College Football: Are the Lesser Bowl Games Getting Flushed Away? – By  Matthew Futterman and  Jim Chairusmi Dec. 19, 2016 7:08 p.m. ET

Star player dropouts and increased attention on the playoff have put the squeeze on the sport’s smaller postseason contests

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey recently announced that he would skip his team’s appearance in the Sun Bowl.

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey recently announced that he would skip his team’s appearance in the Sun Bowl. Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

If there was any doubt that college football’s lengthy slate of bowl games is headed the way of VHS tapes and landline phones, two of the game’s biggest stars erased it in recent days.

In the span of 72 hours, Louisiana State University running back Leonard Fournette and Stanford all-purpose back Christian McCaffrey both announced that they would skip their team’s postseason journeys to the Citrus Bowl and the Sun Bowl, respectively. The reason: so they can prepare for—and avoid injury before—the NFL combine and draft.

“Very tough decision, but I have decided not to play in the Sun Bowl so I can begin my draft prep immediately,” McCaffrey wrote on Twitter. “Thx to all my teammates for their 100% support—It means a lot to me. Go Cardinal!”

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There’s a New Round of Concussion-Related Lawsuits, Just in Time for the Start of College Football

Former players from dozens of big-name schools are suing the NCAA, conferences, and universities for damages.

Former football players at the University of Michigan joined those at 23 other institutions in filing individual lawsuits against major conferences and the NCAA over their handling of concussions. Tony Ding/AP

During his four years as a football player at the University of Miami, Ryan Hill remembers getting several concussions. Six years later, Hill says he still feels the consequences—acute headaches, depression, mood swings, and more. So do at least 23 other former players across the country, according to a growing batch of lawsuits filed since May against major football conferences, the NCAA, and, in some cases, the schools themselves.

The 24 lawsuits allege that before 2010—when the NCAA approved legislation forcing schools to create guidelines for dealing with concussions—universities, athletic conferences, and the NCAA knew or should have known the risks associated with playing football but failed to inform student-athletes and implement policies to protect them. They “actively concealed this information to protect the very profitable business of ‘amateur’ college football,” the lawsuits allege.

The cases involve former players of high-profile football programs in powerhouse conferences, like Georgia, Oregon, Miami, and Penn State. Most name only the athletic conferences (the Pac-12, Big Ten, etc.) and the NCAA because state laws offer immunity to public institutions from being sued.

“Essentially what they are saying is you did not have mechanisms in place to protect people who were being injured,” said Paul Haagen, a Duke University law professor and co-director of its Center for Sports Law and Policy. The pursuit of damages, he added, ties head injuries sustained during players’ careers with the outsize revenues generated by elite football programs and their conferences—entities that “arguably had responsibility and who have money.”

“[I]t appears that counsel is attempting to extract a bodily injury settlement through the filing of these new questionable class actions. This strategy will not work.”

Baylor cleans house after bombshell rape revelations | New York Post

Baylor has fired football coach Art Briles, admitting he failed to responsibly address the disturbing torrent of allegations of sexual violence by his players.Baylor’s football program has

Source: Baylor cleans house after bombshell rape revelations | New York Post

Why Florida Fans Think FSU Fans Are Dumb – By Ben Mathis-Lilley NOV. 2015

Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles in a game against rival Florida in 2013. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles in a game against rival Florida in 2013.
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The weekend after Thanksgiving is one of the biggest on the college football calendar: Rivalry Week. On Saturday, Auburn takes on Alabama, whose fans refer to their state rival as a “cow college” and to its supporters as barners. (The implication of the latter insult is that Auburn fans are often seen in and around barns.) UCLA squares off against its fellow Los Angelinos at USC, whose students are thought of by UCLA backers as “rich douches.” There’s a showdown between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, a matchup that Ole Miss partisans have been known to characterize as “culture vs. agriculture.” Florida State battles Florida in a rivalry that inspired Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio to quip that he doesn’t have anything against Florida State because “there has to be a school where people that can’t get into Florida can go to college.” And of course there’s Michigan versus Ohio State—not an in-state rivalry, but arguably the most heated of the lot—which is said to pair Michigan arrogance against Ohio “hillbillies.”

You might be noticing a trend here: High-profile rivalry games—and especially in-state rivalries—are consistently perceived by fans to pit stuck-up twerps against doofus hicks. Why is this the case? Why do so many famous American college sports rivalries break down along lines that might be most succinctly described as slobs versus snobs? Two recent sociological studies—one of which was conducted by researchers who gathered the pejorative descriptors quoted above—might provide an answer when considered alongside a particular piece of 19th-century legislative history.

These studies, a 2010 Academy of Management Journal paper and a 2015 article in European Sport Management Quarterly, each identified so-called “antecedents” of athletic antagonism. Each study’s authors surveyed fans about who their teams’ rivals were. The first group of researchers then compared the results with objective data about the teams involved (distance between their stadiums, for example), while the other researchers asked a second group of fans to assign points to various rivalry characteristics based on the fans’ own feelings about what contributed to the rivalries they cared about. The 2010 paper found that rivalry was influenced by such factors as frequency of competition, competitiveness (i.e. each team having won close to half of past games), and geographic proximity. The 2015 article similarly cited the importance of frequent competition, proximity, and balanced competitiveness, but also identified cultural factors—both cultural similarities and cultural differences between groups of fans—as influential in rivalry creation.

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Ohio State clinches playoff spot, Big 12 left out – By Mark Morgenstein, CNN updated 3:01 PM EST, Sun December 7, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at Dec 7, 2014 3.16

(CNN) — “Roll Tide!”

“Go Ducks! ”

“FSU is on the warpath!”

An Ohio State Marching Band sousaphone player dotting the “i.”

Those are some of the things you’ll hear and see during college football’s biggest games this season.

Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State are the four universities voted into the inaugural College Football Playoff, the selection committee announced Sunday.

No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, and No. 2 Oregon will play No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Both games will take place on January 1, and the winners will face off in the National Championship Game on January 12.

CBF playoff winners, losers

After Saturday’s games, SEC champion Alabama and PAC-12 champ Oregon were entrenched in the top two slots, and ACC champion Florida State had finished the season as the only undefeated team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, college football’s top tier.

But there was plenty of controversy over which team should get the fourth and final spot. Ohio State got the nod after stomping the Wisconsin Badgers 59-0 in the Big Ten championship game.

Here’s what you won’t hear: any cheers from fans of Baylor or Texas Christian universities.

One of the five major football conferences — the Big 12 — was left out of the playoff picture. Its conference co-champions, Baylor and Texas Christian University, finished fifth and sixth in the final rankings, respectively. TCU dropped from third last week to sixth, despite defeating Iowa State decisively, 55-3, on Saturday. Baylor also won on Saturday, and had beaten TCU by a field goal, 61-58, earlier in the year.

Within minutes of the selection committee releasing its final rankings, Baylor and TCU partisans flooded Twitter with outrage.

.Ironically, the new College Football Playoff was devised to eliminate controversy over who gets to play for the national championship.

Into the 1990s, conferences were aligned with specific bowl games (for instance, the SEC champion played in the Sugar Bowl each year), and No. 1 rarely met No. 2 at year’s end, sometimes leading to a split decision between the two main polls, Associated Press and United Press International, as far as who was No. 1.

But starting in the 1990s, various incarnations of what came to be known as the Bowl Championship Series attempted to pit the top two teams in the country in a winner-takes-all finale. The overall rankings were compiled using a combination of human- and computer-generated rankings. While the game featured the No. 1 BCS-ranked team versus the No. 2 team every year since 1998, often debate raged regarding whether those were actually the two best teams.

This October, for the first time, a panel of 13 football experts started meeting once a week to winnow down the field to the Final Four. While many fans praised the new system for giving two more teams a shot at a national title, the NCAA, the governing body behind collegiate athletics in the United States, acknowledged on its website that there “almost always will be more than one correct answer.”

Many sports pundits have called for an eight-team playoff. It’s safe to assume Baylor and TCU fans would agree, though it’s too late for this season.

Twitter reacts to playoff choices

CNN’s Mariano Castillo and Eliott McLaughlin contributed to this report

Football players could pay price for end to ‘cream puff’ games – by Ray Glier November 22, 2014 5:00AM ET

This Saturday is a rest stop for some major college football programs — a breather, a chance to field freshmen and a time for starters to exhale from the grind of the season. The top players can go to the sidelines for the fourth quarter of a lopsided win for a break just before the last two weeks of the season. Fans who are season ticket holders and not much interested in watching Charleston Southern vs. Georgia, Western Carolina vs. Alabama, Samford vs. Auburn or South Alabama vs. South Carolina will likely give their tickets away to friends, colleagues or family.Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at Nov 22, 2014 4.22

But if the caretakers of college football — the television executives, conference officials, College Football Playoff advisers and Division I football coaches — have their way, then these “gimme” or “cream puff” games will be scaled back. This is the first season of the College Football Playoff, and there is already considerable debate over strength of schedule and how schools need to prove themselves with tougher schedules to be selected for the new four-team playoffs. The committee that picks the final four for the postseason (and ranks the top 25 for the lucrative New Year’s Day bowls) has said that it will look favorably on schools that play competitive nonconference games.

But how many tough games can major college football players, 18 to 22 years old, handle? If easy games are replaced by tough games, there might be a physical price to play for young athletes.

“If you were to bring a Florida State or Ohio State in there on top of the SEC conference schedule, that’s a little ridiculous,” said Patrick DiMarco, a fullback for the Atlanta Falcons who played at the University of South Carolina from 2007 to 2010. “You would be physically beat up. What if we started the season with a Mississippi State, then a Georgia and then a team from another big conference? That’s too much. It’s almost like playing an NFL schedule.

“Players in college don’t have the resources, like these cold tubs, to recover from physical games like we do in the NFL.”

The college game has become a game of bigger and faster players hitting each other in the open field with the advent of the spread offense. Conferences have started the season earlier and scheduled in two bye weeks for some of their teams to allow players to recover physically. Yet there is still a grind from 14 weeks of football when players practice or play six days a week and also go to class full time.

Meet the Big-Money Boosters Behind College Football’s Top 25 Teams – —By Sam Brodey | Fri Sep. 5, 2014 6:05 AM EDT

You know Nike’s Phil Knight and Papa John Schnatter. But what about “Chainsaw Al” and the “Yella Fella”?

Big boosters (from left to right): Herb Kohl, John Schnatter, Phil Knight, Les Wexner, Drayton McLane Jr.

Even with millions of dollars in merchandise and ticket sale revenue, big-time college football and basketball programs pay a high price to compete. Coaches’ skyrocketing salaries, lavish training facilities, state-of-the-art stadiums and arenas: Someone has to fork over all that cash to keep up with the rivals at Big State U. Enter the loyal booster.

Over the years, boosters have played a cat-and-mouse game with the NCAA and its endless rules on amateurism. But thanks to the recent O’Bannon v. NCAA ruling, schools may need boosters more than ever. The decision allows players to be compensated up to $5,000 per year, and future court cases could raise that limit much higher. It’s not crazy to imagine that in the near future,there’ll be big-money bidding wars between programs for top recruits.

In anticipation of a new era of spendy “friends of the program,” here areMother Jones‘ boosters of the top 25, based on this week’s Associated Press poll. It’s not a comprehensive list—in fact, feel free to add more boosters in the comments—but we tried to pull together some of college sports’ biggest names, a colorful and diverse crowd of folks with common traits: They’re all very rich, they’re all very powerful, and they’re treated with the deference reserved for university presidents and pro team owners.

1. Florida State: Al Dunlap
Known as “Chainsaw Al,” the 77-year-old Dunlap became infamous in the business world as a ruthless corporate downsizer while CEO of companies like Scott Paper. He’s been successfully sued by everyone from the Securities and Exchange Commission to his own shareholders over accounting fraud, and once physically attacked a critic. Dunlap retired in Ocala, Florida, and he and his wife have given $15 million to Seminole athletic facilities. (Dunlap, a West Point grad, never attended FSU.)

2. Alabama: Paul Bryant Jr.
Bryant is Alabama royalty: His father was Bear Bryant, the legendary Crimson Tide coach. The younger Bryant became a successful businessman, owning dog tracks that grossed millions and selling several businesses (including a cement company) for hundreds of millions. His reinsurance company, Alabama Reassurance, was implicated in a felony insurance fraud case, though Bryant came out personally unscathed. Bryant has donated more than $20 million to Crimson Tide football, and he’s currently the president of Alabama’s Board of Trustees.

3. Oregon: Phil Knight
The cofounder and CEO of Nike—worth around $20 billion—might be the most high-profile college booster in America. Knight, who was a track star during his time at Oregon, has poured $300 million into his alma mater and its athletic program, turning the Ducks into an athletic (and, arguably,sartorial) powerhouse. He’s funded stadium renovations and a football performance center considered among the most lavish in college sports. Nike has been criticized for decades for its questionable manufacturing practices—including child laborlow pay, and worker abuse—and Knight has (sort of) owned up to it, though he tends to plead ignorance and shift blame to overseas contractors.

4. Oklahoma: Christy Gaylord Everest
Everest comes from one of Oklahoma’s wealthiest and most powerful families. A former University of Oklahoma trustee, she owned the Oklahomannewspaper and a diverse array of businesses, but sold nearly all family holdings to Denver entrepreneur Phil Anschutz. The Gaylord family as a wholehas donated more than $80 million to the university, including $18 million to athletic programs. (The Sooners’ football stadium is the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.) The late family patriarch, Edward L. Gaylord, is credited with shaping Oklahoma into a deep-red state by making family media properties organs for conservative viewpoints.

5. Auburn: Jimmy Rane
Known as the “Yella Fella” after his wood products—he’s CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving—Rane is president of the Auburn Board of Trustees and an Auburn megabooster. Part of Auburn’s new football facility is named for him. Rane was close to ousted Auburn trustee and fellow millionaire booster Bobby Lowder, and once held millions of dollars in shares of Lowder’s failed bank, Colonial. Rane has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans in Alabama and elsewhere.

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