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Former Navy football player turned NASCAR driver pulls family from burning vehicle

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Jesse Iwuji was already a hero before he drove onto California’s Interstate 5 last Sunday. The former Navy football player and track and field athlete now races in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West, sort of the Triple-A of America’s highest stock car racing circuit.

After a 15th place finish in the Carneros 200 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on Saturday, June 23, then stuck around to watch the Toyota/Save Mart 300 the following day. While nearing the finish line of his 6-hour drive home, Iwuji noticed a family of four standing near a stranded minivan on the shoulder of Interstate 5. Leaning on his Naval training, Iwuji first tried to move the vehicle out of harm’s way and then, when the car could not be moved, pulled the family to safety.

“They were kind of going in and out of the van and underneath I saw a lot of fluid leaking from the motor and there was a small little fire that began to light,” he told the Associated Press. “Me, just from my background, military and also racing, we all know that flammable fluids can ignite pretty quick and start a huge fire pretty quick, so just instinctively I just stopped on the side of the road and I ran over to them.”

After helping the stranded family, Iwuji then posted a video to Twitter of the wreckage.

A native of Carrollton, Texas, Iwuji played defensive back for the Midshipmen, appearing in 24 career games from 2006-09.

“All I was doing was just being a decent person,” Iwuji said. “For me, it just comes from my background. Just being in the military, I’ve seen a lot of things happen, seen a lot of bad situations happen. Being in racing, I’ve seen a lot of bad situations happen. I just didn’t want that to happen to these folks.”

Navy, Ken Niumatalolo send condolences and prayers to victims in Capital Gazette shooting

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Another senseless mass shooting, this one less than an hour from our nation’s Capital, has had a profound impact on at least one FBS program.

Tuesday afternoon, a man later identified as 38-year-old Jarrod Warren Ramos opened fire inside the newsroom of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper in the Maryland capital of Annapolis.  Five people were killed and several others gravely wounded in what was described as a targeted attack launched by a man who had sued the newspaper and one of its columnists for defamation in 2012.

Annapolis is also the home of the United States Naval Academy.  A few hours after the massacre, the service academy’s football program and its head coach offered their deepest condolences and prayers to all of those impacted by the day’s events.

Bill Wagner, who covers Navy sports in general and the Midshipmen football program in particular, took to Twitter to confirm to his readers that he is indeed okay, “but many of my colleagues and friends are not.”

UCF AD thinks new AAC TV deal will be ‘on par’ with Power 6

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The offseason of UCF athletic director Danny White continues.

No, this isn’t another article about the Knights’ being national champions or releasing marketing studies or anything, even, to do with the upcoming season. No, this has to do with his conference’s upcoming television deal. The AAC’s rights expire after the 2019-20 season as is typically the case with such deals, negotiations for what happens starting in 2020 are going to commence in the coming months.

Per The Athletic’s Chris Vannini, those current deals with ESPN and CBS pay the league around $21 million a year and many around conference are expecting a big jump soon in the payouts.

“I don’t know how the first five years of our conference could have gone any better, with across-the-board success, particularly in football,” White said. “Whether you look at television ratings, competitive success, New Year’s Day bowl wins, we’ve way outperformed.

“I think our current deal is way undervalued, and everybody understands that. We’re all really confident we’ll get a much more significant television deal that puts us on par with where we should be, with the Power 6 conferences.”

Ok then.

While the AAC and those in the league continue to push that they are on par with the other Power Five conferences, that simply isn’t the case when you look at everything from actual NCAA governance to the cold hard cash each league receives. Even the much discussed Pac-12 Networks is contributing more to the conference’s schools than the $21 million the AAC receives and the league itself falls far short of its peers when it comes to total revenue. In 2016-17 alone, AAC revenue dropped below $75 million compared to over $500 million for the Pac-12, SEC and Big Ten each. Even in the Big 12, Texas alone takes in nearly as much TV revenue from the Longhorn Network (roughly $15 million a year) as the entire AAC does.

Given that the original deals were signed in 2013 with ESPN and CBS back when realignment was going crazy, White is absolutely correct in his assessment that  the current deal is a little undervalued and a solid increase is in the cards for the league in the not-to-distant future. But as far as that winding up coming close to what the Power Five are bringing in? It seems like a stretch to say the least.

AAC conference office moving from Providence to Dallas area in two years

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It’s all quiet on the conference realignment front but at least one conference is realigning where its offices are located.

The American Athletic Conference (AAC) has been based in Providence, Rhode Island ever since it split from the Big East back in 2013 but will be packing their bags for the Dallas area in two years when, the Dallas Morning News reports, their lease expires on their current office space.

“Dallas has become almost the epicenter of college football. I’ve made no bones about it, we’re planning to move our conference offices here,” commissioner Mike Aresco told the paper. “We think we belong closer to more of our schools. We’ve got a school (SMU) here, which means people are coming in all the time.”

Aresco isn’t wrong about Dallas being the epicenter of college football (though Atlanta would have a good argument) between the annual season-opening games at AT&T Stadium, the Cotton Bowl, several FBS teams in the area and a host of important groups based nearby. That includes the College Football Playoff, Conference USA, the Big 12 and the National Football Foundation, who are all based in North Texas and have their main offices located fairly close together near the suburb of Irving.

The move follows the league’s journey westward after a few rounds of expansion and will definitely make travel a little bit easier for everybody throughout the conference. While they will be going from one edge of AAC territory to another, it’s certainly more convenient to get to Dallas than into Providence and the league is already putting several events like the men’s basketball tournament in the region.

Perhaps the biggest unanswered question from all of this will be if the AAC keeps its famous clambake that kicks off media day every football season. Perhaps Tulane and the Texas schools have already mentioned transitioning the event to a crawfish boil.

Middle Tennessee State to add Alabama walk-on to roster

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Joseph Sewell, they hardly knew ye.  Or knew of ye, at least when it comes to the fans.

The ye in this case is Alabama, with Sewell announcing on Twitter that he has decided to transfer from the defending national champions.  Not only that, but the defensive lineman announced his transfer destination for good measure — Middle Tennessee State.

As Sewell hails from Murfreesboro, the home of the Blue Raiders, the landing spot is far from a surprise.  It should be noted, though, that MTSU, which didn’t offer him a scholarship coming out of high school interestingly enough, has yet to officially announce Sewell’s addition to the roster.

Sewell was a two-star 2017 recruit who walked on with the Crimson Tide last year after receiving offers from, among others, Vanderbilt, Army, Navy, Appalachian State, Miami (Ohio) and UT-San Antonio.  Suffice to say, he never played a down for ‘Bama.