Fenway Park

Notre Dame confirms 2015 game at Fenway Park


For the first time in nearly six decades, major college football will be returning to one of the most iconic stadiums in all of sports.

In announcing its schedules for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, Notre Dame confirmed it will be playing its Nov. 21, 2015, game against Boston College at Fenway Park.  The night game at the home of the Boston Red Sox will be the first college football game played at the baseball stadium since 1956, and the first football game of any kind since 1968 (New England Patriots).

The Eagles used to play home games at Fenway regularly throughout the first half of last century, but last played at the stick-and-ball park in 1956.

That 2015 game will be part of the “Shamrock Series,” an annual arrangement that began in 2009 which sees the Irish hosting a neutral-site “home” game.  The ongoing series will also include a 2014 game in Indianapolis (Lucas Oil Stadium) against Purdue and in 2016 in San Antonio (Alamodome) against Army. All three of those games will be televised in prime time by NBC, incidentally.

The 2014 season is also the first in Notre Dame’s football partnership with the ACC that will include an affiliation with the conference’s postseason bowl alignment.  The Irish will face four ACC foes in 2014, six in 2015 and five in 2016 and beyond.

“Our schedules the next three seasons, combined with our 2012 and 2013 schedules, truly exhibit Notre Dame’s intention to celebrate our independence,” said athletic director Jack Swarbrick in a statement.

“We will be playing in virtually every corner of the country and will have a strength of schedule that will serve us well in the new College Football Playoff format.”

Below are the complete schedules for Notre Dame the next three seasons:

Aug. 30 RICE
Sept. 6 MICHIGAN (night)
Sept. 13 *Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind. (night)
Sept. 27 at Syracuse (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.)
Oct. 18 at Florida State
Nov. 1 vs. Navy (FedEx Field, Landover, Md.)
Nov. 8 at Arizona State
Nov. 29 at USC
* Shamrock Series game

Sept. 5 TEXAS
Sept. 12 at Virginia
Oct. 3 at Clemson
Oct. 10 NAVY
Oct. 17 USC
Oct. 31 at Temple (Lincoln Financial Services Field)
Nov. 7 at Pittsburgh
Nov. 21 *Boston College at Fenway Park, Boston, Mass. (night)
Nov. 28 at Stanford
* Shamrock Series game

Sept. 3 at Texas
Sept. 10 NEVADA
Sept. 24 DUKE
Oct. 1 at Syracuse (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.)
Oct. 8 at North Carolina State
Oct. 29 MIAMI
Nov. 5 vs. Navy (site TBD)
Nov. 12 *Army at Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas (night)
Nov. 26 at USC
* Shamrock Series game

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.