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WATCH: After throwing seven TDs, Mason Fine conducts postgame presser in inflatable T-Rex costume

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This might be my most favorite press conference of the 2019 college football season thus far.  Check that; this is my most favorite press conference of the 2019 college football season thus far.

In North Texas’ 52-26 romp over UTEP, quarterback Mason Fine threw for 332 yards and seven touchdowns in pushing the Mean Green to 4-5 and within further earshot of bowl eligibility.  The touchdowns passes were easily a career-high for the senior, surpassing the four he had put up four times previously.

Where Fine really set himself apart, though, was in the postgame press conference where, in homage to Halloween, the quarterback showed up in an inflatable T-Rex costume.

Granted, I’m easily amused.  But that made me laugh.  A lot.  Probably a lot more than someone my age should.

That said, what’s better: Fine in the costume or Fine’s teammates acting like this is standard operating procedure for their quarterback?

Regardless of the actual answer, everybody wins.

Season of Arizona transfer Devaughn Cooper (shoulder) over at UTEP

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Devaughn Cooper‘s first season in El Paso will be much shorter than hoped for or expected.

Late last month, Cooper suffered a shoulder injury in the Week 5 loss to Southern Miss.  After sitting out the Week 6 loss to UTSA, and coming off a bye weekend, the football program confirmed Wednesday that the wide receiver will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season.

It’s unclear at this point in time if Cooper will be forced to undergo surgery.

The good news for both the player and the program is that Cooper played in just four games.  Because of that, the redshirt junior won’t lose a year of eligibility.

This season, Cooper caught 10 passes for 147 yards before being injured.  He is currently second on the Miners in both categories.

Cooper actually began his collegiate career at Arizona, catching 21 passes for 395 yards in three seasons with the Wildcats.  In early May of this year, Cooper, who had previously considered leaving the Wildcats before opting to stay, was one of two players dismissed from the Arizona football program for violating unspecified team rules.

Three months later, Cooper transferred to UTEP.

Ryan named title sponsor of Conference USA title game

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The Conference USA football championship game now has a title sponsor and it is…. Ryan. No, not Ryan of the Gosling variety, or Nolan, or your friend from college. It’s Ryan, a “leading global tax services and software provider,” a Dallas-based LLC that offers corporate tax services firm.

The Ryan refers to the firm’s founder, G. Brint Ryan, a North Texas graduate and the namesake of UNT’s business school.

The firm will sponsor the game through 2021.

“It is an honor to welcome Ryan as the title sponsor for our premiere football game for the next three years,” commissioner Judy MacLeod said. “With Ryan, we have an outstanding local partner that will be involved not only in our sports, but also in our community efforts on campus in conjunction with the C-USA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. We are excited to move forward and want to thank Chairman and CEO G. Brint Ryan for his team’s efforts in making this partnership a reality.”

Ryan is the third title sponsor of the C-USA Championship, now in its 15th year. Dynacraft BSC sponsored it in 2016-17, and Globe Life did the same in 2018.

All ten FBS conferences now stage their own title games thanks to the Sun Belt’s addition in 2018, and eight have title sponsors:

  • Dr. Pepper — Big 12, SEC, ACC
  • Discover — Big Ten
  • 76 — Pac-12
  • Hampton by Hilton — Mountain West
  • Marathon Petroleum — MAC

The 15th Conference USA Championship, and the inaugural Ryan Conference USA Championship, will take place at the home of the winningest division champion on Dec. 7 (1:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network).

UTEP to honor late TE Luke Laufenberg, who died at 21 after two-year battle with cancer

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Luke Laufenberg may be gone, but his football team is ensuring he won’t be forgotten.

Following a two-year battle with leukemia, the 21-year-old UTEP tight end died earlier this month.  Monday, the Miners announced that the football team will pay tribute to Laufenberg at Saturday’s season opener against Houston Baptist in the Sun Bowl.

According to the program, the tribute will take place between the first and second quarters as a framed jersey will be presented to the player’s family.  Additionally, UTEP players will wear black “Luke” stickers on their helmets throughout the 2019 season.

“Luke Laufenberg touched our hearts and souls forever,” head coach Dana Dimel said in a statement on the day of Laufenberg’s passing. “His spirit and fight are reminders of what it means to play and coach the game of football. He was a fighter, a champion and a wonderful person. He was a very talented young man [who] lived his life and left a huge mark on everyone he came in contact with. He was a wonderful individual and will not be forgotten on our football team. Our student-athletes learned from how he prepared himself and the way he handled adversity. I know Luke loved playing football for UTEP and he will forever be a MINER!”

Laufenberg actually began his collegiate career as a walk-on at Texas A&M. On the day after Christmas 2017, Laufenberg was diagnosed with leukemia; in May of the following year, he was declared cancer-free and, after the 230-pound player had regained the 90-plus pounds he had lost during chemotherapy, began his trek back to college football, first at a junior college in 2018 before signing with UTEP earlier this year.

By the summer, sadly, the disease had returned with a fatal ferocity, with doctors telling his family in July that “his condition was terminal and that he had just a few weeks left.”

UTEP mourns death of TE Luke Laufenberg, 21, after two-year battle with leukemia

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For the second time this month, the insidiousness that is cancer has struck at the heart of college football.

Following a nearly two-year battle with leukemia, Luke Laufenberg passed away early Thursday morning, his father, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Babe Laufenberg, heartbreakingly revealed on Twitter. ” The hole in our hearts will never be filled,” Laufenberg wrote. “You are my hero. RIP my sweet Luke. See you on the other side.”

The younger Laufenberg had just signed with UTEP this past February as a tight end and was expected by many to win a starting job before his health began to fail again later on in the offseason.

Laufenberg actually began his collegiate career as a walk-on at Texas A&M. On the day after Christmas 2017, Laufenberg was diagnosed with leukemia; in May of the following year, he was declared cancer-free and, after the 230-pound player had regained the 90-plus pounds he had lost during chemotherapy, began his trek back to college football, first at a junior college in 2018 before signing with UTEP earlier this year.

By the summer, sadly, the disease had returned with a fatal ferocity, with doctors telling his family in July that “his condition was terminal and that he had just a few weeks left.”

Below is a statement from UTEP head coach Dana Dimel:

Luke Laufenberg touched our hearts and souls forever. His spirit and fight are reminders of what it means to play and coach the game of football. He was a fighter, a champion and a wonderful person. He was a very talented young man that lived his life and left a huge mark on everyone he came in contact with. He was a wonderful individual and will not be forgotten on our football team. Our student-athletes learned from how he prepared himself and the way he handled adversity. I know Luke loved playing football for UTEP and he will forever be a MINER!

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those affected by the young man’s way-too-early passing.­