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Pair of Texas A&M transfers, one from Oklahoma State move on to Tulsa

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Courtesy of both the Oklahoma State and Texas A&M football teams, Tulsa has seen a Power Five infusion of talent.

Monday, Tulsa announced the additions of seven newcomers to its roster. Two are former Texas A&M football players — linebacker Brian Johnson and running back Deneric Prince — while one is from Oklahoma State — tight end Grayson Boomer.

All three of those transfers will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws. Johnson and Prince will have two years of eligibility remaining, Boomer three.

Prince was a three-star 2018 signee. As a true freshman, he recorded a pair of carries for 21 yards. Both of those totes came in the 2018 opener against FCS Northwestern State.

Prior to entering the NCAA transfer database in mid-September, Prince hadn’t recorded a carry this past season.

Johnson was also a three-star 208 signee. After playing in 13 games as a true freshman — primarily on special teams — he played in four in 2019.

Johnson and Prince attended the same high school in Manvel, Tex.

A four-star 2019 signee, Boomer missed all of 2019 with a torn ACL. Obviously, he took a redshirt for his first season in Stillwater.

Boomer entered the transfer database in early December of last year.

Tulsa bringing Philip Montgomery back for another season, sets bar at bowl game or bust in 2020

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There may be two head coach openings in the AAC eventually this offseason but for now, there’s just one at USF.

That’s the result of Tulsa confirming to the Tulsa World that head coach Philip Montgomery would return to the Golden Hurricane in 2020 despite going 4-8 this past season.

“This football program has enjoyed a lot of success over the last 15 years in particular — 10 bowl games in the last 15 years — but we haven’t been bowl-eligible the past three consecutive years,” AD Derrick Gragg said Thursday. “Everyone involved finds that unacceptable.

“Going forward, we do feel confident that Philip Montgomery is the coach who can get us back to championship-level football. He’s had the program at that level and competed for a division championship (in 2016). But we expect to be bowl-eligible at the base of it as far as a goal program-wise.”

While you famously are what your record says, there’s little doubt that Tulsa was way more competitive than their four wins showed. They were a few missed field goals away from knocking off both Memphis and SMU, each of which won 10 teams this year. They also upset UCF at home and thumped East Carolina to close out 2019 on a high note.

Montgomery has two seasons left on his contract and buying him out of those would have proven to be expensive for a school that generally doesn’t have a ton of money to spend. The stronger showing this season combined with the buyout figure likely made it a pretty easy decision to keep the coaching staff in place going forward.

As Gragg noted though, the bar has already been set for 2020 at a bowl game or bust going forward.

Memphis, Navy headline AAC football award winners

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Ahead of the American Athletic Conference’s championship game this weekend, one of its participants is, not surprisingly, well-represented in the latest league to release its postseason award winners.

Very late Wednesday afternoon, the AAC announced the winners of its five major awards based on regular-season play.  Memphis, which will square off with Cincinnati in the league’s title game Saturday, claimed two of those honors, as did Navy.

Below are those recipients:

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Malcolm Perry, QB, Navy

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Quincy Roche, DE, Temple

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CO-SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Dane Roy, P, Houston
Antonio Gibson, WR/KR, Memphis

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COACH OF THE YEAR
Ken Niumatalolo, Navy

The All-AAC teams were also unveiled, with just two players being unanimous selections — Memphis redshirt freshman running back Kenneth Gainwell, SMU senior wide receiver James Proche.  For the complete list of first- and second-teams as well as honorable mentions, click HERE.

With Tulsa’s upset, UCF has now lost three of seven since 27-game regular-season winning streak snapped

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Entering the 2019 season, being on the wrong side of the won-loss ledger wasn’t something the UCF program was used to the last couple of years.  Unfortunately for that AAC school, it’s become an all-too-familiar feeling of late.

In 2017 and 2018, the Knights won all 24 of its regular-season games.  Add in the first three games of the 2019 campaign, and they were riding a 27-game in-season winning streak in addition to winning 29 of 30 overall.  Week 4, however, saw that streak abruptly snapped as Pitt upended UCF on a trick play in the final minute of a one-point Knights loss.

Another loss to Cincinnati two weeks later followed, although UCF righted the ship to win three in a row heading into its Week 11 matchup with Tulsa on the road Friday night.  Exiting it, however, the Knights head back to the Sunshine State with its third loss in seven games as the Golden Hurricane, who entered the game as 17-point underdogs, came away with a 34-31 upset win.

UCF held a 28-17 lead at halftime and took a 31-24 advantage into the fourth quarter.  A 17-yard touchdown catch by the Golden Hurricane’s Sam Crawford Jr. from Seth Boomer, who replaced the injured starter Zach Smith, with 9:01 left knotted the score at 31-all; a 23-yard field goal by Jacob Rainey, who has missed eight on the season, four minutes later proved to be the game-winner.

The loss not only drops UCF to 7-3 overall but to 4-2 in conference play, two games in the loss column behind a Cincinnati squad that has already knocked off the Knights.  UCF will need to win its last two games (at Tulane, USF) and hope Cincinnati loses three of its last four (UConn, at USF, Temple, at No. 21 Memphis) in order to have a shot at claiming the AAC East.

With the win, Tulsa improves to 3-7 on the season.

AAC latest league to allow walk-ons to transfer without losing a year

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The so-called ‘Baker Mayfield Rule’ continues to spread throughout the country as players’ freedom of movement becomes a hot button issue in the world of the NCAA.

Per a release from the league office, the American Athletic Conference has formally approved a rule change that will allow walk-ons (or, more formally, student-athletes not on scholarship) to transfer to another school in the conference without having to sit a year. 

The move came as part of a broader set of issues that were discussed by AAC presidents and athletic directors during their annual fall meetings this week.

“We had another extremely productive meeting with our presidents and athletic directors this week in Philadelphia,” Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “There was a great deal of discussion about the future of our league and the momentum that we have created as we prepare for our new television/media agreement with ESPN beginning next year. There is enormous enthusiasm in the wake of the Conference’s increasing football, basketball and Olympic sport success and we will continue to energize and refresh our successful P6 campaign.  We discussed the NCAA Board of Governors’ recent statement on name, image and likeness and we will be forming a conference working group to examine further that issue. We are all in agreement that this is a very complicated matter, and that preserving the amateur experience in a way that is fair to all student-athletes is of the utmost importance.”

The Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma first called attention to the issue after he was a walk-on at Texas Tech before eventually transferring to the Sooners and being placed on scholarship. Big 12 rules at the time stated Mayfield had to lose a season of eligibility as a result of the move but that was later amended to allow for such a scenario to happen without a player dropping a season. The Pac-12 and others have followed suit in recent years, with the AAC the latest at the Group of Five level to join the growing chorus.

In January, the NCAA also approved rules changes allowing walk-ons to transfer without penalty but many individual conferences had rules against doing so within their own league. That’s no longer the case in the AAC and others now as walk-ons finally get a measure of freedom that they didn’t have before.