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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.”

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.

Middle Tennessee State brings back ex-Blue Raiders RB Shane Tucker as grad assistant

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There will be a very familiar face in the Middle Tennessee State football building when the Conference USA school reconvenes.

Memorial Day, Middle Tennessee State announced that Shane Tucker has been added to the extended football staff.  Specifically, Tucker will serve as a graduate assistant for Rick Stockstill.  Tucker will work on the offensive side of the ball for the Blue Raiders.

From 2013-2017, Tucker was a running back at MTSU.  And a wide receiver as well.

In 39 appearances, Tucker started 17 of those games.  He started contests in 2013 (three), 2014 (two), 2015 (four) and 2017 (eight).  The Memphis native’s 2016 season ended before it started because of an offseason injury.

During his time in Murfreesboro, Tucker ran for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns on 271 carries.  He also caught 67 passed for 869 yards and another seven touchdowns.

In 2014, Tucker earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.  As a fifth-year senior in 2017, he was named a permanent captain.

Middle Tennessee State is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That was the program’s worst record since going 2-10 in 2011.  MTSU also saw its school-record streak of bowl appearances end at four in a row.

One of the players Tucker Will Likely work with?  Martell Pettaway.  The West Virginia running back transferred to the Conference USA school in January.

No. 4 dual-threat JUCO QB in 2019 to transfer from Middle Tennessee State

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Middle Tennessee State was the landing spot for a Power Five football transfer earlier this month.  Now, the Conference USA school is on the wrong end of the portal.

According to 247Sports.com, Randall Johnson has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.  An MTSU official has subsequently confirmed that the quarterback is indeed listed in the portal.

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.

Johnson began his collegiate career at Reedley College in 2018.  As a true freshman, he was named as the Golden Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year.  That year, the California native threw for 2,832 yards and 28 touchdowns.  He also ran for another 797 yards and 14 scores.

In the 2019 recruiting cycle, Johnson was a three-star prospect.  On the 247Sports.com composite, Johnson was rated as the No. 4 dual-threat junior-college quarterback.

In his only season with the Blue Raiders, Johnson played in one game.  In that lone appearance, Johnson ran for three yards on a pair of carries. He didn’t attempt a pass.

May 18, Kenneth Major committed to MTSU.  The cornerback was a starter at Purdue.  He’ll be eligible to play for the Blue Raiders in 2020.

Middle Tennessee State is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That was the program’s worst record since going 2-10 in 2011.  MTSU also saw its school-record streak of bowl appearances end at four in a row.