Temple as American contender? Matt Rhule says to believe it

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The Temple Owls have just one conference championship in its program history. Winners of the 1967 MAC (the Middle Atlantic Conference, not the MAC you may be more familiar with) championship, but Temple head coach Matt Rhule is selling the idea his Owls have as good a chance to add a second conference championship to the record books as any.

There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to bring a conference championship trophy back to Temple,” Rhule said this week Philadelphia morning TV show Breakfast on Broad. “There’s not one in our building anywhere, and that’s what I think this group of seniors is going to contend to do.”

Here is why you should entertain he idea Temple has what it takes to make a push for the American Athletic Conference. The defense was solid last season, holding opponents to 17.5 points per game. All 11 starters from that defense are back in 2015. On offense, the Owls return nine of 11 starters, including junior quarterback P.J. Walker. Temple has been a young team the last few seasons, and it is Rhule’s hope the experience on the field pays dividends this fall.

“We’ve invested a lot of time over these last three years into these kids, so it’s their time and they look like they’re going to play at a high level.”

Rhule and the Owls will be put to the test this season. Temple opens the season in Lincoln Financial Field against Penn State. Temple also hosts Notre Dame later in the year. Temple’s conference schedule has the Owls on the road against Cincinnati and East Carolina, but they get Memphis at home and there is no UCF, Navy or Houston on the schedule.

Temple ended the 2014 season with a 6-6 record but was left out of the postseason fun. If all goes according to Rhule’s plan, that will not be the case in 2015.

Michigan State investigating allegations of NCAA violations committed under Mark Dantonio

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Mark Dantonio may have retired as the Michigan State football head coach, but his impact on the program will continue. On and off the field.

In May of 2017, Michigan State confirmed that the university had “parted ways” with Curtis Blackwell after opting not to renew the football staffer’s contract.  Blackwell, whose official title with the program was director of college advancement and performance, was suspended with pay February 9 of that year, the same day three unidentified Spartan football players were suspended in connection to sexual assault allegations.  While Blackwell was a part of the police investigations into the allegations, he was not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault but rather failing to disclose information he knew about the incident.

In a lawsuit filed in November of 2018, which named Dantonio, among others, as a defendant, Blackwell alleged that his employment contract was violated when it wasn’t renewed by the university. According to recent court filings connected to that ongoing suit, Blackwell and his attornies are also alleging that NCAA violations were committed by Dantonio.

From ESPN.com:

The mother of current Notre Dame defensive end Daelin Hayes said in an affidavit that Blackwell attended an in-home visit at their house in Michigan along with former head coach Dantonio and assistant coaches Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel. LaKeshia Neal, Hayes’ mother, also provided a photo of the coaches and Blackwell on that visit.

The NCAA has reached out to Hayes to ask about the incident, a source said. Per NCAA rules, Blackwell was not allowed to be part of off-campus recruiting during that time at Michigan State because he was not one of the program’s on-field coaches.

In documents filed two weeks ago, Blackwell alleged that Dantonio helped arrange jobs for the parents of an unnamed, high-profile recruit as well. The day after those documents were submitted, Dantonio abruptly announced his resignation.

Dantonio has claimed that the allegations had nothing to do with his decision to step down. One of Dantonio’s lawyers labeled the claims as “false, scandalous, and wholly unsupported accusations.”

As a result of the allegations made by Blackwell, the university — and the NCAA — is in the process of investigating the claims.

“We are aware of the allegations made by Curtis Blackwell as part of his litigation,” an MSU spokesperson stated. “As with any allegation concerning NCAA compliance, MSU is investigating and working with the NCAA and Big Ten. We have fully complied with our self-reporting obligations to the NCAA throughout this case.”

Feb. 12, Colorado’s Mel Tucker was hired by Michigan State football to replace Dantonio. As part of Tucker’s six-year contract, there is a clause that protects the new coach should Michigan State football be sanctioned by the NCAA for the actions of the previous coaching staff. The language of the deal calls for an additional year to be added to the length of the contract “as of the date the sanction takes effect or, if such sanction lasts more than one year, the six-year term will be extended to match the length of the sanction period.”

Colorado QB Blake Stenstrom heading to transfer portal

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Citing “circumstances beyond his control,” Colorado quarterback Blake Stenstrom has announced he is entering the transfer portal.

“[Due] to recent events and circumstances beyond my control, I have made the difficult decision that it is time for a new chapter in my football journey,” Stenstromg said in a statement posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday afternoon.”

While Stenstromg doesn’t say exactly what those circumstances beyond his control are, it could very well be the second head coaching and staff change in Boulder in the past two years. Stenstrom originally signed in Colorado’s Class of 2018 for former Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre. MacIntyre was relieved as head coach in 2018 and replaced by Mel Tucker. But after just one season in Boulder, Tucker has already moved on to become the new head coach at Michigan State. A third head coach and an entirely new staff in as many years makes for a tough situation for any college football player.

By entering the transfer portal, Stenstrom is free to have contact with any college football program. As is the case for all players entering the transfer portal, Stenstom may also withdraw his name from the portal at any time and remain at Colorado.

Stenstrom appeared in four games in 2019, in which he attempted three pass attempts and completed one for 12 yards. He was intercepted on one of his two other attempts. Stenstrom will have to sit out the 2020 season if he ends up transferring to another FBS program. After sitting out the 2020 season, Stenstrom will have two years of eligibility remaining. Of course, that could change very soon with the NCAA moving toward making it easier for players to have immediate eligibility with an approved waiver in their favor.

TCU grad assistant and former QB Kenny Hill promoted to offensive analyst

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Former TCU quarterback Kenny Hill is taking the next step up within the Horned Frogs family this year. Hill is being promoted from his role as a graduate assistant to the position of offensive analyst.

As an analyst, Hill will not be doing any direct coaching of TCU football players, but he will help break down film and prepare game plans for the offense. Analysts are not permitted to have any direct coaching interactions with players, but having a handful of analysts preparing game plans and breaking down film is never in short demand. This is especially true with power conference programs that can afford to pay a few more analysts to do the work.

Hill originally joined the TCU football family as a transfer quarterback from Texas A&M. After being granted a release from his scholarship by Texas A&M in early 2015, Hill officially joined TCU later that spring. After sitting out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Hill led the Horned Frogs on an 11-3 campaign in 2016.

Hill returned to TCU after trying to land a job in professional football in 2018. Hill signed with the Oakland Raiders in 2018 but was released that summer. He later signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL.

All in (Stoops) family: Mike Stoops reportedly heading to Kentucky

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It looks as though another member of Nick Saban‘s ensemble of analysts is about to get back onto a sideline. Mike Stoops is reportedly close to heading to Kentucky, where he would take on an assistant coaching position for his brother, Mark Stoops.

A report by Football Scoop on Wednesday says Mike Stoops is expected to take on a portion of the defensive secondary coaching responsibilities for the Wildcats. He would be sharing those duties with Steve Clinkscale, who will also be adding the title of pass game coordinator for Kentucky, according to Football Scoop.

Stoops coached defensive backs throughout his coaching career, beginning in 1991 with Iowa and continuing in 1997 at Kansas State. After two seasons coaching the defensive backs for Kansas State and taking on the role of co-defensive coordinator, Stoops headed to Oklahoma, where he was a member of his older brother Bob Stoops‘ staff. Mike stoops was named the head coach of Arizona after the 2003 season and coached the Pac-10 (at the time) program for eight seasons. He returned to Oklahoma in 2012 and stayed with the Sooners for seven seasons before Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley moved in a new direction with his defensive staff.

Stoops then surfaced at Alabama taking on a role as a defensive analyst for Saban. As tends to be the case, analysts working for the Crimson Tide find ways back to coaching after a brief step away from coaching.

The addition of Stoops to the Kentucky staff is expected to be awaiting official approval from the school’s board of trustees, which is why Kentucky officials have not commented on the potential staff addition in Lexington.