Monday, September 26, 2011

Clemson's Morris loves taking a gamble

Clemson's new offensive coordinator, Chad Morris, loves to play fast and daring football. So he isn't detered by the fact that his Tigers have converted just one of five fourth-and-ones over the first four games of his tenure with the program.
The Tigers generated 35 points in Saturday's victory over then 11th-ranked Florida State. But they failed on a fourth-and-one in the fourth quarter that probably would have sealed the victory.
"That was missed assignments. I loved the call. I'd do it 100 more times,'' said Morris at his weekly media session Monday. "We missed two key blocks on the edge. I didn't come here to lay it up.''
Morris arrived with a quick-tempo, high-risk offense. The goal is a minimum of 80 snaps per game, intended to wear out opposing defenses. Dabo Swinney hired Morris in January to put a jolt in what was an ailing offense, and he's certainly shaken things up.
"Coach Swinney will have to tell me 'Whoa!' not 'Go!' '' Morris said. "I'm not going to play conservative here unless he tells me to.''
The Tigers (4-0) play their first road game Saturday, and it's a huge one: At Virginia Tech at 6 p.m.
-- Rick Bonnell

Friday, September 23, 2011

UNC freshman has wrist surgery

North Carolina freshman offensive lineman Kiaro Holts had successful surgery Friday at UNC Hospitals to repair a ligament in his left wrist, the school announced.

Holts, who was one of the most highly sought players in the Tar Heels' recruiting class, first injured the wrist last year as a senior at Warren Central High in Indiana. He has not played in a game this year, and his status will be updated later

Ken Tysiac

Monday, September 19, 2011

UNC kicker Barth likely out this week

North Carolina interim coach Everett Withers said this morning the Tar Heels will likely hold kicker Casey Barth out for Saturday's game at Georgia Tech, because of a groin pull.

The senior had been playing with a sore thigh since training camp. He kicked the first two extra points during Saturday's win against Virginia, before being replaced by Thomas Moore. Moore, a freshman, was listed as the starter on Monday's two-deep roster.

"I think it's just a culmination of a lot of different things," Withers said of Barth's injury. "I think it's just more of a strain. ... We felt like to get him for the long run, to not put him out there on the field."

-- Robbi Pickeral

UNC releases response to NCAA

The University of North Carolina has released to the public its response to the NCAA's allegations of nine major allegations against the Tar Heel football program.
In the official response, UNC announced it will impose the following punishments on the Tar Heels football program:

- Vacate the 16 wins from the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

- Dock three football scholarships a season for the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.

- Self-impose two years of probation.

- Pay a monetary fine of $50,000.

UNC’s response indicates its agreement with the first eight NCAA charges, except for some minor discrepancies involving amounts of benefits. The school also states as a mitigating factor that some benefits were repaid in cash almost immediately, and some were the result of friendships with former UNC players that current players didn’t think were impermissible.

On the ninth allegation, failure to monitor, UNC resists some of the NCAA’s charges. Regarding failure to monitor social networking, UNC says the NCAA’s constitution and bylaws don’t mention any institutional responsibility to monitor athletes’ communications “on undefined and ever-multiplying ‘social networking’ sites.”

UNC also argues that its staffers were unaware of former Tar Heel player Chris Hawkins’ status as an individual triggering NCAA agent legislation when he was allowed in the football weight room with his friend, former Tar Heel running back Willie Parker.

"We have acknowledged our violations, and we've responded in the way you would expect of this University," UNC chancellor Holden Thorp said in a statement. "We think that the sanctions we have proposed accept responsibility and, at the same time, give our current and future student-athletes and coaches every opportunity for success. We go before the NCAA Committee on Infractions on October 28, and that will be another important milestone."

"I believe the report is a very thorough response to the NCAA," UNC athletics director Dick Baddour said. "The University of North Carolina takes our standing and reputation in the NCAA community seriously and with great respect and our response to the allegations reflects that. "We accept responsibility for mistakes that were made in terms that are balanced, measured and fair. I want to acknowledge the hard work that University and athletic department staff put in to prepare the report. The October 28th appearance in Indianapolis is the next major step and we will direct our efforts toward preparing for that hearing."

Ken Tysiac

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Syracuse, Pitt add possibilities to ACC

Pittsburgh and Syracuse are leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference in a move ACC commissioner John Swofford said will strengthen the conference as its membership grows to 14.

The ACC announced the news Sunday morning and held a telephone conference with reporters to explain the move.

Big East bylaws call for each of the schools to pay a $5 million exit fee to the Big East and wait 27 months before departing. Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg said the school plans to comply with those bylaws, but is open to an earlier, negotiated departure that wouldn’t leave the school with an extended lame duck status in the Big East.

“I would think that in the weeks ahead everyone will be looking at the transition period and trying to determine whether the 27-month notice period really serves everyone’s best interests,” Nordenberg said.

Swofford said the move bridges the ACC’s geographic footprint from Maryland to Massachusetts so that the conference’s reach extends over the entire Eastern Seaboard, from Boston College to Miami.

Adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse also opens up new possibilities for the ACC. Expanding membership by two schools allows the ACC to reopen negotiations with current TV rights holder ESPN in a move Swofford predicted will more than pay for itself. The ACC is in the first year of a 12-year contract that will pay a reported $1.86 billion.

Getting a team based in the state of New York also brings the possibility of taking the ACC men’s basketball tournament to Madison Square Garden in New York City at least on occasion.

“I don’t think there’s any question that taking a look at New York and Madison Square Garden would be very appealing for ACC basketball fans,” Swofford said, “and more so now with teams in closer proximity and with that being the media center of the world, so to speak. We’d probably be remiss if we didn’t think of it in those terms.”

The move follows the ACC’s addition of Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004 and Boston College in 2005 to expand to 12 members. A question left unanswered is whether ACC presidents ultimately would like to have 16 members in the conference as Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC expansion have the college athletic world buzzing about the concept of “superconferences.”

Swofford said the changing college athletic landscape makes it certain that strong conferences will continue to be approached by schools hoping to join. He said the ACC has received inquiries numbering in double digits from schools aspiring to become members, but wouldn’t name the schools.

“We’re very comfortable with this 14,” he said. “The only thing I would add to that is that we are not philosophically opposed to 16, but for now we are very pleased with this 14. We think it’s an excellent group.”

Although the Palm Beach Post reported last week that Florida State will establish a committee to assess its long-term conference options, Swofford said he believes the current membership of the ACC is unified.

Last week, ACC presidents unanimously voted to increase the conference’s exit fee to about $20 million; it had been about $12 million to $14 million. Swofford acknowledged that it’s possible that the ACC could lose schools, but said he is confident in the commitment the current schools have to one another.

“In all of our conversations about this, both individually and collectively, and any conversations I’ve had with any of our presidents and/or athletic directors, I have never once received any indication of anything other than that they are fully committed to the Atlantic Coast Conference,” Swofford said.

Ken Tysiac

ACC announces addition of Pitt, Syracuse

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced this morning that it has voted to accept the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University as new members. The invitation followed the submission of letters of application from both universities.

“The ACC is a strong united conference that is only going to get better with the addition of the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University,” Duke University President Richard Broadhead, chair of the ACC Council of Presidents said in a statement. “Both schools are committed to competing at the highest level of academics and athletics. We welcome them as full partners in the ACC.”

The Council of Presidents voted unanimously to accept the two universities, according to an ACC news release.

“The ACC has enjoyed a rich tradition by balancing academics and athletics and the addition of Pitt and Syracuse further strengthens the ACC culture in this regard,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in the news release. “Pittsburgh and Syracuse also serve to enhance the ACC’s reach into the states of New York and Pennsylvania and geographically bridges our footprint between Maryland and Massachusetts. With the addition of Pitt and Syracuse, the ACC will cover virtually the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States.”

The conference will hold a telephone conference with reporters at 9:30 this morning to discuss the additions, which increase the ACC's membership to 14.

Ken Tysiac

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Syracuse, Pittsburgh, apply to ACC

Big East conference members Syracuse and Pittsburgh have sent letters of application to the Atlantic Coast Conference, a high-ranking ACC source said today on condition of anonymity.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that Pittsburgh will join the ACC and could be announced as a new member as soon as today. The schools’ addition would have to be approved by nine of the 12 ACC presidents.

According to the ACC source, at least 10 schools have inquired about membership in the ACC.

The news comes amid other recent reports that show the college athletics landscape is shifting dramatically:

- Texas A&M is trying to leave the Big 12 for the SEC but has been slowed by legal challenges.

- The Austin American-Statesman reported that with the Big 12 in danger of dissolving, Texas is considering whether its best future destination is the Pac-12, ACC or independent status.

- According to the Palm Beach Post, Florida State is forming an exploratory committee to evaluate its future conference options.

The applications from Syracuse and Pittsburgh, though, appear to demonstrate that the ACC is on solid ground as conferences seem headed toward “superconference” status. The ACC source said ACC presidents recently showed their solidarity by increasing the exit fee for a school leaving the conference to $20 million from about $12 million to $14 million.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Texas emerges in ACC expansion talk

Here we go again.

With the Big 12 possibly on the verge of dissolution, the ACC has emerged in published reports as a possible new destination for Texas, one of the nation’s most powerful athletic programs.

According to the Austin American Statesman, based on unnamed sources, Texas has three options:

-         Texas could join Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in leaving for what’s now the Pac-12.

-         With its own television network, the Longhorn Network, already established, Texas could try to make a go of independent status, like Notre Dame.

-         In a nod toward being aligned with the most academically prestigious of the BCS conferences, Texas could join the ACC.

According to the report out of Austin, talks between Texas and the ACC have yet to reach a mature stage. But national media outlets such as have jumped on the story, saying that the ACC’s TV deal with ESPN would be more accommodating to the Big 12 than the Pac-12’s regional TV packages.

Meanwhile, the Palm Beach Post is reporting that Florida State has formed an exploratory committee to explore its conference options, including a possible move to the SEC.

Is it all just chatter? Perhaps. But Texas A&M already appears well on its way to joining the SEC, and if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State pull out of the Big 12, too, the rest of the schools in that conference will start looking for a lifeboat.

And the ACC might just be able to provide that.

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NCAA returns to UNC

NCAA personnel visited the University of North Carolina today to conduct follow-up work related to the investigation of the school's football program, UNC spokesman Kevin Best confirmed in a short e-mail message.

Details of the reasons for the visit were not disclosed, and Best referred all other questions to the NCAA. In an e-mail, NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said that in order to protect the integrity of an investigation, the NCAA cannot comment on an inquiry.

UNC officials are preparing a response to NCAA allegations of nine major violations in the investigation of impermissible benefits and academic fraud that began 15 months ago.

The school's written response to those allegations – which UNC officials have said they will make public - is due Monday.

Ken Tysiac

AD experience 'ideal' in UNC search

Search committee chair Lowry Caudill said today that the “ideal” candidate for the University of North Carolina’s athletic director job would have experience in college athletic administration.

At first, that statement seems obvious. But it has become common in recent years for schools to look outside of college athletic administration when hiring athletic directors.

Michigan’s David Brandon is a former Wolverines football player who was CEO of Domino’s Pizza. Notre Dame (Jack Swarbrick) and Indiana (Fred Glass) recently tapped the same Indianapolis law firm, Baker& Daniels for athletic directors.

But Caudill said athletic administration experience ‘is a very important factor.”

“We want someone with experience, whether they’re a sitting AD or an associate AD, someone that understands all the dynamics and all the issues with respect to athletics and running an athletics program,” Caudill said.

Caudill spoke today after the third meeting of the UNC search committee that’s charged with recommending candidates to chancellor Holden Thorp.

Virtually the entire meeting, which lasted almost 2 ½ hours, was conducted in private as the committee discussed potential candidates. Caudill said UNC has not yet moved forward in a serious way with candidates who might be frontrunners because the committee is still collecting nominations for the job.

“We’re definitely aware of those that basically are gathering our interest,” Caudill said. “We’re aware of those folks and we’ve got them on our radar. Let’s put it that way. But we’re still in that gathering stage at the moment.”

UNC is hiring a replacement for Dick Baddour, who is retiring. The first big task for the new athletic director will be hiring a new football coach at the conclusion of the 2011 season.

Everett Withers is serving as interim coach after Butch Davis was fired as the football program faces NCAA allegations of nine major rules violations.

Ken Tysiac

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Beamer signs new contract

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Coach Frank Beamer has signed a new contract with Virginia Tech through the end of the 2016 football season, athletic director Jim Weaver announced today.

Beamer's previous deal was scheduled to end at the conclusion of the 2012 season. He had agreed to the new deal in August of 2010, but just signed the contract recently.

Negotiations on Beamer's compensation will begin in January. A win today over Appalachian State will give him a 199-95-2 record in his 25th season as the Hokies' coach.

Defeating Appalachian State will make him 241-118-4 overall in 30 seasons, ranking second behind Penn State's Joe Paterno in wins among active Football Bowl Subdivision coaches. 

Ken Tysiac

Friday, September 2, 2011

Wake reverts to old habits in 2nd half

In the first half Thursday, Wake Forest looked nothing like the Demon Deacons of last season. In the second half, Wake was precisely that team that went 3-9.

They never should have lost in overtime, 36-29 to Syracuse, and no one would say that more directly than coach Jim Grobe. Grobe saw this not as a game his team led by 15 in the fourth quarter, but as a profound collapse. The things that troubled him:

-- Three early drives to the Syracuse 21-yard line or closer collected a total of six points.

-- His placekicker, the normally reliable Jimmy Newman, missed an easy field goal and an extra point. As Grobe noted, making either of those kicks would have won this game in regulation.

That Newman would freeze up is surprising, since he'd made a school-record 13 consecutive field-goal attempts.

-- After holding Syracuse to a remarkable 52 yards and two first downs in the first half, Wake's defense allowed the following after halftime: 29 points, 247 yards and 13 first downs.

Grobe could have cut some slack, saying the defense was worn out or whatever. He didn't. He's been preaching accountability of late, and this is what he said post-game: "Sometimes when you play really, really well, you start to think it's easy to play really, really well.''

That's code for "you let up, and in a pivotal game, that cost a lot.''

-- Rick Bonnell

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wilson off to fast start for Wisconsin

Russell Wilson seldom disappointed N.C. State fans in three seasons as the Wolfpack’s quarterback, and he didn’t let down Wisconsin fans Thursday night in his Badger debut.

Wilson passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 62 yards and another score as No. 11-ranked Wisconsin crushed Nevada-Las Vegas 51-17 at Madison, Wis. Wilson directed the Badgers to seven touchdowns and an end-of-the-half field goal in eight possessions in a nationally televised season opener.
The addition of Wilson added sizzle to an ESPN Thursday night game that otherwise would have been ho-hum with a Big Ten power meeting UNLV, which was picked to finish seventh in the Mountain West preseason poll.

Wilson was a focal point of ESPN’s pre-game coverage, and he proved worthy of the attention. His first pass was good for 23 yards to Jared Abbrederis. Wilson threw his first touchdown pass with the Badgers, a 4-yarder to Montee Ball, just 3 minutes, 11 seconds into the game.

Although Wilson was 10-for-13 passing, the highlight of his night was an electric, 46-yard run for a touchdown late in the first half that was the longest rushing play of his career.
With 93 touchdowns combined throwing and passing in his career, second-best in ACC history, Wilson left N.C. State under unusual circumstances. He was attempting to play football for the Wolfpack while pursuing a pro baseball career.
Wilson was playing in the Colorado Rockies organization for the Asheville Tourists during spring practice when Mike Glennon, who had been Wilson’s backup, won the starting job.
At the conclusion of spring practice, N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien was comparing Glennon to the NFL quarterbacks O’Brien had coached at Boston College, including Atlanta Falcons standout Matt Ryan.
After the Wolfpack announced in April that it was releasing Wilson from his scholarship, Wilson said he was disappointed that O’Brien wouldn’t give him an opportunity to compete for a starting job.
Although he considered transferring to defending national champion Auburn, Wilson chose to join a Wisconsin team that already was expected to contend with Big Ten newcomer Nebraska for the conference title.
He was eligible to play for the Badgers immediately under the graduate student transfer rule. During training camp, Wilson said he was grateful for his opportunities at both schools.
“I’m truly blessed to be in the situation I’m in,” he said in August. “I was blessed to be at N.C. State and I’m blessed to be here. I’m cherishing every moment.”

Ken Tysiac

How to watch Wake-Syracuse game

Want to watch tonight's college-football opener between Wake Forest and Syracuse? You'll need a computer or smart phone.

The game is on ESPN3, the world-wide leader's online streaming service. The Deacons-Orange game, which begins at 8 p.m. in the Carrier Dome,  can be seen by going to and following the sign-in instructions. Tonight's Western Carolina at Georgia Tech game (7:30 p.m.) is also on ESPN3. -- David Scott