A Guide to Betting on the Preseason

Tired of betting on baseball and bummed out that the World Cup is coming to an end? Don’t fret, because the NFL preseason gets underway in exactly three weeks. And yes, betting on the preseason is a thing.

A big thing.

In fact, according to US Bookmaking sportsbook director Robert Walker, sportsbooks take as many

Tired of betting on baseball and bummed out that the World Cup is coming to an end? Don’t fret, because the NFL preseason gets underway in exactly three weeks. And yes, betting on the preseason is a thing.

A big thing.

In fact, according to US Bookmaking sportsbook director Robert Walker, sportsbooks take as many bets on preseason NFL games as they do on most August regular-season Major League Baseball contests.

“I think it just speaks to how popular the NFL is,” said Walker, who added that the simplicity of the preseason schedule also makes it easier to bet when compared to the daily grind of Major League Baseball. “People love football, and it’s a long baseball season. I think by July and certainly by August they’re ready for football season.”

With that in mind, here are our rules for betting on the NFL preseason…

1. Don’t bet on preseason NFL games. If the 2016 Browns and 2008 Lions could go 4-0 in preseason before going 0-16, it’s a sign for smart money to stay away. But, if you absolutely can’t resist, rules two through nine can help you navigate these murky waters.

2. Don’t overthink the point spread. The winner quite frequently covers the spread because oddsmakers usually set low numbers for games that are largely unpredictable. In the first week of last year’s preseason, no team was favored by more than four points but half of those games were decided by double-digit margins.

3. Consider the coaches. Some are more motivated than others to put together strong team performances, while others are more concerned with evaluation during this time. Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh and Mike Zimmer don’t mess around in the preseason, while Mike Tomlin, Jason Garrett and Doug Marrone probably won’t go out of their way to earn a W. The problem is the oddsmakers are also very much aware of this, but it’s at least worth considering when you’re curious about a particular line.

“A lot of new coaches want to set a tone of winning in the locker room,” Walker said. “Or at least that’s how you handicap it. You listen to what they say, and it means more to some coaches than to others.”

4. Be on the ball. In the preseason it’s more important than ever to try to be a sharp. With less on the line, coaches are liable to let more cats out of the bag by elaborating on strategy and predicting playing time for starters. If you stay on top of what’s being said in the media in the lead-up to preseason games, you’ll have a chance to get an edge over the rest of the betting public and maybe even the oddsmakers.

“There are people who can ascertain information quicker than us,” Walker admitted. “The one thing about NFL football is the information is so available now, as opposed to 20 years ago.”

5. Don’t fall for lower-than-expected totals. Some totals will just look oddly low, even with the backup offense on the field most of the game. After all, backup defenders will be out there, too, right? But offenses are usually playing catch-up to a larger extent in August, which is why your average preseason game contains about five fewer points than your average regular-season affair.

6. Throw preconceived notions out the window. The Browns went 4-0 last preseason, outscoring their opponents 68-29. The Patriots went 1-3.

7. Consider betting half or quarter lines. That’ll make it easier to avoid bad beats stemming from the actions of third-stringers in second-half garbage time. This pertains particularly to bets on favorites.

As Walker notes, “You’ve got guys deciding the point spread who aren’t going to make the team.” Try to avoid that.

8. Consider depth, or lack thereof. You feel particularly well about a team’s backup quarterback or reserve pass-rushers? And you’re sure those players are going to get extensive playing time based on what’s being said in the media? Trust yourself and roll the dice there. But remember, you’re still basically shooting craps.

9. Have fun. Walker notes that while a huge number of bettors wager on preseason games, not a lot of money is spent on those bets. The limits are much lower because of the lack of predictability, which is also why you rarely see anyone attempt to place a big-money bet on an NFL game in August.

“At the end of the day you don’t really know if the team is trying to win the game,” said Walker, who ran the MGM Grand Mirage Race and Sports Book for 12 years. “So as long as I’ve been doing this nobody’s come up and asked to bet $50,000 on a preseason game, and if they did I’d probably call security.”

With less on the line, it might be easier to relax and have some fun with your bet.

“If I bet $10 on it then it makes it that much more enjoyable to watch,” said Walker. “I’m not actually worried. To me it’s like going to the movies. I’m going to have a good time and I’ve got a 50/50 chance of doubling my money.”

“It’s more fun to watch a game with $10 on it than with zero on it.

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Cardinals’ Keim suspended five weeks, fined $200K after guilty plea

Cardinals' Keim suspended five weeks, fined $200K after guilty plea

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim pleaded guilty to extreme DUI in Chandler, Ariz., on Tuesday, shortly before the team announced it has suspended Keim for five weeks and fined him $200,000.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the Cardinals have

Cardinals’ Keim suspended five weeks, fined $200K after guilty plea

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim pleaded guilty to extreme DUI in Chandler, Ariz., on Tuesday, shortly before the team announced it has suspended Keim for five weeks and fined him $200,000.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the Cardinals have been in communication with the league since the arrest and advised the NFL of disciplinary action. The league will not take further action, so there will be no further punishment under the league’s personal-conduct policy.

“As stated at the time of the incident, this behavior is indefensible and completely unacceptable,” the Cardinals said in a statement. “While Steve has accepted full accountability and responsibility for his actions, that does not diminish their gravity nor the severity of the consequences that result from them.

“Those who work within the National Football League — particularly those in leadership positions — bear a greater responsibility and are held to a higher standard than simply a legal one and we feel that these measures are reflective of that.”

According to the Chandler Police Department forensics report, Keim’s blood-alcohol content was .19 when he was arrested early on the morning of July 4, exceeding the extreme DUI benchmark of .15 and more than doubling the legal limit of .08.

A Class I misdemeanor, an extreme DUI conviction can require as many as 30 days, and no less than 24 hours, in jail, with the length of sentencing depending on probation terms.

“Once again, I apologize to everyone who has been negatively impacted by my actions and incredibly poor judgment, in particular the Cardinals, our fans and my family,” Keim said in a statement released by the team. “I fully deserve and accept the punishment that has been issued. My goal is to do everything I can to grow from this personally and help others learn from my inexcusable behavior.”

Keim was pulled over shortly after midnight on July 4 by an officer who saw his pickup truck driving fast and drifting out of its lane multiple times. According to the report, Keim declined to take a breathalyzer test and could not take field sobriety tests due to a knee injury, but he failed to sufficiently follow a light with his eyes and was arrested. A blood test revealed his BAC level.

Keim has been the Cardinals’ general manager since 2013. He recently signed an extension through the 2022 season.

–Field Level Media

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Texas goes from compliant to committed, winning with Herman

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Texas has gone from compliant to committed under coach Tom Herman, and is winning again.

When Herman appeared at Big 12 media days for the first time last summer, the Longhorns were coming off three consecutive losing seasons and he had yet to coach a game in Austin.

"We

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Texas has gone from compliant to committed under coach Tom Herman, and is winning again.

When Herman appeared at Big 12 media days for the first time last summer, the Longhorns were coming off three consecutive losing seasons and he had yet to coach a game in Austin.

“We had a lot of compliant guys, ‘yes sir’ and nod your head and do what you’re asked to do,” Herman said Tuesday in his return to the media days. “But I don’t know that really deep down (they) believed in their core that the way that we’re doing things is the only way that you can win championships.”

The Longhorns didn’t win a championship in Herman’s first season, but they finished 7-6 after a 33-16 win over Missouri in the Texas Bowl.

“Without a doubt in my mind, the belief in that locker room is there,” Herman said of the change.

While Big 12 preseason favorite Oklahoma has been to the College Football Playoff twice in the last three years, Texas is still the league’s last national champion — 13 seasons ago with quarterback Vince Young.

Only Oklahoma, West Virginia and TCU were picked ahead of the Longhorns in the preseason media poll . The Sooners and West Virginia play the day after Thanksgiving in Morgantown, a regular season finale that would be a preview of the Big 12 championship the following week if the preseason predictions pan out.

“Don’t know, never done it, and not going to think about it,” Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said when asked about possibility playing Oklahoma in consecutive weeks. “We’ve got to play Tennessee. That’s our first game.”

Texas and West Virginia are the only Big 12 teams with two non-conference games against Power Five teams. The Longhorns open at Maryland and also host USC, while WVU plays the Volunteers on the opening weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina, and later goes to North Carolina State.

The Mountaineers are going into their seventh Big 12 season, and are 27-27 in conference games since moving from the Big East.

With preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year Will Grier at quarterback and top receiver David Sills V also back, West Virginia is now considered one of the league’s favorites. Holgorsen knows that will lead to plenty of questions about handling expectations.

“We welcome expectations. Heck, you want ’em to talk about you,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t care where you’re picked. Doesn’t matter, there’s pressure everywhere, pressure to live up to the expectations or pressure to create expectations, and I think our guys are old. I think our coaching staff has tremendous continuity, been around.”

Grier, the former Florida quarterback, threw for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns at WVU before breaking the middle finger on his throwing hand when diving for the end zone in the 11th game last season. Sills had 60 catches for 980 yards and a nation-best 18 touchdowns.

Bill Snyder is going into his 27th season overall at Kansas State, and the 10th since his return after a three-year “retirement.” He will turn 79 in October.

“Am I surprised he’s still coaching? No, I’m not,” said Mike Gundy, the former Oklahoma State quarterback going into his 14th season as the Cowboys coach. “I will be surprised when he’s not coaching. … The everyday operation or game-day approach with his team is very similar to what it was when I competed against him as a player in 1989.”

Going into only his second season, Herman believes the culture he has tried to establish is already “fully ingrained” in the current players.

Herman, the offensive coordinator for Ohio State’s national championship team four years ago before two seasons as Houston’s head coach, expressed excitement about retaining all his staff, as well as the addition of a top recruiting class. There was also very limited roster attrition, and the Longhorns have two older quarterbacks with experience in Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele.

“We had a tremendous amount of growth last season,” Herman said. “Although our record was not up to the championship expectations that we have at the University of Texas. I think that anybody that has watched us play, anybody that’s been around our program, understands that we’re playing harder, we’re playing more physical, we’re playing more cohesive than our program has in quite some time.”

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Report: Musburger to be Raiders’ radio announcer

Report: Musburger to be Raiders' radio announcer

Legendary announcer Brent Musburger will return to the announcer's booth to call Oakland Raiders games on the radio this season, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal report Tuesday.

Per the report, Musburger agreed to a three-year deal to take over play-by-play duties on

Report: Musburger to be Raiders’ radio announcer

Legendary announcer Brent Musburger will return to the announcer’s booth to call Oakland Raiders games on the radio this season, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal report Tuesday.

Per the report, Musburger agreed to a three-year deal to take over play-by-play duties on the team’s radio broadcasts this season, which could be the Raiders’ final year in Oakland.

Greg Papa has been the voice of the Raiders since 1997, but there have been questions about his interest in following the team to Las Vegas when it moves. Per the report, Papa might not yet be aware of Musburger’s hiring.

Musburger, 79, has been based in Las Vegas since leaving ESPN in 2017 and helping start the Vegas Stats & Information Network, an outlet dedicated to one of Musburger’s longtime hobbies, sports betting. He spent 27 years with ESPN and ABC Sports after a 17-year stretch with CBS Sports, where he hosted “NFL Today” for 15 years.

VSIN operates out of the South Point resort, less than seven miles south on Interstate 15 of the site of the Raiders’ new stadium, which is scheduled to open for the 2020 season. The team is currently working on a home location for 2019, with both Oakland and Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas among the possibilities.

–Field Level Media

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Don McAuliffe, star of ’52 Michigan State title team, dies

Don McAuliffe, the star running back and captain for Michigan State's undefeated 1952 national championship team, has died. He was 90.

Son Kevin McAuliffe said his father died Saturday in La Jolla, California.

McAuliffe finished eighth in the 1952 Heisman Trophy balloting. In nine games that season, he rushed for 531 yards and

Don McAuliffe, the star running back and captain for Michigan State’s undefeated 1952 national championship team, has died. He was 90.

Son Kevin McAuliffe said his father died Saturday in La Jolla, California.

McAuliffe finished eighth in the 1952 Heisman Trophy balloting. In nine games that season, he rushed for 531 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 194 yards receiving and two more scores. He was roommates with eventual college coaches Frank Kush and Chuck Fairbanks.

Kevin said his father played in the 1953 Chicago College All-Star Game, where his team of college seniors lost to the Detroit Lions. He also played in the 1952 East-West Shrine Game.

The New York Giants drafted McAuliffe in 1950, but he never played in the NFL.

McAuliffe was born and raised in Chicago, where he played high school football and was an accomplished boxer.

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The Latest: Oklahoma State RB offsets questions elsewhere

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Latest on Big 12 football media days (all times local):

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4 p.m.

Oklahoma State Mike Gundy has plenty of questions at quarterback and receiver. He doesn't have one at running back.

Justice Hill will chase his third 1,000-yard season in three years with the Cowboys. His 1,467

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Latest on Big 12 football media days (all times local):

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4 p.m.

Oklahoma State Mike Gundy has plenty of questions at quarterback and receiver. He doesn’t have one at running back.

Justice Hill will chase his third 1,000-yard season in three years with the Cowboys. His 1,467 yards rushing last season were the most at Oklahoma State since Kendall Hunter had 1,548 in 2010.

Gundy says Hill’s “leg strength, his power, his experience playing in games, his understanding of our offense, his pass protection, all of that got considerably better,” as a sophomore. The coach says the third year is “really a year if you’re as talented as he is and you can relax and play.”

The Cowboys are trying to replace Mason Rudolph, who threw for a school-record 4,904 yards before getting drafted in the third round by Pittsburgh. Both 1,000-yard receivers from last year, James Washington and Marcell Ateman, also are gone.

Gundy says “the interesting part of that question is how well our quarterbacks can play early in the year, compared to the immaturity we have at the wide receiver spot.”

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2:45 p.m.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder brought his top two quarterbacks to Big 12 media days while several of his fellow coaches, notably Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and Tom Herman of Texas, decided against it.

Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson were two of the five quarterbacks to make the trip to the Dallas area for the annual preseason meeting with reporters.

Snyder said he saw it as “a great opportunity to imply some preseason pressure so you’ve got to practice the things you’re going to experience so there is a little bit of pressure in them being here.”

Delton and Thompson are battling for the starting job for the Wildcats and could share time.

Riley didn’t bring Kyler Murray, who was picked ninth overall by Oakland in the June baseball draft and reached a deal with the A’s that lets him play a year of football. Riley says Murray hasn’t won the job. Herman left behind Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele after they split time at the position for the Longhorns last season.

Snyder says he understands “as everybody in here does that that quarterback is under a little more scrutiny than most positions.”

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1:30 p.m.

Texas coach Tom Herman isn’t ready to say how many championship-caliber players he has on the roster going into his second season.

The 43-year-old Herman was a bit thrown by the question of how many potential All-Americans he thought he had as the Longhorns try to close the gap on rival and three-time defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma. The Sooners have made the four-team playoff two of the past three years.

Herman said on the second day of Big 12 media days Tuesday that “if I’m being honest” Texas has more impact players on defense. The Longhorns ended a three-year streak of losing seasons in Herman’s debut, and the defense often carried a sluggish offense.

Herman adds that “every coach that sits up here will tell you not enough, even the ones that are playing for and winning national championships.”

The former Houston coach said “it’s been a fantastic year since the last time we were here,” but acknowledged that 7-6 is not a good enough record for a title-chasing program.

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11 a.m.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen didn’t hesitate giving his blessing to a Heisman Trophy campaign for quarterback Will Grier.

The Florida transfer is the Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year, and the Mountaineers hope will become the conference’s second straight Heisman-winning quarterback following Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.

Holgorsen said on the final day of Big 12 media days Tuesday that he “would never approve a campaign unless I felt like a player can handle it.”

Grier is the only returning QB among the top six passers in the Big 12 last season. He threw for 3,490 yards with 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his first season for West Virginia after sitting out a year.

Grier’s season ended in the first quarter of the 11th game against Texas because of a hand injury.

Holgorsen says spring football showed the game slowing down for Grier and that he “knows that he’s got a lot of good players around him and that he doesn’t have to go out there and be Superman.”

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9 a.m.

Tom Herman returns to Big 12 football media days as a winner with Texas.

Herman and the Longhorns are among the five teams that will take part Tuesday to wrap up Big 12 media days.

When Herman was on the podium in Frisco for the first time last summer, the Longhorns were coming off three consecutive losing seasons and he hadn’t yet coached a game for them.

Texas lost the first and last games of its regular season, but finished 7-6 after a 33-16 win over Missouri in the Texas Bowl.

West Virginia, with preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year quarterback Will Grier, will also be featured Tuesday, along with Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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The Latest: Mullen holding Gators accountable for behavior

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on SEC Media Days (all times local):

5 p.m.

Florida coach Dan Mullen believes his team has improved its behavior accountability since he took charge of the program eight months ago.

"Every day we talk about decision making — how that decision is going to affect you, how

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on SEC Media Days (all times local):

5 p.m.

Florida coach Dan Mullen believes his team has improved its behavior accountability since he took charge of the program eight months ago.

“Every day we talk about decision making — how that decision is going to affect you, how it affects your teammates, how does it affect your family, how does it affect our football program?” Mullen said Tuesday during the Southeastern Conference’s annual preseason media gathering. “We talk about that constantly for them.”

After nine seasons at Mississippi State, Mullen returned to help the Gators regain their footing. Florida won the 2006 and ’08 national titles during Mullen’s stay as offensive coordinator, but the Gators have struggled on and off the field in recent years.

They haven’t won an SEC title in 10 years, a considerable drought for a program that earned eight league championships from 1991-2008. Last year’s team went 4-7 and was further embarrassed when nine players were arrested on felony fraud charges and suspended for the season.

For running back Jordan Scarlett, the Gators’ leading rusher in 2016, and four other players who have since rejoined the team, Mullen wants the entire locker room to hold each other accountable.

“Stick up and look out for each other as a team,” Mullen said. “That’s a huge thing. If your actions are not helping us achieve those goals, we need to reevaluate your actions.”

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3:10 p.m.

First-year Arkansas coach Chad Morris has a big rebuilding job ahead after inheriting a program that went 29-34 over the last five years and is coming off a 4-8 season that led to firing of his predecessor, Bret Bielema.

The Razorbacks will begin summer camp still unsettled at quarterback. Though Morris has yet to name a front-runner, sophomore Cole Kelley is the most experienced after starting four of nine games and passing for eight touchdowns, four picks and 1,000-plus yards.

Junior Ty Storey and redshirt freshman Daulton Hyatt are next in line to push for playing time.

“I know we’ll have a great competition going on, and once we do name one, it doesn’t mean you sign a lifetime contract,” Morris said Tuesday at the Southeastern Conference’s annual preseason media gathering. “There is no lifetime contract at the quarterback position. It’s a continuous battle every day.”

Morris will deploy the same two-running back, run-first formations he used at SMU to rank eighth nationally in scoring and 12th in average total yards. He wants a fast-tempo attack similar to the one used by one of his mentors, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.

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12:30 p.m.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart says his Bulldogs aren’t afraid of the pressure to repeat last season’s success.

In his second season at Georgia, Smart took Georgia to its first Southeastern Conference championship since 2005 and a spot in the national championship game, where it lost in overtime to Alabama.

Despite losing such 2017 standouts as tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and linebacker Roquan Smith, the Bulldogs may be picked at this week’s annual gathering of SEC media to again win the SEC East and return to the conference championship game.

That’s fine with Smart, who on Tuesday said “The pressure is really a privilege. … Those are things we embrace at the University of Georgia. We can’t run from those things.”

Smart says everybody asks if he has recovered from the national championship loss to Alabama. “It’s not like I have nightmares about it,” he said, adding he hopes his players will learn from the experience.

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11:55 a.m.

Ole Miss coach Matt Luke is relieved to begin summer camp knowing that his team has moved past NCAA sanctions that included bowl bans for last season and this year.

The Rebels went 6-6 with Luke serving as an interim replacement following Hugh Freeze’s sudden resignation for personal misconduct. Luke landed the job full-time last November, getting a four-year contract worth $12.6 million three days after Ole Miss upset Mississippi State.

NCAA sanctions came a few days later. Ole Miss is still waiting an appeal on this year’s bowl ban, but Luke has noticed an uptick in interest in recruiting.

“I think sometimes fear of the unknown is the biggest issue, so once all the sanctions were delivered and everybody knows what you’re dealing with, you can then move forward,” Luke said Tuesday at the SEC’s annual preseason media gathering. “I think you’re seeing that on the recruiting trail.”

One of Luke’s biggest concerns is finding ways to improve the run defense, which allowed 243 yards rushing a game to rank 123rd in the nation.

“I think we have to find creative ways to load the box and make people throw it over the top to beat us,” he said.

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10:20 a.m.

SEC coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw says additional player safety rules are set for 2018. Blocking below the waist is limited to 5 yards past the line of scrimmage. Running backs, for example, are no longer allowed to dive at a defender’s knee from the side.

Pads and pants must cover knees, and if a player is in violation, he must leave the field for one play. A coach can call timeout to keep him in the game if the player immediately fixes his uniform.

The rules committee put 40-second limits in place following touchdowns, free kick returns and fair catches. Previously, a 25-second clock began after the referee signaled that the crew was ready.

And possessions will automatically start at the 25-yard line if a player executes a fair catch inside the 25 on a kickoff.

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2:50 a.m.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart will be in the spotlight when the Southeastern Conference’s annual preseason media gathering enters its second day.

After leading Georgia to the SEC championship and a spot in the national championship game in his second season, Smart is facing new challenges. The Bulldogs must replace such 2017 leaders as tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and linebacker Roquan Smith.

Meanwhile, sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm has new competition from freshman Josh Fields, one of the biggest names in Smart’s top-rated 2018 signing class.

Arkansas coach Chad Morris, Florida coach Dan Mullen and Mississippi coach Matt Luke also will speak Tuesday.

This is the first year since 1985 the SEC Media Days have been held outside of the Birmingham, Alabama, area.

The annual event brings together coaches and players from the league’s 14 schools. This year approximately 1,000 media credentials have been issued.

The event will return to Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham, in 2019.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Rams sign WR Cooks to five-year, $80M extension

Rams sign WR Cooks to five-year, $80M extension

The Los Angeles Rams announced a five-year extension for wide receiver Brandin Cooks on Tuesday, putting him under contract through the 2023 season.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but ESPN reports it is worth $80 million over the five years

Rams sign WR Cooks to five-year, $80M extension

The Los Angeles Rams announced a five-year extension for wide receiver Brandin Cooks on Tuesday, putting him under contract through the 2023 season.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but ESPN reports it is worth $80 million over the five years of the extension, bringing the total to around $88.5 million over six seasons.

Cooks, whom the Rams acquired from the New England Patriots this spring for a first-round pick and a swap of later-round picks, was entering the $8.5 million fifth-year option of his rookie contract.

The $16 million average of the extension ties Cooks for fourth among all NFL wideouts with Sammy Watkins, whom Cooks replaced in L.A. after Watkins joined the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency. The $14.75 million average — including Cooks’ 2018 salary — would rank seventh among wideouts.

“Just want to say I’m excited and blessed to be here for the next six years,” Cooks said in a video posted by the Rams on Twitter. “I look forward to making a lot of memories with you guys. Go Rams!”

Yet to turn 25 as he enters his fifth NFL season, Cooks topped 1,000 yards for the third consecutive year in 2017, finishing with 65 grabs for 1,082 yards and seven scores in 16 games (15 starts).

Cooks spent his first three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, who took him 20th overall in the 2014 draft, before being traded to the Patriots in a package that included a first-round pick. He has 280 receptions for 3,943 yards and 27 touchdowns in 58 games (47 starts) across four seasons.

The Rams also have been making an effort to re-sign reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, who is entering the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. He is expected to become the highest-paid defender in football whenever a deal gets done, but he is not expected to attend training camp until that happens.

Los Angeles also has defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, franchise-tagged safety Lamarcus Joyner and starting offensive linemen Rodger Saffold and Rob Havenstein entering the final year of their contracts. Joyner will play out the 2018 season on his $11.3 million franchise tender after the sides failed to reach a long-term agreement before Monday’s deadline.

–Field Level Media

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The Latest: K-State’s Snyder bucks Big 12 trend, brings QBs

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Latest on Big 12 football media days (all times local):

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2:45 p.m.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder brought his top two quarterbacks to Big 12 media days while several of his fellow coaches, notably Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley and Tom Herman of Texas, decided against it.

Alex Delton

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Latest on Big 12 football media days (all times local):

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2:45 p.m.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder brought his top two quarterbacks to Big 12 media days while several of his fellow coaches, notably Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and Tom Herman of Texas, decided against it.

Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson were two of the five quarterbacks to make the trip to the Dallas area for the annual preseason meeting with reporters.

Snyder said he saw it as “a great opportunity to imply some preseason pressure so you’ve got to practice the things you’re going to experience so there is a little bit of pressure in them being here.”

Delton and Thompson are battling for the starting job for the Wildcats and could share time.

Riley didn’t bring Kyler Murray, who was picked ninth overall by Oakland in the June baseball draft and reached a deal with the A’s that lets him play a year of football. Riley says Murray hasn’t won the job. Herman left behind Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele after they split time at the position for the Longhorns last season.

Snyder says he understands “as everybody in here does that that quarterback is under a little more scrutiny than most positions.”

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1:30 p.m.

Texas coach Tom Herman isn’t ready to say how many championship-caliber players he has on the roster going into his second season.

The 43-year-old Herman was a bit thrown by the question of how many potential All-Americans he thought he had as the Longhorns try to close the gap on rival and three-time defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma. The Sooners have made the four-team playoff two of the past three years.

Herman said on the second day of Big 12 media days Tuesday that “if I’m being honest” Texas has more impact players on defense. The Longhorns ended a three-year streak of losing seasons in Herman’s debut, and the defense often carried a sluggish offense.

Herman adds that “every coach that sits up here will tell you not enough, even the ones that are playing for and winning national championships.”

The former Houston coach said “it’s been a fantastic year since the last time we were here,” but acknowledged that 7-6 is not a good enough record for a title-chasing program.

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11 a.m.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen didn’t hesitate giving his blessing to a Heisman Trophy campaign for quarterback Will Grier.

The Florida transfer is the Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year, and the Mountaineers hope will become the conference’s second straight Heisman-winning quarterback following Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.

Holgorsen said on the final day of Big 12 media days Tuesday that he “would never approve a campaign unless I felt like a player can handle it.”

Grier is the only returning QB among the top six passers in the Big 12 last season. He threw for 3,490 yards with 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his first season for West Virginia after sitting out a year.

Grier’s season ended in the first quarter of the 11th game against Texas because of a hand injury.

Holgorsen says spring football showed the game slowing down for Grier and that he “knows that he’s got a lot of good players around him and that he doesn’t have to go out there and be Superman.”

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9 a.m.

Tom Herman returns to Big 12 football media days as a winner with Texas.

Herman and the Longhorns are among the five teams that will take part Tuesday to wrap up Big 12 media days.

When Herman was on the podium in Frisco for the first time last summer, the Longhorns were coming off three consecutive losing seasons and he hadn’t yet coached a game for them.

Texas lost the first and last games of its regular season, but finished 7-6 after a 33-16 win over Missouri in the Texas Bowl.

West Virginia, with preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year quarterback Will Grier, will also be featured Tuesday, along with Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

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Clemson using Tide loss as motivation heading into fall camp

SUNSET, S.C. (AP) — Clemson's disappointing loss in the College Football Playoff to Alabama last January is never far from players' minds as they prepare for the upcoming season.

"It definitely helps," kicker Greg Huegel said of the setback. "It's something in the back of your mind to help you push through."

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SUNSET, S.C. (AP) — Clemson’s disappointing loss in the College Football Playoff to Alabama last January is never far from players’ minds as they prepare for the upcoming season.

“It definitely helps,” kicker Greg Huegel said of the setback. “It’s something in the back of your mind to help you push through.”

If that’s the case, the Tigers have received plenty of motivation from the Crimson Tide the past few seasons.

After coming close in a 47-42 loss to Alabama in the national title game following the 2015 season, the Tigers bounced back the next year with a thrilling, 35-31 win in a CFP championship rematch.

Part three of the playoff drama took place this past New Year’s Day with Alabama defenders accounting for a pair of third-quarter TDs to break out of a tight game on the way to a 24-6 defeat.

It may be Clemson’s time to rally from a playoff loss.

“They’ll be reminded of the shortcomings,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said about Clemson players on Tuesday. “We don’t want to focus on the disappointments, but we also have make sure that we own them, that we’re honest about them.”

Most of Clemson’s problems last year came on offense where new quarterback starter Kelly Bryant showed poise and toughness on the ground, but inconsistency through the air.

The Tigers finished with 3,297 yards passing, their fewest in a season since 2010.

Bryant was battered by ‘Bama , held to 124 yards passing and forced into two costly interceptions.

It’s an experience the rising senior has worked to overcome this offseason, according to quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter.

Streeter challenged Bryant to grow as a leader and not to let him take a backseat to more experienced players. They’ve also worked on quicker reads and improvement on identifying coverages to take advantage when the defense lets open receivers through.

Kelly will be pushed this August by freshman Trevor Lawrence, an early enrollee who surpassed the Georgia prep records for total yards and touchdowns of Clemson’s national championship hero Deshaun Watson.

The challenges only make Bryant dig in harder to come out on top, his position coach said.

“When Kelly’s back is against the wall, he always seems to get better,” Streeter said.

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney does not want to dwell on their latest season-ending loss, his second in three CFP meetings against the Crimson Tide.

“We learn from it. It’s disappointing at the time,” Swinney said. “But a lot of those guys aren’t here anymore. It’s a new team with new challenges.”

Swinney, defensive end Clelin Ferrell and left tackle Mitch Hyatt will appear at Atlantic Coast Conference media days in Charlotte, North Carolina, which start Wednesday.

Right guard Sean Pollard, a junior this fall, believes his teammates must focus more on correcting the mistakes they made against Alabama instead of the final result.

“It motivated us a lot, but I don’t think it’s all about that loss. It’s about what we did wrong,” Pollard said. “We played and Alabama was better that night. It definitely fuels the fire. We’re all a bunch of older guys and we all know what it takes to get to the top of the mountain.”

Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell said the coaching staff has broken down the mistakes from the CFP loss and corrected what they could during spring. drills They also sent their players off with specific guidelines on how to improve heading into fall camp on Aug. 3.

Elliott, the running backs coach along with sharing the coordinator spot with Jeff Scott, felt the disappointment of not having an answer against Alabama’s defense last winter.

He’s certain the players — the Tigers return 15 of 22 starters from last year’s ACC champions — still feel that frustration, too, and will channel it into perhaps a fourth consecutive College Football Playoff meeting with Alabama.

And maybe another bounce back national crown forged from a disappointing loss.

“I think you saw a lot of guys decide to come back because they had some unfinished business,” he said. “It be unfair to say yet that we’ll have the same (championship) result, but there are a lot of similarities.”

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Cowboys’ Gregory conditionally reinstated by NFL

Cowboys' Gregory conditionally reinstated by NFL

Defensive end Randy Gregory of the Dallas Cowboys has been reinstated by the NFL on a conditional basis, the league announced Tuesday.

Under the terms of the reinstatement, Gregory may rejoin Dallas at training camp and take part in meetings and conditioning sessions.

Cowboys’ Gregory conditionally reinstated by NFL

Defensive end Randy Gregory of the Dallas Cowboys has been reinstated by the NFL on a conditional basis, the league announced Tuesday.

Under the terms of the reinstatement, Gregory may rejoin Dallas at training camp and take part in meetings and conditioning sessions.

Gregory was suspended without pay in January 2017 for a third time for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. That came after a pair of suspensions kept him off the field for 14 games during the 2016 season.

The NFL said once it verifies he has made arrangements for “clinical resources” in Dallas, he will be eligible to take part in all team activities, including practices and games.

He must continue to comply with the terms of his reinstatement and the NFL-NFLPA Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse.

The Cowboys selected Gregory, now 25, in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft from Nebraska. He hasn’t played since the final week of the 2016 season.

In 2015 and 2016, he combined for 20 tackles and one sack.

The January 2017 suspension was for a minimum of one year.

–Field Level Media

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