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.
“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.”
UCF announced the largest financial gift in school history from UCF alum Kenneth Dixon. The donation will help give UCF the support needed to move forward with its athletics facility upgrades, including an athletics village. Among those upgrades will be an expansion to the school’s baseball stadium and basketball facility, as well as a better atmosphere outside the football stadium for fans.
As far as the football program is concerned, the upgrades to the football operations and athletics headquarters have received a $2 million commitment to date. Most of the renovations will help bring the school’s other sports programs up to a more level playing field, but the football stadium will be given a fresh look on he outside with a plaza and promenade to make for a more inviting atmosphere for UCF fans before and after home football games.
In all, UCF is looking to invest $25 million in the renovation project, and the recent donation from Dixon has helped the school cross the $10 million benchmark.
“With more than $10 million committed to our $25 million facilities vision, our goal is to build the best Athletics Village in the nation,” UCF Athletics Director Danny White said in a released statement. “Thanks to Ken Dixon’s gift of more than $5 million, we’ve taken a major step in that direction.”
Sirk was Duke’s leading passer in 2015 with 2,625 passing yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He was also Duke’s leading rusher that season with 803 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Naturally, he will likely be a quality dual-threat option for whatever program lands his services in 2017. As a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play this fall at any FBS program.
With the rights to use “Row the Boat” successfully acquired through a deal with Western Michigan, Minnesota is going all in with the merchandising efforts to capitalize on the motto of P.J. Fleck. Aside from being able to use the motto for program-building measures, Minnesota has the rights to market the saying on merchandise, including an upcoming bobblehead featuring Minnesota’s Gopher mascot.
A limited edition University of Minnesota bobblehead featuring Goldy Gopher rowing a boat was unveiled on Friday by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. Though just an illustration now, it looks incredibly promising and I sort of want to add it to my bobblehead collection.
It appears one of Rutgers’ transferring quarterbacks has found a new home.
In late November, Chris Laviano became one of three Scarlet Knights signal-callers who decided to transfer from Chris Ash‘s football program. Over the weekend, as relayed by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Laviano has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at San Diego State.
As Laviano would be coming to the Mountain West program as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately in 2017. This coming season will be his final year of eligibility.
Laviano had started 18 consecutive games for the Scarlet Knights until he was benched in October of last year.
In 2015, Laviano completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 2,247 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The completion percentage was the best for an RU player since 2008, while the yardage was good for eighth in school history.
Overall, he tossed 21 touchdowns and 15 picks during his time in Piscataway.