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Lobo fans raise money for Aggie fan/war vet who lost out on $2K

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While rivalries in college football are among the most heated in all of sports on the field — and before and after the games — the hatred tends to subside off the field, especially when real life interrupts.

Case in point?  New Mexico-New Mexico State.

First, though, the back story.

In an attempt to drum up interest in what’s a really bad football team, New Mexico State announced a couple of weeks ago that they would select a random student as the winner of a $2,000 cash prize if he/she were in the stands after the third quarter of the late-September game against San Diego State.  The student whose name happened to be called that day, Matthew Zajac, wasn’t in attendance and therefore forfeited the money.  His reason for not being at the game?  He has been caring for his 87-year-old grandmother since his father died and his “priorities were elsewhere.”

One more thing you should know about Zajac: he is a double amputee, having lost both of his legs in a 2007 IED explosion while serving our country in Iraq.

The fact that NMSU did not honor the $2K prize in spite of Zajac’s circumstances did not sit well with a large segment of the population, including a certain slice of their hated rivals’ fan base.

Upon hearing Zajac’s story, Lobo Lair, a New Mexico fan message board, took up the cause.  Specifically, the curator of that board, Mark Chavez, took up the cause by posting that would be personally pledging the first $100 in an attempt to help Zajac “recoup” the $2000 on which he missed out.  Other fans responded and, by late afternoon Wednesday, the site had raised more than  $2,200 for Zajac.

“There’s definitely no love between Lobo fans and Aggie fans, other than the whole New Mexico connection,” Chavez told Deadspin by phone. “While we love to kick each other’s teeth in on the field, we still respect each other as New Mexicans. This wasn’t about cherry and silver vs. whatever colors they are. It’s more about New Mexicans helping New Mexicans.”

While the money was raised for Zajac, Deadspin writes that the war veteran “told Chavez he’d split the proceeds with the Fisher House Foundation, a charity that supports military families.”

Kudos to all involved for the heartfelt gestures on both sides.

And, to NMSU: you see what’s happening here, right?  It’s time for you, like the Lobo fan base, to step up and do the right thing.

Rico McWilliams, 18-game starter at corner for Gamecocks, gives up football

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 10:  Malachi Dupre #15 of the LSU Tigers catches a pass in front of Rico McWilliams #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during the third quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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South Carolina has seen one of the most experienced members of its secondary not only leave the program but the sport as well.

Rico McWilliams has decided to leave the Gamecocks and give up football, first-year USC head coach Will Muschamp announced Monday.  No reason was given for the decision.

McWilliams had started 18 the past three seasons, but began to tumble down the depth chart in the spring and failed to gain much ground in summer camp.  He had left camp early on for what were described as personal reasons, but eventually returned.

I am back with the team and have to stay focused,” the cornerback said just three days ago.

As a redshirt junior last season, McWilliams started 10 of USC’s 12 games, the lone exceptions being the contests against Georgia and Texas A&M.  He was credited with 32 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.

Additionally, Muschamp announced that redshirt freshman wide receiver Christian Owens had left his team as well.  A three-star 2015 signee, Owens didn’t play as a true freshman.

Jim Harbaugh clarifies comments on Colin Kaepernick anthem controversy

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Via social media, Jim Harbaugh has attempted to walk back some of his strong talk.

Monday, the Michigan head coach was asked to comment on one of his former San Francisco 49er players, Colin Kaepernick, who kicked up quite the controversy this past week by sitting down during the playing of the national anthem to protest what he believes to be the mistreatment of African-Americans in this country. Not surprisingly, the outspoken Harbaugh didn’t mince many words.

“I acknowledge his right to do that, but I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” the coach said.

A short time later, Harbaugh took to Twitter to offer a clarification that he had no issue with Kaepernick’s motivation, merely his methods.

Baylor suspends starting safety Chance Waz for first two games

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 12:  Chance Waz #18 of the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Even as Baylor looks to put a tumultuous offseason in the rearview mirror, the football team simply can’t get away from the dark cloud hanging over the program.

Interim head coach Jim Grobe announced Monday that Chance Waz has been suspended for the Bears’ first two games of the upcoming season.  The only reason given was unspecified disciplinary issues.

The suspension will cost the defensive back games against Northwestern State and SMU.  Waz will be eligible to return for the Sept. 16 game against Rice.

After playing in 11 games as a true freshman in 2014, Waz started 11 of the 13 games in which he played last season.  He was again projected as a starting safety entering summer camp.

Speaking of BU starters, Ishmael Zamora is still listed as a first-team wide receiver on the final preseason depth chart released by the Bears Monday.  Zamora was caught on video beating his dog with a belt and kicking it, and was ultimately charged with misdemeanor animal abuse.

Grobe said he’s still awaiting the university’s decision on what if any punishment Zamora may be facing as a result of the incident.

LB Xavier Preston reportedly suspended for WVU’s opener vs. Mizzou

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The West Virginia football team has had a rough go of it the last month or so.

In late July, Larry Jefferson, expected to be a part of WVU’s defensive line rotation, was arrested on drug charges and removed from the roster.  This in mid-August, two-year starting safety Dravon Askew-Henry sustained a torn ACL that will knock him out for the season; shortly thereafter, starting left guard Adam Pankey was arrested on a drunk-driving charge and ultimately suspended for at least the opener against Missouri.

As it turns out, Pankey won’t be alone on the suspension sidelines as WVMetroNews.com is reporting that linebacker Xavier Preston will be suspended for the opener as well. No reason has been given for the punitive measure, and the football program has yet to confirm it.

The third-year sophomore would be eligible to return for the Sept. 10 Youngstown State game.

Preston played in 13 games last season. He has been described as the heir apparent to Nick Kwiatkowski at outside linebacker for the Mountaineers.