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Manning Award releases its 30-player preseason watch list, including North Dakota State’s Trey Lance

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Count the Manning Award among the latest to release its preseason grouping of players to watch this season.  Provided there is a season, of course.

Thursday, the Manning Award, named in honor of the quarterbacking Mannings — ArchiePeyton and Eli — and sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, announced its 30-player preseason watch list.  The Manning, incidentally, goes to the nation’s top quarterback and is the only major trophy to take into account postseason performance.

Five of last year’s Manning Award finalists are included on this year’s watch list: Justin Fields (Ohio State), Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Tanner Morgan (Minnesota), Kyle Trask (Florida) and Brady White (Memphis).

From the award’s release:

This year’s Watch List includes players from all 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences. The AAC, Big 12 and Big Ten lead the way with four selections, while the ACC, C-USA, the Pac-12 and the SEC each have three selections. There are 13 seniors on the list while the junior class is represented by 11 quarterbacks and the sophomore class has six.

Also included in the list is Trey Lance of FCS North Dakota State.

“It sure has been a unique offseason, but we’re still looking forward to the prospect of seeing a great group of quarterbacks compete this year,” Archie Manning said in a statement. “Our Watch List is once again an exceptional group of candidates, but every year is a new year and we’ll be watching closely to add the best newcomers to the list after we get things rolling. I’d also like to thank the Allstate Sugar Bowl for sponsoring this award; it means a lot to the entire Manning family that they include our name in recognizing the best quarterbacks in the country.”

Last year’s winner of the award was LSU’s Joe Burrow.

Below is the complete preseason watch list for this year’s Manning Award.

NCAA announces it will allow players to wear social justice messages on their uniforms

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The ever-evolving NCAA is set to allow football players and others to do a social justice version of “He Hate Me” on their uniforms.

Thursday, the NCAA announced that its Playing Rules Oversight Panel has approved a measure that will expand opportunities for players to place social justice statements on their uniforms this season.  Additionally, to help mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, the team areas on sidelines will be expanded from between the 25-yard lines to between the 15-yard lines.  On top of that, the pregame coin toss will be limited to two officials and one captain from each team.

Below is the full NCAA release on the developments:

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved rules to allow student-athletes in all sports to wear patches on their uniforms for commemorative and memorial purposes, as well as to support social justice issues.

Current rules in some sports do not allow patches, while the rules books for several other sports do not address the topic.

Panel members, who met by videoconference last week, reaffirmed and expanded existing rules, which will now allow student-athletes two places on the uniform, one on the front and one on the back, to express support and voice their opinions.

The patch on the front, which most sports already allowed, as authorized by the school or conference, may be a commemorative/memorial patch (names, mascots, nicknames, logos and marks) intended to celebrate or memorialize people, events or other causes.

The patch must not exceed 2¼ square inches and must be placed on the front or sleeve of the uniform. While not all team members are required to wear the patch, they must be identical for those who choose to wear them.

The second location is on the back of the uniform where the player name is traditionally located and, as authorized by the school or conference, will allow names/words intended to celebrate or memorialize people, events or other causes. The names or words may vary by team member.

Fall playing rule waivers

Due to challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the panel approved changing or waiving playing rules for the 2020-21 year that may help to mitigate risk of contamination and enhance a safer return to play for all participants without affecting competitive equity.

In football, team areas will be expanded to the 15-yard lines. Under the current rule, the team area was between the 25-yard lines.

Also, the coin toss participants will be limited to two officials and one captain from each team. The current rule allowed up to four game captains and additional people such as media members or ceremonial captains to be in proximity of the coin toss.

In men’s and women’s soccer, players ejected for spitting at an opponent will have to serve a two-game penalty. The current rule called for an ejection and a one-game suspension.

In women’s volleyball, the teams will remain on the same bench during the entire match rather than switch benches after each set.

Additional details will be sent to the membership this week.

Mark Emmert apparently doesn’t know how the FCS playoffs work

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This is not a good look, Mark Emmert.  This is not a good look at all.

The NCAA president has come under fire for his stance on the name-image-likeness issue.  In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, he was lampooned for his organization’s handling of the situation.  In general, Emmert’s stewardship, such as it is, has led to renewed calls for a commissioner to oversee college football.

And now this.

In an interview with, Emmert expressed a great deal of concern about the ability of fall sports to go off as scheduled.  Rightly so, the NCAA head thinks that a delayed start to fall sports, including football, as well as a shortened schedule would be optimal.

At one point, though, the conversation with the Worldwide Leader turned to the FCS playoff.  And Mark Emmert stepped in it.  And tripped over it.  Basically, impressively Three Stooging his response as a solo act.

An individual contest — a football game, a basketball game — that’s quite different. In the case of a bowl game or the CFP, you’re talking about a championship game. Can you create a bubble with enough lead time to have two teams play each other safely? The answer to that may be yes. The FCS is a round-robin championship with 20 teams participating and a full-on championship event. That’s a very different and much more challenging environment than adding one or two more games to a season with a lot of space in between.

Two things.  One, the Football Championship Series utilizes a single-elimination playoff.  Not a round-robin championship.  Two, there are 24 teams participating (10 automatic bids, 14 at-large).  Not 20.  And it’s been two dozen since 2013.

Actually, a third as well: I’m assuming that Heather Dinich transcribed Emmert’s own words very, very accurately.

Fortunately for all involved, the NCAA in general and Emmert specifically has no control over the FBS postseason.  None at all.  You know, that 10-team Bowl Championship Series that decides the national champion of major college football…

Iowa State replaces 2020 Iowa game with one vs. Ball State

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Iowa State is getting about the business of revamping its 2020 football schedule.

Earlier this month, the Big Ten announced that it would be going to a conference-only slate this fall.  That meant that, among others, the Iowa-Iowa State football game would not be played as scheduled.  That Cy-Hawk rivalry game would’ve been played at Kinnick Stadium.

Tuesday, the Cyclones announced it has plugged that particular hole in its schedule.  In twin press releases, both Iowa State and Ball State confirmed that the programs have agreed to a Sept. 12 football game this season.  It will be played at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, with a time to be determined.

The addition of the MAC school means ISU would open the 2020 season with four straight home games.

“I am excited for our players and fans to have eight opportunities to play in Jack Trice Stadium this fall,” ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a statement. “Playing our first four games and six of the opening eight at home should give our team a significant competitive advantage.”

The only previous meeting between the two schools came in 1998, a 17-13 win for ISU.

Ball State was available, incidentally, because of the Big Ten’s scheduling decision as well.  The game against Iowa State replaced one scheduled at Michigan.  They also must find replacements for games against Indiana and Maine.

“Our position in this rapidly-evolving environment has been, and will be, to proactively work to provide student-athletes the best opportunities to compete as we monitor the landscape,” athletic director Beth Goetz said in her statement. “This game fits the bill as a great opportunity. The safety and well-being of our student-athletes remain the priority, however, we want to be strategic in the event that all variables align and football is played.”

Kent State mourns death of DeVante’ Strickland after the former Golden Flashes LB was killed during shooting early Sunday morning

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Kent State is the second MAC football program to lose a current or former player to senseless violence.

Earlier this month, Toledo defensive lineman Jahneil Douglas was shot and killed when a verbal altercation outside of a restaurant in the city turned physical.  Early Sunday morning, DeVante’ Strickland was one of two people shot at a party at an Amanda, Ohio, Airbnb.  Strickland, 27 and the father of two small children, died of the gunshot wounds he sustained after being taken to a local hospital.  The other victim received non-life-threatening injuries.

From the Lancaster Eagle Gazette.

Sheriff deputies were investigating a complaint about a loud party when they heard gunshots and found the two victims.

“It was a party with mostly people from Columbus,” Phalen said. “We understand it was at an Airbnb rental. There were a lot of people there, about 30 or 40.”

He said deputies also smelled what they thought was marijuana. Phalen said deputies interviewed 20 or 25 people during the investigation.

As of yet, no arrests have been made in connection to the shooting.

From 2011-15, Strickland was a linebacker on the Kent State football team.  He played in 43 games during his time with the Golden Flashes, starting a combined 13 games in 2012 (seven) and 2013 (six).  The Columbus native graduated from the university in 2015 with a degree in physical education, with an emphasis on coaching.

“Our Golden Flashes family is hurting today after the passing of one of our brothers,” a statement from Kent State head football coach Sean Lewis began. “DeVante’ Strickland was a great spirit in the locker room, a great teammate on the field and always looking to help others in the community.

“Our sincerest condolences got out to DeVante’ and his family during these difficult ties, especially his two children who he was a great father to.  DeVante’ will always be a part of our Golden Flashes Football Family.”