A Conference USA rivalry will be renewed between Marshall and East Carolina. The two schools have reportedly lined up a future home-and-home series for 2023 and 2025, according to a report from FBSchedules.com.
East Carolina of the American Athletic Conference will host the Thundering Herd on Sep. 9, 2023. Marshall will host the return trip two years later on Sep. 13, 2025. The two schools have not played each other since 2013 before East Carolina left Conference USA to join the AAC. ECU leads the all-time series, 10-5, but they have met two times by the time this home-and-home series is slated to be played. Previously, the schools agreed to another home-and-home scheduling arrangement that will be played in 2020 (at ECU) and 2021 (at Marshall).
Games between two non-power conferences may not seem all that attractive to common fans, but the importance riding on these outcomes can carry some significance. A victory by either team gives their respective conference a win against another nonpower conference it may be jockeying with for a spot in the New Years Six bowl lineup. Ultimately, it may not carry enough weight by the end of the season if one team, like UCF, happens to be the clear favorite, but in the event multiple conferences have champions in the running for the exclusive spot in the big money bowls at the end of the year, any little piece of bragging rights a conference can stack up against another conference could become valuable.
In theory, at least.
Marshall currently has other future games scheduled against former conference rivals. This fall the Herd will play former MAC opponent Miami Ohio, and Ohio is on deck for a home-and-home series in 2019 and 2020. Marshall will also face Cincinnati (formerly of Conference USA) in 2019. East Carolina has no other former Conference USA rivals on the future schedule at this point aside from Marshall.
The coaching carousel is, for now, all wrapped up.
According to the plugged-in folks at FootballScoop.com, Akron has filled the final FBS head coaching vacancy this offseason by plucking Chattanooga’s Tom Arth to be the Zips’ newest head coach.
The Ohio native is a former star quarterback for John Carroll University and most famously served as Peyton Manning’s backup with the Indianapolis Colts from 2003-2005.
Arth began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater back in 2010 and was elevated to head coach in 2013, going 40-8 with the Blue Streaks. He moved up to the FCS level with Chattanooga and doubled the Mocs’ win total in just two seasons at the school.
The move up to the MAC means Arth will replace Terry Bowden at Akron, who was fired earlier this month after going 35–52 over seven seasons with the program.
Arth won’t have much time to get acclimated to his new gig in Northeast Ohio with the early signing period just around the corner next week.
It appears Josh Ball‘s playing career at Florida State has come to an end.
In November of last year, reports surfaced that Sandra Sellers, an FSU student who dated Seminoles football player Josh Ball for a year and a half, had accused the offensive lineman of dating violence, including allegations that he physically attacked her on at least three occasions. In mid-May, in connection to those allegations, Ball was suspended by the university after a ruling by the school’s judicial panel and led him to play at the junior college level in 2018.
While there was speculation earlier this month that Ball would attempt to rejoin the Seminoles football team, the lineman posted on Twitter Thursday evening that his time in Tallahassee is over. Ball did, though, state that he is leaving the university “in good standing.”
“I have made the determination to stay closer to family and not return to Florida State even though I have been cleared and [am] in good standing to do so by the Florida State administration,” Ball wrote.
Ball started the last nine games of the 2017 season at left tackle for the Seminoles. Exiting spring practice this year, and with last year’s starter Rick Leonard no longer around due to expired eligibility, the redshirt sophomore was penciled in as FSU’s starting right tackle.
A Fredericksburg, Va., native, the 6-8, 335-pound Ball spent the 2018 football season at a Kansas junior college.
In November of last year, not even all the way through his first season with the Golden Gophers, P.J. Fleck was given a contract extension. A year and a month later, it’s lather, rinse and repeat on the contractual front.
Early Friday afternoon, Minnesota announced that the university and its head football coach had agreed to another contract extension. The extended deal was formally approved by the university’s Board of Regents earlier in the day.
With the tweaked contract, Fleck, whose original five-year contract was agreed to in January of 2017, is now signed through the 2023 season and on into 2024. Fleck made $3.35 million in 2018; there was no word on what if any financial adjustments were included in the extension.
“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead this team and represent the University of Minnesota and our great state,” a statement from Fleck began. “Our family loves living in Minnesota, and I look forward to leading our football program into the future. Through the academic, athletic, social and spiritual development of our student-athletes, and through recruiting, we are building a championship culture that our fans can be proud of.
“Heather and I are so thankful to our staff, [athletic director] Mark Coyle, President Kaler and the Board of Regents for seeing the vision we have for our football program. We are so excited and humbled with the contract extension!”
Taking over a program that won nine games in 2016, Fleck has guided the Gophers to records of 5-7 and 6-6 his first two seasons at the school. This year, Minnesota beat rival Wisconsin for the first time since 2003 and, in the process, became bowl-eligible for the first time under Fleck.
The extended Pitt football family is mourning the loss of one of the greatest Panthers ever.
Following a battle with cancer, Bill Fralic passed away Thursday, the football program announced in a press release Friday. The former Pitt All-American was 56 years old.
“Bill is truly one of the iconic figures in the history of Pitt Athletics,” athletic director Heather Lyke said in a statement. “He set a tremendous standard for our current generation of student-athletes, not only as an athlete but also for what he went on to accomplish once his playing days concluded. Bill’s reputation for giving back might even transcend his Hall of Fame football career. He was a passionate supporter of Pitt and Penn Hills. Our deepest sympathies to his wife, Susan, and his many loved ones and friends.
Fralic, whose No. 79 jersey was retired more than three decades ago, was a three-time first-team All-American at Pitt, earning unanimous honors his last two seasons with the Panthers. Twice Fralic finished in the Top 10 of the Heisman Trophy voting, the first-ever offensive lineman to do so.
Fralic’s prowess on the gridiron also led to a word that’s still a part of the football lexicon.
Fralic’s collegiate career led to the phrase “Pancake Block” being added to the football lexicon. Pitt publicists used “Pancakes” as a statistical barometer for each time Fralic put an opposing defensive lineman on his back.
The passing of Fralic comes less than a week after he paid for the hotel rooms for all of the players and coaches at Penn Hills High School, his alma mater which played for the PIAA Class 5A championship last Friday night.