Oliver Luck stepping down as WVU AD, taking job at NCAA

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In October of 2013, Oliver Luck was reportedly the top target for Texas in its search for a new athletic director.  While West Virginia held onto its athletic director then, it appears there’s no such luck, so to speak, this time around.

According to Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail, Luck will step down as WVU’s athletic director to take a position with the NCAA.  In confirming Casazza’s report, ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy tweeted that “Luck’s new position at NCAA will be second in command behind NCAA President Mark Emmert.”

An official announcement is expected at some point today.

Luck was hired by WVU in June of 2012, coming back to his alma mater from the private sector.  In the late seventies and on into the early eighties, Luck played quarterback for the Mountaineers.

Andrew Luck, Oliver’s son, is the starting quarterback of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.  As luck would have it, the NCAA’s offices are located in the city of Indianapolis.  Whether that had any impact on the elder Luck’s decision is unknown.

The impact of Luck’s departure won’t be limited solely to WVU. This year, Luck was one of the 12 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee.  Each of the Power Five conferences have one current athletic director on the committee; because of Luck’s new position, the Big 12 will be forced to find a replacement for 2015.

Look for Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione‘s name to be mentioned heavily in that capacity.

UPDATED 11:01 a.m. ET: The NCAA confirmed in a press release that Oliver Luck has been named as the executive vice president of regulatory affairs. The newly-created position is described as bringing “the national office regulatory functions – academic and membership affairs, the Eligibility Center and enforcement – under one umbrella.” “In particular,” the release stated, Luck “will be charged with developing stronger integration among regulatory staffs, improving efficiency and strengthening relationships with NCAA colleges and universities.”

“I am very pleased to have Oliver joining our team in the national office,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “He brings to us wide ranging, hands-on experience from across athletic, academic, and business worlds. Most important, his commitment to the success and well-being of our student-athletes is unquestionable. He has demonstrated that commitment on the ground and throughout his life. I’m anxious for him to get started with us.”

Waiting to cancel game with FCS opponent cost USC an extra $500,000

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Keeping Clay Helton around wasn’t the only decision last year that upset USC fans. Now the school backtracking on a choice it just made has cost the program a pretty penny.

For those not in the know, cardinal and gold supporters up in arms last year when it was announced the program had agreed to a non-conference game with UC Davis for the 2021 season. Such a contest typically doesn’t draw much attention but it did in Los Angeles as it was the first FCS opponent the Trojans were to play in their illustrious history.

That would have left rivals UCLA and Notre Dame as the only two FBS programs not to play an FCS team.

Then things changed. The athletic director responsible for the deal, Lynn Swann, was shown the door. His replacement Mike Bohn has gone about trying to make amends and recently announced that USC had eventually backed out of the game against the Aggies.

In their place on the docket at the Coliseum that season is another Bay Area team, San Jose State. We already recounted how the Spartans made out quite nicely on the balance sheet as a result of this (and subsequent buyout from Georgia) swap. As it turns out though, they weren’t the only Northern California team to do so.

According to the Davis Enterprise, the buyout UCD was owed was only supposed to be $225,000. However terms called for that to jump to $725,000 after the start of the new year. Because the Trojans waited around they then had to pony up that extra half million for doing something they had been considering since the new administration came in.

“It’s pretty funny. We had every intention of playing that game,” Aggies senior associate athletics director Josh Flushman told the paper. “We just wanted to make sure (if there were) buyouts we were going to get the money.

“In December, (AD Kevin Blue) and I joking said, ‘Don’t take any phone calls from L.A. numbers until after the first.’”

The call didn’t come until February and the school is that much richer for it. On top of that they added a $400,000 guarantee game from Tulsa to replace Southern Cal on the schedule to boot.

Waiting may be the hardest part for some but it resulted in a nice seven-figure gain at UC Davis.

MAC releases 2020 football schedule

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Fire up those calendars, the MAC has officially unleashed the 2020 football schedule. Indeed, #MACtion is here for all to see.

The conference announced dates and times for the upcoming campaign involving their football teams on Wednesday afternoon. You can find the entire slate here.

Among the many highlights for the league is that this upcoming season will serve as a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the MAC. While some specific festivities will be made public later on, it will nevertheless be a year-long nod to history for those in the Midwest.

Just as important to fans of teams in the conference? The football games themselves, which will be broadcasted across a variety of networks. This includes ESPN2, ESPNU and CBS Sports Network on the broadcast side. ESPN3/ESPN+ will handle things on the streaming side.

It wouldn’t be the MAC without mid-week games late this fall either. This year there will be 14 on tap in the month of November alone. Several more also dot the landscape to kick off 2020 in September as well.

In the non-conference portion, the MAC will again have a gauntlet to fight through. Teams will face a Big Ten opponent 11 times and travel to the SEC four times. In addition, the MAC will play four ACC programs, Notre Dame, BYU and plenty of other Group of Five teams.

Defending 2019 champion Miami (OH) open their season at Pitt and begins conference play at Akron on Sept. 26. Also keep an eye for the Redhawks’ home game against rival Ohio as key to the East Division race. The West side of the bracket could come down to a key Western Michigan-Central Michigan tilt on Oct. 17.

Either way, all roads lead to Detroit as the MAC title game returns to Ford Field again. While a time hasn’t been announced, it will be held on either Friday, Dec. 4 or Saturday, Dec. 5.

Will Muschamp sees college football headed toward XFL-style kickoff

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College football could meet the XFL between the lines.

No, not one league against the sport filled with amateur athletes but rather one adopting the other’s rules. Well, at least according to one coach.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said that he can see CFB adopting what the XFL is doing with kickoffs as a way of making things safer for players.

“I think the (XFL)  kickoff may be where we’re headed. I think it’s an interesting new approach,” Muschamp said, according to The Athletic. “It keeps the kickoff in the game and eliminates some of the collisions we are worried about.” 

For those not familiar with what the startup spring football league does, the kicker is situated at the 30 yard line. His coverage unit is on the opposing 35 yard line while the return team is mostly lined up at their 30 yard line (yes five yards across from each other). Players can’t move until the ball is received by the return man who is back deep. 

The current CFB rule has the kicker at the 35 yard line and a standard return setup of players running full speed down the field. Recent tweaks implemented by the NCAA have resulted in fair catches for touchbacks and the elimination of the wedge among other things designed to make things safer and reduce the risk of concussions for players.

The XFL just takes things a few steps further than that. As you can see in the clip above, that doesn’t rule out returns for touchdowns either.

It does however rule out surprise onside kicks. That is certainly a big adjustment for some but given how few of them actually succeed at any level (and combined with the #collegekickers aspect), perhaps not as impactful as it’s made out to be.

Could college eventually alter their rules to match the XFL?

Only time will tell but everybody from the NCAA to the conferences themselves have been pushing player safety quite hard in recent years so it wouldn’t surprise anybody if tweaks eventually get made to one of the more dangerous plays in the game.

Air Force quietly gave Troy Calhoun new six year contract

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Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun re-upped with his current school before flirting with another right down the road. 

That’s one takeaway from the latest Colorado Springs Gazette report on the Falcons’ current coach. The paper confirmed the school had signed Calhoun to a new six year contract… just days before he proceeded to interview for the sudden opening at Colorado. 

The Buffs were in the market after Mel Tucker left for Michigan State on Feb. 12. The position was eventually filled by Karl Dorrell just over a week later.  

Still, the program confirmed that Calhoun did in fact interview for the gig in Boulder — something he rather bizarrely denied to reporters after a spring practice.

“We have not made adjustments to the contract that we signed on Feb. 3,” Air Force AD Nathan Pine added. “We made increased commitments on both sides early on and wanted to get out ahead of this.”

Though it’s a military academy, Falcons athletics were shifted behind a private foundation in recent years so details of the new football contract were not made public. Pine added that an increased buyout is part of it and that the assistant salary pool has been bumped up as well.

Calhoun has been in charge at his alma mater since 2007 and capped off an 11-2 campaign last season with a Cheez-It Bowl victory over Washington State.