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February 15, 2010

Grid bits: Taunting rule could change

Some football notes as we ponder what life would be like in a world in which this line from Brent Musburger is a possibility: "You're looking live at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich., where the surprising Michigan State Spartans meet the Texas Longhorns with first place in the Big Ten on the line."

The NCAA Football Rules Committee has proposed changing the taunting rule for the 2011 season, putting forward the proposal that players who break the rule on the way to a touchdown would have the penalty assessed from the spot on the field where the taunting occurred. If the taunting -- or at least what an official considers taunting -- occurs in the end zone after the player has scored, the penalty would continue to be assessed on the extra-point attempt or on the kickoff. Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti is the rules committee chairman, and he said the proposed rule "is just another step in maintaining our game's image and reflecting the ideals of the NCAA overall." The proposal still has to pass muster with the Playing Rules Oversight Panel before it goes into effect. One new rule that will go into effect this fall is that any eye black used by players must be solid and cannot contain words, numbers or symbols. (Presumably that, too, is to reflect "the ideals of the NCAA overall." Actually, if it truly reflected the NCAA ideals, the organization would have looked for a way to monetize the words/symbols/numbers used on the eye black.)

Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta is the new linebacker coach at N.C. State. He replaces Andy McCollum, who went to Georgia Tech to become linebacker coach. Before he spent two seasons at Notre Dame, Tenuta was the defensive coordinator at Tech for six seasons. Tenuta will work under coordinator Mike Archer at N.C. State, which was pitiful on defense this past season.

A Holtz will be coaching against Notre Dame when the Irish open the 2011 season. The Irish will play host to USF -- coached by Skip Holtz -- in both teams' 2011 season opener, it was announced last week. The game was moved from Oct. 1 to Sept. 3. Holtz is a former Irish player and assistant.

About 14,000 shirts touting Texas as the 2009 national champion have been sent to Haiti, where they will be given to earthquake victims. The shirts were printed in advance of the BCS title game and would've been destroyed had they not been shipped to the island nation.

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said he feels his program is "being singled out" because of a new NCAA rule that puts recruiting restrictions on coaches-in-waiting. A coach-in-waiting now has the same type of restrictions that a sitting coach faces. The big one: Head coaches are allowed just one in-home visit with a prospect while "regular" assistants can have multiple visits. Head coaches also aren't allowed on the road during the spring evaluation period from April 15-May 31. "Obviously, since this legislation impacts only two programs in the country [Maryland and Texas], we feel we are being singled out," Dodds said. "We are exploring our options for legislative relief within the NCAA process since we believe this places our program at a direct disadvantage. Will is our head coach-in-waiting but he is also our defensive coordinator, and this legislation restricts his ability to perform his current job duties." The rule was proposed by the Big East last June, debated in September and ratified shortly thereafter to take effect in the 2010 recruiting cycle.

New Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox won't have a position to coach. Chuck Smith will coach the Vols' defensive line, Lance Thompson will be the linebacker coach and Terry Joseph will be the secondary coach. Most coordinators also oversee a position.

Never question Nebraska fans' passion for football: The Huskers already have sold close to 52,000 tickets for their April 17 spring game. The potential exists for a second sellout crowd in three years for a spring game; Bo Pelini's first Red-White game was a sellout in 2008, with 81,000-plus fans in the stands.

Some player news: New Central Michigan coach Dan Enos will have to unveil an all-new starting backfield this fall. Enos, who had been Michigan State's running backs coach, already knew he would have to replace record-setting quarterback Dan LeFevour. Now, he needs to replace starting running back Bryan Schroeder as well. Schroeder, the Chippewas' leading returning rusher, has decided to give up football because of injury concerns. Washington State starting cornerback Brandon Jones was dismissed from the team after being arrested and charged recently for driving under the influence. Jones began his career at California before transferring. Quarterback Alex Cate, who was scheduled to be involved in the tussle for the Oklahoma State starting job, has decided to transfer, making Brandon Weeden the all-but-certain starter. Former SMU quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who started in 2008 and the first part of '09 before suffering a shoulder injury, has resurfaced at FCS member Eastern Washington. Sophomore-to-be Kyle Padron is expected to be SMU's starter. Former Kansas running back Jocques Crawford now is at FCS member Tennessee Tech, where he has one season of eligibility remaining.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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