Both literally and figuratively, Texas A&M has suffered a significant loss heading into its first full offseason as a member of the SEC.
Following up on speculation that’s been running rampant in recent weeks and increased in intensity the past couple of days, offensive tackle Luke Joeckel officially confirmed that he’s foregoing his senior season for the NFL. While he had been leaning toward an early NFL leap, a final decision by the talented lineman wasn’t made until today.
“This was a very difficult decision for me,” Joeckel said in a statement. “I have thought long and hard and visited with my family and coaches. I feel it is in my best interest to come out. I appreciate all that Texas A&M has done for me and my family. It is tough to leave a great group of coaches and players, including my twin brother Matt. I know they will have a great season in 2013 and I will remain their biggest fan. … One thing that is certain, I am an Aggie and will always be an Aggie.”
Joeckel was a first-team All-American and All-SEC selection in 2012, named the winner of the Outland Trophy as well as the prestigious Jacobs Blocking Trophy given annually to the top lineman in the conference. From the first game of his true freshman season through the Aggies’ bowl win earlier this year, he started every game, 39 in all, at left tackle.
He’s considered one of a handful of players who could potentially be selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
“Luke is projected to be one of the top players selected in the overall draft,” Aggie head football coach Kevin Sumlin said. “We appreciate everything he has done for Aggie football and Texas A&M and wish him well in the NFL.”
Just 27 hours shy of receiving his degree, Joeckel said in the release that he has “every intention of finishing as soon as possible.”
The Aggies are still awaiting an official decision from Jake Matthews, the other half of the best tackle combination in college football
The University of Maryland has its new athletics director, and the school didn’t have to look very far to find it. Damon Eaves has been named the school’s new athletics director after previously filling the role as an acting AD since April.
“Throughout his tenure here, Damon has demonstrated visionary, transparent, compassionate and ethical leadership,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh said in a released statement. “The candidates invited for interviews had impressive credentials and accomplishments. In the end, a senior leadership search is not only about capabilities. It is also about institutional fit and interpersonal trust and chemistry. In Damon, the University of Maryland has the right person at the right time.”
Eaves will now officially replace former AD Kevin Anderson, who resigned from the position in April after a six-month sabbatical. Eaves had previously worked at Maryland as the school’s chief financial officer and was among the likely top candidates for the job at Maryland. A search firm was hired by Maryland to assist in the search for a new AD at a reported cost of $100,000.
While the top priorities for Eave sin his new position will likely center on the current state of the basketball program, one might wonder what this new hire could end up meaning for the football program. Maryland is still a few years away from being able to take advantage of a full Big Ten revenue share (which reportedly paid out over $50 million to Michigan and other Big Ten programs for the past year), and football head coach D.J. Durkin is entering his third season on the sidelines. After going 6-7 in his first season, Durkin coached Maryland to a record of 4-8 in 2017. Durkin is currently signed to a five-year deal that has already been extended to six years per the terms of the contract.
Unless this season is a complete disaster, Durkin’s job security is nothing to be concerned about now that a new AD is installed on a permanent basis.
A stadium proposal for Temple University will not be filed this June, putting the future of a potential on-campus football home for the Owls on the sidelines for a little bit longer.
According to a report from The Temple News, the proposal for the on-campus athletic venue did not achieve its goal of obtaining enough support from the surrounding community in order to move forward with the plan. This was likely to be expected after the stadium plans stalled during a city council meeting earlier this year. This occurred shortly after protestors interrupted a town hall meeting about the project the previous week.
“We’re not there yet,” Temple Vice President of Public Affairs Bill Bergman said in the report. “We continue to work with neighbors, talk to neighbors. We’re really looking at what we need to do this summer.”
The stadium has failed to generate the kind of community support Temple was hoping to have as concerns about what the stadium will do to the community have been heated. Residents do not seem to have the positive vibes about a stadium that will play home to Temple football that the university officials have envisioned. To some, the construction of a football stadium that would also host other events seems like wasteful spending with resources that could be used in other ways.
Temple is currently playing home games at Lincoln Financial Field, home to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. The lease agreement for Temple runs through the end of the 2019 season. If Temple cannot get moving on their on-campus stadium plan, the Owls may have to look into an extension on the lease. Temple will have little problem getting an extension, but the university would probably prefer not to have to lock into an extended lease if playing on campus becomes a viable option.
Central Michigan’s football program held a fun softball game over the weekend, pitting coaches against seniors. CMU head coach John Bonamego used the opportunity to award a well-deserved scholarship to tight end Logan Hessbrook.
Central Michigan shared the moment with a quick video clip on Twitter, accompanied by a pair of interviews with the newly awarded scholarship player and the head coach.
Hessbrook was CMU’s sixth-leading receiver in 2017 with 132 yards on 10 receptions in three games. The majority of that production came in games against FCS Rhode Island and Big 12 doormat Kansas. With last year’s top tight end Tyler Conklin having graduated and moved on from the program, Hessbrook could be in line for a much more pivotal role in the offense this fall.
The Ithaca, Michigan native has worked hard since joining the Chippewas however, and now his commitment and dedication to the program has paid off with a scholarship.
It’s a tremendous challenge getting fans to come out to the stadium these days. When (nearly) every game is on TV, why go to the stadium when you have to miss out on the six other games on TV plus you have to deal with spotty in-stadium plus having to fight through traffic and parking and obnoxious fans to your left and right — and, oh yeah, you still have to pay for your tickets and concessions on top of all that.
UNLV has now eliminated one of those objections.
Borrowing a page from baseball, the Rebels have introduced an all-you-can-eat ticket package. For just $79, fans get tickets to UNLV’s games against UTEP (Sept. 8), Fresno State (Nov. 3) and Nevada (Nov. 24) while gaining access to all the hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and soft drinks they can stomach.
“It’s a great way for your family to enjoy first-class entertainment and create a memory for an affordable price,” UNLV athletics director Desiree Reed-Francois told the Las Vegas Sun.
Season ticket holders will also have the option of adding the all-you-can-eat option for $30 a ticket — which works out to $5 per ticket per game.
The move feels more like a promotion that will keep on-the-fence ticket buyers in the stadium rather than brining new people out, but Reed-Francois is determined to increase attendance as UNLV plays its penultimate season in the 47-year-old Sam Boyd Stadium. The Rebels drew 17,449 fans per game to the 35,000-seat stadium.
“I’m told all of the time that this isn’t a football town,” she said. “We’ll flip that (opinion). There’s an opportunity for football in this town.”