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National college football columnist. FWAA Super 16 voter. Travel virtuoso.
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Colorado, Arizona State joining trend to expand alcohol sales at games

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Pac-12 football after dark could take on a whole new meaning going forward in both Tempe and Boulder.

According to the Arizona Republic and The Denver Post, both Arizona State and Colorado are joining in on college football’s latest trend by expanding beer and wine sales to each of their respective stadiums’ general concourse areas.

“Coinciding with the reinvention of Sun Devil Stadium, and aligning with local and national sports and entertainment venues, we are continuing to enhance security measures for the safety of our fans, while also offering expanded concession options,” ASU athletic director Ray Anderson said in a statement. “These impending enhancements, compiled with the most unique stadium setting in college football, continues to transform Sun Devil Stadium into truly a one-of-a-kind fan atmosphere.”

Both venues used to sell alcohol during games but did away with the policy for well over a decade, eventually bringing it back in limited aspects in recent seasons. For example, the Buffs installed two beer gardens in 2014 per the Post.

Now the Pac-12 South schools will join many of their league peers in opening up the taps for the majority of fans at home games. Just this offseason, Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State all expanded beer and wine sales to general seating while also making changes to entry/exit policies to help out with security as well. The moves are no doubt designed to add a new revenue stream to everybody’s coffers but the side effect of less binge drinking during games is certainly part of the equation as well.

That’s all good news to those who like to enjoy a nice beverage during games this season, especially if the Sun Devils and Buffs endure a rough outing or two at home this year.

West Virginia reportedly looking to end relationship with Papa John’s

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The fallout over racist comments from the founder of Papa John’s are continuing to spill over into college football, with West Virginia becoming the latest program to take a look at their deals with the pizza company.

Per the Daily Athenaeum, Mountaineers officials confirmed that they are exploring their options with regards to Papa John’s and a split between the two parties is on the table before the season starts in Morgantown.

“We’re having conversations internally, externally and then we will come to a decision hopefully here in the very near future about what the involvement looks like for this season and moving forward,” Matt senior associate athletic director Matt Wells told the paper. “Our relationship has been with the local franchisee, not necessarily corporate, so that’s why we’re taking our time and having some very thorough discussions before we make any final decisions on what the relationship looks like this season.”

The university as a whole is also looking into their relationship with Papa John’s and likely will come to some sort of agreement about what to do with the athletic department. The Athenaeum reports Papa John’s is one of 19 corporate partners for the Mountaineers and is the only pizza company on the list.

Should WVU parts ways, they’ll be one of several schools who have put quite a bit of distance between them and Papa John’s over the past month. Louisville famously took the name off their stadium at the beginning of August and others like Oregon State have suspended their deals with the company.

The Mountaineers open the year against Tennessee with a neutral site game but return to Morgantown for their home opener against Youngstown State on September 8.

Kentucky ponies up $800K to move game vs. Eastern Michigan from Ypsilanti to Lexington

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We were ever so close to seeing an SEC team take the field on the grey turf of Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti but alas, it’s not meant to be.

According to Catspause.com, Kentucky has ponied up $800,000 to change their contract with Eastern Michigan and the two schools will instead get together in Lexington for a scheduled 2019 meeting.

“Previously we were going to be paying (UK) money to come up here and in turn it’ll be a payday for us,” Eastern Michigan associate AD for athletic media relations Greg Steiner told the site. “Certainly if you look at it from a financial point of view, we could not have made the $800,000 in 2019 off of a home game here at our stadium. It made financial sense and a good opportunity for us knowing our team competed exceptionally well last season in Lexington.”

“We are thrilled to be hosting an eighth home game next season,” Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart added in a statement. “Eastern Michigan approached us about moving our football game with them next season and we were happy to accommodate. It’s win-win for both parties, with us getting to play at Kroger Field and Eastern Michigan securing funds that will be helpful to their department.”

The move alters what was originally a two-for-one home game series between the Eagles and Wildcats. UK won the first meeting in Lexington last season and now will see EMU twice more in 2019 and 2020. Some additional compensation for the visitors was added for the 2020 contest as well according to the report.

The changes also give Kentucky the benefit of having a whopping eight home games for the 2019 season and only leave the state four times in 2020. In fact, the next time the Wildcats will play a non-conference game outside the commonwealth will be all the way out in 2023 when they are set to play at Akron.

Something says the Zips might want to get on the horn and check in about following the lead of their MAC brethren because Kentucky apparently isn’t a stranger to helping out the bottom line for others by moving games to a more favorable venue.

Alabama announces future Bryant-Denny Stadium renovation, Nick Saban donates $1 million to the effort

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The old adage bigger is always better no longer seems true in college athletics and that includes the best around apparently.

Alabama on Thursday afternoon announced a sweeping set of capital improvements to their sports facilities as part of a new 10-year, $600 million athletics fundraising push. Chief among the changes will be a renovation of Bryant Denny Stadium that includes a slight reduction in capacity.

The move will see a complete reworking of the south end zone area and will include a huge new video board, an increased number of luxury box suites, a relocated press box and additional renovations throughout the rest of the stadium. Naturally, a fancy new locker room for the Crimson Tide will also be on tap.

via Alabama Athletics

Perhaps the most notable aspect of all the changes? Alabama will actually be reducing capacity at Bryant Denny and likely will dip below the 100,000 mark as a result of the changes. This kind of downsizing has been a growing trend in college football but comes just eight years after the school expanded their stadium to top six-figures.

Should the entire project be approved by the university board, construction is expected to begin after the 2019 season concludes in Tuscaloosa.

According to AL.com, a total of $143 million is already committed to the project and it received a further boost thanks to none other than Nick and Terry Saban, who pledged $1 million for the renovations.

Given that the school is paying Saban over $10 million on a regular basis each season, both he and the program can certainly afford things even with that big price tag. Perhaps the better question is if Saban himself will be coaching the team when the new venue opens.

Oregon unveils new uniforms for 2018 while limiting options

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It truly is a new era at Oregon under Mario Cristobal and the biggest representation of that just might be in the Ducks’ uniforms. Well, perhaps that’s the lack of uniforms more to the point.

On Wednesday, the school unveiled their set of uniform combinations for the 2018 season and while there are certainly some colorful designs, the most notable aspect of the launch was the fact that there were only four –yep, count ’em four — different designs the program will use this year.

“These designs are a representation of Coach Cristobal’s direction for the football program: no-nonsense, discipline, strength and speed,” said Todd Van Horne, Nike’s creative director for football, in a statement. “This uniform reflects those values.”

The school added in their release: “The Ducks continue to zig while others zag; on the field, Cristobal wants to pair Oregon’s speed and explosiveness with punishing, physical play from a mammoth offensive line. Nike looked to amplify that philosophy with uniforms that exude strength and dominance through clean, bold reliance on solid colors.”

So gone are the days where there was a new uniform combination for every single game in Eugene, a “tradition” (if you call it that) that really came into vogue at the program under Chip Kelly. Though the options are more limited in 2018, we certainly can’t say that Oregon went conservative at all with their new look given the big, bold numbering and highlighter colors used.

Still, compared to the past, the program is going down right super conservative under Cristobal based on this.