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American, ACC announce officiating alliance

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The ACC and the American have struck a deal for a football officiating alliance, the American announced Monday. The new program will see the two conferences cooperate on all things officiating, from training to scheduling to evaluation.

With the move, the ACC’s Dennis Hennigan will oversee the alliance, while the American’s Terry McAulay will step down as the league’s coordinator of football officiating and the American will hire a new supervisor of football officials.

“We are excited to partner with the ACC regarding the administration of our football officiating program,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “This alliance will provide both conferences with a deep roster of the best college football officials and will provide for greater efficiency and consistency in the training and evaluation of officials as well as enhanced opportunities for the recruitment of officials. We look forward to working with Dennis Hennigan, who was regarded as one of the top on-field officials in college football and has since become a leader on the administrative side. I also want to thank Commissioner John Swofford for his cooperation in reaching this mutually beneficial arrangement.”

The new alliance means ACC officials could oversee a Tulane-Tulsa game, while AAC officials would work a Clemson-Georgia Tech game. The ACC-AAC Alliance will go into effect for the 2018 season.

AAC 2018 season kicks off with Civil ConFLiCT

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Defending American Athletic Conference champion UCF will kick off their conference title defense on August 30 when they visit UConn in the conference and season opener for both teams. The Civil ConFLiCT is the first game on the 2018 conference schedule released by the AAC on Tuesday. The conference will play a series of Thursday night games on national TV and will hold the conference championship game on Saturday, December 1. Kickoff times and television schedules will be decided at a later time, for the most part.

The AAC will continue to play an eight-game conference schedule with each team playing five games against division opponents and three games against teams from the opposing division. The conference championship game will be played at the top division champion’s campus at the end of the season just as it has the previous three seasons. The annual Army-Navy Game, which of course involves AAC member Navy, will continue to be played the week following the AAC championship game (Dec. 8).

The AAC’s Thursday night schedule will begin on September 20 with Temple hosting Tulsa and will feature Houston vs. Tulsa on Oct. 4, UCF vs. Temple on Nov. 1, and Houston vs. Tulane on Nov. 15. The Thursday night games could be altered depending on the NFL’s pending Thursday night schedule (Temple can’t play at home if the Philadelphia Eagles are scheduled for a home game). The Thursday night games will be scheduled to air on ESPN, and the conference championship game will be aired on either ABC or ESPN (it has aired on ABC each of the past three seasons).

The AAC will also play games on Friday nights this season, including three on the day after Thanksgiving for the regular season finale; USF hosting UCF, Memphis hosting Houston, and Cincinnati hosting ECU. That could be a big day for the AAC with potential division championships on the line.

The AAC will have 19 nonconference games against power conference opponents, including eight against ACC teams, four against the Big Ten, and three against the Big 12.

You can check out the full AAC football schedule HERE.

Devin Winters, 2018 prospect being recruited by Ole Miss, Syracuse, dies suddenly

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Less than two weeks before National Signing Day, tragedy has struck the recruiting trail.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Orleans high schooler Devin Winters was found unconscious in his home last Thursday night and was unable to be revived.  He was just 19 years old.

Details surrounding Winters’ passing, including a cause of death, have not been revealed.

“I’m so proud of him, and he was so loved,” Winters’ mother, Cavanda Kelley, told the Times-Picayune. “I know he’s in a better place right now. It’s hard. I’m trying. I’ve got a lot of support, and I thank everybody for it. [There are] so many people out here, half of them I don’t even know, but I’m thankful and grateful for everybody who came out to show love and support for my son.”

Winters, a two-star defensive lineman, was scheduled to take an official visit to Syracuse this weekend and then take one to Ole Miss the following weekend, just a couple of days before signing day.  The Daily Advertiser labeled Winters as a soft commit to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns along with the Power Five interest.

“Very saddened by the unexpected (news),” former UL head coach and current Mississippi State tight ends coach Mark Hudspeth told the paper.  Billy Napier, the coach who replaced Hudspeth with the Ragin’ Cajuns, had continued to recruit the lineman.

Winters had also held offers from, among others, Cincinnati, Houston, Kansas, Oregon State and SMU.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those affected by Winters’ passing.

Arkansas adds three SMU coaches, retains another in completing Chad Morris’ offensive staff

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It was a busy day on the hiring front for Chad Morris.

Long-time SEC defensive coordinator John Chavis was named to the same position at Arkansas earlier Tuesday while Morris brought Joe Craddock along with him from SMU to serve as offensive coordinator. Not long after, Morris announced the remainder of the offensive side of his first Razorbacks coaching staff:

Jeff Traylor – associate head coach/running backs
Dustin Fry – offensive line/run-game coordinator
Barry Lunney Jr. – tight ends
Justin Stepp – wide receivers

Fry, Stepp and Traylor were all assistants under Morris at SMU, the former two for all three seasons the head coach was in charge of the Mustangs. Traylor spent one season with Morris after serving as an assistant at Texas the previous two years.

Lunney, who played quarterback for the Razorbacks in the mid-nineties, has been the tight ends coach at his alma mater for the past five seasons (20-13-present).

Arkansas officially hires two coordinators, including long-time SEC DC John Chavis

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It’s been rumored for more than a week that John Chavis would be brought in to oversee the Hogs’ defense.  Tuesday morning, that came to fruition.

In twin press releases, Arkansas confirmed that new head coach Chad Morris has hired Chavis as his defensive coordinator.  Chavis will also serve as the Razorbacks’ linebackers coach.

Chavis had spent the past three seasons as the coordinator at Texas A&M, coming back on the market after Kevin Sumlin was fired and Jimbo Fisher hired.  All told, he’s spent the past 23 seasons as an SEC coordinator — A&M, LSU (2009-14) and Tennessee (1995-2008).  Counting his time as an assistant at UT prior to being named coordinator, Chavis has called the SEC his coaching home for the past 29 years.

“I’m excited to have Coach Chavis as our defensive coordinator, which was a very important hire for our program,” said offensive-minded Morris said about adding a veteran defensive presence to his staff. “It’s so important to play great defense in the SEC and Coach Chavis brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and success in the league to the table.”

“I’m excited for the opportunity to help Coach Morris build the Arkansas program and join the great staff that he is putting together,” Chavis said. “It’s a great time to be at the University of Arkansas and I can’t wait to get started on building a defense that our fans can be excited about.”

In addition to Chavis, Morris also announced the hiring of Joe Craddock as offensive coordinator.  Along with his coordinating duties, Craddock will coach quarterbacks for the Razorbacks as well.

Craddock was Morris’ coordinator and quarterbacks coach at SMU the past three seasons.  They also worked together for three years on Dabo Swinney‘s Clemson staff prior to Morris taking the SMU job and Craddock following.

“Joe is one of the bright, young minds in all of college football,” Morris said. “He worked underneath us at Clemson and was very instrumental in our success there. I took him with me to SMU and saw him grow both as a person and as a coordinator during the last three years. He has a great mind and feel for the game, and I’m excited to have him on our staff and what we bring to the table in our high-powered offense.”