Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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Despite delays, Mercedes Benz Stadium still on track for Chick-fil-A Kickoff games

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Construction delays for the brand new football palace being constructed in Atlanta have forced an MLS match to be rescheduled, but there will be no altering the schedule or location for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games. In a radio interview in Tennessee, Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic president and CEO Gary Stokan says he is in constant communication regarding the subject and remains confident the Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee game on September 2 and the Alabama-Florida State game two days later will not have to be moved.

“I have talked with them (officials) daily over the last week,’’ Stokan said to WNML. “We’ll be in good shape. It’s the fourth event (UT-GT) in there.’’

The other events scheduled to be held in the new football stadium include a pair of NFL preseason games for the Atlanta Falcons. The MLS match that was rescheduled is the other.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is currently scheduled to open on July 30, giving it a full month to work out some kinks before hosting its first real events. The targeted opening date has already been pushed back a handful of times; the stadium was supposed to be open by now.

In the event Mercedes Benz-Stadium is not deemed ready to host the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games, one or both can be moved back to the Georgia Dome. The longtime home stadium of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff and Peach Bowl will remain open and ready for business until Mercedes Benz-Stadium is given a certificate for occupancy. The Georgia Dome was supposed to be torn down in June, but the constant delays with the new stadium have forced that plan to be pushed back as well, just in case.

ACC confirms conference’s football title game returning to Charlotte

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After a one-year sabbatical, the ACC’s football championship game is returning to the state of North Carolina.

Late last month, shortly after the state announced that it had replaced the controversial House Bill 2 (HB2), the ACC Council of Presidents voted that the state would again be considered as venues for future league championships.  Wednesday, the conference confirmed that this year’s football title game will again be played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Furthermore, to in some ways compensate the city for its one-year loss of the game, the ACC announced that the agreement to play the game in Charlotte has been extended through the 2020 season. The original agreement was expected to expire in 2019.

The league also noted in its release that “[c]hampionship events in women’s basketball, baseball, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s and women’s tennis will also return to the state during the 2017-18 academic year, and the ACC Women’s Soccer Championship will follow suit in November 2018.”

“We are pleased that ACC neutral site championships will return to the state of North Carolina beginning with the 2017-18 academic year,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “We value all of our partners in North Carolina and appreciate their support and cooperation. We are thrilled to renew our relationships with so many terrific people, outstanding cities and first-class venues.”

The ACC announced in late September of last year that the football championship game for the 2016 season would be played in Orlando.

The move to Orlando came almost two weeks to the day that the ACC announced it was yanking the title game away from the city of Charlotte and out of the state of North Carolina. The move was in response to HB2, a law which some claimed fostered discrimination against members of the LGBT communities.

Charlotte had played host to the ACC football championship game every year since 2010. Prior to 2010, the first three league title tilts were played in Jacksonville (2005-07) and the next two in Tampa (2008-09).

More construction delays for site of Alabama-FSU opener

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The brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta is scheduled to serve as the site for one of the most anticipated games of opening weekend of the 2017 season, Alabama-Florida State. The state-of-the-art stadium had been expected to be completed by early March… then early June… then late July.

Tuesday brought word, by way of our sister site, that the target date for the opening of the stadium has been pushed back yet again, this time to Aug. 26 for the Atlanta Falcons preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. The delays have primarily been caused by the complexity of the stadium’s unique retractable roof, which opens and closes like a camera aperture.

Not only could those delays impact the ‘Bama-FSU matchup Sept. 2, but another college football game scheduled to be played at the same stadium Labor Day night — Georgia Tech-Tennessee.

The CEO of the Peach Bowl, which hosts all of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games, isn’t worried, with Gary Stokan telling that his organization has received “full assurances from the Falcons that everything’s going to be fine with the stadium.”

So, what would happen if the venue isn’t ready to play host to either game?  Both would be played next door at the Georgia Dome.

Not coincidentally, it was announced Monday that the demolition of that stadium has been postponed indefinitely.That demolition delay is being viewed, at least publicly, as strictly “an insurance policy” against the new stadium failing to receive its certificate of occupancy in time for either college football game.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is also scheduled to be the home of the SEC championship game for at least the next decade as well as the venue for the College Football Playoff title game that will be played after the 2017 season.

Presumptive front-runner for starting QB job at Georgia Tech out for rest of spring with foot injury

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With Georgia Tech looking to replace Justin Thomas at quarterback, Matthew Jordan was widely viewed as the likely successor under center.  At this point in time, though, those succession plans have been placed on indefinite hold.

Tech confirmed Monday that Jordan will miss the remainder of the Yellow Jackets’ spring because of an unspecified foot injury.  The junior sustained the non-contact injury during an intrasquad scrimmage this past Saturday.

The issue will sideline Jordan for the squad’s final six practice sessions as well as the April 21 spring game.  The football program offered no timetable for a possible return.

“It’s unfortunate that Matthew will miss the rest of the spring but we’re looking forward to getting him back and competing for the starting position as soon as possible,” head coach Paul Johnson said in a statement.

Of the four players vying for the starting job — junior TaQuon Marshall, redshirt freshmen Lucas Johnson and Jay Jones being the others — Jordan is easily the most experienced.

The past two seasons, Jordan has thrown for a combined 205 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.  More importantly, given the nature of Tech’s offense, he’s rushed for 404 yards and eight touchdowns in the same span.  His six rushing touchdowns last season were tied with the man he has been expected to replace, Thomas, for second on the team.

The other three contenders have thrown for a combined nine yards and rushed for 72.  All of those numbers belong to Marshall.

College football spring games: Dates, TV times

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As the calendar flips from March to April, the rush of college football spring games commences in earnest.

On the Power Five side alone, there are nearly 60 spring games scheduled to be played in the month of April.  Last year around this time, Urban Meyer was urging Ohio State fans to show up en masse; the Buckeye faithful responded with a record-breaking turnout.  That six-figure record should be safe — maybe.

Channeling his inner Urban, James Franklin earlier this month very passionately challenged fans to attend Penn State’s spring game to showcase to recruits and the rest of the country that “football is a very, very important part of Penn State.” Texas seemingly has momentum, what with Tom Herman replacing Charlie Strong as head coach, and that hire could cause a spike in interest and spring butts in the seats.  Clemson, coming off its first national championship in three decades and with some question marks given key departures, will certainly see a surge in attendance, although the official seating capacity of 81,500 at Memorial Stadium would preclude them from doing anything other than (barely) cracking the Top 10 in all-time spring game attendance.

Alabama historically fares well in spring attendance — four of the Top 10 — although the last huge crowd was six years ago.  Coming off the first title-game loss under Nick Saban, don’t expect a big jump this year either.

With those storylines in mind, below is the complete slate of spring games for the next four-plus weeks.

Arizona, 9 p.m. ET

Northwestern, 11 a.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
South Carolina, noon ET (SEC Network)
North Carolina State, 1 p.m. ET
Michigan State, 3 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Texas Tech, 4 p.m. ET

Florida, 7 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

Ole Miss, noon ET (SEC Network)
Purdue, 1 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Auburn, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Iowa State, 2 p.m. ET
Oklahoma, 2 p.m. ET
Texas A&M, 2 pm. ET (ESPNU)
Clemson, 2:30 p.m. ET
Florida State, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
North Carolina, 3 p.m. ET
Wake Forest, 3 p.m. ET
Mississippi State, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
TCU (time still to be determined)

Indiana, 7 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)

Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

Ohio State, 12:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Louisville, 1 p.m. ET
Minnesota, 1 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. ET
Utah, 1 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
West Virginia, 1 p.m. ET
Kansas, 2 p.m. ET
Missouri, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Nebraska, 2 p.m. ET
Oklahoma State, 2 p.m. ET
Texas, 2 p.m. ET (Longhorn Network)
USC, 3 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Stanford, 4 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Arizona State, 5 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. ET
Wisconsin, 7:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Iowa (time still to be determined)

Syracuse, 10 a.m. ET
Boston College, noon ET
Maryland, 12:30 ET (Big Ten Network)
Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m. ET
Baylor, 1 p.m. ET
Cal, 2 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Georgia, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Kansas State, 2 p.m. ET
Virginia Tech, 2:30 p.m. ET
Alabama, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Penn State, 3 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Washington, 3 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Tennessee, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Rutgers, 5 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Washington State, 5 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
LSU, 8 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

Arkansas, 1 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Oregon, 2 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Virginia, 3 p.m. ET
UCLA, 4 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

*Neither Miami nor Michigan will conduct traditional spring games.
*Arizona, Duke, Illinois, Oregon State and Vanderbilt played their spring games in March.