The American Athletic Conference released its 2016 conference schedule highlighted by, oddly enough, non-conference games that pit league gem Houston against Oklahoma (on opening day at Houston’s NRG Stadium) and Louisville (in Houston on Nov. 19).
Those two games, more than any others, will sink or swim the conference’s chances of not only grabbing the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six, but a spot in the College Football Playoff itself.
The 2016 conference slate kicks off with Navy meeting Connecticut on Sept. 10 and concludes with the second annual AAC title game on Dec. 3 at a to-be-determined campus site.
The AAC led the way in scheduling Power 5 opponents — highlighted by a Week 3 schedule that will see the entire East Division punching up a weight class — and includes the likes of Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia, Syracuse, Kansas, TCU and Oklahoma (for all intents and purposes) visiting AAC campuses.
View the full AAC slate here:
For those looking for Randy Edsall to surface in the college game, it appears you’ll have to wait at least another season.
Sunday, the Detroit Lions announced that it has hired the former Maryland and UConn head coach to be its “director of football research-special projects.” The organization wrote in its release that “[t]he football research department assists in all aspects of game preparation, and also provides information to the coaching, personnel and football administration departments to help improve the team’s decisions in the draft, free agency and on gameday.”
This marks Edsall’s second job at the NFL level, the first coming with the Jacksonville Jaguars as defensive backs coach from 1994-97. The connection between Edsall and the club is general manager Bob Quinn, who was a grad assistant in the UConn athletic department when Edsall was hired by the Huskies in 1999.
Edsall was fired by Maryland midway through the 2015 season following a 2-4 start to the season. Over the course of four-plus seasons, Edsall’s Terps went 22-33 overall and 10-23 in conference play. Coming into last season, Edsall had gone 7-6 in back-to-back seasons and led the Terps to bowl bids each year.
Prior to Maryland, Edsall had spent 12 seasons as the head coach at UConn. The Huskies went 8-5 in each of his last three seasons in Storrs before leaving for College Park in January of 2011.
In addition to Maryland and UConn, Edsall also spent time as the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech (1998); defensive backs coach at Boston College (1991-93); and long-time assistant at his alma mater Syracuse (1980-90).
Michigan interim athletics director Jim Hackett announced on Dec. 2 he would not seek the Wolverines’ AD job permanently. As we sit nearly eight weeks later, Michigan still sits in his Ann Arbor office, awaiting a successor.
But, according to a report, Michigan is getting close.
Mark Bladschun, formerly of the Boston Globe, wrote on his independent site AJerseyGuy.com that Connecticut’s Warde Manuel (pictured second from the right) interviewed for the gig last week and, “if Manuel came out of the interview process without making major mistakes,” could be named Michigan’s AD “in the next few days.”
Manuel is in the running for the job alongside Boston College’s Brad Bates, Arkansas’ Jeff Long and Colorado State’s Joe Parker.
Manuel played football at Michigan under Bo Schembechler — giving him something in common with the Wolverines’ head football coach — and worked in the administration before moving on to Buffalo (2005-12) and UConn.
When asked by the Hartford Courant last month whether he’d be at UConn in a year, Manuel responded, “I don’t know. I can tell you I’m very happy here. While all the rumors and speculation are out there, it’s just that [speculation] at this point. If I’m here next Dec. 30, I’m going to be a happy person, as happy as I am now. I don’t put too much worry about the future. I focus on doing a great job as best I can and making people in Connecticut happy with what we’re doing. That’s what’s most important to me.”
Whoever the hire ends up being owes a debt of gratitude to job Hackett did in cleaning up Dave Brandon‘s mess. The two biggest issues facing the Wolverines’ athletics department — fixing the football program and signing an apparel contract — have been fixed in a big way with the hiring of Jim Harbaugh and a $169 million Nike contract kicking in later this year.
With a starter firmly in place for the upcoming season, Tim Boyle has decided to take his leave of UConn.
The New Haven Register reported this weekend that Boyle has received a release from his scholarship and will transfer out of the Huskies football program. Boyle’s high school coach, Sean Marinan, told the Register that the quarterback will likely take a visit to Eastern Kentucky of the FCS in short order.
“Every kid wants to play, and he wants to play pretty bad,” Marinan said told the paper. “He has a lot of ability so maybe he should have made this move a year or two ago, but I hope it works out for him.”
Barring injury, Boyle would’ve started the 2016 season as the backup to sophomore Bryant Shirreffs.
Boyle started games each of the past three seasons for the Huskies — four in 2013, three in 2014, one in 2015. Most notably, he replaced a concussed Shirreffs early in the game against Houston and helped lead the Huskies to an upset win, the Cougars’ first and only loss of the season. He started the regular-season finale the following week because of the starter’s concussion.
For his career, Boyle completed 48.4 percent of his 275 passes, throwing just one touchdown vs. 13 interceptions. His career pass efficiency rating is 77.9; the lowest 2015 efficiency rating of the 114 quarterbacks listed on the NCAA’s website is 85.4 (Maryland’s Caleb Rowe).
As the college football coaching carousel ssslllooowwwlllyyy crawls to a stop, UConn is next to find itself with a vacancy.
Nearly two weeks after the Huskies’ season ended in a St. Petersburg Bowl loss to Marshall, Don Patterson is stepping down from Bob Diaco‘s staff and retiring from coaching. Patterson has coached quarterbacks and tight ends during his time with the Huskies.
There was no immediate word on a successor.
“All good things must come to an end. After 37 seasons and 425 games of Division I college football, I have decided that this chapter of my life will draw to a close,” said the 65-year-old Patterson. “I want to thank the many players, coaches and school administrators that have enriched my life in so many ways. I also want to thank the fans for making college football the greatest of all games.”
“It has been my privilege to represent the University of Connecticut these past two years, and I leave Storrs with the satisfaction of knowing that UConn football is now in a much better place than when we first arrived. The players and coaches at UConn will always have a special place in our hearts, and we will remain loyal Husky fans for the rest of our days.”
Patterson spent 20 seasons (1979-98) on Hayden Fry’s staff before moving on to serve as the head coach at Western Illinois for 11 seasons (1999-2009).