WVU sticking with Holgorsen

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As has been the case more often this year than in pretty much any other in recent memory, an athletic director is standing behind an embattled head coach.

The most recent example is West Virginia’s Oliver Luck, who released a statement Tuesday confirming that Dana Holgorsen will return as the Mountaineers’ head coach in 2014.  The decision came after the athletic director and coach “met at length and reviewed this past season.”

“In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect,” Luck’s statement read, in part.

Left unmentioned by Luck was Holgorsen’s hefty buyout.

Reportedly, it would cost the university in excess of $11 million for Holgersen alone if he were fired without cause — and that doesn’t include buyouts for current assistants along with hiring an entire new staff.  While the move from the Big East to the Big 12 was made in large part for the additional conference revenue, the financial hit the athletic department would take for cleaning house is much too prohibitive — especially for an athletic department that’s still not receiving a full share of league revenue.

After going 10-3 his first season in 2011, Holgorsen has gone 7-6 and 4-8 in the Mountaineers’ first two seasons in the Big 12.

Below is the full text of Luck’s statement:

First, I want to thank all Mountaineer fans who supported our football team through a difficult and trying season.  Though there were some high points this year, including our upset victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State and the inspired play from many first year student-athletes, there were far too many disappointments.
 
We have high expectations at West Virginia University for success on and off the field and as Coach Holgorsen has acknowledged to me, we are not meeting those expectations on the field.  Coach Holgorsen and I met at length and reviewed this past season.  We discussed the coaching staff, recruiting, player development, strength and conditioning, academic support, facilities, in short, all the components that make up a successful program.  We are working diligently to improve our capabilities in all of these areas.
 
I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing.  In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect.
 
We had plenty of challenges this season; nonetheless, we should not and will not use those as excuses for our performance. We simply must get better.
 
Coach Holgorsen and his staff are on the road recruiting this week, securing the future for a successful Mountaineer football program.  We need to do our part as well by continuing to move forward with the facility improvements needed to compete at the highest level in our conference.
 
We have high expectations for the 2014 football team, and I have shared those with Coach Holgorsen.  He and his staff are eager to get started to prepare for our opening game against Alabama.  We are well aware that we have a lot of work to do.
 
We have tremendous student-athletes in our program and a very accomplished core of coaches who want to bring championships back to West Virginia University.  We will do all we can to help them in that endeavor, and I ask for your continued support as we move forward to a brighter future.

Michigan State, Washington round out future schedules with Utah State

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Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.

Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).

The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.

Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).

Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.

Old Dominion hopes to “hit the ground running” on new stadium project

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Some fans of the Old Dominion football program may be getting a little impatient with the progress (or lack of) in the development of the football stadium, but Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig says things are coming along nicely and progress will start to be seen soon enough.

“Once we get the architects engaged, we’ll figure out what $55 million will buy in 2019 dollars,” Selig said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “Then we’ll have an idea for how much additional money needs to be raised to support the project.”

Old Dominion is planning on tearing down Foreman Field at the end of the 2018 season and rebuild it with modern seating and amenities. The $55 million project remained on the books in the Virginia budget in February, allowing the university to move ahead with their plans. The first step is finding an architect to take on the job.

Because Old Dominion’s football stadium is among the smallest in the nation and will remain so even after the rebuild and renovations, the entire project is expected to move fairly swiftly once the work actually begins. Old Dominion isn’t building a grand football palace, so any concerns over the lack of updates on the stadium should be calmed.

If nothing else, the concerns raised about the lack of updates on the stadium renovations may just mean Old Dominion has some eager fans excited about the future of the program.

Baylor interim president to Texas senators: “We were not trying to cover up what happened at Baylor”

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Texas senators are taking aim at Baylor University and are hoping to persuade the university to be more open and transparent despite being a private university.

Baylor interim president David Garland faced criticism from senators during a hearing with the Senate Higher Education Committee on Wednesday regarding the coverup of rape accusations found throughout the football program in recent years.

“We were not trying to cover up what happened at Baylor,” Garland said to the committee. Unfortunately for Garland, that was far from enough to sway the senators on the committee from playing nice with him and Baylor University.

I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that for a minute,” Senator Kel Seliger replied, according to The Texas Tribune. “I don’t buy that for a minute. I think that is exactly what was going on.”

The exchange between the interim president at Baylor and the senator came during a hearing regarding a state bill that requires any school receiving more than $5 million in Tuition Equalization Grants from the state to comply with open records and open meetings laws in the state of Texas. Baylor, being a private university, believes it should not have to comply with the bill, which would open up the doors to more information regarding Baylor’s handling of vile accusations within its university and athletics department.

The exchange comes a day after Baylor moved to dismiss a lawsuit claiming 52 rapes over a three-year period occurred at the university.

If you thought the ugliness around the Baylor situation was going to be limited to athletics, you thought wrong. This is clearly a state-wide concern and battle now. And things are always bigger in Texas, right?

A&M-UCLA opener in 2017 moved from Saturday to Sunday

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Grab your calendars as there’s been a change to your opening(ish) weekend college football agenda.

Texas A&M road trip to UCLA is one of a handful of high-profile games that will help launch the 2017 season Labor Day weekend.  The game, which will be played at the famed Rose Bowl, had been originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2.  However, it was announced Wednesday that the game will be pushed back to Sunday, Sept. 3.

The game will kick off at either 7:30 or 8 p.m. ET, with the actual time being determined at a later date.

This year’s game will serve as the back-end of a home-and-home series between the two schools.  The Aggies claimed a 31-24 win over the Bruins in overtime last season in College Station.

The 2017 season will actually commence the weekend of Aug. 26 with five games featuring FBS teams, including Stanford against Rice in Australia and Colorado State opening their new on-campus stadium against Oregon State.  The first full weekend kicks off the following Thursday — Ohio State-Indiana highlights that day’s lean slate — and continues with a handful of games the next day — hello Colorado-Colorado State, Washington-Rutgers and Utah State-Wisconsin among others.

The first full Saturday features the likes of Alabama-Florida State, Florida-Michigan, West Virginia-Virginia Tech, LSU-BYU, Louisville-Purdue, Cal-North Carolina, Maryland-Texas and South Carolina-North Carolina State squaring off Sept. 2.

A&M-UCLA is the only Sunday game, while Tennessee and Georgia Tech will close out the weekend at the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Labor Day night that Monday.