Report: Seantrel Henderson 'leaning' toward Miami

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(Yes, I know.  Another Seantrel story.  Just keep telling yourself, “63 days… 63 days… 63 days…)

In the hours after Seantrel Henderson gave a verbal commitment to USC live on national television, Henderson made it clear that he was not going to sign his Letter of Intent until the sanctions the football program might be facing came into a little clearer focus.

There were also rumors that surfaced shortly after the verbal that the offensive tackle had actually decided on opting for Miami, but made a last-minute decision to flip to the Trojans.

That was nearly five months.  In the interim, Henderson did sign on with USC, but reports surfaced recently that Henderson is wavering on his commitment — he didn’t show for orientation last month as expected — in the wake of unprecedented sanctions handed down to USC.  So much wavering, in fact, that Lane Kiffin and an entourage have made not one but two trips to Henderson’s Minnesota home in recent weeks in an effort to solidify his standing with the program.

Those efforts, according to the latest report, are not going well for Kiffin & Company.

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Henderson is still balking at his commitment to USC and is leaning toward moving on to Miami.  Unless Henderson requested a release from his LOI and USC granted it — the latter doesn’t appear likely at the moment — the lineman would have to sit out a year if he were to transfer to a Div. 1-A program.

Henderson could also go the prep school route, but that would also entail sitting out a year.

Regardless, it appears it will take a Herculean effort by Kiffin and his staff to retain the top player in the Class of 2010.

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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Matt Krohn/USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck had his contract extended Wednesday by an additional year with a $1 million raise in annual salary, after the latest round of big spending by Big Ten rivals.

The new seven-year deal will run through the 2029 season, the university announced without releasing terms. Fleck will now make $6 million per year, a person with knowledge of the contract confirmed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been finalized.

Last week, Nebraska hired Matt Rhule and Wisconsin hired Luke Fickell to put them in the top tier of head coach compensation in the conference. In terms of average annual value, the 42-year-old Fleck is eighth in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Rhule, Fickell, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. All seven of those coaches make $7 million or more per season.

The Gophers (8-4) play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. They’re 3-0 in bowl games under Fleck, who was hired away from Western Michigan in 2017.

Minnesota tied for second place in the Big Ten West Division this year, behind Purdue. Fleck is 43-27 overall with the Gophers, including 26-26 in conference play. They’re 0-6 against Iowa and 3-3 against Wisconsin, their primary rivals.

Fleck’s winning percentage is third-best in program history among coaches with 45 games or more, behind Henry Williams (1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (1932-41).

“What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,” athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement distributed by the university. “He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota and his team continues to excel academically, athletically and socially.”

This is the fifth time in six years on the job that Fleck’s deal has been adjusted to keep up with the competition, as power conference coach contracts these days rarely have less than five years on them at any time. Minnesota extended his deal a year ago, too.

In that iteration of his contract, the termination fees Fleck would owe Minnesota if he were to hop to another program were bumped way up. Those numbers landed at $7 million in 2023, $5 million in 2024, $4 million in 2025 and $3 million in 2026. Details about those figures in the new deal were not immediately available.

Virginia players granted extra year of eligibility

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to Virginia players whose eligibility has expired in the aftermath of the slaying of three members of the team, the school confirmed.

Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed last month as they returned to campus from a field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C. A former player at the school, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is facing three counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting. A fourth player, Mike Hollins, and student Marlee Morgan were injured in the shooting.

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting, and the team and university community memorialized the victims in a nearly two-hour service on campus. Team members also traveled to each of the three funerals held for their teammates.