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Nathan Peterman states his case for the No. 2 spot in Buffalo

The former Panther saw his first NFL action Thursday

Former Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman made his NFL debut in the Buffalo Bills’ 17-10 preseason loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night.

While he only completed 52 percent of his passes, he got the bulk of the playing time under center. He also happened to score the team’s only touchdown when he lobbed a beauty of a pass to the corner of the end zone for wide receiver Dezmin Lewis in the fourth quarter.

If that wasn’t enough, he also ran for 26 yards on four carries and was the only Bills quarterback to avoid getting sacked.

When all was said and done, Peterman had thrown for 112 yards and earned a quarterback rating of 77.4, which was just shy of Tyrod Taylor’s 78.1 and an improvement on T.J. Yates’ 65.7. That’s a decent result, considering this was Peterman’s first game and the Vikings defense ranked third in the NFL against the pass last season.

Coming into the game, Peterman had been battling with Yates for second-string status behind Taylor. Yates was the presumed No. 2 on the depth chart when he was brought in, since he played under Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison in Houston and is entering his seventh season in the league. However, the battle has gotten a bit more complicated.

Peterman was practicing with the Bills’ second team on July 29, according to Kyle Silagyi of Bills Wire. By Monday, Joe Buscaglia of WKBW reported that Peterman’s second-team reps had significantly diminished, making him the likely third-stringer.

In addition to that, Dennison gave his take on Peterman during a press conference that same day, and although much of it was complimentary, one line stood out above the rest.

“His progression is a lot like T.J.’s when he was a rookie,” he said.

Aside from that being something of a backhanded compliment, it also revealed exactly how Dennison envisioned the pecking order for his group of quarterbacks at that time.

With that said, Peterman’s performance Thursday night may have given Dennison something to think about, and he’ll get a chance to prove himself against softer defenses than Minnesota’s in the Bills’ next three preseason outings.

If you’re a fan of Peterman, this is relevant because Taylor has yet to play a full 16-game season in his career, meaning his backup may actually see some meaningful playing time.

Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott suspended by NFL for 6 games

The NFL announced on Friday that it is suspending Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

>> Read more trending news

A yearlong investigation into allegations that Elliott assaulted a former girlfriend in 2016 led to the decision, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. During that time, Elliott was involved in a number of incidents that also contributed to the suspension.

Elliott was videotaped pulling down a woman’s top at a bar in Dallas during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Last month, Elliott was also involved in another incident at a Dallas bar.

Though he was not arrested or charged with a crime in either incident, the NFL decided to look at the “accumulation of behaviors” while conducting its investigation. That shift in the nature of the investigation gave the NFL more wide-ranging authority to discipline the Cowboys star for conduct detrimental to the league.

The Cowboys, the NFLPA and Elliott will now have the opportunity to appeal the NFL’s decision. If they are denied, they may even choose to take the matter to a higher authority.

Elliott was cleared by the Columbus, Ohio, Police Department of any wrongdoing in the alleged domestic violence case because it considered the witness to be unreliable. The alleged incident also occurred before Elliott was selected in the 2016 NFL draft.

However, both bar incidents occurred this past offseason and have established a pattern of behavior the NFL is deeming unacceptable.

Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had cameo on ‘Game of Thrones’

New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard threw a different kind of strike Sunday night.

>> Read more trending news

The right-hander had a cameo role as a Lannister soldier on “Game of Thrones,” and Syndergaard showed off his arm strength with a deadly spear toss during a surprise attack against his army, USA Today reported.

Syndergaard has been sidelined with a torn latissimus in his right arm, reported in June. 

The New York Post reported in March that Syndergaard flew to Spain and took part in the filming, but it was uncertain when the pitcher would appear on the show.

2017 College Football Playoffs Revenue

How much money is at stake for the ACC?

Recently, the College Football Playoff Committee released its annual revenue distribution plan for the 2017-18 season. When you factor in the Orange Bowl contract, the ACC is guaranteed at least $81.5 million, but could realistically split over $100 million.

2017-18 CFP Payouts

There is quite a bit of money at stake in the postseason, and the ACC would certainly like to get a slice of that pie! Here are some highlights of the projected revenue distribution numbers from the official College Football Playoff website. College Football Playoff Revenue Distribution Policies (The following estimates of the CFP revenue distribution are based on preliminary calculations for the 2017-18 season and are only approximate projections of potential revenue distribution from each component):

Each conference will receive $300,000 for each member school who’s football team meets the NCAA’s APR for participation in a post-season football game.

Conferences that have contracts for their champions to participate in the Orange, Rose or Sugar Bowl will receive a base amount of approximately $54 million.

A conference will receive $6 million for each team that is selected for the semifinal games. There will be no additional distribution to conferences whose teams qualify for the national championship game.

A conference will receive $4 million for each team that plays in a non-playoff bowl under the arrangement (in 2017-18, the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach Bowls).

Each conference whose team participates in a playoff semifinal, Cotton, Fiesta or Peach Bowl, or in the national championship game will receive $2.25 million to cover expenses for each game.

source: College Football Playoff Revenue Distribution Policies

Thus, if every ACC team meets the minimum APR requirements (likely) and there is at least one ACC team in the playoffs (likely), one in the Orange Bowl (guaranteed), and a third in a New Year's Six "Access" Bowl (plausible), then the conference will receive:

* presumably the travel expense reimbursements will be passed on to the participating team, but I show it here simply for completeness.

So payout plus travel reimbursement is worth $8.25 million for a semi-final game, $6.25 million for a non-playoff NY6 bowl.

BOTTOM LINE: Big bowl games are big business for college football teams. Let me put this in basketball terms... each team the ACC places into the College Football Playoffs is comparable to having a team make it all the way to the Final Four in basketball. Each team in a New Year's Six "Access" Bowl is like a team that makes it to the Elite Eight. Yes, the competition is stiff - but the payouts are very, very good.

New England Patriots buy two Boeing 767 planes for away games; first NFL team to do so

The New England Patriots will be flying in style to NFL games this fall.

ESPN reported that the Patriots have bought two Boeing 767 wide-body jets. They are the first NFL team to buy their own planes to fly to games.

>> Read more trending news

Airlines are in the process of retiring the bigger planes, which are near a point at which they require more money to meet current Federal Aviation Administration requirements, making them cost-prohibitive

The planes have been restyled to have all first-class seats, some of which completely recline. Emblazoned on the outside of at least one of the planes is a giant team logo on the body and five Lombardi trophies on the tail.

The team confirmed the news on Twitter.

Stacey James, Patriots spokesperson, confirmed that one plane will be used as the main plane for the season, while the other will serve as a backup.

When the planes are not being used, the team will rent them out.

New to the Zoo: Kenechukwu Chukwuka commits to Pitt

Pitt adds a late player for this season.

Dreams do come true— Kenechukwu Chukwuka (@kene_96) August 8, 2017

Pitt added a late player for the 2017 recruiting class this afternoon, as Kenechukwu Chukwuka committed to the Panthers. He is a 6’9” forward that played for New Mexico Junior College this season. Chukwuka actually recently reclassified to this year, and will have three years of eligibility.

Since his reclassification, he was flooded with a slew of offers, albeit mostly mid-major programs. Chukwuka chose Pitt over the likes of New Mexico State, Eastern Michigan, and Iona along with a few others.

Kenechukwu Chukwuka is a native of Sweden, and plays a Euro-style of game. He shows the ability to hit shots outside of the paint, and can spot up for three-pointers. Here is a better look at his game.

Chukwuka did not have a highly productive freshman season for New Mexico JC, as he only averaged 3.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Still, he managed to pick up 11 scholarship offers a few weeks ago, so there must be optimism that he can grow into a productive player.

So that’s it. Pitt has 13 scholarship players believe it or not. I have to give Stallings and his staff credit, trying to find 11 new players in one recruiting cycle is borderline ridiculous. We’ll see how it all comes together, some of the new recruits look pretty good, while others seem like projects. This basketball season does not have a lot of promise, but with a lot of young guys in the fold, it will be worth monitoring to see if they struck gold on any of their recruiting endeavors.

Cardiac Hill Poll of the Week: Gauging Excitement Levels for 2017

Pitt's football season is only a few weeks away. The Panthers have had two solid eight-win seasons under head coach Pat Narduzzi and we're finally moving into a phase where he's going to have a good chunk of his own players on the roster.

Expectations seem pretty low this year as a whole. The schedule is strong with non-conference games against ranked Penn State and Oklahoma State teams. Pitt is also dealing with some suspensions, too. As if all of that wasn't enough, the Panthers are trying to replace five NFL Draft picks and breaking in a new quarterback.

From a home field standpoint, I'm also not sure how exciting the schedule is. Oklahoma State is a draw but there's no real rivalry there. Miami and North Carolina, two of the better teams on it, are at the very end. If Pitt is struggling by then, there won't be much luster on those games. Youngstown State and Rice are fillers and North Carolina State and Virginia don't do much as far as drawing fans, either. Most of that isn't really Pitt's fault but, without going on a tangent, it's why I said back when they signed the Oklahoma State series that West Virginia made more sense. Can you imagine both West Virginia and Penn State on the schedule this year? A home game against the Mountaineers would be a much bigger draw.

2018 seems like the year for more optimism, but what say you about 2017? I think we're all excited to some degree about football season but are the expectations/off-field issues/home schedule dampening your enthusiasm a bit?

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.
Poll How excited are you for the Pitt football season this year? Practically camping out at Heinz Field already Very excited Excited Somewhat excited Meh   1 votes | Results

Pitt Football Training Camp: Texas Transfer Brandon Hodges competing for spot on the Panthers' offensive line

Last month, a surprise late addition to the 2017 Pitt football roster was made with the news that former Texas starter Brandon Hodges was transferring to the Panthers with immediate eligibility.

I wrote at the time that Hodges should have a strong chance to start since it would make little sense for him to come here if he didn't when he could go elsewhere and do that. At the very least, he would get considerable playing time. Hodges is just getting his feet wet with the team but by the sound of things, starting is a real possibility.

Brian O'Neill, the de facto leader of the offensive line, was impressed with him today in camp. "I think that he's going to come in and give us a game-ready option right now," O'Neill said. "He looked really good out there today."

O'Neill was asked about Hodges some more and added to his earlier assessment. "He's done a great job so far of picking up stuff," said O'Neill. "He's picked up stuff really quickly, so we're really happy about that and he's done a great job for us.  I'm excited about what he can do because that's an extra addition that we didn't have in the spring or summer. Some guys have to pony-up and see what they can do."

Hodges can play guard but Pitt looks slightly more set there with experienced starters Alex Bookser and Alex Officer. Now, Pitt could have kept Officer at center and that would have opened up a spot at guard for Hodges. But Officer has moved to guard and the team is breaking in a new center with either Connor Dintino or Jimmy Morrissey. Part of me wonders if they would have went with that plan if they knew that Hodges was coming sooner. Regardless of that, though, if Hodges is going to start, his best possibility would seem to be at right tackle where the Panthers have been relying on Jaryd Jones-Smith, who has only four career starts.

Another possibility for Hodges would be to start for Bookser, who is suspended in the first game, and see where that goes. Maybe he remains a guard or maybe he moves to tackle. Heck, maybe he plays both all year.

But as I said, even if he doesn't start, he should see plenty of playing time. You just don't get guys of that caliber to transfer to your program to ride the bench.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Former MLB star Don Baylor dies at 68

Former major-league baseball star Don Baylor died Monday morning after a long struggle with multiple myeloma. He was 68.

>> Read more trending news

Baylor died at 4:25 a.m. Monday at St. David’s South Hospital in his native Austin, Texas, his son confirmed to the Austin American-Statesman.

Baylor graduated from Austin High School as one of the first African-Americans to attend the school and the very first to play baseball and football for the school.

He played 19 seasons in the major leagues and was a feared power hitter who was known for crowding the plate and taking a pitch -- lots of them. He was hit a then-record 267 times, an example of his toughness and fearless style.

Baylor would have become the first black player in University of Texas history but for his decision to turn down a scholarship offer from legendary coach Darrell Royal to pursue a career in baseball.

Baylor played for six different American League teams -- most notably the California Angels -- but also the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A’s, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. Following his playing career, he became manager for the expansion Colorado Rockies with a six-year stint and later managed the Chicago Cubs for three seasons.

He was drafted by Baltimore in the second round of the 1967 Major Leagues free agent draft and reached the majors in short fashion, making the club in 1970.

Little League softball team ejected from World Series over offensive Snapchat photo

The Little League International Tournament Committee disqualified the Atlee Little League softball team of Mechanicsville, Virginia, for unsportsmanlike conduct only a few hours before they were set to appear at the Junior League World Series. The decision resulted from a Snapchat picture featuring the players making an obscene gesture toward a rival team from Kirkland, Washington.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Atlee manager Scott Currie was made aware of the picture after it was posted. Though it was deleted soon after, he arranged for his players to apologize to the rival team, a move that was praised by the Kirkland team manager.

>> Read more trending news

Kevin Fountain, spokesman for the Little League, confirmed the disqualification in a statement:

"After discovering a recent inappropriate social media post involving members of Atlee Little League’s Junior League Softball tournament team, the Little League International Tournament Committee has removed the Southeast Region from the 2017 Junior League Softball World Series for violation of Little League’s policies regarding unsportsmanlike conduct, inappropriate use of social media, and the high standard that Little League International holds for all its participants."

The decision to disqualify the girls has since been criticized as an overreaction in Forbes and the Times-Dispatch.

“It’s a travesty for these girls,” said Currie. “Yes, they screwed up, but I don’t think the punishment fit the crime.”

“We are deeply disappointed this social media post did not reflect the core values of Little League International or Atlee Little League,” wrote Jamie Batten, president of Atlee Little League.

Chris Mardigian, coach for the Atlee team, suggested that the move was retaliation, as the girls were responding to some hostilities in their game against Kirkland. During last week’s game, a Kirkland player and coach were ejected at various parts of the game for their conduct.

Batten’s statement, published in the Times-Dispatch, reflected Mardigian’s sentiments:

"We expect Little League International will take the time to fully investigate the matter, and we will comply with this investigation by providing all information about unpleasant interactions including the social media post and the time leading up to that event — not all of which were on the part of those on the Atlee softball team."

He said there was a desire “to protect youth who are recipients of inappropriate behavior both on and off the field,” adding, “We take very seriously our charge to impart the value of good sportsmanship.”

Read more here.

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