Michigan Stadium tunnel will widen without portable seating

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan Stadium’s lone tunnel – the site of altercations between players as they enter and exit the field – will be a little wider next season.

The school confirmed that it will remove a portable section of seats from the front of the tunnel to give players, coaches and staff members more room to enter and exit the football field.

Previously, fans were close enough to touch coaches and players as one spectator did last season with Michigan State’s Mel Tucker well before the postgame altercation between Spartans and Wolverines players that led to suspensions and criminal charges.

A total of 45 portable seats will be lost and enough standing-room only tickets are expected to be added in the stadium to keep its capacity at 107,601.

“This decision was made after a thorough review for the health and wellness of everyone who uses the tunnel to get on and off the field,” Michigan spokesman Kurt Svoboda said.

The Big Ten fined Michigan State $100,000 for its role in the stadium tunnel altercations and reprimanded Michigan for failing to “provide adequate protection for personnel of both home and visiting teams when entering and leaving playing arenas,” per conference policy.

Penn State coach James Franklin said in October that there should be a policy in place to prevent teams from heading to the locker rooms at the same time and suggested the need for some sort of buffer to separate them.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh bristled, saying Franklin acted as a “ringleader” when a lot of heated words were exchanged and Wolverines players reportedly said Nittany Lions players threw peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at them.

For the final two games of the season, Michigan did keep players and coaches from Nebraska and Illinois separate from the Wolverines in the tunnel.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents approved the athletic department’s request last year to name the tunnel after former coach Lloyd Carr, who led the program to its last national championship in 1997.

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.