Pioneer Football League drops megaton hammer and postseason ban on Jacksonville

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It is not often College Football Talk dives into the world of the FCS, and it is even less often we will discuss the Pioneer Football League. Because of that, you know something’s up when we do.

The Pioneer Football League has hit the football program at Jacksonville University with a one-year postseason ban and has vacated wins from the past five seasons. The offense? Financial-aid violations. The Pioneer Football League, a football-only conference made up of 11 schools does not allow for football scholarships to be awarded. The Pioneer Football League says Jacksonville inappropriately dispersed financial aid to players, although an internal review by the university and the league found no NCAA violations. Despite that, Jacksonville (coached by former Florida Gators quarterback, 1984 SEC Player of the Year and two-time All-American Kerwin Bell) has accepted the punishment handed down by the league and will sit out the postseason in 2015 after voluntarily sitting out of a potential postseason opportunity last season while an investigation was ongoing. Jacksonville volunteered to vacate its 2010 conference championship and all league wins from 2010 through 2014 (a total of 30 wins in conference play).

That’s not all either. In addition to the postseason ban and accepting the self-imposed penalties, the Pioneer Football League reduced the number of roster positions for the program from 130 to 96 and three coaching positions. According to Jacksonville.com, the university also lost its junior varsity program. That is crippling for a program like Jacksonville.

“I’m heartbroken by it. I’m heartbroken by it because of the kids,” Jacksonville athletic director Donnie Horner said, per Jacksonville.com. “These returning seniors, these returning sophomores, these returning juniors, this is effectively their second year [of punishment]. And that’s painful for those kids. But it’s clear to me in conversations with the league that they decided to impose the ban this year because of the severity of our not adhering to the PFL financial aid rules. These are not trivial, miniscule differences.”

This is not the first time one of the top programs in the conference had to sit out of the postseason for violating the financial aid rules of the conference. In 2013 the University of San Diego withdrew from postseason consideration after discovering violations regarding financial aid provided to football players. San Diego, the FCS program previously coached by Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh before he accepted a job offer at Stanford, was atop the conference at the time of the decision and projected to represent the conference in the FCS playoffs.

Notre Dame-Georgia going under the lights on Sept. 21

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CBS’s contract with the SEC typically gives the network two double-headers a year — one with games at noon and 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, and another at 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. For the past, oh, eight years, the 8 p.m. kickoff has been reserved for the Alabama-LSU game, for obvious reasons.

The last time CBS used its primetime SEC designation for a game other than Tide-Tigers came in 2010, when the network picked Alabama-Florida back when the Nick SabanUrban Meyer rivalry was still popping.

It looks like that’s set to change this year, though, as CBS announced Tuesday that the Sept. 21 Notre Dame at Georgia game will air at 8 p.m. ET.

While leaving open the possibility some backroom negotiations between CBS and ESPN could still find Alabama-LSU on CBS in primetime when the two meet on Nov. 9, clearly CBS has prioritized the chance to put the golden domes under the lights over any other game under its control — and with good reason. Notre Dame hasn’t played inside an SEC stadium since its trip to Knoxville on Nov. 6, 2004 and isn’t scheduled to return to SEC country until an Oct. 4, 2025 game at Arkansas.

Notre Dame has never played inside Sanford Stadium. The Irish and Bulldogs have played just twice previously, once in the 1982 Sugar Bowl (a 17-10 Georgia win) and once at Notre Dame in 2017 (a 20-19 Georgia win).

Though Alabama has beaten LSU eight consecutive times, viewing interest in the rivalry is still quite strong. The Tide’s 29-0 win over LSU in 2018 drew 11.543 million viewers according to Sports Media Watch, trailing only Michigan at Ohio State for the most-watched game of the regular season.

Clearly, though, CBS executives think Notre Dame at Georgia will be a bigger draw than the Alabama-LSU game.

One of world’s largest cranes being used to build Carrier Dome’s new roof

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A new recruit is coming to Syracuse’s campus soon, and he’s absolutely huge.

To build the Carrier Dome’s new roof, the school has rented a LR-11000 crane, which will stand nearly 500 feet in the air.“It’s going to dominate the skyline,” Buckner Heavylift Cranes heavy lift and rigging planner Jim Jatho told the Syracuse Post-Standard. “If you can see the Carrier Dome, it’ll be a couple hundred feet above it.”

So big is the the LR-11000 that it will require between 85 and 87 truckloads to deliver all the necessary parts, and will also require the efforts of three or four other cranes in order to build this one. Construction of the crane is expected to take three to four weeks. The crane is manufactured by a German firm, and SU will rent it from Buckner Heavylift Cranes, based out of North Carolina. There are just 13 LR-11000s scattered across the United States.

The LR-11000 can lift 1,100 tons — that’s 2.2 million pounds — and weighs 3 million pounds on its own.

The reason for such specialized equipment is the tight quarters around the Carrier Dome and the unique job that requires the expertise of the LR-11000, which will construct the crown-truss that will encircle the dome’s bubbly, cloud-like roof. The LR-11000 is typically used to build wind turbines.

“Putting a crane of this size in a space so small is almost unheard of,” Jatho said.

Syracuse initially announced plans to give the Carrier Dome a new roof back in 2016, committing $118 million to improve the 38-year-old stadium’s roof. The new roof will have natural lighting, a 40-year lifespan (the current roof had 20) and will be less costly to maintain, the school says.

Syracuse also plans to install a vertically hung scoreboard, ADA improvements, enhanced WiFi and, by 2022, air conditioning, new restrooms and new concession space.

The new roof is expected to be complete by fall 2020, but the construction is not expected to interrupt Dino Babers and company’s efforts to dethrone Clemson for ACC supremacy.

California JUCO defensive back shot, killed

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Sadly, there’s yet another deadly shooting involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets in the Sacramento area, Sierra College defensive back Chancelor “Chance” Fields-Colbert was shot and killed very early Sunday morning following an incident during what was described as a college sendoff party in Fair Oaks.  Fields-Colbert was shot once inside the residence in which the party was being held and managed to get out of the house before collapsing in an intersection a short distance away.

The sophomore from Fairbanks, Alaska, was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It’s disbelief and shock,” the junior college’s head coach, Benjamin Noonan, told ABC’s Sacramento affiliate. “It’s been a nightmare these last 48 hours and the kids are, you know, pulling it together and just want to be around each other.”

As a freshman this past season, Fields-Colbert played in five games for the Wolverines.

Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton headlines Outland Trophy watch list

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With eight semifinalists from a year ago gone, the Outland Trophy’s 2019 preseason watch list takes on a decidedly fresh look this go ’round.

Headlining the 83-player group of the nation’s top interior linemen is Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton, who is the only Football Writers Association of American All-American from a season ago on this year’s watch list.  Throckmorton is one of 12 players from the Pac-12 listed, which is tied for third among all conferences with the Big 12; with 13 apiece, the Big Ten and SEC lead all leagues.

The ACC’s 10 is the fewest among Power Five conferences, while Group of Five leagues are paced by the AAC’s six.  All 10 FBS conferences are represented, including the Mountain West (four), Conference USA (three), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (three).  Independents account for four as well.

Throckmorton is one of four linemen from Oregon, tied with Michigan for the most of any single school.  Georgia has three, while another 15 schools have two each.

A total of 32 offensive tackles are on the watch list, the most for any single position.  That group is followed by 19 defensive tackles, 18 offensive guards and 14 centers.