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College Football Hall of Fame damaged amidst protests in Atlanta overnight

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In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, protests have erupted across the country.  Overnight, those protests hit the home for college football history.

A peaceful protest in Atlanta Friday turned violent later in the night as many numerous businesses in the city were vandalized and looted.  According to myriad media outlets, one of those that suffered damage was the College Football Hall of Fame.

Fortunately, one of the reports stated, “none of the artifacts or history memorabilia was damaged… just the glass in front of the store.” One report, though, described the hall as being “destroyed.”

“First and foremost, our hearts go out to the friends and family of George Floyd,” College Football Hall of Fame CEO Kimberly Beaudin said in a statement. “We support the peaceful protests that honor his memory but unfortunately they deteriorated into chaos and disorder. We are heartbroken to see the damage to our city and the Hall of Fame. As our Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, we are better than this, better than this as a city, and better than this as a country.

“In the coming days and weeks, we’ll work to pick up the pieces, to build back the sacred walls that housed memories and honored those who played the game many of whom fought these same injustices throughout their storied careers.”

College coaches speak out following death of George Floyd

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The despicable, abhorrent, unconscionable murder of George Floyd has touched myriad aspects of our society.  College football is no different.

Monday night, 46-year-old George Floyd died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer took a knee on the man’s neck.  For several minutes.  Floyd was a black man.  The police officer is a white man.

“I can’t breathe, please, the knee in my neck. I can’t move … my neck … I’m through, I’m through.”

Four police officers connected to the death of Floyd were fired.  The white officer who murdered Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged in the black man’s death.  The 19-year veteran of the force is facing one count each of of third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Wednesday, the University of Minnesota significantly distanced itself from the Minneapolis Police Department.  The MPD assisted the university for large events, including Minnesota football games.

In the days since, college football coaches have decried the fatal brutality.  On the Rich Eisen Show Thursday, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh spoke about the “horrendous… outrageous” murder (my words, not the coach’s) of George Floyd.

On Twitter in the ensuing days, Harbaugh’s colleagues at the collegiate level — including one ex-coach who is now an athletic director — have used their platform to decry the senseless murder of George Floyd.

Some of them, including Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin (HERE), Florida State’s Mike Norvell (HERE), Tulsa’s Philip Montgomery (HERE), Troy’s Chip Lindsey (HERE) and UTSA’s Jeff Traylor (HERE), retweeted the powerful words of Tony Dungy.

Others sent out their own messages.

 

Conference USA, Sun Belt announce future bowl affiliations

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If there is a 2020 college football season, it would stand to reason there Will Likely be bowl games.  And, courtesy of Conference USA and the Sun Belt Conference, we have some bowl games news.

The former conference announced its bowl lineup Thursday for the 2020-25 seasons.  Per the league, they are guaranteed appearances in seven bowl games annually throughout this six-year cycle.  C-USA will be affiliated in some form or fashion with 15 total bowl games, although only two — Bahamas Bowl, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl — are guaranteed to feature a school from that conference every year.

Conference USA is also guaranteed to send a school to the bowl game in Shreveport, LA, in both 2021 and 2025.  They hold a secondary agreement with that same postseason game the other years of the cycle.  Additionally, a C-USA school will play in the Hawaii Bowl in the years 2020, 2022 and 2024.

As for the remaining bowl slots?  From the Conference USA release:

The conference’s remaining guaranteed selections in the cycle (either 4 or 5 per season) will include the LendingTree Bowl (Mobile, Alabama) and the following games which are owned and operated by ESPN Events:

1. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas)
2. TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl (Birmingham, Alabama)
3. Boca Raton Bowl (Boca Raton, Florida)
4. Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Alabama)
5. Cure Bowl (Orlando, Florida)
6. Fenway Bowl (Boston, Massachusetts)
7. SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (Dallas, Texas)
8. Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl (Frisco, Texas)
9. Gasparilla Bowl (Tampa, Florida)
10. Myrtle Beach Bowl (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
11. New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

“We are very pleased with our future bowl lineup,” said C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod in a statement. “Our teams will continue to have postseason opportunities in outstanding destinations that are very accessible to our schools and their fans. We are also excited to have additional flexibility to create great matchups.”

Now, on to the Fun Belt.

Like its Group of Five counterpart, the Sun Belt announced its bowl tie-ins for the same six-season cycle.  Like C-USA, the SBC will hold an annual spot in the R+L Carriers Bowl.  The league will also play in the Lending Tree Bowl all six years.

The remaining tie-ins are as follows:

ESPN Events will hold the first, third and fourth selections and will utilize a flex model to select teams into the following pool of games:

• Boca Raton Bowl (Boca Raton, FL)
• Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, AL)
• Cure Bowl (Orlando, FL)
• Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise, ID)
• SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (Dallas, TX)
• Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl (Frisco, TX)
• Myrtle Beach Bowl (Myrtle Beach, SC)
• New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM)

“We are coming off of our most successful season in Sun Belt history,” said Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill. “We’re excited to provide a flex model that allows for our fans and schools to go to desirable locations with exciting opponents that are easily accessible and provides more revenue than the previous bowl cycle.”

NCAA extends recruiting dead period through July 31; The Association will also allow strength coaches to ‘virtually observe voluntary physical workouts’

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Not surprisingly, the NCAA has reset its recruiting trail policies.  Again.

As the coronavirus pandemic effectively shuttered the sports world, the NCAA announced in mid-March that it was putting a halt to all in-person recruiting until at least April 15.  Last month, that dead period was extended through May 31.  This month, another extension took us to June 30.

As we close in on the month of June, another extension is official.  As expected, the NCAA announced Wednesday evening that the recruiting dead period has been extended through July 31.  That means all in-person recruiting activities — either on-campus or elsewhere — are prohibited.

The latest edict impacts all sports, not just football.

“The extension maintains consistent recruiting rules for all sports and allows coaches to focus on the student-athletes who may be returning to campus,” said Division I Council Coordination Committee chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “The committee is committed to reviewing the dead period again in late June or early July.”

One potential effect of all of these dead-period extension bans?  It could force The Association to, for one year, temporarily get rid of the December Early Signing Period.

The NCAA earlier this month also announced that football programs could begin bringing players back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1.  In the dead-period release, The Association also updated its tack on that front:

Additionally, the committee decided to allow strength and conditioning coaches to virtually observe voluntary physical workouts for health and safety purposes but only if requested by the student-athlete. The measure goes into effect June 1. The strength and conditioning coach will be allowed to observe the workouts and discuss items related to voluntary workouts but not direct or conduct the workout.

The decision was supported by the Committee on Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports Prevention and Performance Subcommittee. The subcommittee encouraged schools that decide to allow their strength and conditioning coaches to observe voluntary workouts to proactively consider the school’s overarching responsibility to protect the health of and provide a safe environment for each student-athlete. More specifically, the subcommittee stressed that schools should plan for how the strength and conditioning coach should respond if they observe an unsafe workout environment or in the event that a medical emergency occurs during a voluntary session.

The committee will continue to explore the opportunity for strength and conditioning coaches to conduct voluntary workouts virtually, as they do during in-person, on-campus voluntary workouts.

Two Arkansas State football players enter transfer portal on the same day

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For Arkansas State, it was a one-two personnel punch on the football transfer portal front.  Not a hard punch, mind you.  But a punch nonetheless

247Sports.com Thursday reported that a pair of Arkansas State football players have entered the NCAA transfer database.  That duo consists of tight end Eugene Minter and defensive back Nathan Page.

The most noteworthy, for better or worse, of the two is Page.

In late October, Page was named as the Sun Belt Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week after intercepting a career-high two passes.  Two days later, he was arrested for felony domestic battery.  Specifically, he was alleged to have battered a woman who was pregnant/expecting.

In addition to tying for the team lead in picks with two, Page was third on the Red Wolves with six pass breakups at the time of his arrest.  He started six of the seven games in which he played this past season after playing in a dozen games as a true freshman in 2018.

At this point, it’s unclear exactly where his legal case stands.  And what if any role it played in his decision to enter the transfer portal.

It should also be noted that Page was indefinitely suspended at the time of his arrest.  That suspension currently remains in place.

As for Minter?  The Alabama native was a three-star member of the Arkansas State football Class of 2019.  He played in three games as a true freshman, but didn’t record any stats.  The fact that he played in fewer than four games, though, allowed him to take a redshirt.