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Cincinnati, Miami agree to home-and-home next two years

Tommy Tuberville AP

Following up on reports that first surfaced earlier in the morning, Cincinnati and Miami announced late Tuesday morning that they have reached agreement on a future home-and-home football series.

The Bearcats will travel to Miami Oct. 11, 2014, while the Hurricanes will make the trek north to Cincinnati Oct. 3, 2015.

The two football programs have met 11 times previously, with the last coming in 1998 and the vast majority during an eight-year stretch from 1982-89.  The Hurricanes own a 10-1 advantage in the series, having won the previous 10 meetings between the teams.  The Bearcats’ lone win came in the first meeting in 1947.

Current UC head coach Tommy Tuberville was actually a part of four of those UM wins, serving as a Hurricanes assistant from 1986-93.

The U’s 2014 non-conference schedule is now complete, with the UC series joining Florida A&M, Nebraska and Arkansas State.  UC now has four non-conference games that season — FCS Stony Brook, Toledo, Miami (OH) and Ohio State — and will be forced to either drop one of those games or reschedule it.  As the always outstanding FBSchedules.com already has the FCS program off its list of 2014 games for UC, we’ll go ahead and take their word for it.

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Chris Petersen ‘not looking forward to’ Boise game ‘because I recruited so many of those kids’

Chris Petersen

One of the best storylines heading into Week 1 of the 2015 season will be Washington’s road trip to Boise State, and not necessarily for what will happen on the field during those 60 minutes.

UW is coached by Chris Petersen, who is heading into his second year with the Huskies.  Petersen, of course, was the long-time — and very successful — head coach at Boise who had turned down multiple offers from more “prestigious” programs before finally pulling the trigger on a move from the Broncos to the Huskies in December of 2013.

While everybody else in the college football world is eagerly anticipating his return to Boise for the Sept. 4 Friday night game, the coach himself isn’t.

“I’m not looking forward to it because I recruited so many of those kids,” Petersen said during his time running through the ESPN car wash, adding that, when it comes to the kind of reception he’ll get for his homecoming, he understands the boo birds will be out.

“They’re fans, they’re gonna boo me,” said the coach. “But it’s such a great place.”

Petersen did dip his toes into the controversy over the Broncos’ Smurf Turf, all with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

The game itself is likely causing as much or more trepidation for Petersen than the homecoming angle, though.

While both teams will be breaking in new quarterbacks, UW will be breaking in a new signal-caller behind an offensive line that returns just one starter from 2014.  Boise, meanwhile, returns all five line starters.

Combine that with eight returning starters from a Broncos defense that was above average in nearly every major statistical category — the Huskies return four on that side of the ball — and the game being played in Boise, and it could add up to a very long night for Petersen’s homecoming in more ways than one.

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After leaving Buckeyes to focus on med school dream, Frank Epitropoulos to walk-on at Mich. St.

Frankie Williams, Frank Epitropoulos AP

If you remember back to August of last year, Ohio State revealed that Frank Epitropoulos has decided to give up football to focus on academics. Specifically, the little-used wide receiver was leaving to “concentrate entirely on his biology and pre-med/pre-dental academic program.”

Nearly one year later, Epitropoulos is returning to play football — for one of OSU’s Big Ten East rivals.

Epitropoulos, whose father and uncle played for OSU, confirmed via Twitter on Tuesday that he has decided to resume his collegiate playing career for Michigan State.  Epitropoulos will be a walk-on for the Spartans who will be eligible to play in 2015 because he sat out the 2014 season.

Epitropoulos’ father confirmed to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the receiver is still a pre-med student.  According to the dad, his son “got most of his hard stuff out of the way” during his brief sabbatical from the sport.

“To do how he did in school, and take the kind of classes that he took, I highly doubt that he’d been able to get the grades he needed,” John Epitropoulos told the Plain Dealer. “To try to go to medical school, you’ve gotta put yourself in a position to do that. There’s some minimal things you’ve gotta do, and that doesn’t guarantee you anything. I’m confident, and he said too, that he would not have been able to get the grades that he needed.

“That (football) part of his life slowed down so he would have a chance, because there’s no guarantee obviously. It’s very competitive. If you want to put yourself in a spot to do that, then that’s what you gotta do. I can tell you as a father, I’m fairly confident he wouldn’t have been able, or he would’ve had to switch his major out. To his betterment, he didn’t want to do that. That’s the right call for him.”

On the football field, Epitropoulos played in four games as a redshirt freshman in 2013. He had one career catch for six yards — vs. Purdue in early November

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Uncle Luke, coach trade Twitter barbs over 5-star FSU decommit

Isaac Nauta

On the field the Florida State-Miami rivalry is a shadow of its former self, with the Seminoles winning five straight; six of seven; and nine of 11.  The last time the Hurricanes won at least two in a row in the series was the end of a six-game winning streak that ran from 2000-2004.

Off the field and in the social media arena?  The rivalry is alive and well.

Late Tuesday morning, five-star 2016 tight end Isaac Nauta, the highest-rated offensive commit, along with quarterback Malik Henry, in FSU’s class next year, announced via Twitter that he had decided to decommit from FSU and reopen his recruitment.  In his tweet missive, he took what some took to be a vague slap at the current “culture” around the FSU football program, writing that “I have decommitted to make sure that I make the best possible decision for my future in becoming a man and developing as a student-athlete.”

To add insult to injury, Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell, an unabashed and very public supporter of Miami football, took to the same social media website to take a jab at the FSU assistant who would’ve been/will be Nauta’s position coach, tight ends coach Tim Brewster.

Brewster, of course, responded with a reference to the date of the next meeting between the in-state rivals.

FSU, incidentally, is still ranked third for the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com.  The U, meanwhile, is ranked seventh.

As for 6-4, 235-pound Florida native Nauta’s future?  Florida, Georgia, Michigan and USC are all schools that are listed as “High” in the interest category.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Academic reasons cost USF its leading 2014 sacker

Derrick Calloway

USF released its updated depth chart ahead of the start of summer camp, and there’s one very noticeable absence.

Derrick Calloway is no longer listed as a member of Willie Taggart‘s squad.  According to the school, the defensive tackle has withdrawn from the university because of academic reasons.

It was noted by the school itself that Calloway could return to USF after 2015.

In 2014, Calloway’s three sacks led all Bull defensive linemen, as did his two quarterback hurries.  The Tampa Bay Times notes that, with Calloway’s departure, USF has just one defensive tackle on the roster with starting experience — Deadrin Senat, who has just two starts on his résumé.  Calloway himself had just three starts, all of which came last season as a sophomore.

(Photo credit: USF athletics)

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ECU gives projected starting guard Larry Williams the boot

Larry Williams

On yet another day of additional player movement, we’ll close shop for the night with one final departure.

East Carolina announced in a press release that Larry Williams has been dismissed by head coach Ruffin McNeill.  The dismissal comes after Williams was accused of violating unspecified team rules.

“It is always disappointing when someone is dismissed from the program, but there comes a time when an individual’s actions force the loss of a privilege, which in this case is being a part of our team,” McNeill said in a statement. “We all have the responsibility of being accountable.”

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2013, Williams played in all 13 games. Most of that action came on special teams.

However, the 6-4, 331-pound lineman was expected to head into summer camp as the projected starter at right guard.

(Photo credit: East Carolina athletics)

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Dismissed by Wazzu, Daquawn Brown expected to land at Fresno

Washington State v Stanford Getty Images

Nearly seven months to the day he was dismissed by Washington State, it appears that Daquawn Brown has found a landing spot.

According to FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, Brown “is expected to be cleared to transfer to Fresno State.”  Because of NCAA transfer rules, Brown will be forced to sit out the 2015 season.

He would have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

Back in late December, Brown was kicked off Mike Leach‘s football team.  While Wazzu never confirmed the dismissal, it was reported that it had involved, of course, a violation of unspecified team rules.

Brown started 11 of 12 games at cornerback in 2014, with the only start missed due to a second-half targeting penalty against Oregon State that kept him out of the first half of the Arizona State game.  He led the team in tackles with 82, and was named honorable mention Pac-12 following the regular season.

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QB Donovan Isom takes to Twitter to announce transfer from Utah

Isom_Donovan, Utah Football August 6, 2014 in Salt Lake City, UT. (Photo / Steve C. Wilson / University of Utah)

Utah’s quarterback meeting room will be one lighter when it enters summer camp than when it exited spring practice.

On Twitter Saturday evening, Donovan Isom tweeted out a photo of him wearing a Southeastern Louisiana uniform and helmet.  The quarterback confirmed to the Salt Lake Tribune that he decided to transfer from Utah to be closer to his family in Louisiana.

Last month, his family’s home was destroyed by fire, which triggered his decision to leave the Utes.

Another factor in the decision could very well have been the depth chart at his position.  Not counting Isom, the Utes’ roster is littered with five quarterbacks, including the incumbent Travis Wilson as well as well as former Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson.

Isom was a three-star member of Utah’s 2014 recruiting class who took a redshirt as a true freshman.  He took part in the spring game, rushing for 42 yards on 11 carries and completing seven passes for 15 yards.

Because Southeastern Louisiana is an FCS school, Isom will be eligible to play in 2015.  Including this year, he’ll have four years of eligibility remaining.

(Photo credit: Utah athletics)

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Michigan ditching ‘Legends’ jerseys, will re-retire iconic numbers

Appalachian v Michigan

One of the more controversial and clunky decisions of the Dave Brandon era at Michigan will officially come to an end this season.

Tuesday afternoon, UM announced that it plans on re-retiring the uniform numbers of seven of its football legends: Gerald Ford (#48), Tom Harmon (#98), Ron Kramer (#87), Bennie Oosterbaan (#47) and the Wistert brothers (#11) — Albert, Alvin and Whitey.  The jerseys associated with what are dubbed the Michigan Football Legends will be taken out of circulation as well.

The re-retirement ceremony will take place Nov. 28 prior to the annual grudge match with rival Ohio State.

Additionally, the No. 21 worn by Desmond Howard in a career that included a Heisman Trophy will be officially retired during the same ceremony. The initial decision to begin unretiring the jersey numbers began nearly four years ago under Brandon, as mlive.com explained:

Brandon started the Legends program during Howard’s Hall of Fame ceremony in early 2011. At the time, Howard’s No. 21 was the only number to receive the “Michigan Football Legend” distinction. Any player wearing the No. 21 during this time (Junior Hemingway and Jeremy Gallon were the only two) donned a commemorative patch on their uniform and sat in a specialized locker honoring the “Legend” player.

However, over the next four years, Michigan slowly began to bring all of its previous five retired uniforms back out of circulation, handing them to individual players who were selected by then coach Brady Hoke.

Following Brandon’s ouster and under interim athletic Jim Hackett, momentum grew for the jersey numbers to be tucked back in their rightful places.

“During the search process for our new football coach, I had a meeting with the Michigan Football team, and they expressed their feelings associated with wearing these legendary jerseys,” Hackett said in a statement. “At one end of the spectrum they are awed by the legacy of the men that wore them, and at the other end of the spectrum, and as part of a team sport, they wondered why we would call attention to one of our team members. I brought this issue to our new head coach Jim Harbaugh. He agreed with me that it needed a review. I then talked to the families of these great Michigan players. I called them directly and laid out the paradox of seeing players as a team and the due respect to these individual great players.

“The right plan is to retire them and display them in Towsley Museum which is connected to Schembechler Hall. Because we don’t have the display area inside the stadium, we have found a high-profile area on the concourse where fans can see and honor these retired jerseys.”

The only current player who will be impacted by the move is Desmond Morgan, who has worn No. 48 since 2012.

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Frank Beamer wants Hokies to stay in-house for a successor

Beamer, Beamer

Frank Beamer doesn’t sound like a coach who will be retiring at any point in the near future.  When he does, though, he has an idea for a replacement.

As part of the ESPN car wash Tuesday featuring some coaches from the ACC, the 68-year-old Beamer was asked who he thought should take over the reins at Virginia Tech when he decides to hang up his coaching whistle.  Two current Hokie coaches were mentioned specifically, Beamer’s son and Tech associate head coach/running backs coach Shane Beamer and the man who most assume will take over in Blacksburg when Beamer calls it quits, long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

“Absolutely,” Beamer said when asked if he wanted someone from his current staff to take over. “It’s up for the people of Virginia Tech to decide who [my successor] should be exactly, but I’ve got a great staff of very competent people. Hopefully, someone from the staff will be chosen to be the next coach at Virginia Tech.”

Beamer, the winningest coach in school history, will be entering his 29th season as the Hokies head coach. In August of last year, Tech announced a two-year contract extension that means Beamer is now signed through Jan. 1, 2019.  He also underwent a bit of a health scare last December, although he says he’s fine now.

Foster, who has been on Beamer‘s staff since 1987 and served as the coordinator since 1993, reached agreement on a new five-year contract in late December of last year that keeps him signed through the end of the 2019 season, one year longer than his current boss. Foster’s name has been attached to myriad head-coaching openings the past decade and a half, although he’s never pulled the trigger on a move out on his own. He’s also been mentioned regarding various coordinating vacancies, allowing this past March that Texas A&M’s interest in him following the 2014 season “was probably as close as I’ve ever been to leaving this place.”

The 38-year-old Shane Beamer, meanwhile, has only been on his dad’s staff for the past four years, although he did play wide receiver for the Hokies in the mid-nineties.  He’s spent time on staffs at Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

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D-II team permitted to talk to Dennis Norfleet even as plan in place for Michigan return

Michigan v Ohio State Getty Images

Confusion has reigned for the better part of three months regarding the status of Dennis Norfleet at Michigan.  The events of the last two days, unfortunately, have done little to clear up the situation.

Monday, a spokesperson for Tuskegee University, a Div. II team in Alabama, confirmed to mlive.com that the football program officially received permission from UM to speak to Norfleet about the possibility of a transfer.  Speaking with the media Tuesday, however, first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh indicated that a transfer is not written in stone.

In fact, Harbaugh spoke of a plan being in place for the return specialist to return for his senior season.

Back in mid-May, reports surfaced that Norfleet had been dismissed from the football program.  A day later, UM clarified that Norfleet had been suspended, not dismissed, with additional reports intimating that the issue or issues were related to academics.  A couple of days later Norfleet apologized for… for whatever it is that’s going on in his life that’s led to the uncertainty.

In its Monday report, mlive.com wrote “Norfleet had been given an opportunity to find his way back into the program by Harbaugh throughout the summer, according to a source close to the receiver” and that “[t]he source also explained how Harbaugh was more than fair with Norfleet throughout the summer, and gave the receiver a real chance of getting back in the program’s good graces.” As it stands now, Norfleet is still listed on UM’s official online roster.

With one season (potentially) remaining, Norfleet is already the Wolverines’ all-time leader in kick returns and kick return yards.

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Denied admission by Wisconsin, four-star 2015 RB visiting Miami

Jordan Stevenson

Not surprisingly, there’s not a lack of suitors lining up to woo Jordan Stevenson.

This past weekend, Stevenson spent a couple of days visiting Nebraska.  Beginning Tuesday and going on into Thursday, 247Sports.com is reporting, the running back is taking a visit to Miami.

There’s also a possibility that Stevenson, who’s reportedly being personally recruited by Nick Saban, could take an official visit to Alabama after his Miami trip, although it’s been reported that the Texas product would like to make a decision on a new school by the end of this week.

Last week it was reported that Stevenson, a 2015 Wisconsin signee, was officially denied enrollment at UW this past week even as he met NCAA enrollment standards.  What the UW issue is and the reason why this happened so close to the start of summer camp hasn’t been detailed, although the school has given the player a complete release from his scholarship.

Regardless of where Stevenson ultimately lands — indications are that the Cornhuskers are the favorites at the moment — he will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.  others that have been mentioned as a possibility are Florida, Oklahoma State, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The interest from myriad Power Five programs is understandable as Rivals.com had the Texas high school product as a four-star prospect, rated as the No. 27 running back in the country and the No. 34 player at any position in the state.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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No decision on Dalvin Cook’s status until case clears

Dalvin Cook =, Jimbo Fisher

Whether or not Dalvin Cook is available for the start of Florida State’s season remains to be seen.

As one of the ACC head coaches getting the ESPN “car wash” treatment Tuesday, Jimbo Fisher very plainly stated that Cook will remain indefinitely suspension his misdemeanor case is resolved.  The running back was charged with battery after a female claimed that he punched her in the face while both were at a Tallahassee bar.

Cook’s initial court date is set for Sept. 2, a date that was pushed back to the frustration of the player’s attorney.  As FSU opens the 2015 season Sept. 5, and as the lawyer has very loudly proclaimed that his client will not take a plea deal, it means Cook could very well be sidelined for the opener against Texas State.

If the case drags deeper into the month of September, games against USF (Sept. 12) and Boston College (Sept. 18, ACC opener and first 2015 road game) could be in jeopardy as well.  There’s also the chance that, once the case is resolved, Fisher could decide to suspend Cook for one or more games.

For now, though, any attempt to guess at what future punishment may be meted out is pointless.

“We’ll wait to make decisions based on facts,” Fisher said when asked about Cook’s status. “And when the case gets concluded and all the facts are in, then Florida State will make a decision based off that and whatever’s going on. But it’s an ongoing investigation so we can’t really say much about it.”

Cook, who led the team in rushing as a true freshman last season, was indefinitely suspended by the football program shortly after the incident.  Cook’s attorney lashed out publicly at those assuming his client’s guilt, while the release of the alleged victim’s 911 call added further questions regarding what actually happened that night in June.

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After considering USF, ex-Auburn DB Mackenro Alexander to go JUCO

Auburn Spring Game

When Mackenro Alexander received a release from his Auburn scholarship in late January, it was thought that he could very well end up at USF. Instead, the defensive back has dropped a couple of rungs of competition to restart his playing career.

According to NFLDraftScout.com‘s Dane Brugler, by way of al.com, Alexander (pictured, being draggedhas decided to transfer to Northeast Mississippi Community College. Because Alexander will be playing at the JUCO level, he will be eligible immediately for the upcoming season.

Because of its geographic location — USF is located in Tampa, Fla., a little over a two-hour drive from Alexander’s home in Immokalee — it was surmised that the AAC Bulls would be a likely landing spot for Alexander.

The defensive back saw very little playing time after coming to Auburn as a three-star member of the Class of 2013.  He played in eight games as a true freshman, then none in 2014.

Originally verbally committed to Florida State, Alexander, rated as the No. 43 safety in the country, ultimately chose AU over his other finalists, Clemson and Mississippi State.  Alexander’s four-star cornerback brotherMackensie Alexander, signed with Clemson in 2013 and, after redshirting, was named as a freshman All-American by several outlets coming off a season in which he started 13 games.

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Media hands out preseason MWC honors, picks

Jay Ajayi, Bryan Harsin

As we roll on toward the start of summer camps and, ultimately, a new season, the Mountain West becomes the latest to unveil its preseason selections.

The media that covers the MWC has tapped defending champion Boise State as its favorite to win the Mountain division, while San Diego State is the favorite in the West.  The Broncos received 28 of a possible 30 first-place votes, while the Aztecs garnered 27.  The other three West votes went to Fresno State, which claimed that division in 2014 but fell to Boise in the conference championship game.

Individually, Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins was named as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year; Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell the Defensive POTY; and San Diego State kicker Donny Hageman the Special Teams POTY.

Below is the media’s predicted order of finish in bot divisions, followed by the first-team all-conference squad.

Mountain Division (First-Place Votes), Total Points
1. Boise State (28) 177
2. Utah State (2) 150
3. Colorado State 108
4. Air Force 90
5. Wyoming 64
6. New Mexico 41

West Division
1. San Diego State (27) 177
2. Fresno State (3) 141
3. Nevada 113
4. San José State 91
5. Hawai‘i 70
6. UNLV 38

Defense
DL Eddie Yarbrough* Sr. Wyoming
DL Alex Hansen** Sr. Air Force
DL Kamalei Correa* Jr. Boise State
DL Ian Seau** Sr. Nevada
LB Tanner Vallejo** Jr. Boise State
LB Kyler Fackrell Sr. Utah State
LB Nick Vigil* Jr. Utah State
DB Weston Steelhammer* Jr. Air Force
DB Donte Deayon** Sr. Boise State
DB Darian Thompson* Sr. Boise State
DB Damontae Kazee** Jr. San Diego State

Offense
QB Chuckie Keeton Sr. Utah State
WR Rashard Higgins* Jr. Colorado State
WR Devonte Boyd** So. UNLV
RB Donnel Pumphrey* Jr. San Diego State
RB Marteze Waller** Sr. Fresno State
OL Marcus Henry* Sr. Boise State OL Rees Odhiambo** Sr. Boise State
OL Alex Fifita Sr. Fresno State
OL Ben Clarke Sr. Hawaiʻi
OL Pearce Slater Sr. San Diego State
TE Steven Walker* Sr. Colorado State

Specialists
P Alex Boy** Sr. Nevada
PK Donny Hageman Sr. San Diego State
Ret. Carlos Wiggins Sr. New Mexico

* – member of the 2014 All-Mountain West first team.
** – member of the 2014 All-Mountain West second team.

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Syracuse dismisses leading receiver from 2013

Ashton Broyld, Steele Divitto

A productive 2013 season led to high hopes within the Syracuse football program when it came to Ashton Broyld. Unfortunately, injuries and, ultimately, the player himself derailed the senior’s career with the Orange.

Tuesday morning, head coach Scott Shafer announced that Broyld has been dismissed from his football team. The only reason given, of course, was violating unspecified team rules.

In 2013, Broyld led the team in both receptions (52) and receiving yards (452). Broyld was the Orange’s leading receiver through the first three games last season before a lower-leg injury caused him to miss eight of the last nine games.

Even as he’s listed as a running back, Broyld finishes his ‘Cuse career with more receptions and receiving yards (74, 679) than carries and rushing yards (38, 173). Oddly enough, his lone career touchdown came on the ground.

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