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Randy Edsall releases statement as UConn trustees approve move back to Big East

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The future of the UConn football program is as foggy to predict as it may have ever been. On Wednesday, the UConn Board of Trustees formally voted to approve the school’s move back to the Big East for non-football sports, with basketball at the forefront of the call to change conference affiliation. The move will make sense for UConn basketball programs but leaves the future of the football program heading into unchartered waters with not a ton of options to work with.

Now that UConn’s leaders have voted to move forward with a reunion with the Big East, the school must now determine what happens to the football Huskies. UConn currently is set to play the upcoming 2019 season in the American Athletic Conference. While it is not quite officially a parting of the ways for the AAC and UConn on the football field, the general assumption is the Huskies will play one final season in the conference before beginning to play as an independent football program once again, just as it did when the school moved up from the FCS to the FBS prior to joining the Big East. The AAC is expected to remain at 11 members, but this type of story leads to plenty of rumors that carry various amounts of weight at any given moment. This time as an independent will be different than the last time, as it was part of the plan for the Huskies to join the Big East in football after moving up from the FCS to essentially replace Temple, which was ousted by the Big East. Now, there is no clear future vision for the program other than to move forward.

Now the Big East is set to hold a grand press conference at Madison Square Garden in New York on Thursday to officially welcome UConn back to the conference. The event will include appearances by UConn leaders, including athletic director David Benedict and men’s and women’s basketball coaches Dan Hurley and Geno Auriemma. Basketball first. Basketball second. Football…?

That puts head football coach Randy Edsall in one of the toughest positions as a head coach of a college football program. How do you sell your program when there are so many questions about its future?

As far as Edsall is concerned, you focus just on the things you can control.

“As I told my TEAM on Sunday afternoon, we have a schedule for 2019 and that is what we have been preparing for since January and they have been doing a great job of staying focused and not allowing any distractions to get in the way of our preparation and training,” Edsall said in a released statement to the media earlier today.

“All my focus and work has been on getting this program and facilities back to where we all want it regardless of WHERE WE PLAY OR WHO WE PLAY [Note: emphasis kept as written in Edsall’s statement], so I’m leaving the decision up to the Board of Trustees, University Leadership and Athletic Director to find the best situation for our Football Program.,” Edsall continued in his statement. “Myself, my staff and my players will not address this situation in the future as our focus is all on the 2019 season which is right around the corner.”

Oh, how naive of Edsall to think this subject won’t be brought up again. Don’t forget that conference media days are coming up quickly. How this subject is discussed at AAC media days will be something to watch form a variety of angles.

But in all honesty, what more is Edsall supposed to do at this point? As much power and responsibility, we think head football coaches have, they are still at the will of the leaders above them. This isn’t a football power we are discussing either, as anyone who has been watching UConn can say. This is a rare situation in which basketball comes first, and UConn clearly sees that as the priority, which is OK. For UConn, at least.

Edsall may not be particularly happy about what is going on that is out of his control, but there’s nothing he can really do about it. The decisions have been made and the wheels are in motion for UConn’s transition as an athletics program. How long Edsall stands by to lead the Huskies into the great unknown remains to be seen.

With felony sexual assault of a minor charges dismissed, suspended LSU lineman Ed Ingram reinstated

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An off-field odyssey that’s lasted more than a baker’s dozen months has led Ed Ingram back into the good graces of the LSU football program.

Friday, it was confirmed that two felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a minor that Ingram had been facing in Dallas have been dismissed.  Not long after, the Tigers confirmed that Ingram has been reinstated to the football team.

“Our whole team and our LSU family welcomes Ed Ingram back,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement. “He is an outstanding football player, an integral part of our football team, and family and we are excited to have him back with us.”

In early August of 2018, it was confirmed that Ingram had been indefinitely suspended for violating unspecified team rules.  It was subsequently confirmed that, prior to the suspension, Ingram had been arrested on felony sexual assault charges involving a minor in connection to incidents that occurred prior to the offensive lineman signing with the Tigers in 2017.

No details of the events that led up to the arrest and subsequent charges — or the reasons behind the charges being dismissed — have been released publicly.

Ingram was a four-star member of LSU’s 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 13 offensive guard in the country.  He started 12 games at right guard as a true freshman.

While Ingram has been reinstated, he won’t play for LSU this weekend.

LOOK: Georgia grocery store removes Irish Spring soap from shelves ahead of Notre Dame-UGA

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Even for a non-conference matchup, the South has hilariously shown once again that it takes its college football very seriously.

No. 7 Notre Dame has traveled to Athens to take on No. 3 Georgia in the most high-profile matchup in Week 4 of the 2019 season.  The two bluebloods aren’t exactly rivals — they’ve faced each other twice, the most recent in 2017 (one-point UGA win in South Bend) and the first coming in the Sugar Bowl following the 1980 regular season.

The lack of history between the Bulldogs and Fighting Irish, though, didn’t stop one grocery store in the vicinity of the UGA campus from hating on this week’s enemy as it removed its entire supply of Irish Spring soap from its shelves in the week leading up to the Top 25 matchup.

College football, y’all!

In the days leading up to tonight’s primetime affair, the sportsbooks really liked UGA as the Bulldogs were listed as anywhere from a 14- to 15-point favorite; as of this posting, the Bulldogs are listed as a 14.5 favorite according to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.

Three current FBS players, all Aussie kickers/punters, are age 30 or over

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While it seems like the quarterback position in college football is trending younger and younger these days, kicking specialists at a couple of schools are trending in the opposite direction.

Seniors Wade Lees and Dane Roy are punters at UCLA and Houston, respectively.  Junior James Stefanou (pictured), meanwhile, is a kicker at Colorado.

All three were born in Australia, with Stefanou and Lees hailing from Melbourne while Roy is from Bunyip, about 50 miles southeast of the state of Victoria’s capital.  All three came to the United States after training at ProKick Australia, and all three are also married.

What else do they have in common?  They’re all significantly older than your average students.  They’re also much older than your average medical school students as each individual in the kicking trio is at least 30 years old, as captured Thursday night by our own Bryan Fischer.

Lees, who transferred to UCLA from Maryland this offseason, and Roy are in their final seasons of eligibility, but Stefanou has another year he can use.  With an April 15th birthday, Stefanou will be 33 years old when the 2020 season kicks off.

Despite that “advanced” age, Stefanou won’t be the oldest player ever at the FBS level as that honor belongs to Tim Frisby, who walked on at South Carolina in 2004 at the age of 39 and played for both Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier.  In 2005, at the age of 40, Frisby, a former U.S. Army Ranger who had served in the first Gulf War as well as Kosovo, caught one pass for nine yards.

In 2016, Joe Thomas Sr. became the oldest player ever at the Div. 1 level when he suited up for FCS South Carolina State.

In 2011, 61-year-old Alan Moore kicked an extra point in an NAIA game to become the oldest player in the history of college football at any level.  Four years before that, 59-year-old Mike Flynt suited up and played for Div. III Sul Ross State.

USC takes charge in Pac-12 South after upset of No. 10 Utah

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Late Friday night saw the first upset of the weekend in college football. No. 10 Utah (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) was upset on the road by USC (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12), 30-23, despite the Trojans playing with a third-string quarterback and the Pac-12 officials throwing enough flags to fill five loads of laundry. The win by USC moves the Trojans into a comfortable spot in the Pac-12 South before even getting to October.

USC lost starting quarterback Kedon Slovis on the second play of the game. After Slovis left to be evaluated for a possible head injury, third-string quarterback Matt Fink stepped in to lead the offense. All Fink did was lead USC to touchdowns on their first two possessions of the game and then make some big passes in the second half to keep the Trojans in front of Utah. Fink ended his night off the bench with 351 passing yards and three touchdowns. Michael Pittman Jr. was on the receiving end of 10 of those receptions for a massive 232 receiving yards. The highlight of the night was a 77-yard touchdown pass that saw Pittman come down with a jump ball and then push aside a would-be tackler on his way to the endzone.

A win is a win, fo course, and USC will take them any way they can. On Friday night in the Coliseum, they had to overcome an onslaught of bad penalties. USC was flagged 11 times for 117 yards. Utah had their share of laundry too with 16 penalties called for 120 yards. Both teams were guilty of personal foul penalties as the game was certainly chippy at times. But some of the penalties were questionable at best. Neither coach will walk away from this game feeling great about the discipline or the officiating, as there was plenty of blame to go around in this one.

Utah had their chances to come away with the win, but an inability to defend deep jump ball passes by Fink killed them too often. The Utes ran for 247 yards as a team but managed just one touchdown on the ground. Quarterback Tyler Huntley put his team on the back for much of the night with 210 passing yards and 60 rushing yards, but it was not enough as defenders were able to get to him and bring him under pressure.

In the end, it was just USC’s night, and it was one Clay Helton really needed. For now, USC can live in the moment and not have to worry about distractions about the future of Helton. USC is already 2-0 in conference play with wins against Stanford and Utah. The road is not going to get any easier, with a road game at Washington coming up next week, followed by a trip to South Bend, Indiana to play Notre Dame. But USC ha splayed themselves into a favorable spot in the Pac-12 by being 2-0 and owning a head-to-head tiebreaker with Utah. That gives USC a margin for error in conference play, and they look to be the best team within the Pac-12 South the rest of the season.

While we should be wise not to pencil USC into the Pac-12 championship game just yet (remember, third-string QB and they still have Washington and Oregon to play in a difficult crossover division rotation), but there have been some true signs of promise for the Trojans early on this season. And bouncing back from a hard-fought loss at BYU last week to knock off No. 10 Utah is quite a turnaround for USC.

As USC hits the road to challenge Washington next week, Utah will look to rebound at home in Salt Lake City against Washington State. As of the conclusion of the USC-Utah game, the Washington State Cougars were one of three undefeated teams in the Pac-12 left standing (Cal, Arizona State).