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American, ACC announce officiating alliance

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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.

Alabama a potential landing spot for Rice grad transfer Preston Gordon

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Yet another Rice graduate transfer lineman is drawing interest from an SEC school.

Preston Gordon confirmed to al.com this week that he has had “some preliminary contact” with Alabama as a potential landing spot. Last month, the defensive tackle decided to take the graduate transfer route out of Rice.

As the Crimson Tide, which is also in play for a grad transfer quarterback, lost three linemen to the NFL and signed just two in the Class of 2018, a move to Tuscaloosa could make sense for both parties.

“If Alabama were interested, that’s a top-tier program and I would definitely be interested,” Gordon told the website. “As a D-lineman, that’s where it’s at, so it would definitely be high, high interest.”

Gordon has already received an offer from Texas Tech after visiting Lubbock, and has taken a trip to Kansas as well. The lineman also told the site that he has spoken with Syracuse, TCU, Tulane and UConn.

The last three seasons, Gordon started 28 games for the Owls, including all 12 in 2017. In 2016, Gordon tied for the team lead in sacks with 3.5, while his 6.5 tackles for loss led all interior linemen on the squad. This past season, he was third on the team in tackles for loss with 4.5.

Gordon’s former teammate and the Owls’ starting left tackle the past three seasons, Calvin Anderson, has drawn interest from Auburn as a graduate transfer and has already visited the Tigers. It’s believed that Michigan and Texas are the frontrunners, although Texas A&M has entered the mix for Anderson as well.

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.

Tulane national championship t-shirts for 1998 season now for sale

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Well, UCF has started a new trend, it seems.

In the same week UCF has created a stir by declaring a national championship for the 2017 season after completing a 13-0 season with a victory over Auburn in the Peach Bowl, another program from the American Athletic Conference is going back in the archives to declare their own national championship. An officially licensed bookstore is now selling t-shirts honoring Tulane’s 1998 undefeated season. The presale is making it clear these shirts are declaring the Tulane Green Wave the national champions of 1998.

In 1998, Tulane was coached by Tommy Bowden and Rich Rodriguez was the offensive coordinator and Shaun King was the quarterback. The Green Wave climbed to as high as No. 7 in the AP and coaches poll at the end of the season after ending the year with a Liberty Bowl victory over BYU. The 538 points scored by the program was a school record. The only other team to finish the season without a loss that season was Tennessee, the first BCS national champions. Tulane was left out of the BCS bowl lineup despite their perfect record.

Now the attention will shift to Boise State, who should be next in line in trying to claim some national titles for their undefeated seasons. Or maybe Utah? It’s open season on claiming national titles now, so go get them!

Helmet sticker to the college football Reddit community.

QB Tanner Lee leaving Nebraska early for NFL draft

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You can officially add another quarterback to the 2018 NFL draft pool.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday afternoon, Tanner Lee announced that he will be leaving Nebraska in order to make himself available for the April draft.  Lee wrote that his decision came “[a]fter weeks of prayer and consideration with my family.”

A transfer from Tulane, Lee completed his first and what turned out to be only season as NU’s starting quarterback in 2017 after sitting out 2016.  This season, the 6-4, 220-pound Lee threw for 3,143 yards, 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Lee’s decision, which will surprise some, came a month after Mike Riley was fired and ultimately replaced by Scott Frost.  The system Frost will bring to Lincoln requires a quarterback to have the ability to both pass and run; including his time at Tulane, Lee ran for minus-384 yards in three seasons.  He ran for minus-97 yards this past season for the ‘Huskers.