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ACC confirms Charlotte home of football title game through 2030

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A relationship that’s was wobbly as recently as last year has been further solidified thanks to today’s development.

Wednesday, it was reported that the ACC would be announcing future venues — or venue, singular — for its football championship game.  A day later, the league confirmed, as expected, that its title game will remain in Charlotte for the foreseeable future.

The new agreement will keep the game at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium through the 2030 season.  The city was already set to host the game in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

“Charlotte has been a tremendous home for the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game and we’re pleased to announce the Queen City as our championship destination through 2030,” said conference commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “With the outstanding efforts by the Charlotte Sports Foundation, Carolina Panthers and city of Charlotte, our game has grown into one of the premier sporting events in the country. We look forward every year to this annual celebration of ACC Football.”

Charlotte had played host to the ACC football championship game every year since 2010 before a controversial bill resulted in the conference yanking the 2016 game from the city and moving it to Orlando.  In 2017, the game was moved back to Charlotte.

Prior to 2010, the first three league title tilts were played in Jacksonville (2005-07) and the next two in Tampa (2008-09).

North Carolina announces three-game series with Liberty

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This is becoming quite a thing with the Liberty football program.

Last year, the university announced it had reached scheduling agreements with five members of the ACC, including games against Duke (HERE), Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech (HERE) and Wake Forest (HERE).  Wednesday, another member of that conference, North Carolina, announced a three-game series with Liberty.

Two of the games will be played in Chapel Hill, the other in Lynchburg.  Below are the specific dates:

Oct. 19, 2024 – Liberty at North Carolina
Sept. 16, 2028 – North Carolina at Liberty
Sept. 6, 2031 – Liberty at North Carolina

The two teams have met once previously, a 56-29 Tar Heels win in 2014 over a Flames squad that was competing at the FCS level.  When the teams meet in 2024, they will both be members of the FBS.

In February of last year, Liberty announced that the NCAA had approved a waiver request for FBS reclassification.  The Flames will not be eligible for a bowl game in 2018, but will the following season as they become a full-fledged FBS program in 2019.

They will play as a football independent, at least for the time being, because of what one prominent university official claimed were “religious bigots” keeping the team from joining a conference.

Big 12 is only conference with College Football Playoff and Final Four participant

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A basketball tournament that opened with 68 teams vying for a chance to win in all has come down to four final contenders. Over the weekend, Villanova, Kansas, Michigan, and Loyola-Chicago all captured their respective regions to advance to next weekend’s Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. With Big 12 champion Kansas reaching the final weekend, the Big 12 is the only conference this year to place a team in both the College Football Playoff and the Final Four of the men’s basketball tournament.

The Oklahoma Sooners won the Big 12’s football championship last fall and were sent to Pasadena, California to play SEC champion Georgia in the Rose Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff. The Oklahoma men’s basketball team also was selected to play in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, although they did not stick around for very long. The Sooners were bounced in the first round by Rhode Island. This marks the second time the Big 12 has had a final four team in both sports. The last time it happened was 2016 when Oklahoma played in their first College Football Playoff and the Sooners reached the basketball Final Four. Oklahoma is still the only school to reach the Final Four in both sports in the same season in the young College Football Playoff era.

This year marks the first season in which the ACC was not represented in each sport’s final four since the introduction of the College Football Playoff, thanks to Kansas knocking out Duke in a regional final on Sunday. The ACC was represented by Florida State and Duke in the College Football Playoff and Final Four, respectively, in the 2014-2015 season. Clemson football has appeared in the past three College Football Playoff brackets while the Final Four was represented by the ACC thanks to North Carolina and Syracuse in 2016, and UNC again in 2017 (The Tar Heels won it all last season).

The SEC has had a final four team in both sports twice in the CFB Playoff era. Alabama has been in every College Football Playoff to date and in 2015 (Kentucky) and 2017 (South Carolina), the SEC had a basketball team win a region to get to the Final Four.

The Big Ten has had a team in the final four of both sports in the same season just once. Ohio State played in the inaugural College Football Playoff in 2014-2015, and the basketball Final Four included both Wisconsin and Michigan State to represent the Big Ten a few months later. This year’s Michigan team is the first Final Four team out of the Big Ten since then. This is also the first year the Big Ten was not included in the College Football Playoff.

The Pac-12 has also had a team in the final four in both sports just once, and it occurred last year. Washington was selected to play in the College Football Playoff and Oregon reached the Final Four. This year the Pac-12 was left out of the College Football Playoff and the conference went 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament.

A non-power conference has never been represented in the College Football Playoff (although that hasn’t stopped UCF from claiming a national championship), but a mid-major in the Final Four has happened each of the past two seasons (which of course does not include the Big East, since the Big East is considered a major conference in basketball).

The ACC is the only conference to get a team to reach the championship game in both sports in the same season. Clemson’s back-to-=back College Football Playoff national championship appearances against Alabama in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 was accompanied by North Carolina’s back-to-back national championship game appearances in the same seasons (against Villanova and Gonzaga, respectively). Of course, that means the ACC is the only conference to win it all in the same season in the brief College Football Playoff era with Clemson and UNC winning it all in 2016-2017.

Helmet sticker to Diehards.

North Carolina formally announces hiring of ex-Tennessee RBs coach Robert Gillespie

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The latest addition to Larry Fedora‘s North Carolina coaching staff has been confirmed.

Following up on reports that surfaced earlier this month. UNC announced Wednesday that Fedora has hired Robert Gillespie. While not confirmed by the football program in the release, it’s expected Gillespie will serve as the Tar Heels running backs coach, a position he’s held for most of his coaching career.

“We are excited to welcome Robert and his family to Chapel Hill,” Fedora said in a statement. “He has a well-earned reputation as a great offensive coach and recruiter, and he has a wealth of experience working with running backs at a very high level. We are happy to have him join our staff as we get into the bulk of spring practice.”

Gillespie fills the hole created by the departure of Gunter Brewer, who left as the Tar Heels’ wide receivers coach for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month. It’s expected that Luke Paschall, currently the running backs coach, will assume Brewer’s role with receivers.

Gillespie, a former Florida running back, spent the past five seasons as the running backs coach at Tennessee. He was originally retained by new UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt before parting ways with the football program shortly after National Signing Day.

In addition to UT, Gillespie has spent time on coaching staffs at South Carolina (2006-08), Oklahoma State (2009-10) and West Virginia (2011-12). He was the running backs coach at each of those stops.

American, ACC announce officiating alliance

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The ACC and the American have struck a deal for a football officiating alliance, the American announced Monday. The new program will see the two conferences cooperate on all things officiating, from training to scheduling to evaluation.

With the move, the ACC’s Dennis Hennigan will oversee the alliance, while the American’s Terry McAulay will step down as the league’s coordinator of football officiating and the American will hire a new supervisor of football officials.

“We are excited to partner with the ACC regarding the administration of our football officiating program,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “This alliance will provide both conferences with a deep roster of the best college football officials and will provide for greater efficiency and consistency in the training and evaluation of officials as well as enhanced opportunities for the recruitment of officials. We look forward to working with Dennis Hennigan, who was regarded as one of the top on-field officials in college football and has since become a leader on the administrative side. I also want to thank Commissioner John Swofford for his cooperation in reaching this mutually beneficial arrangement.”

The new alliance means ACC officials could oversee a Tulane-Tulsa game, while AAC officials would work a Clemson-Georgia Tech game. The ACC-AAC Alliance will go into effect for the 2018 season.