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UMass extends Mark Whipple through 2020 season

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Massachusetts has extended head coach Mark Whipple through the 2020 season, the program announced Monday.

Whipple is in his second stint as the Minutemen’s head coach. He went 49-26 while leading the program, which competed at the FCS level at the time, from 1998-03, which included a 1998 national championship. He is 12-36 over the past four seasons as the program has transitioned from the MAC to an FBS Independent.

“We are pleased to extend Coach Whipple’s contract at UMass and look forward to his leadership of our program in 2018 and beyond,” AD Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “Mark is a true Minuteman having served our program as head coach in two different eras, for a combined 10 years. He has guided our young FBS program through some challenging times the last four years but has positioned us well for our future.”

Terms were not disclosed in Monday’s announcement. Whipple earned $472,000 in 2017, according to the USA Today salary database.

“I am excited about the future of this University of Massachusetts football program and especially the young men we have in our program,” Whipple said.

UMass went 4-8 in 2017, the high water mark in Whipple’s current 4-year tenure.

The Minutemen open the 2018 at home against Duquesne.

Auburn lands UMass transfer lineman over UCLA, USC

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At least in this graduate transfer battle, the SEC has gotten over on the Pac-12.

Tuesday, Jack Driscoll, who decided to transfer from UMass earlier this offseason, confirmed that he had narrowed his potential landing spots down to three — Auburn, UCLA and USC.  A day later, the offensive lineman took to Twitter to announce that he will be enrolling at AU and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Tigers.

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 on The Plains.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

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It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.

Former UMass, Penn State TE Adam Breneman retires from football

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Former All-American tight end Adam Breneman has announced he will be retiring from football for good. Citing prolonged health concerns that stem back to his time at Penn State, Breneman wrote in a blog post the extent of the injury he suffered in 2014 was even more challenging to come back from than many had publicly known.

This is the second time Breneman has made the decision to retire, and this one will likely stick. Breneman retired briefly from the game in 2016, after his injury concerns at Penn State proved to be too risky to continue playing. Breneman had significant damage in his left knee that the All-American says required “complicated surgery and a long recovery process.” Doctors suggested his playing days would be over, but Breneman felt his knees became good enough to give a shot at playing in the NFL one more chance, which led him to revive his playing career at UMass. However, it was during his time at UMass when reality resurfaced for Breneman.

This past season things began to deteriorate quickly. Even though I enjoyed on-field success, I knew my knee was getting rapidly worse with every game I played. The consistent dream of playing in the NFL was my motivation to push through the pain. I knew what was happening, but I was afraid to accept it and be disappointed yet again.

When the season ended, I hoped with some time off and without the physical rigors of the season, my knee would begin to feel better. However, once I started training daily for the NFL draft in January 2018, I realized my situation had not improved. After additional medical evaluations and creative treatments, my doctors and I have come to the realization that there is no solution that will allow me to continue to play football.

Breneman was a key recruit of former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien and a key face of the first full recruiting class to join Penn State following the hefty sanctions levied against the program in the Jerry Sandusky scandal’s fallout. Along with Christian Hackenberg, Breneman helped keep a key recruiting class mostly together.

Breneman appeared in 11 games for the Minutemen in 2017 with 764 receiving yards and four touchdown catches. The previous season, Breneman had 808 receiving yards and eight touchdowns for UMass after two years off from football. He appeared in 11 games for the Nittany Lions in 2013 and caught three touchdowns with 186 receiving yards in his first and only season on the field in Happy Valley.

Temple adds future home-and-homes vs. Akron, UMass

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Here’s your (latest) sign that we’re plunging deeper into the heart of the 2018 college football offseason.

Temple announced Monday that it has added a pair of future home-and-home series, versus Akron and UMass. Akron will play host to Temple Sept. 11, 2021, with the Zips traveling to Philadelphia to open the 2023 season. UMass will host the first game of its home-and-home Oct. 10, 2020, with Temple closing it out with a home game Sept. 24, 2022.

The Owls and Zips were members of the MAC from 2007-2011 and met each of those five seasons. Temple won all five by a combined score of 178-46.

The Owls and Minutemen played even more recently, squaring off in a two-game series in 2015 and 2016. The two teams split those contests, the first of which was played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly and the second at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

Th school noted in its release that locations of the future games remain undetermined.