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Report: there will be a Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl this year

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I think we can all agree with this: it’s about damn time.

Since the St. Petersburg Bowl was launched in 2008, it’s undergone several name changes, from the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl (2008) to the St. Petersburg Bowl presented by Beef O’Brady’s (2009) to the Beef O’Grady’s Bowl (2010-13) to the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl (2014).  Now, the game that’s been known as the St. Petersburg Bowl the past two seasons is set to undergo its most glorious name change yet as Brett McMurphy is reporting that it will now be known as the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

See, absolutely and utterly glorious.  In a similar vein, move over Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl as we have a new king wearing the “Greatest Bowl Game Name Ever” crown.

Bad Boy Mowers bills itself as “delivering the finest cut lawn care professionals and serious landowners demand;” the fact that the home of the bowl game, Tropicana Field, utilizes Shaw Sports Turf as its playing surface merely serves to add to the greatness of the name. And from where does Gasparilla come? McMurphy describes it as “an attempt to make the bowl seem more regional for the Tampa Bay area since the annual Gasparilla Parade is held each year in Tampa.”

The name change for the game, which pits teams from the AAC and Conference USA against each other, is expected to officially be announced Monday.

Seven 2016 finalists headline Manning Award preseason watch list

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This is the last preseason watch list you’ll have to endure this year. I promise. I think.

Wednesday, the Manning Award released its list of the top 30 quarterbacks in the country, although a player not on this initial list is not necessarily precluded from winning the award. This is the only major award, it should be noted, that is handed out after the bowls, and is named in honor of the quarterbacking triumvirate of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.

Highlighting this year’s list are seven of the 10 finalists from a year ago: J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Jake Browning (Washington), Sam Darnold (USC), Luke Falk (Washington State), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Lamar Jackson (Louisville) and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma).

All FBS conferences are represented, led by the ACC and SEC with five watch listers apiece. The Big Ten, Mountain West, Pac-12 and Sun Belt are next with three each, with two apiece for all of the AAC, Big 12, Conference USA and MAC. Class-wise, there are 13 seniors, 12 juniors and five sophomores.

 

“We once again have a great group of quarterbacks returning to college football this fall,” said Archie Manning said in a statement. “While this Watch List has many of the best returning players, we look forward to making midseason additions as teams settle on definite starters and as young players step up and make names for themselves. I’m really looking forward to getting the season rolling to see which guys will rise to the top and become Manning Award finalists.”

Deshaun Watson was the 2016 winner of the award.

Below is the complete 2017 Manning Award preseason watch list.

Memphis senior WR Sam Craft out for the 2017 season due to torn ACL

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Memphis senior Sam Craft will not play football in 2017 after suffering a torn ACL during a practice earlier in the week. Memphis head coach Mike Norvellconfirmed the unfortunate injury news to reporters Saturday.

I absolutely hate it for the young man. He’s one of my favorites,” Norvell said following a scrimmage on Saturday, according to The Commerical Appeal. “He came in, had an incredible offseason, was having a great camp. And then just on a, basically a route on air, took a misstep. Definitely, our thoughts are with him.”

Craft appeared in four games in 2016 and caught 10 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. He missed a chance for more playing time after suffering a hamstring injury at the end of fall camp. He also had a back injury bring his 2016 season to an early end. Craft recently made a position change form running back to wide receiver this year, and his work as a wide receiver was praised by Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson.

“He was having an unbelievable camp. He was one of our best receivers, I would say,” Ferguson told reporters, again according to The Commercial Appeal. “My prayers go out to him. He’s still our brother. He’s still going to be with us throughout the whole process. It just hurts not being able to have him there.”

Craft was entering his fifth year of eligibility. It remains unknown at this time if he and Memphis will apply for a waiver for a sixth year from the NCAA. Given his injury history at Memphis, he would seemingly stand a decent chance of getting another year from the NCAA.

Memphis gets trustees’ approval for new football indoor practice facility

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Few schools have turned around the fortune of their football program quite like Memphis has the past few years and it appears the reward for all that hard work is some significant upgrades to the Tigers’ facilities to keep them even more competitive in the college football landscape.

To that end, Memphis Business Journal reports that the university Board of Trustees approved a $10 million debt package on Thursday that will just about cover all the costs associated with building a brand new football indoor practice facility. As you have to come to expect with just about any such facility, the new digs will include an enclosed and climate-controlled practice field along with renovations to existing spaces that will bring about a new football operations office.

The plans for the new indoor building have been floating around for some time but it seems most of the recent focus in the athletic department was centered around a new basketball facility. With that project nearly completed and the football team doing well under head coach Mike Norvell, it seems that the attention is being shifted to the gridiron and the debt package will be the first steps in financing the start of construction.

The Journal also notes that the debt being taken on is being backed somewhat by the Tigers’ AAC conference revenue, while the remaining $600,000 or so the project needs will come from donors. Given that the team is one of the favorites to win the league in 2017, it might just be safe to say that the thinking around Memphis is if you build it, they (donors) will come.

Three-star 2017 Auburn signee moves on to Memphis

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That didn’t even remotely take long.  At all.

Monday, it was revealed by Gus Malzahn that 2017 signee Carlito Gonzalez would not be enrolling at the university or playing football for the Tigers this season because he failed to qualify academically.  The Auburn head coach even stated at the time that Gonzalez is “in the process of looking for a junior college.”

Fast-forward to Thursday night, And Gonzalez has already found a new home — and it’s at the FBS level at Memphis.

From al.com:

Where the #uofm21 students at ?? change of plans University Of Memphis,” Gonzalez tweeted from his private account Thursday afternoon. “It’s so many connections and stuff being revealed and happening to me to prove That God Is REAL and he loves ME. I’m blessed humble.

“Thankful I know I made headlines not attending (Auburn) that was all my fault but thanks to the man above and people who care I’ll be okay.

And Gonzalez, who will not play for the AAC Tigers in 2017, has already commenced working with his new team.

A three-star member of AU’s most recent recruiting class, Gonzalez was rated as the No. 27 safety in the country and the No. 37 player at any position in the state of Georgia.