Miami Athletic Department

Miami announces plans for $34 million indoor practice facility

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A lack of quality facilities has been one of the knocks on the Miami football program the past few decades but the school is certainly playing catch up very quickly on that front ever since new head coach Mark Richt was hired.

To that end, the school announced on Friday plans for the latest addition to Coral Gables in the Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility. A $14 million donation from the family of local real estate magnate Jeffrey Soffer was the lead gift for the upcoming building, which carries a price tag of $34 million.

“Today we take yet another step forward in continuing our mission of Building Champions at the University of Miami,” athletics director Blake James said in a release. “The generosity of Carol Soffer’s children and others enables us to build one of the finest football facilities in the nation, which will serve the needs of our football program and all our student-athletes for years to come. We are forever grateful to Jeffrey, and Carol’s other children for their support of and passion for UM Athletics.”

Miami was one of the few Power Five schools around the country not to have a proper indoor facility — quite a problem for the team given the weather at times in South Florida. The 81,800-square-foot facility will feature two smaller-than-regulation turf fields and a large football operations center. Football coaches’ office space, position meeting rooms, conference rooms, recruiting lounges and a video center are also part of the new building.

“An indoor practice facility means a great deal to this football program,” Richt said. “I am grateful that the University and the Department of Athletics recognized the need for an indoor facility and worked tirelessly to make it happen. I can’t thank the Soffer Family enough for their contribution and helping us bring this project to fruition. We appreciate Carol’s generous and deeply committed support of Miami Hurricane Athletics.”

Richt contributed $1 million of his own money to the facility earlier this year and the school has all but $10 million of the final cost already pledged by donors. There was not a timetable announced for groundbreaking but one would probably be safe in assuming the fancy new facility will be complete in time for the 2017 or 2018 season.

The move by Miami is just the latest in a furious arms race in the state. Florida State opened their new indoor practice facility in 2013 and Florida recently started practicing in theirs prior to this season (the Gators also are planning to build a new football building too).

Now it seems as though the Hurricanes are joining in on the building boom too.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.