Navy Midshipmen

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Air Force issues release further clarifying policy change

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One of the more eyebrow-raising headlines from the most NFL draft has added another layer.

Shortly before the start of the draft Thursday, and to the surprise of at least a couple of eligible players, it was revealed to NFL teams that Air Force would no longer approve requests from academy graduates to defer their two years of active duty service in order to be allowed to play professional football.  Such a change effectively made players like Falcons wide receiver Jalen Robinette and, possibly, safety Weston Steelhammer undraftable.

A mini-imbroglio ensued, with the agent for one player impacted by the abrupt shift in policy hinting at a potential legal challenge.

Given the negative headlines the shift generated, Air Force felt compelled to issue another press release, if for nothing more than to inform the masses that the same policy applies to their service academy rivals as well.

Below is the latest release, in its entirety:

As released earlier today, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has rescinded the policy to allow cadet-athletes to apply for Ready Reserve status immediately after graduation to participate in professional activities/sports. The Air Force Academy released a statement from the Air Force prior to the NFL draft this week so NFL teams would be aware that the service would no longer support these requests and they could conduct their business in good faith, as Air Force Academy cadet Jalen Robinette was the lone NFL Draft prospect from any of the academies.

With the release of the new OSD policy which reverts back to all service academy graduates and ROTC members serving two years on active duty, all three service academies are under the same guidance moving forward. Air Force Academy cadets Jalen Robinette and Griffin Jax look forward to graduation and commissioning in May. Their conduct exemplifies the character and dignity one would expect from a soon-to-be Air Force second lieutenant. Both of these cadets remain in excellent standing at the Academy and should have an opportunity to pursue their professional athletic goals after serving two years as officers in the Air Force should they choose.

ESPN acquires Miami Beach Bowl, will move it out of Florida

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The state of Florida will play host to one less bowl game when the 2017 postseason rolls around.

The American Athletic Conference, which created the Miami Beach Bowl and has owned and operated the event since 2014, announced Friday that the game has been purchased by ESPN.  The AAC will continue its affiliation with the bowl game; it’s expected Conference USA, the MAC and Sun Belt will do the same.

The conference also confirmed that the game will no longer be played at Marlins Park or in the state of Florida.  A new venue will be announced at a later date, although the state of Texas is the early favorite to land the bowl.

“We are proud of the postseason opportunities that we have been able to provide to student-athletes through our founding of the Miami Beach Bowl, and we appreciate the relationships that we have built with the Miami Marlins, Marlins Park and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “This transfer makes sense on many levels. We are excited to enhance our overall relationship with ESPN and to continue our affiliation with the bowl.”

Memphis (2014), Tulsa (2016) and USF (2015) have previously represented the AAC in the game.  The first two won their matchups with BYU and Central Michigan, respectively, while the latter dropped a 10-point decision to Western Kentucky.

Red Sox, Yankees vying to host future Army-Navy game

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One of the greatest rivalries in college football may in the future be coming to a couple of the most iconic stadiums… in baseball.

The Boston Globe is reporting that Fenway Sports Management, the group that runs Fenway Park, has submitted a formal bid to host the 2018 Army-Navy game. That game would be the 119th in a rivalry that was first played way back in 1890.

Additionally, the Baltimore Sun reports that Boston’s American League East rival, the New York Yankees, has submitted a formal bid for Yankee Stadium to be a venue as well. Neither New Yankee Stadium nor Fenway have served as the site for the game; Old Yankee Stadium was, though, the host for two of the games (1930, 1931).

The Sun goes on to write that “[t]he New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority has submitted a bid to host the game at The Meadowlands, while Baltimore (Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium), Foxborough (New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium) and the District of Columbia (Washington Redskins) are also in the mix.” No specific years for any of those bids were detailed.

Last year’s matchup was played in Baltimore and saw Army snap its 14-game losing streak in the series. The vast majority of the games, 86 to be specific, have been played in Philadelphia. The next edition of the rivalry will once again take place at Lincoln Field in Philly.

Boston would become the 11th different city to play host to the game if the bid is a winning one, joining Philly, New York City (11), Baltimore (6), East Rutherford (4), West Point (3), Annapolis (3), Princeton (1), Chicago (1), Pasadena (1) and Landover (1).

Massachusetts, meanwhile, would join Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois and California as states that have played host.

The home of the Boston Red Sox has become a destination of sorts for Northeast football. Last month it was announced that the 2017 UConn-Boston college game will be moved to the old ballpark. That will serve as one three college football games played at Fenway the upcoming season, the other two being UMass-Maine and Brown-Dartmouth.

Notre Dame played “host” to Boston College in 2015 at Fenway as part of their Shamrock Series.

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

Louisiana Tech tops Navy in wild Armed Forces Bowl shootout

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Louisiana Tech and Navy have opposite approaches to offense… but they both agreed to score plenty of points on Friday.

The Bulldogs managed to put up just a tad more in the Armed Forces Bowl and won 48-45 in an fun postseason shootout on Friday.

Quarterback Ryan Higgins kicked off the scoring for Tech back in the first quarter with a rushing touchdown but did most of his damage with his arm, passing for 409 yards and four scores. Tailbacks Jarred Craft and Boston Scott both added a combined 96 yards on the ground while the latter also found the end zone.

Receiver Trent Taylor — FBS’s third-leading receiver coming into today — closed his career out in style with yet another remarkable performance for the senior. He finished the bowl game with 12 catches for 233 yards and two touchdown receptions and was a tough cover despite some mucky conditions in Fort Worth, Texas. Fellow wideout Carlos Henderson also chipped in with another 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Navy quarterback Zach Abey did all he could to deliver a victory but ended up just a little short operating the triple-option and was knocked out of the game with an injury with just four minutes to go in the game. The third-stringer made his second start and threw for 159 yards and a touchdown while topping the century mark on the ground with 114 yards rushing and two more scores.

The Midshipmen wound up with over 450 yards of offense and averaged over seven yards a play for the game but simply couldn’t come up with enough stops on the defensive end to capture the win.

Instead it was the Bulldogs who emerged victorious in a high-scoring affair between the runners-up of the American and Conference USA that was certainly one of the better bowl games so far this year.