Utah State Aggies

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 01: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals looks to pass under pressure from Scott Pagano #56 of the Clemson Tigers during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Nearly three dozen teams show interest in Clemson grad transfer

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It was expected there would be a significant market for a Clemson defensive lineman leaving the Tigers as a graduate transfer. Suffice to say, that is indeed the case.

This past week, Dabo Swinney‘s football program confirmed that Scott Pagano would be leaving the team and transferring elsewhere. The head coach also revealed that the tackle would “probably” end up at a West Coast school to finish out his career.

Teams in that part of the country are indeed interested in the one-year rental, as are myriad others as 247Sports.com is reporting that 32 made contact with the lineman in the hours after his impending pending departure was announced. Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, USC, Washington and Hawaii are among the teams out west who have expressed interest.

A handful of Power Five programs further east have expressed interest as well, including Arkansas, Baylor, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Purdue, Texas and Texas A&M. Group Five teams that have shown interest include Charlotte, East Carolina, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, SMU, Temple and Utah State.

Coming out of high school in Hawaii as a four-star 2013 recruit, Pagano was rated as the No. 24 tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state. Pagano started 13 games the past two seasons, four of which came in 2016.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is seen during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on October 15, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 17-10. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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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

Mountain West commissioner says Chargers’ move to LA played role in Poinsettia Bowl folding

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 21:  President of the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Ted Tollner congratulates Harvey Langi #16 of the Brigham Young Cougars  for winning the Defensive Player of the game after defeating the Wyoming Cowboys 24-21 in a game on December 21, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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One of the bigger surprises this offseason has been the announcement that the Poinsettia Bowl was closing its doors and folding for good this year after a strong dozen year run.

The move has left several in college athletics scrambling as a result of the shakeup to the postseason picture and the league most directly affected is the Mountain West. Perhaps not surprisingly, commissioner Craig Thompson isn’t too thrilled with the big hole in the bowl lineup now and went on 93.1FM/1350AM The Ticket up in Boise, Idaho to discuss the move and some of the reasoning behind it.

What’s most interesting there is the fact that Thompson thinks the Chargers move from San Diego to Los Angeles played a role in the decision to cancel the game. The Holiday Bowl, run by the same organization, has denied that is behind folding the game but has already begun to explore moving from Qualcomm Stadium to the San Diego Padres’ home of Petco Park in case the city decides to close the football stadium after next year.

“This is purely a decision made for our organization,” Mark Neville, executive director of the bowl game association, told the Associated Press last week.”It’s a completely different environment. Doing two games in San Diego, in the span of a week, is becoming more and more challenging in relation to ticket sales and sponsorships.”

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, as it has no doubt become much tougher to operate two bowl games in one city and the fact that the local pro football team is heading up the 405 certainly doesn’t help matters. In addition to the Mountain West needing to find a new spot for bowl eligible teams in 2017, BYU — which beat Wyoming in the final Poinsettia Bowl last December — is also looking for a new bowl game to go to next season.

Utah State AD releases letter of support for Matt Wells

BOISE, ID - OCTOBER 1: Head coach Matt Wells of the Utah State Aggies talking with his team during second half action against the Boise State Broncos on October 1, 2016 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won the game 21-10. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)
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It appears the coaching carousel won’t be making a stop at Utah State, at least not this year.

Taking over a program that won a school-record 11 games in Gary Andersen‘s final season in 2012, Matt Wells continued the winning ways in Logan by guiding the Aggies to a total of 19 wins his first two seasons.  USU slipped to 6-7 in 2015, then stumbled to 3-9 this year.

The Aggies finished 2016 mired in a five-game losing streak, leading some to speculate that the athletic department might look for new direction in the football program.  Amidst the rumors, athletic director John Hartwell issued a letter of support confirming that Wells will return for the 2017 season.

However, “there will be some changes made as we start preparations” for next season.  Those changes were unspecified, although it’s safe to assume at least some are related to Well’s coaching staff.

In reflecting on the recently completed football season, we did not meet the expectations of our student-athletes, our coaches, our administration, or our fan base. The level of success over the previous five years (43 wins vs. 24 losses and five straight bowl appearances) has become our measuring stick. Head coach Matt Wells has been a vital part of that success, and no one is taking the disappointment of this season harder than him. The sting of this season will be a driving force for all of us associated with our football program to make the changes and sacrifices necessary to regain the winning edge.

Coach Wells and I have had multiple meetings over the last few weeks to examine our entire football program. The goal and expectation is to get our program back to the level we all enjoyed over the previous five seasons. We have complete confidence that coach Wells is the man to lead us moving forward. He and I agree that there will be some changes made as we start preparations for a successful 2017 season.

Big Ten announces 2017 Friday night schedule

Purdue v Wisconsin
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Much to the chagrin of many, the Big Ten is officially ahead with its controversial version of Friday Night Lights.

Earlier this month, the Big Ten confirmed that it was going against its longstanding tradition next season by playing games on Friday nights in the months of September and October.  Less than a week later, the conference has announced which six games will be played on the day usually reserved for high school football in the Midwest.

Half of the games will be non-conference matchups, the other half conference contests.

  • Fri., Sept. 1 Washington at Rutgers
  • Fri., Sept. 1 Utah State at Wisconsin
  • Fri., Sept. 8 Ohio at Purdue
  • Fri., Sept. 29 Nebraska at Illinois
  • Fri., Oct. 13 Northwestern at Maryland
  • Fri., Oct. 27 Michigan State at Northwestern

The league, as a direct result of its new television agreements that go into effect next season, will play six Friday night games per year for the next six years.  None of those games will be played in November.

Michigan, privately, and Penn State, publicly, will not be participating in FNL.  It’s unlikely either would’ve been asked to host such a game as the league is reportedly reluctant to schedule them in stadiums with a significant capacity.

The conference noted in today’s release that “[w]hile not all institutions are able to participate in Friday night matchups, all 14 institutions will participate in the broad initiative to provide more primetime exposure on national platforms.”

Given the scrutiny the decision has garnered, the league also went out of its way to ensure that they’re still thinking of the kids.

The Big Ten Conference appreciates the significance of high school football within the region and has worked to minimize the impact of this initiative by limiting the number of Friday night games. Overall, these games represent approximately six percent of Big Ten home games annually, and no institution will host more than one game in any given year. Friday night games will also be announced at least 10 months in advance to provide all parties adequate time to prepare.