A&M schedules future home-and-home with UCLA

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This kind of development is what most people, including fans, were hoping for when the College Football Playoff — and its reliance at least in part on strength of schedule — was unveiled.

In the latest sign that FBS football programs are looking to beef-up its future non-conference slates, Texas A&M and UCLA announced early Thursday afternoon that they have reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series.  The Aggies will host the Bruins at Kyle Field Sept. 3, 2016, with A&M making its first trek to the West Coast for a regular season game in two decades the following year on Sept. 2.

The 2016 game will mark the first-ever game in College Station for the Bruins.

The two rising programs have met four times previously, the last coming in the 1998 Cotton Bowl.  A&M won the first two games of the “series” (1940, 1951) while UCLA has taken the last two, the first of which came in 1955 at the expense of second-year Aggie head coach Bear Bryant.

“We are very pleased this series was able to come together and provides our program with an exciting, premier non-conference matchup against UCLA,”A&M athletic director Eric Hyman stated.  “UCLA brings one of the top programs from the West Coast to the redeveloped Kyle Field in Aggieland, and for our Aggie team and the 12thMan to have the chance to play in the Rose Bowl is a historic opportunity.”

The series with UCLA continues a Pac-12 trend for the Aggies.  A&M will face Arizona State in Houston, Tex., next season, while they have a home-and-home scheduled with Oregon for 2018 and 2019.

Likewise, UCLA has beefed up its future slates with series scheduled against Oklahoma (2018 and 2019) and Michigan (2022 and 2023) on the horizon.  UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero gave a nod in the general direction of the new system that will determine a national champion in football as an impetus behind the scheduling trend.

“Facing tough non-conference competition is a necessity with the new playoff system beginning this year,” Guerrero said.

Interestingly, A&M last May scrubbed a future series with UCLA’s cross-town rival USC, citing SEC scheduling concerns.

Report: North Texas adds FCS running back transfer

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North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.

Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.

Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.

As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.

Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger signs extension, vows to fix football

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Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.

Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.

“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”

Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.

David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.

Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:

Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”

“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”

The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.

Alleged victim of Tennessee WR Josh Smith threatens $3 million civil suit

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Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.

According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.

“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’

“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.

The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.

How some college football teams are recognizing Memorial Day on Twitter

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It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.

If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.