ACC, Orange Bowl extend relationship another dozen years

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Well, so much for automatic qualifying status going away thanks to the implementation of a playoff system.

Last month when the powers-that-be officially announced that a four-team playoff would be in place following the 2014 regular season, it was thought that the Orange Bowl would be one of the six current bowls that would be part of the playoff rotation.

In a press release sent out Tuesday morning, that much has come to fruition.  In the announcement, it was confirmed that the ACC and the Orange Bowl Committee had reached a 12-year agreement that will annually feature the ACC Champion in the Discover Orange Bowl.  The game will be played on New Year’s Day at 1:00 pm beginning after the 2014 season, with the official opponent tie-in still to be determined.

The conference and the bowl have been official partners since 2006.

“The ACC and Discover Orange Bowl have a terrific relationship and, as we look ahead to the future of postseason college football, this will further an already beneficial partnership for both organizations,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “The Discover Orange Bowl has a rich history of prestige, is located within the league’s footprint and is a great destination for our student-athletes, alumni and fans. In addition to our continued partnership, we are very pleased to be playing annually on New Year’s Day.”

The release notes “it’s anticipated that the Orange Bowl will host at least four semifinal games in the new recently announced arrangement by the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.”  If the ACC champion is part of the four-team playoff during the years in which the Orange Bowl is not one of the two semifinal games, a replacement team would be selected to represent the ACC in that bowl.

How that replacement team would be selected has not been divulged.

Additionally, in the years that the Orange Bowl serves as a semifinal host and the ACC champion does not qualify for one of the four playoff spots, that team would then participate in one of the three host bowls that will be established as per the direction of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.

In other words, the ACC will automatically qualify for one of the top six bowls, which means that automatic qualifying is very much alive and well despite a playoff being implemented and the official release on said playoff specifically mentioning that AQ and non-AQ statuses were a thing of the past.

Anyway, in addition to the Orange Bowl, it’s believed the Rose, SEC/Big 12, Cotton and Sugar bowls will all be a part of the six-bowl rotation.  A complete rotation is expected to be announced at some point before the end of the year.

NCAA grants Houston LB Austin Robinson another season of eligibility

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As it turns out, Houston will have the services of Austin Robinson a little while longer than originally expected.

The football program announced Wednesday that the NCAA has granted Robinson a sixth season of eligibility. While the school wrote in its release that the linebacker “received a legislative relief waiver” from The Association, the specific reasoning behind the waiver being granted is unclear.

With the NCAA’s decision, Robinson will now have eligibility he can use in both 2018 and 2019.

Robinson began his collegiate career at UT-San Antonio in 2014, playing in eight games as a true freshman before transferring to UH and sitting out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. He then played in 11 games in 2016 and 12 this past season, starting four contests in 2017.

This past campaign, Robinson was credited with 33 tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack. He also had a pair of quarterback hurries on his statistical resume.

Minnesota losing CB Ken Handy-Holly to transfer

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Heading into spring practice, Minnesota will find its defensive secondary a bit thinner than it was when the curtain fell on the 2017 season.

A school spokesperson confirmed to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Ken Handy-Holly has been granted a release from his scholarship. 247Sports.com had previously reported that the safety was looking to transfer to be closer to family in Jackson, Ala.

A three-star member of the Gophers’ 2017 recruiting class, Handy-Holly was rated as the No. 38 safety in the country and the No. 28 player at any position in the state of Alabama. Only one signee in Minnesota’s class that year, offensive tackle Blaise Andries, was rated higher than Handy-Holly.

Because of injuries, Handy-Holly was pressed into action as a true freshman. He made his collegiate debut in a Sept. 30 loss to Maryland, and went on to play eight games total this past season.

In that action, Handy-Holly was credited with 12 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Arkansas QB Cole Kelley pleads guilty to DWI

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An off-field situation for one playing member of the Arkansas football program that began during the 2017 regular season has taken yet another step toward winding its way to a conclusion.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Cole Kelley pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while intoxicated.  While the quarterback was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 89 of those days were suspended while he was given credit for time served for the other.  Additionally, the Democrat-Gazette wrote, the 20-year-old Kelley “was also ordered to complete an alcohol safety class and pay $720 in fines and court costs.”

Kelley was arrested for DWI and reckless driving in November of last year. A day after the arrest, Kelley was indefinitely suspended by the football program and missed UA’s Week 12 game; he was subsequently reinstated after serving what amounted to a one-game suspension.

Austin Allen started the first five games of the 2017 season before going down with a shoulder injury. Kelley replaced him and started the next four, with a healthy Allen returning to his starting role for the remainder of the year.

On the season, Kelley completed almost 58 percent of his 151 passes for 1,038 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.  The rising redshirt sophomore is expected to compete for the starting job in 2018 under new head coach Chad Morris.

Report: Steve Spurrier Jr. leaving WKU for job at Wazzu

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With coaching holes throughout his Washington State staff to fill thanks to significant offseason poaching, Mike Leach has added a very famous college football surname.  Reportedly.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Steve Spurrier Jr. is leaving Western Kentucky to take a job under Leach at Wazzu.  The son of College Football Hall of Famer Steve Spurrier just completed his first season as the Hilltoppers’ quarterbacks coach.  He also held the title of assistant head coach under Mike Sanford.

It’s unclear what specific title Spurrier Jr. will hold at Wazzu.

Prior to his one season at WKU, and one season as an off-field staffer at Oklahoma, Spurrier Jr. had been an assistant on his father’s South Carolina staff for 11 seasons.  During his time with the Gamecocks, he served at various points as wide receivers coach (2005-15), passing-game coordinator (2009-11) and co-offensive coordinator (2012-15).

Spurrier Jr., who played wide receiver at Duke, has also spent time during his coaching career as receivers coach at Oklahoma (1999-2001) and with the Washington Redskins (2002-03).