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North Dakota State AD thinks Big Ten is rethinking stance against FCS opponents

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Remember not so long ago when the Big Ten decided that games against FCS opponents would no longer be permitted? That was nice while it lasted.

As reported by The Forum, North Dakota State athletics director Matt Larsen says he is optimistic a change in scheduling philosophy out of the Big Ten will reopen some doors for the Bison and other FCS programs moving forward.

“We sure hope so,” Larsen said. “Again, the best part for us is with the Big Ten, it’s the most geographical favorable footprint and they are the teams we would most prefer to play. There are a lot of Land Grant institutions and it gives our fan base more ability to travel.”

Larsen explains the Big Ten is considering amending its scheduling policy to accommodate Big Ten teams that must play five road games in the nine-game Big Ten schedule. Big Ten members who have four home games per season in conference play would, in theory, be allowed to schedule one FCS opponent to fill a scheduling vacancy.

Two summers ago, the Big Ten announced a change to its scheduling policy with the intent of making the conference’s overall schedule more attractive and competitive as the College Football Playoff was supposedly focusing on strength of schedule. In addition to expanding to a nine-game conference schedule, the Big Ten required members to schedule one game against another power conference opponent (which has already seen exemptions made for some) and no more games against FCS opponents would be allowed. Consider it a power play move by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany to make for a more valuable television product and maybe a challenge to other conferences to do the same.

Of course, while other power conferences like the ACC and SEC have drafted some scheduling requirements to include one power conference opponent, every other power conference has left the door open to scheduling FCS opponents. Maybe Delany’s bluff was recognized around the country.

With a limited number of non-conference games to schedule and schedules being booked years in advance, filling out a 12-game schedule has come with some problems as conferences have expanded in numbers and some have expanded in the conference schedule. That leaves some schools and conferences in a bind because schools from Conference USA and the MAC can only play so many power conference opponents in their limited non-conference slots.

The Big Ten has not formally addressed this potential change in scheduling philosophy at this time, but keep an eye on it as the Big Ten kicks off its media days.

Vanderbilt and UNLV announce future home-and-home series

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Vanderbilt and UNLV have set aside a pair of dates to play two future football games. The home-and-home deal will begin in 2019 and conclude in 2023.

According to the announcement from Vanderbilt, the Commodores of the SEC will host the Mountain West Conference’s UNLV on October 12, 2019 in the first meeting between the two schools on the football field. The second game in the series will be played September 16, 2023 at UNLV. Barring any other changes to the schedules before then, Vanderbilt’s trip to UNLV will mark the first time an SEC program has visited Las Vegas for a regular season game. The only other time an SEC team played in Las Vegas was in the 2000 Las Vegas Bowl, when UNLV topped Arkansas. UNLV has faced SEC competition before, but never at home in the regular season.

“We are delighted to add Vanderbilt to our future schedule,” said Reed-Francois. “Signing a home-and-home series with an SEC team shows how bright the future is for our program. Las Vegas is a world-class city and we look forward to hosting the Commodores and other fan bases from major programs in the coming years.”

By the time Vanderbilt makes their trip to play UNLV, a brand new football venue should be in place with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders preparing to move to Las Vegas once a new stadium is constructed in the next few years.

Vanderbilt has been reaching out to the Mountain West Conference for a number of future football matchups, many of which are home-and-home deals. Vanderbilt has additional future games lined up against MWC opponents Hawaii (2022-23), Nevada (2018), and Colorado State (2020-21, 2025-26).

As a member of the SEC, Vanderbilt is required to schedule at least one game per season against another power conference opponent or power conference equivalent of an opponent as determined by the SEC. UNLV does not satisfy that scheduling requirement, but Vanderbilt is covered with the non-conference scheduling demand in both seasons. In 2019, Vanderbilt will play at Purdue (Big Ten), and in 2023 Vandy will play at Wake Forest (ACC).

No more Red Bull for Dana Holgorsen as he is obligated to drink Monster

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Football coaches consuming as much Red Bull as possible has been well-documented in recent years with a handful of coaches packing away multiple cans of the energy drink into their system at a startling level. One coach riding the energy drink wave has been West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen, but you will no longer find him downing a Red Bull.

According to West Virginia reporter Sean Manning of The Dominion Post in Morgantown, Holgorsen is contractually obligated to consume Monster, which is due to West Virginia having a school-wide contract with Monster’s parent company of Coca-Cola.

Remember, Holgorsen and his love for Red Bull has been consistent during his time as West Virginia’s head coach. In 2015, he just so happened to walk away with two cans of Red Bull as free samples were being handed out at Big 12 media days.

And just last season, as West Virginia was playing Texas Tech, Holgorsen was seen chugging Red Bull on the sideline. But that will no longer be the case, as it appears Holgorsen will be switching up the brands. It’s a brilliant strategy for any energy drink company to align themselves with the growing number of head coaches that don’t hide from their love of a good energy drink boost. There are others out there that could just as easily sign such deals, like Larry Fedora at UNC and Ed Orgeron at LSU.

Saban, Meyer, Harbaugh, Swinney and more among 19 Dodd Trophy watch list candidates

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When you really think about it, a watch list for a college football award is nothing more than a way to keep public relations staffers in college football programs busy this summer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it is nice to have a number of key players for the upcoming season highlighted whenever possible (unless you are a Big Ten team going to Big Ten media days). But a watch list is generally pretty pointles sin the long run for most awards. This is especially true for a watch list of college football coaches.

The Dodd Trophy watch list was released today with a list of 19 coaches from many of the top programs around the country. Yep, a watch list for head coaches. Silly, right? It really is the easiest watch list to put together.

The award watch list, compiled by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, includes four coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, two coaches from the Big 12 and one from the American Athletic Conference. You know all of the names, like national championship coaches Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Dabo Swinney; household names like Jim Harbaugh, Mark Richt, Bill Snyder, and Chris Petersen; and conference championship coaches like David Shaw, James Franklin.

Some notable names not on the list? How about Jimbo Fisher of Florida State? Fisher has a playoff contender in Tallahassee and is the ACC favorite. He also has a national championship ring. Not having Fisher on a preseason watch list for top coaches seems like a bad oversight. Not having new Big 12 coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) also feels like a swing and a miss if pulling together a list of potential coach of the year candidates. If we are not going to just list all 130 head coaches in FBS, it seems silly to have such a weird collection of watch list candidates when Butch Jones is on the list.

Five coaches on the watch list are former winners of the Dodd Trophy; Snyder, Petersen, Swinney, Saban, and Paul Johnson. Paul Chryst, Ken Niumatalolo, and Petersen were finalists for the award last season as well.

2017 Dodd Trophy Watch List

  • Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
  • James Franklin, Penn State
  • Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
  • Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
  • Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
  • Clay Helton, USC
  • Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
  • Butch Jones, Tennessee
  • Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  • Jim McElwain, Florida
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State
  • Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
  • Chris Petersen, Washington
  • Mark Richt, Miami
  • Nick Saban, Alabama
  • David Shaw, Stanford
  • Bill Snyder, Kansas State
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson
  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Clemson, Auburn, LSU, and Missouri team up to help protect wild tigers

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Clemson, Auburn, LSU, and Missouri are coming together for quite the worthy cause. The four power conference universities will collaborate on an effort to help protect the wild tiger population around the world, putting their resources to good use to help save the animal that serves as the inspiration and symbol of their respective sports teams, including the college football programs.

The universities have become the leading forces for the brand new U.S. Tiger University Consortium, which will work to help protect the tiger popultion and work to issue land-grant institutions with the cause. The consortium was initiated by Clemson president James P. Clements, a member of the Global Tiger Initiative Council. The combined efforts will fall in line with attempting to strive for the Global Tiger Forum’s global goal of doubling the tiger population by 2022. It is estimated there are roughly 3,900 wild tigers living around the world. A reduction in livable space for wild tigers and poaching have helped contribute to the downward trend of the wild tiger population over the years.

“Students, faculty and alumni chant ‘Go Tigers’ on a daily basis, but not many know the truth about the animal we hold so dear,” Brett Wright, dean of Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences said in a released statement. “These universities share the tiger mascot and benefit from that majestic symbol of strength, dignity, and beauty, so they share a moral responsibility to apply all of our resources to save the animal that inspires that symbol.”

“Each of our institutions possess various academic disciplines important to the future of tiger conservation and protection,” dean of Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Janaki Alavalapati said. “This is an obvious example of the need for multi-disciplinary contribution not just across colleges and departments but across universities.”

This is a nice effort for these schools with tremendous resources to come together to work on. Save those tigers!

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