Goodbye from Ben

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Hey, all.

There’s really never a good lede for something like this, and if there was, it’d probably be self-indulgent anyway. So, here it is: yesterday was my last day at CFT. Beginning today, I’m moving on to a new opportunity in my career (and if you’re looking for more information, you can find it on my Twitter account).

You’ll still see some conference previews over the next day or so with my byline on them like some sort of ghost of college football past, but this is my last post.

I’m sad to be leaving CFT and NBCSports. I’ve had three tremendous years here and there are a lot of people who are responsible for that. Rather than spend (most of) my last post on CFT talking about me, I’d like to take a few moments and acknowledge them.

First, I have to thank my loving family and friends, who have given me their unconditional support and understanding while I chase the dream.

Thank you to Mike Florio and Larry Mazza. They’re two of the brightest, hardest working gents I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to know. They were there from Day 1 and gave me a chance out of faith. I am forever thankful to them.

Thank you to Tom Seely, Rick Cordella, Mike Miller, all the news desk guys and gals, past and present. There are some truly great people at NBC and I can’t say enough about how much fun they’ve been to work with over the years.

Thank you, John. Y’all, he’s more than my boss. He’s become a dear friend and I’ll cherish that for the rest of my life. I feel blessed to have had such a solid working and personal relationship with him. There were days when we’d literally email each other at the same time about the same site-related things. It was beyond creepy.

Finally, thank you. Yes, you. Thank you for reading, for making CFT a part of your day… or week… or whenever it is you visit. I appreciate it and I know John appreciates it. We haven’t always agreed on things, and that’s okay because you all have continued to be so loyal to this site. That alone rises above everything else. I mean, there were days when I could barely construct a sentence with a proper subject-verb agreement — yet y’all kept on comin’ back anyway.

I’ll certainly miss it here. CFT has been such a big part of my life over these last three years. It’s one of the first things I see in the morning and usually the last thing I shut down before I go to bed. Naturally, there is a sense of ownership I’ve gained from all of this. Moving on is definitely going to take some getting used to, but I will always look back on my time here fondly. Who knows, maybe our paths will cross again some day.

Until then, and with tears unapologetically welling up in my eyes, I say be good to each other, enjoy the season, and go Mean Green.

Signing off,

Ben

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.

Boise State reportedly looking at replacing blue turf in 2019

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Boise State is exploring replacing their famous blue turf… with yet more blue turf.

Perhaps one of college football’s most recognized landmarks thanks to its quirky color, the school is looking at a fresh set of FieldTurf for Albertsons Stadium in a move that may come as soon as the 2018 campaign wraps up.

“We’re talking about it,” Athletic Director Curt Apsey told the Idaho Press-Tribune. “It’s getting to that point to where we’re going to have to make a change. It will remain blue if anyone asks.

“It’s a lifespan more than anything. I’m going to assume that the weather here in Boise does not help the life of it. That’s a guess on my part, but when you start getting into that eight, 10, 12-year range, in the past that’s when we’ve usually made the change.”

The current stadium field was installed back in 2010 and it has gone through various replacements over the years since the very first blue turf was put in place back in 1986. The report from the Press-Tribune and Apsey’s comments certainly make this seem like it’s a done deal but at a reported cost of nearly $1 million for the new surface, it would not be a quick or cheap fix for the school.

Broncos fans can rest easy knowing that the team’s signature color will be sticking around at the very least, even if the actual field itself gets a bit of an upgrade sometime next year.