Making the morning rounds.
• From the mountains, to the other mountains. The newly slimmed-down Big 12 is considering multiple expansion scenarios that would boost membership to ten or twelve teams — each of which, according to the San Jose Mercury News’ Jon Wilner, attempts to account for Missouri’s possible defection to the SEC. Plan A, per Wilner: Adding four new members — specifically, Boise State, BYU, West Virginia and Louisville — to bring the magic number to twelve after Missouri‘s departure, and to inadvertently hasten the disintegration of the Big East. (Including the Broncos and Mountaineers, that alignment would give the Big 12 six teams ranked in the current polls.) Plan B: Adding one school to get back to ten if Mizzou stays, or two schools if Mizzou leaves.
As Wilner emphasizes — and as anyone who has followed realignment over the last two years knows well — nothing is done until it’s done. The clear goal, however, is to get back to an even dozen, reconstitute the divisions and resurrect the Big 12 Championship Game, which the conference sees as essential to remaining on par with the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC. [San Jose Mercury News, Associated Press]
• I know nothink! USC coach Lane Kiffin pled ignorance Tuesday to any knowledge of a relationship between NCAA-targeted scout/”mentor” Will Lyles and assistant coach Willie Mack Garza when Garza was on Kiffin’s staff at Tennessee, despite the fact that UT’s connection to Lyles apparently began in early 2009, shortly after Kiffin’s arrival, when the university paid $15,000 to Lyles’ company, Elite Scouting Services. That was a few months before Garza allegedly wired $1,500 to Lyles to pay for an unofficial recruiting trip for Lyles’ prize player, five-star running back Lache Seastrunk, according to a Yahoo! Sports report that produced (with Lyles’ cooperation) both the money order sent by Garza and the plane tickets purchased for Seastrunk and his mother. At least three other schools — LSU, Oregon and Cal — paid Lyles for information on recruits, at least two of which got back obviously shoddy materials in return.
“All I can say on that, the alleged incident, I had no knowledge of [it], or knowledge of a relationship at all [between Garza and Lyles],” Kiffin said. “I have been and always have been committed, wherever we’ve been, to doing things the right way, cooperating with the NCAA. So that’s all I’ve got on it.”[Orange County Register, Knoxville News-Sentinel]
• What did we do to deserve this? Elsewhere on the NCAA front, Boise State said Tuesday it plans to appeal sanctions levied against the football program, which was hit earlier this month with minor reductions in scholarships and practice time as part of a wider, more severe verdict against multiple sports and the BSU athletic department as a whole. On the football side, Boise was accused of arranging for dozens of recruits (63 in all) to crash with active Bronco players during recruiting trips, amounting to a grand total of $4,934 worth of “improper benefits.” [Idaho Statesman]
• From one freshman to another. Auburn receiver/return man Trovon Reed, a former top-50 recruit who’s second on the team in receptions through four games, is out indefinitely with a bum shoulder. Both the No. 2 receiver and punt return roles for Saturday’s trip to South Carolina will fall to true freshman Quan Bray. [al.com]
Quickly… The Arizona Republic audits the Orange Bowl. … Vanderbilt loses a starting linebacker for the season to an apparent ACL tear. … Randy Edsall asks for patience. … Texas plays the revenge card. … Jimbo Fisher will talk about Greg Reid when he has something to say about Greg Reid. … Georgia may be on the verge of losing a cornerback to transfer. … Mike Locksley joins a very, very long list. … And forget the SEC standings. Alabama and Florida are playing for blue-chips, man.