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Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:17 pm
 

Report: Oregon WR Huff arrested on DUI charges

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Unfortunately for Chip Kelly and Oregon, traffic-related arrests are nothing new for Ducks. And thanks to wide receiver Josh Huff, they're going to remain nothing new for a little while longer.

The Eugene Register-Guard reported that Huff was arrested by Eugene police in the early hours of Saturday morning and charged with driving under the influence, as well as driving without a license and speeding. A police spokeswoman said Huff was pulled over at 1:22 a.m. after being spotted speeding in Eugene. Huff was taken to Lane County Jail and released to an acquaintance after completing sobriety tests.

An Oregon spokesperson said the Ducks were aware of the incident but would have no further comment or disciplinary action at this time.

Huff, a rising junior, is the Ducks' leading returning receiver at the wideout position, having caught 31 passes a year ago for 431 yards. Huff has also returned kickoffs and had more than 200 yards rushing as a freshman in 2010. Though Kelly is -- as always -- somewhat spoiled for choice when it comes to offensive playmakers, the departures of LaMichael James, Darron Thomas and Lavasier Tuinei means that Huff should nonetheless play a much more prominent role in the offense in 2012 than he did a year ago; any absence via suspension would likely have a noticeable impact, despite the presence of De'Anthony Thomas.

Complicating matters is that Huff's arrest will do nothing for his program's continuing image as one rife with discipline issues and petty lawlessness. Even if the charges stick, Huff's punishment isn't likely to be too stiff--but Oregon's history might make it stiffer than it would be elsewhere, and that punishment in turn could have serious on-field ramifications. It's safe to say Kelly has had better weekends.

Of course, Kelly also has bigger things to worry about right this second. For columnist Gregg Doyel's take on the Ducks' impending NCAA violations case, click here.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:11 pm
 

GIF: Todd Graham in the ASU student section

Posted by Chip Patterson

Todd Graham has faced a good amount of criticism for his brief stint in Pittsburgh before jetting away to his "dream job" at Arizona State. In what was likely an attempt to display his commitment to the school, Graham joined the Sun Devils' student section for the season finale against Arizona.

The 10-20 Sun Devils were not fighting for an NCAA tournament bid, but got to play spoiler to the 21-10 Wildcats with an 87-80 victory. The television cameras caught Graham in the student section, and @bubbaprog caught the clip in all its high-octane goodness.

Former Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl is probably wondering why Graham is wearing a shirt at all, especially two. [.GIF via Gifulmination.com]



Arizona State starts spring practice March 13, with the spring game scheduled for April 21. For the full list of Spring Practice dates and previews, check out our Spring Practice Home.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:32 am
Edited on: March 5, 2012 11:32 am
 

Chuck Neinas supports a four-team playoff

Posted by Tom Fornelli

He may only be an interim commissioner, and the Big 12 may have already started the process of finding his replacement, but Chuck Neinas is the latest conference commissioner to publicly voice his support of a college football playoff.

Neinas told The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel that he likes the idea of a playoff, and like Roy Kramer and Larry Scott before him, he also thinks sending conference champions would be the way to go.

“I like the idea, if you're going to take four, take four champions,” Neinas said. “They're not hard to identify.

“The selection process is one that would concern me. The easiest is taking four conference champions.”

Neinas also told Tramel he didn't see any downside to college football adopting a playoff format, explaining that college football needs to make changes to maintain what it has. 

“Looking at it very broadly, we've agreed, we've got to do something to maintain public interest. We want a vibrant postseason. We have to explore ideas that will make it better. There's obviously strong support of a four-team arrangement.”

So, to sum it all up, in the last few weeks we've had current, former or interim commissioners from the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and the Big 12 publicly support the idea of a four-team playoff. Three of those four have said they think having only conference champions be eligible is the best way to go about it.

So if I can read between the lines here, a college football playoff is coming, and only conference champions will be eligible.

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 7:23 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 11:32 am
 

S. Carolina president: cross-division games a go

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The official line from the SEC is that nothing happened in last week's conference scheduling meetings, and that the league is still considering all available options as it tries to solve its 14-teams-in-an-eight-game-slate schedule dilemma.

But South Carolina president Harris Pastides wandered well away from that line Saturday, telling The State newspaper and other outlets that the league had agreed to continue with permanent cross-division rivalry games--and that he will cast his vote for his Gamecocks to break off their 19-year arrangement with Arkansas.

According to Pastides, the rest of the SEC's athletic directors and presidents were committed to finalizing the new cross-divisional games when he elected to abstain, saying it was too soon for him to commit to South Carolina adopting a new annual series with Texas A&M. The Gamecocks' former West division partners, the Razorbacks, would pick up more geographically-friendly Missouri.

“I said, ‘Hold on a second. That’s a big decision, and I’d like to hear what the fans think about that,’" Pastides said. "They were kind of motivated to get it done and move on, and I said, ‘I think it’s premature. I need to go back to Columbia and see what people think about that.’ ”

According to State reporter Andy Shain, Mike Slive's response to Pastides's pronouncement was "Well good for him."

"Nothing is set yet," Slive emphasized.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity echoed Pastides' comments in a discussion with the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. McGarity had previously said his Bulldogs' rivalry with Auburn -- as its nickname goes, the "Deep South's Oldest" -- could be in danger, but sounded much more positive Sunday.  

"The tone of the conversations that everyone had sort of gave the impression that everyone had a sense, at least the majority had a sense, of liking the rivalry game with an opponent from the opposite division," McGarity said. "The tone led us to believe that this has a good opportunity of moving forward." 

Pastides' method for discovering what "people think about that" in Columbia was to ask the State to poll readers on their website about the possibility of replacing the Razorbacks with the Aggies. Some 76 percent of respondents voted in favor of starting the new series with A&M.

That landslide was likely made possible by the Hogs' rampant recent success against the Gamecocks, Arkansas having won three in a row and five of the last six in the series. The Gamecocks' much tougher draw out of the SEC West (Arkansas, Auburn, and Mississippi State to Georgia's Auburn, Mississippi State and Ole Miss) was blamed by many -- and not without reason -- for the Bulldogs winning the 2011 East's trip to Atlanta despite the Gamecocks' win over the Dawgs in Athens.

“We have great respect for Arkansas, but I think it’s fair to say our fans never developed the same kind of passionate rivalry about playing Arkansas that maybe some other university did playing their Western Division rivalry,” Pastides said, confirming that he would vote in accordance with the fans' wishes.

“I respect the fans," he said. "Fans are not often consulted on important decisions and ultimately administrators come and go and coaches come and go and athletic directors come and go and fans stay.”

According to Pastides, the final vote of the presidents rubber-stamping the new cross-divisional arrangements will come next week, following the SEC men's basketball tournament.

The proposal isn't in the clear just yet; Pastides himself admits "it's not a done deal," and he happens to be the same president who claimed the SEC had agreed to a nine-game schedule for 2012 last November. A permanent cross-division rival paired with an eight-game schedule would also result in teams playing other cross-divisional opponents only twice in 12 years.

So the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" and the "Third Saturday in October" aren't out of the woods yet. But they do, at least, seem safer than they were before last week's meetings--where the SEC may have made far more ground on the scheduling issue than they've let on.

Shain HT: Get the Picture. 

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 4:37 pm
 

Report: Oregon RB Tra Carson to transfer

Posted by Chip Patterson

Oregon running back Tra Carson intends to transfer, according to a local report.

The Eugene Register-Guard, citing a team source, confirmed Saturday reports that the talented sophomore running back will seek a playing opportunity elsewhere. Carson ran for 254 yards a touchdown on 45 carries as a true freshman in 2011, also contributing to the kickoff return team occasionally throughout the season.

The school has not confirmed Carson's departure, but the Texarkana, Texas native explained his situation on Twitter.



Carson attended the same high school as former Ducks running back LaMichael James, and was projected to enter spring practice as the primary backup to senior Kenjon Barner in the backfield. The 6-foot, 227-pound Carson is the third running back from Texas to leave Oregon since the end of 2010, along with Dontae Williams and Lache Seastrunk.

Oregon starts spring practice April 3, with the spring game scheduled for April 28. For the full list of Spring Practice dates and previews, check out our Spring Practice Home.

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Posted on: March 3, 2012 5:47 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Arizona

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Arizona.

Spring Practice Starts: March 5

Spring Game: April 14

Returning starters: Six offensive, five defensive, two specialists.

Three Things To Look For:

1.  Is Matt Scott as snug a fit for Rich Rodriguez's offense as he seems to be? Many college football fans have probably forgotten about Scott, but that's not his fault; the fifth-year senior and de facto Wildcat starter made highly successful cameos in both 2009 and 2010 before injuries and the emergence of Nick Foles consigned him to the bench. Though he's not going to be Pat White or Denard Robinson, Scott has more than enough mobility to be a weapon on the run -- his two 2010 starts yielded more than 130 combined yards on the ground -- and sufficient accuracy to keep defenses plenty honest. In short, Scott should be exactly the sort of quarterback Rodriguez would have wanted to inherit, a sort of Tate Forcier-type with vastly more experience (and vastly less, you know, academic ineligibility and such). If spring camp shows signs that Scott's picking the offense up as quickly as Rodriguez would want, the Wildcat offense could be something dynamic come the fall.

2. Are you sure? Who are the difference-making skill-position players? If Rodriguez was handed a nice housewarming gift in the person of Scott, on paper he hasn't been nearly as lucky at running back or wide receiver. Both the Wildcats' leading rusher from a year ago (Keola Antonin) and receiver (All-American Juron Criner) have departed, not to mention the team's second- and third-leading receivers as well--2,232 receiving yards in all. The good news is that rising sophomore Ka'Deem Carey should be ready to build on a promising debut season in the backfield, and that 6'4" senior Dan Buckner should have a breakout season in the receiving corps; the bad news is that if they're not, Scott may be forced to shoulder a heavier load than even he's capable of carrying.

3. Can the defense stay healthy? With Rodriguez's old ace defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel back in his staffing fold -- a failing at Michigan that, more than any other individual factor, led to Rodriguez's downfall in Ann Arbor -- the Wildcats shouldn't lack for defensive know-how. And in safety tandem Adam Hall and Marquis Flowers, defensive linemen Justin Washington and Kirifi Taula, and linebacker Jake Fischer, Castell will have some tools to work with. But that assumes those tools stay healthy--Fischer tore an ACL in spring camp 2011 and missed the entire season, a blow from which the linebacking corps never seemed to truly recover. If Casteel can get out of this spring with all of his key pieces intact, the Wildcats should be able to take a step forward on the defensive side of the ball in 2012.

To check in on the rest of the Pac-12 and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Posted on: March 3, 2012 4:47 pm
 

Washington State LB dismissed after arrest

Posted by Chip Patterson

Washington State's defense lost another key piece for 2012 when linebacker Sekope Kaufusi was dismissed from the team on Friday for a violation of team rules.

According to The Seattle Times, Kaufusi was arrested by Pullman police Wednesday night and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Officers responded to a complaint of marijuana smell at Kaufusi's apartment, and upon serving a search warrant discovered less than 40 grams of marijuana.

Kaufusi is the second linebacker to be dismissed by head coach Mike Leach in nearly a month. C.J. Mizell was dismissed on Feb. 7 as a result of his involvement in a fraternity house fight. Mizell (56 tackles, fourth on the team) and Kaufusi (42 tackles, seventh on the team) were both expected to start for the Cougars in 2012. Both dismissals, along with the graduation of leading tackler Alex Hoffman-Ellis, leave Leach and new defensive coordinator Mike Breske with few options at the linebacker position.

Washington State starts spring practice March 22, with the spring game scheduled for April 21. For the full list of Spring Practice dates and previews, check out our Spring Practice Home.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 5:45 pm
 

The SEC schedule paradox: what are the options?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



Attention Birmingham residents: don't be surprised if you look in the "help wanted" section of your local Craigslist this weekend and find an ad from a user named "NoJiveSlive6nCounting" seeking "experienced cat-herder, must be able to wrangle up to 14 strong-willed athletic direc ... er, cats, with 14 differing agendas into moving in the same direction. Happily. Or at least, not angrily."

If you do, you can bet it's a response to this week's meeting of SEC athletic directors, where efforts to begin hammering out a football schedule for 2013 -- and, more importantly, a planned rotation for the seasons beyond -- seemed to have gone just an inch or two past nowhere. Reading the comments of those A.D.'s both during and after the meetings, it's easy to see why; not only is every SEC school bringing its own aims and ideas to the table, but they can't even agree on what they think they agree on. Just ask LSU and Florida, who are both willing to give up their annual cross-division rivalry or, in fact, aren't, depending on who you ask.

Of course, anyone who wasn't expecting these kinds of difficulties as soon as Texas A&M and Missouri joined the league wasn't paying attention. As we've repeated ad nauseum in this space, what the SEC wants -- preserved cross-divisional rivalries, semi-regular rotations for other East-West matchups, a divisional round-robin -- and the number of league games in which it wants them -- i.e., eight -- is flatly impossible, the scheduling equivalent of dividing by zero. Some kind of compromise somewhere in that tangled thicket of demands is inevitable.

But which compromise makes the most sense? Let's break down the SEC's options:

1. A NINE-GAME SCHEDULE

Pros: The simplest solution would give the conference room to preserve one annual cross-division game per team (saving the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry and Third Saturday in October), two slots for rotating cross-division opponents (shortening the gap between home-and-homes to four years), and still fit in the NCAA-mandated six-game intra-divisional round-robin. There's little doubt the league's television partners would vastly prefer another round of conference contests to a snoozer over yet another faceless Sun Belt punching bag.

Cons: They are many, the biggest one being that half the league would be giving up the cash bonanza of a guaranteed home game each year; for teams committed to a nonconference rivalry that requires a biannual road game (South Carolina with Clemson, Georgia with Georgia Tech, etc.) that loss will be particularly tough to swallow. There's also the increased difficulty of bottom-rung teams scheduling their way to a bowl berth; the inevitable loss of one-off nonconference series like LSU's with West Virginia; the inherent unfairness of half the league getting five home games and half just four ... all in all, it's understandable why the league would prefer to stick at eight if at all possible.

2. KEEP SELECTED CROSS-DIVISIONAL RIVALRIES

Pros: In other words, let Georgia play Auburn and Alabama play Tennessee (and maybe LSU and Florida? Arkansas and Missouri?) on an annual basis while everyone else rotates their cross-division opponents. The rivalries that matter are preserved while teams without such rivalries maintain scheduling flexibility.

Cons: For the teams with permanent cross-division rivals and just one rotating cross-division slot, match-ups with the rest of the opposite division will be few and far between--just one home-and-home over 12 years. Will teams in the West who want to recruit Georgia be happy with one trip to Athens every dozen seasons? Will East teams that struggle to fill their stadiums like Vanderbilt or Kentucky be happy with one visit from the Crimson Tide every 12 years? Will traditional rivals Auburn and Florida live with almost never playing each other again? This compromise is better than assigning every team a permanent cross-divisional rival, but it still has major problems.

3. PLAY ONLY FIVE INTRA-DIVISIONAL GAMES

Pros: As discussed by Mississippi State A.D. Scott Stricklin here, this would require an NCAA waiver or repeal of the current rule requiring conferences to stage intra-divisional round-robins to hold a title game (and such a waiver was granted to the MAC, albeit when that league had 13 teams and needed it to make an eight-game schedule work). But it would free up one key slot for a cross-divisional game--and it's hard to think of a team in the league that wouldn't take someone in the opposite division over someone in their own. League regularly dealt with tiebreaks between teams that hadn't played head-to-head back in the pre-divisional days.

Cons: Just because they dealt with them doesn't mean awkward tiebreaks are somehow a good thing; ask the Big 12 about its 2008 season sometime. And it may all be moot anyway--the NCAA may not be inclined to grant the waiver in the first place.

4. REALIGN DIVISIONS

Pros: If Auburn/Georgia and Tennessee/Alabama need to play every year, why not just lump them all into the same division and make the issue of cross-division rivalries irrelevant? You'd have to ignore geography entirely where South Carolina was concerned, but a "Rivalry" division of Tigers, Bulldogs, Volunteers, Crimson Tide, Gators, Commodores, and Wildcats -- with LSU, A&M, Missouri, Arkansas, the Mississippi schools, and the Gamecocks in the "Other" division -- would preserve almost every classic SEC series. And if you don't like that arrangement, there's always other options.

Cons: Hoo boy, the Gamecocks would not be happy with having their Georgia series dissolved in the above scenario. And even if you convince them, any scenario which lumps both Alabama schools in with the traditional East powers is going to be far too competitively weighted towards that division--the West could have just one team (LSU) that had won the league since 1963. 

5. ELIMINATE DIVISIONS ENTIRELY

ProsMore than one SEC fan has proposed simply doing away with the divisional setup -- allowing teams to schedule as many annual rivals or rotated games as they wish -- and having the top two teams in the standings play off in the league championship game. No other suggestion in this list would make scheduling easier.

Cons: That the NCAA has mandated divisions for a championship game since the game's inception is a hurdle just a shade smaller than the Empire State Building, and of course the money-tree that is the SEC Championship Game is going to go away when Razorbacks fly. Then there's the tiebreaking issues, the regressive feel of reverting to the pre-1992 standings table ... this isn't happening.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Short of pitching two schools overboard, which will happen immediately after the league gives up its championship game to help it live a life of "monastic conferencehood, in which championships are awarded for each team's level of enlightenment," nope.

SO WHAT SHOULD THE LEAGUE DO?

Simple: go to nine games. For the likes of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Kentucky, this means just two nonconference "paycheck" breathers and some massaging of the road/home split to make sure each team doesn't have too many games away from home in one season.

But guess what? The Bulldogs only played two paycheck games last season, and they ended up all right. LSU played only six true home games last year, only two of them vs. tomato can opposition, and their world somehow continued to spin as well. We're not sure there's a fan in the league that wouldn't be willing to trade two seasons' worth of exhibitions against Cupcake State for one ticket vs. legitimate SEC opposition.

BUT WHAT WILL THEY DO?

Despite the noises coming from Georgia's Greg McGarity, we expect -- and fervently hope -- that even a money-grab as naked as this round of SEC expansion has its limits, and that those limits stop outside the cancellation of Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee. For now, expect the league to opt for option No. 2, where the schools who want permanent cross-division rivalries get them and those that don't don't. And in the long run? When the demands of television viewers and high price of paying off bodybags makes that extra home game more trouble than it's worth, the ninth game will make it debut. 

Unfortunately, there's going to be a lot of hand-wringing, a lot of scary-sounding statements, and a lot of Mike Slive cat-herding before we get to that or any compromise. Buckle in, SEC, fans.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com