September 19, 2011
Making the morning rounds.
• To the lifeboats! With the abrupt defection of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC, both Rutgers and Connecticut are reportedly making "aggressive" overtures to follow their longtime Big East mates out of a conference that may be on its last legs as a major football league. While UConn has focused its energy on the ACC, Rutgers has allegedly been in talks with both the ACC and the Big Ten. Rutgers' side of those conversations: "But New York City has a population of 19 million. … But New York City has a population of 19 million. … But New York City…"
"UConn is a proud charter member of the Big East and we have taken a lead role in the league's success over the years," UConn president Susan Herbst said in a statement. "However…" and the however is really all you need to know about the rest. Athletic directors at TCU and West Virginia were similarly noncommittal, though they haven't been credibly linked to any other conferences. Yet. [Newark Star-Ledger, Hartford Courant, ESPN, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Associated Press, Charleston Daily Mail]
• Tough break, part one. As feared, Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter is out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee, robbing the Vols of one of the most dynamic young receivers in the country. In 15 career games, Hunter has averaged 22 yards per catch with 13 touchdowns on 33 receptions, eleven of which covered at least 25 yards. As fellow sophomore DaRick Rogers said: "It's a big deal. Justin's a big playmaker. You take him out of the game, you can easily just take over 100 yards, over eight catches and a few touchdowns off the board."
The silver lining: Because it occurred so early in the season, there's a chance Hunter can petition for an extra year of eligibility on a medical hardship waiver. Though, frankly, if he actually needs that year before moving on to the NFL, something has gone very wrong. [Knoxville News Sentinel]
• Tough break, part two. In other early injury news, Virginia Tech receiver Dyrell Roberts may have suffered a season-ending injury for the second consecutive season after breaking his arm on the first play of the Hokies' 26-7 win over Arkansas State. Roberts, a senior, underwent emergency surgery on his thigh last November that cost him the final month of his junior season, but hasn't redshirted and may also be able to return next year on a medical hardship. [Roanoke Times]
• What took you so long, coppers? To no one's surprise, Oregon received official notice from the NCAA last week that it's being investigated in connection to its relationship with Will Lyles, the Houston-based scout/"mentor" who allegedly sold the Ducks a bogus scouting report to cover for a $25,000 payment authorized by head coach Chip Kelly in exchange for Lyles' influence in getting at least one recruit to Eugene. Oregon has retained independent counsel — aka "The Cleaner" — and is conducting its own independent investigation. [Associated Press]
However, contrary to certain reports implicating Husky fans in the injury, police determined that there was "no physical altercation tied to the event," and the student himself confirmed that he merely tripped down some steps. No charges were filed. [Hartford Courant]
Quickly… A former Eastern Illinois player sues the NCAA in federal court for failure to protect players from concussions. … Rocky Long thinks Brady Hoke's experience at San Diego State gives Michigan a "huge advantage" against the Aztecs on Saturday. … What happens when you try to kick a ball that's fallen off the tee. … Tennessee's right guard runs for a touchdown. … Someone finally solves the Case of the Alabama White Bear. … And less than 24 hours after throwing two touchdown passes in a comfortable win over Ohio State, Jacory Harris gets publicly criticized by the head coach and a local columnist calls for Harris to be benched. Tough crowd, man.