Conference USA

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Andy Janovich #35 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers jumps over Jayon Brown #12 of the UCLA Bruins during the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi's Stadium on December 26, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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NCAA announces common-sense change to bowl selection process

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The NCAA Division I council announced 5-7 teams will still have a chance to make a bowl this fall.

They will have to wait until all of the 6-6 teams have been picked, though.

The common sense rule tweak was announced Wednesday.

Nebraska, Minnesota and San Jose State all made bowls last season despite finishing the regular season 5-7, and coincidentally they all won.

In a statement, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who serves as chair of the football oversight committee, said the postseason selection process “makes sense and is fair to the schools and the bowls.”

APR scores will continue to be used to designate which 5-7 teams are eligible to take up the bowl slots left available after all of the 6-6 teams have been selected.

After swelling to 41 games last season, the postseason is not set to expand again until at least the 2020 season as a result of a moratorium on the certification of new bowls was established by the council in April.

Southern Miss the landing spot for Louisville grad transfer Devontre Parnell

HATTIESBURG, MS - SEPTEMBER 5: Seymour mascot for the Southern Miss Golden Eagles poses with fans during their game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on September 5, 2015 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated the Southern Miss Golden Eagles 34-16. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Louisville’s secondary loss will turn into Southern Miss’ gain.

Devontre Parnell has confirmed to both the Sun Herald and Hattiesburg American that he will continue his collegiate playing career at Southern Miss. Parnell decided earlier this offseason to transfer from Louisville.

The cornerback, who cited the presence of former Cardinals assistant Derek Nicholson on the Eagles’ staff as a factor in his decision, confirmed that he chose Southern Miss over Appalachian State, Louisiana Tech and SMU.

“My plan is to get there in the summer, get adjusted to the team,” Parnell told the American. “I’ll try to get acclimated and compete for the starting job. I’m a competitor so I definitely want to compete for a starting job. My job is to come in and start right away.”

Parnell will be able to compete for a job immediately because of his status as a grad transfer, and he appears relatively high on his odds of doing that.

Shoulder injuries cost Parnell the entire 2013 and 2015 seasons. Sandwiched in between those two injury-plagued years was a 2014 season in which he appeared in three games.

Parnell was healthy enough to fully participate in spring practice this year for the Cardinals.

UAB unveils plans for covered practice facility, football operations center

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - OCTOBER 25:  Head Coach Bill Clark of the UAB Blazers claps for his team as the run onto the field during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Blazers 45-17.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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UAB football is back, and soon the Blazers will have the construction cranes to prove it.

On Friday the Blazers announced a title sponsorship to a new $22.5 million football operations center that will include offices, meeting and film rooms, locker rooms, weight rooms, training facility and practice fields — including one covered by a pavilion.

“The impact this generous sponsorship has already had and will have on our program cannot be overstated,” head coach Bill Clark said in a statement. “It allowed us to expand the scope of the project to build the facility we need, and it will greatly accelerate our competitiveness on the field and on the recruiting trail. We will be proud to practice every day under the Legacy name, which will serve as a reminder that we are fighting for a community that is behind us.”

Legacy Community Federal Credit Union is footing the bill for title sponsorship at $4.2 million spread over 20 years. In a nice bit of synergy, the bank was founded by UAB employees for UAB employees.

“While this most recent sponsorship will produce an immediate impact for UAB Football, it is really just the next logical extension of the longstanding relationship between Legacy and UAB,” said Legacy President and CEO Joe McGee. “Since UAB had the vision to charter us, and is the largest employer and most dynamic economic driver in the state, we believe an investment in UAB will yield returns for Legacy members and for the entire community.”

The plan is for the facility to be up and running in time for the Blazers to re-join Conference USA in the fall of 2017.

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(Renderings courtesy of UAB athletics)

College football continues growing at multiple levels

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04:  A detail of a Nike official NCAA size football as it sits in the end zone while the West Virginia Mountaineers stretchon the field prior to playing against the Clemson Tigers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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This fall college football will be played on more campuses than ever before thanks to the addition of five programs, including two at the NCAA Division II level.

According to the National Football Foundation, the addition of Cincinnati Christian University, Davenport University (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Morthland College (West Frankfort, Ill.), the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (Odessa) and the University of West Florida (Pensacola), there will be 774 college football teams in 2016, the most on record.

West Florida and UT-Permian Basin are in the NCAA’s Division II while CCU and Davenport are in the NAIA and Morthland College’s affiliation is TBA.

The schools come from three distinct regions of the country, including football hotbeds of Florida, Texas and Ohio.

If the name and town of the newest college football program in Texas ring a bell, there’s good reason. Odessa is the home of the Permian Panthers, the high school program immortalized in H.G. Bissinger’s 1990 book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream.

Per the NFF, three more programs are set to come online next year, including the return of UAB as a member of Conference USA in the FBS.

“With more than one million high school students playing football and more than 70,000 spots on college teams, there is plenty of room for expansion,” said NFF chairman Archie Manning in a statement. “Many of these colleges clearly recognize that football can play an important role in encouraging students to continue their educations by enticing them to enroll.”

Last year saw the addition of four new programs, including FCS members East Tennessee State and Kennesaw State (Georgia).

In all, 42 programs have launched at various levels since 2010.

Old Dominion unveils plans for ‘new’ 22,000-seat stadium

Rhode Island Old Dominion Football
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Old Dominion has played at Foreman Field for nearly 80 years now. On Thursday, the Monarchs announced plans to tear down the old lady… and continue playing at Foreman Field.

As detailed by the Virginian-Pilot, ODU’s new digs will be the same as its old digs as the program works to acquit itself to life as a Conference USA member. The school considered moving to a completely new site, but an analysis by architecture firm Populus determined the best course of action would be to build the new structure on top of the old one.

The new Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium will see capacity rise from 20,118 to 22,130, a move done after analysis showing the new capacity will match current ticket demand. The Monarchs have impressively sold out each home game since launching the program in 2009, but the 4,500-deep waiting list has evaporated and the club’s final home game of 2015 did not sell out until just before toe met leather. The 22,000-plus capacity will be the fourth-smallest in Conference USA and smaller than FCS programs James Madison and Norfolk State, but expandable to up to 30,000.

“This is a big deal,” Virginia Beach mayor and ODU board member Will Sessoms told the paper. “A lot of people are really excited by this. It’s a great proposal that’s fiscally responsible. I say we move forward.”

The school bypassed a $94 million model and instead opted for one that will cost a projected $55 million after a state-mandated directive to reduce its alliance on student fees. The $55 million sum will be raised through private fundraising, new stadium revenues and existing student fees repurposed to fund the structure.

“(A proposed $154 student fee) was unacceptable,” ODU chief operating officer David Harnage said.

The new stadium is projected to open in 2019.