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Tim Hyland

College Football

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Another Bowl Game? Bring It On

Tuesday April 15, 2014

College football is on the verge of reaching a true milestone.

But surely, this is a milestone that some critics of the sport will lament.

With the announcement this week that the American Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt Conference would create a new Orlando-based bowl game starting with the 2015 season, it became clear that, starting that year, college football will host 40 bowl games each season.

Yes, that's right: 40.

In all, this means that 78 teams will qualify for bowl games each season, including the two teams that end up playing for the national title in the new College Football Playoff championship game. And yes, this is a good thing.

For years now, assorted killjoys have claimed that college football waters down its product by sending too many average teams to bowl games. Their argument has always been that teams that finish 6-6 and 7-5 don't "deserve" to play postseason football.

My counter-argument (and it's the correct argument, it must be noted) is that I honestly don't care whether a team "deserves" to play in a bowl game. Because at the end of the day, more college football, the better. Simple as that.

So, yeah, bring on this new bowl game (it will be called the Cure Bowl, by the way, and will support charities fighting against cancer).

And bring on even more, too.

Photo: Getty Images

Ohio Lawmakers: Student-Athletes Are Not 'Employees'

Wednesday April 9, 2014

In the wake of the Northwestern football labor ruling that shook up the college football world, some Ohio legislators are taking proactive action to ensure that, in their state, at least, college football players remain "students" only, and not "employees."

Ohio's House Finance and Appropriations Committee on Tuesday amended a budget bill to include a clause stating that college athletes in the state could not and would not be termed "employees" of their universities. The amended bill was to be voted on by the full House this week.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rom Amstutz told the Associated Press that the committee's action was "a statement of what we all thought was obvious."

"Athletes are not employees of their university," Amstutz said.

Of course, the National Labor Relations Board feels otherwise, and ruled last month that Northwestern football players should--because of the fact that they are compensated by their universities (through athletic scholarship), because they are under such strict control of their coaches and because of any number of other factors--be considered employees of the school. That ruling opened the door for the players to unionize.

It is unclear as of yet if the Northwestern players will go ahead and do so, but as the Ohio move shows, there is at least some concern out there that the NLRB ruling could indeed spark a revolution in the world of college sports--and, by extension, change the way universities (and states) fund college athletics.

"I think we're proactively restating that college athletes are not employees," Amstutz said. "If it ever comes up, it will be in the law."

Photo: Getty Images

2014 Pac-12 Preview

Monday March 31, 2014

Looking ahead to the 2014 season out West, it seems pretty clear that it's going to be an Oregon vs. Stanford battle for the Pac-12 title.

Again.

But while the Ducks and Cardinal will stage yet another two-horse race for the league crown this season, I am pretty sure that these programs' days of dual dominance are nearing an end. And quick.

In our 2014 Pac-12 preview package, you can read up on the Ducks, and on the Cardinals, and on the handful of programs that appear to be on the cusp of breaking through as true league contenders.

2014 Pac-12 Preview, Part I

2014 Pac-12 Preview, Part II

2014 Oregon Ducks Preview

2014 Stanford Cardinal Preview

Photo: Getty Images

In Depth: The Northwestern Labor Ruling

Monday March 31, 2014

The status quo in college football is under attack.

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board issued a stunning ruling, finding that players at Northwestern University were by law "employees" of the university.

That decision means that the players must be given the right to unionize. If they can fend off pending legal challenges and successfully form that union, then college football--and perhaps college athletics as  a whole--will be changed forever.

Here, we offer a comprehensive breakdown of this hugely important ruling--from the key arguments in the NLRB ruling to the reaction of the NCAA to opinions from sportswriters and legal experts nationwide.

Northwestern Players Win Right to Unionize

Key Highlights: The Northwestern Labor Ruling

NCAA, Northwestern React to the Ruling

Opinions Split on NLRB Ruling

Photo: Getty Images

Gamechanger: Northwestern Players Win Right to Unionize

Thursday March 27, 2014

This was inevitable.

But even still, you can bet that Mark Emmert and the rest of the folks at NCAA headquarters still aren't very happy about it.

On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that players at Northwestern University are indeed "employees" of the school, and not just "student-athletes." As such, those players have the right to unionize.

The ruling was hailed by the players as a massive step forward for players' rights and criticized by the NCAA as an unwarranted attack on a system that has served colleges well for decades.

Northwestern has pledged to appeal the ruling, and it's anybody's guess as to what happens next, but this much is clear: This ruling very well could change college sports forever.

You can read more about this hugely important ruling here.

Photo: Getty Images

Is Tressel Officially Saying Good-Bye to Coaching?

Wednesday March 26, 2014

I'm still surprised--constantly surprised, really--that no school out there has taken a chance on hiring Jim Tressel as its football coach.

But maybe, more than two years removed from his ouster at Ohio State, Tressel has accepted the fact that he may never again return to the sidelines--and maybe he's realized, too, that he's got to accept a different path.

Earlier this week, the University of Akron announced that Tressel, who has served as executive vice president for student success for the past two years at the university, was one of 19 candidates who are being considered as its next president. Tressel reportedly applied for the job in late February.

In the letter he sent to university trustees, Tressel said he was prepared to make the kind of "tough, transparent" decisions that would enable Akron to move forward.

Meanwhile, there is a movement at Tressel's old home, Youngstown State, to make him the new president of that university. That movement is being led by an Ohio state senator and other boosters.

Tressel's transition into academic leadership comes after a spectacularly successful if tarnished coaching career. He compiled a 135-57-record during a lengthy stint at Youngstown State, where he also won five Division I-AA national championships. He took over at Ohio State in 2001, where he went 106-22 over ten seasons, winning one national championship and six Big Ten championships.

His tenure ended when he fired for lying to investigators during the so-called Tatoo-gate scandal.

Photo: Getty Images

As Georgia Camp Opens, Richt Faces More Questions About Discipline

Wednesday March 19, 2014

Fairly or not, Mark Richt can't escape questions about his team's lack of discipline--or his alleged inability to keep this players in line.

As Georgia kicked off spring practice this week, Richt was confronted yet again with questions about players facing legal trouble, as news had just broken that four Bulldogs--safety Tray Matthews, wideout Uriah LeMay and defensive linemen James DeLoach and Jonathan Taylor--had been arrested and charged with theft by deception.

According to police, the four players used a mobile device to help them receive payment twice on stipend checks from the university twice. The players allegedly first deposited the checks via the mobile device, then cashed them a convenience store. Each player is facing multiple misdemeanor charges.

News of the arrests hit on Monday, and Georgia's spring practice opened on Tuesday. It wasn't exactly great timing, and Richt, as expected, spent most of his Tuesday press conference answering questions about the latest trouble faced by his program.

Said Richt: "Obviously we had some guys do some things that were foolish, and they'll be consequences for that."

But when he was asked precisely how he planned to discipline the players, Richt was evasive.

"At Georgia, we've never tried to hide things," he said. "If somebody makes a mistake, we clean it up. We don't hide it. In due time, everyone's going to know what's going to happen because of it. Some things when it comes to discipline are very public and some things aren't. I'm not sure exactly where this is going to fall. If there's something that we need to let everybody know, we'll let y'all know."

The Bulldogs, who enter 2014 as a contender in the SEC East (according to some, that is; I have my doubts), will open their season with an Aug. 30 showdown at home against Clemson.

Photo: Getty Images

UCLA, A&M Line Up Two-Game Series

Friday March 14, 2014

I'm no fan of the college football playoff, as longtime readers know.

But I have to admit this much: If nothing else, the new college football playoff--which will launch with the 2014 season--is giving college football fans some much-improved non-conference matchups to look forward to. The reason, of course, is that programs coast to coast now need to impress a selection committee in order to make the cut for that four-team playoff field, and that committee is going to be looking very closely, indeed, at strength of schedule.

The latest teams to come to this realization, it seems, are Texas A&M and UCLA. The two schools announced on Thursday that they had signed a deal to play a home-and-home series in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

A&M will host UCLA on Sept. 3, 2016. The Bruins will host the Aggies at the historic Rose Bowl on Sept. 2, 2017. The 2016 game will mark UCLA's first-ever appearance at Kyle Field.

The storied programs have met only four times in their long histories, with the series tied at 2-2. The most recent matchup came in the 1998 Cotton Bowl, when the Bruins stormed back from a 16-0 deficit to claim a 29-23 win.

Photo: Getty Images

After Season-Long Exile, QB Golson Returns to Notre Dame

Wednesday March 5, 2014

Everett Golson is back.

The exiled Notre Dame quarterback, who missed all of the 2013 season because of academic issues, returned to practice this week, offering a massive lift for a Fighting Irish team that struggled at times in 2013. Indeed, while there had been in the weeks leading up to camp the fully expected chatter about Golson having to earn back the position he lost, it didn't take long for observers to remember just how talented this kid is--and just how important he is for the Irish offense.

"We're going to heap a lot on this kid's shoulders, and he knows that," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told the South Bend Tribune after Golson's first workout. "And that's why he came back to Notre Dame, because he wants that opportunity. Clearly, he's going to be the guy that drives this for us."

Golson was a breakout star during Notre Dame's dream season in 2012. He threw for 2,405 yards and 12 touchdowns that season and added another 298 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground as the Irish ran the table and fought their way into the BCS National Championship Game.

Even greater things were expected of him in 2013. But in May, he was kicked out of school for academic misconduct. All at once, his future--and his team's season--were thrown into doubt.

Speaking to the media upon his return this week, Goldon admitted that he had been embarrassed by the episode. But he also said that he learned from the experience.

"I think it really hit me, the first game, the Temple game," he said. "I saw them getting ready and getting geared up for the game. I was watching the game on TV, and I think that's when it really hit me, that you're not there anymore. So I went through that whole process of first feeling humiliated for one, but then coming back around to where I am now of me being back here and getting ready to go."

Notre Dame kicks off the 2014 season on Saturday, Aug. 30 at home against Rice.

Photo: Getty Images

More Season Previews: Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin, Auburn

Friday February 28, 2014

As I write these words, it's about 10 degrees here in Southeast Pennsylvania. The winter that has seemed to drag on forever shows no sign of relenting, and according to the latest forecast, yet another storm is expected to hit the Northeast late this weekend.

In other words, August--and the start of the 2014 football season--seems an awfully, awfully long way away.

But, yes, spring shall return, and spring will turn to summer, and then summer will relent to fall. When it does, college football will be back. And we're doing our best, even in the midst of this brutal and unrelenting winter, to get you ready for the season to come.

You can check out our latest team previews for the 2014 season here.

2014 Notre Dame Football Preview

2014 Auburn Football Preview

2014 Michigan Football Preview

2014 Wisconsin Football Preview

Photo: Getty Images

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