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- Lane Kiffin
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By The Sports Xchange August 21, 2013 7:40 PM
The A&M-South Carolina game will be a Thursday night primetime date on Aug. 28, three weeks before most of the rest of the league digs into conference games. It will be a historic date for the conference, which is launching its own network before next season. Cross-division games are no longer on a regular or repeating schedule. Only one game is a permanent crossover game for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, but commissioner Mike Slive and a committee is reviewing that setup before setting the 2016 schedule. Texas A&M ends the 2014 regular season hosting LSU on Thanksgiving, two days before the Iron Bowl -- Auburn at Alabama -- and Egg Bowl (Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State) on Nov. 29. ---Notre Dame lost a highly-ranked commitment to its 2014 recruiting class when running back Elijah Hood announced that he was back on the market. Hood is a top-10 running back from Charlotte, N.C., who is ranked among the nation's top 50 overall prospects. The 6-foot, 221-pounder rushed for 3,309 yards and scored 48 touchdowns last season as a junior. Vee Hood, his father, tole The Charlotte Observer that his son changed his mind after an unofficial visit to South Bend. Hood had chosen Notre Dame over North Carolina and also considered Georgia and Virginia Tech. ---The University of Southern California and coach Lane Kiffin disagree with an account in an upcoming book on Penn State football that the Trojans used rapper Snoop Dogg/Lion to help recruit former Nittany Lions running back Silas Redd. Author John U. Bacon wrote in Fourth and Long: the Fight of the Soul of College Football, that Snoop Dog was instructed to pick Redd up at the airport on his recruiting visit after Penn State players were allowed to transfer in the wake of the NCAA sanctions last year against the program. Kiffin said it's not true and the university backed him up by issuing a statement denying the report. Redd ended up at USC and led the Trojans in rushing last season with 901 yards. As far as this season, Kiffin indicated that Redd could be questionable for the season opener against Hawaii after underdoing knee surgery during spring practice. ---The four former Vanderbilt players charged with rape pleaded not guilty in Nashville, Tenn. Attorneys for the accused entered their pleas before Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins. None of the players appeared in court. Brandon Vandenburg, 20, of Indio, Calif.; Cory Batey, 19, of Nashville; Brandon Eric Banks, 19, of Brandywine, Md.; and Jaborian McKenzie, 18, of Woodville, Miss., are accused of raping an unconscious 21-year-old woman in a campus dorm during the summer. They each face five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg also is charged with one count of unlawful photography and tampering with evidence. He remains in jail. In a nearby courtroom, Vanderbilt wide receiver Chris Byrd, through his attorney, pleaded not guilty to an accessory after the fact charge. Boyd, who has 81 career receptions for 1,247 yards and 13 touchdowns, is suspended from the team. Facing additional charges of tampering with evidence are Miles Joseph Finley, 19, of Bermuda Dunes, Calif., and Joseph Dominick Quinzio, 20, of Palm Desert, Calif. Both are Vandenburg's high school teammates and friends. The next court date is scheduled for Sept. 19.