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Vanderbilt and UNLV announce future home-and-home series

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Vanderbilt and UNLV have set aside a pair of dates to play two future football games. The home-and-home deal will begin in 2019 and conclude in 2023.

According to the announcement from Vanderbilt, the Commodores of the SEC will host the Mountain West Conference’s UNLV on October 12, 2019 in the first meeting between the two schools on the football field. The second game in the series will be played September 16, 2023 at UNLV. Barring any other changes to the schedules before then, Vanderbilt’s trip to UNLV will mark the first time an SEC program has visited Las Vegas for a regular season game. The only other time an SEC team played in Las Vegas was in the 2000 Las Vegas Bowl, when UNLV topped Arkansas. UNLV has faced SEC competition before, but never at home in the regular season.

“We are delighted to add Vanderbilt to our future schedule,” said Reed-Francois. “Signing a home-and-home series with an SEC team shows how bright the future is for our program. Las Vegas is a world-class city and we look forward to hosting the Commodores and other fan bases from major programs in the coming years.”

By the time Vanderbilt makes their trip to play UNLV, a brand new football venue should be in place with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders preparing to move to Las Vegas once a new stadium is constructed in the next few years.

Vanderbilt has been reaching out to the Mountain West Conference for a number of future football matchups, many of which are home-and-home deals. Vanderbilt has additional future games lined up against MWC opponents Hawaii (2022-23), Nevada (2018), and Colorado State (2020-21, 2025-26).

As a member of the SEC, Vanderbilt is required to schedule at least one game per season against another power conference opponent or power conference equivalent of an opponent as determined by the SEC. UNLV does not satisfy that scheduling requirement, but Vanderbilt is covered with the non-conference scheduling demand in both seasons. In 2019, Vanderbilt will play at Purdue (Big Ten), and in 2023 Vandy will play at Wake Forest (ACC).

Davey O’Brien Award watch list highlighted by former finalists, semifinalists and SEC

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The Davey O’Brien Award (top quarterback) took the spotlight in the ongoing college football watch list tour on Wednesday morning. A total of 30 quarterbacks were named to the initial watch list for the award, including six from the SEC along with a few potential Heisman Trophy candidates and a Heisman Trophy winner.

Highlighting the watch list are two finalists from last season; Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has been a two-time finalist for the award. Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and Washington State’s Luke Falk are also on the watch list and are each two-time semifinalists for the award. Joining them on the watch list are former semifinalists Jake Browning (Washington), Sam Darnold (USC), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Josh Rosen (UCLA), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State)m and Wilton Speight (Michigan).

While the SEC led the way with six watch list players, the ACC, Big 12, and Pac-12 each had four players named to the watch list. The Big Ten had three, with Penn State’s Trace McSorley joining Barrett and Speight.

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson won the Davey O’Brien Award each of the past two seasons, becoming the second two-time winner of the award (Oklahoma’s Jason White in 2003-04). A player does not need to be included on the watch list in order to win the award, but only quarterbacks from the 130 FBS programs are eligible.

2017 Davey O’Brien Award Watch List

Austin Allen, Arkansas
Josh Allen, Wyoming
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Jake Bentley, South Carolina
Jake Browning, Washington
Shane Buechele, Texas
Sam Darnold, USC
Eric Dungey, Syracuse
Jacob Eason, Georgia
Jesse Ertz, Kansas State
Luke Falk, Washington State
Riley Ferguson, Memphis
Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
Quinton Flowers, USF
Deondre Francois, Florida State
Jalen Hurts, Alabama
Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Daniel Jones, Duke
Tanner Mangum, BYU
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Trace McSorley, Penn State
Shea Patterson, Ole Miss
Josh Rosen, UCLA
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Brett Rypien, Boise State
Brandon Silvers, Troy
Wilton Speight, Michigan
Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
Mike White, WKU
Logan Woodside, Toledo

The Davey O’Brien Award will be trim its watch list down to a handful of semifinalists on November 7. Finalists for the award will be unveiled two weeks later on November 21, and the winner will be announced on December 7 at the annual Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPN.

Troy Calhoun has the worst College Football Playoff expansion idea yet

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There is nothing wrong with trying to think of ways for a sport or a product to improve. Sometimes that means spitballing ideas on a board just to see what sticks. Most of the time, those ideas thrown around will be complete garbage, such as Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun‘s idea to improve the College Football Playoff if/when it expands to an eight-team format.

Calhoun’s idea for the College Football Playoff is to expand to eight teams with each power conference champion receiving an automatic bid, two wild card slots and one guaranteed bid for the best Group of Five conference champion. If it were just that, Calhoun has my support as this is the exact outline I have advocated. But it is how Calhoun wants the Group of Five team to be selected for the guaranteed spot.

Calhoun wants a four-team playoff between Group of Five programs to determine the final College Football Playoff spot.

That, folks, is a horrible idea.

“I think it would, really, bring a wholeness that would be splendid for the spirit of college football,” Calhoun said, according to The Gazette.

No, stop it. Why should the Group of Five have to play additional games on top of their 12-13 game schedule that includes a conference championship game (the Sun Belt will begin playing a championship game in 2018), two more postseason games just to get into the College Football Playoff? That schedule would be brutal, not to mention the wear-and-tear on players playing for programs that lag behind the state-of-the-art facilities the power conference programs have.

Let’s take Navy, for example.

Let’s say the Midshipmen play for and win the AAC Championship. They then go on to play Army the following week in the annual Army-Navy Game. Immediately after that, I assume, they would have to play a semifinal Group of Five playoff game. Win that, and they play again the next week for the Group of Five spot in the College Football Playoff. That leaves little recovery and prep time for their first College Football Playoff opponent, which likely has to be played the following week before the semifinals are played New Years weekend.

Navy may be the extreme scenario, but regardless of what team you use as an example, the overall result is the same. You can’t make cases to improve player safety and have a playoff just to get into a playoff.

I applaud your willingness to think outside the box, Troy Calhoun, but this plan still needs some major retooling.

ACC, SEC place most DBs on Jim Thorpe Award watch list

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Another day, yet another watch list as the 2017 offseason barrels towards a merciful death.

This time around it’s the Jim Thorpe Award doing the honors, with the trophy given annually to the nation’s top defensive back releasing a watch list consisting of a mere 45 players from all 10 FBS conferences.  Headlining this year’s list are a pair of semifinalists from a year ago, Louisville’s Jaire Alexander and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The ACC and SEC lead all conferences with seven players apiece selected, followed by the Pac-12’s six and five each for the Big Ten and Big 12.  Conference USA was next with four, while the AAC, MAC and Sun Belt had three and the Mountain West two.

Alabama, Florida State and Stanford were the only programs with two players each selected.

USC’s Adoree’ Jackson won the 2016 version of the Thorpe Award.  The other finalists for last year’s trophy were Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis and LSU’s Tre’Davious White.  All three of those players were selected in the 2017 NFL draft.

Another Utah State player arrested in connection to teammates’ burglaries

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An off-field incident involving members of the Utah State football program has expanded yet again.

According to the Cache Valley Daily, Aggies cornerback Ja’Marcus Ingram was arrested and charged earlier this week on one count of tampering with a witness.  That charge is a third-degree felony.

Ingram’s legal issue is directly related to an April incident involving two of his teammates.

In April, USU cornerback Jaylan Brown and linebacker Troy Murray were arrested in connection to a pair of burglaries last December.  The pair allegedly stole video game consoles and video games, with the alleged thefts traced back to them after they sold the stolen property to a pawn shop.

Ingram is the third USU player to be arrested in connection to that incident that wasn’t directly involved in it.  From the newspaper’s report:

Later that month, Kevin Meiztenheimer and Dayshawn Littleton were arrested, accused of trying to hit the witness with their car and threatening to return and shoot the victim. Police believe Ingram and the two other 19-year-old men were trying to prevent charges from being filed against Brown and Murray.

As a true freshman last season, Ingram took a redshirt.