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College football: Mountain West, Mid-American conferences vote to start seasons

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Sept. 25 (UPI) — The Mountain West Conference intends to play an eight-game college football schedule that starts Oct. 24 after altering initial plans to postpone the season until spring 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mountain West board members met Thursday and approved the plan to resume football competitions. The conference issued an indefinite suspension for fall sports Aug. 10. The Mountain West’s plan before the pandemic struck was to start the season Aug. 29.

The conference announced in early August that it would postpone games until the weekend of Sept. 26, before its latest agreement for an October kickoff.

Nevada, Hawaii, San Jose State, San Diego State, UNLV and Fresno State comprise the Mountain West’s West Division. Boise State, Colorado State, Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah State are in the Mountain Division.

The conference championship is planned for Dec. 19. All competitions are subject to state, county and local approvals, as well as COVID-19 testing and safety protocols.

“This is a great opportunity to get our student-athletes back on the field of competition in a cautious and regulated fashion,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a news release.

The conference said each member institution will determine stadium capacities based on state, county and local health ordinances. Individual football schedules will be announced later.

On Friday, the Mid-American Conference followed suit and announced it will begin its football season on Nov. 4 and play a six-game, conference-only schedule.

The MAC on Aug. 8 became the first FBS conference to postpone the fall football season due to the coronavirus. The league said its championship game will take place on Dec. 18 or 19.

The university presidents unanimously approved the decision based on the recommendation of the conference’s medical advisory panel.

“I am pleased to inform our student-athletes, coaches and fans that the Mid-American Conference will resume the fall football season,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement Friday. “Our decisions, in August and again today, have been guided by an overriding concern for the well-being of the student-athletes, institutions and the community at large.

“Our medical advisory group, presidents, directors of athletics and others have worked hard to develop a plan that provides the opportunity for student-athletes to compete. We will be diligent in monitoring the dynamic health environment across the conference footprint and the country.”

The announcements from the MAC and MWC came after the Pac-12 announced Thursday it will play a seven-game, conference-only football schedule beginning in early November. No fans will be allowed to attend on-campus Pac-12 football games.

The Big Ten announced Sept. 16 it would resume football activities and start its 2020 football season Oct. 24, meaning all 10 FBS conferences will have fall football seasons this year.



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Washington Football Team name could remain in 2021 season

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Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker celebrates after kicking a field goal against the Philadephia Eagles on Sunday. The Ravens defeated the Eagles 30-28. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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Ex-Dallas Cowboys DL David Irving signs with Las Vegas Raiders

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Oct. 20 (UPI) — Former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, the team announced Tuesday.

In a statement, the Raiders said Irving was added to the practice squad. The team also activated quarterback Marcus Mariota off injured reserve.

The 27-year-old Irving, who must still complete the NFL’s new six-day player intake process, last played in the NFL in 2018. He announced in March 2019 that he was quitting football.

Irving’s announcement came shortly after the NFL suspended him indefinitely for violating its substance-abuse policy for a third time in as many years. He revealed his decision in an Instagram video where he appeared to be smoking marijuana, saying he was walking away due to the NFL’s restrictive policies on the substance.

But with players no longer being tested for marijuana use under the new collective bargaining agreement, Irving wanted to return to the league. The NFL reinstated Irving on Friday from his indefinite ban.

Irving, an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State, made his NFL debut with the Cowboys in 2015. He recorded 56 total tackles, 12.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 37 career games with Dallas from 2015-18.

Meanwhile, the Raiders are coming off their bye week and could use the extra help on their defensive front. Las Vegas is tied for 29th in the league with seven team sacks. Defensive end Maxx Crosby leads the Raiders with four sacks.

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Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker celebrates after kicking a field goal against the Philadephia Eagles on Sunday. The Ravens defeated the Eagles 30-28. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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Cowboys’ Randy Gregory removed from commissioner’s exempt list

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Oct. 20 (UPI) — Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory has been removed from the commissioner’s exempt list and will be available to play Sunday against the Washington Football Team.

The Cowboys announced Tuesday that Gregory was moved to the active roster ahead of Sunday’s matchup. As part of his conditional reinstatement to the league, he has been able to take part in meetings and workouts over the past two weeks.

Gregory, who had been on the commissioner’s exempt list since being reinstated by the NFL last month, hasn’t played in a game since the Cowboys’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the 2018 divisional round because of an indefinite suspension.

A number of violations of the league’s substance abuse policy led to multiple suspensions for Gregory, who has appeared in only 28 of a possible 86 career games. After his reinstatement, the Cowboys signed him to a one-year extension through 2021.

In 28 career games with Dallas, Gregory — a second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Nebraska — has recorded 41 total tackles, seven sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. His best season came in 2018, when he notched 25 tackles and six sacks over 14 regular-season contests.

Also Tuesday, the Cowboys waived defensive back Saivion Smith. Wide receiver Ventell Bryant, who had been battling a knee injury, was waived off injured reserve.

This week in the National Football League

Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker celebrates after kicking a field goal against the Philadephia Eagles on Sunday. The Ravens defeated the Eagles 30-28. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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