It’s official: Alabama vs. WVU in ’14 Kickoff Game

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Last night, Ben noted that Nick Saban recently mentioned the possibility of his current school and the flagship university of his home state squaring off in the 2014 season opener in the state of Georgia.

Today, Alabama-West Virginia in two years officially became a reality.

In a press release sent out Thursday evening, it was confirmed that the Mountaineers will square off with the Tide in the 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.  The game will be played in the Georgia Dome on Saturday, Aug. 30.  No time has been set, although there’s little doubt the game will be broadcast in prime time.

“The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is an outstanding event and we look forward to opening the 2014 season in Atlanta,” said Saban (pictured) in a statement. “Gary Stokan and his staff do a great job in hosting this game and the atmosphere in the Georgia Dome has been like a BCS bowl game in our previous experiences there. The exposure for our football players and our program is tremendous and it is a great experience for our fans. This will be the sixth time we have played a non-conference game at a neutral site, and the fourth time at Atlanta.

“I believe that playing an opponent that has the national reputation that West Virginia does, one of the top programs in the country, provides a great challenge for our players and gives us something to look forward to in the offseason. We are privileged at the University of Alabama to be a part of what has become a great tradition in college football with first-class organizations like the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the City of Atlanta.”

Saban grew up in Fairmont, WV, about 20 miles southwest of Morgantown.

The release states that tickets to the 2014 game will be evenly split between the two teams, creating “a true neutral-site game” despite the Georgia Dome’s location in the heart of SEC country.

The 2014 meeting will mark the first time the two schools have faced each other in football.

“Playing in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is a great opportunity for our football program and will be an exciting event for our fans,” said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen (not pictured). “Alabama is one of the top teams in college football history, and it will be a tough challenge for us.”

The Tide is 10-8-1 all-time versus Big 12 schools — WVU is moving from the Big East this year — while the Mountaineers are 24-22-2 against SEC teams.

In addition to the 2014 game, the Tide will also face Virginia Tech in the 2013 Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome.  There will be a pair of kickoff games this year: Tennessee vs. North Carolina State, Clemson vs. Auburn.

It had been previously been announced that Boise State will play Ole Miss in the second game of the 2014 Chick-fil-A doubleheader.

Illinois QB Jeff George Jr. moving on as graduate transfer

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Illinois quarterback Jeff George Jr., the son of former NFL quarterback Jeff George, has announced he will look for an opportunity to play football elsewhere in 2018. In a statement shared on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, George said he will leave Illinois with a degree in hand, allowing him to pursue a transfer possibility as a graduate transfer.

Thank you to Coach [Lovie Smith] and the entire staff for helping me develop over the past couple years,” George said in his statement on Twitter. “With that being said, after discussions with Coach Smith as well as my family, it would be in my best interest to pursue my athletic career with 2 years of eligibility left at a school that will best utilize the abilities I have to offer.”

George played in seven games for the Illini in 2017 with 1,273 passing yards and seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The only other quarterbacks on the roster to attempt a pass last season were junior Chayce Crouch (who played quarterback in seven games and had 443 passing yards with one touchdown and four interceptions Cam Thomas, a redshirt freshman in 2017. Illinois also has two other freshmen on the roster — Charlie Reinkemeyer and Connor Kelly –  that should make for an interesting quarterback situation this spring.

As a graduate transfer, George will be eligible to play in the fall at any FBS program that welcomes him to their program.

Report: Nick Saban ‘really pushing’ for Hugh Freeze, but SEC might be reluctant to sign off

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Normally what Nick Saban wants Nick Saban gets.  In this case, the head coach may have his work cut out for him.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that disgraced former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze was a visitor to Alabama’s football building.  With the Crimson Tide searching for another offensive coordinator, speculation focused on Freeze as a potential candidate for the opening; others thought an in-house promotion was more likely and that Freeze could assume another role with the program.

According to the latest from the Tuscaloosa NewsAaron Suttles, “Saban is really pushing for Freeze to be an on-the-field coach,” whether it be as coordinator or, perhaps, working with quarterbacks or another positional group.  One problem, per the News, is that some within the program are pushing against such an addition, although, again, if Saban really wants Freeze as an on-field addition he’d get it regardless of who was pushing back.  Another issue, though, could be his conference.

From Suttles’ report:

Another aspect to this is that should Alabama decided to hire Freeze as an on-the-field coach, it would likely need the blessing of SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. Sankey isn’t keen on that happening, The Tuscaloosa News has learned.

The league office’s pause in one of its members giving Freeze his first post-scandal second chance is certainly understandable.

Freeze “resigned” from Ole Miss after it was discovered he was using a school-issued cell phone to hook up with escort services on multiple occasions. Additionally, there were the Rebels’ NCAA issues while Freeze was in charge that left the coach with a two-game suspension to serve; that suspension would not have to be served if Freeze is a coordinator or position coach.  The one-year show-cause Freeze was slapped with, which would impact him on the recruiting trail as a head coach, would not be in effect if he served in a non-head coach capacity.

If the SEC would indeed have an issue with the Freeze hire — and if they actually have a say in the matter — it remains to be seen how far down the Freeze road Saban is willing to travel.

Hawaii’s leading receiver, Dylan Collie, leaving as grad transfer

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Dylan Collie is again on the move, presumably for the final time.

The wide receiver took to Twitter Tuesday night to announce that he has decided it’s in his best interests to transfer from Hawaii.  Collie will be leaving the program as a graduate transfer, giving him immediate eligibility if he opts for another FBS program for his final season of eligibility.

Collie signed with BYU in 2012 but, after completing an LDS Church mission, opted to transfer to Hawaii.

This past season, Collie led the Rainbow Warriors in receptions with 56, and was second in receiving yards (636) and receiving touchdowns (four).  In three years at the Mountain West school, Collie totaled 118 catches for 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns.

Two of Dylan Collie’s brothers, Austin and Zac, played receiver at BYU.  Their father, Scott Collie, also played his college football for the Cougars.

ACC releases complete 2018 football schedule

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The 2017 season was put to bed a little over a week ago, so the focus of the college football world has shifted to 2018.

In that vein, the ACC Wednesday released its football schedule for the upcoming season.  The first game featuring a team from the conference will have Wake Forest traveling to Tulane on Thursday, Aug. 30.  The first league game sees Virginia Tech traveling to Tallahassee on Labor Day to face Florida State in a primetime matchup.

Opening weekend will also see the ACC involved in a pair of neutral-site nonconference matchups: Louisville against defending national champion Alabama in Orlando Saturday, Sept. 1, and Miami facing LSU the next day in Arlington.

There are also five previously-announced games against scheduling partner Notre Dame, including road trips to South Bend for FSU (Nov. 10) and Pitt (Oct. 13).  Wake (Sept. 22) and Virginia Tech (Oct. 6) will play host to the Irish, while Syracuse and Notre Dame will square off at Yankee Stadium Nov. 17.

The release announcing the schedule notes that ACC teams will play more games (19) against Power 5 competition than any other P5, and their members will also play 27 games against non-conference opponents that participated in bowl games last season, the highest total among Power 5 conferences.

“The 2018 ACC Football schedule provides our schools and programs the opportunity to build upon the numerous football successes that have been achieved in recent years,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “Once again, our teams will be facing both a daunting conference schedule and what is collectively the most challenging non-conference schedule in the country. There will be no shortage of excitement for fans on a weekly basis.”

You can click HERE for the composite schedule, HERE for the team-by-team schedule and HERE for the ever-popular logo schedule.