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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:

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

Auburn
Nov. 17, 2018 – Liberty at Auburn

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

Buffalo
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

Rutgers
Oct. 26, 2019 – Liberty at Rutgers

Troy
Oct. 13, 2018 – Troy at Liberty

Virginia
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.

Report: Alabama adds 2019 game vs. New Mexico State

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And let the SEC non-conference schedule whining/bitching/complaining commence… now.

Via a public records request, the outstanding website FBSchedules.com is reporting that Alabama has scheduled a 2019 game against New Mexico State.  The game will be played Sept. 7 and will, of course, take place at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

According to a copy of the agreement obtained by the site, ‘Bama will pay the current Sun Belt Conference school $1.7 million.  NMSU will likely be a football independent when the two teams meet two years down the road.

Given the agreement with NMSU, Alabama now has three of its four non-conference games wrapped up.  UA will open that season in Atlanta against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game Aug. 31, and will also play host to Southern Miss

The fourth non-conference game for the Crimson Tide will very likely be the annual toward-the-end-of-the-regular-season scrimmage game against an FCS opponent.

FCSchedules.com writes that “[a]ccording to the SEC scheduling rotation, Alabama’s 2019 conference opponents include Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, and Tennessee at home and Auburn, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and South Carolina on the road.”

Record-breaking QB one of two coaches hired by New Mexico State

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Doug Martin‘s 2017 on-field coaching staff will have a decidedly familiar feel to it, even as it’s in some ways brand-new.

New Mexico State announced that two coaches have been hired by Martin, Chase Holbrook and Kai Brown.  The former will serve as tight ends coach, the latter as defensive ends coach.

Holbrook spent the 2016 season as a quality control coach for Mike Leach at Washington State.  A former NMSU quarterback, he still owns the school’s single-season and career records for passing, passing attempts, completions, touchdowns, total offense and total touchdowns.

Brown was a graduate assistant the past three seasons for the football program.

“We are really excited about Chase coming back to New Mexico State,” Martin said. “Having a former great quarterback that has his name written all over the Aggie record book will have a huge impact on us taking that next step. Chase really believes and cares deeply about the football program here. To have a coach of his talent join our staff makes us a better program immediately. …

“Kai has been a very loyal hard working coach for us as a GA and it gives me great pride to add him to our staff in a full time role. He brings a lot of enthusiasm to our program and has a great relationship with our players.”

This will be both coaches’ first foray into full-time coaching responsibilities at the FBS level.