A&M-to-SEC rumors surface yet again

0 Comments

Buoyed by the creation of the Longhorn Network, the speculation surrounding Texas A&M taking their athletic programs to the SEC refuses to die a merciful death.

In a column Monday morning, Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman writes that Texas’ deal with ESPN, announced last week, could create “a spike in Texas A&M’s interest in joining the SEC.”  During the mini-expansion apocalypse way back in June, there were many reports connecting the Aggies to the SEC, including one that had the school’s board of regents giving the thumbs-up for the move.

That talk came in the midst of Texas’ discussions with the Pac-10, but both schools ultimately opted for conference “solidarity” and remained in the Big 12.

The new UT network, however, has caused the talk to surface once again, with the Aggies apparently none too pleased with a development that stuffs even more money into their in-state rival’s already bloated coffers.

“I certainly think it’s going to create some reaction from some Aggies who will say, ‘(The heck with) Texas. Let’s do our own deal,'” a prominent, unnamed Aggie told Bohls. “I don’t think Texas is winning friends and influencing people among their Big 12 brethren. As for the SEC, it may be a lot of noise, but I don’t sense a lot of groundswell from the president or athletic director’s office.”

Bohls went on to suggest that A&M and Oklahoma, which is exploring the creation of its own TV network, could “unite at some point to shift to the SEC, which I think would scoop them up in a second.”  The Sooners had been mentioned back in June as potentially having an interest in making their way to the SEC.

Bohls was also told that “A&M AD Bill Byrne may rally the other eight non-Longhorn schools to try to pool their third-tier rights together and package them under the Big 12 name.”

So, yeah, this whole Big 12 alliance thing is rock solid.  Nothing to worry about here, commissioner Dan Beebe.  Nothing at all.

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

minnesota football
Matt Krohn/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

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
2 Comments

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.