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#pounditSaturday, July 31, 2021

College Football

Lane Kiffin humorously pokes fun at Ole Miss’ defense

Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin is considered one of the best offensive-minded coaches in college football, and the stats reflected that in his first year with Ole Miss. The Rebels ranked third in the country in total offense last season, but they were almost equally as bad on the defensive side. Kiffin clearly is not hiding from that.

Kiffin met with reporters at the Neshoba County Fair this week, and he had a great one-liner about how bad Ole Miss’ defense was last season.

“We look forward to hopefully making someone punt this year,” Kiffin deadpanned. “That would be exciting.”

As Michael Wayne Bratton of Saturday Down South notes, Ole Miss finished dead last in the SEC in defense last year. The Rebels allowed 38.3 points per game. They ranked 118th in the country in total defensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders.

Kiffin is a master when it comes to trolling opponents, but rarely do we see him use his talents on his own team. Ole Miss had better learn how to stop an opponent from scoring this season.

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Steve Spurrier takes shot at Texas over move to SEC

Steve Spurrier

It has now been five years since Steve Spurrier last coached college football, but the Hall of Famer has not lost his knack for talking trash. He reminded us of that when he shared his thoughts on Texas and Oklahoma potentially joining the SEC.

Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel asked Spurrier about Texas and Oklahoma applying for SEC membership, and the 76-year-old seized the opportunity to take a shot at the Longhorns.

“I can understand Texas jumping over,” Spurrier said. “They get to play Texas A&M again. They get to … they can’t win the Big 12 anyway. I think they’ve only won two in the last 30 years or so. What is it?”

Spurrier was close. Texas has won the Big 12 just three times since 1996. They have not captured a Big 12 title since 2009, when Mack Brown was the coach. The Longhorns have won more than eight games in a season just once since Brown left in 2013, though they have won four straight bowl games. Texas hired Steve Sarkisian this offseason as its third coach in the last seven years.

Spurrier coached in the SEC at Florida and South Carolina. He won a championship with the Gators in 1996. He knows how tough the conference is, and he’s right that Texas could struggle mightily at first. He also doesn’t understand why Oklahoma would want to join the SEC aside from money.

“I just don’t think they’re going to come over to the SEC and win with any regularity the way that they win the Big 12,” Spurrier said of the Sooners. “Their fans might say, ‘Yeah, now we can beat Alabama and LSU and all these dudes.’ It may not happen like that.”

If you remember the comment he made during college football season last year, you know that Spurrier always keeps his finger on the pulse of the sport. He’s not the only one who is skeptical of Texas and Oklahoma trying to take on the SEC.

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Jim Harbaugh selling Bay Area mansion for $13 million

Jim Harbaugh

The real estate market has exploded across the country, and Jim Harbaugh looks like he wants to take advantage.

Harbaugh has listed his Bay Area mansion for sale and is seeking $13 million, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The five-bedroom, 7-bathroom home sits on 1.3 acres and offers over 8,500 square feet of living space in the affluent area of Atherton, Calif. The home includes a guest house with a living room, full kitchen, bedroom suite, and attached exercise/yoga room. The grounds include a basketball hope, swimming pool and playground.

Records indicate the Harbaughs purchased the home in May 2012 for $6.3 million.

Harbaugh lived in the Bay Area from 2007-2014. He coached Stanford from 2007-2010 and the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014. The 57-year-old has been the head coach for Michigan since 2015.

Texas A&M supports expansion of SEC to include rival Texas

Texas AM logo

Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC in 2012 so it could enhance its brand and distinguish itself from rival Texas. The move helped the Aggies become the only Texas-based school in the SEC.

Many wondered whether Texas A&M would support the SEC’s expansion to include rival Texas, and they will.

The Texas A&M Board of Regents met on Wednesday. They nearly voted unanimously in favor of having school president vote in support of SEC expansion.

Three-quarters of the SEC’s 14 schools need to vote in favor of expansion in order for Texas and Oklahoma to be added to the conference. The Aggies were expected to be the largest potential hurdle. If they are in favor of the move, not much should be expected to stand in the way of the conference’s expansion.

The remaining issue will be sorting out matters with the Big 12, which is the conference Texas and Oklahoma are ditching. The Big 12 is threatening legal action. The most likely scenario will involve payouts to the Big 12’s remaining schools.

Big 12 sends cease and desist letter to ESPN

Big 12 conference

The Big 12 is trying to put its legal foot down.

The Big 12 sent a cease and desist letter to ESPN on Wednesday.

The letter demands the TV network end “all actions that may harm the conference and its members and that it not communicate with the Big 12 Conference’s existing members or any NCAA conference regarding the Big 12 conference’s members, possible conference realignment or potential financial incentive or outcomes related to possible conference realignment.”

The Big 12 is on life support with the impending move of its top two schools — Texas and Oklahoma — to the SEC. They’re about to lose the two schools that generate the most attention, prestige and money for the conference. They will be down to eight schools and have to think about adding weaker schools or breaking up. So of course they’re going to try and step in with legal actions to keep the conference together.

The reality is there is too much money to be gained by ESPN, the SEC, Oklahoma and Texas from this move. ESPN and the SEC may be tampering. Nobody will probably be able to stand in the way if Texas and Oklahoma are set on leaving. Like many things in life, a large payment will likely be able to resolve things.

Keep in mind that ESPN has an existing relationship with the Big 12. ESPN and FOX share a TV rights package for the Big 12 that runs through 2025.

Top QB Quinn Ewers could skip senior season to enroll at Ohio State

Quinn Ewers

The changes to college athletics allowing players to capitalize on their name, image and likeness could lead Quinn Ewers to skip his senior high school season and enroll in college earlier than expected.

Ewers, the No. 1 QB recruit for 2022, decommitted from Texas last October and chose Ohio State a month later. He told Yahoo’s Pete Thamel that he is leaning towards leaving high school for the Buckeyes a year early.

“I don’t really know, I don’t have a final decision made quite yet,” Ewers told Thamel. “I’m leaning toward leaving and going up to Ohio, just so I don’t have to deal with [University Interscholastic League] stuff and can get comfortable with Ohio and Columbus and start to learn.”

The ability to begin cashing in on his name and making money is influencing Ewers’ thinking. He already has numerous offers from companies that want to work with him. But as a high school athlete, he cannot yet strike these deals. That’s why he wants to get started at Ohio State.

Academically, Ewers just needs to pass one core class, which he should be able to do in time to enroll at Ohio State by the start of camp on Aug. 3. Ewers is already planning to enroll at Ohio State in January.

The 6-foot-3 QB plays at Southlake Carroll in Texas, a storied program that would be devastated if he left.

NCAA will not allow Reggie Bush to reclaim Heisman Trophy

Reggie Bush

A growing number of people feel that the NCAA should clear the way for Reggie Bush to have his Heisman Trophy returned to him. On Wednesday, it was made clear that won’t be happening.

The NCAA released a statement Wednesday stating that any sanctions and penalties that had been previously applied would not be re-assessed even in light of the organization’s rule changes regarding name, image, and likeness rights. In other words, Bush’s 2005 season will not be recognized or reinstated.

The Heisman Trust, which actually presents the trophy, made clear that it would be happy to give Bush his trophy, but only if the NCAA recognized his 2005 season. The Heisman Trust could theoretically change its rules to remove the provision stating that a Heisman candidate must be in compliance with NCAA rules, but the chances of that happening are virtually nonexistent.

This statement is bad news for another set of former college athletes as well. Future college athletes won’t get in trouble for doing the kinds of things Bush did, but past ones won’t get the retroactive benefit of the doubt from the NCAA.

Pac-12 commissioner opens door to potential expansion amid Big 12 fallout


The Pac-12 appears prepared to take advantage of the upheaval in the Big 12 based on comments made by commissioner George Kliavkoff on Tuesday.

Kliavkoff said that there has been “significant inbound interest” in many schools following the decision by Texas and Oklahoma to join the SEC, a move which has called into question the Big 12’s future. Kliavkoff also made clear that he does not see expansion as necessary to ensure that the Pac-12 is a factor nationally.

This could very well serve as a precursor to something significant. A previous report claimed that Big 12 leadership has considered proposing a merger between the Pac-12 and the remaining eight Big 12 teams. That would ensure that the remaining Big 12 schools remain in a relevant conference, which isn’t really the case as it stands with Texas and Oklahoma heading for the SEC.

Kliavkoff has made football success a priority since taking over as commissioner. Even with two of its biggest powers gone, absorbing some or all of the Big 12 would further that goal. It would also help in basketball, too, if the likes of Kansas were to move into the conference.

Antonio Gates Jr. commits to Michigan State as their highest-rated recruit

Antonio Gates Jr

Michigan State on Monday secured its top-rated recruit for the 2022 class.

Antonio Gates Jr., the son of legendary tight end Antonio Gates, announced he is committed to Michigan State.

Gates Jr. chose Michigan State over Florida, Penn State, Kentucky and Tennessee, who were also in his top five.

The wide receiver is a four-star recruit from Dearborn Fordson High School. He is the 16th commitment Michigan State has secured for the 2022 recruiting class and their highest-rated recruit.

Gates’ father actually was originally planning to attend Michigan State. But the elder Gates went to Eastern Michigan and Kent State so he could basketball. He eventually made his way to the NFL and played 16 seasons for the Chargers, making eight Pro Bowls.

Gates Jr. is listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds.

Nick Starkel has great tweet about Tate Martell transferring to UNLV

Tate Martell

Nick Starkel and Tate Martell were once two highly rated quarterback recruits, and both have had a difficult time finding the right fit in college. Their long and winding journeys have led them to the point where they may actually start opposite each other this season, and Starkel believes it will be must-see TV.

Martell’s father Al confirmed to Chris Hummer of 247Sports on Monday that his son is transferring to UNLV for his final two years of eligibility. UNLV will be Martell’s third school after he spent two seasons at Ohio State and then one at Miami. He opted out due to COVID-19 last year.

Starkel is also with his third school. That school, San Jose State, is part of the Mountain West Conference with UNLV. The two teams will face each other on Oct. 23, and Starkel thinks ESPN’s “College GameDay” should make the trip.

Who doesn’t want to watch two quarterbacks with six combined transfers battle it out? We can even call it the “Transfer Bowl.”

Martel has yet to win a starting QB job in college. Starkel passed for 2,174 yards, 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions at San Jose State last season, which was actually an improvement for him. He recently had a funny response when he got a harsh ranking from an SEC fan account. At least he’s taking it all in stride.