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Charlotte plucks new head coach from FCS Austin Peay

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Charlotte’s new head coach may be an unfamiliar name to most college football fans, but it won’t be that way for long. The 49ers have officially announced Will Healy as their next head coach.

The 33-year-old (as in, he’s 33 years old today) had never been a head coach when he was named the head coach at Austin Peay, an FCS school from the Ohio Valley Conference in Cookeville, Tenn., ahead of the 2016 season. The Governors’ program was the worst in Division I at the time, and went 0-11 in Healy’s first season. However, Austin Peay rocketed forward to 8-4 in 2017, going 7-1 in OVC play and narrowly missing the FCS playoffs.

It’s that program building expertise Charlotte is banking on as the 49ers look to build their young program. Healy has drawn comparisons to Dabo Swinney from…. me.

“We are thrilled that Will and his family will be joining Niner Nation,” said 49ers AD Mike HIll. “When we set out to hire a coach, our goal was to find someone who will energize and transform the 49ers into a championship program. Will is that man. Across the country he is recognized as one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the nation. His name came up time and again throughout our search as someone who is a relentless, proven recruiter who has seen remarkable success. On top of that, he places a high value on culture and developing student-athletes.”

Like the head coach it just hired, Charlotte is viewed as a program with potential. The 49ers play in a new, on-campus stadium and are located in one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the nation with hundreds of recruits within a 300-mile radius.

“In my first conversation with Mike Hill, I told him that I would walk to Charlotte to talk to him about this job,” said Healy. “This is a special place – a young football program with tremendous University leadership located in a first-class city. We can recruit and develop excellent student-athletes here and we can compete at a very high level. We’re thrilled to be part of this University and community. I can’t wait to get started.”

Healy takes over for Brad Lambert, who led the program since its inception in 2013. After going 1-11 in 2017, the 49ers rebounded to go 5-7 in 2018 and 4-4 in Conference USA, but it wasn’t enough to save Lambert’s job.

Charlotte originally pursued another FCS head coach in James Madison’s Mike Houston, but he opted for East Carolina instead.

WVU wideout Dillon Spalding transfers to James Madison, will play against old team in Week 1

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In the NFL, you’ll often see teams sign a player who was just cut off another team the week or two before they wind up playing that opponent. We could sort of have a college football version of that scenario in the case of wide receiver Dillon Spalding.

The former West Virginia redshirt freshman announced on Twitter that he had committed to James Madison and would be transferring to join the team in 2019. The team’s opponent in Week 1? None other than the Mountaineers in Morgantown.

Of course any knowledge Spalding might bring with him is limited given that both JMU and WVU have new coaching staffs in place this year. The former three-star recruit is moving a little closer to his Lorton, Va. hometown and will have all four years of eligibility remaining between redshirting last season due to an injury and the drop down to the FCS level.

The Dukes have added a solid amount of FBS talent recently for new coach Curt Cignetti. In addition to Spalding, former Penn State wide receiver Brandon Polk joined the program this offseason and both will catch passes from ex-Pitt QB Ben DiNucci.

Wildcats see attendance spike after allowing beer and wine sales at Arizona Stadium in 2018

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Arizona posted a disappointing 5-7 campaign in Kevin Sumlin’s first season in Tucson but Arizona fans still came out and enjoyed themselves thanks, in part, to the school allowing beer and alcohol sales for the first time.

As the Arizona Daily Star reports, attendance for the Wildcats home football games actually ticked up last year an average of 2,804 people while incidents of ejections at the stadium did the same — though were below historic averages.

“We’ve been very pleased with the rollout across the board in Arizona Stadium and McKale,” athletic director Dave Heeke said. “This was really focused around a number of things that we’ve done in the area of fan amenities and food service, and beverage selection was a key component.”

Some 43 people were kicked out of seven home games at UA, which is double the 21 from 2017 but well below the numbers the school reported for seasons when they played in-state rival Arizona State. It seems that Territorial Cup contest was the biggest indicator of above-average ejections in a year though game-by-game data was not given.

“I really haven’t noticed an increase in any type of criminal behavior due to beer and wine sales,” UAPD spokesman Sgt. Sean Shields told the paper. “Obviously from year to year the ejections and different numbers change and they fluctuate, but it’s very hard to pinpoint the reason why those happen.”

The amount of revenue generated by beer and alcohol sales wasn’t detailed by the school but Heeke noted it covered the additional costs on game days and the profit overall wasn’t hugely significant. Still, it seems the atmosphere at Arizona Stadium was still enough to lure fans into their seats despite plenty of late starts and a football team that was largely up-and-down in 2018.

Ex-FAU defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro joins Kansas staff in off-the-field role

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Not many people can say they worked for the very different styles of head coaches Lane Kiffin and Les Miles back-to-back but Tony Pecoraro certainly can.

The recently let go Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator has apparently landed a new gig in Lawrence as a senior defensive analyst, primarily serving under Jayhawks DC D.J. Eliott.

Pecoraro took over the Owls defense in 2018 after spending the previous two seasons running things on that side of the ball for Southern Miss. Things didn’t quite work out in Boca however as FAU couldn’t get off the field like they did in Kiffin’s first year and allowed 31.8 points per game.

The veteran coordinator, who has Power Five assistant experience from a stint at Florida State, was replaced at FAU by longtime Oklahoma State DC Glenn Spencer back in December.

Wisconsin unlikely to join trend of selling beer and alcohol at football games anytime soon

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Wisconsin fans are known to hold more than their own when it comes to enjoying an adult beverage or two before, during and after Badgers football games but they apparently will have to keep waiting for the opportunity to buy a cold one at Camp Randall on game days.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, a decision on whether or not to allow beer/alcohol sales in the general seating sections of the stadium rests with school chancellor Rebecca Blank and that she is not inclined to change the status quo on such prohibition anytime soon.

“The university believes that there is already an atmosphere of energy and excitement around Badger game days,” a school statement to the paper read. “The addition of alcohol to general seating areas isn’t needed to improve that experience and could detract from it for our students and fans.”

Just in the last two months, Indiana, Rutgers and Illinois have turned on the taps for football games in 2019. That will result in fully half of Big Ten schools allowing such sales in general seating areas as a result this season and it’s turned into yet another lucrative revenue stream for those that have too.

Wisconsin appears resistant to the idea however, doing so in the face of declining attendance for games too. While it is certainly too early to remark ‘never say never’ when it comes to the Badgers, it’s pretty clear this trend isn’t making its way to Madison anytime soon.