Brian Bahr

Utah and Wyoming add home-and-home series in 2020, 2025

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Former Mountain West Conference foes Utah and Wyoming are set to revive a long-time series with an upcoming home-and-home series.

Wyoming will host Utah on September 19, 2020. Utah will serve as host in the second game of the series, but not until September 19, 2020.

“This is a great opportunity for us to renew a traditional rivalry that goes back to the Skyline Conference, through the WAC and the Mountain West Conference,” said Tom Burman, University of Wyoming Athletics Director, in a released statement. “We’re excited for our fans, particularly in Western Wyoming.”

“This will be an outstanding opportunity for us to play another quality PAC-12 opponent in the coming years,” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. “We look forward to the challenge as we continue to take steps forward in the development of our football program.”

Any time a school from the Mountain West Conference can line up a home-and-home deal with a program from the power conferences is a scheduling win regardless of the outcome on the field. In 2020, Utah will be the second power conference opponent Wyoming will face. The Cowboys are scheduled to visit Texas Tech of the Big 12 the week prior to hosting Utah. As of now, Utah is the only opponent on Wyoming’s non-conference schedule in 2025, but Wyoming has a number of power conference opponents lined up in the coming years, including a road trip to Iowa to open the 2017 season and a home game against Oregon in mid-September. Wyoming also has future dates with Clemson, Washington State, Missouri, Illinois, and Arizona State.

Utah continues to keep old Mountain West Conference on the future schedules. Utah will play BYU this fall and annually through 2022. Utah also has future games against San Jose State (this season) and San Diego State in addition to this new series with Wyoming.

Utah and Wyoming have faced each other 84 times overall, with Utah owning the 51-32-1 edge in the all-time series that started in 1904, according to FBSchedules.com. The teams last squared off in 2010 in MWC play, with Utah winning by a score of 30-6. Utah has won the last four meetings and 10 of the last 11 games in the series.

Pitt starting left tackle Brian O’Neill declares for NFL draft

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One of the individuals who put the fat guy in Fat Guy Touchdown has decided to move on to the next level.

Brian O’Neill announced in a statement sent out via the Pitt sports information department that he has decided to make himself available for the 2018 NFL draft. After discussing his option with his family and coaches, O’Neill stated “I believe this is the best course of action to achieve my ultimate goal.”

The offensive lineman took a redshirt as a true freshman in 2014, which left him one more season of eligibility he could’ve used.

The last three seasons, O’Neill started 37 games in a row for the Panthers.  After starting 24 games in a row at right tackle — his first start was on the opposite side — he started all 12 games at left tackle this past season.

O’Neill’s claim to national fame, though, was his 24-yard touchdown run on a backward pass (pictured) that helped earn him the second-annual Piesman Trophy Award in 2016.  That same season, he scored a five-yard touchdown on an end-around.

Below is O’Neill’s statement, in its entirety:

After careful consideration over the last few weeks, I have decided to enter the 2018 NFL draft. I do not take this decision lightly; therefore, I took an extensive amount of time discussing the situation with my family and coaches. Ultimately, I believe this is the best course of action to achieve my ultimate goal.

“Looking back on the past four years, I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the world. As an incoming freshman, I was welcomed with open arms into this team, school and community. I am extremely proud to have earned my degree and will always call the University of Pittsburgh home.

“I am forever grateful to a number of individuals instrumental in my development as a player and person. Coach Narduzzi and Coach Peterson’s support and guidance has been incredible. I am truly appreciative for them and all my teammates and coaches. Additionally, I maintain a special appreciation for Coach Dave Andrews, Coach Dave Bucar and Mark Diethorn. I will never be able to thank all the people who have helped me throughout the past several years, but their support does not go unnoticed.

“Moving forward, there is nothing more important to me than representing my family, teammates, coaches, and this great University in a first-class manner. The entire Pittsburgh community has been great to me – thank you!

“As always, Hail to Pitt!!!

Toledo, Jason Candle reach agreement on new deal through 2023

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Jason Candle was one of the hot commodities during the early spinning of the 2017-18 coaching carousel.  With said spinning winding down, Candle has remained put — albeit with a (surprise surprise!) revamped deal.

Toledo confirmed Friday afternoon that it has reached an agreement on a two-year contract extension with its head football coach.  Candle is now signed through the 2023 season, with his original deal running through 2021.

It’s believed that the new deal will make him the highest-paid coach in the MAC, although the financial details have not yet been released.

“We are very pleased to extend Jason Candle’s contract through the 2023 season,” said athletic director Mike O’Brien in a statement. “Jason is unquestionably one of the finest football coaches in the country. He is a tremendous leader and teacher of young men. His focus on leading us to a MAC Championship never wavered, and he has a strong determination to elevate our football program to even greater heights. We look forward to his leadership for many years to come.”

In nearly two full seasons with the Rockets, Candle has guided UT to a 20-6 record (he’s 21-6 overall at the school as he coached the team in the 2015 Boca Raton Bowl).  This season, they’ve gone 11-2, winning their first outright division title since 1998 and first conference championship since 2004.

“I’m very appreciative of the support and confidence that President (Sharon) Gaber and Mike O’Brien have shown in my staff and me,” said Candle. “The success of our program is the result of the unified effort of our players, coaches, staff and everyone in Rocket Nation who supports us. To be a MAC Champion is a tremendous accomplishment of which we can all be proud. At the same time, we are even more focused on our mission of continuing to build on our program’s tradition of success. I’m proud to be a Rocket and proud to represent this great University and great city.”

Toledo will face Sun Belt co-champion Appalachian State in the Dollar General Bowl Dec. 23.

Report: Departing Oregon State WR Seth Collins facing assault charge

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Earlier today we noted that Seth Collins would be, for a second time, leaving Oregon State. As it turns out, there’s little more going on off the field than was originally known.

According to The Oregonian, Collins was arraigned in court Thursday on one count of fourth-degree assault.  The arraignment came the same day as OSU confirmed that the wide receiver had asked for and been granted a release from his scholarship.

The alleged incident that led to the charge occurred in early October at a Corvallis apartment complex and allegedly caused physical injury to the 19-year-old alleged victim, Makaela Martinez.  From the newspapers report:

Lt. Dan Duncan of the Corvallis Police Department said Martinez reported the incident at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8. Duncan said that Martinez had a “swollen and cut” lip, according to the police report, and said that she had been struck in the face.

[Collin’s attorney Jennifer] Nash said Collins did not know Martinez. She said an altercation started at the party due to an unnamed intoxicated male who was “out of control.” Nash said Collins was not intoxicated and got involved in the altercation, for which Martinez was a bystander.

“(Collins) was trying to help someone else and this situation happened,” Nash said.

A university source, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the incident, said Collins took Martinez’s phone as she recorded the incident on video. Martinez is not enrolled at Oregon State, according to the school’s online directory.

At the time of Collins’ release, he was under suspension by the football program because of the incident, and had been for nearly a month.  Collins missed the first three games of the 2017 season because of a finger injury and returned to play the next three, then was sidelined indefinitely in early October because of what the football program described at the time as a health-related issue.

“OSU athletic department spokesman Steve Fenk said the timing of Collins’ [health-related] absence and the date of the alleged assault were coincidental,” The Oregonian wrote.

The transferring Collins has one year of collegiate eligibility, which he intends to use at another football program, although this off-field incident could cause him some damage in that endeavor. “The filing of charges against him in this manner could have a huge impact on his future,” his attorney said.

Ragin’ Cajuns confirm hiring of Sun Devils OC Billy Napier as head coach

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This phase of The Grand Experiment at Arizona State is officially an abject failure.

In hiring Herm Edwards, it was known that ASU was looking to retain both of Todd Graham‘s coordinators in an effort to ease Edwards’ return to coaching after a decade-long absence.  Earlier this week, the new Sun Devils head coach confirmed that defensive coordinator Phil Bennett was leaving the staff because of what were described as “family matters.” Overnight, reports surfaced that offensive coordinator Billy Napier had been offered the head-coaching job at a Sun Belt Conference program and was likely to accept it.

Friday afternoon, that likelihood became a reality as Louisiana announced that Napier has been named as the Ragin’ Cajuns next head football coach.  Napier replaces Mark Hudspethfired earlier this month after seven years with the program.

The football program will officially introduce their new coach at a Monday press conference.

“My family and I are excited and humbled for the opportunity to serve Cajun Nation and our Louisiana football program,” Napier said. “We will make it a priority to bring in the best talent from the state of Louisiana and the nation.”

Napier just completed his first season at ASU.  Prior to that, he spent five seasons as the wide receivers coach at Alabama.  Next Sept. 29th, Napier’s Ragin’ Cajuns squad will square off with… the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

With Napier’s hiring, Kent State is the lone FBS program without a head coach.