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Big weekend for the AAC and Mountain West Conference

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For a conference trying to sell itself as the nation’s sixth power conference, Week 3 looks to be a pretty big one to do its best to prove it. The American Athletic Conference, which is going all in on its belief it is the sixth power conference and not one of the Group of Five conferences, will play games against the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12 this weekend. And that includes games against four ranked opponents, two of which will be played in an AAC stadium.

It all gets started tonight with preseason favorite South Florida hosting Illinois from the Big Ten. The Bulls are a prohibitive favorite, which comes as no surprise. Quarterback Quinton Flowers could go off against the Illini, who have a record of 2-0 thanks to wins against Ball State and Western Kentucky. With Charlie Strong as head coach, the Bulls have not looked quite as automatic through the first two weeks as many predicted, but this could be their opportunity to put it all together on a national stage.

On Saturday, Memphis will look to score a significant upset at home against No. 25 UCLA. The Bruins are off to a 2-0 start but cross-country trip for a noon eastern kickoff has been known to give a west coast team trouble in the past. If the Tigers can catch the Bruins off to a slumbering start, Memphis may have to hope Josh Rosen and company don’t wake up in the fourth quarter the way they did against Texas A&M. A Memphis win would be key to the AAC as a whole too, as a win against a ranked opponent from a power conference gives the AAC a strength of schedule argument to boost itself up in the long run.

The AAC will have a few other cracks at ranked opponents. The team with the best chance, most likely, to score a win against a ranked team may be SMU. The Mustangs visit rival TCU, ranked 20th in the AP poll and coming off a win on the road against Arkansas. East Carolina hosts No. 16 Virginia Tech, and Tulane visits No. 2 Oklahoma. Either AAC team picking up a win in those games would be a shocker.

One other game against an ACC school was scratched due to Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. UCF, who looked really good in their opener, was to host Georgia Tech. Instead, the Knights will get a week off before returning to action next week on the road against Maryland.

The one game that should probably be the most interesting to watch, however, may take place in Ohio. MAC favorite Toledo is hosting Tulsa in a key Group of 5 vs. Group of 5 matchup. The Rockets have looked good and are a solid favorite, but Tulsa is a team to keep an eye on in the AAC. A year after an undefeated MAC champion grabbed the New Years Six spot in the bowl lineup, the AAC delivering a blow to the preseason MAC favorites could knock the MAC out of contention entirely before even getting to October.

AAC vs. Power 5 In Week 3

  • No. 22 USF vs. Illinois (FRI)
  • Memphis vs. No. 25 UCLA
  • Virginia vs. UConn
  • East Carolina vs. No. 16 Virginia Tech
  • No. 20 TCU vs. SMU
  • No. 2 Oklahoma vs. Tulane

Not to be outdone, the Mountain West Conference has a healthy diet of games against power conference competition this weekend as well. Air Force travels to No. 7 Michigan, Utah State visits Wake Forest, Colorado State is in Tuscaloosa to face No. 1 Alabama, Wyoming is hosting Oregon, Fresno State visits No. 6 Washington, San Jose State visits Utah, and San Diego State hosts No. 19 Stanford. That is seven games against power conference teams, including games against three top 10 teams. Most of those matchups do not appear to give the MWC many favors, although San Diego State hosting Stanford could be interesting.

Before conference play begins in these conferences, this will be the last major opportunities for the AAC and MWC to showcase their stuff in non-conference play. These games could make or break the conference’s chances of getting in the lucrative New Years Six lineup at the end of the year, so neither conference will want to squander their opportunities this weekend.

Mike MacIntyre, other Colorado officials dropped from lawsuit involving ex-Buffs assistant

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Thursday was a very good day on the legal front for Colorado University.

In early September, Pamela Fine, the woman who alleged she was abused by former Colorado assistant coach Joe Tumpkin, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver in which she alleged assault, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress perpetrated by Tumpkin.  Additionally, she levied claims of negligence and civil conspiracy against head coach Mike MacIntyre, athletic director Rick George, chancellor Phil DiStefano and president Bruce Benson.

Thursday, the Boulder Daily Camera reported, all four of the CU officials, including MacIntyre, have been dismissed from the case by the federal judge presiding over the lawsuit.  The judge, William J. Martinez, “granted motions by the remaining defendants to dismiss the lawsuit against them, ruling that the university did not owe Fine a legal obligation because she was not affiliated with the school,” the Daily Camera wrote.

The portion of the lawsuit involving Tumpkin remains in place.

CU announced Jan. 27 of last year that Tumpkin, the Buffs’ safeties coach, had “resigned” his position in the midst of domestic violence allegations and was subsequently charged with multiple counts of assault.  Fine, Tumpkin’s ex-girlfriend, had accused MacIntyre’s assistant of multiple acts of domestic violence dating back to 2015 and as recently as November of last year.  She obtained a permanent restraining order against Tumpkin, of which the university became aware Jan. 6 and initially triggered a suspension.

Despite knowledge of allegations that reportedly included 80 episodes of abuse — according to the alleged victim, she first went to MacIntyre’s wife — all parties, including the coach, his athletic director and his chancellor, agreed that Tumpkin would call the defensive plays in CU’s Dec. 29, 2016, bowl game in place of Jim Leavitt, who had taken the coordinator job at Oregon.  CU subsequently defended their actions, and MacIntyre did the same.

CU hired an outside law firm to investigate the program’s and university’s handling of the allegations, finding in part that MacIntyre was informed by Fine Dec. 9 of 2016 of a pattern of physical abuse suffered at the hands of Tumpkin.  In June of last year, disciplinary measures connected to that investigation were announced — MacIntyre and George were forced to donate $100,000 each to domestic violence causes while DiStefano was suspended for 10 days.

Starting Oregon State cornerback Xavier Crawford takes grad transfer to Central Michigan

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After joining Central Michigan this season as secondary coach, Cory Hall will see a very familiar face in his new meeting rooms moving forward.

On CMU’s most recently-updated online roster, Xavier Crawford is listed as a numberless 6-1, 190-pound defensive back; the player also mentions CMU football in his updated Twitter profile. Citing an Oregon State source, The Oregonian confirmed that Crawford had left the Beavers football program earlier this offseason, although no specific reason for the decision was given.

As Crawford joins the MAC program as a graduate transfer — he graduated from OSU in June — he will be eligible to play for the Chips immediately in 2018. Crawford will also have a year of eligibility that he can use in 2019 as well.

Crawford was a three-star prospect coming out of high school in California in 2014. His official OSU bio states that Crawford “[o]riginally signed a financial aid agreement with Oregon State in September 2014 and enrolled in January, thus he was considered a greyshirt.”

After redshirting as a true freshman, Crawford started all 12 games of the 2016 season for the Beavers. That season, he tied for the team lead in passes broken up with 10, while his 70 tackles were good for fourth.

Crawford started the first five games last year before going down with what turned out to be a season-ending back injury.

Jarrett Stidham tried recruiting Texas A&M after leaving Baylor, but Aggies weren’t as interested

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Well, this might sting a little for Texas A&M. Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham shared his experience in the recruiting process at SEC Media Days in Atlanta, claiming to be the one trying to sell himself more to Texas A&M than Texas A&M tried recruiting him when Stidham opted to leave Baylor.

“Honestly, [former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin], he didn’t recruit me too hard,” Stidham said. “I probably tried to recruit myself to A&M a little harder. Just because it was in-state, it was right down the road from where I was there in Waco.”

Originally a four-star recruit of Baylor in the Class of 2015, Stidham transferred from Baylor in the wake of the sexual assault scandal with the program in the summer of 2016. Five months later, Stidham announced his decision to transfer to Auburn for the 2017 season. This will be Stidham’s second season starting for the Tigers after passing for 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.

Why would Texas A&M not go after such a talented quarterback that was showing great interest in playing for them? It may because the urgency in adding a quarterback may not have felt like a pressing need for Texas A&M heading into the 2017 season. The Aggies had freshman Kellen Mond coming in as a five-star recruit in the Class of 2017. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but Mond appeared in 10 games for Texas A&M and completed 51.5 percent of his passes for 1,375 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions. He also rushed for 340 yards and three touchdowns for the Aggies.

Texas A&M went 7-6 last season, while Auburn knocked off both Alabama and Georgia in the regular season to advance to the SEC Championship Game. How many fans in College Station are wondering if the fate of the 2017 season would have been changed drastically if Sumlin decided Stidham would be his guy instead of Mond? Would it have made much of a difference for the Aggies (and for that matter, Auburn)?

As Stidham said to the media, it all worked out for him. Sumlin ended up losing his job and is now the head coach at Arizona, while former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is getting prepared for his season as the new (handsomely paid) head coach of Texas A&M.

If you were wondering, Stidham also completed 20-of-27 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in a 42-27 victory over Texas A&M in Kyle Field last November.

Battle with admissions results in UCLA granting release to 2018 signee

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After a bit of a drawn-out battle with the UCLA admissions department, safety and wide receiver prospect Bryan Addison is once again looking for a place to play some college football.

According to a report from Bruin Report Online, Addison has been given a full release from his scholarship by Chip Kelly and UCLA. The release comes after Addison decided he needed to start looking at other potential options with the fear his situation at UCLA would not get resolved in time to get enrolled at UCLA (or potentially at another college).

I had some issues with the college board and UCLA admissions,” Addison said in the report published by Bruin Report Online. “I have been fighting this for 5-6 weeks and things were a little slow to get going and time was running out for me. All the other freshmen were already enrolling and it was getting stressful for me.”

Where Addison is heading next remains to be seen, but he has apparently already been reviewing some possible offers from other Pac-12 schools including USC and Oregon as well as Big Ten member Nebraska. A decision could come soon as well, as Addison feels a need to get this taken care of so he can turn the page and get enrolled at his new school.

Fortunately for Addison, he will not be required to sit out a season this fall because he is not actually transferring. Because he was not enrolled at UCLA, his move to a new program does not qualify as an actual transfer. That means he will be eligible to play right away this fall at whatever school manages to bring him in before the 2018 season.