Tired No. 4 TCU has done its job for playoff so far at 11-0

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FORT WORTH, Texas – There will be some people who look at how fourth-ranked TCU is still undefeated going into the final week of the regular season, and they will question if the Horned Frogs really deserve to be part of the playoff discussion.

Their latest victory came on a chaotic game-ending field goal that capped a two-score rally in the final 2 minutes, 7 seconds at Baylor, in a stadium with a bitter playoff-busting memory for the Frogs (11-0, 8-0 Big 12, No. 4 CFP). Only one of their conference wins has been by more than 10 points and they had to overcome double-digit deficits after halftime in back-to-back games last month.

“They can say whatever they want to say. Our job’s to win football games. We’ve done our job up to this point,” first-year TCU coach Sonny Dykes said after Saturday’s 29-28 win. “And, you know, hopefully we’ll do it again Saturday. And what anybody says I couldn’t care less about.”

The first Big 12 team to reach 11-0 in the College Football Playoff era, the Frogs play their regular-season finale against Iowa State (4-7, 1-7) next weekend. They then will have to go only about 20 miles from campus to play No. 15 Kansas State or No. 24 Texas in the Big 12 championship game at AT&T Stadium on Dec. 3, the day before the final CFP rankings that will determine the four playoff teams.

Those will be the 10th and 11th consecutive Saturdays for TCU to play since its open date during Week 3 back in mid-September.

“We’re tired. I mean, I’m not going to lie. … We’ve played a lot of games like this, and this takes a lot out of you,” Dykes said. “It wasn’t always perfect (Saturday), but the end result happened the way we wanted it to and we were fortunate. I think we all know that. But at the same time, it’s like I told the guys, it’s not an accident. If we’re not a team that doesn’t do things the right way, then we don’t get ourselves in that position to be able to make that play.”

A play called bazooka, with the field-goal unit running onto the field as the final seconds were clicking off the clock. Griffin Kell, who earlier missed an extra point, made the 40-yard kick as time expired at McLane Stadium – where a 61-58 setback in 2014 was their only loss that season, the first with a four-team playoff.

Quarterback Max Duggan said his only thought while the offense ran off the field as the field-goal unit shuffled by them was, “Griff’s gonna go win the game.”

Emari Demarcardo’s 3-yard TD with 2:07 left capped a 90-yard drive to get the Frogs within 28-26, but he dropped the pass on a 2-point conversation try that would have tied the game. TCU got the ball back with 1:34 left after using all three of its timeouts and forcing a three-and-out by Baylor, which finished with 501 total yards a week after the Frogs held Texas to 199 yards in a 17-10 road victory.

Since coming off their open date with an emotional 42-34 win at SMU, which had won the previous two games in that series when Dykes was coach of the Mustangs, and a 55-24 win over then-No. 18 Oklahoma in their Big 12 opener, the Frogs have had nothing come easy.

They got the tiebreaking touchdown at then-undefeated Kansas with 1:36 left, before their double-digit comebacks at home: down 17 in the second quarter before beating Oklahoma State 43-40 in double overtime, then behind 18 late in the first half to Kansas State before winning 38-28.

After those four consecutive victories over ranked opponents – though only K-State is still in the AP Top 25 – the Frogs won 41-31 at West Virginia after adding a touchdown in the closing seconds. They scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to beat Texas Tech 34-24.

“This league is really good,” Dykes said. “Anybody that doesn’t understand that, or tries to diminish what these players have done, just doesn’t know much about what they’re talking about honestly.”

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields

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ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

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IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.