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You may recall, back in February, the announcement that the GEO Group, a prison corporation, had donated several million dollars to Florida Atlantic University and would be granted naming rights to the Owls’ stadium. Much consternation ensued. The GEO Group scrambled to defend itself against repeated and varied reports of inmate abuse. A nickname was coined:
The school being Florida Atlantic, we kinda forgot about it for a little bit. Folks in Boca Raton, not so much. Protests against the sponsorship continued, and the GEO Group has withdrawn its donation:
For those of you just joining us in the rapidly snowballing saga of Florida Atlantic’s stadium naming rights, let’s run a quick timeline. Tuesday morning, FAU announced that a $6 million donation had been bestowed upon the university by The GEO Group:
The largest one-time gift in the history of FAU athletics, it will be used to support athletic operations, including FAU’s intercollegiate athletic program, the stadium, scholarships and academic priorities. In recognition of this gift, the football stadium at FAU’s Boca Raton campus will be named GEO Group Stadium.
The GEO Group operates prison facilities all around the world, making the choice of a new stadium nickname quite simple:
Here’s FAU President Mary Jane Saunders, on Tuesday: “It is so exciting to now have a name for our beautiful stadium, and I couldn’t think of a better way to do that than by way of philanthropy. This gift is a true representation of The GEO Group’s incredible generosity to FAU and the community it serves. It is especially meaningful because George Zoley, GEO’s chairman, is a two-time FAU alumnus and former chair of our Board of Trustees.”
• “Group of five” still just sounds so ominous. Jeremy Fowler reports on the coalescing system the Big East, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt are working on to distribute playoff revenue from the new postseason system:
In this proposed system, more than half the group’s roughly $86-million playoff pot would be distributed among the Big East, Mountain West, Mid-American Conference, Conference USA and Sun Belt as guaranteed base shares, according to a source with direct knowledge of the discussions. The source expects those shares to be evenly split, but added discussions are ongoing. The second tier pays out based on a conference’s body of work — the top conference gets the highest amount, then “X” amount for the next-rated conference, and on down. The third tier pays a kicker to the conference with the highest-ranked team, which is guaranteed an access bowl bid or, if among the top-four teams in the country, a semifinal berth in the playoff.
• Harbros’ early broing days. Check out Dan Wetzel’s tale of relatively wee Harbaughs recruiting youngsters to their dad’s team at Western Kentucky, including an appearance by one Willie Taggart.
• Exactly how you would’ve guessed. Former Miami Hurricanes make up the biggest slice of Super Bowl roster pie charts, but two of the next five teams on that list are … Marshall and Utah? Marshall and Utah! Go ThunderUtes!
• From the no-jokes department. Compelling story via OTL on UCLA researchers and evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in living football players.
Assorted newsy bits — of varying degrees of importance — you might have missed over the long weekend:
• Didn’t we already do this headline a week ago? ”Imminent” can mean a lot of things! In the cosmic sense, the NCAA’s investigation of Miami has spanned less than a fraction of an eyeblink, but here we are, riding on a human-speed space-time wave, just twiddling our bloggy thumbs until the ‘Canes’ notice of allegations drops. The latest rumblings, per Bruce Feldman, involve a very large book being thrown at ex-Miami and current Louisville assistant Clint Hurtt and other former ‘Canes colleagues. We’ll have more on this when we actually see the notice of allegations, unless we don’t see this notice of allegations, in which case we’ll be right back here next Monday writing a third variation on this same headline.
• And speaking of the NCAA: On the final day of the annual NCAA convention, the latest raft of changes — touted as an effort to streamline NCAA regulations — were unveiled. Your friendly neighborhood Bylaw Blogger takes a look at one proposal, regarding recruiting start dates, that was left out of the bundle.
• From the “Things That Will In No Way End In Heartbreak” Department. The Chick-fil-A Bowl has set up a “Rivalizer” web app that allows you to accessorize the photo of your choice with paraphernalia supporting the ACC or SEC team of your choice. We have a modest example on the right here.
• Well, now we KNOW he’s lying. Nick Saban, betraying his true form by acting like he’s some kind of mortal being with a defined lifespan: “I really enjoy what I’m doing here right now. I’m getting old now.” For the record, we hope he stays at Alabama forever, just to see if he ages more slowly than his statue outside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
• Roster blotter. Alabama’s Barrett Jones continues to rest his injured foot … Oregon’s Kyle Long has lost his eligibility appeal … Washington State’s Jeff Tuel will try his luck at the NFL draft … Missouri’s Ka’Ra Stewart has been dismissed from the Tigers following a drug possession arrest.
• Quote of the day. “The [university] presidents and athletic directors need to wake up about these [non-automatic qualifying] conferences and understand that they don’t have the fan appeal.” — Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett. “His SEC/Big Ten game is going for $2.50.” — Stewart Mandel.
• By the time you see this post, all of this information will be out of date. Just keep this soothing mantra in your minds, and we’ll all get through this together:
When it all boils down, we’re all members of the Human Race Conference. #footballhugs
— Good Bull Hunting (@GBHunting) November 28, 2012
Change begets stress, and even good stress is stress, our mama has always said, so continue those deep, cleansing breaths while you read these releases from Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic announcing their intent to join Conference USA in 2014. Karl Benson is making solar puns in all caps, so give him a little hug if you see him. And our pal Steven Godfrey finally realizes why Rutgers cut him off for a story a couple weeks back.
• Bowltyme! Our postseason schedule is up and running, with new bowl teams added as they’re announced. It’s also in a font large enough for you to read first thing in the morning without your glasses a couple weeks from now, when you sit upright in bed and are terrified you have overslept into the New Mexico Bowl.
Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome. WE HAVE MUCH TO DISCUSS.
• On teams about to move themselves outside our purview. Like we said this morning, we had no sooner finished updating our magnificent work of college football realignment art than word came down we might need to add Middle Tennessee State to it. And right as we were wrapping up this here column, Florida Atlantic joins the fray, chasing FIU to Conference USA. Consider this another plea for a dead period in conference realignment, for the sake of everyone’s collective multitasking abilities, at least until the bowls are over. What on earth else are we going to talk about in February if we get all this conference-hopping sorted out before Christmas?
And what to do with some of these teams going forward? We have a while to figure it out, obviously, but how to cover this ballooning middle class created by the sinking of the Big East? Will the Blue Raiders graduate from Profiterole-dom as Temple did last year? We’ll probably dedicate way more thought to this than we should; but, again, best to save that for the offseason when we have nothing better to do.
• Conference races drawing to a close. Where we’re at heading into that weird hybrid weekend of regular and postseason games: Kent State and Northern Illinois meet Friday night in Detroit for the MAC title game. Tulsa hosts Central Florida this Saturday for the C-USA championship. The Mountain West remains deadlocked in that wacky three-way tie between San Diego State, Fresno State and Boise State, with only the Broncos’ Saturday date with Nevada standing any chance of breaking it. The top two teams in the Sun Belt, Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee, play a final regular-season game Saturday that may as well be the conference title game. Utah State has clinched the WAC title outright with last week’s victory over Idaho. And Army and Navy will meet a week from Saturday for the right to hoist the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, with Air Force out of the race entirely for the first time since 2005.
• Bowltyme! Stewart Mandel’s latest postseason projections can be found here, along with a freshly-updated chart listing every accepted bowl invitation. Profiteroles playing this holiday season include Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl, Utah State in the Potato, San Diego State and BYU in the Poinsettia, Louisiana in the New Orleans, SMU in the Hawaii, Air Force in the Armed Forces and Navy in the Fight Hunger.
A couple selections of college football-like substances are on offer this evening in prime time viewing hours. We’re sure you have so many questions.
Florida International at Florida Atlantic
• What information do I, the discerning sports fan, require in order to consume this game? The Owls and Golden Panthers are scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. ET in Boca Raton. The game will be televised on ESPNU and streamed on WatchESPN.
• What’s at stake here? Florida-based Sun Belt program bragging rights and little else. Both teams are out of postseason contention and occupy two of the three bottom slots in the SBC standings.
• Wasn’t Florida International supposed to be good this year? We certainly thought so! But instead of contending for top honors in a very deep Sun Belt, the Panthers have only just notched their first conference win of 2012, a 28-20 defeat of transitional South Alabama on November 3.
• Is this the stadium with the Schnellenberger statue? It absolutely is. We wait with breathless anticipation to see how it will be outfitted with a perma-puffing pipe and Santa hat for the upcoming holiday season. Schnelly Claus!
Hawaii at Air Force
• What information do I, the discerning sports fan, require in order to consume this game? The Warriors and Falcons are scheduled to kick off at 9:30 p.m. ET in Colorado Springs. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and streamed on WatchESPN.
Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome.
Tis the season for car commercials with big-ass bows and conference math. We attempted to explain, in bewildering detail, how the MAC races could shake out from here in our Wednesday night MACtion preview. We are here to inform you (with some glee, as we adore late-season chaos) that the MAC has far from the most convoluted conference race situation at the moment. Very quickly, the current states of the remaining non-AQ conference races, as teams not named Navy or BYU begin to prettify themselves for postseason suitors:
• Conference USA: Two teams with perfect 6-0 league play records top the two divisions: Central Florida in the East and Tulsa in the West. After Saturday, one squad’s record will bear some blemish when the two clash in Tulsa, but don’t expect that to affect the race. The Knights have only UAB to clear after that in the regular season, and hold a head-to-head advantage over East Carolina, the only other team in the division with fewer than three conference losses. Tulsa’s championship game aspirations could still be spoiled with a loss tonight and another at SMU November 24, assuming the Mustangs (4-2 in league play) beat Rice in the meantime.