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West Virginia confirms ex-Florida QB Will Grier will be eligible for opener vs. Virginia Tech

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In May of last year, it was reported that Will Grier would likely be eligible to play for West Virginia in the 2017 opener.  Fast-forward 13 months, and that’s officially come to fruition.

On its official Twitter account Tuesday morning, WVU confirmed that Grier will be eligible to play in the Sept 3 neutral-site opener versus Virginia Tech in Landover, Maryland.  Coming off a solid spring, Grier is expected to start at quarterback for the Mountaineers.

Including this season Grier will have two years of eligibility remaining.

“We are pleased that Will has been cleared to play in our season opener by the NCAA,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said in a statement. “Since he enrolled here last year, he’s done everything he is supposed to do. He has been an outstanding teammate and leader on and off the field. Now that this decision is behind him, Will can turn his attention and preparation for the upcoming season.

The announcement is the latest step in Grier’s winding college football road from Gainesville to Morgantown.

Then at Florida, Grier was suspended in Oct. of 2015 for one full year after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.  Grier had appealed the NCAA’s initial decision, but that maneuver was shot down.  It was reported in mid-December of the same year that Grier would resume workouts with the Gators; a couple of days later, Grier decided to transfer from the UF football program and ultimately landed at WVU.

It was initially thought that Grier would be forced to sit out the first six games of the 2017 season to fulfill that one-year suspension.  However, Grier and the university sought, obviously successfully, to have the remainder of the suspension run concurrently with the transfer year he had to sit out last season.

Grier took a redshirt as a true freshman after coming to the Gators as a four-star member of their 2014 recruiting class, then started the first six games of the 2015 season before the suspension sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

TE Jovani Haskins leaving Miami to ‘get fresh start somewhere else’

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A month and a half or so before Mark Richt kicks off his second summer camp at Miami, attrition has again hit the Hurricanes’ roster.

The U announced via a press release Tuesday afternoon that Jovani Haskins is no longer a member of the football program.  No specific reason was given for the tight end’s move away from Coral Gables, although it appears to be a mutual decision.

“I talked to Jovani and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” the head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”

A three-star member of UM’s 2016 recruiting class, Haskins was rated as the No. 19 tight end in the country and No. 10 player at any position in the state of New Jersey.  Prior to signing with The U, Haskins also held offers from, among others, Boston College, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. He took official visits to the latter two schools before committing to Miami a few days before National Signing Day.

The 6-4, 240-pound Haskins took a redshirt his true freshman season.

Ball State transfer WR Damon Hazelton officially added to Virginia Tech roster

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Virginia Tech officially bolstered its receiving corps Monday, although they won’t see an offensive dividend this season.

A little over a month ago, Ball State’s Damon Hazelton took to Twitter to reveal that he would be transferring to Tech. In a press release, the Hokies announced that the wide receiver began summer classes yesterday and will continue his collegiate playing career with the football team.

That continuation won’t happen on the field in 2017, though, as NCAA transfer rules will force Hazelton to sit out this season. He will then have three years to use three seasons of eligibility beginning in 2018.

The 6-2, 207-pound receiver will, however, be permitted to practice with the team while he sits out his transfer year.

Hazelton was a two-star member of Ball State’s 2016 recruiting class. As a true freshman last season, Hazelton was second on the Cardinals with 51 receptions for 505 yards, while his four receiving touchdowns were tops on the team.

ACC distributed $23.8 million to members in 2015-16 as revenue declines

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Everybody in college athletics is making money — outside of the players — but the ACC was one entity that didn’t quite make as much as they did the year prior.

The reason for a slight decline in total revenue in the ACC? It’s members can thank not having the hefty buyout Maryland paid to leave the league and join the Big Ten the year prior.

Ace Daily Press reporter David Teel recently obtained the conference’s tax returns for the 2015-16 fiscal year and they show a still-robust $373.4 million in total revenue. That resulted in a nice $23.8 million distribution to the 14 member schools and a payment of just over $4 million to Notre Dame as part of the Irish’s agreement to house their non-football sports in the ACC.

The ACC was the big winner among the Power Five conference in the prior tax return period, seeing their revenue jump by a whopping $100 million in 2014-15 to $403.1 million. Taking out the $30 million buyout that the Terps paid in order to leave and revenue was essentially flat for the ACC year-over-year.

Despite that, the balance sheet is still a very healthy one and slots the ACC in front of the Big 12’s $313 million in total revenue among the Power Five conferences. That only means a fourth place finish though as the Pac-12 ($488 million), Big Ten ($483.4 million) and SEC ($639 million) all came out significantly ahead.

USA Today reports that ACC commissioner John Swofford didn’t feel the pinch of the decline however, as his salary was just a tad under $3 million in the same reporting period and represented an increase of nearly $300,000 from the year prior. Something says everybody in the league can expect future increases though with Clemson’s back-to-back national title game appearances as well as the upcoming ACC Network launch factoring into the equation in coming years.

Tennessee spends $37k on “Music City Bowl Champions” rings, over $1 million on bowl travel

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The Champions of Life have some expensive hardware to celebrate the ending of their 2016 season.

Invoices obtained by the Knoxville News Sentinel show that Tennessee’s football program spent a whopping $37,193 on 164 “Music City Bowl Champions” rings in April as part of an order that also included seven pendants celebrating the Vols’ postseason victory.

Tennessee defeated Nebraska 38-24 last December in a game where star defensive end Derek Barnett broke the school’s all-time sack record. The rings, which clocked in at $220 a piece with numerous diamonds set around the school’s famous block T logo, were handed out to 110 players, 22 members of the coaching staff and 39 support staff personnel according to the paper.

“Rings are very, very special. Each team is bonded by a championship ring. Each team is bonded by that ring, and that ring tells a particular story,” head coach Butch Jones said in November. “It’s like a storybook of that particular season, so that’s why the sides are important, why the front of it is very important. I think it also builds pride in your institution.”

In addition, the school purchased eight extra rings for staff members to celebrate their victory over Virginia Tech in the Battle at Bristol to bring the Vols’ total ring budget to nearly $40,000 on the year. Documents also show that the trip up to Nashville for the Music City Bowl cost Tennessee a further total of $1,070,75, which sounds like a pretty penny until factoring in a $1.3 million bowl distribution from the SEC.

Buying rings to celebrate bowl games or notable achievements of a good year are not uncommon in college football but that five-figure total being spent on a win in the Music City Bowl probably isn’t what Vols fans want to be seeing after a rather disappointing season in 2016.