Successful season? College football played 500-plus games

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Back in August, when there was still doubt about whether a college football would be played during the pandemic, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he would look at the season as a success if he could hand out a championship trophy in December.

The virus is not going to allow for traditional trophy presentations, but Bowlsby and most of his 10 fellow commissioners in major conferences will reach that goal this weekend.

That won’t be the case for the Sun Belt after its title game between No. 9 Coastal Carolina and No. 17 Louisiana-Lafayette was called off because of COVID-19 issues with the Chanticleers. Still, no league got in more of its regular season than the Sun Belt. Despite several postponements, only one regular-season Sun Belt Conference game out of 40 did not get played. Eight of 10 schools played a full, eight-game league schedule.

“I think this is a successful season. There’s no question about it,” Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill said Friday. “We started the season knowing there would be disruption. We’ve kind of played through that disruption.”

The Sun Belt’s breakout season, its first having multiple teams ranked, will end with the Chanticleers (11-0) and Ragin’ Cajuns (9-1) as co-champions. Coastal won at ULL 30-27 on Oct. 14.

Gill was asked about the possibility of the two teams meeting in one of the conference’s affiliated bowl games. He said it was not something he anticipated. Louisiana-Lafayette athletic director Bryan Maggard doesn’t expect it to happen.

“Do I think it would be a great matchup in college football, particularly in 2020? I do. Do I think it would create a lot of interest from a viewership standpoint? I do,” Maggard said. “At the end of the day, that’s going to be a decision that’s out of our control.”

Coastal Carolina (CFP No. 12) still has an outside chance to grab a New Year’s Six bowl bid. If not, Chanticleers coach Jamey Chadwell said, it doesn’t make sense to him for the Sun Belt to have its best teams facing off in the postseason.

“Part of your bowl experience is being able to put the brand of your conference out against other conferences and compare,” said Chadwell, who dismissed any suggestion Coastal had backed out of the game to protect its unbeaten record.

As for the rest of college football, the final weekend of the regular season was down to 19 games after Florida State’s visit to Wake Forest was canceled because the Seminoles would not have enough available offensive linemen.

If no other games are called off, 542 games will be played since Labor Day weekend.

Since Power Five conferences set their revised schedules in late August, AP has counted 118 games that were either postponed or canceled directly because of COVID-19 issues with one or both of the participants. Many have been made up.

If the Southeastern Conference gets through the weekend with no further disruptions, it will have completed 68 of 70 regular-season games and a title game, the highest success rate among the Power Five.

The Pac-12 fared worst in the Power Five, with its teams playing 32 games out of the 42 it hoped to complete when the conference started in early November and left no room to make up games.

“I think we all agreed that, three months ago, if you would have told us this is what we’ll be able to get through, and there would be disruptions, but we would have meaningful opportunities for our student-athletes, and a chance to compete for a College Football Playoff and important bowl games, championship games, I think we all agreed we would have said, ‘OK, it’s going to be choppy, but that would be a good result,’” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said.

How much of the season has been played? According to AP research, here are the Power Five by percentage of conference season completed, assuming remaining games are played through Saturday:

SEC — 97%. Teams played 68 of 70 potential regular-season games, plus a championship game.

Big 12 — 94.5%. Teams played 52 of 55 potential regular-season games, including 43 of 45 conference games, plus a championship game. Nine of 10 Big 12 teams played one nonconference game as planned.

Atlantic Coast Conference — 93%. Teams played 85 of 90 potential regular-season games, including 70 of 75 conference games, plus a championship game. Each of the 15 ACC teams played one nonconference game as planned.

Big Ten — 79%. Teams played 50 of 63 potential games, including the championship game.

Pac-12 — 74%. Teams played 31 of 42 potential games, including the championship game. Colorado also played a nonconference game against San Diego State to replace a canceled conference game.

Group of Five by percentage of conference regular-season games completed:

Sun Belt — 97.5% (39 of 40).

American Athletic Conference — 89% (39 of 44).

Mid-American Conference — 86% (31 of 36).

Mountain West — 78% (36 of 46).

Conference USA — 67% (35 of 52).

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.