Goff declared for the NFL draft, so Spavital will be working with a new starting quarterback. The team also lost most of its top receivers to graduation or the NFL.

    Cal went 8-5 in 2015 and won the Armed Forces Bowl.

    For more Cal news, visit GoldenBearReport.com.

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    Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

  • The Kentucky football team will have a new look in 2016.

    In conjunction with the new “updated graphic identity” announced by the athletic department, UK unveiled three new football uniforms. The new uniforms include a checkered pattern on the shoulders and the school’s new alternate wildcat logo on the pants.

    “We gave our team a first look at the new uniforms yesterday and the players were very excited,” football head coach Mark Stoops said. “We can’t wait to wear them this fall. I want to thank Nike for always making us look good.”

    The new wildcat logo will debut on the warmup shirts for the UK men’s basketball team for the rest of the 2015-16 season.

    The school has also added “black, cool gray and metallic silver” as a part of its secondary color palette to go along with royal blue and white, the school’s classic, primary colors.

    Kentucky went 5-7 in 2015 and are entering year four under Stoops.

    For more Kentucky news, CatsIllustrated.com.

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    Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

  • Florida’s Treon Harris is reportedly switching positions.

    According to GridironNow.com and InsidetheGators.com, Harris has been working out with the Gators’ wide receivers and will practice at that position when spring ball rolls around. Harris played quarterback for the Gators over the past two seasons.

    Harris entered the 2015 season in a battle with Will Grier for the starting job. Grier eventually emerged as the team’s top quarterback, but was suspended by the NCAA in October after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

    Harris took over the starting role from that point forward, but struggled. The Gators started 6-0 with Grier (who transferred from UF in December), but finished 10-4 after Harris took over. In his nine starts, Harris threw for more than 200 yards just three times. He finished the season with 1.676 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions while completing just 50.6 percent of his passes. He also had 238 yards rushing.

    Some schools actually recruited the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Harris as a slot receiver, so the transition could have some potential. 

    Moving forward, the Gators have plenty of options at quarterback. Redshirt junior Luke Del Rio, who began his career at Alabama and also had a stop at Oregon State, impressed Gators head coach Jim McElwain as scout team quarterback in 2015.

    Purdue transfer Austin Appleby will also be in the mix along with two true freshmen: Felieipe Franks and Kyle Trask. Appleby joined the Gators as a graduate transfer in January. He started 11 games for the Boilermakers over the last two seasons.

    Both Franks, a four-star recruit, and Trask, a two-star recruit, have enrolled early.

    For more Florida news, visit InsideTheGators.com.

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    Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

  • Seth Collins is moving from the Pac-12 to the MAC.

    Northern Illinois announced the addition of the former Oregon State quarterback on Thursday. Collins said he was transferring from the Beavers in January. He'll be eligible to play after sitting out the 2016 season.

    “We’re really happy to have Seth, he’s a quality, quality young man,” NIU coach Rod Carey said in a statement  “He’s obviously a fantastic football player and a great quarterback, and he comes from a great family who we have gotten to know during this process.  We look forward to having him on campus with the rest of the class this summer and to 2017 when he will be eligible to suit up and play for us.”  

    Collins opened the 2015 season as Oregon State's starting QB. He started the first seven games before he suffered a knee injury before the Utah game. He returned in the final game of the season against Oregon and threw four passes. He led the team in rushing with 575 yards and eight touchdowns despite missing four games.

    He only threw seven passes in his final start of the season (vs. Colorado) and was set to move to wide receiver had he stayed at Oregon State.

    He finished the season 83-160 passing for 935 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions.

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    Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Starkville, Mississippi, the home of Mississippi State, is a town of just less than 25,000 people according to the 2010 census. It has one high school. The odds aren't high that the town will have a lot of big-time recruits.

    So it's noteworthy that Starkville would have a top wide receiver who signs with in-state Rival Ole Miss. It's even more so when that recruit didn't approve of the way the hometown team recruited him.

    Four-star wide receiver A.J. Brown, the No. 9 wide receiver in the country, told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger he "felt like [Mississippi State] didn’t do a good job of recruiting" him. His reasoning? Since MSU was the local school, he'd be inundated by Bulldogs coaches. He said he wasn't.

    From the Clarion-Ledger:

    “I felt like other schools wanted me more,” Brown said. “I mean I live in Starkville. I would expect Mississippi State would be hard, like every day here. I’d get tired of seeing them. But it wasn’t like that.”

    Billy Gonzales and John Hevesy acted as the key recruiters in courting Brown.

    “We recruited him as hard as we recruited anybody else that’s out there,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said. “We wish him the best. Our program’s not for everybody.”

    According to his Rivals profile, Brown didn't even make an official visit to MSU and took visits to Ole Miss, Alabama (where he played Pop-a-Shot with coach Nick Saban) and Cal. He signed with Ole Miss on Wednesday and said he had to go with his heart and gut when making the decision.

    He's part of an Ole Miss class that finished No. 7 in Rivals' team rankings and one of 10 four-star recruits that coach Hugh Freeze and his staff signed. Mississippi State, facing an upcoming season without departing quarterback Dak Prescott, is No. 36 in the Rivals rankings and signed three four-star recruits. However, the Bulldogs swiped five-star DE Jeffery Simmons away from Ole Miss.

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    Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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