Where will UMass head in football in 2016? Not the AAC. Not yet, at least.
AAC commissioner Mike Aresco commented about the stability of the conference moving forward and said further expansion is not necessarily on the radar at this time. The AAC will lose Louisville to the ACC and Rutgers to the Big Ten later this year, but will add East Carolina, Tulsa and Tulane. Navy is set to join as a football-playing member in 2015, which will allow the conference to hold a conference championship game with 12 members.
“That’s the configuration we expect the conference to have going forward,” Aresco said according to Daily Hampshire Gazette. “Now you never rule out anything. We would always be, alert, in terms of expansion down the road. But I don’t know there’s going to be much realignment the next few years,” Aresco said.
UMass is presumed to be hoping the conference has a change of heart soon though, because it is the conference that seems to make the most sense for a future conference home. Earlier this week UMass announced they have agreed with the MAC to leave the conference as a football-only member after the 2015 season.
“We have a lot of respect for UMass. It’s a flagship university, a high quality northeast presence. UMass has a lot of things going for it,” Aresco said. “We don’t have any plans to expand.”
It would help if UMass could be viewed as an attractive option for the conference, but the transition from FCS to the FBS has gone poorly in the early going for the Minutemen. The good news is the program has two seasons to reshape that image. Will that be enough? Even if UMass does show signs of improving and growth to be a competitive program, the AAC is already at 12 members. Adding just for numbers is no longer a need for the conference since it will meet the NCAA requirement to hold a conference championship game. This is why partnering up with Army in some sort of unified sales pitch may be required by UMass if the AAC is to be convinced expanding would be a benefit.
“We think we’ll be a cohesive stable group of 12,” Aresco said. “That doesn’t rule out us thinking about expanding down the road if the right institution made sense, if there was good, academic, athletic and cultural fit. That’s not our goal right now. Our goal is to build the league and build value in football and basketball like we have in our first year.”
Will Sunderland‘s legal issues just got a whole lot more serious.
Earlier this month, an arrest warrant was issued for Sunderland after he allegedly sold stolen property to an Oklahoma City business in mid-March. At the time, it was believed that the Oklahoma defensive back did not steal the items in question, which included a Playstation 4, controllers and games.
Wednesday, however, Sunderland was charged with felony burglary. According to both the Norman Transcript and The Oklahoman, this most recent charge is likely related to Sunderland allegedly stealing electronics from the dorm room of a pair of OU baseball players — that he then sold, leading to the original misdemeanor charge.
The latter newspaper went on to report that there may be video evidence of the incident.
According to the affidavit submitted by OUPD, Sunderland was seen on recorded video using a OneCard Swipe to enter Headington Hall, and his identity was later confirmed by the OneCard Swipe log. Video then shows Sunderland entering the third floor and walking down the hall that also leads to his room. Then, according to the affidavit, Sunderland appears to be walking toward the elevator lobby but is not seen again on the security footage until eight minutes later when he returns to view with a large unidentified object.
Cameras show Sunderland repeating similar actions for about 36 minutes before he is seen carrying a large red bag into an elevator alone. Once outside, cameras show Sunderland placing the red bag in the trunk of a vehicle parked outside Headington Hall. He then returned to Headington Hall with an unidentified male, and 31 minutes later, they exited carrying two white trash bags.
While Sunderland has turned himself in on the misdemeanor charge, he hasn’t as of yet on the felony.
After the misdemeanor charge, Sunderland was indefinitely suspended. What the felony charge does to his status with the football program moving forward remains to be seen.
Last season as a sophomore, Sunderland played in eight games. This season, Sunderland was expected to stake his claim to one of the starting safety jobs.
It appears that a former Alabama football player will remain in the Yellowhammer State to continue his collegiate playing career. Probably.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Shawn Jennings had decided to transfer from Alabama. On his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Jennings revealed that he has committed to playing football for the Sun Belt Conference’s South Alabama.
The linebacker also added a curious “[a]s of now” qualifier, indicating that, at the very least, the commitment could be described as soft at best.
If Jennings ends up on Joey Jones‘ USA team, or any other FBS program for that matter, he’d have to sit out the 2017 season.
A three-star member of the Tide’s 2016 recruiting class, Jennings was rated as the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Alabama. As a true freshman, he took a redshirt.
Jennings’ older brother, redshirt sophomore Anfernee Jennings, is in line to start at outside linebacker for ‘Bama this season.
For the second time this week, one Sun Belt Conference program has apparently landed a Power Five transfer.
Per a report from 247Sports.com, Camrin Knight has decided to transfer out of the Florida football program. The Gainesville Sun subsequently confirmed the initial report.
The recruiting website also reported that Knight will be transferring to Georgia State. Earlier this week, it was also reported that South Carolina’s Pete Leota would be transferring to GSU as well.
Barring something unexpected, Knight will be forced to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws.
A three-star 2015 recruit, Knight played in eight games as a true freshman tight end. His playing time was cut exactly in half last season, and he moved to linebacker this past spring.
It has been a busy day for Nebraska football news here at College Football Talk, but here’s one more story to fill your plate. Redshirt freshman linebacker Greg Simmons is no longer with the Nebraska program, according to reports.
Sean Callahan of Huskers Online reported Simmons has left the football team, as confirmed by a Nebraska spokesperson. No reason for his departure was given.
Simmons did not play for Nebraska in 2016, in part due to a neck injury suffered in fall camp. After the spring practice season, Simmons was buried on the depth chart. Simmons was a three-star member of Nebraska’s Class of 2016 and chose the Huskers over offers from schools like Louisville, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, among others.
As of now, there is no indication where the Florida native will head next. Should he transfer to another FBS program, he will be required to sit out the 2017 season even though he did not play a down for the Huskers in 2016. However, if he transfers to a lower division program beneath the FBS ranks, he will be eligible to play right away in the fall. Simmons has three years of eligibility remaining after burning a redshirt season in 2016.