After scare, ACC football back on in Ireland for 2016


It looked as if the chances college football would be played in Ireland in 2016 were dead. It turns out it was just on life support.

Aviva Stadium in Dublin is expected to be announced as a host venue for a 2016 game between ACC programs Boston College and Georgia Tech. The42 in Ireland reports a formal announcement will be made by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and everything is good to go forward. That announcement could come as early as tomorrow. Croke Park, which had previously hosted Penn State and UCF to open the 2014 season, has been ruled out as a potential venue due to the Gaelic Athletic Association determining it was not financially viable. Fortunately, for those rooting for college football abroad, there seems to be support to see through on bringing American college football back to the country of Ireland.

ACC commissioner John Swofford has said in the past he was interested in taking ACC athletics abroad to Europe when possible, and Boston College and Georgia Tech have long been tied to a possible game in Ireland. When the game would be played is still to be determined, assuming it happens, but there have been discussions and rumors suggesting this game in Ireland would be more likely to be played later in the season as opposed to a season-opening game. However, that was also likely due to scheduling conflicts with the GAA and the Croke Park Classic. A change in venue may open up the possibility of a season-opening game abroad, which would seem to be more desirable for the participating schools. Although, a game abroad later in the season also gives each school and the ACC a chance to showcase its product in an exclusive time slot in the midst of the season, for whatever that is worth.

As schedules sit right now, Boston College has two non-conference games (vs. UMass and at Northern Illinois) scheduled for mid-September, with two vacancies in the first two weeks of the season. Georgia Tech has a vacancy in the first weekend of the season. Georgia Tech’s non-conference schedule is already full too, which suggests the Yellow Jackets will be playing a conference game in the opening week of the 2016 season once the ACC schedule is finalized (which may not be until the spring).

Aviva Stadium was the host stadium for the 2012 Emerald Isle Classic between Notre Dame and Navy to open the season. Notre Dame easily won that game (50-10) to kick off an undefeated regular season that landed the Irish in the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. Aviva Stadium has a seating capacity of 55,000. The 2012 game between Notre Dame and Navy had an attendance of 48,820. Last season’s Croke Park Classic in Croke Park between Penn State and UCF saw a total of 53,304 fans attend the game.

Boston College played in the first American college football game in Ireland back in 1988 in the first Emerald Isle Classic. The Eagles defeated Army, 38-24 before 42,525 fans in Lansdowne Road. That game was played in mid-November. The 1989 Emerald Isle Classic between Pittsburgh and Rutgers was played in early December. The 1996 Shamrock Classic between Notre Dame and Navy in Croke Park was played in early November, so there is a track record of playing in Ireland later in the season. Georgia Tech would be making its first trip to Ireland.

UPDATE (6:40 p.m.): Brett McMurphy of reports (via Twitter), Boston College will play Georgia Tech on September 3 in Aviva Stadium. The game will kick off at 7:30 a.m. eastern.

Team that hasn’t been to a bowl game since 1972 close to announcing bowl-affiliation agreement

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It’s always good to be prepared. In the case of UMass football though, they might be a little too prepared in one particular case.

According to, the Minutemen are close to announcing a bowl-affiliation agreement for the program — one of the few FBS independents who do not have a ready-made path to a postseason appearance as things currently stand.

“We’re down the path with some relationships with some bowls that we’re going to be announcing in the next 30-45 days that we feel good about,” AD Ryan Bamford said. “We’re going to have a relationship that’s going to cover us through 2025. That will cover us so if we’re bowl eligible we feel very good about being placed in a bowl if we get to 6-6.

“It will have a number of iterations, a number of variables to it. We feel good about the relationships we’ve been able to build and our ability, when we become a bowl-eligible team for the first time, to have a place to go. That our fans will be able to travel there and support us and that will be a seminal moment for our program.”

Banford later confirmed that ESPN is likely to play a role in the agreement, which likely hints at a conditional spot in one of the 13 or so bowl games they own through a subsidiary.

While such a deal would be nice to have, UMass actually following through and using it remains another matter. The 2019 team is among the worst in the country at 1-10 on the year and the program overall hasn’t made a bowl game since the defunct Boardwalk Bowl pitted the Minutemen against UC Davis in 1972.

In fact, UMass has only finished above .500 once in the past decade and that came before the school transitioned to the FBS level. So while the deal is nice to have, it’s more of one that the program will utilize in theory rather than practice until proven otherwise.

Ahead of first SEC meeting with Georgia, Jimbo Fisher hints at conference scrapping division format

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Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012 but the Aggies are only now, in November of 2019, playing their first game against Georgia — an opponent they won’t see again in the regular season for another five years.

Such is life in a 14 team conference that refuses to move to nine conference games to increase the frequency of cross-division matchups between programs.

Such a lengthy rotation against teams that are not permanent rivals has led to plenty of suggestions on how the SEC could improve their scheduling and it appears that the leadership involved is at least opening the door to the possibility of change. As noted by FootballScoop, Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher hinted that a new format could be on the horizon for the league.

“I know they’re looking at some formats going forward that keep the three main and rotate five and all those things,” Fisher said. “I think it is good for your players, eventually, to play everybody in the conference. I really do believe that…. When you have conferences as big as you have now, that’s kind of the way it goes.”

The philosophy behind the schedule is sure to be a talking point at spring meetings in Destin, Fla. next year and from the sounds of what Fisher is saying, it’s possible a “PODS” setup is in the running for schools where they would play three opponents every year and rotate among the others as part of the remaining five conference games.

Such a setup would eliminate the imbalance there sometimes is between the SEC West and SEC East and could go a long ways at preventing players (and fans) from going a decade-plus between visits to certain campuses.

Of course the easiest solution is just to go to nine conference games like the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 but nobody has been more resistant to such a move than the SEC in the recent past. We’ll see what ultimately ends up happening but hopefully for fans who want to make more regular trips to places like Athens and College Station, the cha-cha-changes come sooner rather than later.

FIU unveils new ‘Miami Lights’ helmet for local showdown against the ‘Canes

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Miami is taking a break from ACC play this weekend to host local rival FIU in a series that has probably been most notable for the two program’s on-field skirmish back in 2006.

The Panthers, however, may soon be known for something else far more positive by announcing a new look for Saturday’s game, unveiling a stunning city-themed ‘Miami Lights’ helmet that they’ll sport against the Hurricanes:

That is jaw-droppingly good FIU. Now we just need head coach Butch Davis to dress up against his old team with a white sport coat a la Sonny Crockett to really complete the look.

The ‘Canes are going with their standard issue look either for the contest as they announced they’ll be switching out the usual all-white setup and using gray facemasks against the Panthers. The move is a nod to the teams of the past that sported the look at the old Orange Bowl, the program’s former home in the city which is now the baseball venue known as Marlins Park, where Saturday’s game will be played.

Kudos to both sides for mixing it up with a bit of old and new for what should be a unique setup in Little Havana.

Report says Auburn has not discussed moving on from perpetual hot seat coach Gus Malzahn

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Owing to his position as Auburn head coach, Gus Malzahn is a perpetual member of the college football hot seat club.

Despite the fan base’s occasional frustrations with the way this season has transpired however, Tigers brass does not appear to be set on making an expensive move away from the embattled coaching staff.

Per, a source told the site that “that Auburn has not had any internal discussions about making a head coaching change.”

“We’ve had one of the toughest schedules in the country,” AD Allen Greene said Friday. “We’ve been competitive in every one of those games. Our focus right now is on Samford, on Alabama and the Iron Bowl, and recruiting. Our whole focus right now is finishing out the season on a strong note and then focusing on reloading for next year.”

Now it’s worth noting that Malzahn could very well wind up not being the coach at AU in 2020 if he chooses to leave, having been linked quite a bit the past few years with the now open gig in his home state at Arkansas. While he would owe a hefty seven-figure buyout to the school if he wanted to do so, that’s nothing compared to the cost that the Tigers would need to raise if they wanted a change.

That amount, roughly $27 million, makes Florida State’s expensive golden parachute for Willie Taggart look tame by comparison.

Malzahn is 60-30 overall at the school and 32-23 in SEC play over seven seasons, including an SEC title in 2013 and a national title with the program while serving as an offensive coordinator in 2011.