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QB Austin Kirksey to transfer from Nevada, walk-on at Georgia

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It appears Georgia’s quarterback room will have a new addition, courtesy of a Group of Five program.

According to Nevada Sports Net‘s Chris Murray, Austin Kirksey has decided to leave the Nevada football team.  The reason given for the true freshman’s departure was a personal family issue.

As for the quarterback’s future, Murray reports that the Marietta, Ga., native plans to walk-on at Georgia after finishing out the semester at Nevada.

“He’s going to move back to Georgia to be close to his family,” head coach Jay Norvell said. “Really sad to see him go. What a great kid. He’s like a straight-A student, an awesome young man and very close to his family. A great family. We’re sad to see him go, but I certainly understand him wanting to be closer to his family.”

A three-star member of the Wolf Pack’s 2019 recruiting class, Kirksey was rated as the No. 59 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 170 player at any position in the state of Georgia.  Only three players in Norvell’s class this past cycle were rated higher than Kirksey.

Kirksey hadn’t seen the field this season prior to his decision to leave the program.

Nevada WR Jeshua Fixel facing DUI charge

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If Ye Olde Arrest Ticker was still around, it’d be time for a rare game-day resetting of the meter back to double zeroes.

The latest player to hit an off-field pothole is Jeshua Fixel, with NevadaSportsNet.com reporting that the Nevada true freshman was arrested very early Friday morning on a charge of first-offense driving under the influence. That charge is a misdemeanor.

No details of what led up to the walk-on wide receiver’s arrest have been released.

In a statement, a program spokesperson said that “[w]e were disappointed to learn of this incident this morning and we are in the process of acquiring more details at this time.”

Fixel hasn’t played a down for the Wolf Pack this season and, as noted by the website, he has been a part of Nevada’s scout team during practice.

Mountain West commish says new TV deal could be done in next month

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TV revenues have skyrocketed for those schools in the Power Five and now it’s time for a few leagues in the Group of Five to get their turn at the table. Following large deals from the MAC and AAC in recent years, the Mountain West is the next man up and it appears as though a deal could be wrapped up soon.

Speaking to reporters at the conference’s basketball media day on Tuesday, commissioner Craig Thompson said he expects something to be announced at some point in the next 30 days or so on the media rights front. One sticking point for both the league and member schools? The number of late night kickoffs (often pushing past 7 or 8 p.m. local) involved in the deal, which is expected to carry a higher price-tag precisely because MWC schools can kickoff that late to fill such time slots on the TV schedule.

“Let me just say this, there will be 8 o’clock tipoffs and kickoffs,” Thompson said, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. “I know that’s a concern for everybody – for fans, administrators. If we can possibly get the number 7 in there it would be a real bonus.”

Late night kickoffs have been an issue for Pac-12 schools as well in recent years and their Group of Five neighbor understands just as much the tough calculus to make between a game starting at a reasonable hour and the bigger paycheck that awaits when filling a time slot too late for most.

Thompson declined to get into much in terms of what kind of dollars the conference is expecting but it would be a surprise if it’s not a hefty raise over their current deals with ESPN and CBS Sports. Interestingly the commissioner noted that for as successful as the MWC has been this year, the kind of on-field performance that comes with knocking off several of their Power Five brethren isn’t really a factor in negotiations. 

While there are a lot of unknowns as a result with the upcoming TV deal in terms of years, money and partners, it was already revealed earlier this year that Boise State’s sweetheart carve-out that pays the Broncos extra money will remain once the new contracts are signed. That carve-out dates back to when the school briefly left for the Big East but decided to remain in the MWC during one of the many rounds of conference realignment.

Industry observers and conference fans are anxiously awaiting details given how long the process has played out but it seems everybody won’t have to wait much longer before things become official out West. 

Arkansas, Penn State trade Group of Five opponents for 2020 season openers

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While it’s not technically a college football trade, that is basically what Arkansas and Penn State pulled off this week. 

In a move you simply don’t see much, the two Power Five schools essentially traded Group of Five opponents for their 2020 season openers according to a number of reports.

WholeHogSports first reported that the Razorbacks had inked a deal to replace Kent State with Nevada for the SEC program’s season opener on Sept. 5, 2020. The originally scheduled game against the Golden Flashes wasn’t cancelled outright, but was instead shifted back to Sept. 9, 2023.

Now that whole switcheroo would have left Penn State (and Kent State) with an opening on Sept. 5 because, you see, they had previously scheduled the Wolf Pack for that same date. With Nevada instead going Southeast and not Northeast that week, the Nittany Lions apparently did the easiest thing for everybody and added the Golden Flashes to the docket instead. 

So while it may not have truly happened like a few GM’s trading players on the professional level, it sort of played out that way in Arkansas and Penn State essentially swapping Kent State and Nevada on the schedule in 2020. Everybody apparently seems happy with the new arrangement and we’re guessing that the money works out for both the MAC and Mountain West programs to accommodate the changes too.

Arkansas and Nevada will play next season for the first time ever as a result, which is certainly an interesting decision on account of the Razorbacks considering they’ve lost to Mountain West programs each of the last two years (San Jose State in 2019, at Colorado State in 2018) and Jay Norvell’s Wolf Pack recently upset a Power Five opponent (Purdue) this season. Either way, they’ll serve as Arkansas’ warm-up before the team travels to South Bend to take on Notre Dame on Sept. 12, 2020. Home games against FCS Charleston Southern and Louisiana-Monroe round out the program’s non-conference schedule.

As for PSU, they know Kent State well having met six times in State College over the years — most recently a 63-10 win for the Nittany Lions in 2018. Penn State also travels to Virginia Tech and hosts San Jose State in their non-conference slate next season.

Nevada, meanwhile, also has a cross-country trip to USF in late September and hosts UTEP and UC Davis in non-con action in 2020. That’s nothing compared to the Golden Flashes however, as Kent State hosts Kennesaw State and travels to two SEC teams next year, Kentucky and Alabama, in addition to the trip to Beaver Stadium.

QB change at Nevada puts former Last Chance U star and FSU QB Malik Henry in starting role

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Things have not gone well for Nevada on the football field this season. Now, the Wolfpack are making a change at starting quarterback. Malik Henry, the former Florida State quarterback, will take on the starting job beginning this week against San Jose State.

Henry was named the backup quarterback to begin the season behind Carson Strong by head coach Jay Norvell. But a struggling offense regardless of who has been playing quarterback for Nevada has led to this latest decision by Norvell.

“We are going to start Malik Henry at quarterback this week,” Norvell said during a Monday press conference, according to Nevada Sports Net. “I just feel like at this point in the season with where we are as a team that Malik deserves his opportunity. It ain’t musical chairs. Malik is going to play. His opportunity to play is this week. We’ll do what we feel like we have to do as a team to win.”

This will be Henry’s first chance to start a college game. Henry walked on at Nevada in January after two seasons at Independence Community College in Kansas, which was feature don the Netflix docuseries “Last Chance U.” Henry transferred to the JUCO program after leaving Florida State.