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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.”

Ex-Oklahoma four-star DE Ron Tatum Jr. commits UTSA

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UTSA is now the home for a one-time, big-time football recruit.  Unofficially, the Roadrunners are his new home we should say.

On his personal Twitter account this week, Ron Tatum Jr., announced that he has committed to the UTSA football team.  The defensive lineman spent the 2019 season at Northeast Oklahoma A&M.

Tatum would be eligible to play for the Conference USA school in 2020, although 247Sports.com lists his class as 2021.

“I want to start out by saying God is great and he steady showing me he has a plan,” the lineman wrote. “I want to Thank my entire family, my siblings and especially my dad and mom for staying with me and believing in me through this challenging journey.  I also want to Thank NEO Football and the University, especially Coach Allen and Coach Crissup for always pushing me and believing me when things got tough.

“With that being said I’ll be committing to the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)! Thanks you Coach Traylor and Coach Wright for giving me another opportunity.”

Tatum was a four-star member of Oklahoma’s Class of 2018.  The Oklahoma City native was rated as the No. 3 player regardless of position in the Sooner State.  He was also the No. 5 strongside defensive end in the country.

Tatum took a redshirt as a true freshman for the Sooners.  In February of 2019, the 6-5, 270-pound end entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

UTSA is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  The Roadrunners are now 19-29 under head coach Frank Wilson.  The C-USA school is scheduled to open the 2020 season against defending national champ LSU.  In Baton Rouge.

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.

UTSA’s Jeff Traylor to take a 10% cut in his pay

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UTSA is now included in the burgeoning list of college football coaches taking a pandemic-induced salary slashing.

In a letter to donors Tuesday, the San Antonio Express-News reported, it was revealed that the Conference USA school’s “athletic department implemented a 10% salary reduction for the program’s highest-paid coaches and senior staff to combat a six-figure loss this fiscal year due to the coronavirus pandemic.” Included in that, of course, is UTSA head football coach Jeff Traylor.

Traylor was hired as the new coach of the Roadrunners last December.  His predecessor, Frank Wilson, was paid $1.125 million in 2019.

“As we work through the planning process, additional cost-savings measures may very well be needed in the coming months and in the year ahead,” athletic director Lisa Campos wrote in the letter. “Although the pandemic has created unprecedented challenges and budget uncertainty, I remain optimistic about our community’s resilience and the future of UTSA Athletics.”

UTSA is the second Conference USA school to initiate such a cut.  Western Kentucky was the first.

Below is a partial list of FBS programs that have initiated various cost-cutting measures for athletic department personnel, including coaches:

Additionally, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who reportedly made north of $5 million a year ago, is taking a 20% pay cut.  Scott’s Big 12 counterpart, Bob Bowlsby, announced pay cuts for himself and the conference’s staff.