Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns

STATESBORO, GA - NOVEMBER 29:  Head coach Willie Fritz for the Georgia Southern Eagles hoists the Sun Belt Conference trophy after his team defeated the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks on November 29, 2014 at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia. Georgia Southern won 22-16.  (Photo by Todd Bennett/Getty Images)
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WATCH: Sun Belt hails arrival of championship game with hype video

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Summer is the time for blockbusters, so it makes sense the Sun Belt marked yesterday’s blockbuster announcement with a movie trailer-styled hype video.

Beginning in 2018, the Sun Belt will become the 10th and final FBS conference to hold a championship game, once Idaho and New Mexico State have seen the door shut behind them and Coastal Carolina takes their place.

“It’s exciting to know that we’ll join the other nine FBS conferences in holding a championship game,” commissioner Karl Benson said. “The first weekend of December has truly become ‘championship weekend’ in college football. To be able to participate in such a great event is something that coaches, student-athletes and fans will all embrace.”

While details are still being iron out, splitting into two-five team divisions with an eight-game schedule and a championship game at a campus site is the leader in the clubhouse at the moment.

“I think in the early stages, the route that we will take will be on one of our campuses — (not) to predict or speculate five years or seven years into it — but right now, we can expect that it will be on one of those campuses,” Benson said.

Sun Belt announces creation of title game; last league to do so

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Welcome to the postseason party, Sun Belt.

Earlier this month, the Big 12 announced that it had voted unanimously to reinstate the conference’s title game following the 2017 regular season.  A couple of days later, and following up on multiple reports, the Sun Belt has decided to create its own league championship game, only theirs will wait to kick off until after the 2018 regular season.

The league made the announcement at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

“This is a historic moment that represents yet another step forward for the Sun Belt Conference,” said commissioner Karl Benson. “The membership of the Sun Belt has been engaged in a significant number of advancements for the betterment of the league – to an extent this is the culmination of those efforts. …

“Sun Belt football student-athletes will make everlasting memories playing in the championship game during the upcoming years. This championship will be a first-class experience –- and we look forward to it being a launching-pad for a team to reach the College Football Playoff’s ‘New Year’s Six’ bowl games.”

Prior to today’s announcement, the SBC was the only FBS league that either didn’t already contest a league title game or have one in the works.

Like the Big 12, the SBC benefitted from the deregulation of championship games earlier this year, with the nine FBS conferences, by a 7-2 margin, voting to permit leagues with fewer than the mandated 12 members to hold title games.

The SBC is currently an 11-team conference, but will lose Idaho and New Mexico State following the 2017 season.  However, Coastal Carolina will become a full-fledged FBS member for the 2018 season — they’re joining the conference in football on a provisional basis in 2017 — bringing the league back up to the minimum of 10 members.

The conference has not yet decided whether it will split into two, five-team divisions.  Also to be worked out: whether the title game will be played at a neutral site or at the home stadium of the team that finished with the best record.

Louisiana-Lafayette’s leg day is greater than your school’s leg day

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 20:  Justin Hamilton #6 of the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns enters the field for the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against the Nevada Wolf Pack at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 20, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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If offseason workouts mean anything, Louisiana-Lafeyette is set for a huge 2016 season.

Monday, the football program’s strength & conditioning coach, Ethan Rosenbalm, posted a video on his Twitter account of the workout regimen of some Ragin’ Cajuns.  Specifically, the players were sitting with their backs against a wall, holding a weight on their lap while a grown man walked across them.

Here’s to guessing these Ragin’ Cajun players are really looking forward to the end of summer workouts and the start of the season. Hell, the start of summer camp for that matter.

Oregon, Louisiana-Lafayette use April Fool’s to remind us reality is worse than fiction

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It’s April Fool’s Day, the annual 24-hour period when real news is lost among the shuffle of fake news. With every year that social media becomes more ingrained in our lives, those courageous enough to venture into prank territory have to dress their lies in more and more truth in order to hook the audience.

In the process, Oregon and Louisiana-Lafayette sold lies so believable that I’m now stomping my feet in protest that they aren’t actually true.

First, the Cajuns.

Who doesn’t want to see Louisiana-Lafayette take the field this fall with a giant crawfish on their helmet?

Oregon put more effort into their prank, going so far as to produce a video, a fake press release and a fake website.

EUGENE, Ore. – In another innovative move, the University of Oregon announced plans for the world’s first LED football field, which will be ready for the 2016 home opener with UC Davis.

Construction of the time-sensitive project has begun with the removal of the existing turf and removal of sixteen inches of concrete necessary to install the LED lighting hardware and clear acrylic turf.

“We are always looking for improvement in all phases of our football program.” Head Coach Mark Helfrich said, “We continue to embrace innovation and are excited to provide another unique homefield advantage to Autzen Stadium.”

Already known for having one of the best uniforms and facilities in college football, the field has now become an extension of the Oregon brand. The new field will feature a unique design each week as an extension of the uniform palette. The LED field can also be programmed to provide unique field celebration graphics on first downs and touchdowns, as well as delivering crowd prompts.

“We saw the amount of attention the custom endzones have received and wanted to expand on that,” Jenny Davidson, Deputy Assistant to the Associate Chief Branding Officer, “This was completely fancentric as they wanted a new endzone design in Autzen, well now they are getting a whole new field design at the push of a button. One button on the pulse of our brand, creating a heartbeat and synergy not seen in sports since the invention of clapping.”

The field is being constructed by Gelos LED Systems, a subsidiary of the Globex Corporation, a high-tech company based out of Cypress Creek.

“Finally our product will come to light.” Hank Scorpio, CEO of Globex Corporation said, “Oregon football is an incredible shining star. We have been working on prototypes since we partnered with LiteBrite to produce a more reliable, energy efficient product.  We expanded into field turf and believe this will be the catalyst to seeing it become a residential product neighbors can enjoy year-round.

Why’d you have to go and tease us, Ducks and Cajuns?

Louisiana-Lafayette vacates 22 wins from 2011-14

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 22:  Head coach Mark Hudspeth of the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns talks celebrates after defeating the East Carolina Pirates 43-34 during the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bow at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 22, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Back in January, the NCAA ruled it had found that a former Louisiana-Lafayette assistant had arranged fraudulent ACT exam scores for five Ragin’ Cajun football players, who were subsequently ruled ineligible.  As part of their punishment, the university was to determine in which games ineligible players had been used and vacate any of those games that were won.

On Thursday, UL-L announced those determinations.

A total of 22 wins from the 2011-14 seasons have been vacated by the football program, the school confirmed.  Eight of the wins came from the 2011 and 2013 seasons, four from 2012 and two from 2014.  Other than the wins in the 2011 and 2013 New Orleans Bowls, no specific games that were vacated have been identified.

A co-championship in the Sun Belt Conference in 2013 was also vacated.

“While it is disappointing to vacate these victories and championships, we finally put this chapter behind us and will continue to grow our championship football program,” athletic director Scott Farmer said in a statement. “We stand behind the integrity and accomplishments of Coach Mark Hudspeth, members of his coaching staff and each of our student-athletes who played football during the Hudspeth era.”

Mark Hudspeth has been the Ragin’ Cajuns head coach since 2011. It was found by the NCAA that Hudspeth’s assistant, David Saunders, had acted on his own in the testing scheme and without the knowledge of the head coach or anyone else on the staff. Saunders was also found to have paid cash benefits to a recruit as well as misleading and ultimately failing to cooperate with investigators.

Saunders was hit with an eight-year show-cause and is no longer at UL-L, having moved on to become the head coach junior college in Mississippi.

From 2011-14, Hudspeth had led the Ragin’ Cajuns to nine wins each season. With the vacated wins, Hudspeth’s official coaching record will go from 40-24 to 18-24.

In addition to the vacated wins, the program was placed on two years of probation, fined $5,000 and stripped of six scholarships over the next two years.