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.
It doesn’t happen too often, but there’s some positive off-field news when it comes to the sport of college football.
Late Monday night, Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper and his wife, Donna, received word that a suitable heart for their son, Jarren Jasper, had been found. The younger Jasper had originally undergone surgery this past August to fix an abnormally fast heart rate when complications arose, triggering the need for a new heart.
The transplant, which was performed at Children’s Hospital in Washington D.C., went well, although the family cautioned in statements that the next 24 hours were going to be crucial. Just past that 24-hour mark, the service academy tweeted out an encouraging update on young Jasper’s progress.
The family, though, hasn’t forgotten that a miracle for which they’ve prayed for nearly seven months came amidst tragedy for another family.
“My heart goes out to the donor family,” Ivin Jasper said by way of the Washington Post. “Their loss made this joyous day possible. Words can’t begin to express how thankful the Jasper family is that they made the choice to give life.”
After waiting nearly six months, The Jasper family has received the gift of life.
Jarren Jasper, the 14-year-old son of Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper, was rushed into surgery late Monday night and underwent a heart transplant. The younger Jasper had originally undergone surgery this past August to fix an abnormally fast heart rate when complications arose, triggering the need for a new heart.
In the interim, Jasper had spent four months being kept alive, the Washington Post wrote, “with a mechanical pump called a left ventricular assist device helping his heart deliver blood throughout his body.” Late last night, the family’s miracle arrived.
Jasper’s surgery was performed at Children’s Hospital in Washington D.C. The family could never travel far from their Annapolis home as they awaited word that a suitable heart had been found.
All the best to the Jasper family in general and Jarren in particular as the young man takes these first huge steps toward living a normal, full life.
This could potentially end up going sideways for the Arizona football program.
Friday, reports surfaced that Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo was a “strong candidate” to take over as the head coach at Arizona. While the potential move was widely applauded in most corners, one individual in particular appeared to be decidedly displeased with the possibility of the coach bringing his option offense out west.
On his personal Twitter account in a tweet that has since been deleted – we’ve saved it for posterity’s sake — star quarterback Khalil Tate wrote that “he didn’t come to Arizona to run the tripple (sic) option.”
Tate also used a hashtag to reinforce who he feels should be the permanent replacement for Rich Rodriguez: interim head coach and defensive coordinator Marcel Yates.
Tate is one of the most dynamic playmakers at the quarterback position — hell, at any position — in college football and is a huge key if the Wildcats and whatever coach they ultimately settle on are to make noise in the Pac-12. He’ll likely enter the 2018 season as one of a handful of legitimate Heisman Trophy contenders.
Whether the football program can keep him from transferring elsewhere remains to be seen. There had been speculation shortly after Rodriguez was fired that Tate was seriously considering a transfer; the player’s mother came out and stated that he wouldn’t be leaving the school.
Again on his Twitter account, he set the record straight that those words weren’t his.
If Niumatalolo is indeed hired, it appears he’ll have some work to do in order to keep the dynamic Tate on the roster.
This is certainly an interesting development.
Friday morning, FootballScoop.com mentioned Ken Niumatalolo as a potential candidate for the opening at Arizona. A couple of hours later, ESPN.com reported that the Navy head coach has emerged as a “strong candidate” for the job.
The latest development adds further intrigue, with the Arizona Daily Star‘s Michael Lev writing that “Niumatalolo was unexpectedly absent from the Navy football offices today, fueling strong speculation that he will be the next coach of the Arizona Wildcats.” Lev added that it’s believed Niumatalolo is interviewing for the job today.
Niumatalolo and his option offense has gone 84-48 in 11 seasons at the service academy, including a pair of double-digit win seasons in 2009 and 2015. In December of 2015, Niumatalolo, a member of the Mormon church, turned down the BYU job in order to return to Navy.
Former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin is also believed to be a front-runner to replace Rich Rodriguez, who was fired earlier this month amidst sexual harassment claims that he described as fabricated and groundless.
A decision is expected in the not-too-distant future, perhaps as early as Friday.