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Thread: Da Bum's 2017 College Football News-Rumours-Etc !

  1. #61
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    Scandals have led to sorry seasons
    July 21, 2017


    Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze resigned instead of being fired Thursday for what Ole Miss called a pattern of personal misconduct.

    Preseason practice is set to open in Oxford, Mississippi, in weeks. The Rebels are a month and a half away from starting the season against South Alabama.

    This is no time for a coaching change, but offensive line coach Matt Luke is being thrown into an interim position. He will try to save a season that already had been scarred by a self-imposed bowl ban for NCAA violations that Ole Miss said had nothing to do with Freeze being forced out.

    These types of scandal-driven offseason coaching changes have become somewhat common in college football. History shows teams that endure unusual upheaval do not fare well.

    Here are some notable offseason changes and how those seasons turned out.

    Art Briles, Baylor. After an external investigation found the school mishandled sexual assault claims, some against football players, Baylor's board of trustees began the process to fire Briles on May 26, 2016.

    Temporary replacement: Jim Grobe.


    Result: The Bears opened the season ranked No. 23 and started 6-0, and then lost six straight. They won their bowl game to finish 7-6.

    Tim Beckman, Illinois. Fired on Aug. 28, 2015, after an external investigation found he mishandled player injuries.

    Temporary replacement: Bill Cubit.

    Result: The Illini had shown some progress in the previous season under Beckman and started 4-1, but dropped six of their final seven games to finish 5-7.

    Jim Tressel, Ohio State. Resigned on May 30, 2011, after it was revealed he lied about NCAA violations, involving players trading equipment and memorabilia for cash and tattoos.

    Temporary replacement: Luke Fickell.


    Result: The Buckeyes went 6-6 and 3-5 in the Big Ten. The administration did not self-impose a bowl ban when it had the opportunity and the Buckeyes lost the Gator Bowl to Florida to finish with a losing record. The next year Ohio State had to serve an NCAA-handed-down postseason ban when Urban Meyer's first team went 12-0.

    Bobby Petrino, Arkansas. Fired on April 11, 2012, for lying to school officials about his relationship with a woman who was involved in a motorcycle accident with him.

    Temporary replacement: John L. Smith.


    Result: The Razorbacks had high hopes coming off an 11-win season, but they tanked, going 4-8.

    Butch Davis, North Carolina. Fired on July 27, 2011, amid an NCAA investigation about players receiving improper benefits and academic misconduct.

    Temporary replacement: Everett Withers.


    Result: The Tar Heels started 5-1 before losing four of six to finish the regular season. They completed a lackluster year by losing to Missouri in the Independence Bowl and ended up 7-6.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  2. #62
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    Freeze's fall partially traced to Nutt
    July 21, 2017


    The man whom Hugh Freeze replaced as Mississippi's football coach was at least partially responsible for Freeze's stunning downfall.

    It was a recently filed civil lawsuit from Houston Nutt - who coached Ole Miss from 2008 to '11 - against the university that unearthed the phone records that eventually revealed Freeze's school-issued cellphone had dialed an escort service on at least one occasion in 2016.

    Freeze resigned Thursday after university officials found that the coach engaged in a ''pattern of personal misconduct'' that was unacceptable. The 47-year-old - who was making more than $5 million per year - will receive no buyout, according to Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork.

    Freeze's phone records might never have been researched if Nutt hadn't sued the university earlier this month. The lawsuit claims a breach of his severance agreement because of false statements he says school officials made to try to pin blame for the NCAA investigation on Nutt.

    There are 21 allegations in the NCAA's case against Ole Miss. Four of them occurred in relation to Nutt's tenure while 17 happened under Freeze.

    Ole Miss strongly defended Freeze in its latest response to the NCAA's allegations, saying the coach emphasized NCAA rules compliance during his tenure. Now the school will go forward in its case without him.

    In researching the civil suit, Nutt's lawyers made a Freedom of Information filing asking for Freeze's phone records covering several days in January 2016. The aim - which is detailed in the suit - was to try to show that Ole Miss officials conspired to spread misinformation to media and form a ''smear campaign'' against Nutt.

    It found much more.

    In those records, which were obtained by The Associated Press and several other media outlets, was a one-minute call to a Detroit-based number. An internet search shows the number linked to a site that offers various escort services. Subsequent research by Ole Miss officials into Freeze's phone records found more misconduct.

    One of Nutt's attorneys, Walter Morrison, said late Thursday that Freeze's attempt to pin blame for the NCAA investigation on Nutt backfired in a huge way.

    ''It's sad the university did not deal with this in the manner of which they should have,'' Morrison said. ''And if they had dealt with Houston Nutt appropriately to begin with, he would not have been besmirched, he would have been treated appropriately and fairly, consistent with the severance agreement that all of us signed.

    ''And interestingly enough, Hugh Freeze would probably still have his job.''

    Bjork said Freeze would have been fired if he hadn't offered his resignation. He added that Freeze's resignation occurred strictly because of his personal conduct and not because of the current NCAA investigation.

    ''In our analysis, we discovered a pattern of conduct that is not consistent with our expectations as the leader of our football program,'' Bjork said. ''As of (Wednesday), there appeared to be a concerning pattern.''

    Co-offensive coordinator Matt Luke has been named the interim coach for the coming season. Freeze finished with a 39-25 record, including a 19-21 mark in the Southeastern Conference, over five seasons.

    The Freeze era produced some huge highs for the Ole Miss program, including a Sugar Bowl win over Oklahoma State following the 2015 season. But the victories have been largely overshadowed by a long-running NCAA investigation that includes charges of academic, booster and recruiting misconduct.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  3. #63
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    Matt Luke tries to pull together Ole Miss
    July 21, 2017


    The task of pulling together Mississippi's shattered football program is now in the hands of interim coach Matt Luke.

    The 40-year-old was promoted from co-offensive coordinator on Thursday night in the stunning aftermath of coach Hugh Freeze's resignation for a ''pattern of personal misconduct'' that started with the school's investigation into a call to an escort service .

    It's just the latest issue facing the embattled Rebels.

    While Luke has been an assistant at Ole Miss during Freeze's entire five-plus year tenure, his name has not been linked to the ongoing NCAA investigation of the program. Luke also has deep family ties to the university and north Mississippi, playing offensive line for the Rebels from 1995-98.

    Now he has a 12-game audition for the full-time job.

    It's not an ideal situation , but it's not completely bleak either.

    ''Matt is a great coach,'' Bjork said when announcing Thursday the school was turning the program over to Luke . ''He's a leader. He's a rock. He's an Ole Miss Rebel. And I'm confident - and especially even more confident after watching him address the team - that he will lead this team and program through this difficult time.''

    Bjork also noted that Wesley McGriff, the team's defensive coordinator, has been promoted to associate head coach. Luke was not immediately available for interviews in the aftermath of Freeze's resignation.

    Luke is now in charge of a program that still has a talented roster - especially on offense - but is in the midst of long-running NCAA investigation that's already caused the school to impose a one-year bowl ban for the upcoming season.

    The offense features several promising young players, including sophomores like quarterback Shea Patterson, left tackle Greg Little and receivers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf.

    Luke needs to hold on to them to have success. But it is unclear if any players on the current roster will transfer in the wake of Freeze bombshell.

    Bjork said ''it's hard to say'' if there will be any roster changes. He said players are currently in summer workouts and several are in summer school. They'll also have a few days off before preseason camp on Aug. 2.

    ''We will give them space. We will listen,'' Bjork said. ''And whatever they decide to do, we will support them.''

    The Ole Miss program was under a lot of stress even before Freeze's resignation. The Rebels are in the middle of an NCAA rules infractions case that includes 21 charges of academic, booster, and recruiting misconduct. Fifteen of those allegations are currently classified as Level I, which the NCAA deems most serious.

    The school has already self-imposed several sanctions, including the postseason ban, scholarship restrictions and recruiting restrictions. More penalties could be coming after an NCAA decision in the case, which is expected later this year.

    It remains to be seen if Freeze's resignation will hurt or help Ole Miss when it argues its case in front of the NCAA infractions committee. The school has staunchly defended Freeze in the past, saying the coach emphasized rules compliance during his tenure.

    Bjork indicated on Thursday that view hadn't changed. He added that Freeze's resignation is strictly because of personal conduct and not related to the NCAA investigation.

    ''He has an established record that's well documented in terms of how he ran the program around compliance,'' Bjork said. ''And we still believe in that.''

    One small silver lining for Ole Miss is that the program should be on solid financial footing whenever officials hire a full-time coach - whether that's Luke or someone else.

    Freeze had multiple years remaining on a contract that paid him more than $5 million annually. Bjork said that if Freeze had not resigned, he would have been fired with cause under a morals clause in the contract.

    Because of that, the AD said there is ''no buyout, no settlement'' moving forward.

    But money can't fix the Rebels in the immediate future.

    Freeze was allowed to address coaches and players after he announced his resignation and Bjork said the meeting was tough.

    ''I saw some heads go down, as you might expect, but I thought (the players) handled it very maturely,'' Bjork said. ''Several of them came up and hugged me and Matt Luke and the coaches and from what I could tell initially, they're ready to move forward.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  4. #64
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    Freeze ousted at Ole Miss
    July 25, 2017


    All Houston Nutt wanted was an apology. Hugh Freeze, the Bible-totin’, scripture spittin’ head coach who replaced Nutt at Ole Miss, was unwilling to provide one.

    Therefore, 10 years after Nutt’s demise at his dream job in his native Arkansas started with an open-records request for his phone records, an identical move by Nutt’s lawyer Thomas Mars to attain Freeze’s phone records has resulted in the latter losing his dream job in Oxford.

    (Quick Note: The depth of the irony involved in this situation isn’t lost on this space, but we’ll save the 2005-2007 trials and tribulations of Nutt, Gus Malzahn, Mitch Mustain, Damian Williams and Ben Cleveland in Fayetteville for another day.)

    Only 45 days before Freeze was to begin his sixth season at Ole Miss, he agreed to resign his post last Thursday afternoon in order to avoid being fired with cause. The cover of Friday’s Oxford Eagle had a picture of Freeze and the following headline: “Escorted Out.”

    When Nutt’s request for a public apology from Freeze, AD Ross Bjork and Ole Miss was turned down, he decided to file a lawsuit. With Freeze poised to face relentless scrutiny at SEC Media Days two weeks ago for the NCAA violations on his watch that have already resulted in self-imposed recruiting restrictions and a postseason ban in 2017, why not drop the lawsuit the day before Freeze was scheduled to appear in Hoover?

    The context of the lawsuit was based upon the false narrative Freeze and Bjork created in the weeks leading up to Signing Day in 2016. A not-yet-public Notice of Allegations had already been sent to the school, engulfing the program with rumors of serious NCAA violations that would result in severe punishment in the not-too-distant future.

    In order to deflect this notion and keep his highly-ranked 2016 recruiting class together, Freeze made a series of phone calls to national reporters to conduct off-the-record conversations. In the following days, multiple media members reported via twitter and various newspapers and magazines that anonymous sources (Freeze) were indicating that most of the issues contained in the NOA were from Nutt’s tenure rather than Freeze’s.

    As it turned out this past spring when the NCAA’s charges became public, the implications of vast wrongdoing on Nutt’s watch was completely inaccurate. And Nutt was justifiably pissed and deserving of a public apology from Freeze, who was cited for the dreaded charge of “lack of institutional control.”

    Despite all the turmoil around Freeze since his breakout 2013 recruiting haul shocked the nation (since when did the nation’s top-ranked wide receiver from the Chicago area consider Ole Miss, much less end up signing with it?!), Ole Miss had never once wavered in its support of the coach who seemed to play the religion card a bit too much, especially for someone constantly under fire for running a dirty program.

    I’ve been saying for months that when you’re guilty of NCAA violations (and clearly Ole Miss was; hence the punishment it self-imposed several months ago), you basically have no choice but to clean house. This is because if you expect to get any leniency from the NCAA, you better come before them with fresh faces and a new staff after ousting the perpetrators of breaking the rules.

    If you don’t, you’re just asking for the NCAA to drop the hammer on you. Seriously, who in college football history has survived this sort of scandal? Nobody. Not even Pat Dye in the early 1990s. And let’s not pull any punches here: There’s no institution in America that cares less about what those on the periphery – whether it be the national media, conference rivals, other coaches, etc. – think, write or say about the school that sits on The Plains. And yet it still fired Dye.

    In fact, the only coaches that have dodged pink slips amid the sort of serious violations at Ole Miss have come in the form of basketball coaches. And Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun and Rick Pitino have all won national championships, while Freeze has never even won a division title.

    Nevertheless, Bjork and the Ole Miss administration had inexplicably stood behind Freeze, choosing a preposterous path destined to fail miserably when they face the NCAA music later this year.

    As Mars was working on the lawsuit earlier this month, he found a helper of sorts in a dude named Steve Robertson that works for a Mississippi St. website under the Scout network banner and is researching an upcoming book he’s writing. As Robertson examined Freeze’s phone records over a three-day period in late January of ’16, he came upon a strange number with a 313 area code. Freeze made The Call at 8:34 p.m. Eastern on Jan. 21.

    The number turned out to be an escort service. When Robertson informed Mars of this, the lawyer told Yahoo Sports, “For at least 90 seconds I didn’t say anything. I was speechless.” He informed Ole Miss via e-mail that a phone number found in Freeze’s records would be embarrassing to the school, setting off an investigation by Ole Miss into more than 39,000 of Freeze’s calls over more than a five-year period.

    Mars also tipped off Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports, who confronted Freeze about the call. Freeze dubbed it a "misdial and there was nothing to it" because he was in Tampa that day. There's an 813 area code in the Tampa area.

    Whatever was uncovered in the investigation into Freeze's phone calls by Ole Miss, it has been kept secret to this point. At the presser announcing his resignation, Bjork made several things clear. First, “a troubling pattern” of phone calls was enough to get him fired with cause. Secondly, Bjork felt that any conversation beyond that would be a violation of Freeze’s privacy.

    So after all that had transpired with the NCAA, including a live-on-ESPN admission during the NFL Draft that Laremy Tunsil “would have to say yes” to the question as to whether or not he’d been paid by Ole Miss while he was playing, Freeze’s forced departure had zero to do with any rules violations.

    One week to the day after Freeze took the podium at SEC Media Days and had the unfathomable audacity to opine about being forced to “re-define the word integrity” and quoted multiple Bible verses while implying that attacks on his character were similar to the persecution Jesus faced before being hung on the cross, Freeze was exposed as the holier-than-though hypocrite that he’s always been.

    Nope, not even The Good Lord could help Freeze out of this mess. With his double life exposed, his nearly $5 million per year job gone without a penny of a buyout and his players and supporters left to answer questions galore, Freeze has remained silent. He’s presumably digging his way out of the doghouse with the four biggest victims of this only-in-the-SEC plot: his wife and three teenage daughters.

    If and when he’s able to do that, he’ll meet with public-relations gurus about how on earth he goes about repairing his shattered image. We’ve seen it happen before and like Bobby Petrino, he’ll probably be able to coach again. The difference here, however, is that unlike Petrino, Freeze still faces the wrath of the NCAA and a show-cause penalty that could last up to 5-10 years.

    As for Ole Miss, it looks like a fool that’s been hustled by a sanctimonious fraud. Its defense to the NCAA has been that Freeze was always been compliant to the rules and was merely blindsided by violations committed by a rogue assistant and various boosters. Good luck with that strategy moving forward!

    Bjork’s reputation had been one of an intelligent young AD on the rise until he hitched his wagon with that of Freeze’s. He’s fortunate to still have his job and is surely on the hot seat at this point.

    Assuming he indeed is the one that hires the next coach later this year, he’ll have a huge task in convincing one to accept such a challenging rebuild. With that said, the school will have plenty of cash available after wiggling out of what it would have owed Freeze in the future. In addition, this is still an SEC job and each one of those is coveted by coaches across the country.

    Matt Luke has been named the interim head coach and could coach himself into the full-time gig if he’s able to produce a successful 2017 campaign under these circumstances. But we should point out that he’s never even been a coordinator, much less a head coach.

    The next coach certainly won’t be Chip Kelly, who will have way too many options to consider a job with so many question marks and challenges ahead of it. Plus, he received a two-year show-cause penalty as he left Oregon for the NFL. More realistic possibilities are Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Troy HC Neal Brown, Memphis HC Mike Norvell and Colorado HC Mike MacIntyre.

    You might see names like Charlie Strong and Lane Kiffin mentioned. However, Strong already made one wrong decision regarding “fit” when he bolted Louisville for Texas. I just don’t see him pulling a one-and-done act at South Florida. As for Kiffin, I’m not sure his personality fits at a school looking to clean up a scandal and presumably avoid another one in the near future.

    For now, it’s just a big Ole Mess in Oxford, one that the school could’ve avoided – at least to some extent -- had it cut bait with an individual who Bjork and his bosses ignorantly stood behind for far too long.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  5. #65
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    2017 MWC Preview
    July 24, 2017

    2017 Mountain West Conference Football Betting Preview

    We’re Back, Again


    For the tenth consecutive year, the Mountain West sent at least five teams into postseason bowl games when seven participants hit the alleys last season. The MWC has earned 84 bowl bids since 1999 and holds a 46-38 (.548) all-time record in those contests.

    More important, for the first time in six years the Mountain West finished the bowls with a winning campaign last season.

    Newbies

    The Mountain West has welcomed 29 new head coaches over the last 18 seasons, twelve of which played in a bowl game in their rookie year. Three new head coaches debut this season: Brent Brennan (San Jose State), Jay Norvell (Nevada), and oldie but goodie Jeff Tedford (Fresno State). The bad news is all three of the new coaches will face uphill battles with squads that all figure to battle to stay out of the cellar in their respective divisions.

    Way Up There

    The Mountain West Conference is appropriately named with all 6 teams in the MWC Mountain Division more than 2,000 feet above sea level.

    Wyoming’s War Memorial stadium scales the highest at 7,215 feet, with Air Force’s Falcon Stadium also better than a mile high at 6,621 feet.

    Note: The numbers following each team name represents the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback.

    MWC MOUNTAIN PREVIEW

    AIR FORCE (Offense - *5/2, Defense - 1/0, 80 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: PARTLY CLOUDY SKIES

    It’s a good thing the Air Force Academy is always heavy on upper classmen. That’s because this year’s squadron has plenty of holes to fill as AFA seniors accounted for the 2nd highest percentage of starts of all FBS teams last season (69.0%). The good news is former starting QB Nate Romine returns, along with his heir apparent Arion Worthman, who is undefeated (6-0) as a starter for the Falcons. Lost however are six of seven defensive linemen, four of five linebackers and six of seven defensive backs. Furthermore, the Flyboys will most likely need to win out at home as five of six road games are slated against bowl teams.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Falcons are 2-12 ATS in games after facing Army and Navy since 2010.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Colorado State (10/28)

    BOISE STATE (Offense - *5/2, Defense - 4/2, 38 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: 12 AND COUNTING

    You have to go back to 1998 to find the last time a Boise State football team failed to win 8 games in a season. And were it not for the fact that the Broncos finished the 2016 season with the 2nd fewest amount of turnovers gained (9), they likely would have topped the 10 wins they recorded last season. In fact, the most consistent mid-major in the nation has knocked off five of their last six Power Five foes. We’re not certain what happened in their bowl loss to Baylor, but the last four times the Broncos lost a bowl game, they bounced back to go 51-3 combined the following season. Thought you’d like to know.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Broncos are 61-2 SU in games against .500 or less foes with Bryan Harsin on the sidelines (as OC 2006-2010 and since 2014).

    PLAY ON: vs. Air Force (11/18)

    COLORADO STATE (Offense - *6/2, Defense - 8/3, 43 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: RAMMING IT UP

    Starting QB Nick Stevens leads a stacked backfield speared by the three-headed attack of Dalyn Dawkins, Izzy Matthews and Marvin Kinsey, Jr., who combined for 2,199 rushing yards last season. (Note: the Rams were 6-0 SU in game in which they rushed for 200 yards last season; 0-6 when they did not). After being demoted, and then reclaiming his starting position October 22nd, Stevens posted the nation’s best pass efficiency from that point forward when the Rams finished as the No. 4 team in the nation in red zone offense in 2016. Defensively, nine starters return, most of who were thrown into the fire due to a lack of proficiency. Meanwhile, Mike Bobo is one of only two Group of Five coaches hired in 2015 to post winning records each of the last two years. Color them dangerous.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Rams are 0-20 SU all-time versus ranked opponents.

    PLAY ON: at Wyoming (11/4)

    NEW MEXICO (Offense - *7/3, Defense - 2/1, 41 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: BORN TO RUN

    The Lobos won their first NCAA rushing title last season (after finishing second in 1970 and 1971) when they tallied 4,550 yards, edging Army by 86 yards. The question is was New Mexico good last season, or were they good and lucky? Five of its wins were by a TD or less in 2016 (only Clemson owned more). With over 50% of the starts made for the Lobos last season coming by seniors, we’ll see what Bob Davie has left in his recruit war chest. We do know this: the Lobos committed just 14 giveaways last season. In four of Davie’s five seasons at the helm, the Lobos have ranked in the top five in fewest giveaways.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Lobos have been outscored by 2.8 PPG under Davie, after being outscored by 26 PPG in the 3 years prior to his arrival.

    PLAY ON: vs. New Mexico State (9/9)

    UTAH STATE (Offense - *7/2, Defense - 8/1, 40 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: SHOW ME YOUR SIGN

    It’s not a good sign when your team wins 3 games in a season in which over 50% of the starts were made by seniors – especially when six players that earned various MWC honors are gone this year. Granted, four losses last season by a TD or less were discouraging but signs of progress are evident in 2017 with the return of starting QB Kent Myers (2,389 passing yards and 10 TDs), RB Tonny Lindsey, Jr. (763 rushing yards and 6 TDs), and WR Ron’quavion Tarver (46 receptions for 602 yards) from last season. Also good news is the fact that 20 players made their first start last season. Collectively, they can only get better.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Aggies own a 19-13 SU record in conference games under Wells. They were 24-42 SU the previous nine seasons.

    PLAY ON: at Air Force (11/25)

    WYOMING (Offense - *6/4, Defense - 8/3, 51 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: COWBOY UP

    Meet the FBS team that started the most underclassmen in the nation in 2016 (56.2%). And for the first time in four seasons at Wyoming, head coach Craig Bohl will have a returning starter quarterback in JT Josh Allen – a mighty damn good one at that. Allen burst onto the college football scene in 2016, leading the MWC, and ranking 20th in the nation in passing touchdowns (28). Some thought he might enter the NFL Draft early this year but he didn’t. As a result, Allen should be one of the top returning QBs in the nation. Bohl’s force-feeding of youngsters two seasons ago paid major dividends last year. Could he hit the jackpot in 2017.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Last year’s win over Boise State was the first over a ranked opponent for the Cowboys since 2002.

    PLAY ON: vs. New Mexico (10/28)


    MWC WEST PREVIEW

    FRESNO STATE (Offense - *10/5, Defense - 6/3, 42 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: RECYCLING RETREADS

    What is the last thing a team that ranked dead last in in the nation in first down defense – and also ranked in the bottom 10 in the land in rush offense – would want to face during the first month of a new season with a new coach this year? If you said consecutive road trips to Alabama and to Washington, you’re spot on. The new coach is actually an old one recycled, former California boss Jeff Tedford. He was brought in after the Bulldogs fell from 11 wins to 11 losses in three years under Tim DeRuyter, who ironically moves to Cal as it new defensive coordinator. Remember this team suffered four losses by a touchdown or less last season. The only direction this program can go is up.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: After a 19-4 start with the Bulldogs, former Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter went 11-30 in his final 41 games.

    PLAY ON: at Hawaii (11/11)

    HAWAII (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 6/2, 54 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: FASTEN YOU SEAT BELTS – AGAIN

    If you thought the 10,000 miles Hawaii flew before playing its first home game last season was dizzying, wait until you get a load of this year’s passenger manifest. By the end of September 2017, the Warriors will have journeyed to Massachusetts, Los Angeles, and Wyoming. Troubling? No way. Not after 1st year coach and former Hawaii quarterback Nick Rolovich used last season's 10,000-mile journey to discover an exciting QB in Dru Brown and an explosive RB in Diocemy Saint Juste, pairing them to form one of the MWC’s more frightening backfields. With most of last year’s starting cast back, plus 9 of the top 11 receivers, another bowl looks likely.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Hawaii is 1-7 SU in Eastern Time zones since 1959, with losses by a combined margin of 286-30.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Massachusetts (8/26)

    NEVADA (Offense - *5/2, Defense - 9/3, 40 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: MUMMIFIED

    Though it seems like eons ago now, three stints of Chris Ault and his altered shotgun offense are a faded memory following four non-descript seasons under Brian Polian. Replacing Polian is offense-maker Jay Norvell, a wide receivers coach at Arizona State last season, and a former OC with Nebraska, Oklahoma, and UCLA. To help kick-start the offense, Norvell hired Matt Mumme (Hal’s son), a former HC at Division III LaGrange as his OC. With air raid in Mumme’s blood, expect the pig to fly in Reno in 2017. Norvell’s DC is Jeff Casteel who brings almost 25 years of coordinator experience, including stints at West Virginia and Arizona. The rebuild is in place.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Wolf Pack were the 4th best team in the nation in fewest turnovers lost last season (11).

    PLAY AGAINST: at Fresno State (9/30)

    SAN DIEGO STATE (Offense - *5/1, Defense - 6/1, 34 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: CLOUDY SKIES IN SAN DIEGO

    A monster in the Mountain West has emerged. Over the past two seasons Rocky Long’s Aztecs have won two MWC titles while outscoring conference foes by 24 PPG, while going 16-2 SU in conference games in the process. The problem now facing Long’s troops is that over 50% of the starts made for the Aztecs in 2016 were by seniors. Obviously, they will need to be replaced. The good news is super-pest South Alabama is no longer on the schedule. The Aztecs went 0-2 SUATS versus the Jaguars in 2015-16, and 22-4 against everyone else! Last year SDSU started the same OL in all 14 games, a group that combined for 114 starts. Now 130 of those starts are gone – along with record-setting RB Donnel Pumphrey.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: After bowling twice in 22 years between 1987 and 2009, the Aztecs have bowled six straight years under Rocky Long.

    PASS

    SAN JOSE STATE (Offense - 7/5, Defense - 8/2, 35 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: BAD NEWS… GOOD NEWS

    First the bad news: The Spartans were the worst team in the land in sacks allowed (50) last year. They were also the 2nd worst team in the nation in 4th down conversion percentage defense. Throughout it all, after collaring Top 60 recruiting classes each of his last three years, promising young head coach Ron Caragher was canned. The good news is his replacement is Brent Brennan, a 44-year old former UCLA wide receiver, known for his infectious personality. He inherits major experience on the OL with six linemen owning 125 combined career starts. Even better news: Brennan also inherits a deeply experienced defense that could be the backbone of the team.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The SU winner in Spartans’ games is 33-4 the last three seasons, including 12-0 in 2016.

    PASS

    UNLV (Offense - *9/4 Defense - 2/2, 48 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: MAXIMUM VEGAS

    Bit by the injury bug last year, HC Tony Sanchez’s troops fell short of .500 – but still improved their record, point production, and overall defense. The Rebels return two starting QBs and four WRs, plus a high upside of youthful experience is back as Sanchez’s recruiting skills are beginning to surface. For it to happen, though, veteran DC Kent Baer (45th year of coaching) needs his troops to show continued improvement. This is a program that's been to only four bowl games in four decades and, as a result, head coaches have struggled in Vegas (USC’s John Robinson was 28-42 here). Sanchez is determined to set a new norm. Don’t discount his chances as UNLV returns one of the Mountain West’s best backfields and top offensive lines this season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Rebels have enjoyed just one winning season over the last 16 years.

    PLAY ON: at Idaho (9/9) - *KEY
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    Big 10: 'Stay put. Sideline isn't a stage.'
    July 25, 2017


    CHICAGO (AP) Watch your step, Jim Harbaugh.

    The rest of you Big Ten coaches, too.

    Conference officials are tired of coaches who treat the sideline like a stage and rage like Hamlet over calls they don't like - and they're prepared, finally, to do something about it.

    Of the several rules changes in store for the 2017 season, stricter enforcement of the coach's box may have the greatest impact of all. Violators are subject to a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

    ''We wouldn't take a tenth of what some coaches do and say from a player, and this is the adult in the game setting the example,'' coordinator of officials Bill Carollo said Tuesday at Big Ten media days.

    ''That's kind of our thinking - `Know what? We should enforce this, but we have to do it consistently,''' he added. ''Big games, coaches, I don't care who they are. It doesn't matter.''

    The consensus was that coaches literally crossed the line to make their points too often last season.

    ''It has gotten to the point that (coaches) are holding court outside the numbers,'' Carollo said. ''If they do get a flag, they stay out there and say `What's the call?' We were too easy on the rule. Across the country, it got really bad.''

    The subject came to light most notably in the Michigan-Ohio State game last November, when an irate Harbaugh slammed his headset to the ground and threw a play sheet so far it ended up in the middle of the field. He accused the sideline official of being too preoccupied with his whereabouts on the field, among his critical postgame comments that drew a $10,000 fine.

    ''If we do it right, the most significant difference will be the coach on the field,'' Carollo said. ''I was really clear to our guys, `I'm just telling you, we've pledged to each other that we're going to call this consistently.' They have the marching orders. They're going to flag this. It will clean up the game a little bit. That's good.
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    Funny thing happened to Harbaugh on the way to the Forum
    July 25, 2017


    CHICAGO (AP) Presenting the pope with a Michigan football helmet and a pair of Air Jordans wasn't the only highlight in Jim Harbaugh 's trip to Rome this spring.

    The jaunt went so well that you half-expected the Wolverines coach to pull out a map and show slides of his young squad sampling historical sites instead of answering the usual questions during his appearance at the Big Ten media days event Tuesday.

    ''The best thing I've ever done personally as a part of a football team,'' Harbaugh said.

    ''We're at the Colosseum, at the Forum, and you learn so many things along the way,'' he marveled a moment later. ''The Colosseum has been around for 600 years, it's been active for 600 years. Around here, 30, 40 years as a stadium and they tear it down. Amazing, really.''

    Whether Harbaugh asked the pontiff to bless Michigan's fortunes this season wasn't known. But it would be hard to blame him for asking.

    After starting last season with nine straight wins, the Wolverines staggered home by losing three of their last four, including a heart-breaking, double-overtime clunker to Ohio State in Columbus and then a 33-32 loss to Florida State at the Orange Bowl.

    On top of that, Harbaugh lost more starters than any major college team - 17, assuming Wilton Speight returns at quarterback - and all but one on what was the top-ranked defense in America. He'll also be fielding one of the youngest teams in the game.

    On the flip side, after adapting to players brought in by predecessor Brady Hoke, Harbaugh finally will have a majority of his recruits in the lineup. Several members of last year's highly touted class - Rashan Gary, Chris Evans, Michael Onwenu and Devin Bush Jr. - could be on the verge of breakout years.

    ''The amount of growth that you can have from doing something for the first time and then doing it the next time or the second time, can be the biggest leap they have their entire college year, going from freshman year to sophomore year,'' Harbaugh said. ''So I'm excited for that class.''

    It remains to be seen whether Harbaugh's sometimes-wacky bonding experiments will pay dividends soon enough to get past rival Ohio State and end Michigan's 13-year title drought. But it should be evident whether the trip to Rome was a success in terms of team-building, since Michigan opens the season Sept. 2 with a stern test against Florida in Arlington, Texas.

    ''Ninety percent of us had never been out the country before,'' junior center Mason Cole said. ''To go to a foreign country, play football and experience their culture, that really cannot be matched. The only way you're going to learn stuff like that is by doing it.''

    No one is more eager to find out how much the Wolverines have learned than Harbaugh himself. He won't have to wait long.

    ''Probably a good factor in giving us motivation and to get ready because we know just how good they are,'' he said about the Gators. ''And college football has always been unique.

    ''It's the only sport that I can think of that doesn't have a preseason or exhibition season. No spring training, no preseason game. So you go right into your first game,'' he said, breaking into a wide smile, ''and that counts.''

    But even if Michigan winds up on the wrong side of the opener, Harbaugh has already announced next season's team-building trip. He's taking the Wolverines to Paris, with stops at the Versailles Palace and beaches at Dunkirk.

    ''Lot to do there,'' Harbaugh cracked.
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    No 2-a-days means early start for Mississippi State practice
    July 25, 2017


    STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald isn't mourning the death of two-a-day practices, even if it means an earlier start to preseason practice.

    The Bulldogs opened camp Tuesday with several days left in July, which is much earlier than in previous years. One major reason for the early start is a new NCAA rule limiting teams to just one contact practice per day.

    For Mississippi State, the lack of two-a-days likely means less time at ''The Farm,'' a field located across campus from the practice facilities that usually is the site of the preseason's hardest workouts.

    Fitzgerald won't miss the long, hot days of two straight physical practices in the Mississippi sun and humidity. He believes there will be benefits to players being in better health during the August grind.

    ''If that means we have to spread it out over a week more, that's perfectly fine,'' Fitzgerald said. ''Having a few days where you just come in, lift weights and watch film instead of practicing every day, I think that's going to help out a lot.''

    Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, who is entering his ninth season with the program, has a mixed opinion about the new schedule.

    He said it's good that they're able to structure camp around player safety. In making the schedule, Mullen said he asked the team's athletic trainers and strength coaches to put together an ideal schedule to allow for rest and recovery. Then he worked that plan around the ideas of assistant coaches and summer school class schedules for the final version.

    His major worry is the down time it creates.

    ''There are concerns,'' Mullen said. ''In the middle of training camp, there's no school, no anything and the players have whole days off. They don't do any football - we can't even do a life skills presentation. Nothing.

    ''So I hope they're well-behaved that day.''

    Mississippi State enters camp hoping to improve on last year's 6-7 record. The Bulldogs had a 5-7 record in the regular season but made the St. Petersburg Bowl because there weren't enough bowl-eligible teams. The extra spots were given to the 5-7 programs with the highest Academic Progress Rate scores.

    Fitzgerald's return should give Mississippi State a good foundation this season. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder was one of the breakout stars of the Southeastern Conference a year ago, throwing for 2,423 yards and 21 touchdowns while running for 1,375 yards and 16 touchdowns.

    He is joined by running back Aeris Williams, who ran for 720 yards in 2016, and Donald Gray, who caught 41 passes for 709 yards and five touchdowns.

    Last season at this time, Fitzgerald was in the middle of a four-man competition for the starting quarterback job. Now, he's the unquestioned starter and gets to concentrate on making himself better instead of worrying about the other quarterbacks.

    ''Going into this camp, my main goal is focusing on myself and fix what I need to fix to make myself better so we can have a good season,'' Fitzgerald said.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    2017 Pac-12 Preview
    July 31, 2017



    2017 Pacific-12 Conference Football Betting Preview

    It’s Getting Warm Around Here


    If it appears that things are warming up in the desert these days it’s because they are. Global warming aside, Arizona and Arizona State are just 20-19 and 21-17 respectively since 2014.

    That puts head coaches Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham squarely on the hot seat this season. Behind defenses that allowed an average 38 (Wildcats) and 40 (Sun Devils) points per game last season its no surprise new defensive coordinators were hired in the off season.

    Quarterback Checklist

    Like most football conferences, the Pac-12 is a quarterback driven league. And 2017 will be no different, with USC Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Washington’s Jake Browning and Washington State’s Luke Falk leading the charge.


    Each will be in the Heisman Trophy talk in 2017. And rest assured, by the time the final dust settles backers of these teams will have air miles aplenty.

    Bowl Shorts

    For a Power 5 conference, the Pac-12 landed only six bowl berths in 2016. Not only did they manage a waffling 3-3 SU mark, they lost the money in all six contests when they went 0-6 ATS.

    After a blasé 6-4 bowl effort in 2015, it’s time for the surfer dudes to stand and deliver in 2017.

    Note: The numbers following each team name represents the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback.

    PAC-12 NORTH PREVIEW

    CALIFORNIA (Offense – 5/2, Defense – 8/3, 56 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: NEW LOOK BEARS

    The bad news Bears fielded the 4th worst overall stop-unit in the nation last season, owning the worst rush defense AND worst 4th down conversion percentage defense as well. Hopefully, those days are now in the rear-view mirror. The dismissal of HC Sonny yikes (no D) and the hire of Justin Wilcox bring a new look to Berkeley. As a DC, Wilcox’s stuffing defenses at Boise State, Tennessee, USC, Washington and Wisconsin guarantees a defensive turnaround at Cal. And for good measure, he brings in hard-nosed former HC Tim DeRuyter as his new DC, and former Eastern Washington HC Beau Baldwin as his OC. The Bears look ready to strap on the ‘D’.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Under Dykes, the Bears were 2-14 SU and 4-12 ATS versus Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, and USC, losing by over 20 PPG... and 1-11 SU in Games Six thru Eight.

    PASS


    OREGON (Offense – *7/4, Defense – 9/0, 48 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: TAG… YOU’RE IT

    New HC Willie Taggart inherits a decidedly desirable situation, and not just because he’s taking over a top-level program. It’s the fact that Oregon hit a chuckhole in 2016 when its 4 wins (the fewest since 1983) snapped a 12-year win skein. Thus, a winning season of any sort will be looked upon as improvement. But more than that, the Ducks started more freshmen that any FBS team (29.1% of all starts). In addition, 46.7% of all starts were made by underclassmen (8th most in the land). That goes hand-in-hand with our take on young teams translating ambitious experience into success (see Washington in 2016). Fear these dangerous Ducks.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Ducks were held to under 300 yards of total offense for the first time in 89 games in a loss to USC last season.

    PASS


    OREGON STATE (Offense – *8/2, Defense – 7/3, 51 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: REBUILDING THE DAM

    After being beaten to a pulp in Gary Andersen’s first year with OSU in 2015 (they were outscored and outyarded by conference foes, -24.6 and -208 YPG ), things improved across the board in 2016 – to the point that they handily outperformed the oddsmaker, going 9-2 ATS. Hence, promise is the optimal word in Corvallis these days. 22-year old OT Gus Lavaka spent two years as an LDS missionary in Tonga and returned to land a spot on Campus Insiders’ 2016 Freshmen All-American First Team for the Beavers last season. He joins CB Xavier Crawford as another 2016 Freshmen All-American First Teamer, so the building blocks are in place.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Beavers were ranked No. 127 (2nd worst) in 4th down conversion percentage in 2016.

    PASS


    STANFORD (Offense – *8/4, Defense – 8/2, 82 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: SHAW SHANKED

    Perpetuating their lofty standing as a premier team in the Pac-12, Stanford ranks at the top of its division and third in the conference in the number of 4-or 5-star (41) and ESPN 300 (32) recruits signed over the past five seasons. It’s a primary reason that, since he arrived at Stanford in 2011, head coach David Shaw has averaged 10.7 wins per season. However, the loss of two 1st-rounders in this year’s NFL Draft cannot be overstated. RB Christian McCaffrey’s 3,360 rushing yards against Power 5 foes was tops in the land (nearly 700 yards more than runner-up D’Onta Foreman of Texas). And DL Solomon Thomas was the 3rd overall pick in the draft. Be careful here.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Cardinal’s offense slipped 12 points and 68 yards per game last season.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Notre Dame (11/25)


    WASHINGTON (Offense – *8/4, Defense – 7/2, 53 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: YOUNG PUPS

    Last year we proclaimed the fact that the 2015 Huskies were ”young as hell, and back for more in 2016.” That force-feeding paid off in spades when they earned a trip to the CFB Playoffs. And because only 17.5% of all starts last year were made by seniors (the 6th fewest in the nation), they are still hungry, led by QB Jake Browning and TB Myles Gaskin. Still, three members of UDub’s starting secondary were scooped up in the first 11 picks in the 2nd round of this year’s NFL Draft. Remember, the Huskies led the nation in turnovers gained last season (33). What happens to the defending Pac-12 champs if they don’t this year?

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Head coach Chris Petersen averages 10.82 wins per season, which ranks No. 3 among all current head coaches.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Colorado (9/23)


    WASHINGTON STATE (Offense – *9/3, Defense – 7/2, 44 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: TICK, TICK, TICK…

    After seeing his best squad ever at WSU last season open up 0-2 and then stall down the stretch, one can only imagine the numbers on Mike Leach’s Fit Bit this offseason. We know this for sure: we’re betting QB Luke Falk will be in New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentations this year. The 6’4” SR started all 13 games in 2016 while completing 443-of-633 passes for 4,468 yards (third most in the nation) and 38 TDs. And those numbers were actually DOWN from two years ago when he completed 448-of-645 passes for 4,566 yards and 38 TDs. A wealth of receivers also return, making this a team no one will want to line up against in 2017.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Cougars are 10-1 ATS as conference road dogs versus winning foes under head coach Mike Leach.

    PLAY ON: vs. Boise State (9/9)


    PAC-12 SOUTH PREVIEW:

    ARIZONA (Offense – *8/4, Defense – 8/3, 45 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: WHERE HAS ALL THE TALENT GONE?

    It was a collapse of major proportions. Last year’s awful 3-9 season, after four consecutive bowl campaigns, dropped the Wildcats to 10-15 since winning the Pac-12 South Division in 2014. Last year’s 82-yard slippage on offense can be attributed to a depleted attack unit being forced to play three different quarterbacks, and a wide receiver at running back. Only in this case it was a lack of talent – not injuries – that handcuffed the team. “Part of the problem we had last year was mistakes in recruiting or bad luck in recruiting,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “It falls on me.” It's fair to say he won’t be long for Tucson with another 3-9 season. Safe to say Rich Rod will need stud RB Nick Wilson, who’s missed 14 games the past two seasons with injuries, to stand and deliver.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: For the third time in the last five years, Arizona has had zero players selected in the NFL Draft.

    PLAY ON: vs. Utah (9/22)


    ARIZONA STATE (Offense – *7/2, Defense – 7/3, 57 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: IT’S GETTING HOT AROUND HERE

    After a second straight losing campaign in 2016, head coach Todd Graham’s staff underwent more change for the second straight year, losing passing game coordinator Jay Norvell (new HC at Nevada). Also gone is OC Chip Lindsey, who accepted the same position at Auburn. Graham then added former Baylor DC Phil Bennett to the mix. But you know things are going bad when Youngstown State and West Georgia each had more players drafted (2) this year than you did (1). The good news is new OC Billy Napier, Alabama’s WR coach, will work with former Alabama QB Blake Barnett, who transferred out with automatic eligibility.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Arizona State ranked dead last (No. 128) in passing yards allowed for the second consecutive season.

    PLAY AGAINST: at UCLA (11/11) - *KEY


    COLORADO (Offense – 9/4, Defense – 3/1, 53 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: RALPHIE ON THE LOOSE

    The Buffaloes improved from 3-33 in conference play the previous four seasons to 8-1 in 2016. And the expectation is that Colorado will likely remain a Top 25-caliber team for the foreseeable future. The Pac-12’s best scoring defense will need to overhaul its unit, though, with 8 starters gone. On the flip side, the Buffaloes have one of the best groups of receivers in the conference, and also return 2nd-team All-Pac-12 RB Phillip Lindsay. They should be in good shape with Steven Montez replacing Sefo Liufau at QB, and four starters back on the OL, including OT Tim Lynott, a Freshmen All-American First Teamer who started every game last year.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Buffaloes have forced a turnover in each of their last 25 home games – the longest skein in the nation.

    PASS


    UCLA (Offense – *7/4, Defense – 6/2, 49 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: A THOUSAND MILES FROM NOWHERE

    Where does a team go that loses its franchise quarterback at the midway point of the season behind an offense that ranked No. 127 (2nd worst in the land) in rushing offense? Not far, or as Dwight Yoakam might say, “A thousand miles from nowhere.” Thus, this year’s team will be all about having the “Chosen Rosen” back behind center. The ‘mission team’ Bruins will also be looking to improve on last year’s 1-5 mark in true road games (as opposed to going 17-6 the prior four seasons). UCLA’s defense actually improved in 2016 when it held six straight opponents to under 400 yards of total offense in a season for the first time since 2010.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: QB Josh Rosen was sacked 13 times in 6 games last season, as opposed to 15 times in 13 games in 2015.

    PLAY ON: vs. Texas A&M (9/3)


    USC (Offense – *6/2, Defense – 7/1, 48 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: WELL-EQUIPPED TROJANS

    After starting the season 1-2 for the first time since 2001, USC handed the keys over to phenom QB Sam Darnold, who lost his first start and then led the Trojans to nine straight wins – winning the stats in all ten games. Darnold finished with the 2nd-most passing yards (3,086) of all freshmen in 2016, and he projects as the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft (should he decide to enter). Hence, the 2017 Trojans are well equipped, returning 81 squad men from last year’s Rose Bowl champion team. A consensus national Top 5 recruiting class of 23 newcomers will join them. That likely tells you all you need to know. What is concerning is the fact that the Trojans averaged 68,459 fans in home attendance in 2016. They drew 91,480 fans a game under Pete Carroll.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: USC beat both teams that played in the Pac-12 Championship Game last season.

    PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite at Notre Dame (10/21)



    UTAH (Offense – *6/1, Defense – 6/2, 50 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: RANK ‘EM UP

    Former Washington Huskies and JCU transfer QB Troy Williams stepped in and filled Travis Wilson’s shoes with aplomb last season when he threw for 2,757 yards and 15 TDs. The Utes tied with BYU for the 2nd best team in the land in turnovers gained (31), and was also the No. 1 ranked team in net punting in 2016. However, Kyle Whittingham’s team took a big hit in the NFL Draft when eight players were selected this year. Fortunately, there are no back-to-back road games this season for the first time since 2003, when they went 10-2. The bad news, though, is they will face the top four teams from the North division in 2017. FYI: Utah has appeared in every College Football Playoff ranking since its inception in 2014.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Utes head coach Whittingham owns the best bowl winning percentage (.910) of any coach in NCAA history.

    PLAY AGAINST: at USC (10/14)
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    Futures Betting Report
    July 28, 2017


    Saban and Company receiving EXTRA attention

    Alabama, it won’t surprise you to hear, is dominating the college football futures market in Las Vegas ahead of the 2017 season. Opening at prices few would consider bargains, the Crimson Tide continue to be hammered by the betting public. And we emphasize “public” – wiseguys do not bet any team, even mighty Alabama, to win a national championship at such unattractive odds.

    “There’s a lot of money and a lot of tickets on them (some in the $10,000 to $20,000 range). I wouldn’t necessarily consider it sharp,” said John Avello, director of race and sports at the Wynn, who opened Alabama at 4/1 and is down to 5/2. "I don’t think sharps are playing a 4/1 shot in college football that has to win their conference and win two games after that to win it all. Doesn’t sound like a sharp play to me.”

    Oddsmaker Chris Andrews is seeing similar action at the South Point.

    “Mostly public,” Andrews said of the heavy money on ‘Bama. “We may have a sharp bet in there off the opener (4/1), but it’s been almost all public. Everybody assumes they reload every year. Well, they do until they don’t. … (But) I’d be careful about those assumptions. Not that it won’t happen, you’re just not getting a very good price that it will. They still have to get to the playoffs, and there are so many quirky things that happen (during a season).”

    At William Hill U.S., Alabama has accounted for 21 percent of the money bet in the college football futures pool – Ohio State and USC are next closest, each at 10 percent.

    Andrews suggests a different approach for bettors high on the Tide.

    “If you love ‘Bama, you’re probably better off just picking your spots during the course of the season, rather than taking 5/2 – that’s just not a very good price,” he said.

    Bettors backing ‘Bama in the win total market aren’t getting much of deal, either, as that number sits between 10.5 and 11 around Vegas. With a 12-game regular season, betting ‘over’ those numbers leaves little margin for error.

    Save a momentary flash to 11, the South Point has been dealing 10.5 for Alabama’s win total, the over currently priced as the -165 favorite.

    “At 11, wiseguys would have to bet you 'under,' Andrews said. “They’d just have to. It’s almost like pointing a gun to their head.”

    That’s exactly what happened at the Westgate SuperBook, where oddsmaker Ed Salmons said he took sharp action on Alabama under 11.

    “That was based on it being 10.5 (over -140) in town,” he said.

    Troll Tide

    According to Andrews’ personal ratings, Alabama isn’t even the best team in the nation.

    “I have Ohio State ranked as my No. 1 team in the country. I have them 1 point better than ‘Bama,” he said.

    That doesn’t mean the Buckeyes, priced at 4/1 at the South Point, will be there at the end. This may not sit well with college football fans in the south, but Andrews believes Ohio State has a tougher path through the Big Ten than Alabama does in the SEC.

    “Ohio State’s in a tougher division – I don’t know about conference – but they’re in a tougher division than ‘Bama is,” he said, noting they have to play Penn State and Michigan in the regular season before a likely meeting against a solid Wisconsin team in the Big Ten championship game. “’Bama, for one of the few seasons ever, has an easier road to hoe than Ohio State.”

    That tough road ahead isn’t keeping Buckeyes fans from backing their team.

    “Ohio State always writes a ton of money,” the Westgate’s Salmons said. “We have Ohio State at 3/1 and we’re losing money on them in the future book, which tells you all you need to know about Ohio State fans.” Professional money did show up on the Buckeyes at CG Technology, pushing their win total from 10 (o-125) to 10.5 (o -150), according to vice president of risk Jason Simbal.

    Michigan’s growing number

    Despite the public’s love for Michigan, the Wolverines have seen their futures odds more than double at some Vegas bet shops. Their number at the Westgate has jumped from an opener of 12/1 to 25/1.

    Both Salmons and Andrews pointed out that only one of last year’s starters returns to Jim Harbaugh’s defense, and last season’s starting quarterback, Wilton Speight, is battling to keep the job this year with two others.

    “I’m not sure if that means Speight is not very good or he’s just got some really good competition,” Andrews said.

    Harbaugh’s squad is also looking at a daunting schedule. In conference, they play at Wisconsin, at Penn State and home against Ohio State – and that’s after facing Florida in its season opener at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

    Salmons acknowledged he doesn’t necessarily do a deep dive into each team before posting futures odds in January for the following season – hence, Michigan’s 12/1 opening price.

    “When I first put up our future book odds, I’m not going through every team’s schedule at that point. I’m just putting it up essentially based on perception and what I know at that time,” Salmons said. “When you look at each team in detail and go through the individual schedules then you can really pinpoint what you believe each team is capable of. With Michigan, everything’s stacked against them this year.”

    The fading of Michigan begins right off the bat, as there’s been some action against them in Week 1. At CG Technology, the Wolverines are a 4-point favorite over the Gators, after opening -5.

    “There was a big move on Florida, which was pretty sharp money,” Simbal said.

    Price was right on the Badgers

    Sticking with our Big Ten theme, while Salmons estimates 95 percent of the national championship futures money wagered at his shop comes from public bettors, he’s taken some sharp action on Wisconsin, which opened at 40/1 and is down to 20/1.

    “Wisconsin has a joke of a schedule this year. They literally have one tough game the whole year,” Salmons said “... We took some money on them, and I’m sure some of that money was so-called professional money.” At CG, Wisconsin’s win total has been bet up from 9.5 (o -125) to 10 (o-165).

    A smattering of win total notes

    While the public’s tendency to bet ‘over’ extends beyond game totals to season win totals, Texas (8 o-120) is one team they’ve been betting ‘under’ at the Westgate. Salmons welcomes the action. “Texas is a team I like a lot this year, so I’m liking the under money."

    At CG, Auburn has been pushed from 8 wins (o-115) to 8.5 (o-150). “They’ve gotten a lot of public action,” Simbal said.

    The action against Nevada also stood out to Simbal, as bettors are taking shots against their home state team. After opening at 5 (u-140), the Wolf Pack have been bet down significantly to 4.5 (u -230).

    At the South Point, gamblers are going ‘over’ 8.5 wins on Florida. Said Andrews, “I’m not sure I really like that. That side of the conference (SEC East) is very even, not that it’s great.”
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    Leach shares at Pac-12 media days
    July 28, 2017


    LOS ANGELES (AP) The best show at Pac-12 media days for six years running has been Washington State coach Mike Leach's news conference.

    Among this year's highlights were Leach's introduction of Cougars linebacker Peyton Pelluer and his ''samurai hairdo,'' a sharp rebuke of the lack of uniformity in scheduling among Power 5 conferences, his thoughts on dealing with millennials. Then there was the closing monologue on how every other level of college football can hold a tournament featuring up to 32 teams while the FBS playoff is limited to four.

    Leach even got to weigh in on whether a hot dog is a sandwich.

    ''I never liked hot dogs when I was a kid, and I think that some of that started with when I was a real young kid. I'd have bologna sandwich after bologna sandwich. So anything that even remotely resembled bologna, I hated. Everybody says go to the ballgame and eat a hot dog. Not me,'' he said. ''No, it's not a sandwich.''

    When the conversation finally got around to Washington State football, the run game usually overshadowed in Leach's pass-heavy spread offense was singled out for praise.

    Washington State rushed for 120 yards per game last season, and the Cougars had 23 rushing touchdowns after scoring only eight on the ground in 2015. Running backs Jamal Morrow, James Williams and Gerard Wicks combined for 1,634 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns. They also added 125 receptions for 1,014 yards and seven touchdowns.

    ''If you add up the yards, we had the most productive backs in the league. I think it went us, Oregon, Stanford. That's good company right there,'' Leach said.

    Paired with the most prolific passing offense in the Pac-12, that balance - at least by the relative standards of Leach's Air Raid system - was enough to elevate Washington State to a 7-2 conference record and raise the stakes for the Apple Cup against rival Washington to where the Pac-12 North and a berth in the conference title game were at stake for both teams.

    Morrow, Williams and Wicks are all back this season and will get to run behind a veteran offensive line anchored by guard Cody O'Connell.

    But Morrow said the secret to the ground game's success is senior quarterback Luke Falk.

    Falk will check between a run or pass play at the line of scrimmage depending on which matchup is most favorable. If the opponent doesn't put enough defenders near the line of scrimmage to stop the run, Falk will hand the ball off.

    Despite being on pace to break Pac-12 records for career yards passing and touchdown passes this season, Morrow said Falk is completely unselfish in letting his running backs take over a game.

    ''It's all on Luke,'' Morrow said. ''If we have to run the ball, you know, 30-40 times a game because they are giving us run box, he'll do it.''

    While Morrow was happy to talk about the offense, he was also asked plenty of questions about his occasionally peculiar head coach.

    So too was Pelluer.

    ''During practice, special teams period when he is not doing anything, he'll just wander through drills, like active drills that are going on,'' Pelluer said. ''The best is when we're watching on film the next day, `Oh, there's Coach Leach just walking through a drill.' He just doesn't care.''

    Whether the setting is Hollywood or Pullman, Washington, it turns out Leach can't help but be the center of attention.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    All set: QB Alex Hornibrook confident entering Badgers camp
    July 28, 2017


    MADISON, Wis. (AP) There is no quarterback drama going into preseason camp this year for Wisconsin.

    Coach Paul Chryst likes how Alex Hornibrook handled the offseason work and responsibilities that come with spending the summer knowing that he would be the starter. And as if the summer wasn't memorable enough for Hornibrook, the left-handed sophomore also got to meet his childhood idol, Peyton Manning, after serving as a counselor at the former NFL quarterback's summer passing camp.

    The next step for Hornibrook is to take command of the offense from the first snap of the first practice on Saturday for a team that once again has high hopes in the Big Ten.

    ''One thing I've always been impressed with Alex is his approach. He's willing to spend a lot of time trying to improve physically, and the mental part of it,'' Chryst said Friday at Badgers media day. ''I really like where Alex is at right now yet ... there's a lot of room for growth.''

    Hornibrook had a promising freshman campaign after taking over as starter for senior Bart Houston in Week 4, a 30-6 win at Michigan State. Houston had just edged out Hornibrook for the starting job out of last preseason camp.

    As the 2016 season progressed, Chryst used Houston more as a change-of-pace quarterback. But Hornibrook remained the starter until having to miss the Big Ten title game with a concussion.

    Hornibrook finished the 2016 season completing 59 percent of his passes for 1,262 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions, not bad for a freshman. He developed a knack for making touch passes in tight windows.

    With Houston out of eligibility and two freshmen behind Hornibrook on the depth chart, there really wasn't much drama about the quarterback job. Chryst settled any questions in spring practice.

    Still, after going through a quarterback competition last preseason, Hornibrook has one less thing to worry about this year.

    ''I think it definitely decreases all the outside distractions,'' Hornibrook said at Camp Randall Stadium. ''When that's not really a concern, you can focus more on yourself, focus on getting ready through this fall camp and game weeks.''

    He has a pretty good story to tell teammates after meeting Manning. Hornibrook was one of about 40 quarterbacks who worked with kids in the morning before the counselors turned into students working with Manning and his brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, in the afternoon.

    Hornibrook described the camp as one of the ''coolest experiences'' that he's had in his football career. He was especially grateful for tips from Manning about watching film.

    Receiver Jazz Peavy said the confidence-building moments of the past year have carried over into the preseason for Hornibrook.

    ''He's gained that confidence because he knows he's established himself as that guy,'' Peavy said. ''He's supposed to be our starter, so he carries himself that way.''

    NOTES: Michael Deiter, the Badgers' best offensive lineman, has been moved from center to left tackle. Presumed starting RT Jacob Maxwell is still recovering from shoulder surgery and is not on the opening training camp roster, so David Edwards is sliding from the left side to the right side. The Badgers must replace All-America LT Ryan Ramczyk, who was taken in the first round of the NFL draft by New Orleans. Deiter who has played center and guard in his career, spent three days in spring ball at tackle. ''The transition wasn't all that bad. It was just good enough to do it a little more and see if I can truly play tackle,'' Deiter said. ... The move means that freshman Tyler Biadasz will open camp as the first-string center.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Utah hopes new offense key to title
    July 28, 2017


    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Utah is tired of the close calls.

    Utah has gradually progressed as a program since joining the Pac-12 in 2011 and is one of five teams in the nation to be ranked in every College Football Playoffs weekly poll since it began in 2014. Still, the Utes have yet to reach the conference championship game.

    Utah opened fall camp Friday with a brand new, fast-paced, pass-first offense led by first-year coordinator Troy Taylor. This is the first time coach Kyle Whittingham has stepped away from his run-heavy, grind-it-out scheme since taking over in 2005.

    ''We've been running the heck out of the ball for a lot of years and the last three years, in particular, haven't gotten over the hump,'' Whittingham said. ''We've got to be better throwing the football. That's (Taylor's) forte. That's his area of expertise. That and quarterback development.

    ''That's the two areas that really need to be bolstered and that's his cup of tea.''

    The receivers feel more involved and believe they'll be put to better use. The quarterback competition is technically open, but it would be a surprise if Troy Williams wasn't named the starter for a second consecutive year. He threw for 2,757 yards, 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season while completing 53.1 percent of his passes in 2016. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound senior is more comfortable considering he's run the progression-based scheme before as a freshman at Washington before transferring. Williams is one of many on the roster who feel they let 2016 get away after losing three of the final four Pac-12 games.

    ''I want to put up 50 a game to show the world we're not messing around,'' Williams said.

    The Carson, California, player didn't back down when asked if that was a realistic goal.

    ''Most definitely,'' Williams said. ''I feel like we can average a lot of points, especially with the weapons we have and the defense we have, but it's going to take a lot of hard work, especially with the competition we have in the Pac-12.''

    Sophomore receiver Siasoi Wilson added, ''I feel like all eyes are on us. ... They've got a good offense now, so what're they going to do with it?''

    Utah has yet to rank higher than No. 8 in scoring offense since joining the league. Whittingham said he doesn't have a set number he feels the Utes need to average, but 2016's 77.78 red-zone conversion percentage that ranked No. 11 in the Pac-12 must improve.

    ''Last year, we had to have 50 against UCLA,'' Whittingham said. ''Some weeks you only need 20. I think it's relative to the game. ... I think that varies week to week based on the defense you're playing and so forth.

    ''We've got to be better than we were last year scoring. We've got to be better throwing the football. We've got to be better in the red zone.''

    The scheme alone should get more production through the air, but the Utes hope to have more talent at receiver. Former Oregon receiver Darren Carrington transferred in this week after being dismissed from the Ducks two weeks ago, soon after he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.

    The 6-foot-2, 205-pound San Diego player steps onto the Utah team as the most experienced and successful receiver on the roster. Last season as a junior, Carrington had 43 catches for 606 yards and five touchdowns. He has 112 career receptions for 1,919 yards and 15 touchdowns. He's been cleared to practice and was on the field Friday. Junior college transfer Josh Nurse is expected to contribute while junior Raelon Singleton and Wilson will have increased roles.

    Taylor was pleased with where the offense was at the beginning of camp because they've been working on it since spring, but he doesn't have an expectation timeline.

    ''I just take it a day at a time in terms of what they're absorbing and then I'll move forward and kind of work at their speed,'' Taylor said. ''If I feel like we're progressing too slowly, I'll pick it up a little bit. It's really kind of a feel thing. Every team's different, every group's different.

    ''We've got some brand new guys that just showed up. You can only go as fast as your slowest guy in terms of learning.''

    That's not slowing the optimism, though, within a roster that feels shortchanged after winning 28 games the last three years.

    ''I think we're tired of coming close every year,'' Singleton said. ''We're known as a defensive school. I feel like if we had offense these past three years with the defense we've been having, we should have been in the national championship (hunt).''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Jerry Kill returns to coaching at Rutgers
    July 29, 2017


    PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Jerry Kill has been seizure-free for almost a year and a half. He has lost 25 pounds by cutting way down on carbs and taking long walks. After years of sleeping two or three hours a night, he now regularly gets six or more.

    The former Minnesota coach still needs medication to treat his epilepsy and control the seizures that forced him to leave coaching during the 2015 season, but lifestyle changes have been an important part of facing a condition he was once hesitant to even acknowledge.

    Kill was feeling so good that he decided to return to coaching as offensive coordinator at Rutgers after more than a season away. Seven hectic months into being part of Chris Ash's program rebuild and all is still well, according to Kill and his wife, Rebecca.

    The next phase of his comeback starts soon. The Scarlet Knights begin preseason camp this week and open against Washington on Sept. 1. Jerry Kill said the in-season routine should help him maintain good habits and Rebecca is confident, too. Still, after more than two decades of worrying about her husband's health, she expects anxious moments.

    ''I'm never going to get over that,'' Rebecca Kill said. ''I'm always going to have that in the back of my mind, but because he's doing what he loves - and he's absolutely loving coaching - I truly believe he's going to be OK.''

    Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that can lead to loss of consciousness and convulsions.

    Jerry Kill, 55, had his first seizure in 2000 when he was coach at Emporia State and a sideline seizure in 2005 when he was head coach at Southern Illinois led doctors to discover he also had kidney cancer. Kill beat the cancer, though for years he would say he had seizure disorder, shying away from calling it epilepsy.

    ''The word epilepsy is different from saying seizure disorder to me,'' Kill said. Not only does he no longer shy away from calling his condition what it is, he wrote a book about his battle with epilepsy called ''Chasing Dreams,'' and started a fund by the same name with the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.

    Rebecca Kill said it wasn't until 2013, when seizures forced Jerry to miss a game at Michigan, that he truly began to commit to getting his epilepsy under control. Still, it was a struggle. Jerry Kill has tried various medications, but the side-effects can be brutal.

    One drug made him short-tempered and wired. Another brought him down.

    In 2015, the seizures became too much and he stepped down as Minnesota coach seven games into the season. Retired.

    The Kills escaped to their vacation home in Siesta Key, Florida. Finally, after years of focusing so much time and energy on his programs and players, Jerry was able to concentrate on helping himself.

    He began walking for exercise, often with Rebecca. Ten miles a day at his peak - though not necessarily all at once.

    ''I lost around 25 pounds,'' Kill said. One look at Kill now compared to him in the older pictures he had yet to hang on his office walls at Rutgers shows he is not exaggerating.

    Kill has all but eliminated carbohydrates from his diet, and drinks water instead carbonated soft drinks.

    ''What's tough to give up? Pizza,'' Jerry Kill said. ''Every once in a while I reward myself with some cookies and things of that nature. I stay pretty true to it.''

    The biggest change was sleep. He had been living dangerously deprived for years. Now there are nights he actually gets eight hours.

    ''And just being able to just kind of get that under control is a huge help,'' Rebecca Kill said.

    Dr. Joseph Sirven, a professor of neurology and the editor-in-chief of Epilepsy.com, said lifestyle measures can be an important part of seizure treatment.

    ''For some, stress, sleep deprivation and poor eating can exacerbate seizures in people with uncontrolled seizures,'' he said. ''It stands to reason that addressing those lifestyle measures can lessen the likelihood of seizure recurrence and gives a chance for seizure medicines to work.

    ''However and sadly, lifestyle changes do not completely control seizures in many patients. That is why medications and other treatments are needed.''

    Kill has found a medication that is effective, and since it doesn't burden him with harsh side effects, he has been better at sticking to the regiment.

    Last season, Kill worked at Kansas State as a liaison between the football program and the athletic directors' office. It was a low-pressure way to get back in the game. But he missed coaching. When Ash inquired, Kill liked what the Rutgers' coach had to say - and so did Rebecca.

    Ash said he and Jerry Kill have had candid conversations about worst-case scenarios.

    ''Right now he's great, but what happens when we get into the season? Time demands are different. Stress levels go up,'' Ash said. ''We thought about all of that stuff.''

    There was a point at Minnesota when Rebecca Kill received NCAA permission to go on recruiting trips with Jerry because of the possibility he would have a seizure. That hasn't been the case at Rutgers and you can hear the joy in Rebecca Kill's voice when she talks about Jerry's trips to Georgia, Florida and California.

    ''For him to be able to travel across country and do all that without having any issues is just incredible,'' she said with a chuckle.

    Jerry Kill acknowledges the walks have been harder to squeeze in and eating right not quite as easy since starting a new job. Rebecca tries to get to campus and walk with him during breaks. And she is constantly on him to get some rest.

    ''My wife drives me nuts and I tell her that from time to time,'' Jerry Kill said, with a smile. ''She'll always be that way. She's had to see it more than anybody else.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Tennessee opens practice with quarterback battle underway
    July 29, 2017


    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Quinten Dormady has to go back to his middle school days in Texas to think of the last time the Tennessee junior played in a two-quarterback system.

    He may encounter that scenario once again this season.

    Dormady is competing for the starting job with redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano, and the Tennessee coaches are open to rotating quarterbacks.

    ''We are just here to win a championship, so whatever that looks like, whatever we have to do to get there, I think as an overall team and offensive unit, I think that people are definitely willing to do that,'' Dormady said Saturday after Tennessee's first preseason practice. ''So whatever happens, we will go with it and do our best to try to get us back to the top.''

    Tennessee opens the season on Sept. 4 against Georgia Tech at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as part of the Chick-fil-A-Kickoff.

    For the first time since 2014, the Vols will have someone other than Joshua Dobbs, now a rookie with the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, starting at quarterback.

    No quarterback on Tennessee's roster has started in college, while Dormady is the only quarterback to play in a game, completing 24 of 39 passes for 357 yards in 10 games as Dobbs' backup.

    During Tennessee's weather-shortened spring game, Dormady was 10 for 10 for 120 yards and two touchdowns while Guarantano finished 4 for 5 for 41 yards.

    Although some give the 6-foot-4, 222-pound Dormady a slight edge to start, he doesn't consider himself the front-runner.

    ''I don't really look at it like that,'' said Dormady, who got engaged this summer. ''Obviously, it's an open competition. Everybody here knows that. We know that. Like I have said all spring, it's just going out and competing every day. Like I've said, working on the little details and fundamentals and just trying to improve my game.''

    Both quarterbacks led the team through 7-on-7 sessions this summer to build chemistry with their teammates and demonstrate leadership.

    Guarantano says that work has helped him process a bit quicker, figure out his footwork and work on his arm strength. Since signing with the Vols as a highly-ranked recruit out New Jersey, Guarantano has received a lot of hype for his potential.

    He knows being a quarterback at Tennessee brings a massive spotlight.

    ''I am used to the pressure. Growing up my dad was always on me. Growing up I had a lot of cameras in my face, so I am kind of used to it,'' Guarantano told reporters. ''I know it's not nearly as much as this right here, but I think that I can handle it and I think that I am ready for the big stage.''

    Tennessee coach Butch Jones was encouraged by the quarterbacks' first day with the Vols' new-look offense.

    ''You could tell they're progressing, they were quicker from spring. Their decision-making process was much better,'' Jones said. ''But again, we don't have pads on. When all of a sudden you got a live rush coming at you, some things change.''

    The quarterbacks' leadership styles differ.

    Dormady is ''a little more stoic, a little more poised,'' according to new quarterbacks coach Mike Canales with Guarantano more outgoing with a ''personality that glows.''

    But Dormady isn't afraid to show a more fiery side only when needed.

    ''I am not just going to yell to yell at people,'' Dormady said..

    Picking a starter may not happen until opening week. Until then, Dormady and Guarantano hope to bring out the best in each other to make the coaches' decision even harder.

    ''Everybody comes here to start. That's the goal,'' Dormady said.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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