News, Notes & Rumors – May 21
The start time for West Virginia’s Saturday, Sept. 15 football game at North Carolina State was revealed last week. The contest in Raleigh will kickoff at 3:30 p.m., and will be televised by one of the ABC/ESPN channels.
But at this point no details have publicly been revealed for West Virginia’s Sept. 1 opener against Tennessee in Charlotte, N.C. A few rumors are leaking out, though.
Speculation is that the Vols and Mountaineers will kickoff from Bank of America Stadium in mid-afternoon (3:30 range), and while the game may be televised by one of the ABC/ESPN channels, it also could be moved to another network, like Fox.
Final world on the start time and broadcast schedule for that season opener will probably be announced in the coming weeks.
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The Mountaineer football program has been very active in the grad transfer market this spring. And WVU is not necessarily done in that area yet.
This past weekend West Virginia hosted Nick Watkins, a graduate transfer cornerback from Notre Dame.
A native of DeSoto, Texas, which is a suburb of Dallas, Watkins saw action in 23 games as a true freshman and sophomore in 2014 and 2015 for the Irish, though most of that playing time came on special teams.
A broken arm forced him to take a medical redshirt in 2016, but he returned to action at ND last year, starting nine games at cornerback, while collecting 29 tackles, eight pass breakups and one interception.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Watkins lost a battle for a starting corner job this spring to Troy Pride, and thus decided to transfer in search of additional playing time. West Virginia is the first school Watkins has visited so far, though TCU, SMU and Houston also are said to be in the mix.
The Mountaineers’ scholarship situation for the class of 2018 is getting tight, but word is that West Virginia would definitely find a way to make room for Watkins, if he wants to come to Morgantown.
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While West Virginia is dealing with incoming football transfers, some of the outgoing variety are in the process of finding new homes.
Sophomore-to-be nose guard Lamonte McDougle is headed to Washington State. He will have to sit out the 2018 season, and then will have three years of eligibility left with the Cougars.
Another true freshman who saw action for WVU this past season, Reggie Roberson, is transferring to SMU.
Adam Shuler announced this past winter that he was leaving the Mountaineers, but the third-year sophomore did finish up the academic work at WVU necessary this spring in order to obtain his undergraduate degree in multidisciplinary studies.
With diploma in hand, Shuler is eligible as a grad transfer to play immediately at a new school this coming fall and would have two seasons of college eligibility remaining.
One school the 6-foot-4, 272-pounder from Altamonte, Fla., appears very interested in is the University of Florida. Though there was speculation upon his transfer announcement a few weeks ago that he was going focus his athletic future on track, Shuler still seemingly is intent on playing football. But his days as a Mountaineer are over.
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West Virginia has hosted Liberty University a couple times in football over the years (2009 and 2015) when the Flames were a FCS program. If WVU meets Liberty again, it will be as equals, as LU is going to play at the FBS level starting this coming season.
Liberty had been a member of the Big South Conference in all sports for the past 27 years. But it is now moving the Atlantic Sun for everything but football. The A-Sun also features the likes of Florida Gulf Coast, NJIT, North Florida, North Alabama, etc. The Flames’ football program is going to compete as an FBS Independent. It will be one of six independents in the FBS ranks in all of college football, along with Army, BYU, New Mexico State, Notre Dame and UMass. Interestingly, Liberty will face New Mexico State twice this coming season to help each fill out their schedules, with an Oct. 6 meeting in Las Cruces, N.M., and then a regular season finale on Nov. 24 in Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty has enjoyed winning overall records for 12 straight seasons.
Currently coached by Turner Gill, Liberty is in the process of renovating 29-year-old Williams Stadium as part of its move to the FBS. Its seating capacity will be 25,000 once the construction is completed in 2019.
West Virginia does not currently have Liberty on a future football schedule, but the odds are at some point the Mountaineers and Flames again will meet. And when that happens, both will be FBS teams.
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The Big 12’s basketball teams may have a second “Challenge” to deal with in the years ahead.
The Big 12-SEC Challenge already pits men’s and women’s clubs from the two leagues against each other over the course of one weekend in the regular season.
Now the Big 12 is exploring the possibility of teaming with another conference for a second “Challenge.”
Reportedly the Big 12 and Big East are discussing a similar such matchup. The Big 12’s 10 teams would still each meet a foe from the SEC every season, but all of them would also add a regular season game against one of the 10 teams from the Big East. The Big 12/Big East Challenge would potentially start in the 2019-20 season.
With home-and-home contracts with other major conference teams becoming increasingly more difficult to negotiate, such built-in games are becoming attractive throughout college basketball.
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Point guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore, who was expected to be a graduate transfer for the Mountaineer women’s basketball team, withdrew from summer classes and will not attend West Virginia University. Instead she will return to the University of South Carolina.