In Charlie Strong’s debut with No. 19 South Florida, just about everything that could go wrong for the Bulls in the first quarter, did.
Kickoffs out-of-bounds? Check. Punt blocked and later turned into a touchdown? Definitely. Three-and-outs? Several.
Luckily for Strong and his team though, the second quarter amounted to a flipping of the switch and keyed a 42-point unanswered run that allowed USF to escape from the left coast with a 42-22 victory over San Jose State that was far from the impressive debut the team wanted.
Quarterback Quinton Flowers entered the season as a dark horse Heisman candidate but was not quite as sharp as many expected to open his campaign, needing that first quarter to get warmed up along with his teammates. Despite that, he still was quite efficient on the night and finished with 212 yards and two scores through the air while rushing for another 70 yards on the ground and finding the end zone once with his feet.
D’Ernest Johnson also took a while to get going but looked like a solid replacement for Marlon Mack at tailback by rushing for 99 yards and two touchdowns, while Darius Tice also chipped in with another 94 yards and a score. Marquez Scantling led the way for the receiving corps and posted six catches for 91 yards but left the scoring to two of his teammates. Just as impressive was the Bulls’ defense, which clamped down after some early confusion and recorded five tackles for loss, a sack and three interceptions on the night.
While the initial flourish was nice, the final three quarters was not exactly what SJSU’s new coaching staff was hoping to get out the Spartans in a big early test. QB Josh Love was forced out the pocket constantly and pressured into three turnovers after two first half touchdown passes. Perhaps the biggest issue for the rebuilding Mountain West team was the lack of a running game (a paltry 2.9 yards per rush) and kicking issues with two blocked extra points.
We’re used to teams having a few kinks to work out at the beginning of the season and that is certainly the case for these teams. At least for USF, that long flight back to Tampa will come after a win that was the beginning of a new era for the Bulls under Strong and company.
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 247Sports.com. 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.
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 Landof10.com. 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.
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.
AL.com 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.
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.