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ESPN acquires Miami Beach Bowl, will move it out of Florida

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The state of Florida will play host to one less bowl game when the 2017 postseason rolls around.

The American Athletic Conference, which created the Miami Beach Bowl and has owned and operated the event since 2014, announced Friday that the game has been purchased by ESPN.  The AAC will continue its affiliation with the bowl game; it’s expected Conference USA, the MAC and Sun Belt will do the same.

The conference also confirmed that the game will no longer be played at Marlins Park or in the state of Florida.  A new venue will be announced at a later date, although the state of Texas is the early favorite to land the bowl.

“We are proud of the postseason opportunities that we have been able to provide to student-athletes through our founding of the Miami Beach Bowl, and we appreciate the relationships that we have built with the Miami Marlins, Marlins Park and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “This transfer makes sense on many levels. We are excited to enhance our overall relationship with ESPN and to continue our affiliation with the bowl.”

Memphis (2014), Tulsa (2016) and USF (2015) have previously represented the AAC in the game.  The first two won their matchups with BYU and Central Michigan, respectively, while the latter dropped a 10-point decision to Western Kentucky.

Ex-FSU LB E.J. Levenberry suffers torn ACL at UConn

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A key piece of UConn’s defensive puzzle will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.  If not permanently.

UConn confirmed Monday that E.J. Levenberry sustained a torn ACL in his right knee and will undergo at an undetermined point in the future.  The rising senior linebacker sustained the injury during a Saturday practice this past weekend.

As to the timeline for a return, the school would only allow that Levenberry will miss the remainder of spring practice.  The normal timeline for a return from a torn ACL would be around six months from the time of surgery, which would suggest mid-October at the earliest.

Unless he can secure an unlikely sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, Levenberry would, should he not be able to return at all this season, see his collegiate playing career come to an end because of this injury.

“I feel terrible for E.J.,” first-year (again) Huskies head coach Randy Edsall said in comments distributed by the football program. “He has been working extremely hard and the injury was just one of those unfortunate instances. There was no contact, he just simply planted and the knee gave out.”

A four-star member of FSU’s 2013 recruiting class, Levenberry opted to transfer from Tallahassee following the 2014 season after playing in 26 games during his two years with the Seminoles.  Forced to sit out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws, the 6-3, 250-pounder started 11 games last year, finishing tied for first on the team with four sacks and third in tackles for loss with five.

UConn hiring of Randy Edsall’s son questioned for ethics

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Football coaches having their sons on a football staff is nothing new. It’s been done for decades, and is still done to this day. That is not stopping the Office of State Ethics in Connecticut from digging into a recent hire at UConn, where the hiring of Corey Edsall has come under investigation. Edsall is the son of UConn head coach Randy Edsall. Apparently, this line of questioning has been going on for months, according to The Courant.

The Office of State Ethics is concerned whether or not the hiring of a head coach’s son as an assistant coach is in violation of the university’s Code of Ethics. According to the code, state employees are banned from using their position to benefit family members. The board has asked for an advisory opinion to address this concern and a request from the UConn associate general counsel to deny was voted down unanimously by the board. The advisory opinion is scheduled to be shared at the next board meeting on April 20.

UConn has stood by the hiring process and feels there is no violation of ethics. A statement from the university reads;

“When UConn was negotiating [Randy Edsall’s] contract, university ethics staff consulted with the Office of State Ethics on Coach Edsall’s behalf and sough an informal opinion regarding the potential hiring of the coach’s son. … In keeping with standard practice, the university presented this as a hypothetical scenario that mirrored the facts: specifically, that the university was negotiating with a candidate as that part of the negotiations included a contractual provision regarding the potential future employment at UConn of a member of the candidate’s family, who would work in the same department as the candidate.”

In the end, the hiring of Corey Edsall is unlikely to be overturned. The biggest impact this process seems to have is finalizing contracts. Randy Edsall’s contract still has yet to be officially finalized, but that appears to be a mere formality before being approved by the board. Corey Edsall’s contract is also being hung up as a result of this, but this also should be cleaned up once this ethics concern is sorted.

Corey Edsall is UConn’s tight ends coach. He spent the previous two seasons working as a staff member at Colorado as a graduate assistant working with the defense. The 24-year old has also spent two summers working as a scouting intern with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Michigan defensive analyst, longtime coach Dave Adolph passes at age 79

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The Michigan football family specifically and the football world in general is mourning the passing of one its most beloved coaches.

Jim Harbaugh confirmed on his Twitter account Sunday that Dave Adolph passed away earlier in the day at the age of 79 at his home in Dublin, Ohio. Sam Rutigliano, who had Adolph on his Cleveland Browns coaching staff in the late seventies and early eighties, told the Akron Beacon Journal that the long-time coach hd been battling an unspecified type of cancer.

Adolph had spent the past two seasons as a defensive analyst for Harbaugh’s Wolverines. For the six years prior to that, Adolph was a football staffer for rival Ohio State. He also worked for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego from 2004-2007

From 1979-1999, Adolph was an assistant for six different NFL clubs, including stops as defensive coordinator with the Browns (twice), San Diego Chargers (twice), Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.

His last on-field job at the collegiate level came at OSU in 1978 under the legendary Woody Hayes. He was also on staffs at his alma mater Akron, UConn, Kentucky and Illinois.

According to a press release from the Browns, Adolph is survived by his five children — Michael, Mark, Thomas, Shane and Heather — and their 12 grandchildren.. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those impacted by the coach’s passing.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else