Report: Pac-16 conversations ‘heating up’; Texas could keep LHN

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Earlier this morning, we noted that Kirk Bohls of the Austin-American Statesman reported — sort of — that it was “almost certain” that Texas will be moving on to the Pac-12. No specific details were given involving the potential move, but we did question whether the school would be willing to give up full control over their newly-launched Longhorn Network.

Turns out, they may not have to.

The Austin-American Statesman, in joint effort with Hookem.com, is reporting that the Pac-12 is finalizing a deal with Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State that would officially bring the four into the conference, sources with knowledge of the situation say.

Furthermore, it looks like Texas would be able to keep the LHN with the only stipulation being that it also add Pac-16 content to its programming. UT would keep all revenue streams it earned from the network. The Statesman explains:

“The Longhorns would be able to keep all of their revenue from the network if that amount is greater than one-sixteenth of what the entire Pac-12 receives for its third-tier rights. However, if one-sixteenth of the money the Pac-12 receives from third-tier rights ends up being a larger amount, the schools would divide the revenue evenly and everybody would receive the same amount, the source said.”

When asked about the terms of the agreement, a high-ranking administrator from one of the four Big 12 schools told the Statesman “We can live with it.”

“It’s heating up. We’re trying to move in that direction (of joining the Pac-12),” the admin said.

Keeping control over the LHN is a huge priority for Texas, and such an agreement would act as an incentive for the LHN to do all it can to bring in as much third-tier revenue as possible. In either case, Texas appears to be guaranteed at least an equal split of what the other 15 members would be given from third-tier rights.

“Nothing has been definitively confirmed. But that’s in the zip code,” a source familiar with the discussions told the Statesman. “This is not yet a done deal. It appears that (Pac-12 commissioner) Larry Scott is going to be able to work some magic and help Texas keep the Longhorn Network and their revenue stream.”

As we’ve said before, any conference would pick up the phone if Texas called; it was just a matter of negotiating the terms of the Longhorn Network that provided the biggest roadblock.

If the details of this latest report are true, Scott would have found a way to make Texas happy (enough) while maintaining a sense of balance with the other conference members. Although no details were provided, it appears the “Pac-16” would still employ an equal revenue sharing policy for its first and second-tier media rights.

As for scheduling, the Statesman provides this explanation, courtesy of the Big 12 source:

“As of right now, the conference is discussing an alignment where teams would play nine conference games. Teams would play every other team in their pod along with two teams from each of the other three pods.

“If the Longhorns were in Pod A, they would play the other Pod A teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech) every year. They would also play two teams from Pod B, Pod C and Pod D, bringing the total to nine conference games every year.”

Texas and Oklahoma have Board of Regents meetings tomorrow to discuss conference realignment issues. It is expected that UT president William Powers will be given authorization to pursue any and all decisions on conference affiliation.

Again, it should be emphasized that this is not a finalized deal, and the Doomsday clock on the conference realignment apocalypse hasn’t hit zero just yet. But if there’s any truth to these reports, the clock is indeed counting down.

Air Force football sanctioned for recruiting violations

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force football program received two years of probation from the NCAA and had its squad size reduced by 10 for four years as part of its sanctions for recruiting violations.

The penalties were announced Thursday after Air Force and four individuals reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations. A fifth individual in the case has contested their role and will be heard by the committee on infractions.

The sanctions also include a fine and a reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program in the 2022-23 and `23-24 academic years. In addition, there’s a prohibition on unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022, and a reduced number of evaluation days this fall.

Air Force has around 115 players on its varsity roster, plus a JV team that all count as NCAA athletes and its roster size.

“The (committee) appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, the chief hearing officer for the panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

In a joint statement, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and director of athletics Nathan Pine said: “The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff.”

The Falcons are off to a 3-1 start and host Navy on Saturday to begin the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition. The trophy is presented to the service academy with the best record in the round-robin format.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”