Getty Images

Kickers, punters boot their way into 2017 kickoff with Lou Groza, Ray Guy watch lists


The 2017 preseason watch list extravaganza rolled forward Wednesday with the release of the Ray Guy and Lou Groza watch lists. With apologies to the importance of both positions, we’re going to dump both watch lists in one post because, well, come on.

The Ray Guy Award carries a clear favorite into 2017 as reigning winner Mitch Wishnowsky returns to Utah after claiming the prize in 2016 after averaging 47.7 yards on his 64 punts. Interestingly, Wishnowsky did not lead the nation in punting last season; that honor belonged to Johnny Townsend of Florida and his 47.89 average on an equal number of boots. Townsend also returns in 2017.

On the kicking side, no returning winer claims favorite status, so we’ll give that to Auburn’s Daniel Carlson (28-of-32 a year ago) and Ole Miss’s Gary Wunderlich (22-of-23).

Lou Groza Watch List
Ricky Aguayo, Florida State
Matt Anderson, California
Stevie Artigue, Louisiana-Lafayette
Michael Badgley, Miami
Jonathan Barnes, Louisiana Tech
John Baron II, San Diego State
Aaron Boumerhi, Temple
Drew Brown, Nebraska
Daniel Carlson, Auburn
Emmit Carpenter, Minnesota
Bryce Crawford, San Jose State
Blanton Creque, Louisville
Tyler Davis, Penn State
Clayton Hatfield, Texas Tech
Greg Huegel, Clemson
Redford Jones, Tulsa
Kody Kroening, Fresno State
Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky
Tommy Openshaw, Vanderbilt
Eddy Pineiro, Florida
Canon Rooker, Middle Tennessee
Jason Sanders, New Mexico
Parker Shaunfield, Southern Miss
Skyler Simcox, Western Kentucky
Joey Slye, Virginia Tech
Luke Strebel, Air Force
Mike Weaver, Wake Forest
Matthew Wright, Central Florida
Gary Wunderlich, Ole Miss
Louie Zervos, Ohio

Ray Guy Watch List
Derek Adams, Kent State
Jake Bailey, Stanford,
Matt Bonadies, Middle Tennessee
Bailey Cate, Old Dominion
A.J. Cole III, North Carolina State
Jake Collins, Western Kentucky
Logan Cooke, Mississippi State
Steven Coutts, California
Trevor Daniel, Tennessee
Joseph Davidson, Bowling Green
Michael Dickson, Texas
Colin Downing, Iowa State
Corey Fatony, Missouri
Blake Gillikin, Penn State
Jonathan Hernandez, South Florida
Logan Laurent, Massachusetts
Wade Lees, Maryland
Johnny Linehan, BYU
Adam Nunez, TCU
Nick Porebski, Oregon State
JK Scott, Alabama
Austin Seibert, Oklahoma
North Carolina, Tom Sheldon, North Carolina
Zach Sinor, Oklahoma State
Spencer Smith, Memphis
Chris Tilbey, USC
Johnny Townsend, Florida
Shane Tripucka, Texas A&M
Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

Transferring Kentucky LB Eli Brown tweets move to Western Kentucky

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It had been thought that, despite moving on from Kentucky, Eli Brown could very well end up staying in the commonwealth.  This weekend, those thoughts proved prophetic.

On his personal Twitter account Saturday evening, Brown confirmed that he would be continuing his collegiate playing career at Western Kentucky.  The announcement comes almost exactly six weeks after the linebacker had confirmed he would be transferring from Kentucky.

A four-star member of UK’s 2015 recruiting class, Brown was rated as the No. 20 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Kentucky according to  Brown was the highest-rated player in the Wildcats’ class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Brown played in 12 games in 2016.  Because of injuries to others, the 6-2, 215-pound redshirt sophomore started five games this past season and was seemingly in line for significant playing time in 2018 prior to his decision to transfer.

Thanks to football ticket sales, Iowa athletic department finishes in the black for first time in three years

Getty Images
1 Comment

Iowa football finished just 8-5 last season but their biggest win for the school might have been at the box office.

A $4 million boost in ticket sales for the Hawkeyes played a big role in the athletic department finishing in the black during the most recent fiscal year, according to documents obtained by It is the first time Iowa has shown a profit in three years as a result.

“When you look at the trends across the country in football attendance and basketball attendance, just nationally there seems to be a reduction,” athletics director Gary Barta told the site. “So I’m pleased generally that we’re holding our own. It seems to fluctuate a little bit more depending on good season/bad season. But for the most part we still have that core of support that’s as good as anywhere.”

Iowa managed a whopping $130.68 million in revenue overall according to reports given to the NCAA and spent around $128.9 million in the same time frame. A good chunk of that cash came as a result of the football program, including the school-record $23.7 million in football ticket sales.

Even with cost increases and salary spikes, it seems like the trend of finishing revenue positive for the department is likely to continue given the massive increases coming the way of Big Ten schools the next few years in television revenue from the conference. As big as some of the numbers put up by the Hawkeyes are though, they still trail others like Texas and Texas A&M by nearly $70 million in the last fiscal year.

$175 million UAB stadium proposal takes next step after Alabama passes new tax law

Getty Images
1 Comment

It’s hard to believe that prior to last season, UAB didn’t have a football team for two years. As successful as the Blazers re-launch in the sport has been though, the next step for the program to truly be competitive in the sports landscape might have just happened on the desk of the governor this week. notes that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a new tax law for Jefferson County that would provide a significant sum of money for a new UAB football stadium as well as other improvements to the sprawling Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) that already houses the arena for the program’s basketball teams.

Though there has been no contractual commitment to build the stadium just yet, the passing of the tax bill to provide some of the revenues needed is one of the first steps local leaders were hoping for. Current plans have the authorities responsible looking at building a 45,000-55,000 seat stadium for UAB football at an estimated cost of $175 million. The school is expected to chip in nearly $4 million a year toward the cost in lease payments.

It’s unclear as to the exact site of the potential stadium but it is expected to be in the downtown area somewhere near the current BJCC complex. It goes without saying that any new stadium, even an off campus such as this one, would be a massive upgrade from the Blazers current home Legion Field.

With the new law out of the way, the next steps appear to reside with local authorities to finalize plans and firmly commit to building the new venue. Construction on the new stadium is expected to begin in December of 2018 once the final green light is given.

Needless to say, UAB football is not only back but it certainly appears better than ever given this recent bit of news.

In addition to Notre Dame series, Alabama reportedly working on home-and-home with Texas too

Getty Images

Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne seems to have shifted the Crimson Tide’s scheduling philosophy from having big neutral site openers for the football team to instead scheduling opponents the team has recently beat for a national title.

Following up their earlier report that said Alabama is looking to set up a home-and-home with historic power Notre Dame, the Tuscaloosa News says the school is also in discussions with Texas for a similar arrangement.

“I’ll say that we are exploring some home-and-homes,” a very coy Byrne told the paper.

The Irish lost to Nick Saban and the Tide in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game while the Longhorns fell out at the Rose Bowl to Alabama in the 2009 title game. The program is currently set to open with Louisville in Orlando for their 2018 opener while Duke (in 2019) and Miami (in 2021) are scheduled for games against the Tide in Atlanta. Outside of those three games and a handful of others against Group of Five opponents though, the schedule is otherwise wide open.

Texas is a different story on that front though as the Longhorns have games at Maryland and home against USC for the upcoming campaign and future dates with LSU (2019, 2020), Arkansas (2021), Ohio State (2022, 2023) and Michigan (2024, 2027). There is room for a home-and-home in 2025 and 2026 however.

Given this flurry of scheduling news and what looks to be a big change in philosophy, it seems like a home-and-home with Clemson is next up on the docket for Byrne and Saban to get done and really make beat-you-for-the-title-schedule-you-later thing an actual thing.