UConn is officially leaving the AAC for the Big East in basketball and other sports, and the football program is being left stranded in the great unknown. Earlier today, the Big East formally welcomed back one of their former storied programs in a press conference. Once that news was officially announced, the American Athletic Conference issued its own statement regarding the decision by UConn. In a brief statement, the AAC wished UConn well moving forward and directed its focus to the exit process for the Huskies and the conference.
“The University of Connecticut has announced its withdrawal from the American Athletic Conference,” a statement from AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said. “We wish UConn well.”
“We will next address the exit procedure mandated by our conference bylaws,” Aresco’s statement continued. “Our conference will continue to move forward in pursuit of its national goals in football, men’s and women’s basketball, and Olympic sports.”
It was previously reported the AAC will stick to 11 members in football following the departure of UConn after the upcoming 2019 season, which will be the last for UConn as a conference member. Other rumors have suggested schools like Army and BYU could be top candidates to join the AAC in some capacity, although the official public word from the AAC has done nothing to suggest that may be the case. For now, the focus is more on managing the exit process and getting UConn to pay its full buyout fee to the conference.
UConn appears to be heading toward life as an FBS independent as invites from the MAC and Conference USA do not appear to be in the mail.
You know we are getting close to award season in college football because it seems this week has been filled with announcements about semifinalists for every award possible. Welcome to the party, Lott IMPACT Trophy. A total of nine semifinalists were announced by the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is awarded to the best defensive player with a focus on success on and off the field, integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.
The nine semifinalists for this year’s Lott IMPACT Trophy are:
- Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
- Cole Christiansen, LB, Army
- Jordan Fuller, DB, Ohio State
- Brandon Jones, DB, Texas
- Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
- Chris Orr, LB, Wisconsin
- Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
- Curtis Weaver, DL, Boise State
- Evan Weaver, LB, Cal
Linebacker remains a strong position for the Lott IMPACT Trophy this season, with five of the nine semifinalists playing a linebacker position.
This year’s recipient of the Lott IMPACT Trophy will be announced on Dec. 15 at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach. This list of nine semifinalists will be trimmed down to four finalists prior to the announcement.
Kentucky’s Josh Allen took home the award last season.
Former Baylor quarterback Peyton Powell has a new football home in the Pac-12. Powell announced on Thursday he is heading to Utah to join the Utes program.
“It’s time for me to clear the air and I WILL be doing that at THE University of Utah,” Powell said in a statement share don his Twitter account on Thursday afternoon.
Powell came to Baylor with the hopes of being able to compete and play quarterback for the Bears. That opportunity was one of the reasons Baylor ended up winning his commitment out of high school, while many schools hoping to sign the four-star athlete could find ways to use his athleticism at different positions. Powell, a member of the Baylor Class of 2019, has not played this season and will have four years of eligibility remaining. NCAA rules would force Powell to sit out the 2010 season before being ruled eligible to play, but he may be given a chance to play right away considering he did not play during his freshman year at Baylor.
As a year of disappointing results comes down the final stretch for the Arizona Wildcats, changes are already in the air for Kevin Sumlin and the program. On Thursday, Arizona continued to go through the process of overhauling its defensive coaching staff with the firing of defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei.
News of the coaching change was first reported by Jason Scheer of Wildcat Authority. According to that same report, defensive analyst Greg Patrick will be moved into the position of defensive line coach, at least for the remainder of the current season.
Arizona ranks 73rd nationally in rushing defense, 113th in sacks, and 119th in tackles for a loss. These are all stats most commonly used to evaluate the performance of the defensive line, and the results this late in the season just simply aren’t good any way you look at it.
A month ago, Arizona parted ways with defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and linebackers coach John Rushing. Uiagalelei is the third defensive coach to be removed from the staff during the 2019 season.
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is attempting to do something that has only been done twice before by winning the Doak Walker Award in back-to-back seasons. Taylor was one of the 10 semifinalists revealed by the Doak Walker Award on Thursday, putting last year’s top running back one step closer to pulling off the rare feat on the college football award circuit.
Taylor will have some stiff competition for the award this season. Among the other semifinalists for the award include Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s rushing leader with 1,726 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns (Taylor has 1,463 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in the same number of games as Hubbard).
Darren McFadden of Arkansas is the most recent player to win the Doak Walker Award in back-to-back seasons, doing so in 2006 and 2007. The only other player to win the award in consecutive seasons, and the only other two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award, is Ricky Williams of Texas. Williams won the award in 1997 and 1998. Taylor joined former Wisconsin running backs Melvin Gordon (2014), Montee Ball (2012) and Ron Dayne (1999) to move Wisconsin into first place for most all-time Doak Walker Award winners. Texas also has four awards won, but by three players (Ricky Williams twice, Cedric Benson in 2004 and D’Onta Foreman in 2016).
The other semi-finalists for the Doak Walker Award this year include LeVante Bellamy of Western Michigan (21 touchdowns leads the nation), AJ Dillon of Boston College, JK Dobbins of Ohio State, Clyde Edwards-Helaire of LSU, Travis Etienne of Clemson, Kenneth Gainwell of Memphis, Xavier Jones of SMU, Zack Moss of Utah.