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Matt Viator signs a two-year contract extension with Louisiana-Monroe

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By way of Louisiana-Monroe, a mini-spate of Group of Five football coaches getting extended continues.

Last week, Ball State announced a two-year contract extension for Mike Neu.  Around that same time, Louisiana-Monroe confirmed that its head football coach, Matt Viator, has signed an extended deal as well.  As was the case with Neu, Viator’s extension is for two years.

That leaves the coach signed with the Warhawks through the 2022 season.

“I’m grateful for the confidence that [athletic director] Scott McDonald and the University administration have in our football program,” Viator said in a statement. “Over the last four years, we’ve put a lot of time and effort into building a solid foundation for the program.

“We’re disappointed with the way last season ended, but we’re not discouraged. We know many hurdles still remain, but we’re headed down the right path of achieving our ultimate goals of competing for Sun Belt Championships and playing in bowl games.”

In four years at the Sun Belt Conference school, Viator has gone 19-29 overall and 15-17 in SBC play.  ULM was bowl-eligible in 2018 but didn’t get a postseason invite.  Last season, ULM could’ve clinched a bowl berth but suffered a one-point loss to rival Louisiana in the regular-season finale.

ULM has played in just one postseason game as an FBS program, the 2021 Independence Bowl.

“We’re fortunate to have Matt Viator at the helm of the ULM football program,” McDonald said in his statement. “He is widely recognized as one of the top head coaches in the Sun Belt Conference. Our program has made great strides over the last four seasons, the last two years in particular, narrowly missing becoming bowl eligible in consecutive seasons.

“Continuity is key for on-the-field success, so with the contract extension, we wanted to acknowledge and reward Coach V for the stability, excitement and competitiveness, he has brought to our program. Also, during these uncertain times with the COVID-19 pandemic, I cannot think of a better coach to provide steady and decisive leadership to our program. His primary focus remains ensuring the health and safety of the student-athletes, coaching and support staffs.

“Coach V has a vision and game plan for building a championship-caliber program, and I’m confident that our University will be rewarded for its commitment.”

There is no word on whether a raise is involved in the extension.  Last year, Viator was paid $390,000 in guaranteed compensation.  That number was ninth of the 10 SBC coaches listed in the USA Today coaches salary database.

LSU adds defensive analyst with deep ties to the state of Louisiana

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Ed Orgeron has added to his extended LSU football staff.  Again.

In March, Orgeron hired former LSU football player Bennie Logan to serve as a defensive analyst.  Three months later, the head coach has brought in Manny Michel as another defensive analyst.  Specifically, 247Sports.com notes, Michel will focus on the defensive line of the Tigers.

A native of Louisiana, Michel spent most of what was a three-decade-plus coaching career in the Pelican State.  Michel served two different stints as the defensive line coach at Louisiana-Monroe.  The first was from 1999-08, then again from 2016-17.  In that first stretch with the Warhawks, Michel also served as co-defensive coordinator.

Following that second stint, however, Michel retired from coaching.  Obviously, Orgeron was able to persuade the 60-year-old coach to return.

In addition to his time at ULM, Michel also coached the defensive line at McNeese State (2009-15) and Nicholls State (1995-98).  At the latter, he was also defensive coordinator.

Michel also spent nearly a decade (1986-94) as an assistant at John Curtis Christian High School in Louisiana.

“Manny is a longtime assistant football coach in the state of Louisiana,” Orgeron said in confirming the addition. “He’s been at McNeese and been at Northeast Louisiana. He’s been a tremendous recruiter and he knows Louisiana inside and out. He is with us as an analyst.”

Michel will work under Bo Pelini, who was hired in late January to replace Dave Aranda.  A little over a week earlier, Aranda was hired as the head coach at Baylor.

NCAA Council formally approves six-week preseason model for football, which will begin July 13 for teams that start season Sept. 5

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The NCAA is proceeding with a significant step toward prepping for the 2020 college football season.

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that the NCAA Div. I Oversight Committee was crafting a plan that would shape the path college football programs would take to prepare for the upcoming season.  Last week, the NCAA announced that it has finalized its proposal for a preseason model for the sport.  However, the plan still needed the approval of the NCAA Division I Council.

Thursday, that expected thumbs-up came to fruition as the council has approved what will essentially be a six-week preseason for college football.  The NCAA writes that, “[a]ssuming a first game on Sept. 5, the model begins summer access activities July 13 and adds meetings and walk-throughs July 24.  Preseason practice begins Aug. 7.” Schools that open the seasoning Week 0 (Aug. 29), all of the dates would get seven days subtracted from them.  It’s unclear if teams whose first games are Sept. 3 will follow the Sept. 5 model or not.

The activities mentioned do not include the ongoing voluntary on-campus workouts.

As for the particulars?  The NCAA referred to its previous release as a guideline:

… student-athletes may be required to participate in up to eight hours of weight training, conditioning and film review per week (not more than two hours of film review per week) from July 13-23.

Then, from July 24 through Aug. 6, student-athletes may be required to participate in up to 20 hours of countable athletically related activities per week (not more than four hours per day) as follows:

— Up to eight hours per week for weight training and conditioning.
— Up to six hours per week for walk-throughs, which may include the use of a football.
— Up to six hours per week for meetings, which may include film review, team meetings, position meetings, one-on-one meetings, etc.
— During this 14-day period, student-athletes are required to get at least two days off.

The model does not make any adjustments to the legislated 29-day preseason practice period. In the previous example, the school’s preseason practice period would begin Aug. 7 with a five-day acclimatization period, followed by the opportunity for up to 25 on-field practices.

NCAA Oversight Committee crafting six-week practice period ahead of start of season

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The on-ramp to the 2020 college football season is coming into focus.

A significant milestone was reached last month when the NCAA announced it would allow member institutions to commence voluntary on-campus workouts June 1.  June 17, the NCAA Division I Council is expected to vote on a plan that would shape the path college football programs would take to prepare for the upcoming season.

That plan is currently being crafted by the NCAA’s Division I Football Oversight Committee. A draft of that group’s plan is expected to be finalized this Thursday, June 11.  The committee will then submit their plan to Div. I Council for approval.

As it stands now, ESPN.com is reporting, the committee is working on what would be a six-week run-up to the upcoming college football season.  For schools that begin the next campaign Labor Day weekend, the current proposal calls for mandatory workouts to commence July 13, followed by enhanced training July 24.  A standard summer camp would then kick off Aug. 7.  During the mandatory workouts and enhanced training, players will not be permitted to wear either helmets or pads,  They will, though, be permitted to use footballs.

Coaches, who, other than strength staff, can’t oversee the current voluntary workouts, would be permitted to take part throughout the entire six-week practice period being developed.

Of course, the schools scheduled to start the college football season the week before Labor Day — Notre Dame-Navy in Annapolis included — would see the three phases of the plan initiated earlier.  Whether it’s exactly a week earlier remains to be seen, although that would make the most sense.

As we stated earlier, the plan is still being crafted.  Therefore, it isn’t finalized.  In that vein, the first phase, the mandatory workouts, could be shortened.  From ESPN.com:

West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, who is chair of the Football Oversight Committee, told ESPN’s Andrea Adelson that there is one area that might change between the proposed calendar and what gets approved on Thursday, and that is shortening the window between the start of required workouts on July 13 and the start of enhanced training on July 24.

“Some people are thinking the summer access is too long,” Lyons said, based on feedback the committee has already received. “There’s a concern by making that part a requirement, it extends it to too long a period and whether that should be adjusted to make it shorter. Instead of starting on the 13th, start on the 20th. I haven’t heard of all the concerns and that’s why it was put out to the conferences, to start getting more input.

Again, final approval from the Council is slated to be announced two weeks from Wednesday.  At that time, we’ll have a greater understanding as to exactly what the prep work for the upcoming college football season will entail.  Provided there is a 2020 college football season, of course.

Louisiana-Monroe RB Kayin White enters transfer portal

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For the first time in 2020, at CFT at least, we have a portal post related to the Louisiana-Monroe football program.

According to 247Sports.com, Kayin White is set to transfer from the Warhawks.  A Louisiana-Monroe football official subsequently confirmed that the running back is in the NCAA transfer database.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

White was a two-star member of the ULM Class of 2016.  The Baton Rouge native will be leaving the Sun Belt Conference school as a graduate transfer.  The upcoming season will serve as his final year of eligibility.

White has played in 24 games the past three seasons.  He’s rushed for 320 yards and five touchdowns on 70 carries.  Just six of those attempts and 11 of the yards, though, came in 2019.

The playing time issue likely triggered the portal decision.

Louisiana-Monroe is coming off a 5-7 season in the fourth year under head football coach Matt Viator.   The Warhawks have finished .500 or worse seven straight seasons.  They have played in just one postseason game (2012 Independence Bowl) during their time as an FBS program.