National college football columnist. FWAA Super 16 voter. Travel virtuoso.
Cue Clay Davis because the birthplace of college football has a new name and fans probably can’t wait to make fun of it.
Rutgers announced on Friday that they have agreed to a new stadium naming rights deal with SHI International Corp. that will see the Scarlet Knights’ home rebranded over the next seven years into SHI Stadium. The venue was officially known as HighPoint.com Stadium last year but the naming rights deal with what most know as High Point Solutions expired this offseason.
“As the State University of New Jersey, we are thrilled to partner with SHI,” Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs said in a statement. “Headquartered right here in Somerset, SHI proudly embraces its strong Rutgers ties. As we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of college football here at the Birthplace, we are delighted to partner with a company that shares in our Relentless Pursuit of Excellence. This partnership will positively impact athletics, the university and the New Jersey community.”
Terms were not announced by the school but “a person familiar with the contract told NJ Advance Media it’s a 7-year deal starting at $1.25 million and increasing by $100,000 annually to $1.85 million in 2025-26.” At a total of nearly $10 million over the lifetime of the contract, that isn’t quite what other Power Five programs have fetched but a still significant bump over the previous $600,000 a year the school got.
The Scarlet Knights previously played at Rutgers Stadium up until 2011. The first football game at the newly renamed stadium will happen on Aug. 30 against UMass.
Are you a starting center for 2019? Good, because chances are high you made the Rimington Trophy watch list.
The Rimington Trophy Committee released their annual pre-season watch list for the award given to the nation’s best center and remarkably, 80 of the 130 FBS teams were represented on the list. While watch lists are always notable for their length and being sometimes too broad, it kind of feels like everybody who is in line to start was granted a place on this year’s edition.
Among the notable names were Clemson’s Sean Pollard, Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz, Michigan State’s Matt Allen, Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey, Notre Dame’s Jarrett Patterson, Stanford’s Drew Dalman, Washington’s Nick Harris and LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry III.
You can find the full list of centers nominated here.
The winner of the award will be announced in early December along with a host of other college football honors. The winner will then be recognized at the Rimington Trophy Presentation in Lincoln, Nebraska on January 18, 2020.
Being a tight end in today’s version of college football means you’re a player wearing many hats.
While blocking is emphasized less than ever before, players at the position still need to do it in addition to splitting out wide, running reverses and lining up all over the field in a variety of offensive sets. This year’s annual watch list for the 2019 Mackey Award includes a host of players who can do it all and leave an impact between the lines that can make them a headache for opposing defensive coordinators.
While the entire list includes just about every starter at the position in the country, some of the headliners for the upcoming season include Washington’s Hunter Bryant, Oklahoma’s Grant Calcaterra, Alabama’s Miller Forristall, Memphis’ Joey Magnifico, Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam, Stanford’s Colby Parkinson and Vandy’s Jared Pinkney.
The full list of players on the Mackey Award watch list can be found here.
Last year’s winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, who later became a top 10 draft pick for the Detroit Lions the following spring.
Jim Harbaugh hasn’t yet conquered the Big Ten but he sure is trying his best to plant the Michigan flag all around the globe.
Speaking to reporters at the conference’s media days on Friday, the Wolverines head coach was asked about his program playing an actual football game abroad and he indicated that plans are in the works for just that.
“Yeah, you know, we like travel. Mexico City would be great,” Harbaugh remarked. “I know you can talk about this, we’re scheduling — I think we’re really close to announcing, actually, playing another team on foreign soil. I won’t say what it is because — have you heard anything about this? Then I’d better not say it because we’re probably not ready to release that yet. But I think there’s something really imminent. There will be an announcement soon on that.”
Michigan AD Warde Manuel played coy in a subsequent message to the Detroit News and said nothing was finalized but the school may do just that at some point.
Harbaugh has already taken his team to Italy, France and South Africa for visits during the spring but this would be the first time he’s indicated something for the fall. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany indicated he would be in favor of playing a game somewhere like Mexico City on Thursday but did not seem to suggest that anything was in the works for a game to be played south of the border in the near term.
It’s not known if the Wolverines are thinking about taking a conference or non-conference game abroad but something says they can find a willing partner from the Pac-12 if so.
If you can’t beat ’em, hire ’em?
Seems like that is the case this week as Yahoo! Sports says that famed attorney Thomas Mars is switching sides from battling the NCAA for player eligibility waivers and will instead join the NCAA’s new “Complex Case Unit.”
Mars recently announced that he was getting out of the business of representing players in their battles with Indianapolis to become immediately eligible. While he cited overwhelming demand as one reason for getting out of that line of work, it seems wanting to pursue other opportunities was the more notable aspect of him leaving — in this case going to work for the very people he once sat across from (albeit in a different department now).
In addition to handling high-profile cases like Michigan’s Shea Patterson and Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Mars also popped onto the college football radar for his work handling Houston Nutt’s lawsuit against Ole Miss.
The Complex Case Unit, which is not an upcoming version of Law & Order: NCAA, is something born out of the commission looking into the federal college basketball scandal. Per Yahoo!, it “is expected to be comprised of a combination of external investigators and members of the NCAA enforcement staff that is tasked to handle the more complicated and large-scale investigations of potential NCAA rules violations.”
It seems Mars is one of those external investigators who will be part of the group in an interesting move from the NCAA.