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UConn welcomes 24 newcomers on signing day

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(Below is UConn’s press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

STORRS, Conn. (February 6, 2013) – UConn football coach Paul Pasqualoni has announced that 22 high school senior signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday to attend the University of Connecticut. The 22 seniors from 10 states with the following breakdown: Connecticut 5, Pennsylvania 5, New York 4, Florida 2, Virginia 2, Georgia 1, Maryland 1, Massachusetts 1 and South Carolina 1.

In addition, the Huskies had a pair of student-athletes enroll for the spring 2013 semester, including wide receivers Dhameer Bradley and Noel Thomas. Thomas is from Norwalk, Conn., for a total of six Connecticut players in this class.

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 24 members of UConn’s 2013 recruiting class.)

Michael Boland: Projected to be a defensive lineman at Connecticut…as a senior, won both the offensive and defensive Hookey Reap award for the top lineman in Lackawanna (Pa.) County…was also all-region and all-state as an offensive lineman…blocked for two 1,000-yard rushers on team…had 67 tackles, 14 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in senior year…was all-region in junior year as an offensive lineman…team went 14-2 in senior season…advanced to championship game of Class A of PIAA tournament…was also team’s kicker and scored 32 points…born August 18, 1994.

Tim Boyle: Was named Connecticut High School Coaches’ Association Player of the Year…named first team All-State by the New Haven Register and All-Hartford Courant…named All-Southern Connecticut Conference as a senior…threw for nearly 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior as team won state Class LL championship for the third-straight season…also rushed for 295 yards on 60 carries for five TDs…was one of three finalists for the Walter Camp Football Foundation Connecticut Player of the Year Award along with fellow UConn signee Matt Walsh…as a junior, shared starting duties and threw for 850 yards and 15 TDs in six games…born October 3, 1994.

Chris Britton: Had more than 125 tackles in senior season…team went 11-3 in senior season and advanced to quarterfinals of Pennsylvania Class AAAA playoffs… named to the Pennsylvania roster for the Big 33 All-Star Game on June 15 in Hershey, Pa…missed most of junior year with an injury…also plays basketball…born December 16, 1994.

Dhameer Bradley: Enrolled at UConn for spring 2013 semester…attended Red Lion Christian Academy (Bear, Del.) for three years and then Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton, Md.) for senior year…had 13 receptions for 156 yards and one TD as team played a limited schedule…also played basketball at Red Lion…honor roll student…born March 3, 1995.

Foley Fatukasi: Had 78 tackles as a senior with ten sacks…named Second Team All-Queens/Long Island by the New York Daily News as a senior… will play in Empire Challenge All-Star Game in June…team reached PSAL Bowl Division finals in sophomore year and was 6-3 in junior year…was limited to just two games in junior year because of injury…first player from Beach Channel High School to go directly to a FBS school…born March 4, 1995.

Jordan Fuchs: Had 27 receptions for 374 yards as a senior…did not play football until the start of his junior year of high school…was named second team All-City by MSG Varsity…as a junior had 25 receptions for 492 yards and nine TDs…also an outstanding basketball player who plays at some high school as current Husky men’s basketball player Omar Calhoun…Former UConn women’s basketball All-American Sue Bird also attended same high school…born October 26, 1994.

Javon Hadley: Earned All-Dade County Honorable Mention…was invited to three different postseason all-star games…two-time Florida Prep Player of the Week as a senior…born September 19, 1994.

Sha’ki Holines: Was named to the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association “Super 26″ All-State Team…had 50 tackles as a senior with one interception and a fumble recovery…was named Springfield Republican Division II All-Scholastic first team as a junior and senior…had 80 tackles in 2013, with 29 for a loss…made 13 receptions for 262 yards…as a junior, had 122 tackles and was team’s defensive MVP with six sacks…as a tight end, made 27 receptions for 287 yards and three TD …team went 8-5 in junior year and played in Division II Super Bowl…as a senior, team advanced to semifinals of Division II…born November 18, 1994.

Tommy Hopkins: Named to the New York State Sportswriters Association Class B First Team…also played defense and made 61 tackles with 5.5 sacks…was named to the 2012 Journal-News Super 11 team…school advanced to Class B state semifinals in sophomore year and was a starter…born July 15, 1994.

Cory Jasudowich: Was named to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class B All-New England team…was a four-year starter on both offense and defense…projected to be a college linebacker…team went 7-2 in senior year and played in the Tom Flaherty Bowl…his class had an overall record of 29-6 and won two bowls games…played for Team USA in International Bowl on February 5 in Austin, Texas…born September 20, 1994.

Junior Joseph: Projected to be a linebacker at UConn after playing both LB and tight end in high school….was named PIAA Class AAA First Team All-State as a senior by Pennsylvania Football News and the Pennsylvania Sports Writers… had 79 tackles as a senior with 17 tackles for a loss…also had five receptions for 63 yards as a senior…team was 13-2 in senior season and advanced to semifinals of PIAA Class AAAA semifinals…as a junior had 59 tackles with 9.0 for a loss and also two touchdown receptions…team was 12-2 and advanced to state semifinals…had 19 tackles as a sophomore…born September 7, 1994.

Brian Lemelle: Named Parade Magazine All-America Honorable Mention…Pennsylvania career record holder in receptions (269) and receiving yardage (4,529) while his career TDs (38) is second…was named the Pennsylvania Sports News Class AAA Offensive Player of the Year…had 91 receptions as a senior for 1,546 yards and 11 TDs…also returned punts and kickoffs and was team’s punter…team went 14-1 in senior season and advanced to PIAA Class AAA tournament…as a junior, had 93 receptions for 1,630 yards and 13 TDs…team was 13-3 and played in championship game of AAA bracket…had 70 receptions for 1,223 yards and 11 TDs as a sophomore and team was 13-3 and played in AAA championship game, losing by one point…named to the Pennsylvania roster for the Big 33 All-Star Game on June 15 in Hershey, Pa. …played for the winning North team in the Chesapeake Bowl…had three receptions for 98 yards in that contest…born March 31, 1994.

Thomas Lucas: Played in Maryland Crab Bowl game on Dec. 21…was named second team All-Montgomery County 4-A as a senior… had 57 tackles and two interceptions as a junior…team went 9-2 in junior season and earned a Maryland 4A North playoff berth…born November 21, 1994.

Josh Marriner: Was named First Team All-Tidewater by the Virginian Pilot…rushed for 2,168 yards as a senior on 253 carries with 24 rushing touchdowns and 26 total touchdowns…had two receptions – both for touchdowns…also made 27 tackles on defense with eight for a loss…had 298 yards of kickoff return yardage…team was 9-3 in senior year and advanced to second round of Virginia Division Six tournament…gained 417 yards in single game on 20 carries against Great Bridge in late October…the game was ten yards short of the South Hampton Roads single-game record..1,898 regular season yards in 2012 is fourth in South Hampton Roads’ all-time list…Southeastern District and Eastern Region Offensive Player of the Year…born April 25, 1995.

Tommy Myers: Four-year letterman, three-year starter and team captain…was starting tight end, defensive end/safety and punter/kicker…had 27 receptions for 529 yards and seven TDs as a senior… earned First Team All-Hartford Courant as a senior and second team all-state honors from the New Haven Register…had 15 receptions for team that earned a spot in the Class L playoffs as a junior… was honorable mention All-Hartford Courant in junior year…three-time all-conference pick…also plays basketball and track and field…two-time Class S state champion in the javelin and won New England title in 2011…also four-year starter in basketball and averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds a game as a junior earning second team all-state honors…honor roll student…father Norm played football at UConn from 1981-84 while his mother Peggy (Walsh) was a women’s basketball player from 1982-86 at UConn with 1,413 career points and 937 rebounds, which still ranks fifth in school history…born June 26, 1995.

Kyle Schafenacker: Starting left tackle on team that won Florida 7A state championship as a senior…was named Florida High School Athletic Association 7A First Team All-State…team had 604 yards of total offense in 41-25 win over Tallahassee Lincoln for title…team went 13-2 in senior season and ended with a ten-game winning streak…team won district title in 2010 and 2012 and also state title in 2010…born July 4, 1995.

Jalen Stevens: Had 126 tackles in senior year with six sacks…team advanced to state semifinals in senior year…earned all-county honors from the (Goose Creek/Hanahan) Gazette and was second team as a junior…team went 14-1 in junior year and won South Carolina Class AAA-Division II championship…born October 17, 1994.

Cole Ormsby: Had 85 tackles in his senior season and led the state with 17 sacks…in senior year, team advanced to Class L championship game…had nine tackles and two sacks in two different games…made two sacks in Class L semifinals victory…named All-Central Connecticut Conference and Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-Defense…named Hartford Courant Defensive Player-of-the-Year and all-state by the New Haven Register and the Walter Camp Football Foundation…also played offense at the end position…as a junior, made 64 tackles with 13 sacks…team advanced to semifinals of Class L playoffs…born October 20, 1995.

Cameron Stapleton: Was team captain as a senior…was team Defensive MVP in both junior and senior seasons…had 39 tackles as a senior with nine sacks and had 33 tackles with six sacks in junior year…as a sophomore in 2010, had 28 tackles with five sacks…will play in Empire Challenge All-Star Game in June…born August 11, 1994.

Kivon Taylor: Team captain as a senior and quarterback at Grady High School in Atlanta…selected to play in the 2012 Georgia All-Star Game…honored as a USA Academic All-America Team…named to the 2013 FBU International All-Star Game…led team to a 2012 GHSA AAAA Playoff appearance and a 9-4 record.

Noel Thomas: Was named to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class C All-New England team…named by MSG Varsity as its Connecticut Player of the Year… was team captain and MVP at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, Conn.….team was 8-1 in senior year and advanced to Fairfield Athletic Association championship game…also won NEPSAC Class C championship with a victory in the Dan Rorke Bowl… wide receiver, running back and quarterback in senior year….had 2,000 yards of offense with 25 touchdowns in senior year…for his career, had 4,888 yards of offense with 53 TDs…head coach at St. Luke’s is his father, Noel Thomas, Sr. …born September 18, 1994.

Quinn Thompson: Will play tight end at Connecticut…named First Team Class AAA All-State by Pennsylvania Football News…was a quarterback and defensive lineman as a senior with 226 passing yards for two TDs…rushed for 721 yards with seven TDs…had four games with 100 yards of rushing or more…made 21 tackles on defense with a sack…team had a 9-3 record as a senior and earned a spot in the Pennsylvania Class AAA playoffs…had nine catches for 250 yards and six TDs as a junior with 80 carries for 292 yards and five TDs..on defense had 80 tackles for seven sacks…attended same high school as ’11 and ’12 UConn captain Blidi Wreh-Wilson…also plays basketball…born August 9, 1994.

Matt Walsh: Named the New Haven Register All-State Most Valuable Player and All-Hartford Courant…named to the Walter Camp Football Foundation and Connecticut High School Coaches’ Association all-state teams…was one of three finalists for the Walter Camp Football Foundation Connecticut Player of the Year Award along with fellow UConn signee Tim Boyle…projected to play fullback at UConn…scored five rushing TDs in win over Xavier and had a total of ten for the season…had 182 tackles in senior year with three sacks…had 15 tackles, 10 solo, and forced two fumbles in state Class L championship game in 2012…team went 13-0 in junior and senior years and won state Class L title both seasons…as a junior had 100 tackles as a linebacker and two sacks…earned New Haven Register All-Area honors as a junior…born April 4, 1995.

Chasz Wright: Projected to play offensive tackle at Connecticut…had 55 tackles as a senior with seven sacks and two caused fumbles…team went 11-3 in senior season and advanced to semifinals of state playoffs in Class 6…as a junior made 29 tackles with a sack…team went 11-1 and advanced to state quarterfinals…also plays basketball…born March 18, 1995.

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Kenny Hill given Heisman odds, Texas A&M title odds updated

Kenny Hill

It took just one masterful performance in the season opener for Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill to be recognized as a Heisman Trophy contender. Not only was Jesse Palmer quick to draw comparisons to Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston‘s debut lasts season at Pittsburgh, but one sports book (Sportsbook.com, actually) has already put Hill on the board, and with very respectable odds.

We live in a reactionary world when it comes to sports, so it should come as no surprise Hill was added to the Heisman odds. But there was more to the Vegas lines as well, with Texas A&M moving from 100/1 odds to 40/1 (this despite lacking much on defense).

Hill etched his name in the Texas A&M history books in leading the Aggies to a season-opening road win at South Carolina Thursday night. Hill passed or 511 yards and three touchdowns, and completed 44 of 60 pass attempts in his debut as the new starting quarterback.

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Halftime: Ole Miss, Boise State combine for six interceptions

Bo Wallace

Boise State is showing to be a program that will not be intimidated by a rising program in the SEC, but the Broncos are trailing Ole Miss at the half in Atlanta in the first game in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. Ole Miss is leading a defensive (and at times ugly) showdown, 7-3.

The Rebels have forced a trio of turnovers by intercepting three passes from Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick, and the defense has been pressuring the Boise State signal-caller for much of the half. This is to be expected with the talent Ole Miss has on the defensive line. The Broncos have also been managing to run the football against Ole Miss but cannot break many big plays. Fortunately for Boise State, the Broncos have a defense that is holding Ole Miss down and not allowing the game to get away from them.

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has also been intercepted twice in the first half and the Rebels have failed to convert a third down attempt (they did convert one fourth down attempt). Ole Miss took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Wallace to Cody Core. The Broncos had a chance to tie things up but the Ole Miss defense stuffed Boise running back Jay Ajayi a couple of yards from the end zone on the corner. The Broncos settled for a field goal.

There were a number of bad penalties by both sides in the first half, but Ole Miss really racked up the penalty yardage. Both teams took some bad penalties in the first half, including Serderius Bryant of Old Miss for his hit on Hedrick. The targeting ejection was upheld following the mandatory video review, giving us the second targeting ejection of the season. The Rebels have also jumped to a false start more times than any team probably should.

This should be a good defensive battle in the second half as well. If Ole Miss cannot start flexing some muscle on offense, then Boise State will continue to hang around, and that would not be advisable for the Rebels.

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Texas A&M snaps South Carolina’s 18-game home winning streak

Kenny Hill

No. 21 Texas A&M (1-0, 1-0 SEC) has a motto saying they run the state of Texas. On Thursday night, Texas A&M ran the state of South Carolina.

The Aggies went to Columbia, South Carolina confident in what they could do, and it showed. Texas A&M snapped No. 9 South Carolina’s (0-1, 0-1 SEC) 18-game home winning streak in dominating fashion, running away from the Gamecocks 52-28.

The star of the night was without a doubt Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill, who dazzled in his debut as the Aggies starter looking to fill the shoes left by Johnny Manziel. All he did was throw for a school record 511 yards and three touchdowns. He did so by spreading the football around very well form start to finish. In all, Texas A&M got the football into the hands of 11 different receivers and four different runners. The pace and ability to spread the ball around proved too much for South Carolina to handle as the Gamecocks were left catching their breath on the field and on the sideline early and often.

Texas A&M and South Carolina played a close first quarter, but the Aggies started to pull away in the second quarter and never looked back. Texas A&M took a 31-14 lead into the half and continued the onslaught with an answer any time South Carolina looked to grab the momentum.

The Gamecocks were mostly without their top offensive player, running back Mike Davis. Davis did not start the game and was given an early rest with a rib bruise as the game was well in hand. Davis carried the football six times for just 15 yards before being given a rest. But that was not the reason South Carolina lost this one.

South Carolina will host a dangerous East Carolina team next weekend, before hosting SEC East rival Georgia in what has become one of the top game sin the division the last few years. The Gamecocks clearly have more hole son defense than many may have been counting on this season, but there may not be another team with quite as potent an offense the rest of the season than the one South Carolina faced Wednesday night.

Texas A&M should continue to put up some big offensive numbers the next couple of weeks. The Aggies will host FCS Lamar in the home opener in Kyle Field next week, followed by a home game against Rice. The next SEC game for Texas A&M will come on September 27 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington against Arkansas in SEC West play. Moving forward, Texas A&M will have to be given more respect as a threat in the wide-open SEC. This Aggies team is not going to sneak up any one in conference play, especially Alabama, LSU and Auburn.

Watch out SEC. Texas A&M is going to put up some points once again.

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Halftime: South Carolina has no answers for Texas A&M offense

Texas A&M v South Carolina

If you thought Texas A&M was going to struggle to replace Johnny Manziel under center, Kenny Hill is making you reconsider that feeling tonight in Columbia, South Carolina. Hill has been confident and calm under center and has been accurate in leading Texas A&M to a halftime lead against South Carolina. Texas A&M holds a 31-14 lead at the break.

Hill has completed 27 of 33 pass attempts for 299 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Texas A&M has done exceptionally well spreading the football around. The Aggies have had nine different players catch a pass and four players carry the football.

South Carolina’s defense has had no answers for Kevin Sumlin‘s Aggies. It does not help that South Carolina’s secondary has been depleted trying to keep up, but whoever has been on the field for the Gamecocks has simply been struggling to keep up with A&M’s receivers. To further complicate things, South Carolina is quickly learning that life without Jadeveon Clowney is difficult, because the Gamecocks have really struggled to bring any pressure on Hill in the Texas A&M backfield.

South Carolina’s star running back Mike Davis did not start the game and has been limited in the first half. At the half, Davis has just six carries for 15 yards.

South Carolina will get the football to start the second half. It is not time to panic, but starting the second half off with a solid drive and a score would sure calm some nerves in Columbia.

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Notre Dame adds one more suspension to opener

Oklahoma v Notre Dame

As Notre Dame continues to investigate an academic irregularity connected to members of the football program, the Fighting Irish have made a decision to suspend safety Eilar Hardy from team activities and games. That bring the suspension total up to five for this weekend in South Bend as a result of the ongoing investigation into academic dishonesty.

Hardy is a reserve player on the Notre Dame roster, but obvious depth concerns are mounting for the Irish defense in light of this potential academic scandal. Earlier this month Notre Dame suspended wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, linebacker Kendall Moore, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and defensive end Ishaq Williams. All five players will miss the season opener this weekend against Rice.

As noted by JJ Stankevitz on CSN Chicago, the Irish are still relatively deep at the safety position even with this latest suspension news. The Irish have Austin Collinsworth, Max Redfield, Elijah Shumate and Matthias Farley as well as Nicky Baratti available at the safety position.

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Mike Davis not starting for South Carolina

Mike Davis

The first game of the SEC season is about to get started, but one of the top running backs in the conference will not be making the start. South Carolina running back Mike Davis will not start tonight’s season opener against Texas A&M.

Davis rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. His absence from the game tonight is not much of a surprise after sitting out a week of practice due to a rib injury. Head coach Steve Spurrier may still try to get Davis involved when he feels the moment is right, but it will be something to keep an eye on. Spurrier has said Davis is ready to go, so expect to see him play a role in the South Carolina offense anyway.

Brandon Wilds was announced as the starting running back for tonight’s game. Last season he rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns in a reserve role.

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Iowa professor to protest pink visiting locker rooms

VISITORS LOCKER ROOM

The Iowa Hawkeyes have had a long-standing tradition of having the visiting locker room painted pink. It was a brain game move by former head coach Hayden Fry in 1979 and has remained a part of attempting to give Iowa a home field advantage. A professor at Iowa is planning a formal protest against the pink locker room at the same time the school plans to honor Fry on Friday.

Kembrew McLeod is organizing a “million robot march” to protest what he believes demonstrates the university allowing the football program to taunt an opponent by pushing homophobia and sexism. It has been suggested the pink finish in the locker room is designed to break down the visiting team’s mental toughness. Whether it works or not is probably uncertain for sure, but there must be something to having the pink finish all these years. This is hardly the first time a concern about the pink locker rooms has surfaced at Iowa though. the gimmick has been criticized by a number of feminists, lawyers, gay rights activists and more over the years, and there will likely be more to come in the future as long as the locker room remains pink.

McLeod tells the Associated Press he and his fellow protesters will dress as robots and shout “Binary code yes! Gender binaries no!” as they address their concerns on Friday.

Iowa has no plans to redo the visiting locker room at Kinnick Stadium.

“To tear that apart and spend the money right now to redo that just seems like a very low priority to me,” University of Iowa president Sally Mason said. “Would a pink locker room have been my first choice? Probably not. But that predates me by quite a little bit.”

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VIDEO: Brian Kelly stumps for eight-team playoff

Notre Dame v Michigan

As you may have heard, a new system for determining an FBS champion will be implemented after the 2014 season, with four teams fighting for the right to be called the first-ever champion of the College Football Playoff.

While we’ve yet to even make it to the first year of the CFP, many people, myself included, feel it’s a matter of when, not if, the field is expanded to at least eight teams.  The reasoning is simple: already astronomical, the money an expanded field would bring in would be too much to overlook as football programs, Power Five and Non-Power Five members alike, look to unearth any and all revenue streams in a sport that will see costs rise in the very near future.

In that vein, there are also five power conferences, which means that at least one of those leagues, and perhaps two, will be on the outside of the playoff looking in any given year.  It won’t take long for a conference or two to get snubbed X amount of times over a period of years before the league or leagues start stumping for an expanded playoffs.

And then there’s the obvious: much like arguing over which teams are Nos. 4/5 is progress over which teams are Nos. 2/3, arguing over which teams are Nos. 8/9 — or even Nos. 16/17 — represents progress over Nos. 4/5.

During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly discussed numerous topics, including the playoffs.  Kelly, who began his coaching career at Grand Valley State — a school in Div. II, which utilizes a playoff system to determine a champion — used some of his time with Patrick to push for an eight-team playoff, saying “four’s a great start but I don’t think it’s enough.”  Along with the eight teams, Kelly is in favor of, if there is an expanded playoff, first-round games being held on the campus of the higher seed.

Of course, all of that is at least a few years down the road, but it’s still worth a listen.

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SEC commish Mike Slive undergoes back surgery

Mike Slive AP

One of the most powerful men in all of sports is recovering from what appears to be a minor medical procedure.

Via Twitter, the SEC announced Thursday afternoon that commissioner Mike Slive “underwent successful surgery Tuesday to relieve pain he had experienced in his back for several weeks.” In another tweet, the conference wrote that “Commissioner Slive is receiving great care from his doctors and will be watching SEC games from home this weekend.”

Slive is expected to be released from the hospital in short order.

Under Slive’s stewardship the past 12-plus years, the SEC has seen unprecedented growth in sports in general and football specifically. And specifically as it relates to the amount of money going into membership coffers.

The SEC Network, Slive’s sports pride and joy and a future source of significant revenue for memebrs, will televise its first live football game tonight as Texas A&M travels to Columbia to take on South Carolina.

Slive turned 74 last month, and there’s been talk that he could step down at some point in the near future. In an excellent profile that appeared in USA Today this morning, Slive addressed the retirement question head on when he was asked about a specific timetable for a departure.

“I’ll be done when I’m done. When they don’t want me anymore or when I don’t want to be there,” the commish said.

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Penn State-UCF game a pot of gold for Irish economy

Penn State arrives in Dublin, August 27, 2014

It appears that Icelandic volcano will allow the Penn State-Central Florida game to be played Saturday in Dublin, and that’s a very good thing for the Irish economy.

Peter McKenna, director of Croke Park Stadium, where the Nittany Lions and Knights will meet Saturday, told PennLive.com that the game should bring 20,000 visitors and roughly 30 million euros which, Google’s handy dollar-euro convertor tells me equates to roughly $39.5 million.

McKenna’s estimation is based on an average stay of three to five days, and each tourist spending anywhere from $395 (300 euros) to $527 (400 euros) per day. “I think the real figure will be far higher than that,” McKenna told the paper. “The city is going to get really wound up.”

The 2012 game between Notre Dame and Navy, played in Aviva Stadium before 48,820 fans, generated a reported $131 million for the Irish economy. Former Ireland minister for transport tourism and sport Leo Varadkar told PennLive.com that the Penn State-UCF game (8:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2) is “every bit as important” to the Irish economy as the Notre Dame-Navy game two years ago.

McKenna says his group is using the same as a marketing informercial to a captive American audience. “It’s going to be on early in the morning, no other games are going to be on, and Dublin is going to be showcased to millions of Americans,” he said. “They’ll say ‘Wow, what a great place. Let’s put that on my bucket list.'”

Joyce Polan, manager of Dublin’s Woolshed Pub, sums up the Irish attitude toward their American visitors with a perfect quote. “We love Americans here,” Polan said. “They eat tons of chicken wings.”

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USC RB Anthony Brown ‘couldn’t play for a racist,’ quits team

Syracuse v USC Getty Images

This has not been a very good last 7-10 days for the USC football program.

Late last week athletic director Pat Haden was hospitalized twice for undisclosed medical reasons.  Then, senior captain Josh Shaw turned from hero to fabricator in less than 48 hours, with his future on the team in limbo.  Now?  Some ugly and startling accusations are hurtling out of the Land of Troy.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian confirmed to the local writers covering the team that Anthony Brown has decided to quit the football team.  Prior to that, the senior running back — he had recently been moved from cornerback in a switch he requested — went on Instagram and, well, went here:

Instagram Racist

That social media post appeared to be the impetus for Sarkisian’s announcement.  From Scout.com:

Sark said he was “shocked” at these allegations, called them “ridiculous” and welcomed us to talk to anyone in or around the program and they would tell us that it simply wasn’t true.

Sark said they tried to accommodate Brown, moving him to running back. He was unfortunately hurt but Sark said they still tried to get him to stay on the team. Sark felt he could help the team. Brown refused, quit the team then posted the following on Facebook:

“Couldn’t play for a racist man!!!!!!!!!!!
#FightOn”

Sarkisian is getting set to enter his first season as USC’s head coach and hasn’t even coached a game, yet he’s already seen two messy situations that need cleaning.

Already, though, his players are jumping to their head coach’s defense via Twitter.

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Michigan Stadium rakes in $2.55 million from soccer clash

Already home to the largest crowd to ever witness a college football game, Michigan Stadium added a few more titles to its prodigious in 2014: highest-attended hockey game in U.S. history, and highest-attended soccer game in U.S. history.

It got paid quite well to do so.

According to a report from the Detroit News, Michigan was paid $2 million by promoted Relevant Sports to lease the Big House for the Aug. 2 match between European soccer superpowers Manchester United and Real Madrid. The Wolverines were also paid $550,000 for making the stadium available for practice the day prior to the match.

Manchester United won the game 3-1, thereby clinching a spot in the International Cup Final, before a crowd of 109,318.

Michigan was also received a $5 million check for hosting the NHL’s Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, where 105,491 showed up to see the Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Detroit Red Wings. The college football attendance record was set when 115,109 spectators watched Michigan topple Notre Dame on Sept. 7, 2013.

Athletics director Dave Brandon told the Detroit News he’d be interested in renting out the Big House – provided the right event comes along. “It would be good to have a big event once a year or every other year and stage a big event in the stadium, as long as it’s a big event,” Brandon told the paper. “I view these things as a wonderful opportunity to bring new people to the stadium.”

Brandon also reported the soccer game generated $25 million for the Ann Arbor economy and, assuming that figure is anywhere close to accurate, there is no reason not to do so, especially considering the Big House sits empty approximately 358 days per year.

Michigan plays seven home games in 2014, beginning with Appalachian State on Saturday (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

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Ethan Farmer cleared by NCAA, can play for Tar Heels

Miami v North Carolina Getty Images

Finally, some good news on the personnel front for North Carolina.

Initially via Twitter, UNC announced that starting defensive tackle Ethan Farmer has been cleared to play for the Tar Heels this season by the NCAA.  An undisclosed eligibility issue has been hanging over Farmer’s head throughout summer camp, even as he’s continued to practice with the team.

As late as Tuesday after practice, head coach Larry Fedora was intimating that he didn’t expect a ruling on Farmer’s availability prior to the opener against Liberty Saturday.

“We are thankful to have Ethan cleared to play and I know he’s excited to have this behind him,” said Fedora in a statement that was released after the team broke the news on Twitter. “Ethan is our only experienced player on the defensive line and we’ll be counting on him for senior leadership in that group. He has practiced hard during the preseason and has not let this situation affect his preparation for the season.”

Farmer started all 13 games for the Tar Heels in 2013, and is expected to be the starter in 2014 as well.  Thanks to departures since the end of last year, including two this summer, Farmer is the only returning starter on the defensive line.

UNC had previously announced that four defensive players have been suspended for the opener for violating unspecified team rules.  Those suspensions came on the heels of a hazing report earlier in the week.

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CFT 2014 Preseason Top 25: ‘Noles look to go back-to-back

Jimbo Fisher, Jameis Winston AP

Over seven months ago, Florida State staked its claim to the last-ever Bowl Championship Series Trophy. The question now is, can the Seminoles win the first-ever College Football Playoff trophy?

At least as far as the CFT writers are concerned, the answer was a resounding “hell yes!!!” as all three of us — Brent Sobleski, Kevin McGuire and I — placed FSU at No. 1 in our preseason Top 25 rankings.

In somewhat of a surprise, Oregon was next up at No. 2, followed by Alabama, No. 2 in the Associated Press and coaches’ poll, at No. 3, Ohio State at No. 4 and Oklahoma at No. 5. Were the poll to be conducted today, there’s a very good chance the Buckeyes would slip to the bottom of the Top 10 — or even out of it — on the strength of Braxton Miller‘s season-ending injury.

As for the remainder of the Top 10, UCLA checks in at No. 6, followed by, in order from Nos. 7-10, South Carolina, Auburn, Baylor and Stanford.

The only Non-Power Five conference team to make the preseason cut was the Mountain West’s Boise State at No. 24.

Conference-wise, the SEC leads all leagues with six in the Top 25, the lowest of which is Ole Miss at No. 17. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have five teams each, with the ACC (four) and Big 12 (three) bringing up the Power-Five rear.

For comparison, the AP poll had eight SEC teams in the Top 25 and six from the Pac-12. The coaches’ poll also had six from the Pac-12, while only seven from the SEC.

Below are the complete set of CFT preseason top 25 rankings. And, for a repository on all of our 2014 preseason previews, click HERE.

No. 1 Florida State
No. 2 Oregon
No. 3 Alabama
No. 4 Ohio State
No. 5 Oklahoma
No. 6 UCLA
No. 7 South Carolina
No. 8 Auburn
No. 9 Baylor
No. 10 Stanford
No. 11 Michigan State
No. 12 Georgia
No. 13 LSU
No. 14 USC
No. 15 Notre Dame
No. 16 Clemson
No. 17 Ole Miss
No. 18 Wisconsin
No. 19 Duke
No. 20 Texas
No. 21 Nebraska
No. 22 Arizona State
No. 23 North Carolina
No. 24 Boise State
No. 25 Iowa

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Mike Gundy confirms J.W. Walsh to start at QB vs. FSU

J.W. Walsh AP

It’s been all but a foregone conclusion throughout summer camp that J.W. Walsh would get the nod as Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback in the opener.  After all, Walsh has the experience edge and took most of the reps with the first-team offense.

Still, Mike Gundy has been reticent to publicly tab his man under center — until Wednesday.

During a radio interview, Gundy confirmed that, yes, Walsh will be the first quarterback to trot out onto the field when OSU opens the season against No. 1 Florida State Saturday night in Arlington, Tex.  Said the head coach, “JW has taken the majority of the reps and will be the guy who goes out there and starts for us.”

Walsh had been involved in a nominal competition with Daxx Garman and Mason Rudolph throughout camp even as the latter two worked sparingly with the No. 1 offense. When it comes down to it, Walsh’s experience is the trump card.

In 2012, Walsh was named the Big 12’s Offensive Freshman of the Year. In 2013, he started five of the eight games in which he played. Neither Garman (a redshirt junior) nor Rudolph (a four-star true freshman) have thrown a pass at the collegiate level.

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