Oregon Ducks: Vanderbilt Commodores

Florida has Florida State. Georgia has Georgia Tech. Kentucky has Louisville. And, of course, South Carolina has Clemson.

When it comes to the new SEC scheduling format starting in 2016, those four schools are already on board. Their annual rivalry games fulfill the league’s forthcoming requirement for a yearly nonconference game against an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 school.

But for the rest of the teams around the league, there’s a void.

Sure, they can go year to year and rotate in nonconference opponents. But where’s the fun in that? Let’s create some new rivalries, and in the case of some programs, reignite old ones.

[+] EnlargeBob Stoops and Nick Saban
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertThe spectacular salaries of college football coaches such as Bob Stoops, left, and Nick Saban are generated mostly by the labor of unpaid workers.
Alabama-Oklahoma: If FSU wasn’t already taken, the Noles would have been a perfect fit. The physical and philosophical proximity between programs is obvious. But looking elsewhere, Oklahoma might be a fun matchup. The Sugar Bowl has already created tons of tension on both sides with Sooners coaches delighting in calling out Nick Saban and the SEC.

Arkansas-Baylor: Call it a throwback to the old Southwest Conference. Arkansas, which didn’t join the SEC until 1992, has played more games against Baylor (69) than any school in its current conference. On top of that, the differences between Bret Bielema’s physical style and Art Briles’ free-flowing offensive scheme would be a joy to watch.

Auburn-Oregon: Recent history and playing styles dictates this matchup. Not only do we get a rematch of the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, but it pits offenses that live to go fast. Maybe it could be a two-hand touch game in which whoever reaches 100 points first wins.

LSU-Notre Dame: We couldn’t make a list of nonconference matchups and leave Notre Dame off, could we? Pitting the Golden Domers against an SEC program would be appointment viewing. Make that program LSU and the opposing coach Les Miles, and television networks will scratch each other's eyes out to get the game.

Mississippi State-Texas Tech: The Bulldogs have shied away from high profile nonconference games in the past, loading up on the likes of Memphis, UAB and South Alabama. Well, it’s time to infuse a little spice into the schedule. Kliff Kingsbury is too cool to keep out of the SEC. His Red Raiders would be a good matchup with Mississippi State, which faced Texas Tech seven times from 1953-70.

Missouri-Kansas: Does this one really need to be explained? The Border War should have never gone away in the first place. Now is the perfect opportunity to save face and bring back a rivalry that goes all the way back to 1891.

Ole Miss-Miami: We’ve got to get ‘The U’ involved. Miami and Ole Miss have already played a few times in their history, with the Rebs holding a 2-1 series lead. But bigger than that, it would get the SEC back into South Florida on a permanent basis because Miami and Florida don’t have the common sense to do that already.

Tennessee-North Carolina: Even if most people don’t remember it, there’s history there. Tennessee and UNC have played 29 times, with the Vols holding a 20-8-1 advantage. Plus, even if your memory is short, you should recall the double overtime Music City Bowl from 2010 between the schools. If they can re-create that just once, it would make the rivalry worth it.

Texas A&M-Texas: See Missouri-Kansas. Don’t let conference affiliations ruin great rivalries. Texas A&M-Texas should have never been shelved in the first place. And while the UT administration might not see a reason to bring it back -- nor Texas A&M's leadership, for that matter -- surely both fan bases do.

Vanderbilt-Duke:Call it a private school showdown. The proximity is reasonable, the fan bases similar, and the rivalry could easily extend to the hard court. Plus, have you seen Derek Mason’s nonconference schedule this year? It needs help.

Army Bowl notebook: Jan. 2 

January, 2, 2014
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SAN ANTONIO -- Thursday’s practice session for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl saw players in more of a rhythm on offense, but it also saw defensive players showing their skills. If Thursday is any indication, Saturday’s contest could be a low-scoring affair.

Here are a few notes:

Cannon reaffirms Baylor commitment … again.

For the Baylor fans who read the late-Wednesday tweet coming from ESPN 300 receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), don’t read anything into it.

WR Jalen Brown goes green and yellow

October, 14, 2013
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Four-star wide receiver Jalen Brown (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe) did a good job of keeping his recruitment quiet throughout the process, but the 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete spoke loudly on Monday evening, as he announced his commitment with a resounding, "QUACK QUACK," on his twitter account.



Brown, the No. 1 wide receiver in Arizona and the No. 7 overall player in the state, is a big addition for the Ducks, as he was a target for a number of programs, including Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington and Wisconsin. Brown took official visits to see the Badgers, Beavers, Commodores and Ducks before announcing his decision.

Early in the process, it looked as though Brown was leaning toward the pro-style offensive systems of Vanderbilt and Oregon State, which highlight specific receivers and allowed the top two pass catchers in those offense to put up impressive numbers last year. But Brown raved about his visit to Oregon, which might have begun as an excuse to check out the Ducks' football facilities and watch a game in Autzen Stadium but ultimately allowed head coach Mark Helfrich and his staff to make a big impression on the receiver.

While Arizona looked to make a late charge for Brown, his commitment to Oregon pokes another hole in the fence the Wildcats and Sun Devils were hoping to put around the state. As the region seemingly produces more and more high-quality recruits each year, programs from across the country continue to export them. Seven of the top 10 recruits in the state of Arizona now have made their commitments, and only two of those seven will stay home.

Oregon also continues to flex its muscle in the Grand Canyon State, as Brown joins defensive tackle Jalen Jelks (Phoenix/Desert Vista) as Oregon commitments in the 2014 class. The Ducks signed wide receiver Devon Allen (Phoenix/Brophy Prep) in the 2013 class, Reggie Daniels (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) in 2012 and the trio of Andre Yruretagoyena (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral), Tyler Johnstone (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Sam Kamp (Mesa, Ariz./Mountain View) in the 2011 class.

Brown is commitment No. 10 for Oregon and the fourth four-star commitment in this class. He is also the first wide receiver commitment for the Ducks in this class.
It was a busy spring for Devante Downs (Mountlake Terrace, Wash./Mountlake Terrace), as the ESPN 300 athlete was on the road for a number of visits. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound running back and linebacker has now seen Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington.


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What already was an impressive spring for Bobby Okereke (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) jumped up another notch this week, as the 6-foot-1, 213-pound athlete added Oregon and USC to his impressive offer sheet.


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Top five emerging for RB Hilliman 

April, 5, 2013
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A top 10 has emerged for touted running back Jonathan Hilliman (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep), and now some separation is starting to take place among those schools.

“The top five has definitely broken apart but not severely far,” Hilliman said. “I’m not counting out the other schools, depending on what they bring to the table -- if it's academics or great environment or great coaching staff.”


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With a top three set a few weeks ago, Ian Bunting (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central) was setting up visits to his top three in hopes of closing in on a decision.


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ATHENS, Ga. -- Considering that running back Jacques Patrick (Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek) is only in his second year of high school but already has 25 scholarship offers, the case can be made that Patrick is one of the most coveted prospects in the Class of 2015.


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Tight end Ian Bunting has top three 

February, 26, 2013
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A top three has emerged for tight end Ian Bunting (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central). Two of the latest programs join one of the first atop the 6-foot-6, 200-pound tight end's list.


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Oregon keeping tabs on in-state talent 

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Under Chip Kelly, the Oregon Ducks made it a priority to lock up the top in-state players as early as possible. Among the nation's top programs, the Ducks have perhaps the thinnest crop of in-state talent every year, but in recent years the talent level has improved slightly. The Ducks have been able to keep most of the few top recruits inside of the border in the past couple of years. The Class of 2014 doesn't have any players the caliber of Thomas Tyner or Evan Voeller, but there are a few locals who could earn an Oregon offer:


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Oregon DE Humphreys has two on top 

February, 11, 2013
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Hailing from a school that has produced three U.S. Army All-Americans along the defensive line since the 2008 class, DE Connor Humphreys (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) is looking to make a name for himself as he follows in the path of former Rams' defensive linemen Myles Wade, Brennan Scarlett and current Duck Alex Balducci.


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Ducks miss top targets in Class of 2013 

February, 11, 2013
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Every recruiting cycle leaves programs and their fans wondering what happened to certain recruits who seemed destined for their school. While none of them were absolute "locks" to sign with Oregon, the Ducks had a long list of realistic targets who signed elsewhere.

The Ducks had plenty of opportunities to make a huge statement on the recruiting trail with the 2013 class. The coaching change from Chip Kelly to Mark Helfrich had an effect on many recruits, but a difference in scheme preference also led to a couple potential Ducks looking elsewhere. A couple former Oregon commits flipped to sign elsewhere and a couple others were just given up on. Notre Dame eventually signed three of the Ducks' top targets in the Class of 2013.

Here are a few players who could have easily been Ducks had one or two things gone differently.

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Ducks land running back with late pitch 

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After exploding on the scene as a senior, RB Kani Benoit (Phoenix/Thunderbird) slowly started to gain interest and offers. New Mexico, Colorado State, Toledo, Wyoming and UNLV all offered, while Arizona State, Illinois, Oregon and Vanderbilt showed interest but had yet to offer. Last week, the Ducks picked up their interest in Benoit again and he returned the favor.


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Cal LB commit Ragin nabs dream offer 

January, 30, 2013
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After decommitting from BYU in favor of the Cal Bears last week, Johnny Ragin III (Wilsonville, Ore./Wilsonville) might not be done with recruiting just yet.


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Thomas TynerCourtesy of Tiffany FiekenThomas Tyner is set to sign with Oregon despite late pushes from other schools.


Recruits, their families, coaches and football programs from around the country are holding their breath in hopes the right decision is made on national signing day. The truth is, no one knows what will happen between now and the time the pen hits the paper at high schools nationwide next Wednesday. What we do know is that both publicly and privately, the biggest decisions of recruits' lives are about to be made official.

For the Oregon Ducks, it appears as if their current commits are locked into the decisions they already have made. Now, the Ducks hope that their latest recruiting efforts provide a boost to an already strong class.

Here is where things stand for the Ducks and what their class might look like by the end of the day on Feb. 6.


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