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Civil War among two Pac-12 games changing dates for 2017 season

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It’s a relatively slow news day on the college football front but not when it comes to Pac-12 scheduling news.

As announced by the schools on Thursday afternoon, two contests for the upcoming 2017 slate are moving dates this year. This comes in addition to the announcement that Arizona State has scheduled Wyoming in 2024.

The most notable schedule change comes to the annual Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State. The end of the regular season rivalry game was set to be played on Friday, November 24th but will now be moved back a day to Saturday. It is still set to be televised on ESPN but comes as a result of the PK80 basketball tournament being held earlier in the week up the road in Portland to honor the Ducks’ most famous booster, Phil Knight.

On the non-conference front, Arizona’s trip to UTEP during Week 3 is being moved up a day from Saturday to Friday, September 15. That game is also slated to be on ESPN with a kickoff time of 10:15 pm ET. Interestingly, the school notes that with their Pac-12 opener against Utah also on Friday the following week, the Wildcats will have three straight Saturday’s off given that they have a bye after taking on the Utes.

Additional TV times, network selections and the like are set to surface from the Pac-12 at a later date this summer but for now there appears to already be some preemptive schedule changes out West.

A&M, UCLA both add New Mexico to future schedules

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Texas A&M and UCLA announced Wednesday that their 2017 opener had been moved from Saturday to Sunday.  As it turns out, that wasn’t the only scheduling news connecting the two football programs.

As part of a release announcing seven games being added to its future schedules, New Mexico confirmed that two of those contests will include A&M and UCLA.  Both of those games, obviously, will be on the road, with the Lobos traveling to College Station Sept. 18, 2021, and to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Sept. 13, 2025.

In its release, the school wrote that “[t]he game in College Station has a guarantee of $1,100,000 and 450 complementary tickets,” while “[t]he game in Pasadena has a guarantee of $1,200,000 plus 2,000 complementary tickets that UNM can sell for extra revenue.”

The last and only time New Mexico and UCLA squared off was in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, a 27-13 win for the Bruins.  UNM and A&M actually completed a home-and-home series relatively recently, with the Aggies winning both games played in the 2008 (28-22) and 2009 (41-6) seasons.

In addition to the future Power Five games, a continuation of the long-running rivalry with UTEP will be extended.  UNM will play in El Paso in 2021, then host UTEP in 2022.  Those two games will mark the 79th and 80th contests in the regional rivalry.

UTEP turns to long-time high school coach to oversee WRs

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Sean Kugler has turned to a much lower level of football to fill a void in his coaching staff.

UTEP confirmed via a press release that Chuck Veliz has been hired by Kugler as the Miners’ wide receivers coach. Veliz will replace Theron Aych, who left UTEP late last month to take the same job at Arizona.

Veliz had spent 13 years as the head football coach and athletic director at Montwood High School in El Paso. He retired from that job in February of last year amidst allegations that he stole money — it was alleged that upwards of $100,000 was unaccounted for — from the football program and various fundraisers.

Through his attorney, Veliz had vigorously denied any wrongdoing, including talk that he had physically abused his football players. Veliz has not been charged in connection to the financial allegations.

A graduate of UTEP, this will mark Veliz’s first coaching job at the collegiate level.

UTEP’s Theron Aych named new receivers coach at Arizona

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Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.

The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.

Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.

The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.

Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else