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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).

Notre Dame transfer Devin Butler carted off Syracuse’s practice

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Devin Butler‘s career at Syracuse has gotten off to an unhealthy start.  Just how unhealthy, though, remains to be seen.

According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, Butler was carted off the field toward the end of the Orange’s spring practice session Thursday.  The school would only state that Butler sustained an unspecified injury, although the Post-Standard writes that the cornerback “was sitting next to a pair of crutches.”

The injury occurred amidst Syracuse’s eight practice out of the 15 allotted to them this spring.

In mid-December, Butler announced that he would be transferring from Notre Dame to Syracuse.  As a graduate transfer, Butler is eligible to play immediately for the Orange in 2017.

Butler’s final months in South Bend, though, were steeped in controversy and injury.

Butler re-fractured a bone in his left foot in June, an injury that was expected to sideline the corner until mid-October.  In August, Butler was arrested on felony charges of battery to law enforcement and resisting law enforcement.  Not long after, Butler was indefinitely suspended as a result of the incident.

His first three seasons with the Irish, Butler had played in 37 games.  He started two games in 2014 and the regular-season finale in 2015.  Prior to the injury and off-field issue, he was projected to start at one of the corner spots in 2016.

Syracuse grad transfer TE Kendall Moore announces commitment to Texas

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With Tom Herman now running the Texas offense, tight end is going to be an added emphasis for the Longhorns moving forward. This created an immediate problem for the 2017 club, considering the last Longhorn tight end to produce a prolific full season was Jermichael Finley, who last caught an NFL pass in 2013.

Herman rectified that by signing Reese Leitao, a 4-star tight end out of Tulsa, in February. (The Longhorns also added Cade Brewer, the brother of former Texas Tech and Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer and son of former Texas quarterback Robert Brewer, as added depth.)

However, Leitao was arrested in February on charges of dealing drugs. So the tight end position became a problem again.

On Sunday, Syracuse graduate transfer Kendall Moore announced his intention to be the solution to that problem by committing to Texas. “Officially a Longhorn,” Moore stated on the Instagram post revealing his pledge. “Happy to call Texas my new home.”

As a senior in 2016, Moore appeared in 12 games but caught just one pass for 15 yards. He received four passes for 31 yards and a touchdown in 2014. A native of Chicago, Moore’s best season as a Orange was his first, registering 12 appearances with six catches for 65 yards in 2013. He is eligible to play for Texas thanks to a medical redshirt he received after missing nine games due to injury in 2015.

Though Moore’s stats may not immediately remind anyone of David Thomas, he may jump to the front of the line among UT’s tight ends. As Chip Brown notes for Horns Digest, Leitao has a felony hearing April 18 in Oklahoma, returning starter Andrew Beck is coming off a broken foot, Garrett Gray moved to wide receiver, Peyton Aucoin has battled a shoulder injury this spring and Brewer is a true freshman looking to bulk up to a Big 12 weight. Beck led the position last year with four grabs for 82 yards and two touchdowns.

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.

FRIDAY, MARCH 31
Arizona, 9 p.m. ET

SATURDAY, APRIL 1
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

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

SATURDAY, APRIL 8
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)

THURSDAY, APRIL 13
Indiana, 7 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)

FRIDAY, APRIL 14
Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

SATURDAY, APRIL 15
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)

FRIDAY, APRIL 21
Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. ET
Wisconsin, 7:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Iowa (time still to be determined)

SATURDAY, APRIL 22
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)

SATURDAY, APRIL 29
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.

ACC votes to consider North Carolina as host for future championship events

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North Carolina is back in business with the ACC.

The conference announced on Friday afternoon that the ACC Council of Presidents has voted that the state of North Carolina will again be considered for hosting future ACC Championships. The move comes just a day after the state legislature replaced H.B. 2, a controversial law aimed at protections for LGBT people.

Back in late September, the ACC pulled events from the state as a result of the uproar surrounding the bill. That resulted in the football championship game being moved from Charlotte down to Orlando, Fla. in a game where Clemson beat Virginia Tech on the Tigers’ way to a national title.

The NCAA also followed suit in removing events from the state but has taken a more cautious approach over the repeal of H.B. 2. President Mark Emmert said on Thursday at his annual press conference prior to the Final Four that the association would consider the recent changes to the law but did not commit to any formal actions.

It appears that is not the case for the ACC, which moved quickly to return to the state that is most closely associated with the conference. While it was not confirmed in the league’s statement, chances are high that the 2017 ACC Football Championship Game will likely be back in Charlotte following the conclusion of the upcoming regular season.