Making the morning rounds.
• Stop the hate. No, you weren't having a nightmare: The screams you heard as you nodded off Wednesday night were coming from Clemson's defense, under a relentless assault by West Virginia that resulted in the most points by one team (70) and widest margin of victory (37 points) ever in a BCS bowl. But the most gratuitous attack of the night wasn't perpetuated by the Mountaineer offense, and didn't even occur on the field: It came when West Virginia safety Darwin Cook — in his exuberance at the end of a 99-yard fumble return that permanently flipped the momentum for the Mountaineers in the second quarter — punctuated the big play by tackling the Orange Bowl mascot, Obie, in the back of the end zone.
The incident was the most shocking case of mascot-related violence since Rufus the Bobcat's unprovoked assault on Brutus Buckeye last year. The worst part? It didn't even draw a flag, continuing our country's shameful pattern of indifference and outright discrimination toward Mascot-Americans. Are giant cartoon oranges not human? If you tackle them, do they not respond by pretending to throw up in a trash can? When will there be equality for our plushy, anthropomorphic citizens, America? This should be a wake-up call. [ParadigmShift35, @Greg_Witt]
• Something is happening here, but we don't know what it is. Despite the persistence of reports to the contrary, Auburn running back Michael Dyer apparently remains an Auburn running back this morning, though for how much longer is an open question. The website National Football Authority reported Wednesday that Dyer had been spotted filling out paperwork at Arkansas State, a report that immediately ricocheted around the web and was swiftly denied by sources at both schools, including Arkansas State's interim head coach and athletic director. The latest round of speculation comes less one week after multiple Arkansas State players welcomed Dyer aboard on their Facebook and Twitter pages, a rumor that seems to have started with some friends on campus.
And while it remains firmly in the "rumor" category, the smoke coming out of Jonesboro is worth keeping an eye on because it actually makes sense: Dyer is from Little Rock; the new head coach at Arkansas State is old offensive coordinator at Auburn, Gus Malzahn; and Dyer was just suspended for the Tigers' trip to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, putting his status at Auburn in flux. Whether or not he follows Malzahn home, Auburn fans should probably begin bracing themselves for a new leading rusher next fall. [National Football Authority, al.com, Mobile Press Register]
• We hardly knew ye. Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley said Wednesday he's skipping his senior season for the NFL Draft after picking up back-to-back All-ACC nods as a sophomore and junior. That honor came this year despite a nagging hamstring, which limited Hosley's numbers after he led the nation with nine interceptions in 2010. [Washington Post]
• Mark your calendars. The Saturday to circle next fall: Nov. 3, host to arguably the two biggest regular season games of the 2012. In the Pac-12, which released its full 2012 schedule on Wednesday, that's the day Oregon will visit USC in a likely top-five showdown that could decide one half of the BCS title game. In the SEC, which released its full schedule last week, that's the day Alabama will visit LSU in a likely top-five showdown that could decide the other half of the BCS title game. All four teams will be jockeying for position atop the preseason polls. [Pac-12.org, Eugene Register-Guard]
• There will be a test. Elsewhere, the MAC is adjusting its schedule, too, after shipping Bowling Green to the West Division to make way for its newest member, Massachusetts, in the East. The new 14-team alignment breaks down like so:
MAC East: Akron, Buffalo, Kent State, Massachusetts, Miami (Ohio), Ohio (Ohio), Temple.
MAC West: Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan.
Quickly… A pair of former Gators land in Louisville. … Wisconsin's linebackers coach will follow Paul Chryst to Pitt as the Panthers' new defensive coordinator. … Texas may be looking to junior colleges for a quick fix at quarterback. … Mike Gundy overrules his assistant coaches on a critical call in the Fiesta Bowl. …
Bob Stoops on how coaching has gotten harder since his first few years at Oklahoma. … Clemson' mascot attempts to uphold a little dignity at the Orange Bowl. … And at least one West Virginia fan thinks the MVP of the Orange Bowl was sitting in the press box.