Whether you like the idea of the College Football Playoff or not, there is one benefit to the new format and selection process that most fans will be able to get on board with. Non-conference games are going to be getting more attractive across the board. Some of the schedules being put together for future seasons have been impressive, and Virginia Tech is looking to do their part to keep that trend going.
According to the school’s official Twitter account for football communications, Associate Athletics Director John Ballein is in talks with multiple schools from the Big 12, Big Ten and SEC in attempts to get some non-conference football games scheduled. Earlier on Thursday it was announced Virginia Tech and Purdue had agreed to a pair of games in 2015 and 2023.
According to FBSchedules.com, Virginia Tech already has much of their non-conference schedule locked up through 2023, with a few openings still to fill here and there unless the ACC moves to a full nine-game conference schedule at any point. The Hokies will have Notre Dame rotate on to their schedule as part of Notre Dame’s relationship and partial membership agreement in the ACC in 2016. In 2014 Virginia Tech visits Ohio State, with the Buckeyes visiting Blacksburg, Virginia in 2015. In addition to a road game at Notre Dame in 2016, the Hokies also are scheduled to meet Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Virginia Tech also has future games scheduled with Big Ten members Wisconsin (2019, 2020), Michigan (2020, 2021) and Penn State (2022, 2023). The Hokies also have a home-and-home scheduled with the Big 12’s West Virginia in 2021 and 2022.
So what other schools might Virginia Tech be in talks with? With a good line-up of Big Ten teams already on the schedule it might be fun to see Virginia Tech try to add some more Big 12 or SEC opponents if possible. Virgina Tech has played Alabama a couple of times in recent years in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games in Atlanta. The neutral site game in Bristol, Tennessee is nice, but a home-and-home series between Virginia Tech and Tennessee would certainly be a nice draw as well. For now, it is all speculation and anybody’s guess what other teams land on Virginia Tech’s future schedules.
Dino Babers has added a very experienced trenchman to his Syracuse coaching staff.
The school confirmed Tuesday that Babers has hired Mike Cavanaugh as his next offensive line coach. In a coaching career that spans 32 seasons, Cavanaugh has been a line coach in some form or fashion for 31 of them.
“Mike has an outstanding track record of teaching and developing quality offensive linemen,” Babers said in a statement. “He’s done it successfully at every level in college as well as the pros. This was an opportunity to add someone whose knowledge and experience will greatly enhance our staff and benefit our players.”
The past three seasons, Cavanaugh was the line coach at Nebraska. At the FBS level, he’s also served as a line coach at Oregon State (2005-14) and Hawaii (1999-2004).
From 1997-98, Cavanaugh was the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.
“I’d like to thank Coach Babers for this opportunity and for welcoming me into the Syracuse family,” Cavanaugh said. “He and his staff have coached some of the most prolific offenses in college football. I’m excited to learn from them and to be part of the championship-caliber program they are building at Syracuse.”
The 2018 season will mark the first time since 2004 Cavanaugh is not a part of a Mike Riley-coached staff.
At least in South Bend, Kevin Stepherson‘s freefall is complete.
According to 247Sports.com, Stepherson, along with three other Notre Dame football players — sophomore running backs CJ Holmes and Deon McIntosh as well as junior defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum — have been dismissed from the Fighting Irish program. No specific reason or reasons for the dismissals were given.
Stepherson was one of four Irish players who were suspended for the team’s Citrus Bowl matchup with LSU, with the wide receiver’s suspension stemming from a handful of off-field issues.
Dec. 15, Stepherson was arrested for shoplifting. The day before that arrest, Stepherson was pulled over on a traffic stop and charged with marijuana possession, driving without a valid license and speeding (he was clocked doing 80 in a 60 mph zone). To make matters worse, at the time of his twin arrests the receiver was already on probation for a marijuana-related arrest in August of 2016.
Adding to the off-field issues, Stepherson was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for reasons unrelated to the arrest in August of 2016.
At the time of the second suspension, Stepherson led the Fighting Irish in receiving touchdowns with five and yards per catch at 18.9 despite missing one-third of the regular season because of the first suspension. His 19 receptions and 359 receiving yards were both good for third on the team.
Another of the players who were dismissed, Holmes, was arrested along with Stepherson in the shoplifting incident. Holmes ran for 32 yards on eight carries this season.
McIntosh was the fourth of the four players suspended for the bowl game. At the time of his suspension, McIntosh was third on the team in rushing with 368 yards and five touchdowns.
Tiassum played very sparsely this past season, and wasn’t looking at much more playing time in 2018.
For those waiting for the renewal of the Backyard Brawl, we now know exactly how long you have to wait. The schools announced Tuesday that the Pitt-West Virginia rivalry will again be played on Sept. 3, 2022, in the season opener for both sides. The schools previously announced a four-game series from 2022-25, but the first matchup was set for Sept. 17, 2022.
The games in even numbered years will be held in Pittsburgh, while odd numbered games will switch to Morgantown.
Pitt and WVU last met on Nov. 25, 2011, a 21-20 Mountaineers win in Morgantown. West Virginia has won the last three meetings and 14 of the last 21, but Pitt holds a 61-40-3 all-time advantage in a series that dates back to 1895. Between 1929 and 1951, the Panthers and Mountaineers met annually, with West Virginia winning just once.
Pitt will complete its own rivalry renewal with Penn State over the next two seasons; the Panthers host the Nittany Lions on Sept. 8 of this coming season, and will visit Beaver Stadium on Sept. 14, 2019. Pitt hosts Notre Dame in 2020 and visits Tennessee in ’21. With today’s adjustment, Pitt is now set to open the 2022 season with back-to-back home games with West Virginia and Tennessee. Pitt is also set to visit both West Virginia and Notre Dame in 2023, and will face the Mountaineers and Irish again in 2025.
West Virginia opens this coming season with Tennessee in Charlotte, and visits NC State two weeks later. The Mountaineers visit Missouri and host NC State in 2019. WVU is set to double-up with Power 5 non-conference opponents every year through 2024: vs. Florida State (at Atlanta) and vs. Maryland in 2020, at Maryland and vs. Virginia Tech in 2021, at Pittsburgh and at Virginia Tech in 2022, at Penn State and vs. Pitt in 2023, and vs. Penn State and at Pitt in 2024.
The College Football Playoff is set to replace six selection committee members before next season, and the first one is in. Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione will join the committee, according to ESPN’s Heather Dinich.
Castiglione will replace Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt, who also served as the committee’s chairman.
This will be the third selection committee on which Castiglione has served, finishing the Big Three trifecta after he worked on the baseball and men’s basketball committees. He will be on the committee for the 2018, ’19 and ’20 seasons.
Castiglione will be forced to recusal himself from any discussions involving Oklahoma, a 2015 and 2017 participant in the College Football Playoff. Ohio State AD Gene Smith and Clemson AD Dan Radakovich also did the same regarding their programs. Radakovich is also set to cycle off the committee this year, along with former Arkansas AD Jeff Long, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt, former Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham and former USA Today reporter Steve Wieberg.