It’s been a few weeks coming, but Georgia State will officially join the Sun Belt beginning in the 2013-14 academic year, the school announced today.
“On behalf of the presidents and chancellors of the member institutions of the Sun Belt Conference, I am pleased to welcome Georgia State University home to the league that it helped start in 1976,” said Sun Belt Conference President and Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins in a statement. “The Sun Belt Conference has never been stronger athletically, academically or financially, and today we took action that makes us even stronger. For the Sun Belt Conference– the best is yet to be!”
Georgia State was a founding member of the Sun Belt Conference, but left the conference in 1981. The school began play in football in 2010 under head coach Bill Curry.
“The addition of Georgia State to the Sun Belt Conference provides further strength for our league and is the beginning of a new era for GSU that will unquestionably be a time of great success for the Panther athletic program,” added Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson. “We strongly believe that the addition of GSU will continue to help the Sun Belt Conference in its rise to prominence.”
The move has been worked through the rumor mill for the past several weeks. Upon taking over as SBC commissioner in February Benson said expansion would be one of his first priorities. Less than a week later, GSU announced it had hired a consulting group to explore the feasibility of a FBS jump. GSU is currently a member of the Colonial Athletic Association at the FCS level.
The announcement also comes as Conference USA and the Mountain West are exploring a merger. Though no official announcement has been made on that front, the MWC’s cable channel, “The Mtn”, has closed. A newly merged conference between C-USA and the MWC could also expand; several Sun Belt schools are expected to be targets of that expansion, including Middle Tennessee, FIU and North Texas.
Sun Belt member FAU said late last month it has not received an invite to any new conference.
Surprisingly, Mike Riley has a self-made hole on his Nebraska coaching staff.
In a move that wasn’t on most if any radars, Hank Hughes will not return in 2016 as NU’s defensive line coach, Riley revealed Friday. No reason was given for the the departure of the assistant.
“I want to thank Hank for his hard work and contributions to our football program over the past year,” Riley said in a statement. “We continue to build our program with the pursuit of championships always at the forefront of everything we do, and we will look for a great coach, teacher and recruiter to enhance our defense.”
Regardless of the reason or reasons — and the fact that Riley made certain to note that a replacement would be “a great coach, teacher and recruiter” points to at least a couple — it wasn’t an expected development. From the Lincoln Journal Star:
There was no sign of such a move Thursday night, with Hughes present at the Big Red Bash that celebrated the 2016 recruiting class.
Hughes had just completed his first season with the Cornhuskers. Additionally, it was his first season as an assistant on a Riley-led coaching staff.
As the Journal Star notes, Hughes was in the midst of a two-year deal that was to pay him $300,000 annually.
If Roquan Smith is to win a starting linebacking job as some project, he’ll have to do so coming from behind.
Georgia confirmed in a press release Friday that the linebacker underwent successful surgery last month to repair a damaged wrist. As a result, Smith (pictured, No. 3) will be sideline for all of the 15 spring practice sessions that will commence next month.
The good news is that, according to UGA director of sports medicine Ron Courson, “[a] full recovery is anticipated and he [is] expected to fully participate in summer workouts.” Additionally, there should be no limitations placed on Smith’s participation in summer camp that will kick off the beginning of August.
Smith was a four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 77 recruit overall according to Rivals.com. He was one of the highest-rated players in UGA’s class.
As a true freshman, Smith played in 12 games. He was named as one of the football program’s five Newcomers of the Year following the 2015 season.
As the assistant coach shuffle continues in college football, Boston College is welcoming back a familiar face to the sidelines. Paul Pasqualoni has officially been added to the assistant coaching staff as a defensive line coach. Pasqualoni spent the 2015 football season working as a defensive line coach for the NFL’s Houston Texans. He brings plenty of coaching experience with a 43-year career in the football coaching world, including head coaching stints with Syracuse and UConn.
“It is a great thrill for me to announce the addition of Paul Pasqualoni as the defensive line coach at Boston College,” Boston College head coach Steve Addazio said in a released statement. Addazio started his coaching career as an assistant on Pasqualoni’s Western Connecticut State coaching staff. “His experience, passion for the game, high integrity and knowledge of Boston College and of New England football will be a tremendous asset to our program and to this university.”
Boston College also announced the addition of Rich Gunnell, a former Boston College wide receiver, as a wide receivers coach. Gunnell graduated from Boston College in 2009 after registering 181 receptions for 2,459 yards and 18 touchdowns and serving as a team captain during his college career. He joins BC after two years as a high school head coach in Framingham, Massachusetts.
“It is a dream come true to coach at the school that I played for, was a captain for, did my graduate assistant work at and will work with the exact position that I played,” Gunnell said. “I couldn’t be happier and I feel like I am back at home. Boston College is a small, close-knit community. This place helped mold me into the person that I am today and many of the people who were there when I was in school are still here today. I am just excited to be back around the same people.”
Addazio made a couple of other internal coaching moves with his staff as well. Tight ends coach Frank Leonard has been promoted to assistant head coach and Al Washington will move from special teams coordinator to defensive line coach.
The college football career of Oregon running back Thomas Tyner has come to an unceremonious end. Oregon has announced Tyner has taken a medical retirement from football, a year after missing the entire 2015 season due to a shoulder injury.
“We thank Thomas and wish him well,” Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said. “We will continue to support his efforts to graduate from the University of Oregon.”
Tyner was a five-star recruit for Oregon in the Class of 2013. The Beaverton, Oregon native was the top-rated recruit in that recruiting class, which also included offensive lineman Evan Voeller and four-star athletes Tyrell Robinson and Tyree Robinson.
“Thank you for all the support over the years,” Tyner said in a brief statement posted on his Twitter account Friday. “Couldn’t have been more blessed to have been party of such a great community, I have the [utmost] respect for the staff and my teammates. Now it’s time to get in the books and finish up in school. Much love to you all and Go Ducks!”
Tyner rushed for 711 yards and nine touchdowns in his freshman season and 573 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore before a midseason injury put him on the sideline for five games. He returned for Oregon’s College Football Playoff run and rushed for 124 yards against Florida State in the Rose Bowl semifinal game before rushing for 62 yards against Ohio State in the national championship game at the end of the 2014 season. Tyner missed the entire 2015 season, which led to Royce Freeman taking on the leading rusher role for the Ducks.
It would have been fun to watch Oregon run with Tyner and freeman, but alas sometimes health concerns have an unfortunate knack for taking a talented player out of the game, and that just stinks.