Monday’s roundup: ACC commits to medical observers
Pinehurst, N.C. — The Atlantic Coast Conference will have team medical observers in the booth during games this fall to improve player safety, commissioner John Swofford said Monday.
Speaking during the ACC Kickoff preseason media day, Swofford said observers will travel to all games with a team, including on the road.
“This team-specific medical observer will have the benefit of knowing the medical history of the players, because it will be somebody who is involved with them on an ongoing and day-to-day basis,” he said.
Swofford said league athletic directors approved the measure unanimously Sunday. He said the medical observer won’t be able to stop the game but will be able to communicate with that team’s sideline to spot problems that might have gone unnoticed, have a timeout called or have a player pulled from the game.
“This is all experimental,” he said. “So we’ll see how it actually works in real time, and if there needs to be some adjustment to that, then we’ll see in future years.”
Swofford compared the measure to one implemented by the Pac-12.
“It’s the right thing to do,” North Carolina State athletic director Debbie Yow said. “For all the right reasons. We’ll figure out the logistics (such as) where does person sit — they have to be near the phone, obviously.”
Swofford’s comments came during his annual preseason forum covering a range of topics, including the need for NCAA reform that includes cost of attendance, as well as the College Football Playoff.
As for the potential creation of an ACC TV channel, Swofford said discussions with ESPN remain ongoing, but there is no timetable.
ACC sorry for expletives
The ACC has apologized for a sentence with two expletives that appeared on a page in its football media guide.
Spokeswoman Amy Yakola says the league “appropriately updated” online versions to remove the all-caps sentence. The league pulled printed copies not already distributed at the ACC Kickoff media days.
It is unclear how the mistake occurred.
Sun Belt wants more ‘peer’ games
Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson wants the league’s football programs to work on shedding their “addiction” to big-money, non-conference matchups with heavily favored Power Five programs.
More non-league games with “peer conferences” would improve the chances of a Sun Belt team going unbeaten and getting a bid to one of six New Year’s Day bowl games, the commissioner said at the conference’s media day Monday.
“As nice as it is and as great as it is to win a game against one of the ‘Big Five’ — I don’t want to minimize that — but right now, in the system that we have, competition with our peer conferences is so important,” Benson said. “Those are the games that we really need to focus on.”
This season, the combined schedules of the Sun Belt’s 11 teams include 35 non-conference games against the other nine leagues classified in the NCAA’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Of those, 19 are against so-called “Power Five” teams in the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac 12 and Big 12. The other 16 are against teams from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the American Athletic Conference and the Mountain West Conference.
“The Sun Belt’s goal is to be the best conference of our four peer conferences,” Benson said.
Sun Belt member Louisiana-Monroe anticipates significant pay days from games at Georgia and Alabama in the first month of the season, and Kentucky later on. Whether the Warhawks can be competitive in either game is another matter.
But other teams, such Louisiana-Lafayette, have only one Power Five team scheduled. The Ragin’ Cajuns, who are among the top contenders to win the Sun Belt, will play Kentucky of the SEC, but the rest of their non-conference games include Akron of the Mid-American, Louisiana Tech of Conference USA, and FCS squad Northwestern State.
Army player recovering
Army football player Josh Jenkins is recovering from a head injury stemming from a fight with another cadet during the Fourth of July weekend.
The academy says Jenkins was injured near his barracks room after returning from an off-campus restaurant. Jenkins was later taken to Westchester Medical Center for evaluation after classmates observed him acting out of character.
The academy is investigating. West Point did not immediately respond to a request from The Associated Press on Monday for an update on Jenkins’ condition.
Jenkins is a junior cornerback from Pittsburg, Calif. He led the team with four interceptions in 2014, ranked second with 63 tackles and had eight pass breakups.