Making the morning rounds.
• It’s not a trap. Ole Miss students will vote on a new mascot sometime next week (no, the beloved/reviled/retired Colonel Reb will not be an option), and a clear consensus is forming around an early leader: Raise your claws, SEC, to welcome Admiral Ackbar, vaguely ichthyoid commander of the Rebel Alliance Fleet in the Star Wars universe and source of probably the most celebrated cheesy line in one of the cheesiest screenplays ever executed into a wildly lucrative film. You can follow the “Ackbar for Ole Miss” campaign on Twitter or join the Facebook page. (Activities: “Leading Rebels against the dark forces of the galaxy… or the SEC.” Naturally.) [Friends of the Program]
• Hello Helton. USC quarterback Matt Barkley threw passes for the first time Thursday since undergoing surgery on his throwing wrist in January, and felt “10 times better” than he did at the end of the season. Barkley also got a new position coach, Arkansas State’s Clay Helton, who will also nominally serve as offensive coordinator. Despite the early overtures to Norm Chow, the Trojans were probably never going to get a big-name OC because head coach Lane Kiffin will be calling the plays. [Orange County Register]
Oh, and the verdict on USC’s first day in front of the NCAA’s Infractions Committee? “No comment.” University president Steven Sample refused even to say “no comment” as he exited the proceedings, nibbling on a cookie instead. They’re back at it today and Saturday.
• The people have a right to be bored out of their minds. Elsewhere in board room secrecy: Michigan alum is suing Michigan’s Board of Regents for violating the state’s Open Meetings Act during a closed-door meeting earlier this month to discuss the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into the football program for allegedly exceeding NCAA limits on workout time. Michigan’s shocking reaction: “No comment.” [Detroit Free-Press]
• There is a situation. That is all. Alabama coach Nick Saban acknowledged “a situation” with safety Robby Green, a part-time starter on last year’s championship defense and one of the most experienced returnees this fall, but Saban wouldn’t elaborate or confirm earlier reports Thursday that Green had been suspended from the team: “To make any kind of announcement on his playing status at this time is completely premature.” [Birmingham News]
Quickly … Oregon running back LaMichael James is free after 38 hours in jail on counts of domestic abuse and strangulation. … Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt will miss spring practice following minor ankle surgery, and receiver Demaryius Thomas will miss the NFL combine after breaking his foot during workouts. … Washington is looking for a new walk-on quarterback to fill out a thin depth chart. … Steve Addazio is winning praise as interim coach at Florida. … Auburn’s entire coaching staff will get a little bump, including a big raise for offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who’ll earn $500,000 this year. … A cliff-notes look at conference expansion as game theory. … And Mark Richt, longest-tenured head coach in the SEC, turns 50. Man, where did that decade go?