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Saban, Meyer, Harbaugh, Swinney and more among 19 Dodd Trophy watch list candidates

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When you really think about it, a watch list for a college football award is nothing more than a way to keep public relations staffers in college football programs busy this summer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it is nice to have a number of key players for the upcoming season highlighted whenever possible (unless you are a Big Ten team going to Big Ten media days). But a watch list is generally pretty pointles sin the long run for most awards. This is especially true for a watch list of college football coaches.

The Dodd Trophy watch list was released today with a list of 19 coaches from many of the top programs around the country. Yep, a watch list for head coaches. Silly, right? It really is the easiest watch list to put together.

The award watch list, compiled by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, includes four coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, two coaches from the Big 12 and one from the American Athletic Conference. You know all of the names, like national championship coaches Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Dabo Swinney; household names like Jim Harbaugh, Mark Richt, Bill Snyder, and Chris Petersen; and conference championship coaches like David Shaw, James Franklin.

Some notable names not on the list? How about Jimbo Fisher of Florida State? Fisher has a playoff contender in Tallahassee and is the ACC favorite. He also has a national championship ring. Not having Fisher on a preseason watch list for top coaches seems like a bad oversight. Not having new Big 12 coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) also feels like a swing and a miss if pulling together a list of potential coach of the year candidates. If we are not going to just list all 130 head coaches in FBS, it seems silly to have such a weird collection of watch list candidates when Butch Jones is on the list.

Five coaches on the watch list are former winners of the Dodd Trophy; Snyder, Petersen, Swinney, Saban, and Paul Johnson. Paul Chryst, Ken Niumatalolo, and Petersen were finalists for the award last season as well.

2017 Dodd Trophy Watch List

  • Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
  • James Franklin, Penn State
  • Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
  • Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
  • Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
  • Clay Helton, USC
  • Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
  • Butch Jones, Tennessee
  • Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  • Jim McElwain, Florida
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State
  • Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
  • Chris Petersen, Washington
  • Mark Richt, Miami
  • Nick Saban, Alabama
  • David Shaw, Stanford
  • Bill Snyder, Kansas State
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson
  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah

ACC preseason poll predicts FSU will beat Miami for ACC title

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The Miami Hurricanes are set to embark on their 14th season as a member of the ACC since moving over from the old Big East. The Hurricanes were brought in to the ACC to help give the football product a boost, but Miami has yet to play for an ACC championship. Could that drought end this season?

Miami was chosen as the ACC’s Coastal Division favorite by the preseason poll at ACC media days. The Hurricanes edged out defending Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech for the top preseason spot in the division. With Mark Richt gearing up for his second season on the job at Miami, the expectations continue to rise as he tries to emulate some of the success he had at Georgia in the SEC. Considering the ACC’s Coastal Division tends to be a division up for grabs the last few years, why not Miami this season?

In the Atlantic Division, the preseason poll is heavy on Florida State, with defending ACC and national champion Clemson coming in second place behind the Seminoles. Florida State is being hyped as a top playoff contender for the 2017 season, and the preseason poll out of the ACC seems to support that thought pretty well. Florida State will open the season with a bang against Alabama in Atlanta. If all goes according to plan, it could end up being a preview of a future playoff or national championship game this season.

Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson was chosen as the preseason ACC player of the year, easily outpacing the next man in line, Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois.

ACC Championship
  1. Florida State – 118
  2. Clemson – 35
  3. Louisville – 7
  4. (tie) Virginia Tech – 3
    (tie)Miami – 3
  5. Duke – 1
Atlantic Division  
(First place votes in parenthesis)                  
  1. Florida State (121) – 1,108
  2. Clemson (37) – 1,007
  3. Louisville (9) – 843
  4. NC State – 658
  5. Wake Forest – 415
  6. Syracuse  – 362
  7. Boston College – 283
Coastal Division
(First place votes in parenthesis)                  
  1. Miami (103) – 1,065
  2. Virginia Tech (40) – 932
  3. Georgia Tech (9) – 708
  4. Pitt (7) – 673
  5. North Carolina (4) – 606
  6. Duke (4) -473
  7. Virginia -219
ACC Player of the Year
  1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville – 113
  2. Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State – 23
  3. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson – 11
  4. Harold Landry, DE, Boston College – 8
  5. Jaylen Samuels, AP, NC State – 7
  6. Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse – 2
  7. (tie) Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami – 1
    (tie) Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami – 1
    (tie) Daniel Jones, QB, Duke – 1

ACC, SEC place most DBs on Jim Thorpe Award watch list

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Another day, yet another watch list as the 2017 offseason barrels towards a merciful death.

This time around it’s the Jim Thorpe Award doing the honors, with the trophy given annually to the nation’s top defensive back releasing a watch list consisting of a mere 45 players from all 10 FBS conferences.  Headlining this year’s list are a pair of semifinalists from a year ago, Louisville’s Jaire Alexander and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The ACC and SEC lead all conferences with seven players apiece selected, followed by the Pac-12’s six and five each for the Big Ten and Big 12.  Conference USA was next with four, while the AAC, MAC and Sun Belt had three and the Mountain West two.

Alabama, Florida State and Stanford were the only programs with two players each selected.

USC’s Adoree’ Jackson won the 2016 version of the Thorpe Award.  The other finalists for last year’s trophy were Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis and LSU’s Tre’Davious White.  All three of those players were selected in the 2017 NFL draft.

ACC tops as Bronko Nagurski watch list hits triple digits

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It may not be the biggest award in college football, but it’s certainly the most voluminous.

Watch List Season continued unabated Thursday morning, with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy revealing a group which consists of a whopping 103 FBA players.  Within that triple-digit preseason club, there are 30 defensive backs, 29 linebackers, 25 defensive ends and 19 defensive tackles.

Two 2016 first-team Football Writers Association of America All-Americans appear on the list — Clemson’s Christian Wilkins (pictured) and Florida State’s Tarvarus McFadden.

Conference-wise, the ACC leads with 20 players selected for the initial watch list.  The Big Ten is next with 16, followed by the SEC’s 14, the Pac-12’s 13 and the Big 12’s 11.  The AAC paced Group of Five leagues with 10, with the Sun Belt (6), Mountain West (5), Mid-American (3) and Conference USA (2) rounding out the conferences, while football independents chipped in the remaining three.

The Nagurski Trophy has been handed out annually since 1993 to college football’s best defensive player.  Last year’s winner was Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen.


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.