Jacksonville

Pioneer Football League drops megaton hammer and postseason ban on Jacksonville

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It is not often College Football Talk dives into the world of the FCS, and it is even less often we will discuss the Pioneer Football League. Because of that, you know something’s up when we do.

The Pioneer Football League has hit the football program at Jacksonville University with a one-year postseason ban and has vacated wins from the past five seasons. The offense? Financial-aid violations. The Pioneer Football League, a football-only conference made up of 11 schools does not allow for football scholarships to be awarded. The Pioneer Football League says Jacksonville inappropriately dispersed financial aid to players, although an internal review by the university and the league found no NCAA violations. Despite that, Jacksonville (coached by former Florida Gators quarterback, 1984 SEC Player of the Year and two-time All-American Kerwin Bell) has accepted the punishment handed down by the league and will sit out the postseason in 2015 after voluntarily sitting out of a potential postseason opportunity last season while an investigation was ongoing. Jacksonville volunteered to vacate its 2010 conference championship and all league wins from 2010 through 2014 (a total of 30 wins in conference play).

That’s not all either. In addition to the postseason ban and accepting the self-imposed penalties, the Pioneer Football League reduced the number of roster positions for the program from 130 to 96 and three coaching positions. According to Jacksonville.com, the university also lost its junior varsity program. That is crippling for a program like Jacksonville.

“I’m heartbroken by it. I’m heartbroken by it because of the kids,” Jacksonville athletic director Donnie Horner said, per Jacksonville.com. “These returning seniors, these returning sophomores, these returning juniors, this is effectively their second year [of punishment]. And that’s painful for those kids. But it’s clear to me in conversations with the league that they decided to impose the ban this year because of the severity of our not adhering to the PFL financial aid rules. These are not trivial, miniscule differences.”

This is not the first time one of the top programs in the conference had to sit out of the postseason for violating the financial aid rules of the conference. In 2013 the University of San Diego withdrew from postseason consideration after discovering violations regarding financial aid provided to football players. San Diego, the FCS program previously coached by Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh before he accepted a job offer at Stanford, was atop the conference at the time of the decision and projected to represent the conference in the FCS playoffs.

Jacksonville abandons CFB Playoff championship bidding

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Jacksonville thought about it. They were in. Now they’re officially out. The city that once hosted a Super Bowl and contemplated placing a bid for a future College Football Playoff championship game in the 2018-2020 rotation is now backing away from the process. For now, at least.

According to a report from The Times-Union the Jacksonville Sports Council has decided to hold off from placing a bid as the cost of hosting a game continues to rise. The timing is also not ideal for Jacksonville, which is undergoing renovations to the downtown riverfront area over the next few years. It is expected Jacksonville will jump back in the bidding process when the next championship game rotation comes around.

“We want to have a winning bid,” Jacksonville Sports Council president and CEO Rick Catlett told The Times-Union. “We don’t think right now we can put together a winning bid until some of the developments that are happening in Jacksonville get done. We don’t think right now, financially and infrastructure-wise, we would have a winning bid.”

Earlier this morning on CFT we learned Detroit is moving forward with placing a bid and last night we discussed AT&T Stadium in Arlington will not be included in the bidding process. As of this second, there are are eight cities hoping to receive the costly burden honor of hosting a future College Football Playoff national championship game between the 2018 and 2020 seasons in addition to Detroit; Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, MiamiMinneapolis, San Antonio and Santa Clara.