After scare, ACC football back on in Ireland for 2016

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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 ESPN.com 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.

BYU RBs coach AJ Steward takes same job at Arizona

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The revamping of Kevin Sumlin’s Arizona football coaching staff continued late last week. This time, though, the revamping is on the offensive side of the ball.

Friday, the Wildcats announced that AJ Steward (pictured) has been hired by Sumlin as running backs coach. Steward will replace DeMarco Murray, who left earlier this month to take the same job at his alma mater Oklahoma.

At 29, Steward will be the youngest member of Sumlin’s staff. The 32-year-old Murray had previously held that title.

“We couldn’t be happier to be welcoming AJ to the Arizona Football Family,” the Arizona football head coach said in a statement. “AJ brings a work ethic and experience that will impact the development of our student-athletes in a very positive way. His passion for the game, passion for making a difference and his recruiting background make him a great fit for our staff.“

The past two seasons, Steward was the running backs coach at BYU. Prior to that, Steward had served in the same capacity at Rice for three years (2014-17).

Steward, who played his college football at Kansas, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Rice in 2012-13.

“My wife Virginia and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to come to Tucson and make the University of Arizona our home,” Steward said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to continue my coaching career under someone like Coach Sumlin, and I can’t wait to get to work with our young men!”

Four-star 2017 DB Deon Jones tweets transfer from Maryland

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A once highly-touted member of the Maryland football program is on his way out. Probably.

Late last week, Deon Jones took to Twitter to announce that he has decided to enter his name into the NCAA transfer database, the first step in a likely move away from Maryland football. According to the defensive back, he will graduate from the university in May.

Not only will he be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school in 2020, he will have another season of eligibility he can use in 2021 as well.

“I will forever be a TERP and I cannot thank this university enough for all of the opportunities they have afforded me over the past 3 years,” Jones wrote.

A four-star member of the Terrapins’ 2017 recruiting class, Jones was rated as the No. 3 player in the state of Maryland regardless of position. Only one signee in the Terps’ class that year, running back Anthony McFarland, was rated higher than Jones.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Jones appeared in 21 games the past two seasons. He started six of those contests, with all six of those starts coming this past season.

Jones will finish his time with Maryland football with 51 tackles, two forced fumbles, one tackle for loss and one pass defensed.

More than a dozen players have left the Maryland football program since last season began, including a pair of quarterbacks.

Ex-Wisconsin WR Marcus Randle El arrested, charged in double homicide

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A former member of the Wisconsin football program is at the center of a very sad and disturbing situation that began developing early last week.

According to multiple media outlets, Marcus Randle El turned himself in to police in Chicago Saturday afternoon after a warrant for his arrest had been issued in connection to a double murder in Janesville, Wisconsin. The 33-year-old Randel El is facing two counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

From the NBC television affiliate in Madison, WI:

Early Monday morning, 30-year-old Seairaha Winchester and 27-year-old Brittany McAdory were found shot near the intersection of Midvale Drive and Deerfield Drive in Janesville. They were taken to a hospital where they died.

During the news conference announcing the arrest, Lt. Charles Aagaard said investigators recovered video footage confirmed Winchester and McAdory went to the T.A. Express gas station around 2 a.m. that morning and left the store in McAdory’s black Jeep Cherokee. Investigators say their evidence indicates they planned to meet with Randle El, who was also in the area.

A little more than an hour later, a passing motorist spotted the victims lying in the road, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, Aagaard explained. They were both taken to Mercy Hospital for treatment where they both later died as a result of their injuries.

According to police, a murder weapon hasn’t yet been recovered.  Randle El has also denied responsibility for the murders.

From 2004-07, Randle El, whose brother, Antwaan Randle El, was a star quarterback at Indiana, played wide receiver for the Wisconsin football program.  He caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown during his time with the Badgers.  He also ran for another 29 yards on 11 carries as well.

Randle El also has an extensive criminal history dating back to his time as a member of the Wisconsin football team.  In 2005, he was arrested twice — once on a battery charge involving a female and another incident of battery involving a teammate.  In 2018, he finished serving what was originally a six-year sentence after allegedly kidnapping his three-year daughter at gunpoint.

Antwaan Randle El, incidentally, is entering his second year as an offensive assistant for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Vanderbilt QB Mo Hasan tweets transfer to USC

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For Mo Hasan, the quarterback is hoping that USC football, his fourth school, will be the charm.

In December, Hasan took the first step in transferring from Vanderbilt by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database. Nearly two months later, Hasan took to Twitter to make the surprising announcement that he has decided to transfer to USC football and continue his collegiate playing career with the Trojans.

The 2020 season will serve as the graduate transfer’s final year of eligibility.

Hasan, who began his career at Syracuse as a walk-on, came to Vandy from Coffeyville Community College in 2018.  His first season with the Commodores, the Florida native played in five games.  This past season, he played in two, including his first career start. That start, though, proved to be his last appearance as Hasan suffered a concussion in the Missouri loss and missed the last five games.

In his seven appearances, Hasan completed 11-of-17 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown.  He also ran for 79 yards on 16 carries.

In Nashville, Hasan will likely be missed most, though, off the field.

Hasan, a Miami native, also gained national exposure for spearheading Second Spoon, a non-profit organization that distributes extra food from the athletes’ dining hall to the homeless living on Nashville’s streets. He appeared on various national TV programs to promote Second Spoon, including NBC’s Today Show.

Given the makeup of the quarterback room, Hasan’s decision to transfer to USC football is surprising. To say the least.

JT Daniels, who opened the 2019 season as the starter before suffering a torn ACL after starting in 2018, and Kedon Slovis, who replaced Daniels and went on to set a slew of school records as a true freshman, both return in 2020 (probably). Fifth-year senior Matt Fink, who started in place of a concussed Slovis in one game last season, is expected to return as well.

Fink, though, flirted with a transfer to Illinois in the spring of last year. The quarterback ultimately opted to remain with USC football. Obviously, a move away from the Trojans at some point before the 2020 campaign kicks off on Fink’s part is not out of the equation.

For what it’s worth, Daniels’ dad stated in December that his son has no intention of transferring from USC football.