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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).

UNLV’s newest recruit is… Elvis?

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It’s the time of the year when college football programs tend to let their video magicians in the media department let their creative juices flow. At UNLV, it seems head coach Tony Sanchez and his staff are finding some humorous ways to embrace their Las Vegas roots.

In a fun little promotional video shared via Twitter, UNLV wide receiver Brandon Presley walks into the locker room and notices a modification to his jersey. This prompts him to ask the equipment manager about the new first initial added to his jersey, to which the equipment manager informs Presley there’s a new player on the team.

Who could it possibly be? Viva Las Vegas.

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While this video is certainly a humorous nod to Elvis Presley’s presence in Las Vegas, there is fact just one Presley on the UNLV roster for 2017. Presley is anticipated to have a more significant role in the offense in 2017 after having his 2016 season ended in the season opener due to a broken right foot. After a promising showing in the spring, Presley says he is back to 100 percent and ready to make up for some lost time in 2017.

“Coming off that injury, my mind was kind of down,” Presley said earlier this spring, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I’ve been working hard and getting back to the flow of things. I’ve been flying around, so I’m feeling good.”

You might even say it’s now or never for Presley.

Ex-Syracuse DB Chauncey Scissum transfers to UNLV

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Nearly five months after leaving Syracuse, Chauncey Scissum has found himself a new college football home.

On his personal Instagram account by way of Twitter, Scissum revealed that he has decided to enroll at UNLV and play for the Rebels.  As the defensive back will be coming to Las Vegas s a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017, his final season of collegiate eligibility.

“Blessed And Thankful For The Opportunity To Be A UNLV Rebel, And Call Vegas My New Home,” Scissum wrote.

In mid-December, Scissum announced his decision to transfer from the Orange.

Scissum was one of two ‘Cuse defensive backs who were stabbed by a former Orange defensive back, Naesean Howard, in a frightening incident in April of 2016.

Howard allegedly went into an unprompted and abrupt “rage” shortly after showing up at an on-campus barbecue celebrating an SU student’s birthday, first stabbing Scissum near his jaw. Corey Winfield, one of a handful of ‘Cuse football players in attendance, intervened on his teammate’s behalf and was stabbed multiple times in the arms, chest and ribs.

Winfield announced in late November that he too would be transferring.

Because of the ongoing recovery from the injuries sustained in the attack, Scissum played in just six games this past season. He played in 12 the year before, starting seven of those contests.

Mountain West alters revenue distribution plan based on TV appearances, but Boise State keeps sweetheart deal

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One of the more obscure remnants of the realignment era in college athletics is the way the Mountain West distributes television revenue. Most notably, Boise State was allowed to keep a certain slice of the pie (slightly less than $2 million) as part of the condition that they would stay in the league, then the rest of the remaining members would split what was left — with a catch.

That catch turned out to be a form of a bonus system that gave a little extra to schools who appeared on national television on conference partners like ESPN and CBS Sports Network. It appears the MWC has had a change of heart about how things are being distributed because that is changing going forward next season.

Per the Idaho Statesman:

The conference determined the formula and bonus structure was not performing as it had been intended. Now, Boise State’s membership agreement and its ESPN deal were honored, meaning the school gets $1.8 million up front annually. That’s the average bonus payout Boise State got from 2013-15 under the contract it agreed to when deciding to stay in the Mountain West. The remaining revenue will be divided among the 11 football-playing schools outside Hawaii, worth approximately $1.1 million per year, meaning a total of $2.9 million for Boise State.

The bonus system was a bit of a sore spot for many schools in the league, something commissioner Craig Thompson conceded in an interview last July. The new deal looks to be a little more fairer to everybody in the league and probably won’t draw as many complaints as before (though that Boise State sweetheart deal from realignment remains). While the overall figures aren’t anywhere close to their Power Five peers, it’s still a nice chunk of change for many of the Mountain West athletic departments.

UNLV ‘very excited’ to share Las Vegas stadium with Raiders

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The biggest news of the day in the NFL has a decidedly college football connection.

By a 31-1 vote, NFL owners approved the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas later this decade.  The new stadium that will eventually serve as the home for the NFL club is expected to be ready for play for the 2020 season.

As expected, it will also serve as the new home for Sin City’s FBS team, a fact that UNLV’s hierarchy was quick to point out and highlight in the hours after the vote was officially confirmed.  Below are the statements from the three main characters involved with the football program.

Len Jessup, UNLV President
UNLV and the entire Rebel family welcome the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. We look forward to a long-term partnership with the Raiders and the Stadium Authority Board to give UNLV football access to a world-class stadium and accompanying game day experience that will rival the best in college football. We also recognize and thank the numerous stakeholders – including the Adelson family – who invested their time and energy toward this vision. This is an historic day for Nevada and another example of how Las Vegas continues to reinvent itself.

Tina Kunzer-Murphy, UNLV Athletics Director
We are very excited to welcome the Raiders to our great city of Las Vegas. Our community is on the rise and that has clearly been recognized by the NFL owners with today’s vote. We can’t wait for the day our UNLV football program has a new home, sharing the new world-class stadium with the Las Vegas Raiders. What a great day for the NFL, our city and our university.

Tony Sanchez, UNLV Football Head Coach
Today is a huge development for UNLV Football and the city of Las Vegas. Sharing a state-of-the-art stadium with the Raiders is another thing that will allow us to recruit at a high level. The combination of an NFL stadium and our upcoming Fertitta Football Complex brings so much energy to this program and campus. As someone who has lived here for eight years, I’m also excited for this community. This is a great place to live and the pride of being an NFL city will make it an even better place.

In addition to being tenants in a new state-of-the-art stadium, the university will soon begin construction on an on-campus football practice facility.

There are five FBS teams that will share stadiums with NFL teams on at least a part-time basis in 2017 — UMass (New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium), Miami (Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Stadium), Temple (Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field), Pitt (Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field) and USF (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Raymond James Stadium).  Georgia State had shared the Georgia Dome with the Atlanta Falcons but are moving to the new Turner Field this season, while San Diego State will still call Qualcomm Stadium home even as the Chargers have bolted the facility for Los Angeles.

There has been chatter that both Temple (HERE) and USF (HERE) could find themselves in a position to build an on-campus stadium at some point down the road — although the latter could extend its agreement with its current home as it continues to evaluate its long-term plans.

The Los Angles Rams are also temporarily crashing at the home of the USC Trojans, Memorial Coliseum, until their new stadium is completed.