College football

Reports: Auburn under investigation

November 22, 2012 

Auburn Coach Gene Chizik has declined to "comment on speculation" that the NCAA is investigating alleged improprieties involving the football program.

The Birmingham News reported Wednesday that NCAA investigators have interviewed at least one assistant coach and several players this week ahead of the Tigers' game against No. 2 Alabama.

The newspaper, citing an unnamed source, reported the investigation included but is not limited to the signing of running back Jovon Robinson, who was ruled ineligible amid allegations of academic improprieties.

Yahoo! Sports also reported Wednesday that the NCAA has been investigating potential wrongdoing involving Auburn recruits, players, coaches and others. That report says assistants Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper haven't been allowed to recruit for several weeks.

Chizik has already been under fire during Auburn's 3-8 season.

SEC trying to improve stadium experience

A popular question asked during SEC games this season has been: Do you have any service?

The increasing number of fans unhappy their smartphones and tablets aren't working is a priority for the Southeastern Conference. The need for more bandwidth at stadiums is a hot-button issue being studied by a fan experience group approved by league presidents and chancellors earlier this year.

The league is trying to take action before fans do.

Alabama fan Chad Gilbert says he's resigned himself to the fact that checking scores or social media isn't possible during games. The frustrating in-game experience makes him want to stay home.

The challenge for the SEC is coming up with a uniform solution. Each school has individual deals with wireless providers, so reception varies from stadium to stadium.

ESPN to televise playoffs

The college football playoff system will be televised on ESPN for 12 years once it starts after the 2014 season, the network said Wednesday.

The title game will be played on a Monday, at least a week after the semifinals.

The deal is worth about $470 million a year, a person with knowledge of the terms said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the fee had not been announced.

"Folks are going to love this playoff and the attention ESPN will give to it," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement.

ESPN's current four-year contract to air the Sugar, Orange and Fiesta bowls along with the BCS title game is worth about $125 million per year.

ESPN will own the rights to all six bowls involved in the four-team playoff system. Conference commissioners had decided that the two semifinals would rotate among those half-dozen sites; the four not involved each year will host major bowl games similar to the current BCS contests. The title game will be bid out each season through a separate process, as the Super Bowl is for the NFL.

There will be three "contract bowls" that offer automatic bids to particular conferences in years they don't host one of the semifinals: the Rose, Sugar and Orange. The network already had separate deals for the same 12-year period through the 2025 season for those games, which are affiliated with the Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, ACC and SEC.

The new agreement also gives ESPN the rights to the three "host bowls," which will feature at-large teams along with the top squad from the group of five conferences without ties to a contract bowl. The sites for the host bowls are still to be determined, though the most likely landing spots are the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.

Around the nation

Duke: Duke has agreed to a contract extension with coach David Cutcliffe, who has the Blue Devils bowl eligible for the first time in nearly two decades. The agreement will run through June 2019, though contract terms were not released.

Florida: The Gators will have their starting quarterback back in the starting lineup against one of its biggest rivals. Coach Will Muschamp said sophomore Jeff Driskel will return to the starting lineup for Saturday's game at No. 10 Florida State (10-1).

"Jeff Driskel looked very good at practice (Tuesday) and he'll be ready to go," Muschamp said.

Driskel sprained his right ankle Nov. 17 against Jacksonville State. He has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,324 yards, with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Ohio State: Just five teams in the program's 122 previous years have gone through a season unbeaten and untied. The Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) can become the sixth Saturday when they take on archrival Michigan.

No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 4 Ohio State are the only major unbeatens left in the country.

Saturday will be Ohio State's final game. NCAA sanctions for violations committed under former coach Jim Tressel include a bowl ban.

Buffalo: Coach Jeff Quinn agreed in principal to a five-year contract extension that locks him up through 2017. The deal was announced two days before the Bulls (4-7, 3-4 Mid-American Conference) close their season at Bowling Green.

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