UT-San Antonio Roadrunners

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Conference USA media poll tabs Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky as division favorites

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In the relatively brief history of the Conference USA championship game, there has never been a rematch of the previous season’s title game. If all goes according to plan as predicted by the media, that could change in 2017.

Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech were each the clear favorites to win their respective divisions in the Conference USA preseason media poll released today. Both programs received 20 first-place votes to easily be named the preseason favorites in the Conference USA divisions, setting the stage for a potential rematch in the Conference USA championship game at the end of the season. Western Kentucky is the two-time defending Conference USA champion, and Louisiana Tech has played in two of the last three title games, so it was hardly a shock to see both programs be named the preseason favorites by the media.

UAB returns to the football field this season, and the preseason poll suggests it will be a rocky return. The Blazers were picked to finish last in the West Division. After Louisiana Tech, UTSA picked up seven first-place votes to come in second in the preseason poll. Southern Miss, now a year removed from playing for the conference championship, received the last remaining first-place vote in the West Division.

Western Kentucky failed to gobble up all of the first-place votes in the East Division as well. Middle Tennessee received four votes, while Old Dominion picked up three. Marshall also received a first-place nod from the voters. New FBS program and conference member Charlotte was picked last in the East, as expected. Lane Kiffin‘s FAU Owls were picked to finish in fifth place.

Here’s how the preseason media poll in Conference USA looks. No picks for conference champion were made.

Conference USA East Division

  1. Western Kentucky (20 first-place votes)
  2. Middle Tennessee (4)
  3. Old Dominion (3)
  4. Marshall (1)
  5. Florida Atlantic
  6. FIU
  7. Charlotte

Conference USA West Division

  1. Louisiana Tech (20)
  2. UTSA (7)
  3. Southern Miss (1)
  4. North Texas
  5. Rice
  6. UTEP
  7. UAB

Report: LSU to open 2020 season with first-ever meeting vs. UTSA

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LSU has come to an agreement to host UTSA in 2020, according to FBSchedules.com. LSU will pay UTSA $1.4 million for the privilege, the report states.

The date of the game be Sept. 5, 2020, the lid lifter on the ’20 campaign for both teams, and pit longtime LSU assistant and current UTSA head coach Frank Wilson against his old club.

It will, naturally, be the first meeting between the Tigers and Roadrunners and UTSA’s first game ever against a traditional SEC opponent. UTSA visited Texas A&M last November — a 23-10 Aggies victory — and will play at Kyle Field again in 2019.

UTSA also has visits to Memphis and Texas State on its 2020 non-conference slate — three road trips in four weeks to open the year.

The UTSA game completes LSU’s Texas-centric 2020 non-conference schedule. The Bayou Bengals will host Texas the week after UTSA, and then head to Houston’s NRG Stadium a week after that to face Rice. They’ll complete their non-SEC schedule at home opposite Nicholls State on Oct. 3, a game that was supposed to open the 2020 season until the UTSA game bumped it backward, according to a copy of the contract obtained by FBSchedules.

Ex-Alabama, current UTSA DL coach Bo Davis given two-year show-cause

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The recruiting violations have officially come home to roost for one FBS assistant coach.

The NCAA announced Friday that Bo Davis was found by the Committee on Infractions to have “acted unethically when he provided false or misleading information about impermissible recruiting contacts.” In late April of last year, reports surfaced that Davis was expected to resign or be fired as Alabama’s defensive line coach after the school opened an inquiry into possible NCAA violations on the recruiting trail. The nature of the violations were not revealed, but the NCAA had launched investigations into the matter and Alabama opened its own corresponding inquiry.

A day later, the Tide announced that Davis had, ahem, “submitted his letter of resignation.”

In its decision, which you can read in its entirety HERE, the NCAA detailed Davis’ recruiting violations:

  • Between December 1, 2014, and January 31, 2015, the athletics representative, who was the mother of a then Alabama football student-athlete, contacted the head football coach at the high school to arrange a meeting. Once the athletics representative arrived at the high school, she asked to meet with four football prospective student-athletes (prospects 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively). The athletics representative initially met with the four prospects for approximately 10 to 15 minutes and [Davis] later joined the meeting for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The impermissible contact lasted a total of 25 to 35 minutes, occurred at least six months prior to the permissible timeframe for an off-campus contact with prospect 3 and at least 18 months prior to the permissible time frame for off-campus contacts with prospects 1, 2 and 4.
  • During his September 23, 2015, and April 25, 2016, interviews with the enforcement staff and institution, [Davis] provided false or misleading information when he denied knowledge of the athletics representative’s involvement with and her presence during [Davis’] visit to the high school detailed in Violation No. 1. In both interviews, [Davis] denied seeing the athletics representative at the high school and denied that she had any involvement in his visit outlined in Violation No. 1-a. [Davis’] statements are in direct contradiction to information reported to the institution and enforcement staff by two involved football prospects and the high school’s head football coach, as well as some of [Davis’] own statements during his May 2, 2016, interview.

Because of the violations as well as being untruthful with investigators, Davis has been slapped with a two-year show-cause penalty.  Davis contested the length of the penalty, but “the panel determined the penalty was appropriate because the former assistant coach had a responsibility as a part of the NCAA membership to provide truthful information during the investigation and he failed to do so during the interviews.”

Davis will be barred from all off-campus recruiting activities during the two years the show-cause is in place.  He was hired in late February by UT-San Antonio as the football program’s defensive line coach.  It’s unclear what if any impact the NCAA’s decision will have on his employment.

Additionally, the NCAA found that Alabama “committed Level III recruiting violations when a second former assistant football coach had impermissible off-campus contact with a recruit during an evaluation period and members of the football staff impermissibly allowed a prospect’s youth football coach to attend a recruiting visit at the prospect’s home.”  The names of those involved weren’t revealed.

Alabama self-imposed penalties related to those activities, placing recruiting restrictions on those involved; disassociating itself from “a representative of the institution’s athletics interests” (a booster; and fining itself $5,000.  The NCAA has accepted those self-imposed penalties, and will not add to them.

Alabama assistant who resigned under NCAA cloud surfaces at UTSA

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As our friends at FootballScoop.com put it, this is certainly an interesting hire by Frank Wilson.

UT-San Antonio announced via a press release Wednesday that Wilson has hired Bo Davis to be the Roadrunners’ defensive line coach.  Davis’ last job came as a coaching intern for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars this past season.

Prior to that, he was the line coach at Alabama for two seasons.

“Adding a coach with an outstanding pedigree like Bo Davis is a coup for UTSA,” Wilson said. “He’s won at every level, on the biggest stages and in the biggest moments. He’s an outstanding teacher and recruiter and he has coached nationally acclaimed defensive linemen everywhere he’s been. He will be a tremendous asset to UTSA, and he gives us continued credibility in the direction this program is headed. It’s an honor to have him be a part of our staff.”

It was the manner in which Davis departed Tuscaloosa that will raise some eyebrows over this development.

In late April of last year, reports surfaced that Davis was expected to resign or be fired as Alabama’s defensive line coach after the school opened an inquiry into possible NCAA violations on the recruiting trail. The nature of the violations were not revealed, but the NCAA had launched investigations into the matter and Alabama opened its own corresponding inquiry.

A day later, the Tide announced that Davis had, ahem, “submitted his letter of resignation.” The status of the NCAA investigation is unclear.

In a report from al.com just last month, the website wrote that “[d]espite interest from several schools, a college team likely won’t hire Davis while the NCAA investigation is ongoing and until he’s served whatever penalty he gets from the NCAA.” A little over four weeks later, Davis is back in the coaching game after spending the past several months as a truck driver.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity to be a part of the Roadrunner family,” said Davis. “I’d like to thank Coach Wilson and (Director of Athletics) Lynn Hickey for giving me the chance to join a great coaching staff at UTSA. I am looking forward to an exciting future in San Antonio.”

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

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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