Soccer is Michigan AD Brandon’s latest way to make use of idle Michigan Stadium

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What once was speculation has become a reality. Michigan Stadium will be the host site for a highly anticipated soccer match this summer between two of the top club teams from Europe, Manchester United and Real Madrid. The match was formally announced on Friday, ending months of rumor and speculation.

Manchester United and Real Madrid are scheduled to play in Michigan Stadium on August 2 as part of the Guinness International Champions Cup. Michigan made the joint announcement with Relevant Sports, the company in charge of putting on the match.

“We are excited about the opportunity to host two of soccer’s premier clubs at Michigan Stadium,” said Dave Brandon, Michigan’s athletic director, in a statement Friday. “This is a rare chance for the Ann Arbor community and thousands of soccer fans in and around the southeast Michigan area to watch elite level professional soccer. This event will have a positive economic impact on the city of Ann Arbor and the state of Michigan and will continue to extend the Michigan brand internationally.”

One of the goals for playing the game in Michigan Stadium will certainly be to draw a massive crowd. Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the United States, and Manchester United and Real Madrid figure to draw a large crowd.

“The Big House represents the best in American sports and Manchester United and Real Madrid are the most famous teams in the world,” said Relevent Sports chief executive officer Charlie Stillitano. “Whether you are one of the hundred thousand fans packing University of Michigan Stadium or viewing nationally on FOX, we know the atmosphere will be unlike anything fans have ever seen.”

No matter what the turnout for the game ends up being, this should be a big win for Michigan Athletics, which will benefit from hosting another non-football event inside the historic football stadium. In an age when universities continue to explore possibilities to generate more revenue off of large facilities that typically get used seven or eight times a year for its intended purpose, Brandon seems to have found another event that could become a more regular feature on the schedule. Earlier this offseason Michigan Stadium hosted the NHL’s Winter Classic. Could more hockey and soccer be helping to fill the void in Michigan Stadium in the offseason? This is, after all, one of the reasons why Brandon was hired by the university.

The tentative locations  for matches in the soccer series were reported in late January. Ann Arbor, Michigan was among the cities listed, leaving Michigan Stadium as the rumored host site. Among the other cities to host soccer matches will be New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Denver, Miami, Phoenix, Charlotte, and Hartford.

VIDEO: LSU RB Derrius Guice squats 650 pounds

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Derrius Guice may be the most underrated player in college football.

Playing in the shadow of Leonard Fournette, Guice posted an eye-popping 8.55 yards per carry (51 rushes for 436 yards) as a freshman in 2015, then kept his big-play ability as his usage increased while Fournette battled injuries in his final college season. Guice rushed 183 times for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns; his 7.58 yards per carry average was the most among Power 5 rushers with at least 180 carries.

So, yes, Guice is really good. He’s also a physical freak.

LSU captured and tweeted video Friday of Guice squatting 650 pounds, more than three times his listed 212 pounds.

If — and this is a massive, Les Miles-firing if — LSU can consistently throw the ball in 2017, go ahead and make Guice your darkhorse Heisman contender in 2017.

(HT CBS Sports)

Former Miami TE Jovani Haskins headed to West Virginia

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Jovani Haskins announced two weeks ago he was leaving Miami for “somewhere else.” That somewhere else proved to be a favorite destination of other Sunshine State transfers: West Virginia.

“WVU is my new home and I can’t wait to perform in front of the fans of West Virginia!” he tweeted on Saturday.

A 3-star prospect out of Bergenfield, N.J.., Haskins was offered by West Virginia in the class of 2016 and most recruiting experts actually had him signing with the Mountaineers before a surprise commitment to Miami.

Haskins joins two former state of Florida players on WVU’s roster: starting quarterback Will Grier (Florida) and former Miami quarterback Jack Allison (Miami). The Mountaineers also employed Florida State transfer Clint Trickett at quarterback and Miami transfer Antonio Crawford at cornerback.

Haskins redshirted in 2016 and will presumably sit out 2017 before gaining eligibility in ’18. West Virginia could use the help immediately; the roster lists one scholarship tight end at present. WVU currently has two tight ends pledged for the 2018 class in addition to Haskins.

 

BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.