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Virginia promotes Kelly Poppinga to co-defensive coordinator

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When Virginia opens its 2018 season, Kelly Poppinga will have some new responsibilities.

UVa. announced Thursday that Bronco Mendenhall has promoted Poppinga to co-defensive coordinator. The school stated in its release that Poppinga will “share defensive oversight” with Nick Howell, who’ll retain his title of defensive coordinator.

Poppinga spent the past two seasons as the Cavaliers’ special teams coordinator; Ricky Brumfield, hired as Mendenhall’s 10th assistant earlier this offseason, will assume those duties for the Hoos.

“Nick will continue to be our lead on the defensive side and will concentrate on the secondary,” Mendenhall explained in a statement. “Kelly will focus on our defensive front. He has a comprehensive understanding of our scheme and approach on defense having matriculated from player to graduate assistant to assistant coach in this system.

“With coach Brumfield taking over as the lead for our special teams, this provides an excellent chance to realign our coaching resources on the defense.”

Poppinga played his college football at BYU under Mendenhall in the mid-aughts. He has been on Mendenhall-led staffs since 2009 when he began his coaching career as a defensive intern at his alma mater.

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).

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.

Baker Mayfield, Saquon Barkley among Sullivan Award semifinalists

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Four players from the FBS level of college football are in the running for one of the most prestigious awards in amateur athletics.

Wednesday, a total of 28 semifinalists for the 2016 Sullivan Award were announced.  The four with college football connections include 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and 2017 Heisman Trophy finalist Bryce Love (Stanford), along with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and Virginia’s Micah Kiser.

That quartet is looking to become the fourth college football player to win the award in the last five years, the most recent being Navy’s Keenan Reynolds in 2016.

Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott was the 2015 winner of the Sullivan, while Penn State offensive lineman John Urschel claimed the 2014 honor.  Six other college football players have earned an honor handed out annually since 1930: Felix “Doc” Blanchard (Army, 1945), Arnold Tucker (Army, 1946), Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993), Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Andrew Rodriguez (Army, 2011)

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Clemson’s Deshaun Watson was a semifinalist for last year’s award, the only college football player up for the honor in 2017.

Former Ohio State DT Dylan Thompson transfers to Virginia

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Less than three weeks after leaving one Power Five football program, Dylan Thompson has landed at another.

On his personal Twitter account Feb. 5, Thompson announced that he would be transferring from Ohio State. Saturday evening, the defensive tackle took to the same social media website to announce that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Virginia.

As Thompson will be coming to Charlottesville as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play in 2018 for the Cavaliers.

A three-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2014 recruiting class, Thompson was rated as the No. 22 strongside defensive end in the country and the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Illinois.  Injuries and academic issues helped to limit Thompson to just two games during his time in Columbus, with both appearances coming in 2017.