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Richmond International Raceway interesting in hosting college football game, too

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Football stadiums and race tracks have a lot in common. Facilities both large enough to house a medium-sized city, yet they sit empty all but a handful of days a year.

Bristol Motor Speedway solved that problem — for a day at least — with Saturday’s Battle at Bristol. In addition to setting the college football record with 156,000-plus fans, the game pushed the race track onto ABC in prime time on a Saturday night, thereby increasing Bristol’s brand awareness somewhere between five and five million times over on an otherwise empty weekend.

And now Richmond wants in on the action.

Speaking to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond International Raceway president Dennis Bickmeier said his venue is “wide open” to hosting non-racing events, which includes college football.

“I think that could be the next progression,” said Bickmeier. “I think it ties in nicely. … This facility turns 70 years old this year. Our job is to get it ready for the next 70 years.”

Noting that the planning process would take multiple years — Bristol announced its game half a decade in advance — Bickmeier did acknowledge multiple hurdles Bristol did not have to clear.

For one, Richmond hosts a race in September, which makes the earliest the track could turn around to be football-ready is, most likely, October. “(Someone) would have to give up a home conference game, and that’s tough,” Bickmeier said.

Second, Richmond holds only 66,000 seats, a fraction of Bristol’s 160,000. That size allowed Bristol to collect a purse — $4 million for each team — that enticed Tennessee and Virginia Tech off their respective campuses.

Given those obstacles, Bickemeier noted a bowl game at Richmond may be more likely.

“We’re in the sports and entertainment business,” he said. “We are (year-round) focused on our NASCAR business. That’s who we are. These other opportunities are that: They’re opportunities. We’d be crazy not to explore them.”

 

Auburn needs new offensive line coach, and UConn’s just resigned

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It appears Auburn’s search for a new offensive line coach may not take very long.

Tuesday, reports surfaced that Herb Hand was leaving The Plains to take the line job at Texas.  The veteran will also be adding to title of co-offensive coordinator with the Longhorns.

One day later, UConn confirmed in a press release that its line coach, J.B. Grimes, has resigned his position, effective immediately.  It just so happens that Grimes spent three seasons (2013-15) coaching at Auburn before moving on to Cincinnati for the 2016 season and, ultimately, UConn.

“I want to thank J.B. for his efforts during his time with us,” head coach Randy Edsall said in a statement. “I wish J.B and his family nothing but the best.”

Grimes spent one season with the Huskies.

Jauan Jennings enrolled in classes at Tennessee; future with Vols football still unclear

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It appears the door is at least slightly ajar for Jauan Jennings‘ return to Rocky Top.

A University of Tennessee spokesperson confirmed to the Knoxville News Sentinel that Jennings is enrolled in classes for the current semester. Jennings has met with both new head coach Jeremy Pruitt and athletic directors Phillip Fulmer about the possibility of being reinstated to the Vols football program.

“I think (Pruitt has) put some parameters around it,” Fulmer stated during a radio interview late last week, “and I guess everybody has got to figure out what those are and if they’re really going to do it. That’s up to them.”

The wide receiver’s status with the football program remains up in the air, nearly two months after Jennings went off on a profanity-laced social-media tirade aimed at the coaching staff. The day after, he was dismissed by interim head coach Brady Hoke, who made the decision in concert with then-athletic director John Currie.

In early September, prior to the off-field issue, Jennings suffered what turned out to be a season-ending wrist injury that limited him to three catches for 17 yards in just one game.

Jennings, who originally came to the Vols as a quarterback, was second on the team in 2016 with 580 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. His 40 receptions were tied for second on the team as well.

Report: Deion Sanders opts not to join Florida State staff

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So much for a Primetime renewal in Tallahassee.

Late last month, just prior to Florida State’s Independence Bowl matchup with Southern Miss, speculation surfaced that there was mutual interest in Deion Sanders joining Willie Taggart‘s first FSU staff as defensive backs coach.  During an in-game interview, the College and Pro Football Hall of Famer was asked about the speculation but did little to quash it.

Nearly a month later, that potential reunion has reportedly been quashed.

Sanders, whose NFL career ended in 2005, has never coached at the collegiate level.  He started his own ill-fated charter school in 2012 and coached the football team there, while he served as the offensive coordinator at a private school in Texas this past season.

The former Seminole great currently serves as an analyst for the NFL Network.

Teammates, coaches take to social media to mourn Tyler Hilinski’s death

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As the Washington State family begins to mourn and attempts to process this tragedy, several of Tyler Hilinski‘s teammates and coaches used social media to help sort through the tangled gamut of emotions they’re running through.

Overnight, word surfaced that the redshirt sophomore quarterback had been found dead of what’s believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. “He was an incredible young man,” head coach Mike Leach said in a statement, “and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it.”

On both Twitter and Instagram, heartbroken Cougar football players and coaches dealt with the devastation left in the suicide’s wake.

And this might be the most important message to come out of this tragedy.  Maybe in death, Tyler Hilinski can help someone find the hope and the help they need.

R.I.P young man.