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NIU schedules trip to Notre Dame for 2024, Kentucky in 2022

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MACtion is about to wake up some echoes and tee off against some SEC speed in the near future.

Northern Illinois announced on Thursday that the school has added two big non-conference games to their future schedule, playing Kentucky in Lexington on Sept. 24, 2022 and Notre Dame in South Bend on Sept. 7, 2024.

“The CFP has given us the road map. They have sent the message that they want the entire body of work and it really does matter who you play and who you schedule,” Huskies AD Sean Frazier said a Q&A announcing the moves. “Making sure that we play the likes of Notre Dame, Kentucky, etc. so that, at the end of the year, we’re in those conversations for a January 1 or an Access Bowl bid. I think to get there you must schedule strategically not just for year 2019 but for year 2025.”

Now that they’re firmly on the schedule, the contests against both the Irish and Wildcats will be their first ever meeting with NIU on the football field.

The Huskies also announced a slate of lower profile games to fill out their future schedules as well. The program added a home-and-home with UMass for 2024 (Oct. 5, in DeKalb) and 2025 (Sept. 27, in Amherst) and a slate of FCS opponents for 2020 (Rhode Island), 2021 (Maine), 2022 (Eastern Illinois), 2023 (Southern Illinois) and 2026 (Illinois State).

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick made roughly the same from the school in 2017 as Brian Kelly… sort of

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Thanks to a quirk in tax reporting by athletic departments, we now know that Notre Dame paid their athletic director and head football coach nearly the same amount back in 2017. Before anybody pours one out for Brian Kelly however, just note that he did in fact make more than Jack Swarbrick two years ago — we just don’t know how much.

As noted by ace USA Today reporter Steve Berkowitz this week, the Irish’s 2017 tax returns were released publicly and saw Swarbrick haul in some $1.7 million over that same calendar year. That’s remarkably nearly the exact same amount the school directly paid Kelly.

It should be noted however that even though the football coach and his boss were on equal footing, that doesn’t account for the (likely millions upon millions) that Kelly collected from other sources. Typically for a head coach this includes cash from apparel deal (like ND’s with Under Armour), radio/TV appearances and other obligations with booster organizations. Add all that up and Kelly was likely in line with many of his peers on the national level at $4+ million.

Still, it’s notable for Swarbrick to take home that much and it not surprisingly places him near the top of the mountain in terms of athletic director pay. His job is a bit bigger than some of his peers due to Notre Dame’s football independence and unique position in NCAA and College Football Playoff governance but it is always good to put a number with a name given the lack of general transparency private schools have in these sorts of matters.

 

Buffalo, UMass renew MAC rivalry with six-game series starting in 2022

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UMass has signed up for some more MACtion.

The former member of the Mid-American Conference jointly announced on Thursday that they have agreed to a six-game football series with recent league powerhouse Buffalo.

Things will kick off on Oct. 15, 2022 when the Bulls travel to McGuirk Stadium and will alternate home venues every year from 2024 through 2028. UB Stadium plays host to the series starting on Sept. 14, 2024 and the remaining four contests will all take place in September from there on out.

The two schools played each other four times back when UMass was briefly a part of the MAC, with Buffalo holding a 3-1 edge in those games and a 7-6 mark against the Minutemen overall.

The Bulls are far from the only MAC team on UMass’ schedule either as the team tries to continue to make it as an FBS independent. The program has a home-and-home with Akron on the docket over the next two years and also has games scheduled down the road against Toledo, Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois.

Neck injury forces 6-7, 400-pound BYU defensive lineman to retire

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BYU’s defensive line suffered a mammoth loss (literally) earlier this week.

On his Facebook page Wednesday night, Motekiai Langi announced that, “[d]ue to surgery and a recurring neck injury… [m]y time of playing football has come to an abrupt end.” Langi added that “[d]iscontinuing football is at the best interest of my health, my family, and my future.”

“I have enjoyed and loved everything that football has taught me,” the defensive lineman wrote. “I’d like to thank everyone that had a part on getting me over here to BYU. Grateful for everyone that helped, supported, and encouraged me these past couple of years. I am truly grateful for [head coach Kalani] Sitake, BYU football, and BYU for the opportunities that they have given and opened up for me.”

Langi, who had never played football prior to signing with BYU and is the cousin of former Cougars linebacker Harvey Langi, played in four games in 2017 after serving a two-year Mormon mission. In large part because of the recurring neck injury, Langi didn’t play at all this past season.

Listed at 6-7, 400 pounds, Langi is actually closer to the 430-pound range these days.

Oklahoma confirms Army game in 2020 will be at Michie Stadium

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Boomer Sooner will still be coming to the banks of the Hudson.

While planned renovations had threatened to move Oklahoma’s visit to Army in 2020 to another venue, the Sooners will indeed be making the trip to historic Michie Stadium next season as planned.

“When we scheduled this particular series, that was one of the special opportunities that went along with putting it on our schedule,” OU athletic director Joe Castiglione told The Oklahoman. “It’s a very unique opportunity. A place with enormous tradition and history outside of sports. It’s a place few ever get the chance to go. Many would call it a bucket-list kind of opportunity.”

The game is scheduled to take place on Sept. 26, 2020 and is the return portion from the home-and-home that was initially played in Norman last year — a thrilling OT victory for the Sooners that saw the Black Knights nearly pull off the upset against the eventual College Football Playoff participant.

Castiglione would be correct in this being a bucket list visit for Oklahoma and its fans as Michie Stadium is among the most picturesque settings for college football in the country. The two schools have played in West Point before but it was way back in 1946 when both sides were powerhouses in the sport.

Their most recent contest in the state of New York was actually played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx back in 1961 and the latter venue — or at least the recently built stadium of the same name — was thrown around as a possible host to the 2020 game if those renovations to Michie got in the way. That will not be the case however and a rare visit from a brand name Power Five opponent will still be headed upstate after all.