Once again, thank you College Football Playoff.
The latest college football programs to up their future scheduling games are Tennessee and West Virginia, with the schools that the Volunteers and Mountaineers will open the 2018 season against one another. The twist is it will be a neutral-site game, with the the two teams squaring off at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
That stadium, the home of the ACC championship game as well as the Belk Bowl, will also play host to the North Carolina-South Carolina game in 2015.
“The game in Charlotte presents a tremendous opportunity for our football program to play against a quality opponent in West Virginia in a first-class NFL venue,” UT head coach Butch Jones said in a statement. “The Charlotte area is in close proximity to many of our fans, and the state of North Carolina is a key component in our recruiting efforts. We very much look forward to such a unique opportunity for our student-athletes and our program.”
The 2018 game, which will be played Sept. 1, will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs. The Vols haven’t played a team from the Big 12 in the regular season — they faced Texas A&M in the 2004 Cotton Bowl — since opening 1997 against Texas Tech, while the Mountaineers’ last regular-season meeting with a member of the SEC came in 2010 versus LSU.
WVU will open the 2014 season at the home of the Atlanta Falcons against Alabama, while UT will play UAB on the Tennessee Titans’s home turf in 2015 and at Bristol Motor Speedway against Virginia Tech the following season.
“Our players enjoy playing in NFL Stadiums and this a great matchup for our program,” said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen, who may or may not still hold that title four years down the road. “We recruit the state of North Carolina and Charlotte is a strong football area. Our fans have always supported us strongly in previous games in Charlotte and I think this is a matchup that they will really enjoy.”
It’s not been a good day for a couple of starting quarterbacks at Group of Five programs.
The Las Cruces Sun-News has reported that New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers turned himself in last Friday on a warrant that had been issued for him Aug. 14. The junior was booked on one count of misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member.
The alleged victim is Rogers’ girlfriend. A verbal altercation at a party allegedly turned physical in a vehicle later on. When police arrived, the woman, who was initially crying, “downplayed the incident and said that it wasn’t really anything and that the altercation did not get physical and didn’t consider Mr. Rogers grabbing her arm as being a physical altercation.”
The woman decided against completing a domestic violence supplement report, and, according to the Sun-News, it’s unclear if the woman is cooperating with police.
“I was very disappointed in hearing the news but we are in the information gathering stage,” NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “These are allegations that we take very seriously and we look forward to getting as much detail as possible so the university can be informed and the athletic department can make an informed decision moving forward.”
Because “it is a misdemeanor, there isn’t a suspension coming forth right now,” head coach Doug Martin said.
Rogers has started 15 games the past two seasons for the Aggies.
An off-field incident will lead to some on-field attrition, at least for the short-term, for West Virginia.
Starting left guard Adam Pankey (pictured, large player lifting Smallwood) was arrested earlier this month and charged with driving under the influence following a one-car accident. Dana Holgorsen has confirmed that Pankey has been suspended and will remain that way through at least the opener Sept. 3.
“We hold these guys to high expectations,” the head coach said. “When you don’t meet those, there are going to be consequences. He’s currently suspended from the team. That’s disappointing. He will continue his suspension through Missouri, and we’ll address it at that time.”
Pankey has started 25 games the past two seasons. He started 13 at left tackle in 2014, and 12 at left guard in 2015.
Jim Harbaugh had previously confirmed that two of the three Michigan football players not present for a team photo earlier this month — wide receiver Ahmir Mitchell, running back Kareem Walker and defensive lineman Shelton Johnson — had been suspended, although he declined to specify which two. A couple of weeks later, one of those players has apparently exited the program.
On his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, Mitchell announced that he is “reopening my recruitment to all Universities and football programs.” It’s unclear if the wide receiver has received a release from his UM scholarship.
“I love what U of M had to offer me but, what is best for me and my family comes first,” Mitchell wrote.
A four-star 2016 recruit, Mitchell was rated as the No. 5 player at any position in the state of New Jersey and the No. 167 player overall on 247sports.com‘s composite board. He was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice.,
With the opener a little over a week way, Eastern Michigan’s quarterback situation is in a significant state of flux.
The Detroit Free Press has reported that Brogan Roback has been suspended by EMU head coach Chris Creighton. The only reason given was “a violation of our policies.”
EMU opens the 2016 season Sept. 3 against Mississippi Valley State, and it appears Roback will miss at least that contest.
“With the privilege of being a member of the Eastern Michigan University football program there are expectations and standards to which we hold our student-athletes accountable,” a portion of a Creighton’s statement sent to the Free Press read.
Roback took over for Reggie Bell as the Eagles’ starting quarterback after Week 1 last year. He threw for 2,304 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in completing exactly 60 percent of his passes.
Bell transferred after the 2016 season, leaving Roback as the presumptive starter. With Roback’s suspension, it leaves EMU with four scholarship quarterbacks — junior Todd Porter, freshman Isaac Stiebeling, and redshirt freshmen Anton Skupin and James Pensyl. Only Porter, a junior college transfer, has experience at the collegiate level, and would presumably take over as the starter in Roback’s absence.