Red River Rivalry to remain at Cotton Bowl through ’20


For those concerned that the annual Oklahoma-Texas game would be played anywhere but the Cotton Bowl for the foreseeable future, you can officially stop worrying.

City officials in Dallas confirmed Friday that it had received signed contracts from both OU and UT earlier in the afternoon, which guarantees that the Red River Rivalry (or “Red River Shootout” for the traditionalists in the audience) will be played in the Cotton Bowl through the 2020 season.  The old deal was set to expire after the 2015 game.

“They wanted to stay in the Cotton Bowl and continue this longstanding tradition,” lead negotiator for the State Fair of Texas, Pete Schenkel, told the Dallas Morning News.

The OU-UT game, which was first played in 1900, has been played in the Cotton Bowl every year since 1932.

There had been speculation of late, though, that, because of the decaying state of the Cotton Bowl, the game could be moved elsewhere.  Chief among the potential future locales was Jerry’s World, the new-ish home of the Dallas Cowboys in nearby Arlington.

On April 11, however, city council authorized the issuance of $25.5 million in debt to renovate the stadium, the Morning News wrote.  The paper went on to write that “[t]he city intends to add historically appropriate facades to the end zones, rebuild the press box, add new club seating below the press box, upgrades concourses and improve concessions areas.”

That renovation is expected to commence in December and is scheduled to be completed in September of 2013.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the five-year contract extension?  Each school will continue to receive a $500,000 guarantee for playing the game in the Cotton Bowl, the same amount each received under the terms of the old deal.  Schenkel said that neither school sought additional funds in order to remain at the Cotton Bowl, which is a very refreshing and laudable development in this day and age.

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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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

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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.