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Clemson starting Kelly Bryant; FSU goes with Deondre Francois

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Perhaps the two most notable quarterback decisions to be made in the ACC have now been made. At Clemson, Kelly Bryant will be the starting quarterback when the defending ACC champions begin the new season this weekend at home against Furman. At Florida State, Deondre Francois will make his return as the starting quarterback for the Seminoles on Sunday night in Tallahassee against Virginia Tech in an ACC clash.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had been keeping his distance from naming a starter for the upcoming season all summer. Bryant was battling to keep the starting job from freshman sensation Trevor Lawrence. While the future of Clemson football may look incredibly bright with Lawrence in the fold, relying on experience with Bryant may have been one of the deciding factors. Clemson’s 2017 season ended with a thud against eventual national champion Alabama in the Sugar Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff, but Clemson had accumulated a 12-1 record with Bryant playing all 14 games for the Tigers last season. The only loss on the year prior to meeting Alabama was on the road at Syracuse, when Bryant was knocked out of the game with an injury.

Bryant completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,802 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Obviously, he had big shoes to fill in following Deshaun Watson as the starting quarterback, but the pressure to keep Clemson in the title hunt never really seemed to get to him.

Francois never really got a chance to get his 2017 started after being knocked out of Florida State’s season opener against Alabama last fall. Francois, a sophomore in 2017, completed 19 of 33 pass attempts for 210 yards and a touchdown against Alabama before having his season prematurely ended with a knee injury. Francois had come off an impressive freshman season in 2016, in which he passed for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns with seven interceptions and rushed for five additional touchdowns.

Francois has had an eventful offseason, of course. In April, Francois was suspected of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. The quarterback later agreed to enroll in a pre-arrest diversion program as a result. In January, Francois was cleared in a domestic violence investigation involving his girlfriend due to conflicting statements and a lack of independent witnesses led to an inability to press charges. With no legal liabilities standing in the way and with Francois appearing to be the most ideal fit to run the offensive style Willie Taggart wants to bring to Tallahassee, it was likely just a matter of how healthy Francois was before a starter was named.

With Clemson and Florida State now settled on starting quarterbacks, the ACC Atlantic Division race is now set to begin, with the Tigers likely still the team to beat and Florida State hoping to bounce back from a rough 2017 season to make some noise in the ACC championship hunt.

Kansas State WR Hunter Rison suspended following arrest for alleged domestic battery

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Kansas State wide receiver Hunter Rison, the son of former NFL wide receiver Andre Rison, has been suspended by the Wildcats following an arrest Friday afternoon. Rison was charged for an alleged domestic battery incident and has been freed on a bond. the suspension of Rison was announced by Kansas State on Saturday morning, according to The Mercury in Manhattan, Kansas.

“Our program will be one that is built on hard work and integrity and doing things the right way,” Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman said in a released statement. “We have extremely high expectations for our players on and off the field.”

For now, Kansas State will continue to monitor the situation as the legal process plays out, which is the typical operating procedure in cases like this. While details of the incident have not been shared, Rison was formally charged with one count of domestic battery/knowing or reckless bodily to family/person in a dating relationship.

Rison transferred to Kansas State from Michigan State last year and was slated to return to eligibility for the Wildcats this fall. Rison sat out the 2018 season under standard NCAA transfer rules after leaving the Spartans in East Lansing.

Nick Saban’s hip-replacement surgery scheduled for Monday

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We already knew that one of the greatest college football coaches in the history of the game was set to undergo a rather invasive medical procedure. Now, we know exactly when it’ll take place.

This past weekend, Nick Saban confirmed that he’ll have hip-replacement surgery at an unspecified time this offseason. Friday, USA Today was the first to report a specific date as the Alabama head coach is set to go under the knife this coming Monday. According to the Tuscaloosa News, the surgery will be performed that morning by Dr. Lyle Cain of Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center.

The procedure is expected to sideline Saban for a period of 6-8 weeks, a timeline that will allow the coach plenty of time to recuperate and rehabilitate ahead of the start of summer camp in early August.

That said, Saban’s biggest concern involves a sport that’s not football.

“The only thing I hate about it is, I’ll have to not play golf for six weeks or so,” Saban told USA Today. “… But this is the best time for me to do it. I do a lot of speaking and evaluating and film work and stuff like that, but we’re not practicing. Other than playing golf, I probably wouldn’t be very active. So this is the best time, and then it gives me a lot of summer to get back in shape.”

The 67-year-old Saban will be entering his 12th season with the Crimson Tide in 2019. “I don’t want to coach for one more year. I want to coach for a lot of more years,” the future College Football Hall of Famer said in explaining his decision to undergo the surgery at this point in time.

Jacksonville Jaguars taking over Gator Bowl operations as game faces financial difficulties

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NFL teams owning (or providing significant assistance) to a bowl game is nothing new in this day and age but you can add another to the list of operators as the Gator Bowl has turned to the Jacksonville Jaguars in an effort to cut costs and help save the 75-year-old postseason game for several more years.

The Jacksonville Daily Record first made note of the moves, which were announced at the Jaguars’ annual state of the franchise presentation on Thursday. The team will formally take over “ticket sales and back shop operations.” The Florida Times Union also provided more context on the moves, which note that contracts expire after the upcoming game on everything from the TV deal with ESPN to title game sponsorship agreement.

“We’re in negotiations now for everything,” said Gator Bowl CEO Rick Catlett. “We got a good deal overall with the city [on the stadium], but not a great deal. We got to get the city to give us the same deal as Georgia-Florida with rent, concessions and parking. “We have to step up our game. We’re not going to be the Poulan Weed-Eater [Independence] Bowl. My instructions from our board is to move it forward or we’re done.”

Ticket sales and local revenue dropping were cited as the most pressing concerns to the financial health of the bowl, which is one of the oldest in the sport and has been held continuously since 1946.

It will be interesting to see if these financial trends continue for both the Gator Bowl and others at large. We’ve seen more and more bowl games get added to the docket in college football over the years but one of the mainstays to the lineup facing such challenges could be a warning that the system in the College Football Playoff era isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Five college football officials joining NFL ranks for 2019 season

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The NFL draft is this week and hundreds of college football players will formally be making the jump to the pros as a result. They won’t be the only ones going from Saturday’s to Sunday’s this fall however.

Per the NFL’s Twitter account dedicated to all matters officiating, five officials from the college ranks are being bumped up to crews in the league:

All five of the college football officials were part of the NFL’s Officiating Development Program according to Football Zebras. The Memphis Commercial Appeal also notes that the five were also involved as officials in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football this spring. Based on that, it’s pretty clear that the group as a whole was really focused on moving up to the NFL at some point and now get the call up to the big leagues.