Week 12 in college football was the craziest one yet, opening the door to a handful of teams having their own elaborate scenario to reach the BCS title game. The past two weekends have seen the No. 1 team go down consecutively and with Notre Dame visiting USC on Saturday, will the Fighting Irish be next? Let’s take a look at some of the notes around the country heading into the weekend.
• Rutgers and the University of Maryland will join the Big Ten Conference as soon as the 2014 season. The universities will be the 13th and 14th members of the conference, which will most likely prompt a name change. Maryland’s current conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference, has instilled a $50 million exit fee, but Terrapins higher-ups believe they will be able to negotiate the cost.
• USC quarterback Matt Barkley will not play against Notre Dame this weekend after injuring his shoulder versus UCLA last Saturday. With a win, the Fighting Irish would secure a spot in the BCS title game. However, a Trojan win would surely send the rankings into one of the biggest shuffles in BCS history. Redshirt freshman Max Wittek will start in Barkley’s place.
• Tennessee has fired head coach Derek Dooley after three seasons. The Volunteers are winless in the SEC this season and went an unremarkable 15-21 in Dooley’s tenure in Knoxville. Tennessee will finish below .500 for the third consecutive season, which marks the first time the feat has occurred since 1909-1911.
• Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel will return to the field versus Florida State, but as to whether he will start is still unknown. Driskel sprained his ankle against Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 10. The sophomore has passed for 1,324 yards and ten touchdowns on the season.
• Miami will impose a postseason bowl-ban on itself for the second consecutive season, following an ongoing investigation as to whether players received improper benefits from a booster. The Hurricanes (6-5, 4-3) had an opportunity to play their way into the ACC Championship game and a possible BCS berth.
• Kansas State and Texas A&M quarterbacks Collin Klein and Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o are the three finalists for the Maxwell Award, which goes to the nation’s top player. The award is typically a strong predictor of the Heisman Trophy.
• Minnesota wideout A.J. Barker left the program after accusing head coach Jerry Kill and the training staff of abusive behavior. Barker claimed Kill accosted him in front of the team, questioning his ankle injury. Barker went on to say that the head coach questioned his family background. Kill has since denied the allegations. Barker was the Golden Gophers’ leading receiver, catching 30 passes for 577 yards and seven touchdowns. The junior will look to transfer for his final year of eligibility.
• College football’s winningest coach in history, St. John’s John Gagliardi, will retire at the end of the season. Gagliardi compiled 489 wins, including 465 and four national championships at the Division III University in Collegeville, Minn. Gagliardi’s career spanned over six decades. Gagliardi was the first active head coach inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.