In solidifying its offensive line post-spring, South Alabama has reportedly turned to one of the best the Football Championship Series has to offer.
Citing an unnamed source, al.com has reported that John Austin Cook has committed to continuing his playing career at South Alabama. As Cook comes to the Sun Belt Conference school from Central Arkansas, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2018.
The upcoming season will be the offensive tackle’s final year of eligibility.
The past two seasons, Cook started 24 of 25 games at tackle for the Bears. After being named second-team All-Southland Conference in 2016, he was named the league’s Offensive Lineman of the Year last season.
Additionally, the 2017 season saw Cook pick up second-team FCS All-American honors as well
South Alabama recently received some positive news on the personnel front.
A USA spokesperson (for the university, not the country) confirmed to al.com that Andrew Reinkemeyer has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. The tight end will use that additional season of eligibility, his last, to play for the Jaguars in 2018.
The decision to grant Reinkemeyer an extra season of eligibility was seemingly a no-brainer.
As a true sophomore at a Kansas junior college, Reinkemeyer suffered an injury in the 2015 season opener and didn’t play again that year. After transferring to USA, Reinkemeyer missed the entire 2016 season because of the torn Achilles tendon that cost him most of the previous season at the JUCO.
Finally healthy last season, Reinkemeyer caught 10 passes for 75 yards for the Sun Belt Conference program. He was the leading receiver amongst Jaguars tight ends in 2017.
An Alabama native will get to continue his coaching career in the Yellowhammer State, albeit at a lower rung on the college football ladder.
FCS Jacksonville State announced that Kevin Sigler was one of three assistants added to head coach John Grass‘ staff. Sigler, a Mobile native, will serve s safeties coach, as well as hold the additional title of associate head coach.
Sigler filled one of the three holes created by the departures of co-defensive coordinators David Blackwell (East Carolina) and Brandon Hall (Troy) and linebackers coach Nick Gentry (UAB) for FBS jobs. The other two coaches added were Andrew Warwick (defensive coordinators/linebackers coach) and Landius Wilkerson (defensive ends).
“We are excited to add three great coaches to our staff, but even more important is that we are adding three good men to our program,” Grass said in quotes distributed by the school. “The kids are latching on to them, and I’m excited about the way they’re fitting in. All three of them bring something a little different to the table, and it’s going really good.”
Sigler played his college football for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 1998-2001, and was the cornerbacks coach at South Alabama the past two seasons. He was also a football staffer at his alma mater in 2012, and was a high school coach in his native state for the 10 years prior to that.
From 2013-15, he was on the staff at Northern Illinois.
The four letter is signing up for more #FunBelt.
The Sun Belt conference announced on Thursday that they have agreed to a new eight-year contract with ESPN that will run through the 2027 football season and the 2027-28 academic year.
“The continuation of our agreement with ESPN marks one of the most historic announcements since the Sun Belt’s founding in 1976,” Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said in a statement. “This is truly an ‘all in’ collaboration with ESPN, the Sun Belt, and our member institutions and the volume and accessibility of our games will have a profound impact on the future of the Sun Belt. We have enjoyed a long relationship with ESPN since its founding in 1979 and we look forward to being featured on its newest platform, ESPN+, which promises to revolutionize how audiences view content.”
Most notably, it was confirmed that the inaugural Sun Belt Football Championship Game will be played on Saturday, December 1st and will be televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. Future championship games will also be on one of the three networks after the conference moved to a divisional format starting in 2018. The new deal also includes a guarantee that all Sun Belt home football games will be available on an ESPN platform and that at least 10 games will be televised on either ABC or one of the ESPN cable networks.
Naturally, many of the league’s other sports such as men’s basketball were also covered under the umbrella of the new contract. The bulk of those games from women’s basketball to soccer and beyond will wind up on the new ESPN+ streaming platform that the Disney-owned company is launching in the coming weeks.
No monetary terms were announced as part of the deal but it’s safe to assume that the TV revenues won’t be in the same ballpark as their Power Five peers such as the SEC or ACC. Still, given the challenges we’ve seen in the Mountain West and Conference USA (among others) in this new media environment, it seems the Sun Belt has locked up a quality partnership with ESPN for the long-term and granted some stability for the league in the coming years.
The Sun Belt on Tuesday announced its 2018 schedule, leaving the Mountain West as the only FBS league yet to reveal its slate. The 2018 season begins Thursday, Aug. 30, with Georgia State hosting Kennesaw State. The first conference game goes down Sept. 15 when Texas State visits South Alabama.
Tuesday’s announcement was significant for more than just the revelation of dates of games. It brings to a close the conference’s realignment moves that saw Idaho and New Mexico State get the boot and the league join the rest of its peers in adding a championship game. The inaugural Sun Belt Championship will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1, at a campus site and be televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
The Sun Belt’s roster now consists of 10 teams, but unlike the Big 12, the Sun Belt will split into two divisions:
Appalachian State and Arkansas State have been the kings of the Sun Belt over the past three seasons, each going 21-3 from 2015-17. The Mountaineers and Red Wolves did not play in 2016 or ’17, but will square off in 2018. The two will square off on Oct. 9, a Tuesday, in Jonesboro for an ESPN2 game.
Troy has gone 13-3 over the past two seasons and split the 2017 title with Appalachian State after the Trojans and Mountaineers also did not meet during the season. That also changes in 2018 (and every season moving forward with the new divisional structure) as Appalachian State hosts Troy on Nov. 24 in a game that figures to decide the first Sun Belt East championship. Troy clinched its share of the 2017 crown with a 32-25 win over Arkansas State (6-2 in SBC play in 2017) on the first Saturday in December, and now the rematch could come in an actual championship game.
Unlike the Big 12, the Sun Belt will not play a 9-game, round-robin schedule. The Sun Belt will remain an 8-game league.