San Jose State Spartans

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Ron Caragher of the San Jose State Spartans watches the action during the AutoNation Cure Bowl against the Georgia State Panthers at Florida Citrus Bowl on December 19, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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San Jose State dismisses head coach Ron Caragher

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In the third — and surely, hopefully final — move of the day, San Jose State has fired head coach Ron Caragher, the program announced Sunday evening.

“I want to thank Coach Caragher for his hard work and commitment to San Jose State football these past four years,” SJSU AD Gene Bleymaier said in a statement. “A search for a new head coach will begin immediately.”

Hired away from the head coaching job at San Diego, Caragher completed four seasons in San Jose. He compiled a 19-30 record, peaking with a win in the Auto Nation Cure Bowl last season before sliding back to a 4-8 mark this year.

Bleymaier arrived to San Jose State from Boise State, so apples from the Chris Petersen/Bryan Harsin coaching tree are likely to be plucked here.

Taysom Hill among dozen ‘Academic Heisman’ finalists

BOISE, ID - OCTOBER 20: Quarterback Taysom Hill #7 of the Brigham Young Cougars let loose of a long pass during second half action against the Boise State Broncos on October 20, 2016 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won the game 28-27. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)
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As the watch lists for on-field honors continue to roll out, an award for what’s essentially scholastic excellence has significantly whittled its list to the chosen several.

The National Football Foundation, in conjunction with the College Football Hall of Fame, announced Thursday the finalists for the 2016 William V. Campbell Trophy.  Commonly referred to as the “Academic Heisman,” the Campbell Trophy annually “recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.

Four of the dozen finalists hail from Power Five programs (Arkansas, BYU, Duke, Wake Forest), while another four come from Group of Five teams (Central Michigan, East Carolina, San Jose State, Western Michigan). There’s also two from the FCS (Dayton, Northern Iowa) and one each from Div. II (Delta State (Miss.)) and Div. III (St. John’s (Minn.)).

Oklahoma’s Ty Darlington was the 2015 winner of the Campbell Trophy.

Below are the 12 finalists for this year’s award, along with their GPAs and majors:

Chris Beaschler, LB, Dayton, 3.72, Mechanical Engineering
Tim Crawley, WR, San Jose State, 3.78, Business Management
DeVon Edwards, S, Duke, 3.35, Psychology
Brooks Ellis, LB, Arkansas, 3.82, Exercise Science
Carter Hanson, LB, St. John’s (Minn.), 4.00, Business Leadership
Taysom Hill, QB, BYU, 3.45, Finance
Ryan Janvion, S, Wake Forest, 3.53, Business Management
Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina, 3.56, Communications
Cooper Rush, QB, Central Michigan, 3.86, Actuarial Science
Karter Schult, DL, Northern Iowa, 3.87, Exercise Science
Tyler Sullivan, QB, Delta State (Miss.), 3.68, Biology
Zach Terrell, QB, Western Michigan, 3.66, Finance

Tony Morales, Texas Tech’s personification of perseverance, gets SEVENTH year from NCAA

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Offensive lineman Tony Morales #51 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders walks off the field after a safety during the first half of the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Yes, you read that correctly.  And, yes, this is still an amazingly awesome story if you’ve been following along.

Monday, Texas Tech confirmed to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that Red Raiders center Tony Morales has been granted a rare seventh season of eligibility.  The offensive lineman will be eligible to play in 2017 if he so chooses, and there seems to be little doubt that he will.

“I know I’ve got another year, for sure,” Morales said after Monday’s practice. “I already talked to compliance and (offensive line) coach (Lee) Hays and them. I worked too hard for too long. I didn’t rehab for four years to turn down eligibility.”

In March, it was announced that Morales had been granted a sixth season of eligibility and would suit up for the Red Raiders in 2016.  And, if there were a picture next to the word “perseverance” in the dictionary, it’d be that of Morales taking the field this year.  And next, as it turns out.

The Tech offensive lineman missed the 2011 season, his true freshman year, due to an injury sustained in summer camp. The same thing around the same time happened again in 2012. And again in 2013. And, unbelievably, again in 2014.  That’s right, Morales missed four straight complete seasons because of injury.

Morales’ myriad health issues have consisted of a torn labrum in his right shoulder (2011); a strained knee ligament (2012); a torn labrum in his left shoulder (2013); and another knee issue in 2014.

The Avalanche-Journal offered a brief explanation as to how the NCAA made its decision:

A Tech spokesman said Tech filed for an extension of Morales’ five-year eligibility “clock” after last season and NCAA personnel who reviewed his case said Morales’ circumstances dictated he could have an extra two years — 2016 and 2017 — if he wanted.

Should Morales suffer an injury that costs him either the remainder of this season or any or all of 2017, that time will forever be lost as he will have exhausted all potential appeals for additional eligibility.  There’s been good news on the medical front of late, though.

Finally healthy in 2015, Morales started six games at right guard last season.  This season, Morales has started all eight games at center for the Red Raiders.

School-wise, Morales is currently working on a master’s degree (educational leadership) and may begin the pursuit of a second one given the additional year of eligibility.

While a seventh season is extremely rare, it’s not unprecedented.  In fact, there’s a very recent example of it as San Jose State’s Deontae Cooper is currently in the midst of his seventh season.  The running back made his collegiate debut in 2010 at Washington and spent his first six years with the Huskies before transferring to the Spartans in March of this year.  This season, Cooper, who suffered three torn ACLs, is third on the team with 331 yards rushing.

Mountain West to consider expansion with or without Big 12 poaching

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 05:  The Championship Trophy, with the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Game trophies, sit on a table fieldside prior to the Mountain West Championship game between the San Diego State Aztecs and  the Air Force Falcons at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
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Regardless of what happens in one Power Five conference, one Group of Five league could be expanding.

Air Force and Colorado State of the Mountain West have reportedly made the cut as the Big 12 looks to expand by at least two teams and possibly four.  That conference could make their expansion decision as early as the next month.

In the meantime, the MWC won’t be sitting idly by waiting to be poached as commissioner Craig Thompson confirmed Saturday that his conference will look to expand independent of what the Big 12 does.  And, more to the point, Thompson doesn’t hide the fact that the league would like a presence in the state of Texas.

“I can say this — and I said it at our [football] media days. We have a lot of people saying, ‘If there’s an opportunity to be in your league, we’re interested.’ So there are numbers there,” Thompson said, without getting into any specifics. “I’ve challenged our membership to think about expansion — with or without losing [current] members. Do we look east? Do we look at the state of Texas, for example?

“So that’s probably going to be something we have to confront this year.”

The Salt Lake Tribune mentions current Conference USA members North Texas, Rice, UTEP and UT-San Antonio as possibilities from the state of Texas.  The Sun Belt’s Arkansas State is also considered a viable option.

New series with San Jose State among schedule changes for USF

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 12:  Detail view of a football helmet of the University of South Florida Bulls resting behind the bench during play against the Kansas University Jayhawks at Raymond James Stadium on September 12, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
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Scheduling weekend at CFT continues, with news of an addition and tweaks to one AAC member’s future slates.

On the addition front, USF confirmed that they will play San Jose State in a rare home-and-home series that’s not off in the distant future.  The first game will be played next season, Sept. 8, Spartan, and will conclude with the Spartans making the return trip to Tampa Sept. 12, 2020.

The 2017 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.  It’ll also mark just the second game for the Bulls in the state of California.

USF had previously announced a home-and-home series with Georgia Tech for the 2021-22 seasons; now, that series has been moved up to 2018 in Tampa and 2019 in Atlanta.

Finally, a 2017 game against Northern Illinois has been pushed back to the 2025 season.  The two teams will play the front-end of a home-and-home this coming season.

Add up all of the tweaks and addition, and USF’s non-conference schedule is now complete through the 2020 season.