Getty Images

Middle Tennessee holds on to win the bizarre (and turnover-filled) Camellia Bowl over Arkansas State

1 Comment

Middle Tennessee State entered the Camellia Bowl 121st in the country in turnover margin and had lost the battle in nine of their 12 games this season. Arkansas State was only a little bit better in the same category, ranking 81st in turnover margin in 2017. Predictably those kinds of statistics came into play on Saturday night in the Camellia Bowl as the two sides played a bit of hot potato — six giveaways — before MTSU hung on for a 35-30 win to cap off the first day of bowl season in college football.

Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill had a game that could have been a nightmare for a veteran quarterback but ended up being alright thanks to his defense continually picking him on a night where chunk plays were hard to come by. The signal-caller threw the first of his three interceptions on the night on the first drive of the game but bounced back over the final three quarters, throwing for 232 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. That kind of performance, which included several big throws in the second half, helped secure the first bowl victory of his career and give him the rare distinction of being able to win a postseason game with his father Rick as head coach.

It wasn’t all about the Stockstill combo for MTSU however as their run game produced a pair of touchdowns behind tailbacks Terelle West and Tavares Thomas, and the team’s defense had one of their best outings of the season to limit the Sun Belt’s highest scoring offense to well below all their season averages. Linebacker Darius Harris led the way when his unit was on the field, flying from sideline-to-sideline and racking up 12 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a two pass break ups. His running mate at linebacker, D.J. Sanders, was equally productive with seven tackles and a 54 yard fumble return for a touchdown just before halftime.

The Red Wolves did what they could to threaten to make things interesting down the stretch but never could get over the hill. The team ran a fake punt to open fourth quarter, resulting in a 21 yard strike from the punter to gunner Chris Murray along the sidelines and appeared to seize momentum after a subsequent  touchdown to Warren Wand. However the defense failed to get a stop and then Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year Justice Hansen (337 yards, 3TD, 1 INT) threw a fourth down pass out of the end zone to all but seal a rather lackluster loss for a team that had won six of the last eight coming into the bowl.

Arkansas State also came up a bit short in the record books on the defensive side of the ball as well. In addition to allowing 35 points to MTSU, conference player of the year Ja’Von Rolland-Jones failed to record a sack and thus couldn’t break the NCAA career record (held by former Arizona State and current Baltimore Ravens star Terrell Suggs) of 44 career sacks after entering the game just shy of the mark with 43.5. While the pass rusher did manage to sack Stockstill in the game, the play was negated by a penalty to keep him from taking over on the all-time list.

The victory pushed Middle Tennessee over the .500 mark for the fifth time in six seasons and likely meant a little bit more to the program given how many key injuries the team suffered over the course of 2017 before capturing their first bowl win in eight years. Arkansas State did their best to prevent that from happening as they dropped to 7-5 on the season after a rather bizarre Camellia Bowl that had a little bit of everything.

Texas State QB Cedric Case makes his move to the transfer portal

Texas State football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Texas State has had a lovehate relationship with the football transfer portal this offseason. This week, the hate reared its head. Again.

Cedric Case Tuesday announced that he has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database, the first step in leaving Texas State football.  The quarterback made the announcement on his personal Twitter account.

“After many discussions with my family and a lot of reflection about my future, I’ve decided at this time it’s in my best interest to transfer from Texas State University,” Case wrote. “I want to thank Coach Spavital and the rest of the coaching staff for giving me the great opportunity to be [a part] of their program, and helping me become a better football player and a better man.

“I also want to thank my teammates for treating me like family and making San Marcos feel like home from the moment I got there. I’ve made countless memories over the past year, and can’t wait to watch the success each of you will have on and off the field.”

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Case was a two-star member of the Texas State football Class of 2019.  The Lincoln, Nebraska, native was the No. 7 player regardless of position in his home state. He will have to sit out the 2020 season.  That will leave him with three years of eligibility to use starting in 2021.

As a true freshman, Case didn’t see the field for the Bobcats.

Texas State is coming off its second consecutive 3-9 football season, its first under head coach Jake Spavital. In fact, the Bobcats haven’t finished above-.500 since going 7-5 in 2014. The 2012 season was the program’s first at the FBS level.

Liberty the new home for Georgia Tech transfer kicker Brenton King

Liberty football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The ever-evolving kicking position for Liberty football has taken another turn.

Back in March, Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins revealed that Brenton King had decided to go pro in something other than sports.  Earlier this month, though, it was confirmed that the placekicker had since placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.

On Twitter this week, King announced that he has committed to Liberty football.

“Excited for this new chapter in my life,” the kicker wrote. “Can’t wait to be back on the field. Thank you [special teams coordinator Tanner Burns] for believing in me and giving me a chance to play the sport I love still.

“Go Flames!”

Coming out of high school in Georgia, King was a two-star member of the Georgia Tech football Class of 2017. As a true freshman, he split time as the primary placekicker for the Yellow Jackets.  King was Tech’s primary kicker this past season.  In between, he kicked in four games but was able to take a redshirt for 2018.

During his three seasons, King connected on 42-of-46 point-afters.  However, he was successful on just nine of his 17 field-goal attempts.

King left Georgia Tech as a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility.  That, of course, means he can immediately play this season as well as next.

The football independent will be looking to replace its full-time kicker from a year ago, Alex Probert.  In February of this year, Probert transferred to Iowa State.

Liberty became a provisional Football Bowl Subdivision member in 2018.  In its initial season as a full FBS member last year, the Flames qualified for their first-ever bowl game.  And won it.

Syracuse makes addition of starting FCS defensive lineman official

Syracuse football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Syracuse football has officially bolstered its defensive line with a lower-level addition.

Earlier this month, Cody Roscoe announced on Twitter that he will be transferring into Dino Babers‘ Syracuse football program.  This week, the Orange confirmed the defensive lineman has signed with the program.  The defensive lineman is coming to the ACC school from McNeese State.

Because he comes in from an FCS program, Roscoe will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.  According to a release, Roscoe is already enrolled in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Roscoe was a two-year starter for the Cowboys.  He totaled 19 tackles for loss and 13½ sacks in that action.  The lineman had 11 tackles for loss and nine sacks this postseason, with both totals good for second on the team.

The FCS player is one of the few additions for a Syracuse football program that has lost its share to the portal this offseason.  Since mid-March, the Orange has seen four of their players leave for the NCAA transfer database.

Wallace, incidentally, has since moved on to Kent State.

Syracuse is set to open the 2020 college football season at Boston College Sept. 4.

Jimbo Fisher issues statement after he, Texas A&M slapped by NCAA over minor violations

Texas A&M football
Getty Images
2 Comments

As required by The Association, the Texas A&M head football coach has issued a public mea culpa.

Thursday afternoon, the NCAA announced it had sanctioned the Texas A&M football program and Jimbo Fisher over a pair of minor violations committed between January 2018 and February 2019.  Among other penalties, the Aggies were placed on probation for a year.  Fisher, meanwhile, was given a six-month show-cause.

As part of Fisher’s punishment, the coach was required to issue a public statement addressing the NCAA violations.  A short time ago, Fisher did just that.

As Texas A&M’s Head Football Coach, I am responsible for promoting and monitoring for NCAA compliance in our program. While I am disappointed in the violations, including an unintended one that resulted from a conversation with a high school athlete, it is still my responsibility to ensure we are adhering to each and every rule.  I am pleased to have this matter completely behind our program and look forward to continuing our efforts to make every aspect of our program one all Aggies can continue to be proud of.

According to the Committee on Infractions, Fisher “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance because of his personal involvement in the recruiting violation.” Fisher was also accused of failing to monitor his coaching staff, which led to the allowable-hours violation.  That resulted in the NCAA issuing its show-cause order.  Fisher had previously served a nine-day ban on phone calls/emails/texts with recruits in January of this year as well as a reduction in off-campus recruiting from December 2019-January 2020.  Fisher will also be banned from all off-campus recruiting activities throughout the fall contact period.

“Since I arrived at Texas A&M, I have seen up close and personal Coach Fisher’s commitment to integrity and following the rules,” Ross Bjork, hired as athletic director in May of 2019, said in his statement. “I appreciate his response, including actions taken during the process itself. As a result, the program moves forward and remains on track in both our short- and long-term quest for excellence.  This will have no impact on our current student-athletes, the 2020 post-season, or our pursuit of championship success on and off the field.”