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President Donald Trump announces future FBS foes for Liberty football in commencement address

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While we may all try to stick to sports nowadays, sometimes one just can’t help but see politics cross streams a bit with college football. Case in point came on Saturday as President Donald Trump announced the future FBS opponents for Liberty University, where the he gave the commencement address for the class of 2017.

Jerry (Fallwell Jr.), are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Trump said while reading off the names of the opponents. “Auburn? I don’t know about that. This could be trouble.”

Liberty received a waiver earlier this year from the NCAA to make the move to FBS full-time and will play several top-tier opponents in 2018 as part of that transition from the FCS level. Per the schedule released by the school afterward, here are the FBS schools who have scheduled games with the Flames and the dates of their future meetings:

Army
Sept. 8, 2018 – Liberty at Army
Nov. 27, 2021 – Army at Liberty
Sept. 20, 2025 – Liberty at Army
Nov. 28, 2026 – Army at Liberty

Auburn
Nov. 17, 2018 – Liberty at Auburn

BYU
Nov. 9, 2019 – Liberty at BYU
Oct. 22, 2022 – BYU at Liberty

Buffalo
Sept. 14, 2019 – Buffalo at Liberty
Sept. 16, 2023 – Liberty at Buffalo

Old Dominion
Sept. 1, 2018 – Old Dominion at Liberty

Ole Miss
Nov. 13, 2021 – Liberty at Ole Miss

Massachusetts (UMass)
Nov. 3, 2018 – Liberty at UMass

New Mexico
Sept. 29, 2018 – Liberty at New Mexico
Sept. 28, 2019 – New Mexico at Liberty

New Mexico State
Oct. 6, 2018 – Liberty at New Mexico State
Nov. 24, 2018 – New Mexico State at Liberty
Oct. 5, 2019 – Liberty at New Mexico State
Nov. 30, 2019 – New Mexico State at Liberty

North Texas
Sept. 22, 2018 – North Texas at Liberty
Oct. 9, 2021 – Liberty at North Texas

Rutgers
Oct. 26, 2019 – Liberty at Rutgers

Troy
Oct. 13, 2018 – Troy at Liberty

Virginia
Nov. 10, 2018 – Liberty at Virginia
Nov. 23, 2019 – Liberty at Virginia
Sept. 11, 2027 – Virginia at Liberty

Virginia Tech
Sept. 5, 2020 – Liberty at Virginia Tech

Wake Forest
Sept. 17, 2022 – Liberty at Wake Forest
Aug. 30, 2025 – Wake Forest at Liberty
Sept. 3, 4 or 5, 2026 – Liberty at Wake Forest

Liberty will be an FCS independent during the upcoming season before transitioning into an FBS independent in 2018. The school will not be bowl eligible until 2019, when they will have fully made the move up a level to become a full-time FBS program.

Report: Alabama adds 2019 game vs. New Mexico State

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And let the SEC non-conference schedule whining/bitching/complaining commence… now.

Via a public records request, the outstanding website FBSchedules.com is reporting that Alabama has scheduled a 2019 game against New Mexico State.  The game will be played Sept. 7 and will, of course, take place at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

According to a copy of the agreement obtained by the site, ‘Bama will pay the current Sun Belt Conference school $1.7 million.  NMSU will likely be a football independent when the two teams meet two years down the road.

Given the agreement with NMSU, Alabama now has three of its four non-conference games wrapped up.  UA will open that season in Atlanta against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game Aug. 31, and will also play host to Southern Miss

The fourth non-conference game for the Crimson Tide will very likely be the annual toward-the-end-of-the-regular-season scrimmage game against an FCS opponent.

FCSchedules.com writes that “[a]ccording to the SEC scheduling rotation, Alabama’s 2019 conference opponents include Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, and Tennessee at home and Auburn, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and South Carolina on the road.”

Record-breaking QB one of two coaches hired by New Mexico State

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Doug Martin‘s 2017 on-field coaching staff will have a decidedly familiar feel to it, even as it’s in some ways brand-new.

New Mexico State announced that two coaches have been hired by Martin, Chase Holbrook and Kai Brown.  The former will serve as tight ends coach, the latter as defensive ends coach.

Holbrook spent the 2016 season as a quality control coach for Mike Leach at Washington State.  A former NMSU quarterback, he still owns the school’s single-season and career records for passing, passing attempts, completions, touchdowns, total offense and total touchdowns.

Brown was a graduate assistant the past three seasons for the football program.

“We are really excited about Chase coming back to New Mexico State,” Martin said. “Having a former great quarterback that has his name written all over the Aggie record book will have a huge impact on us taking that next step. Chase really believes and cares deeply about the football program here. To have a coach of his talent join our staff makes us a better program immediately. …

“Kai has been a very loyal hard working coach for us as a GA and it gives me great pride to add him to our staff in a full time role. He brings a lot of enthusiasm to our program and has a great relationship with our players.”

This will be both coaches’ first foray into full-time coaching responsibilities at the FBS level.

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

Provisional plans in place in case Navy, ahem, wreaks bowl havoc

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As un-American as it is, there are numerous individuals associated with the bowl process, including bowl officials and affected schools, who will be rooting for Navy to lose later on today.

Why? Because if the service academy beats Temple in the AAC championship game, it was initially thought, a portion of the bowl process could be paralyzed as Navy would be in line for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bid but still has its annual rivalry game with Army to play next weekend. A handful of bids would likely be delayed for another seven days, potentially putting some teams in a predicament where they would have as little as a 72-hour turnaround from learning where they will play in the postseason to actually playing in the game.

However, Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com reports, a provisional plan has been hatched that would allow 37 of the 40 bowl bids to be announced Sunday as planned regardless of what happens in the AAC title game this afternoon. The plan is based on four teams in particular winning this weekend, with one of the four, Washington, taking care of business Friday night by beating Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game.

The other teams that need to win? No. 3 Clemson (in ACC title game vs. Virginia Tech), 5-6 Louisiana-Lafayette (at 4-7 Louisiana-Monroe) and 5-6 South Alabama (vs. 3-8 New Mexico State). If those three teams win, McMurphy reports, this is what would transpire when it comes to the remaining three bowl games that wouldn’t be able to offer bids this weekend:

Navy is the highest-ranked Group of 5 champion
Navy goes to the Cotton Bowl, Western Michigan plays North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, and Army plays a Big 12 team, most likely Baylor, in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Western Michigan is the highest-ranked Group of 5 champion
Western Michigan goes to the Cotton Bowl, Army plays North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, and Navy plays a Big 12 team, most likely Baylor, in the Armed Forces Bowl.

That said, it’s still possible this tentative plan could be blown to smithereens and the postseason hurled into temporary chaos.

However, bowl officials stressed that those scenarios get blown up if more than three 5-7 teams are needed to fill bowls or there are major upsets in the Power 5 championship games.

“If so,” a source said, “then we’ll have to reshuffle the cards again.

The Group of Six bid, the Cotton Bowl, will come down to either No. 19 Navy or No. 17 Western Michigan, which remained unbeaten with a win in the MAC championship game Friday night.