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57 centers named to Rimington Award spring watch list

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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  The first watch list of the offseason has arrived.

The first for that honor this year is the Rimington Award, which on Tuesday released its spring watch list that is 57 players strong.  The Rimington Award, named in honor of former Nebraska standout Dave Rimington, is presented annually to the top center in the nation and is determined by the consensus All-American center pick from three existing All-America teams — Walter Camp. Sporting News and FWAA.

None of the finalists for the 2015 award, won by Alabama’s Ryan Kelly, are included on this year’s initial watch list as all three have since moved on with expired eligibility.

The ACC and SEC pace all conferences with eight watch listers apiece, followed by the AAC and Big 12 with seven each.  The Big Ten placed six, while the Pac-12’s three was the least of all of the Power Five programs.

All 10 of the FBS leagues, plus one independent (Notre Dame), are represented on the spring watch list, the full roster of which appears below.

AAC
Deyshawn Bond, Cincinnati, senior
Ryan Crozier, UConn, redshirt sophomore
Will Noble, Houston, sophomore
Drew Kyser, Memphis, sophomore
Evan Brown, SMU, junior
Brendan McGowan, Temple, redshirt senior
Chandler Miller, Tulsa, sophomore

ACC
Jay Guillermo, Clemson, senior
Alec Eberle, Florida State, redshirt sophomore
Freddie Burden, Georgia Tech, redshirt senior
Nicholas Linder, Miami, junior
Lucas Crowley, North Carolina, senior
Alex Officer, Pittsburgh, redshirt junior
Jason Emerich, Syracuse, redshirt senior
Jackson Matteo, Virginia, senior

BIG TEN
Joe Spencer, Illinois, senior
Sean Welsh, Iowa, junior
Brendan Moore, Maryland, sophomore
Mason Cole, Michigan, junior
Dylan Utter, Nebraska, senior
Michael Dieter, Wisconsin, sophomore

BIG 12
Kyle Fuller, Baylor, senior
Dalton Risner, Kansas State, sophomore
Jonathan Alvarez, Oklahoma, junior
Brad Lundblade, Oklahoma State, junior
Austin Schlottman, TCU, junior
Tony Morales, Texas Tech, senior
Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia, redshirt senior

CONFERENCE USA
Michael Montero, FIU, senior
Dillon DeBoer, FAU, redshirt senior
Daniel Stephens, Middle Tennessee State, senior
Nick Clarke, Old Dominion, sophomore
Cameron Tom, Southern Miss, senior
Max Halpin, Western Kentucky, redshirt senior

MAC
Tim McAuliffe, Bowling Green redshirt junior
James O’Hagan, Buffalo, sophomore

MOUNTAIN WEST
Jake Bennett, Colorado State, junior
Asotui Eli, Hawaii, redshirt sophomore
Nathan Goltry, Nevada, senior
Arthur Flores, San Diego State, senior
Austin Stephens, Utah State, senior

PAC-12
Toa, Lobendahn, USC, junior
Coleman Shelton, Washington, junior
Riley Sorenson, Washington State, senior

SEC
Frank Ragnow, Arkansas, junior
Brandon Kublanow, Georgia, senior
Jon Toth, Kentucky, senior
Ethan Pocic, LSU, senior
Jamaal Clayborn, Mississippi State, senior
Robert Conyers, Ole Miss, senior
Alan Knott, South Carolina, redshirt junior
Coleman Thomas, Tennessee, junior

SUN BELT
Devin Mondie, Arkansas State, senior
Andy Kwon, Georgia Southern, senior
Gabe Mobley, Georgia State, sophomore
Steve Matlock, Idaho, senior

INDEPENDENTS
Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame, junior

UConn, Bob Diaco reach agreement on two-year extension, raises

PROVO, UT - OCTOBER 2: Head coach Bob Diaco of the Connecticut Huskies talks to his team on the bench during their game against the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium on October 2, 2015 in Provo Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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Getting UConn back to the postseason for the first time in a half-decade will pay off well for Bob Diaco.

UConn confirmed Monday that it has reached an agreement with Diaco on a two-year contract extension that would keep him with the football program through the 2020 season.  The 2019 and 2020 seasons, Diaco will be paid $2 million and $2.1 million, respectively.

Additionally, the three remaining years on Diaco’s original contract have been changed to reflect raises of $100,000, $150,000 and $200,000, pushing his total compensation to $1.7 million in 2016, $1.8 million in 2017 and $1.9 million in 2018.

According to USA Today‘s salary database, Diaco earned $1.55 million last year.  That total was fourth in the American Athletic Conference.

After a 2-10 first season with the Huskies, Diaco led the Huskies to a 6-7 mark in 2015.  Last season also featured the Huskies’ first bowl game since the Fiesta Bowl following the 2010 season.

NC State announces future series with Texas Tech, Vandy, UConn

RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 31:  The North Carolina State Wolfpack run onto the field before their game against the Clemson Tigers at Carter-Finley Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Tuesday afternoon, North Carolina State decided to do a rather hefty scheduling dump.

That football program announced earlier in the day today that it has reached an agreement on three future home-and-home series, including one each against Texas Tech and Vanderbilt.  The Tech series will take place in the years 2022 (Raleigh, N.C.) and 2027 (Lubbock), while the Vandy series will be played in 2026 (Nashville) and 2028 (Raleigh).

The Wolfpack owns a 4-1 advantage in the all-time series against the Red Raiders, with the last meeting coming in 2003.  The Commodores have beaten the Wolfpack in both previous meetings, including a 38-24 win in the 2012 Music City Bowl.  The only other previous meeting came back in 1946.

In addition to those two series, NCSU will also take on UConn in a third home-and-home.  The Wolfpack will host the first game of that series in 2022, while the Huskies will return the favor the following season.

NCSU has won both games between the two football programs, the first one coming in 2003 and the most recent in 2012.

BC nixes Red Sox offer to play 2016 UConn game at Fenway Park

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 21:  A general view of Fenway Park before the game between the Boston College Eagles and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on November 21, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Boston College was afforded the opportunity to play a college football game at historic Fenway Park last season, but won’t take advantage of a similar opportunity this upcoming season.

According to a report from the Boston Globe, BC has turned down an offer from the Boston Red Sox to play their Nov. 19 game against UConn at Fenway Park.  While there were ticket allocation concerns for last year’s game against Notre Dame at the baseball park — as well as concerns over sight lines and tailgating atmosphere and the like that can’t be easily fixed — that wouldn’t the case this year as BC would’ve served as the home team.

Rather, the athletic department’s decision to reject the MLB club’s overtures came down to the simple fact that, in part because they are already scheduled to play a “home” game in Ireland, they only have six home games in 2016 and the university doesn’t want to go below that mark in any season.

“Boston College often receives requests to play home games at venues ranging from Gillette Stadium to Fenway Park,’’ Bates said. “We have consistently stated that we will consider the possibility only if it is more beneficial for our team, students, and fans, and only during those years in which we still have at least six games in Alumni Stadium. As a result, playing at Fenway Park during the 2016 season was never an option.”

That said, BC has not completely rejected the idea of playing at Fenway in the future, and the football program appears to have an open invitation from the baseball organization to play a game whenever it fits into their scheduling agenda.

“Given the positive feedback we received on last November’s Shamrock Series, the Red Sox would love to see a return of BC football to Fenway Park in the near future,’’ Sox president Sam Kennedy said. “We have extended the invitation for BC to return whenever it works for their schedule.”

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco wants Big 12 expansion drama to settle down soon

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco, addresses the media during an NCAA football media day in Newport, R.I., Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
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The Big East was once the home to six schools currently making a home in the ACC and one each in the Big Ten and Big 12. Realignment changes rattled the Big East a few years back, causing a split of the basketball schools that took the Big East brand with them and leaving the leftover programs to rebrand under the American Athletic Conference. With the Big 12 having internal discussions about the possibility of expanding back to a 12-member line-up, the AAC is watching with caution and waiting for the Big 12 to make a final decision, for better or worse of the AAC. Commissioner Mike Aresco hopes the expansion situation comes to a close soon enough, but he is not wasting time preparing for the possibility of once again seeing one or more member of his conference leave for another.

“I think if we lose a school would we add one? In all likelihood we probably would,”Aresco explained, according to The Orlando Sentinel. “You don’t want to be 11 in football, but on the other hand you could do it. If we lost two, which would probably be the worst-case scenario … we could stay at 10. With the new legislation, we could easily stay at 10, play a championship game, have 5 team divisions and have an eight-game [conference] schedule. We could do that if we wanted to.”

The NCAA recently allowed for conferences to play a conference championship game despite not having the usually required 12 members. The AAC started playing a conference championship game last season after the addition of Navy brought the conference to 12 football-playing members. The new NCAA legislation regarding conference championship games allows a conference to hold a title game with fewer than 12 teams, which was figured to benefit the Big 12. The Big 12, however, has not made a decision on whether or not it will play a conference title game.

“We have 12 good schools that are nationally known and if we lose one or two we’ll figure it out,” Aresco said. “It’s not going to be an Earth-shattering thing. It’s not going to be anything like it was three years ago.”

Aresco was referring to the loss of Louisville to the ACC and Rutgers to the Big Ten. Pittsburgh and Syracuse had already joined the ACC and West Virginia was competing in the Big 12. Since then, multiple AAC schools have been mentioned in various expansion rumors and discussions as possibilities, some more realistic than others. Cincinnati, Connecticut, Memphis, UCF, USF and Houston have all been mentioned at one point or another as potential targets for the Big 12. Once the Big 12 makes its decision final, at least Aresco and the entire AAC will be able to move on with some clearer vision of what comes next.

“I would like to see it settle down,” Aresco said. “There has been instability because of this whole Big 12 thing for the last few years. It’s not good for the schools. It’s not good for the fan bases. It puts pressure on our administrators and our coaches because they have to get asked this question.”