It was a busy news day on Tuesday with a new coaching hire, a school opting out of the spring season, and some scheduling announcements.
Austin Peay Hires New Head Coach
The Austin Peay Governors have found their new head coach in Scotty Walden. Walden was the interim head coach at Southern Miss for four games (1-3 record) after former Eagles head coach Jay Hopson resigned after the first game.
Walden will leave Southern Miss immediately.
Walden, 30, will be the 21st head coach in Austin Peay football history. He previously was in charge at the Division II school East Texas Baptist where he went 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the American Southwest Conference for the 2016 season. He then spent three-plus seasons at Southern Miss as the wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator.
For Austin Peay, Walden will be the fourth head coach since 2018. Will Healy led the team in 2018 and then left for Charlotte after the season. Mark Hudspeth was hired to replace Healy and led the Governors to their first OVC title since 1977 and to the FCS Quarterfinals.
Hudspeth resigned unexpectedly in early July and Marquase Lovings was named the interim coach for the brief fall season. The Governors finished 0-3 this fall.
Bethune-Cookman Opts Out
The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats announced they will not participate in any athletic events for the entire 2020-21 year including football.
“In the face of a surging COVID-19 spike across much of the country and the State of Florida, we have concluded that the risks are too great for our student-athletes and staff to travel and compete at this time,” BCU President E. LaBrent Chrite said in a statement. The university has ceased all student athletic activities until further notice, out of an abundance of caution. “The health and safety of our student-athletes, as well as our coaches, staff and fans will always be our top priority.”
Bethune-Cookman becomes the ninth FCS program to forego playing in the spring. The other eight programs to eschew the spring are Abilene Christian, Campbell, Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, Houston Baptist, Sacramento State, Stephen F. Austin, and Towson.
The MEAC released its spring schedule last week with Bethune-Cookman placed in the South Division. The defection of BCU means both MEAC division will now have four teams.
As for Bethune-Cookman, it was not the final season in the MEAC that they expected. The Wildcats are moving to the SWAC starting next season.
CAA Releases Divisions and Schedule
The CAA released two crucial pieces for spring football: the divisional alignment and schedule. With Towson not playing in the spring, the CAA still has 11 teams participating and previously announced a divisional alignment.
On Tuesday, the makeup of the North and South divisions were revealed. The North will have seven teams with Albany, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Stony Brook, and Villanova. The North Division teams will play a round-robin format to reach six conference games.
The South Division will be made up of four teams with Elon, James Madison, Richmond, and William & Mary all playing a double round-robin to reach the six conference games. Each team will get a home game against the other three teams in the South division.
The conference slate is scheduled to begin on Saturday, March 6, 2021 and end on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Each team has a bye week built into the conference schedule for flexibility purposes and each school can schedule up to two non-conference games including against fellow CAA teams.
James Madison has already decided on its two non-conference opponents. On Tuesday, the Dukes unveiled they would play the spring opener on Saturday, February 20 against Morehead State at home. JMU holds a 7-2 lead in the all-time series against Morehead State including an 80-7 shellacking of the Eagles in the most recent game in 2016. The Dukes other non-conference opponent – Robert Morris – was released earlier in October.
Two FCS Teams Set Future Game Versus Stanford
Rounding out the news from the early portion of the week is that the Stanford Cardinal will host two FCS teams according to its future schedules.
The Cardinal will welcome the Colgate Raiders on Saturday, September 3, 2022 and the Cal Poly Mustangs on Saturday, September 7, 2024. It will the first matchup for both FCS programs against Stanford.
Stanford has only one other future game against an FCS school, which will be in 2023 against Sacramento State. Colgate will play at FBS programs Army in 2022 and Colorado in 2027.
Cal Poly has several future games against FBS teams. The Mustangs will play at Fresno State in 2021 and 2022, San Jose State in 2023, and Wyoming in 2025.