Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns

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


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.

Idaho, NMSU out as Sun Belt members after 2017

Sun Belt Logo

Apparently, Idaho’s sales pitch wasn’t as compelling as they’d like.

Two weeks ago, Idaho unveiled a 19-slide presentation aimed at continuing their football membership in the Sun Belt Conference, membership that was initially granted to both themselves and New Mexico State on four-year terms that are set to expire following the 2017 season.  Looking for an extension, both football programs will instead be looking for new homes in a couple of seasons.

What does the denial of extension do to the two football programs impacted by the decision? For the Vandals, it likely means dropping down to the FCS level and joining the Big Sky conference, where there other varsity sports are currently housed. For the Aggies, whose other sports play in the WAC, which doesn’t offer football, another go as an FBS independent will likely be in the offing.

With the impending departures of Idaho and New Mexico State after the 2017 season and the addition of Coastal Carolina for that season, the SBC will settle in with 10 members two years from now.  That 10-member lineup would feature teams from Texas (Texas State), Arkansas (Arkansas State), Louisiana (Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe), Alabama (South Alabama, Troy), Georgia (Georgia Southern, Georgia State), North Carolina (Appalachian State) and South Carolina (Coastal Carolina).

With the recent decision by the NCAA to deregulate conference championship games, the SBC will still be able to conduct such games with just 10 members instead of the previously-mandated 12.

UPDATED 2:51 p.m. ET: Idaho confirmed in a press release that the Sun Belt Conference has opted to go with a 10-team league following the 2017 season, putting them and New Mexico State on the outside of the conference looking in two seasons from now.  The release also stated that the university will now decide whether to accept an invitation to join the Big Sky of the FCS or compete as an independent at the FBS level.

Nation’s fastest football player? LSU’s Donte’ Jackson can make that claim

at Tiger Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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Well, at least for 60 meters — and just a couple of months into the year — he can make that claim.

Late last week, as relayed by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, LSU defensive back Donte’ Jackson ran a blistering 6.66-second 60-meter dash in what was called his first collegiate race, a time that was two-hundreths of a second out of first in the finals but still good for third place.  While it wasn’t a winning effort, it is the fastest time posted by a college football player this year.

Jackson ripped the unofficial 2016 title away from former Tiger running back and current Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajun Jeryl Brazil.  From the Times-Picayune:

Brazil, a Loranger product now a junior at Louisiana-Lafayette, ran a 6.70-second 60-meter dash Jan. 22.

Oregon freshman Kirk Merritt, a Destrehan alumnus, ranked No. 9 on the list with a 6.78-second mark set Jan. 29.

One-time LSU target Adoree’ Jackson, a sophomore at USC, ran a 6.79-second 60-meter dash Jan. 22, good enough for 12th among football players thus far this season, and also a 21.35-second 200-meter dash that currently leads all football players on the track.

Oregon has two football players in the Top 20 this year — Merritt, a sophomore wide receiver, and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tony Brooks-James (T-12th, 6.79) — and another just outside of it — redshirt junior wide receiver Devon Allen (T-23rd, 6.85).  Other Power Five teams with football players in the track time Top 10 include North Carolina State (sophomore wide receiver Nyheim Hines, 5th, 6.74) and Ohio State (sophomore wide receiver James Clark, T-6th, 6.76).

Ex-UL-L QB Brooks Haack forgoes Houston internship to play a year at FCS level

Brooks Haack
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Given the opportunity to get a headstart on his coaching career, Brooks Haack has instead decided to extend his playing career.

In December, Haack decided to transfer out of the Louisiana-Lafayette football program.  A month later, it was announced Friday, Haack has been added to the Northwestern State football roster.

The quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2016 for two reasons.  One, the Demons play at the FCS level.  And, two, Haack has already graduated from UL-L.

This will be Haack’s final season of eligibility.  And, if the Houston football program had anything to say about it, Haack wouldn’t be using it.

“He passed up an internship working with Major Applewhite (offensive coordinator at Houston) to come here and play this fall, so he’s driven to compete, even though he’s already graduated, and wants to see his career through. We’re looking forward to seeing him compete,” Demons head coach Jay Thomas said in a portion of a statement. “He played very well against us last season (going 8-for-9 for 187 yards against NSU Sept. 12). …

“He was part of a Texas state championship team at Katy High School. Also, his dad was a college softball coach including at Alabama, and went back to coach high school ball for family reasons, so Brooks grew up in a very competitive environment.”

After serving as the No. 2 quarterback behind Terrance Broadway as a redshirt freshman and sophomore, Haack started eight games for the Ragin’ Cajuns in 2015. He completed just over 61 percent of his 201 passes for 1,407 yards and five touchdowns, with seven interceptions as well.