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UCF, UTEP, Pac-12 streak into new season, albeit not all in the same direction

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With the first full weekend of the 2018 college football season upon us, it’s time to bare down, strip away all the other nonsense and get to the meat of this post: streakers.

2017 national champion UCF* entered this season with the nation’s longest winning streak at 13 in a row. Thanks to Thursday’s thrashing of overmatched UConn, that streak now stands at 14 straight as Central Florida hasn’t dropped a game since a 31-13 Cure Bowl loss to Arkansas State on Dec. 17, 2016.

The only other FBS team with a double-digit winning streak at the moment is Lane Kiffin‘s FAU Owls, which have won 10 in a row after starting out the 2017 season 1-3. Northwestern, which dropped Purdue Thursday night, owns the longest Power Five plus streak at nine straight. The second-longest Power Five winning streak? Ohio State’s five in a row.

Troy, it should be mentioned since we’re here and all, has won seven straight for the fourth-longest winning streak in the country and second-longest amongst Group of Five teams.

Conversely, UTEP, which faces FCS Northern Arizona tonight, carries the burden of the nation’s longest losing streak at 12 straight. Four other FBS teams have double-digit streaks entering the new season — Kansas (11), Illinois (10) and Oregon State (10).

And then, bless their hearts, there’s the poor Pac-12.

Prior to Friday night’s action, 11 of the 12 schools in that Left Coast conference had entered the season on at least a one-game losing streak. Utah, which beat FCS Weber State Thursday night to stretch its winning streak to three games, was the only member of the conference that trundled its way into the 2018 season on a non-losing streak.

There was some good news on the losing streak front for the league Friday as both Stanford (31-10 over San Diego State) and Colorado (beatdown of in-state rival Colorado State) won last night, snapping losing streaks of two and three straight, respectively.

One final conference note: Alabama has the longest current winning streak in the SEC. While the reigning national champions holding that honor isn’t exactly a surprise, the fact that it’s a mere two in a row, and no other SEC team can even match it let alone top it, certainly raises an eyebrow.  Or at least an eyelash.

(*Don’t blame me, blame the NCAA and its 2018 FBS Records Book.)

NFL Network to air 10 Conference USA games each fall

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The NFL Network and Conference USA struck a deal that will see the league air 10 C-USA games, starting this fall.

“While exploring new media options for football, NFL Network stood out as an excellent opportunity for national exposure,” C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said. “We look forward to showcasing our conference through their tremendous platform and reach.”

The contract runs for four years, and will see NFL Network air one game a week for 10 weeks.

“We are excited to showcase the next generation of NFL athletes to our fans on a weekly basis,” said Hans Schroeder, Chief Operating Officer of NFL Media. “Our fans crave live football, and partnering with Conference USA – a conference which boasts several Hall of Fame players – provides us with an excellent opportunity to do so.”

Specific game announcements will be named at a later date. It’s an important move for C-USA, who has seen more and more of its games moved off of TV and onto streaming platforms, such as ESPN Plus, Stadium and Facebook. The league also has a TV deal with CBS Sports Network.

June Jones resurfaces as XFL Houston head coach

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The last we saw of June Jones, at least in the continental United States, he was mailing it in as SMU’s head coach. After leading the Ponies to four straight bowl trips from 2009-12, Jones watched SMU slip to 5-7 in 2013, then walked out the door after losing the first two games of the 2014 campaign by a combined score of 88-6. (That SMU team would finish the ’14 season at 1-11.) It seemed the then-61-year-old had given football all he had to give, at least on a competitive level.

Jones took 2015 off, then spent 2016 in a semi-retirement gig as the offensive coordinator at a high school in Hawaii.

But Jones must have really missed football, because he gave up the Hawaiian life to spend the past two seasons as head coach of the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and now he’s back stateside as the head coach of the XFL’s Houston franchise.

“I’ve spent a few years coaching in Houston, and having a chance to return to be a head coach in the XFL is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” said Jones. “I had a really great time coaching in the CFL, but this new fresh opportunity to build a team from the ground up is extremely rare in this game, and I’m looking forward to working with Brian Cooper and our coaches to give football fans in Houston a team that’s truly exciting to watch and worthy of their support.”

He was formally announced in a press conference at the University of Houston, and the as-yet-unnamed club will play its games at the Cougars’ TDECU Stadium.

It will be the fourth different professional league Jones has coached in, following stints in the USFL and NFL, in addition to six-plus seasons at SMU and eight at Hawaii.

The eighth of eight head coaches to join the league, Jones will join a roster that includes Bob Stoops and former Michigan offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
 

Father of LSU CB Kelvin Joseph says he’s not entering transfer portal after all

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Well, hold all that.

It was reported Monday morning that LSU sophomore cornerback Kelvin Joseph had entered the transfer portal, but on Monday afternoon Joseph’s father, Kelvin Joseph, Sr., told the New Orleans Times Picayune his

“He’s staying,” Joseph told the paper. “He’s not going anywhere.”

Joseph, Sr., confirmed to the paper that Kelvin had put his name in the portal, doing so Thursday after a trip to Florida with Baton Rouge-native rapper NBA YoungBoy. But by the time Joseph returned to Baton Rouge, whatever issue between he and LSU had been resolved — just in time for Joseph’s name to appear in the portal.

A top-50 recruit in the class of 2018, Joseph, a Baton Rouge native, played in five games as a true freshman last fall, collecting 12 tackles with a pass breakup. He is expected to battle with 5-star recruit Derek Stingley, Jr. for a starting role opposite senior Kristian Fulton. With Fulton out for the spring game, both Stingley and Joseph earned starts, a sign that the sophomore is in line for major snaps this fall.

And it appears Joseph intends to take those snaps after all.

USC considering dropping prohibition on scheduling FCS opponents

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Since Division I split into two subdivisions in 1978, only three FBS schools have refrained from scheduling FCS opponents — Notre Dame, UCLA and USC. That number soon could drop to two.

USC senior associate AD Steve Lopes sat down for an interview with The Athletic on USC’s scheduling philosophy and said the Trojans could soon schedule games with FCS opponents.

“If you start looking at the teams that are available, it’s very limited,” Lopes said. “We’re looking at schools that might not even be FBS, which I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. We may get criticized if and when we do it, but everybody does it. …  Are you going to die on that sword? You can play very good FCS schools that are better than some of the FBS schools you’ll play, the directional schools you’ll play.”

The purists will be upset by this… but they’ll be the only ones. It won’t affect the Trojans’ College Football Playoff chances — Alabama and Georgia already play FCS opponents each year. USC faces a nine-game Pac-12 regular season, an annual game with Notre Dame and, if the Trojans prove worthy, the Pac-12 North champion in their path to the Playoff.

And it likely won’t affect the Trojans’ gate, either. How many USC fans would have stayed home had the Trojans dropped UNLV from their 2018 opener for a game with Sacramento State?

Perhaps the purists would stay home, but nobody else would.