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UConn dismisses highly-touted 2015 signee

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Just one member of UConn’s 2015 recruiting class was rated higher than Nazir Williams.  A little over two years later, Williams is gone.

In a press release over the weekend, the football program announced that “Williams has been dismissed due to violation of Division of Athletics policy.” No specifics were given as to what triggered the dismissal.

The move does, though, comes several months after Williams was arrested on multiple charges, including weapons in a motor vehicle, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana and possession of alcohol by a minor.  The weapon turned out to be an unmarked BB-gun.

A three-star 2015 signee, Williams was rated as the No. 41 player at any position in the state of New Jersey.  Only David Ryslik was rated higher by 247Sports.com than Williams was in the Huskies’ class that year, although the linebacker held just two other offers from FBS programs — Buffalo and Temple.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Williams didn’t see the field at all in 2016.

Miami Beach Bowl officially moves to Frisco, Texas

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The Miami Beach Bowl was an unnecessary bowl game played in a metro area already populated by bowl games — but at least it was in Miami. Bowl games may have lost their luster over the past decade-plus, but it’s hard to complain about being sent to South Beach in December for a football game.

The Miami Beach Bowl is no more, and it’s now been reincarnated as another unnecessary bowl game to be played in a metro area even more populated by bowl games — and it won’t be anywhere near as interesting as Miami.

Meet the Frisco Bowl, the newest ESPN-created postseason college football game to be played in the scenic locale of Frisco, Texas.

The north Dallas suburb will host the game at Toyota Stadium, a 20,500-seat outdoor venue that’s home to MLS club FC Dallas as well as the FCS National Championship every January. The Frisco Bowl will also compete for sponsorship dollars and public attention with the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, the Heart of Dallas Bowl in Dallas and the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.

“We are pleased to be able to host this game in one of the most vibrant football markets in the country,” said ESPN vice president of events Clint Overby. “The infrastructure and facilities that exist in Frisco are outstanding and will be an excellent venue for the teams, players, administrators and fans traveling into the marketplace. We look forward to working with civic organizations and businesses in the area to create an annual event that embraces the spirit of the community.”

The first annual Frisco Bowl will pit an American Athletic Conference team against a to-be-determined conference at 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 20.

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.