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American, ACC announce officiating alliance


The ACC and the American have struck a deal for a football officiating alliance, the American announced Monday. The new program will see the two conferences cooperate on all things officiating, from training to scheduling to evaluation.

With the move, the ACC’s Dennis Hennigan will oversee the alliance, while the American’s Terry McAulay will step down as the league’s coordinator of football officiating and the American will hire a new supervisor of football officials.

“We are excited to partner with the ACC regarding the administration of our football officiating program,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “This alliance will provide both conferences with a deep roster of the best college football officials and will provide for greater efficiency and consistency in the training and evaluation of officials as well as enhanced opportunities for the recruitment of officials. We look forward to working with Dennis Hennigan, who was regarded as one of the top on-field officials in college football and has since become a leader on the administrative side. I also want to thank Commissioner John Swofford for his cooperation in reaching this mutually beneficial arrangement.”

The new alliance means ACC officials could oversee a Tulane-Tulsa game, while AAC officials would work a Clemson-Georgia Tech game. The ACC-AAC Alliance will go into effect for the 2018 season.

‘Personal reasons’ lead Houston’s leading rusher to leave team

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Well, this is certainly an interesting, and wholly unexpected, development.

According to multiple media outlets, running back Duke Catalon has decided to leave the Houston football program for what were described only as personal reasons.  The football program hasn’t yet, at least publicly, addressed the running back’s status with the team moving forward.

It’s also unclear at this point whether this would be a temporary or permanent departure.

Catalon was originally a four-star signee as part of Texas’ 2014 recruiting class who transferred to UH in August of 2015.

After sitting out that season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Catalon led the Cougars in rushing each of the past two seasons.  Catalon, who would be entering 2018 as a fifth-year senior, ran for 637 yards this past season and 528 the year before.  In 2016, he was also fourth on the team with 44 receptions out of the backfield.

Houston’s Ed Oliver announces he’ll leave early for 2019 NFL draft

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The 2018 NFL draft won’t even play out for another seven weeks or so, but we already have the first official early entry into next year’s draft.

It’s long been expected that Ed Oliver, one of the top defensive players in the country each of his first two seasons at Houston, would be three-and-done with the Cougars.  Monday night, Oliver and the football program made that official, with both confirming that the standout rising junior defensive tackle will leave UH at the end of the upcoming season to make himself available for the 2019 NFL draft.

The official announcement is smart on the part of both as it allows each to avoid what would certainly be a barrage of “will you/he or won’t you/he?” questions throughout the season, even as most involved have fully expected this outcome since as early as Oliver’s true freshman season in 2016 — or even before.

“This was a dream of mine coming in,” Oliver said in quotes distributed by the school. “I knew I was going on a business trip, and whether my business trip was three years or four years it just depended on how early I got on the field and how effective I was.”

After a consensus Freshman All-American season that saw him land on numerous first-team All-American squads, Oliver was a consensus All-American in a 2017 season that saw him become the first underclassman to win the Outland Trophy in the 70-year history of the award.

In two seasons, the 6-3, 290-pound Oliver has totaled 39.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.  He should be a contender for the 2018 Heisman Trophy; whether he will or not remains to be seen.

NCAA grants Houston LB Austin Robinson another season of eligibility

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As it turns out, Houston will have the services of Austin Robinson a little while longer than originally expected.

The football program announced Wednesday that the NCAA has granted Robinson a sixth season of eligibility. While the school wrote in its release that the linebacker “received a legislative relief waiver” from The Association, the specific reasoning behind the waiver being granted is unclear.

With the NCAA’s decision, Robinson will now have eligibility he can use in both 2018 and 2019.

Robinson began his collegiate career at UT-San Antonio in 2014, playing in eight games as a true freshman before transferring to UH and sitting out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. He then played in 11 games in 2016 and 12 this past season, starting four contests in 2017.

This past campaign, Robinson was credited with 33 tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack. He also had a pair of quarterback hurries on his statistical resume.

AAC 2018 season kicks off with Civil ConFLiCT

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Defending American Athletic Conference champion UCF will kick off their conference title defense on August 30 when they visit UConn in the conference and season opener for both teams. The Civil ConFLiCT is the first game on the 2018 conference schedule released by the AAC on Tuesday. The conference will play a series of Thursday night games on national TV and will hold the conference championship game on Saturday, December 1. Kickoff times and television schedules will be decided at a later time, for the most part.

The AAC will continue to play an eight-game conference schedule with each team playing five games against division opponents and three games against teams from the opposing division. The conference championship game will be played at the top division champion’s campus at the end of the season just as it has the previous three seasons. The annual Army-Navy Game, which of course involves AAC member Navy, will continue to be played the week following the AAC championship game (Dec. 8).

The AAC’s Thursday night schedule will begin on September 20 with Temple hosting Tulsa and will feature Houston vs. Tulsa on Oct. 4, UCF vs. Temple on Nov. 1, and Houston vs. Tulane on Nov. 15. The Thursday night games could be altered depending on the NFL’s pending Thursday night schedule (Temple can’t play at home if the Philadelphia Eagles are scheduled for a home game). The Thursday night games will be scheduled to air on ESPN, and the conference championship game will be aired on either ABC or ESPN (it has aired on ABC each of the past three seasons).

The AAC will also play games on Friday nights this season, including three on the day after Thanksgiving for the regular season finale; USF hosting UCF, Memphis hosting Houston, and Cincinnati hosting ECU. That could be a big day for the AAC with potential division championships on the line.

The AAC will have 19 nonconference games against power conference opponents, including eight against ACC teams, four against the Big Ten, and three against the Big 12.

You can check out the full AAC football schedule HERE.