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Army strikes agreement with Independence Bowl, ESPN

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Army has struck a deal with ESPN and the Independence Bowl to see the Black Knights play in Shreveport in even-numbered years coming up and in ESPN-owned bowl games in odd years, through 2025.

Army will play in the Independence Bowl in 2020, ’22 and ’24, assuming the team is bowl eligible. In odd-numbered years, the Knights are guaranteed a slot in one of 13 different bowl games.

Army is an at-large team this year, meaning Jeff Monken‘s team will have to fill a slot unused by one of the 10 FBS conferences.

“We are thrilled to partner with ESPN Events and the Independence Bowl,” Army AD Mike Buddie said. “This opportunity comes from the hard work and success of our football coaching staff and our incredible cadets who represent us so well on a national stage. I want to thank Pete Derzis and Clint Overby of ESPN Events and Missy Setters of the Independence Bowl for their commitment to our program. I know that the Army faithful will enjoy traveling with our team in future years to these great bowl games.”

“The Independence Bowl Foundation is excited to feature Army West Point as a primary tie-in for our game for three of the next six years and continuing the strong tradition of honoring our military men and women here in Shreveport,” said Independence Bowl executive director Missy Setters. “Their football program is steeped in college football tradition with bowl victories, national championships, and Heisman Trophy winners. Army represents all that is great about the game of college football.”

It’s no coincidence the contract expires after 2025, by the way. The College Football Playoff contract expires after that bowl cycle, and at that point pretty much the entire college football postseason is entirely up for grabs.

UConn announces three-quarters of first schedule as football independent in 2020

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With its second first season as an FBS independent on the horizon, UConn is getting closer to wrapping up its slate for that next step for the program.

Thursday morning, UConn officially announced that it has secured agreements for nine games as part of its 12-game 2020 regular season.  The announcement comes four months after UConn decided to leave the AAC following the 2019-20 academic year, moving its sports programs, with the exception of football, to the Big East.

The athletic department still has three games to fill in to complete its 2020 schedule.  Additionally, the specific dates for two games, home against Maine and at Virginia, are still to be determined.

In at least one case, a school had to adjust its schedule to accommodate UConn’s fledgling independence voyage.

In a separate press release, Ole Miss announced that its game against Middle Tennessee State had been moved to Sept. 7, 2024.  That game had originally been scheduled for Sept. 26 of next year.

“I would like to thank the many Universities that collaborated with us as we continue to work through the complicated process of constructing our schedule for the 2020 season,” UConn athletic director David Benedict said in a statement. “I feel that the schedule will be one that our football program and our fans can be excited about and I look forward to finalizing the 2020 schedule shortly.”

Thorpe Award semifinalists highlighted by LSU’s Grant Delpit

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You know how I know we’re closing in on the end of yet another regular season? When college football awards start creeping into my email inbox or Twitter timeline.

The most recent such phenomenon to rear its head is the Jim Thorpe Award, with the trophy handed out annually to the nation’s top defensive back announcing the 14 players who have been named semifinalists for this year’s honor. The only semifinalist from a year ago to appear on this year’s list is LSU safety Grant Delpit.

Delpit is one of four defensive backs from the SEC, the most of any single conference. The only other leagues with more than one semifinalist are the ACC and Big 12 with two apiece. Football independents also accounted for a pair.

The only sophomore to make the cut is Oregon’s Jevon Holland.

Last year’s winner was Georgia’s DeAndre Baker, who beat out fellow finalists Julian Love of Notre Dame and Greedy Williams of LSU.

Below is the complete list of 2019 Jim Thorpe Award semifinalists:

Luq Barcoo, San Diego State, Sr.
Essang Bassey, Wake Forest, Sr.
Douglas Coleman III, Texas Tech, Sr.
Grant Delpit, LSU, Jr.
Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame, Sr.
AJ Green, Oklahoma State, Sr.
CJ Henderson, Florida, Jr.
Jevon Holland, Oregon, So.
Xavier McKinney, Alabama, Jr.
Tanner Muse, Clemson, *Gr.
Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State, Jr.
JR Reed, Georgia, Sr.
Elijah Riley, Army, Sr.
Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech, Jr.

Lott IMPACT Trophy announces 20 quarterfinalists for 2019 award, with the Big Ten’s seven leading the way

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Another post this fine Thursday morning, another postseason college football award update.  At least it’s not a portal post, right?

The Lott Trophy, which annually recognizes the defensive player who makes the biggest IMPACT on his team both on and off the field, announced Wednesday that it has pared its preseason watch list down to 20 quarterfinalists for the 2019 version of the award.  All five Power Five conferences are represented, as is one Group of Five league (Mountain West) and one football independent (Army).

The Big Ten leads all conferences with seven quarterfinalists, followed by the Pac-12 with five.  Both the Big 12 and SEC have two apiece, while the ACC comes in with one.

The only two Group of Five representatives come from Boise State and Utah State of the MWC.

Linebackers far and away dominate the quarterfinalists position-wise with an even dozen.  There are also four linebackers and four defensive backs.

Last year’s winner was Kentucky’s Josh Allen.  Back in 2004, Georgia’s David Pollack was the inaugural winner of the award named in honor of former USC great Ronnie Lott.

Below is the complete list of 2019 quarterfinalists:

Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Mo Barry, LB, Nebraska
Joe Bachie, LB, Michigan State
Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
Myles Bryant, DB, Washington
Cole Christiansen, LB, Army
Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
Jordan Fuller, DB, Ohio State
Cale Garrett, LB, Missouri
Yetur Gross-Matos, DL, Penn State
Khaleke Hudson, LB/S, Michigan
Brandon Jones, DB, Texas
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Chris Orr, LB, Wisconsin
Colin Schooler, LB, Arizona
Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Curtis Weaver, DL, Boise State
Evan Weaver, LB, Cal
David Woodward, LB, Utah State

Bill proposed in New York aims to share college athletics revenue directly with student-athletes

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As the state of California moves forward with a push adopt a law that would allow student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name and likeness, a new bill proposed in New York aims to go one step farther. Senator Kevin Parker has proposed a bill that would allow student-athletes to be compensated directly from the school’s annual revenue.

As written, Senate Bill S6722A in New York seeks to allow student-athletes (including college football players) to be able to receive compensation for the use of their name, likeness or image; the ability to hire an agent; and to receive an even distribution directly from the school from the university’s athletics revenue. The bill intends to require schools to set aside 15 percent of revenue earned from ticket sales and distribute that evenly among every student-athlete at the school.

This could impact three FBS schools in New York; Syracuse, Buffalo, and Army. New York also has a handful of FCS programs as well, including Fordham, Stony Brook, and Colgate. If the bill gains any traction, it would impact each school differently due to the range in ticket revenue generated by each school. The proposed bill currently sits in committee right now and has not been scheduled for a date on the Senate floor in New York.

The NCAA will frown upon this bill, just as it has in California, and it would be expected schools in New York would not be in favor of such a bill. The NCAA has already threatened the state of California with potentially removing all championship events organized by the NCAA from the state. A similar threat to New York would be the typical response if needed. That may not impact the college football world much, although it could mean no NCAA basketball tournament games being played in New York, a state that has routinely hosted NCAA basketball tournament games across the state. The Pinstripe Bowl should be safe because it is not run by the NCAA (although the NCAA could refuse to certify the Pinstripe Bowl if it really wanted). But we are far from the point to have that discussion.

The Fair Pay for Play bill in California, which is currently waiting to be signed into law or vetoed by the state’s governor, merely allows student-athletes to seek representation and receive compensation for the use of their name, likeness, or image. This trend is certainly picking up steam, and it would not be a surprise to see other states attempt to challenge the NCAA’s model of amateurism.