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AAC releases 2016 conference schedule

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The American Athletic Conference released its 2016 conference schedule highlighted by, oddly enough, non-conference games that pit league gem Houston against Oklahoma (on opening day at Houston’s NRG Stadium) and Louisville (in Houston on Nov. 19).

Those two games, more than any others, will sink or swim the conference’s chances of not only grabbing the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six, but a spot in the College Football Playoff itself.

The 2016 conference slate kicks off with Navy meeting Connecticut on Sept. 10 and concludes with the second annual AAC title game on Dec. 3 at a to-be-determined campus site.

The AAC led the way in scheduling Power 5 opponents — highlighted by a Week 3 schedule that will see the entire East Division punching up a weight class — and includes the likes of Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia, Syracuse, Kansas, TCU and Oklahoma (for all intents and purposes) visiting AAC campuses.

View the full AAC slate here:

 

Tom Herman goes full Office Space on fax machine

Houston head coach Tom Herman watches play against Florida State during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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Houston head coach Tom Herman had no reason to feel upset about the developments that unfolded on National Signing Day. Coming off a 13-1 season with the American Athletic Conference championship and a Peach Bowl victory over Florida State, the Cougars carried the momentum into the end of the recruiting cycle by landing a five-star player (a true rarity for a Group of Five program) and the top recruiting class among Group of Five programs. Still, the end of the signing period leads to a moment to unwind and release the tension that builds up over the months of hard work on the recruiting trail.

What better way to do that than by beating the living crap out of the seldom used office fax machine? Herman, flanked by Houston Assistant AD for Football Operations Fernando Lovo and Director for Football Sports Performance Yancy McKnight took it to their fax machine once they were done using it for the year.

It turns out the Houston version was pretty faithful to the source material, the cult classic Office Space, including the high leg drops.

Bravo, Houston social media team. Bravo.

Houston officially lands highest-rated recruit in program history

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 05:  Head coach Tom Herman of the Houston Cougars raises the AAC Championship Trophy after defeating the Temple Owls at TDECU Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Houston won 24-13.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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If you think Tom Herman‘s momentum in Houston is limited to on the field, you’d be sorely mistaken.

Ed Oliver is a five-star defensive tackle who committed to Houston last June. Ever since, a significant amount of the focus has been on exactly which Power Five program would flip him away from the Group of Five school.

Oliver seemed to stay strong to his commitment throughout the process, and on Wednesday officially signed with the Cougars to erase any and all doubt about his immediate future.

As the No. 19 player in the country according to Rivals.com, Oliver is the highest-rated recruit ever signed by the UH program. He’s expected to make an immediate impact for the Cougars’ defense and is already penciled in as a starter as a true freshman.

It also continues a trend in which Herman and his coaching staff are lapping their Group of Five rivals on the recruiting trail.

It’s not all puppy dogs and unicorns and rainbows, though, as UH has seen four-star wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland flip his commitment and announce he will sign with Florida.

Checking in on recruiting rankings with one week until Signing Day

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 29:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers (C) sings with his team after they defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders 56-27 during the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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National Signing Day is one week from today. If you haven’t already taken off work, purchased your food items, laundered your lucky shirt, socks and underwear and hung your decorations, consider this your fair warning.

(Wait, everyone hangs decorations for National Signing Day, right?)

With but seven days between now and the biggest day on the college football calendar until Opening Day, here’s how the top 25 classes stack up according to Rivals.

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Ole Miss
4. Michigan
5. Notre Dame
6. Florida State
7. Florida
8. Clemson
9. Michigan State
10. Baylor
11. UCLA
12. Alabama
13. Texas A&M
14. Auburn
15. TCU
16. North Carolina
17. Georgia
18. Tennessee
19. Kentucky
20. Stanford
21. Oregon
22. California
23. Duke
24. Penn State
25. Houston

A couple teams to watch over the next week are teams that were top-5 mainstays a decade ago — No. 28 USC, No. 30 Oklahoma, No. 31 Miami and No. 50 Texas.

Before any Trojans, Sooners, ‘Canes or ‘Horns fans hit the panic button, consider that each team is still carrying a light number of commitments — USC and Texas with 13, Miami with 14 and Oklahoma with 16. Ten of the top 11 teams claim at least 20, and only Georgia has fewer than 16 among ranked teams.

Ex-UL-L QB Brooks Haack forgoes Houston internship to play a year at FCS level

Brooks Haack
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Given the opportunity to get a headstart on his coaching career, Brooks Haack has instead decided to extend his playing career.

In December, Haack decided to transfer out of the Louisiana-Lafayette football program.  A month later, it was announced Friday, Haack has been added to the Northwestern State football roster.

The quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2016 for two reasons.  One, the Demons play at the FCS level.  And, two, Haack has already graduated from UL-L.

This will be Haack’s final season of eligibility.  And, if the Houston football program had anything to say about it, Haack wouldn’t be using it.

“He passed up an internship working with Major Applewhite (offensive coordinator at Houston) to come here and play this fall, so he’s driven to compete, even though he’s already graduated, and wants to see his career through. We’re looking forward to seeing him compete,” Demons head coach Jay Thomas said in a portion of a statement. “He played very well against us last season (going 8-for-9 for 187 yards against NSU Sept. 12). …

“He was part of a Texas state championship team at Katy High School. Also, his dad was a college softball coach including at Alabama, and went back to coach high school ball for family reasons, so Brooks grew up in a very competitive environment.”

After serving as the No. 2 quarterback behind Terrance Broadway as a redshirt freshman and sophomore, Haack started eight games for the Ragin’ Cajuns in 2015. He completed just over 61 percent of his 201 passes for 1,407 yards and five touchdowns, with seven interceptions as well.