Manning Award releases watch list

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We’ll take a break for just a brief minute or two from the “As the Aggies Turn” soap opera to bring you word of yet another preseason watch list being released.

Handed out annually since 2004, the Manning Award honors the nation’s top quarterback at the Div. 1-A level.  This year’s preseason watch list consists of 31 players.

Included in that list are five of the finalists for the 2010 award: Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Boise State’s Kellen Moore, Michigan’s Denard Robinson, Oregon’s Darron Thomas and Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden.

Tennessee’s Tyler Bray, Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez (no relation), Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Troy’s Corey Robinson are the only sophomores on the preseason list.

The Manning Award is named in honor of the three quarterbacking Mannings: Archie, Peyton and Eli.  Last year’s winner was Auburn’s Cam Newton.

Below is the full list of Manning preseason watch listers:

Matt Barkley, JR, USC
Tyler Bray, SO, Tennessee
Alex Carder, JR, Western Michigan
Zach Collaros, SR, Cincinnati
Kirk Cousins, SR, Michigan State
Austin Davis, SR, Southern Miss
Dominique Davis, SR, East Carolina
Nick Foles, JR, Arizona
Robert Griffin III, JR, Baylor
Chandler Harnish, SR, Northern Illinois
Landry Jones, JR, Oklahoma
Case Keenum, SR, Houston
G.J. Kinne, JR, Tulsa
Ryan Lindley, SR, San Diego State
Andrew Luck, JR, Stanford
Taylor Martinez, SO, Nebraska
Bryant Moniz, SR, Hawaii
Kellen Moore, SR, Boise State
Aaron Murray, SO, Georgia
Danny O’Brien, SO, Maryland
Kyle Padron, JR, SMU
Dan Persa, SR, Northwestern
Chris Relf, SR, Mississippi State
Corey Robinson, SO, Troy
Denard Robinson, JR, Michigan
Geno Smith, JR, West Virginia
Tino Sunseri, JR, Pittsburgh
Ryan Tannehill, SR, Texas A&M
Darren Thomas, JR, Oregon
Brandon Weeden, SR, Oklahoma State
Jordan Wynn, JR, Utah

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.