New Mexico State Aggies

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Doug Martin, New Mexico State agree to three-year contract extension

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At least when it comes to on-field results, this is, well, interesting to say the least. Off the field and in the classroom, however, it makes sense for the university.

Thursday night, New Mexico State announced that it had reached an agreement with Doug Martin on a three-year contract extension. With the new deal, the fifth-year head coach is now signed through the 2020 season.

After taking over a program that won just one game in 2012, Martin’s Aggies proceed to win two, two, three, three games in his first four seasons. This season, however, NMSU is 2-2 after four games, with those wins coming against in-state rival New Mexico and its biggest out-of-state rival in UTEP.

Those wins are kind of a big deal for the program as they haven’t beaten those two teams in the same season since 2002. Furthermore, the Aggies haven’t beaten the Lobos on the road and the Miners at home in the same season since 1976.

Aside from that on-field progress, the school in its press release highlighted what’s been going on off the field under Martin. And rightfully so as it’s fairly impressive what Martin and the program have done academically.

When Coach Martin accepted this job in 2013, there were significant hurdles the program faced such as APR scores, budget and on-field performance,” [atheltic director Mario] Moccia stated. “Since then, Doug and his staff have worked tirelessly to improve our APR score. While our budget remains to be a challenge, we’ve made efforts to stabilize that the best we can and put a focus towards football. From a performance standpoint, specifically this year, it’s evident to not only me but many others that there have been significant improvements from a competitive standpoint, which has culminated in us beating UNM and UTEP in the same season for the first time since 2002.”

Martin inherited a football program that had never met the NCAA Academic Progress Report standards. NM State’s APR multi-year score when he took over stood at 915, which was second to last in the league and led to the Aggies losing one day of practice a week. Fast forward to today and football’s 972 APR score in 2015-16 was one of the best in the Sun Belt Conference, ranking it only second to Troy – who’s score was just two points higher than NM State at 974.

“Four years ago we had a vision of building a football program at New Mexico State that would have great academic integrity and great players winning on and off the field,” Martin said. “The academic side has been accomplished as we are the only coaching staff in NM State history to achieve the NCAA APR score for football and have now done it four-straight years. What people are now seeing is the on field performance starting to take shape thanks to our talented players and coaches.

VIDEO: New Mexico State’s Jaleel Scott channels Odell Beckham Jr. with amazing one-handed TD grab

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It’s Week 1 and we may already have seen the best catch of the season thanks to a little Pac-12 After Dark action.

Check out New Mexico State’s Jaleel Scott going all Odell Beckham Jr. on Arizona State in the second quarter for a touchdown grab that will be hard to top the rest of 2017.

Even if the Aggies are unable to pull off a win on Thursday night, safe to say they’ll have something to remember from their trip to Tempe thanks to that amazing touchdown by Scott.

ACC tops as Bronko Nagurski watch list hits triple digits

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It may not be the biggest award in college football, but it’s certainly the most voluminous.

Watch List Season continued unabated Thursday morning, with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy revealing a group which consists of a whopping 103 FBA players.  Within that triple-digit preseason club, there are 30 defensive backs, 29 linebackers, 25 defensive ends and 19 defensive tackles.

Two 2016 first-team Football Writers Association of America All-Americans appear on the list — Clemson’s Christian Wilkins (pictured) and Florida State’s Tarvarus McFadden.

Conference-wise, the ACC leads with 20 players selected for the initial watch list.  The Big Ten is next with 16, followed by the SEC’s 14, the Pac-12’s 13 and the Big 12’s 11.  The AAC paced Group of Five leagues with 10, with the Sun Belt (6), Mountain West (5), Mid-American (3) and Conference USA (2) rounding out the conferences, while football independents chipped in the remaining three.

The Nagurski Trophy has been handed out annually since 1993 to college football’s best defensive player.  Last year’s winner was Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen.

It’s July 1, which means UAB and Coastal Carolina are official FBS members now

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July 1 used to be a blip on the college sports calendar, the official date an administrator would move into a new role or an athletics department’s website would switch host companies.

Not anymore.

Days before America’s Independence Day, July 1 has become college sports’ mixture of New Year’s Day and Independence Day. Thanks to realignment, the beginning of each college sports calendar is the date every conference move traditionally becomes officially official.

The SEC, Big Ten and ACC are done making moves (for now), which means today’s movements are really the ripple effects of other movements — UAB officially re-joins Conference USA and Coastal Carolina officially joins the Sun Belt.

UAB, of course, never left C-USA in its other sports, but the re-launch of its football program places the Blazers back in their old home. Coastal Carolina’s other sports, including its national champion-once-removed baseball team, joined the Sun Belt in 2016, and football makes the move complete in 2017.

UAB posted a 6-6 mark in its final season of 2014, while Coastal Carolina went 10-2 and finished the year ranked No. 18 nationally as an FCS independent. The two schools will, fittingly, meet on Sept. 16 in Birmingham.

The final three aftershocks of the realignment earthquakes that erupted at the beginning of this decade will become official after this season, when the Sun Belt gives the boot to its far western outposts in Idaho and New Mexico State. New Mexico State will remain in FBS as an independent (the Aggies’ other sports are in the WAC), while Idaho will marry its football program with the rest of its athletics department in the FCS Big Sky Conference.

President Donald Trump announces future FBS foes for Liberty football in commencement address

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While we may all try to stick to sports nowadays, sometimes one just can’t help but see politics cross streams a bit with college football. Case in point came on Saturday as President Donald Trump announced the future FBS opponents for Liberty University, where the he gave the commencement address for the class of 2017.

Jerry (Fallwell Jr.), are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Trump said while reading off the names of the opponents. “Auburn? I don’t know about that. This could be trouble.”

Liberty received a waiver earlier this year from the NCAA to make the move to FBS full-time and will play several top-tier opponents in 2018 as part of that transition from the FCS level. Per the schedule released by the school afterward, here are the FBS schools who have scheduled games with the Flames and the dates of their future meetings:

Sept. 8, 2018 – Liberty at Army
Nov. 27, 2021 – Army at Liberty
Sept. 20, 2025 – Liberty at Army
Nov. 28, 2026 – Army at Liberty

Nov. 17, 2018 – Liberty at Auburn

Nov. 9, 2019 – Liberty at BYU
Oct. 22, 2022 – BYU at Liberty

Sept. 14, 2019 – Buffalo at Liberty
Sept. 16, 2023 – Liberty at Buffalo

Old Dominion
Sept. 1, 2018 – Old Dominion at Liberty

Ole Miss
Nov. 13, 2021 – Liberty at Ole Miss

Massachusetts (UMass)
Nov. 3, 2018 – Liberty at UMass

New Mexico
Sept. 29, 2018 – Liberty at New Mexico
Sept. 28, 2019 – New Mexico at Liberty

New Mexico State
Oct. 6, 2018 – Liberty at New Mexico State
Nov. 24, 2018 – New Mexico State at Liberty
Oct. 5, 2019 – Liberty at New Mexico State
Nov. 30, 2019 – New Mexico State at Liberty

North Texas
Sept. 22, 2018 – North Texas at Liberty
Oct. 9, 2021 – Liberty at North Texas

Oct. 26, 2019 – Liberty at Rutgers

Oct. 13, 2018 – Troy at Liberty

Nov. 10, 2018 – Liberty at Virginia
Nov. 23, 2019 – Liberty at Virginia
Sept. 11, 2027 – Virginia at Liberty

Virginia Tech
Sept. 5, 2020 – Liberty at Virginia Tech

Wake Forest
Sept. 17, 2022 – Liberty at Wake Forest
Aug. 30, 2025 – Wake Forest at Liberty
Sept. 3, 4 or 5, 2026 – Liberty at Wake Forest

Liberty will be an FCS independent during the upcoming season before transitioning into an FBS independent in 2018. The school will not be bowl eligible until 2019, when they will have fully made the move up a level to become a full-time FBS program.