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Conference USA media poll tabs Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky as division favorites

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In the relatively brief history of the Conference USA championship game, there has never been a rematch of the previous season’s title game. If all goes according to plan as predicted by the media, that could change in 2017.

Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech were each the clear favorites to win their respective divisions in the Conference USA preseason media poll released today. Both programs received 20 first-place votes to easily be named the preseason favorites in the Conference USA divisions, setting the stage for a potential rematch in the Conference USA championship game at the end of the season. Western Kentucky is the two-time defending Conference USA champion, and Louisiana Tech has played in two of the last three title games, so it was hardly a shock to see both programs be named the preseason favorites by the media.

UAB returns to the football field this season, and the preseason poll suggests it will be a rocky return. The Blazers were picked to finish last in the West Division. After Louisiana Tech, UTSA picked up seven first-place votes to come in second in the preseason poll. Southern Miss, now a year removed from playing for the conference championship, received the last remaining first-place vote in the West Division.

Western Kentucky failed to gobble up all of the first-place votes in the East Division as well. Middle Tennessee received four votes, while Old Dominion picked up three. Marshall also received a first-place nod from the voters. New FBS program and conference member Charlotte was picked last in the East, as expected. Lane Kiffin‘s FAU Owls were picked to finish in fifth place.

Here’s how the preseason media poll in Conference USA looks. No picks for conference champion were made.

Conference USA East Division

  1. Western Kentucky (20 first-place votes)
  2. Middle Tennessee (4)
  3. Old Dominion (3)
  4. Marshall (1)
  5. Florida Atlantic
  6. FIU
  7. Charlotte

Conference USA West Division

  1. Louisiana Tech (20)
  2. UTSA (7)
  3. Southern Miss (1)
  4. North Texas
  5. Rice
  6. UTEP
  7. UAB

Week 1 meeting between Central Florida and FIU shifted to Thursday

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You know you’re in a slow time for college football news when a relatively minor schedule change is popping onto the radar.

Case in point comes out of the Sunshine State on Friday afternoon as the schools and network involved have announced that Central Florida’s Week 1 opener hosting Florida International has been moved from Saturday to Thursday, August 31st. The game is set to kickoff at 6 p.m. ET in Orlando and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

So yes, if you can’t wait to watch Butch Davis’ coaching debut with the Panthers then you’ll be happy to note you won’t have to wait quite as long as you once did.

The two day shift up forward helps to space out college football’s first full opening weekend even more as well. The UCF-FIU will be the 15th game to kickoff on Thursday and will form a double-header on CBSSN with a Memphis-Louisiana Monroe tilt later in the evening. There are not a ton of notable matchups on the slate for the 31st but the first meeting of Davis and the Knights’ Scott Frost might be in the top five even if it is miles behind something like Ohio State’s opener at Indiana on the same night.

But hey, college football is college football and there’s no better time to note that than the heart of the offseason when you would love to see some action on the gridiron no matter who is involved.

Michigan, Maryland, Oregon among those interested in Clemson transfer Korrin Wiggins

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Depending on how things unfold over the next few weeks, a Big Ten team could be the beneficiary of a transfer from the reigning national champions.  Or, potentially, even a team from Clemson’s own conference.

Earlier this offseason, Korrin Wiggins decided to transfer from Clemson. This week, reported that Michigan, Maryland, Oregon, Kansas and North Carolina State, among others, have been in contact with the transferring defensive back.

The Charleston Post & Courier reported late last month that Wiggins wanted to play his final season closer to his hometown of Durham, NC, which could bode well for NC State.

Wiggins is scheduled to graduate from Clemson later this month, leaving him eligible to play in 2017. The upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.

In 2015, Wiggins started six of the 13 games in which he played. However, a torn ACL in summer camp the following year cost him the entire 2015 season. As a reserve last season, the safety played in seven games. He started one of those contests.

All told, Wiggins played in 32 games during his time with the Tigers.

FIU makes hiring of Aubrey Hill as WRs coach official

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The poaching of one Conference USA coaching staff by another member of the league has been confirmed.

Florida International confirmed in a press release Thursday that Butch Davis has hired Aubrey Hill as wide receivers coach.  Hill will replace Kevin Beard, who left earlier this month for the same job at Tennessee.

Marshall had confirmed in an understandably terse statement earlier this week that Hill would be leaving Doc Holliday‘s coaching staff after being hired less than a week earlier.

“We’ve hit a home run in adding Aubrey Hill to the FIU coaching staff,” the first-year FIU head coach said in a statement. “He’s a heck of a coach and an outstanding recruiter. He’s got a tremendous ability to develop wide receivers. He will make our team that much better.”

Hill last coached at the collegiate level at his alma mater Florida in 2012.  He abruptly resigned less than a month before the start of the 2012 season for what were described as personal reasons.  He subsequently received a two-year show-cause from the NCAA for violations stemming from his time as an assistant at Miami.

The past four seasons, Hill was the head coach at a South Florida high school.  Last season, Hill led Miami Carol City High School to the Class 6A state title, the first in the school’s history.

Marshall confirms Aubrey Hill no longer on Herd staff

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It appears the speculation is indeed accurate.

March 1, Marshall announced that Aubrey Hill had been added to Doc Holliday‘s coaching staff as wide receivers coach.  Less than a week later, rumors began surfacing that Hill had decided to leave Huntington for the same job at Florida International.

While not confirming the specific destination, Marshall did acknowledge in a statement that Hill is no longer a part of the football program.

Assistant football coach Aubrey Hill is no longer on staff at Marshall. The Thundering Herd has begun an immediate search for his replacement.

FIU has yet to react to the rumors of Hill joining the coaching staff.

Hill last coached at the collegiate level at his alma mater Florida in 2012.  He abruptly resigned less than a month before the start of the 2012 season for what were described as personal reasons.  He subsequently received a two-year show-cause from the NCAA for violations stemming from his time as an assistant at Miami.