NCAA Football

Florida State Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Even in the hottest months of the year, in the "downtime" between the end of spring football and the start of preseason practice, Florida State football players hit the field for intense 7-on-7 practices.

"There were some bloodlettings," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "There is a tremendous competition level around here. Sometimes I had to say, 'Whoa.'"

That's one example of the determination of FSU's players to improve and build on what was accomplished with a national title in 2013. There's no resting-on-their-championship-resume approach. Players simply won't allow themselves to do so.

And that approach has carried over to the first week of preseason practice. FSU returned to the practice field on Monday, and Fisher is pleased with the level of play and intensity.

"The practices are very, very competitive," Fisher said.

Let's take a look at developments from the first four days of practice as we analyze developments with the Seminoles.


Freshmen Impressing Early

Fisher said on Monday afternoon that all 28 members of the 2014 signing class have been cleared academically. And Fisher said he's been pleased with the willingness to learn and early performances of the true freshmen.

"I see a lot of these young guys learning," Fisher said. "All of those kids are doing a really nice job. We're throwing a lot at them early."

Dalvin Cook has quickly worked his way into the tailback rotation, writes 247Sports (subscription required). The offensive and defensive linemen have stood out to Fisher, writes's Powell Latimer and Ben Jones (subscription required).


Consistency at Receiver

Now in his fifth season as FSU's head coach, Fisher has frequently used the word "consistency," in regards to what he wants to see from a wide receiver.

With FSU needing to find pass-catchers to complement receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O'Leary, Fisher knows what he is looking for from a large group of receivers who are vying for playing time following the graduation of Kenny Shaw and the early departure of first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin.

"Consistency," Fisher said. "Guys knowing what to do, where to be and making plays. I've been very pleased with the younger and the older receivers. Not just those young guys—those older guys are doing a real nice job. I want the best players and the most consistent players."

Seniors Scooter Haggins and Christian Green would seem to have an advantage when it comes to consistency—they've been with the program for five years and know the playbook inside and out. 

"With the depth we have, we know somebody is going to play and some may not," Haggins said. "That's what really keeps us hungry."

FSU's heralded receiving class of 5-star Travis Rudolph, 5-star Ermon Lane and 4-star Ja'Vonn Harrison have left an impression on the veterans.

"It's going to come for them because they're talented," Green said. "All of them have great talent. ... It's about learning. You have to be consistent throughout the whole camp and the season. There's going to be ups and downs. You're going to have to be mentally tough enough to handle the ups and downs."


Jameis Winston's Improved Mechanics

It may be tough for Jameis Winston to improve—statistically speaking—on his 2013 Heisman Trophy season. Winston threw for 4,057 yards, tossed a school-record 40 touchdown passes and completed 66.9 percent of his passes.

But Fisher said Winston has shown a desire to improve his mechanics, something that could improve his accuracy. 

"He was very anxious to get better fundamentally," Fisher said. "That was what encouraged me. Did a lot of film study, his footwork, his releases. I was very pleased."

FSU's opponents won't be quite as pleased.

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Bob on Twitter.

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Texas Tech Football 2014: Complete Preview and Predictions

In his first season as Texas Tech's head coach, Kliff Kingsbury guided the Red Raiders to an 8-5 overall team record in 2013 but a 4-5 record within the Big 12 Conference.

Texas Tech is now expected to show improvement in Kingsbury's second year at the helm. Will Texas Tech progress or regress this season?

Watch as B/R's experts analyze the Red Raiders before the season begins.

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No. 1 QB of 2016 Malik Henry Announces His Top 4: Where Would He Fit Best?

Malik Henry, the nation’s top quarterback prospect in the 2016 class, trimmed his list of suitors to four finalists, via his Twitter account on Friday. 

Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and UCLA will battle it out for the right to land the 5-star passer from Thousand Oaks, California.

One wildcard in his recruitment could be the fact that he’s a two-sport star who doubles as a standout pitcher at Westlake High School. 

As Bud Elliott of Tomahawk Nation detailed recently, Henry said that while the quality of the baseball program of his eventual choice doesn’t matter, it is critical that the school gives its blessing for him to play both sports at the next level.

With that fact in mind, Jimbo Fisher’s track record with supporting dual-sport athletes may present the best situation for Henry to thrive on the gridiron and on the diamond in college.

The 6’3”, 180-pounder, who camped at Florida State last month, has taken notice of the success current Seminoles star quarterback Jameis Winston has had in Tallahassee in both sports.

"I just had my meeting with Coach Fisher and he told me that he loves two-sport athletes,” Henry mentioned to Elliott. “And he explained how he and [Mike Martin Jr.] are best friends. He has no problem with me playing baseball as long as I establish my position on the football team."

While the dual-sport athlete connection is a feather in the cap for Fisher, another element that could tip the scales in favor of FSU is the fact its offense is the most pro-friendly of Henry's final suitors.

“With Florida State, they probably have the most pro-style offensive approach of all his finalists,” said Yogi Roth—who worked out Henry at the Santa Monica Nike Football Training Camp in January. “I could see him playing there as well. They like playing from the shotgun and using three-wide receiver sets while still being able to run the ball.”

Roth, who also doubles as an analyst for Pac-12 Network, came away impressed with Henry’s potential as one of the nation’s most gifted passers in the 2016 class:

In the few times I’ve been around him, he’s always struck me as a guy who has had that laser-like focus. What coaches are looking for now at the college level is a kid who has the capability to do that. He clearly does. Then you look at his attributes and he’s off the charts with those. He can make every throw. He’s a dynamic athlete. He’s a high-level competitor. I think he’s a guy that loves to compete, and he loves to do whatever it takes to get better.

One potential deterrent for FSU is the fact that they have three commitments from top-rated quarterbacks in its 2015 class—with two of those coming from a pair of 4-star passers last week. However, Roth cautioned that each school’s depth chart shouldn’t factor in heavily to Henry’s choice.

“Every one of those places, he’s going to have an Elite 11 or an All-American quarterback in front of him,” Roth said. “All of those places are good at developing quarterbacks. He’s going to have to compete regardless of where he goes, and I don’t think that will be a problem for him.”

While each school has elements that are appealing to Henry, the Seminoles appear to present the strongest case in helping him thrive as a two-sport athlete in college.


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. 






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Oregon Ducks Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Oregon opened 2014 fall camp this week with plenty of outside expectations. 

The same week the Ducks hit the field in preparation for the coming campaign, published assessments of each Pac-12 team as told anonymously by the conference's coaches. Reviews of Oregon were glowing. 

"Unstoppable," "best team in the league" and "most explosive" were some of the evaluations offered. But according to head coach Mark Helfrich, all praise lavished on the Ducks now is meaningless until proven on the field. 

That's just one of the storylines setting the stage for Oregon's first week of practice—part of which Helfrich was mic'd up for as part of Pac-12 Networks' tour around fall camps. 

Development of the Ducks wide receiving corps is another subplot of particular interest in the coming weeks. Gone is 2013 leader Josh Huff, and the loss of Bralon Addison to a knee injury in April compounded Oregon's need for new contributors to step up. 

Dwayne Stanford looks ready to make the leap—literally. editor Rob Moseley tweeted the below image, captured by Eric Evans, of Stanford making an incredible, jumping reception. 

Stanford impressed offensive coordinator Scott Frost, who talked about the redshirt sophomore's potential with Matt Prehm of 247Sports

It'd be hard to come up with a comparison right away, but Dwayne has elite hands. I mean, he's got big...hands and catches everything. It was a shame to see him go down [to injury in 2013], but he's coming back and he's definitely in the mix.

So who else is in mix at wide receiver? According to quarterback Marcus Mariota, Addison could be in the rotation much earlier than expected.

Mariota told Sports Illustrated that Addison's "goal is Michigan State." 

That seems ambitious given Addison suffered his knee injury in mid-April. However, the Ducks quarterback said Addison "looks good." 

"I’m excited. Hopefully he gets ready for that second game," Mariota said. 

With or without Addison, the Ducks passing game should see considerable improvement in the performance of its tight ends. Position coach Tom Osborne offered lofty praise of the group Thursday, per 247Sports

I think we've got four guys that are pretty good. Media guys always forget Koa Ka'ai. Koa Ka'ai really, really improved in the spring. He made great strides in the spring. I think we have four guys that can play for us.

Osborne's assessment is in line with Mariota's from Pac-12 media days. There, the quarterback called Ka'ai "a leader of the tight end position." 

Along with Evan Baylis, Pharaoh Brown and Johnny Mundt—all of whom saw meaningful action in 2013—Ka'ai gives Oregon an intriguing new dimension to the already potent offense.  

Another new dimension to Oregon's offensive arsenal is the addition of freshman running back Royce Freeman. The big power back is a fit for a new attitude the Ducks are embracing, and his playmaking ability is immediately turning heads. 

Thomas Tyner capped spring with an impressive scrimmage, and Freeman is generating buzz in preseason camp. But Byron Marshall, Oregon's top returning rusher, continues to grind out of the spotlight. 

Marshall told Gary Horowitz of the Statesman Journal that he is motivated coming off his 1,038-yard, 14-touchdown campaign. 

"It's not my job to really care what other people say, [but] it does make me work that much harder," he said. 

Oregon's defensive line prepares for 2014 with some similar motivation. The Ducks replaced 2013 starters Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi. Alex Balducci joins Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner on the revamped defensive line.

Balducci talked with's Aaron Fentress about the unit's focus for the coming season, saying it "lacked attention to detail" a season ago. 

Stopping the run is among those crucial plot points for Oregon heading into the new campaign. Perhaps the defense can take inspiration from the lyrics of new honorary Duck Tom Petty's 1989 hit, "I Won't Back Down." 


Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics compiled via

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Oregon Ducks Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Oregon opened 2014 fall camp this week with plenty of outside expectations. The same week the Ducks hit the field in preparation for the coming campaign, AthlonSports...

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West Virginia Football 2014: Complete Preview and Predictions

Dana Holgorsen's West Virginia Mountaineers struggled last year without the services of quarterback Geno Smith.

Now in his fourth year at the helm, Holgorsen will be expected to improve upon last year's 2-7 record within the Big 12 Conference.

Will he succeed or fail?

Watch as B/R's experts discuss West Virginia before the 2014 season begins.

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Alabama Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban’s point was so strong, he wanted to make it twice.

He made his bold statement once last Friday at the start of fall camp, and then again two days later: “The time is now to resurrect the identity of the Alabama football program.”

That’s been the theme so far after the first week of fall camp and will likely be the theme continuing into the 2014 season.

The Crimson Tide have plenty of question marks and storylines this fall. The stock report will hit on the major happenings from fall camp each week and give an update on some position battles and other developments.

Here’s your recap of Week 1.


Attitude adjustment

For most programs, two losses, including one in a BCS bowl, would hardly qualify as anything needing “resurrecting,” but Saban and Alabama have set a championship-or-bust standard.

To hear the veteran players talk about last season, you might think Alabama was 2-11 last year instead of 11-2.

“That’s my first time being 11-2 at Alabama, but it was heartbreaking losing those two games,” said safety Landon Collins, a rising junior. “It was hard seeing those guys I look up to, those seniors I look up to that were great players, and we couldn’t thank them with a championship ring or a ring at all. It was heartbreaking.”

After reports of complacency started in 2013 before the season even began, players have said that there’s a different feel heading into 2014.

“I feel like our team is positive,” linebacker Denzel Devall said. “I feel like we're going out there, and we all got the right mindset, we want to win a championship. I feel like we're going out there each and every day with a chip on our shoulder and striving to get better.”


Suspensions, injuries shake up defense

Things have been relatively quiet on the offensive front personnel-wise thus far, outside of an injured foot for guard Leon Brown that has kept him from practicing so far.

Not so on defense.

Linemen Jarran Reed and Brandon Ivory, along with linebacker Tim Williams were suspended to start fall camp. Lineman A’Shawn Robinson sustained a sprained knee and has missed the last three days of practice. And linebacker Trey DePriest, expected to be the veteran signal-caller in the middle, has what Saban calls a “very, very minor” injury that has limited what he can do so far.

Reed and Ivory have since been reinstated, and they will be full-speed with the rest of the team after a five-day acclimation period that began on Thursday. Saban said they will be cautious on Robinson, but it is nothing that will keep him out of the opener.

Meanwhile, Williams has still been absent.

There’s been some good news in the injury department, though. Cornerback Eddie Jackson, who sustained a knee injury in the spring that required major surgery, is practicing and moving around much more than you would expect someone four weeks out of surgery to be. There is optimism that he could get game action sooner rather than later this year.


Kiffin installing offense

The Lane Kiffin show is here, and it is real.

While Kiffin, Alabama's new offensive coordinator, had the spring to begin to school players on his terminology and new system, things have ramped up in the fall with specific installs and schematic teaching.

“His experience and knowledge is beneficial for all of us,” tight end Brian Vogler said. “If I do something, if I make a wrong read, he tells me why it was wrong as opposed to just yelling at me and saying ‘you’re wrong.’ He says why you’re wrong. You should have done this instead of this. This is how you should read it. His knowledge is just helping us out tremendously.”

Kiffin had his first and only media availability of the season on Sunday, and already it seems Saban’s influence is rubbing off on him.

Kiffin was also clear that he wasn’t coming in to reinvent something that has already had success.

“As far as the offense, the last thing we'd want to do is come in and change a bunch of stuff,” Kiffin said. “As I mentioned before, it's a great offensive staff that's been together here. Had a great run here last year on offense, the number of players had great success last year. Really just coming in and looking at some things. Very small changes just to make sure at the end of the day we're putting our great players in the best position to utilize their talents in the best position for us to win games.”


Freshmen standing out

A couple of freshmen are already making names for themselves, largely on defense where the aforementioned injuries and suspensions have given some guys extra reps.

Saban named defensive tackle Josh Frazier, listed at 6’3”, 335 pounds, as a freshman who benefited from the defensive line shuffling. He already very much looks the part.

Cornerback Tony Brown continues to build on his strong spring and has emerged as a candidate for a starting corner job. Fellow 5-star recruit Marlon Humphrey is getting his feet under him as well.

At linebacker, right tackle Austin Shepherd named a couple of guys who are causing problems already.

“Rashaan Evans is really fast,” Shepherd said. “He’s got really good speed off the edge. Same with Christian Miller. He’s one of those slim guys who has a ton of speed. Those two guys have really stuck out a lot to me.”

Evans was a 5-star outside linebacker from Auburn, Alabama, whom the Crimson Tide pulled out of their in-state rivals' backyard.

On offense, 5-star Cam Robinson continues to take first-team reps at left tackle and appears poised to start there against West Virginia.


No clear word on quarterback battle

Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is suited up and right in the mix in Alabama’s quarterback battle...and that’s about all we know at this point.

Coaches and teammates have pretty much stuck to the party line until this point, that Coker and redshirt senior Blake Sims are both good quarterbacks and the best one will win the job.

Coker appears to have the strong arm that many touted him for when his transfer was announced, but the nerves are apparent, as he sailed a few throws early in camp. As August progresses, and he gets more comfortable in the system and working with his pass-catchers, coaches will be able to get a better feel for what they’ll get from him in a game.

Sims, meanwhile, continues to be the steady option he has been the last few years. His feet give him a dynamic that Alabama quarterbacks haven’t really had before under Saban, but his accuracy and awareness remain his biggest weaknesses.

We should get a little bit of an update after Saturday's scrimmage, the first one of the fall.


Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from cfbstats. All recruiting information comes from 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly Shows Up to Practice on a Horse

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has the money to buy a nice car, but he decided to show up to Friday's practice on a horse.

Based on what we know about Kelly, there's probably a good reason behind the idea.

[Notre Dame Athletics, h/t Sports Illustrated]

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USC Trojans Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Kickoff in a new era of USC football is one week closer, with the Trojans capping their first round of fall camp Friday. 

"A good starting point," is how cornerback Josh Shaw described the opening of practice to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

Practices started at Howard Jones Field Monday through Wednesday, then moved to the Coliseum on Thursday night. First-year head coach Steve Sarkisian opened camp with spectators welcome part of the time, music and a frenetic pace

Operating with a roster of almost 20 fewer players than most Football Bowl Subdivision programs, USC avoided losing more of its ranks to injury. But the Trojans did not come out of the first week of practices unscathed.  

The passing attack lost a potential contributor this week when tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick was ruled academically ineligible, per USC's official athletic Twitter account:  

Cope-Fitzpatrick shined in spring practices as the Trojans' only available scholarship tight end. Randall Telfer was injured, and 4-star signee Bryce Dixon had not yet arrived on campus.

Cope-Fitzpatrick's departure means a much steeper learning curve for Dixon, but Telfer told Michael Lev of the Orange County Register he's prepared to take the freshman under his wing.

"He’s a great athlete. He’s got so much potential. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do for us this year," Telfer said.

 Two more freshmen hit the ground running in the first week of preseason workouts. Five-star recruits Adoree' Jackson and John "JuJu" Smith made the most of their first opportunities in cardinal and gold.  

The duo even went head-to-head, as's Gerard Martinez captured via Twitter:  

The two most highly rated prospects of the Trojans' 2014 signing class are making an immediate impact that's catching the attention of their new teammates.

"JuJu Smith, Adoree' Jackson, these true freshmen are out here balling," wide receiver Darreus Rogers told Sarah Bergstrom for "It makes everyone have to step their game up a notch."

Sarkisian is also watching their production closely—in part to avoid overworking them. The coaching staff is evaluating their abilities on both sides of the ball, particularly Jackson. Sarkisian told the Los Angeles Times that keeping Jackson's plate full without overwhelming the newcomer is key.  

We've done everything in moderation, really counted his reps, so we know exactly what he's doing in every phase. If you look at sheer number of reps, his reps aren't more, necessarily, than other guys but it is a lot mentally.

Fellow freshman Toa Lobendahn continued his progress from a standout spring, remaining with the first-string offensive line.

Lobendahn was one of five early-enrollee freshmen from the 2014 signing class and made the most of his immediate opportunity. He talked to 247Sports' Scott Schrader about this performance thus far and his fit at USC. 

Like Lobendahn, cornerback Chris Hawkins impressed coaches before camp. Sarkisian sang the redshirt freshman's praises at last month's Pac-12 media days, saying "Hawkins had a really good spring."  

Hawkins is parlaying that good spring into a possible Week 1 start. With Kevon Seymour out, Hawkins is in the first-team rotation, via Ryan Abraham of

With Lamont Simmons also impressing in the first week of practices, the Trojans are looking at potentially going into Week 1 with a very deep secondary. 

USC's linebacker corps features a new name, though not a new face. Scott Felix, formerly Scott Starr, changed his name to his father's this week, per USC's official athletics Twitter account:

The 2014 season also brings changes to USC's longtime home, the Coliseum. Via on Thursday, the university announced plans to "enhance the fan experience." 

While these changes primarily entail new concession options and minor facilities upgrades, one new feature of note is that Sarkisian will participate in interviews before and after the game, as well as halftime, aired on the Coliseum's video board.   

That's quite the departure from the days of 29-second press conferences. 


Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Recruiting rankings and information culled from composite scores.


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USC Trojans Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Kickoff in a new era of USC football is one week closer, with the Trojans capping their first round of fall camp Friday...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

What NCAA's Power-5 Autonomy Ruling Means for Notre Dame

You can ruin a good thing. 

So while on paper, the NCAA's approved restructuring to give the power-five conferences autonomy over their own governance makes sense, it also pushes us closer to the end of college sports as we know it.

Hailed as progress, the restructuring (best described here by colleague Ben Kercheval) will firmly illustrated the distinct line in the sand between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in the ever-changing world of collegiate athletics.

At Notre Dame, it pulls one of the most high-profile—and deep-pocketed—athletic departments in two distinctly different directions. Join the arms race, or risk drifting even further out to sea.

For Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick, it's just another move on a chessboard that needs constant evaluating. Swarbrick has already adeptly navigated conference realignment, relocating Notre Dame's sports to the Atlantic Coast Conference while keeping the football team independent.

He also made sure Notre Dame kept its door to the College Football Playoff open, serving as the driving force behind the construct of the four-team playoff and working with SEC commissioner Mike Slive in an unlikely partnership that helped seal the deal.

On paper, the ruling is being heralded as a success, a key concession made by the bureaucratic glacier known as the NCAA. 

"I am immensely proud of the work done by the membership. The new governance model represents a compromise on all sides that will better serve our members and, most importantly, our student-athletes," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. "These changes will help all our schools better support the young people who come to college to play sports while earning a degree."

Used for good, this governance means additional benefits to student-athletes. Full cost-of-attendance scholarships, stipends to help students and even extended health care and four-year scholarships are being bandied about.

That's how Slive views the decision (not all that surprisingly), as he talked to Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel:

I know there’s angst amongst some of our colleagues in Division I, but I think those are fears that are really not necessary. This is not about competition. We’re pretty competitive. We don’t need to create additional advantages for competitive purposes. We don’t need to create additional advantages for our ability to generate revenue.

What we want to do simply and solely -- and the cynics have a hard time accepting this -- is to create a system that benefits student-athletes.

Of course, not everybody agrees. Not even some head coaches in the power conferences. 

Randy Edsall, new to the Big Ten as he brings Maryland to the conference for the 2014 season, thinks like a lot of others do

"I think it’s one step closer to the five conferences splitting off,” Edsall told a group of assembled media, according to  "I really do, but again I think there’s bigger issues now that you have that in terms of who is really going to take charge of what’s best for football.

"Yeah, you have this autonomy, but now what are we going to do with that to get the collegiate model, you know, the way it should be or back to where it was?"

Edsall is new in Big Ten country, building his reputation in the Big East, a conference better known for basketball, so maybe Jim Delany hasn't won him over yet. 

But Kansas State's Bill Snyder didn't bite his tongue either, the 74-year-old coach with his name on the side of the Wildcats' newly renovated stadium, calling it how he saw it

"It's no longer about education," Snyder said, according to "We've sold out to the cameras over there, and TV has made its way, and I don't fault TV. I don't fault whoever broadcasts games. They have to make a living and that's what they do, but athletics—that's it. It's sold out."

Snyder's observation isn't a new one. At this point, selling out in college sports is like MySpace. It's been around so long that we're not even sure if it exists anymore. 

For Irish fans wondering what to make of the ruling, there should be comfort in the fact that this isn't new news to Swarbrick. He talked about this ruling as an inevitability back in May, telling the South Bend Tribune's Eric Hansen that the change is a good one

I think the concept of autonomy is absolutely a good thing, because it reflects there are growing differences in the models among the members of the NCAA. Difference has been reflected over the years by different divisions, right? Division I is different than II is different than III. Well within Division I there are now increasing differences.

And this is a way that allows you to keep the division intact, but recognize those differences, so I think it’s a very creative solution. And I think it’s the right solution.

When reached by Mandel earlier today for comment, Swarbrick said essentially the same thing, reminding all of us that consensus isn't all that easy to find among 65 different athletic departments. 

"People assume a measure of unity that doesn’t exist," Swarbrick told Mandel. "There’s no clear position [among the 65] on some of the key issues. That doesn’t mean we won’t reach solutions. I absolutely believe we will. But the notion that that’s already happened, that we’ve got clear consensus on legislation that is queued up and ready to go—we’re not there yet."

From the sounds of it, one place where the Irish already stand in the minority is over scheduling. ESPN's Brett McMurphy polled the head coaches of the power-five conferences, with almost half of them (46 percent) in favor of playing exclusively power-five opponents. 

Brian Kelly was one of just 23 coaches that was against it. 

Even though Notre Dame has never played an FCS team and plays almost exclusively Power Five opponents already, Irish coach Brian Kelly said he would be against it if it meant no longer playing Navy.

Kelly said removing Navy from Notre Dame's schedule would be "a deal-breaker." Even with teams playing tougher schedules, Kelly said he doesn't favor teams with losing records playing in bowls.

That the Irish didn't feel like giving up one of college football's most important rivalries wasn't surprising. Nor was it surprising that most head coaches have forgotten about things like tradition and rivalry, too laser-focused on winning a conference title, or doing whatever it takes to keep their multimillion-dollar job. 

But as the NFL continues to find ways to become bigger and bigger, it's worth remembering that most of us that love their football on Saturdays don't watch the college game because it's a better product.

We watch because it's a game where tradition and loyalty have embedded themselves, passed down (sometimes begrudgingly) through generations. 

We believe the Rose Bowl is still the granddaddy of them all. That New Year's Day was made for college football. And more specific to Irish fans, we believe that whatever the odds, old Notre Dame will win over all. 

That's the mystique college football risks losing with this pronounced separation. It's the same one that gutted great high school events like the single-class basketball tournament in Indiana or the boys hockey tournament in Minnesota. 

In 10 years, we could be looking at a different college game. A sport that could erase games like Appalachian State's historic win at the Big House. Or Boise State's BCS-crashing victory over Oklahoma. Maybe eventually the opportunity for an independent Notre Dame to play for a College Football Playoff Championship.  

Sure, on paper, Thursday's news makes a ton of sense. It just doesn't make it a good thing. 


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Michigan Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

The biggest bombshell from the first week of camp was the announcement from Brady Hoke that Michigan will have a free night scrimmage open to the public on August 16. In past seasons the team has had occasional open practices for donors but nothing close to this during fall camp.

“They want to play in front of people,” said Hoke.

He also cited the desire to get players acclimated to the atmosphere of a night game while providing a unique opportunity for Michigan fans. The first 300 season ticket holders will be eligible to get a pass to watch the scrimmage from the sidelines. The deadline to get tickets is 5 p.m on August 13, and fans can either register online or go to the Michigan ticket office in person.

The scrimmage might also be a way to generate ticket sales for a home slate of games with only one marquee opponent (Penn State). The athletic department has been promoting the availability of general tickets, and this game is another opportunity to remind undecided fans what they’ll be missing.

Delano Hill Injury

The first injury reported from camp is defensive back Delano Hill, who broke his jaw bumping into another player during drills. He’s currently lifting weights and doing conditioning but is restricted from contact in hopes he’ll still be available for the season opener.

Hoke said that Brandon Watson, Dymonte Thomas, Jeremy Clark, Jarrod Wilson, and AJ Pearson are getting additional reps in Hill’s absence.


Jabrill Peppers Watch

Brady Hoke shot down speculation that the injury to Delano Hill would accelerate freshman Jabrill Peppers into the rotation at safety.

“Right now it’s strictly keeping him at nickel, that’s a unique position,” said Hoke. “The positive thing is he’s a pretty good athlete, he has good recovery skills, so he may take a step the wrong way but he has makeup speed.”

Even his teammates are anticipating his impact despite having not seen him play in full pads yet.

“He's a high-energy guy,” said defensive back Blake Countess. “He had lots of talent in high school, and we’re hoping he can come in and help us.”

Linebacker Brennen Beyer echoed the sentiment. “He seems like he can be a great football player, it’ll be fun to see him put the pads on.”


Countess: Team Hungry

Defensive back Blake Countess gave Michigan fans hope that the team has no intention of repeating last season’s 7-6 record.

“The temperament of the team is different, the team is hungry, this is the hungriest I’ve seen the team since I’ve been here. ... I feel really good about this team.”

He also said that the shuffling of the defensive coaching duties had made a big difference in practice and meeting time compared to last season.


Offensive Line

According to Hoke, the offensive line is coming along. “They really have done a nice job. ... [I’m] happy with how they finished summer conditioning.”

No word on a starting lineup yet, but running back Joe Kerridge has observed that “...players are learning at a faster pace than last year. Old players are helping younger ones.”


Injury Update

Running back Drake Johnson (ACL), defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins (ACL), offensive guard Joey Burzynski (ACL) and offensive tackle Erik Magnuson (shoulder surgery) have all been cleared to resume full contact.

Tight end Jake Butt (ACL) has not been cleared but is making progress towards a return later this season.

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via Press Conferences or in person.


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Alabama Fan's Anti-Auburn Shirt Features Very Obvious Fail

Trolling a rival is always fun, but it's important to make sure that the bashing can't be turned around and thrown back in your face.

One pro-Alabama shirt tried to take a shot at Auburn with the help of Wheel of Fortune. Unfortunately, the shirt features a glaring mistake.  

[Twitter, h/t SB Nation]

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SEC Extra Points with Barrett Sallee: Vernon Hargreaves' Injury, Bama QB Battle

Big Injury Scare

The first goal that comes to mind when thinking about this year's Florida team is "stay healthy."

Last year, 15 players suffered season-ending injuries (10 starters), and 25 players missed a total of 126 games, according to Florida's season wrapup notes.

If there are injuries during fall camp, a little bit of panic from Gator Nation is understandable. That's exactly what happened Thursday.

Star sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III injured his left knee in a scuffle during Thursday night's practice—which was open to the public. The AP All-American from a year ago was helped off the field and examined by Florida's medical staff, and Hargreaves' reaction understandably had Gator Nation holding its breath:

He’s walking around now, getting on cart being taken from practice field. He’s sitting in the passenger seat.

— Richard Johnson (@RagjUF) August 8, 2014

Hargreaves visibly frustrated, hands on head, banging the cart in annoyance.

— Richard Johnson (@RagjUF) August 8, 2014

Head coach Will Muschamp released a statement on VHIII's injury after practice, and it was surely met with relief:

Update from @CoachWMuschamp: “An MRI revealed that Vernon Hargreaves suffered a bone bruise and he is listed as day to day.”

— GatorZone Football (@GatorZoneFB) August 8, 2014

Losing Hargreaves for a significant amount of time would have been a devastating blow to the Gators, and would have put a ton of pressure on some of the younger guys to step up—just as Hargreaves did as a true freshman. 

It's safe to assume that Hargreaves will miss at least some practice time, which means more reps for guys like Jalen Tabor and Duke Dawson—two early enrollees who were already in line for rotational snaps either as backups or, in Dawson's case, perhaps as the "nickel." 


All Quiet on the Bama QB Front

If you expected there to be some separation between quarterbacks early in Alabama's fall camp, well, you're probably a little disappointed right now.

There hasn't been.

Legit concern to freak out?

Not really.

Florida State transfer Jacob Coker has only practiced for a week, and while it's likely that he'll win the job (after all, head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin wouldn't bring him in to ride the pine), there was no chance for him to beat out senior Blake Sims and redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman early in fall camp.

The coaches were only able to have limited contact with him during "voluntary" offseason workouts, and they're not going to just hand the job to him until they've got a firm grasp of what he can and can't do.

This is not a typical quarterback battle. The unorthodox circumstances with a new offensive coordinator, an unproven graduate transfer going primarily up against a senior dual-threat signal-caller—Sims—almost forces this battle to go deep into fall camp.

It could go farther, too.

Coker is getting his fair share of hype—he was rated as the No. 1 breakout player (subscription required) in college football by ESPN insider Travis Haney—but don't be surprised if he and Sims both see time in the season opener against West Virginia in the Georgia Dome. Saban did it before, in 2011, with AJ McCarron and Phillips Sims. This battle almost requires it.


Lighting a Fire?

The Alabama quarterback battle isn't something to panic over. 

The Tennessee quarterback battle, on the other hand, might be.

Senior Justin Worley and sophomores Joshua Dobbs and Nathan Peterman are competing for that job, and the early returns from fall camp haven't been pretty from head coach Butch Jones.

In fact, they've been downright ugly, according to Grant Ramey of the Maryville (Tennessee) Daily Times:

Butch on his QBs: "We're not playing winning football at that position right now. I'm always going to be brutally honest with you."

— @GrantRamey (@GrantRamey) August 7, 2014

Butch Jones continued on the three-man race at quarterback: "Efficiency is what we're hunting. And we're not efficient at that position."

— @GrantRamey (@GrantRamey) August 7, 2014

Last Butch on his QBs: "We're going to go back, we're going to refine it. But our passing game needs to take monumental strides"

— @GrantRamey (@GrantRamey) August 7, 2014

Motivation? Could be.

But this quarterback battle is much different than the one at Alabama. Jones let last year's battle go deep into fall camp, and Worley, the eventual winner, didn't look comfortable early in the season before getting pulled, regaining the job and then getting hurt. 

There's more urgency this time around on Rocky Top, and if the inconsistencies last another week or 10 days, it's time to push the panic button.


Depth and Versatility

Auburn's secondary was more of a punch line than a power last year, and now it's getting some pieces back.

Defensive back Josh Holsey tore his ACL in October of 2013 and is now back at the position he started his career at—cornerback. He'll provide a quality option for defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson opposite Jonathon Mincy, along with converted wide receiver Trovon Reed, Jonathan Jones and several incoming freshmen.

Holsey's versatility and ability to move back to the safety position will be incredibly valuable at boundary safety, where junior college transfer Derrick Moncrief is looking like a potential starter.

"He’ll know both the corner and the safety," head coach Gus Malzahn told Charles Goldberg of "We’re just trying to think through the year. Last year, we had a lot of injuries on the backend. He didn’t go through spring, but he got a chance to watch. So we had him out there at corner, but he does understand the boundary safety very well."

Moncrief has been out with an illness early this spring, according to James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser, which has allowed some younger guys to get valuable reps. Couple that with the versatility he provides and suddenly Johnson has options at the back end of the defense.


Beast Mode

The start of fall camp always gives us a chance to get a glimpse of how some players have developed during offseason workouts.

LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter has evidently been spending some time in the weight room. Possibly a lot of time:

More #LSU practice pics, including the freaky pipes of DE Danielle Hunter (FREE)

— LSU Tigers (@Geaux247) August 7, 2014

Hunter and Jermauria Rasco are bookending the Tiger defensive line this year, and with guns like that, Hunter's swim move is going to be something fierce.

Speaking of fierce, remember the last time we saw Alabama running back Derrick Henry in game action? It was when he was accounting for 161 total yards and two touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl loss to the Oklahoma Sooners.

The 6'3", 241-pound running back from Yulee, Florida is still a monster:

RB Derrick Henry at #Bama's practice today...#Beast (FREE)

— BamaOnline (@BamaOnline247) August 5, 2014 

Anybody want to tackle him? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

One freshman burst on to the scene in Kentucky, and he's a big one.

Matt Elam, a 6'7", 375-pound defensive tackle from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, stepped foot on campus and the ground likely shook. Look at this guy

Matt Elam...mother of god

— Chris Fisher (@ChrisFisher247) August 5, 2014

Defensive ends Alvin "Bud" Dupree and Za'Darius Smith will certainly enjoy Mt. Elam taking up space in the middle of that Wildcat defensive line, which will allow the two veterans to get after the quarterback.


Steve Spurrier vs. The SEC Network

Whenever Steve Spurrier has something on his mind, he's going to tell you about it. This week, he took aim—subtly—at the NCAA.

While discussing the new SEC Network with his players, Spurrier took a shot at NCAA's rules which prevent players from being paid:

Spurrier joke w/ team, on SEC Net in 90+million homes: "I said 'you know what that means, don't you fellas? More money, but not for you.'"

— Michael Haney (@Haney1075) August 7, 2014

Spurrier: "The players need to share in it, just a little bit. I'm not talking about paying them $100,000 a year."

— Michael Haney (@Haney1075) August 7, 2014

Spurrier: "We're trying to give them a little pocket money and give their parents money to go back and forth to ball games."

— Michael Haney (@Haney1075) August 7, 2014

If that wasn't enough, Spurrier invited local media to sit in on film study, one day after the SEC Network's camera's did so:

Spurrier opening first 5 minutes of film study for media since SEC Network was given opportunity yesterday.

— (@GamecockCentral) August 7, 2014

Never change, Head Ball Coach. Never change.


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Alabama Football 2014: Schedule Breakdown and Predictions

The Alabama Crimson Tide carry heavy expectations into every college football season, and 2014 is no different.

Will the Tide maintain their standard of excellence? Watch as B/R's experts predict how Alabama's season will shake out. 

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LSU Football 2014: Complete Preview of Tigers Offense

In 2013, the LSU Tigers offense ranked 24th in the country in points scored, at 35.8 per contest, en route to a 10-3 campaign.

Watch as B/R's experts weigh in on the Tigers' offensive outlook ahead of the 2014 season.

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Iowa Football 2014: Complete Preview and Predictions

The Iowa Hawkeyes found success in 2013 after a disappointing 2012 campaign. The team finished the season 5-3 within the Big Ten Conference but failed to defeat LSU in the Outback Bowl and finished the year with an 8-5 overall record.

How will Iowa fare in 2014?

Watch as B/R's experts examine the Hawkeyes ahead of the regular season. 

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Power Ranking Top 50 Ranked CFB Players If EA Sports' NCAA Football 15 Existed

To the dismay of the virtual masses, EA Sports killed off its NCAA Football video game series this year following a string of lawsuits, potential future lawsuits and headaches over how student-athlete compensation would work in the not-too-distant future.

This crushed us video game folk, and it also killed my offseason and weekly columns at Bleacher Report.

Using NCAA Football (insert year here), I would begin simulating the season the nanosecond the game was released—usually picking up the game at midnight and simulating well past sunrise and sanity. Once this was complete, I would then simulate the top games on a week-to-week basis, highlighting the premier matchups.

It’s worth pointing out that the NCAA Football franchise exited our lives by going five-for-five with its BCS bowl picks last season. What an eloquent way to depart. Before we say goodbye, however, we’re taking the baton from our favorite game and running until we can’t run any longer (about 35 feet, give or take).

Since EA Sports won’t be providing individual player ratings for the 2015 class (and because the whole No. 7-is-actually-Jadeveon Clowney-thing is out of the bag) we will jump into the breach. We’ve assigned a rating to each of the nation’s top 50 players for the 2014 season and gone so far to address some of the notable virtual attributes that contribute to their rating.

Speed, power, arm strength, accuracy, blocking (both run and pass), trucking and other characteristics that were prevalent in the game have made the trek to our hypothetical world. It’s the most incredible scouting process imaginable, the result of one individual still struggling to cope with the loss of his best friend (a video game).

Let’s celebrate the death of the franchise—at least for now, because perhaps it will be back some day—by agreeing on every single rating and bellowing out "Kumbaya" in the comment section.

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Auburn Football 2014: Complete Preview of Tigers Defense

In 2013, Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's unit surrendered 24 points or more in seven games. Now in his second year with the program, head coach Gus Malzahn will expect improvement on the defensive side of the ball.

How will Johnson, who is also in his second year with the team, and the defense fare in 2014? Will they be able to contend for the national championship?

Watch as B/R's experts weigh in on Auburn's defense before the season starts. 

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Ohio State Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

The first week of fall camp for the 2014 season is about to wrap up at Ohio State, and unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of storylines to be found in Columbus.

Whether it's health concerns over their Heisman Trophy candidate, the return of a formerly dismissed player or Urban Meyer's thoughts on various position battles, the Buckeyes have found a way to consistently manufacture headlines with three weeks to go until their season opener against Navy.

What follows is a firsthand account from inside Ohio State's Woody Hayes Athletic Center over the last week. The Buckeyes have hardly hit their stride yet, but will look to build on a strong start as two-a-day practices approach in the coming week.


Miller Maintenance

As the media was welcomed to witness Ohio State's third practice of the week on Wednesday, one observation in particular was made by those in attendance: Star quarterback Braxton Miller was hardly participating.

With Miller's importance to the Buckeyes having been compared to that of LeBron James' to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was obviously concerning to see the reigning two-time Big Ten MVP sitting out in favor of understudies Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. But as Ohio State offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner explained, Miller's limited action on Wednesday was a part of a bigger plan to bring him back from offseason shoulder surgery.

"We have a really good plan to get him where he needs to be Aug. 30, and we don’t need to rush it. The guy has played for three years, so just bring him along like a pitcher in spring training," Warinner said. "An inning, then two innings, then three innings and by the time opening day comes, he can pitch seven innings for you or eight innings or whatever you need. So, I think we’re doing that the right way."

That seems to be in line with what Meyer stated Monday, when he said that the Buckeyes staff would be monitoring its star player's reps for the remainder of fall camp. Nonetheless, it's worth noting that Miller may not be capable of handling a full workload just yet, although he insisted to that's not the case.

“Nah, nothing [wrong] at all,” Miller told Austin Ward. “I’m 100 percent, just trying to stay healthy. I’ve got to get it back in shape."


The Reinstated Returns

When the Buckeyes hit the practice field for the first time on Monday, they did so alongside a familiar, albeit unexpected face.

After being dismissed from the Ohio State program in July as he faced charges of possession of drugs, drug paraphernalia and rioting/failure to disperse stemming from an incident in Lorain, Ohio, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Tracy Sprinkle was reinstated to the Buckeyes roster moments before the start of the team's first fall practice.

Days earlier, the drug-related portion of Sprinkle's charges were dropped, and he pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of failure to comply.

Sprinkle's return to the OSU program will come at a price, however, as he'll pay his way through school for the remainder of the summer before sitting out the Buckeyes' season opener against Navy.

"He was dismissed because of an arrest and some bad words was involved like cocaine or something like that and it was all dropped," Meyer explained. “He lost his scholarship for the summer. Every week, he has community service and a multitude of other things to take care of before he’ll ever see the field.”

While the 6'3", 283-pounder isn't expected to make much of an impact this season, his additional depth will be welcomed on an Ohio State defensive line that will be without suspended All-Big Ten defensive end Noah Spence for the first two games of the season.


Fear the Freshmen

A year ago, Meyer showed a reluctance to play true freshmen, ultimately redshirting 17 members of his 24-player class for various reasons. Meyer insists that this season will be different, and his actions have already proved it.

While Monday's dual-practice sessions were split between first-year players and veterans, two true freshmen were selected to work with the latter. Unlike their classmates, linebacker Raekwon McMillan and wide receiver Johnnie Dixon found themselves practicing with their older teammates on the first day of camp, after what Meyer described as "rare" offseasons for the two true freshmen.

"They act like pros," Meyer said of McMillan and Dixon. "They act like grown men, so we let them practice with the grown men today."

McMillan and Dixon aren't the only freshmen who have caught Meyer's eye thus far in fall camp, as the third-year Buckeyes head coach has also singled out Dante Booker, Kyle Berger, Sam Hubbard, Noah Brown, Parris Campbell, Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith.

Couple that with a talented crop of redshirt freshmen who have already impressed in camp, and a youth movement in Columbus could be on the horizon.


Camp Competition

As is the case with most fall camps, position battles have garnered significant attention, with Meyer stating that none has caught his eye more than the fight at left guard. And while Antonio Underwood may currently have a leg up on Joel Hale and Billy Price in that battle, a number of other races for starting spots have also begun to take shape.

After one week, it appears as though Jacoby Boren is ahead of Alabama graduate transfer Chad Lindsay at center, Ezekiel Elliott has emerged as the Buckeyes starting running back, Gareon Conley and Eli Apple are in a dead heat opposite Doran Grant at cornerback and Evan Spencer has been taking first-team wide receiver reps opposite Devin Smith.

Another interesting development has come at safety, where presumed starter Vonn Bell has been the odd man out, behind Tyvis Powell and Cameron Burrows.

Bell appears to have been motivated by the slight, performing admirably on Monday and recording a diving interception in a scrimmage situation on Wednesday. It's also worth noting that the sophomore missed the majority of spring practice due to an MCL injury.

With multiple scrimmages scheduled between now and the season opener, there remains plenty of time left for these position battles to play out before the Buckeyes' battle with the Midshipmen at the end of the month. But the first five days of camp have provided solid insight into who already has momentum, and who has catching up to do.


*All quotes obtained firsthand, unless noted otherwise.

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