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The Lovie Smith effect? Illinois sells over 2,000 season tickets after hiring


Michigan saw quite the turnaround with its ticket sales following the hiring of Jim Harbaugh a year ago. It appears another Big Ten program is benefitting from some positive vibes following a recent coaching hire as well.

Just days after announcing the hiring of new head coach Lovie Smith, Illinois claims to have sold over 2,000 new season tickets for the upcoming football season.

“In the last 48 hours, the Fighting Illini Ticket Office has sold over 2,000 new season tickets for the 2016 football season,” a statement from the Illinois athletics department says. “The popular I Fund Family 4-Pack – which included 4 season tickets and a $50 I Fund membership for $249 – are sold out, but there are still many ways for Fighting Illini fans to jump on board.”

It was believed the hiring of the likable Smith, a longtime head coach of the Chicago Bears, would generate some positive energy about the stagnant Illini football program, and clearly the results appear to be suggesting Illini fans are ready to show their support for Smith in 2016.

Mark Dantonio responds to accusation made by former staffer

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A day after an alarming story accused Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio of recruiting a player he was warned could be a potential problem, Dantonio has responded alongside his lawyer. Dantonio defended himself against the claims of former assistant Curtis Blackwell and re-directed to previous comments Dantonio made regarding the player in question.

“The fact that Mr. Blackwell’s contract was not renewed has nothing to do with Auston Robertson,” Dantonio said in a statement on Friday. “Two years ago, I spoke at length about Auston Robertson when he was dismissed from the team in 2017. Rather than engage in a public argument with a former staffer, I refer you to those previous statements. Further, there have been multiple investigations into the program’s handling of sexual assaults, including Jones Day in 2017 and the NCAA in 2018, and they concluded that the program and myself committed no violations.”

Blackwell, a former Michigan State recruiting director, claimed he and multiple coaches asked Dantonio not to continue recruiting Robertson, who was guilty of misdemeanor battery in high school and later was arrested and charged with assault to his girlfriend just after his freshman season in East Lansing. Robertson was later removed from the program.

Dantonio concluded his statement by saying he will have no further comment due to ongoing litigation.

“Mr. Blackwell’s lawsuit concerns his allegations that his contract was not renewed because he refused to co-operate with investigations being conducted by the MSUPD and a law firm hired to evaluate the MSU football program’s compliance with sexual assault reporting policies,” Dantonio’s lawyer, Tom Kienbaum, said in a separate statement. “The lawsuit has nothing to do with the recruitment or actions of any student athletes, including Auston Robertson.”

Kentucky LB Kash Daniel will play after video of alleged intent-to-injure surfaced

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After video surfaced seemingly suggesting Kentucky linebacker Kash Daniel tried to hurt a Florida football player last weekend, head coach Mark Stoops confirmed Daniel will be on the field again this weekend against Mississippi State. What has not been confirmed, however, is whether or not Daniel will start the game for the Wildcats.

Video footage from last weekend’s victory over the Gators appeared to show Daniel attempting to twist the ankle of Florida quarterback Kyle Trask at the bottom of a pile at the end of the play. Trask denied any intent to injure to Trask but did admit he gets caught up in some smack talk on the field, which of course is perfectly normal in sports.

Stoops said he has discussed the alleged incident with Daniel and the SEC office. Whatever came out of those discussions will remain behind closed doors, because Stoops has decided to keep that all in-house. So if Daniel is not on the field to start the game for Kentucky’s defense, this may not be a coincidence. However, regardless of what happens, Daniel will be playing against Mississippi State.

New Mexico State locks in bowl agreement with New Mexico Bowl

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New Mexico State may not have a rich bowl history, but the independent college football program has worked out an arrangement to secure a spot in a postseason bowl game in the next few years.

New Mexico State has reached an agreement with ESPN Events to reserve a spot in the New Mexico Bowl from 2020 through 2025, as long as the Aggies meet the NCAA bowl-minimum win total.

“New Mexico State University and our football program are excited to enter into an agreement with the New Mexico Bowl from 2020 through 2025,” New Mexico State Director of Athletics Mario Moccia said in a released statement. “The proximity of the game from our campus as well as Albuquerque and the surrounding areas having the largest population of NM State alumni in the country outside of Doña Ana County is a perfect opportunity for our football program and Aggie Nation.”

New Mexico State would face a team from either the Mountain West Conference or Conference USA. In addition, New Mexico State can be chosen to play in any other bowl game not owned by ESPN if an opportunity is available to them.

New Mexico State is an independent program, which makes them free to work out their own bowl deals. But because most bowl games have deals in place with conferences, there are typically few bowl spots to go around for independent programs (unless you happen to be Notre Dame).

The Aggies played in a bowl game at the end of the 2017 season, which was the first bowl game for the program since 1960.

Miami offensive lineman announces his entry to transfer portal

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It looks like the depth on the Miami depth chart on the offensive line is taking a hit. Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Cleveland Reed has officially announced he has entered the transfer portal to begin weighing his options for his future. Reed announced the news with a brief and direct-to-the-point statement on Twitter confirming such news.

Reed no longer appears on Miami’s roster. It is worth a quick reminder that a player entering the transfer portal is always eligible to return to their current program if they wish, although Miami is no longer in a position to guarantee his scholarship will remain.

Reed was a member of Miami’s Class of 2018, which was ranked as a top 10 class at the time. Reed was a four-star recruit who chose to attend Miami over offers from Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and more.

If Reed does end up moving to a new program, he will have to sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer rules. He would then be eligible to return to the field in 2021 with two years of eligibility remaining. Because he already used a redshirt year as a freshman in 2018, Reed will essentially not play for the first three years of college football other than his playing time against Bethune-Cookman earlier this season.