With XFL canceling season, football eyes look to Week 0 for hope (including Notre Dame vs Navy in Ireland)

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The XFL officially shut down its 2020 football season on Friday. The decision was to be expected given the current state of the sports world in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. College football certainly has not been immune to the impact the coronavirus has had on the sports world, with conferences shutting everything down for spring sports and spring football practices and games this year. Now, college football will offer the next batch of games that will really count in 2020, barring any other unforeseen delays.

As things stand now, there are currently seven games involving FBS teams scheduled to play in college football’s Week 0 (Saturday, August 29). Arizona is scheduled to host Hawaii, UCLA will host New Mexico State, East Carolina will host Marshall, Nevada is scheduled to host UC Davis, and New Mexico is slated to host Idaho State.

UNLV is tentatively scheduled to host California, although the current state of the brand new football stadium being constructed in LAs Vegas could be in question with the coronavirus outbreak interfering with so many facets of our lives, including construction projects.

Perhaps the most notable Week 0 game will be played abroad, so long as it is deemed safe to do so by the time that game comes along. Notre Dame and Navy are scheduled to square off in Dublin, Ireland for a 2:00 p.m. ET kickoff. As long as we are back to a relatively normal way of life by the end of August, that should be a fun age to help kick off the new college football season. Hopefully, travel restrictions and extra precautions in the post-coronavirus world will not get in the way of the experience for Notre Dame, Navy, and their fans planning on attending. Of course, safety always comes first. As of now, there is no indication this game will be altered in any way, and the hope is to keep it that way.

Once we do get college football back in the mix, it will be a comforting sign that things are getting back to normal, and we’ll all need that. Until then, wash those hands and keep your distance.

Air Force football sanctioned for recruiting violations

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force football program received two years of probation from the NCAA and had its squad size reduced by 10 for four years as part of its sanctions for recruiting violations.

The penalties were announced Thursday after Air Force and four individuals reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations. A fifth individual in the case has contested their role and will be heard by the committee on infractions.

The sanctions also include a fine and a reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program in the 2022-23 and `23-24 academic years. In addition, there’s a prohibition on unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022, and a reduced number of evaluation days this fall.

Air Force has around 115 players on its varsity roster, plus a JV team that all count as NCAA athletes and its roster size.

“The (committee) appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, the chief hearing officer for the panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

In a joint statement, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and director of athletics Nathan Pine said: “The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff.”

The Falcons are off to a 3-1 start and host Navy on Saturday to begin the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition. The trophy is presented to the service academy with the best record in the round-robin format.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”