The Bowling Green Falcons have been picked to repeat as MAC champions, but Terry Bowden‘s Akron Zips could be a program on the rise. Bowling Green was named the MAC preseason favorite in the East Division as well as the conference, but Bowden’s Zips received three first-place votes in the east. Toledo was picked to win the MAC’s West Division. The conference’s preseason poll was released Wednesday as the media day event in Detroit got started.
Bowling Green upset Northern Illinois in the 2013 MAC Championship Game, likely preventing the Huskies from making a return trip to the BCS last bowl season. Bowling Green looks to become the first team from the east to repeat as conference champion since Marshall won four in a row from 1997 through 2000. Marshall is now a member of Conference USA.
Toledo received 11 first-place votes in the west, followed by Northern Illinois with eight first-place votes. Central Michigan picked up a pair of first-place votes but sits behind Ball State in the predicted standings. As the conference notes, this all suggests the conference should have some good competition brewing this fall, especially in the west.
The complete poll, as provided by the MAC, follows:
Team (First Place Votes) Points
MAC East Division
1. Bowling Green (18) 144
2. Akron (3) 114
3. Ohio 107
4. Buffalo 87
5. Kent State 72
6. Miami 43
7. UMass 23
MAC West Division
1. Toledo (11) 114
2. Northern Illinois (8) 110
3. Ball State 82
4. Central Michigan (2) 67
5. Western Michigan 44
6. Eastern Michigan 24
The MAC Championship Game will be played on Friday, December 5. This is also the last season UMass will be an associate member of the MAC.
If Roquan Smith is to win a starting linebacking job as some project, he’ll have to do so coming from behind.
Georgia confirmed in a press release Friday that the linebacker underwent successful surgery last month to repair a damaged wrist. As a result, Smith (pictured, No. 3) will be sideline for all of the 15 spring practice sessions that will commence next month.
The good news is that, according to UGA director of sports medicine Ron Courson, “[a] full recovery is anticipated and he [is] expected to fully participate in summer workouts.” Additionally, there should be no limitations placed on Smith’s participation in summer camp that will kick off the beginning of August.
Smith was a four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 77 recruit overall according to Rivals.com. He was one of the highest-rated players in UGA’s class.
As a true freshman, Smith played in 12 games. He was named as one of the football program’s five Newcomers of the Year following the 2015 season.
As the assistant coach shuffle continues in college football, Boston College is welcoming back a familiar face to the sidelines. Paul Pasqualoni has officially been added to the assistant coaching staff as a defensive line coach. Pasqualoni spent the 2015 football season working as a defensive line coach for the NFL’s Houston Texans. He brings plenty of coaching experience with a 43-year career in the football coaching world, including head coaching stints with Syracuse and UConn.
“It is a great thrill for me to announce the addition of Paul Pasqualoni as the defensive line coach at Boston College,” Boston College head coach Steve Addazio said in a released statement. Addazio started his coaching career as an assistant on Pasqualoni’s Western Connecticut State coaching staff. “His experience, passion for the game, high integrity and knowledge of Boston College and of New England football will be a tremendous asset to our program and to this university.”
Boston College also announced the addition of Rich Gunnell, a former Boston College wide receiver, as a wide receivers coach. Gunnell graduated from Boston College in 2009 after registering 181 receptions for 2,459 yards and 18 touchdowns and serving as a team captain during his college career. He joins BC after two years as a high school head coach in Framingham, Massachusetts.
“It is a dream come true to coach at the school that I played for, was a captain for, did my graduate assistant work at and will work with the exact position that I played,” Gunnell said. “I couldn’t be happier and I feel like I am back at home. Boston College is a small, close-knit community. This place helped mold me into the person that I am today and many of the people who were there when I was in school are still here today. I am just excited to be back around the same people.”
Addazio made a couple of other internal coaching moves with his staff as well. Tight ends coach Frank Leonard has been promoted to assistant head coach and Al Washington will move from special teams coordinator to defensive line coach.
The college football career of Oregon running back Thomas Tyner has come to an unceremonious end. Oregon has announced Tyner has taken a medical retirement from football, a year after missing the entire 2015 season due to a shoulder injury.
“We thank Thomas and wish him well,” Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said. “We will continue to support his efforts to graduate from the University of Oregon.”
Tyner was a five-star recruit for Oregon in the Class of 2013. The Beaverton, Oregon native was the top-rated recruit in that recruiting class, which also included offensive lineman Evan Voeller and four-star athletes Tyrell Robinson and Tyree Robinson.
“Thank you for all the support over the years,” Tyner said in a brief statement posted on his Twitter account Friday. “Couldn’t have been more blessed to have been party of such a great community, I have the [utmost] respect for the staff and my teammates. Now it’s time to get in the books and finish up in school. Much love to you all and Go Ducks!”
Tyner rushed for 711 yards and nine touchdowns in his freshman season and 573 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore before a midseason injury put him on the sideline for five games. He returned for Oregon’s College Football Playoff run and rushed for 124 yards against Florida State in the Rose Bowl semifinal game before rushing for 62 yards against Ohio State in the national championship game at the end of the 2014 season. Tyner missed the entire 2015 season, which led to Royce Freeman taking on the leading rusher role for the Ducks.
It would have been fun to watch Oregon run with Tyner and freeman, but alas sometimes health concerns have an unfortunate knack for taking a talented player out of the game, and that just stinks.
The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League reportedly are discussing plans to play a pair of outdoor games during the regular season, but Penn State’s Beaver Stadium is not in the mix.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the two NFL in-state rivals are expected to play in Heinz Field (home to the Pitt Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers) in 2017 with the intent to play a second game in Philadelphia at a later time. The Flyers have played one outdoor game in Philadelphia in Citizens Bank Park for the NHL’s New Years Day Winter Classic, and the Penguins are no strangers to playing an outdoor game either. With outdoor hockey games all the rage in the NHL, Beaver Stadium has long been suspected of being a possible neutral site for a future game between the Flyers and Penguins as it is located fairly equidistant from each city and is a melting pot for fans attending Penn State.
Penn State recently made plans to review renovation plans for all of the athletic facilities on campus, including Beaver Stadium. As long as the NHL is open to outdoor hockey games, Beaver Stadium will remain a hot candidate in the discussion for a future game involving either the Flyers or Penguins, if not both. It should also be noted Penn State has a strong relationship with Terry Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Sabres, which would suggest there might be a push to have the Sabres involved in any outdoor plans that could one day take place on the football field.
One of the goals of Penn State’s potential renovation to Beaver Stadium is to modernize the stadium in order to be able to accommodate outdoor events in the offseason, winter in particular. That idea may have to be placed on ice until renovations are completed, whenever that may be.