Orangeyes Daily Articles for Friday - for Football | Syracusefan.com

Orangeyes Daily Articles for Friday for Football

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Welcome to Bell Bottoms Day!

Bell-bottoms or flares, pants that flare below the knees into what look like bells, are celebrated today with Bell Bottoms Day. Made of materials such as denim, polyester, and cotton, and into styles like jeans and corduroys, bell-bottoms are often worn with platform shoes so that their bells stay off the ground.

Early records show that flared or belled pants were worn by sailors during the War of 1812, but they likely were worn by sailors as far back as the 1600s. They served a utilitarian purpose, making it easier for sailors to roll up their pants when they had to work or walk in high water. Flared pants also made it safer for them if they fell in water: the pants could be taken off quicker than other pants—over shoes—and they could more easily be inflated into a life preserver than other pants. Until 1998, bell-bottoms were part of the US Navy's uniform.

In the 1920s, French designer Coco Chanel designed pants for women inspired by the flared pants of sailors. Her wide-legged pants, called "yachting pants" and "beach pajamas," brought bell-bottom-like pants into fashion, and were the forerunners of the fashionable bell-bottoms that came decades later.

Bell-bottoms reached their zenith in the 1960s and '70s. In the mid-1960s they were part of European women's fashion. In America, they emerged as a reaction to the conservative clothing styles and attitudes of the 1950s, being worn by hippies of a burgeoning counterculture in the late 1960s. At first, they were not sold in regular clothing stores because they were viewed as being subversive. Hence, they were purchased at Navy surplus stores, where they were inexpensive. The repurposing of military clothing had added significance because many who wore it were against the Vietnam War. Straight-legged pants were sometimes also torn at the bottom and fabric was added to make them into bell-bottoms.

SU News

Spring football notebook: Nunzio Campanile's new role, o-line injuries (DO; O'Brien)


After reading over his football notes, Dan Villari’s routine the night before the next day’s practice becomes pretty simple. He eats a lot of carbohydrates and pasta. Yesterday evening, Villari also decided to watch “The Godfather” while he ate. He added some popcorn to the viewing experience. During the day, Villari prefers the purple banana smoothie that the team will provide for the players.

This is all part of an effort by Villari to keep his body in working order. Following an intense season, whose latter half had the tight end take a plurality of snaps under center, Villari has this night routine and food preferences to keep up with the intensity of the current spring ball practices.

In today’s practice, Villari and fellow tight end David Clement were with the offensive linemen, focusing on blocking more. He still catches passes, though, and is looking forward to a closed-door scrimmage on Saturday. Villari feels there is plenty of chemistry amongst the offensive players, and the results will reflect that.

“I’m surprised about this team about how many touchdowns we’re throwing,” Villari said. “I mean, we look really good.”

Here are some more observations from today’s Syracuse spring ball practice:

Campanile and McCord

As Kyle McCord threw short passes in the middle of the field inside Ensley Athletic Center, SU quarterbacks coach Nunzio Campanile, the interim head coach for the end of the 2023 season, stood right there with him.

When McCord started to throw deeper balls to Georgia transfer receiver Zeed Haynes, Campanile walked right into the middle of the progression. It didn’t matter for McCord, though, who still completed the pass to Haynes.

“He’s a really accurate passer, he’s really smart, he’s doing a great job of understanding the scheme,” Campanile said.

With McCord now Syracuse’s field general, Campanile said building chemistry will be important for him while playing in a new offensive scheme. Part of working together has been learning the in-helmet communication system, which was approved by the ACC back in February.

Another aspect for Campanile in working with McCord is pressure. According to Pro Football Focus, McCord was the best quarterback in the Big Ten regarding passer rating in a clean pocket. But under pressure, McCord had one of the worst passer ratings. Campanile said with pro style quarterbacks, like McCord, there will be pressure coming from the middle of the field. So the coach wants to create stress for the quarterback to improve his decision making.

“The reality is you’re always trying to create an environment where they feel like they’re under stress and making decisions because other than the game, how else do they get it?” Campanile said. “They don’t get hit really in practice, they don’t see a lot of those things.”

Nunzio’s adjustment

Campanile now has his second role in as many years with Syracuse. Aside from being the interim head coach for the last game of the regular season and the Boca Raton Bowl against South Florida, Campanile was the tight ends coach for the Orange in 2023. But he has enjoyed his transition to quarterbacks coach.

“It’s about as much fun as I’ve had coaching football in a long time,” Campanile said of being the quarterbacks coach.

The last time he was a quarterbacks coach was in 2022 at Rutgers while he served as an interim offensive coordinator. But Campanile said he has coached quarterbacks his whole life. Now in Syracuse, Campanile wants to make the offensive terminology understandable for the players, making sure it translates which in turn makes the game as simple as possible.
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Nunzio Campanile on Kyle McCord: ‘He carries himself like a pro every day’ (PS; $; Leiker)
Nunzio Campanile stood just to the side of the staffer simulating snaps to Syracuse football’s quarterbacks, one arm stretched as high as possible above his head.

Acting like a defender trying to bat down a ball, his quarterbacks had to make sure their passes made it over his hand — undoubtedly a few inches lower than that of an average ACC defensive lineman, but worth the effort nonetheless — to the other staffer stationed out where a receiver might end up at the end of a flat or slant route.

“The reality is you’re always trying to create an environment where they feel like they’re under stress and making decisions,” Campanile said Thursday. “Other than the game, how else do they get it? They don’t get hit really in practice. They don’t see a lot of those things...

“We try to make sure that practice is as challenging as possible... The last thing we want is guys that when they feel pressure run out of the pocket. We want guys that can stand in there, hang in there, make decisions and throw the ball accurately.”

That comment from Campanile came in response to a question about concerns that Kyle McCord’s passing numbers were affected significantly last season at Ohio State when he didn’t have a clean pocket in which to operate. He hasn’t traditionally been a QB who scrambles successfully, finishing last season with -65 rushing yards.

But early returns on McCord’s play, leadership and overall attitude since his transfer and through spring ball have been overwhelmingly positive, and Campanile continued that praise in his first chat with local media since being retained for Fran Brown’s staff and transitioned from tight ends coach to quarterback coach.

“He carries himself like a pro every day,” Campanile said of Syracuse’s starting QB. “I think he’s a great example to the guys in the room and the guys on the team.”

Campanile said McCord does have some learning to do when it comes to extending a play under the pressure defenses traditionally apply against pro-style offenses, but that that argument could be made for most quarterbacks — even Tom Brady.

And conversely, he said, the backup quarterbacks, Carlos Del Rio-Wilson and Braden Davis, have some learning to do about how to play in the pocket instead of trying to escape it the second they feel the heat.
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Syracuse football says to 5-star WR Winston Watkins Jr. - 'come here and be a legend' (itlh; Adler)
In late March, 2025 five-star wide receiver Winston Watkins Jr. from Florida went on a trip to Syracuse football, and a top national analyst writes that it proved a "very interesting visit."

national recruiting director Adam Gorney, in an article on various highly ranked prospects, dished on the 5-foot-10, 172-pound Watkins, who is ranked in the top 15 nationally by that recruiting service.

Gorney, this week, wrote that Watkins "had a very interesting visit to Syracuse over the weekend where the message was for Watkins to 'come here and be a legend.' That could be a compelling case for Watkins, who backed off earlier pledges to Texas A&M and Colorado, and has done a full reset of his recruitment. ... The pitch was also to start his own way at Syracuse and to go there to create something special."

Sounds good to me. The national analyst noted that, besides the Orange, others involved with Watkins include Florida, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Indiana, Ohio State, Tennessee, Florida State, Texas and Oregon, among others.

Syracuse football faces steep competition for 2025 five-star wide receiver Winston Watkins Jr.
Throughout his recruitment, Watkins has received more than 30 scholarship offers from a range of high-major programs. The standout at the First Baptist Academy in Naples, Fla., picked up a scholarship offer from head coach Fran Brown and the Orange staff on December 26, 2023, according to Watkins' X account.

As a junior in the 2023 season, per the MaxPreps Web site, Watkins tallied 1,907 all-purpose yards. Through the air, he hauled in 61 passes for 1,170 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Within the high school junior class, is currently the most bullish on him, placing Watkins at No. 14 overall, No. 2 at wide receiver and No. 2 in Florida.

At the time of this writing, both the industry-generated 247Sports Composite and the industry-generated On3 Industry Ranking had Watkins in the top 200 nationally, the top 25 at wide receiver and the top 30 in Florida within the 2025 cycle.

When I penned this article on Wednesday, Syracuse football had landed at least 11 verbal commitments so far in its 2025 class.

The 247Sports Composite rated this 'Cuse cycle at No. 16 around the country, as Brown and his assistants have gotten off to a terrific start with their 2025 class, while also recently adding a pledge from four-star, top-80 national prospect Demetres Samuel Jr. to kick off their 2026 cycle.
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Syracuse football one of 5 'front-runners' for 4-star Jeff Exinor Jr., analyst says (itlh; Adler)
Four-star athlete/wide receiver Jeff Exinor Jr. from Maryland, rated in the top 250 nationally of the 2025 class by multiple recruiting services, is planning to officially visit Syracuse football in mid-June.

This week, a top national analyst discussed the recruitment of the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Exinor, saying that for the time being, there are five front-runners to land him, including the Orange.


Per , Exinor recently went on an unofficial visit to Big Ten Conference member Michigan State. Also according to , he has official visits planned, running from late May until late June, to the Spartans, Penn State, Maryland and Syracuse football. Additionally, per his X account, Exinor plans to officially visit Virginia Tech on April 12.

In a recent piece, national recruiting director Adam Gorney said that Exinor's recent trip to Michigan State went well. At this juncture, per Gorney, the five front-runners for Exinor are Penn State, Michigan State, Maryland, Virginia Tech and the 'Cuse.

Syracuse football is a big contender for 2025 four-star athlete/wide receiver Jeff Exinor Jr.

According to , Exinor is scheduled to officially visit the Orange during the weekend that begins on June 14. By the way, several other Syracuse football 2025 four-star targets are planning to take official visits to the Hill that weekend as well.
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https://mikefarrellsports.com/portal/the-cuse-three-2024-impactful-transfers-for-syracuse-football (mikefarrellsports.com; Thomas)
Dino Babers
is out and Fran Brown is in as the head man of the Syracuse football program. Brown, hired away from the 2-time national champion Georgia Bulldogs, is considered the top recruiter in college football, according to 247Sports.

Babers led the ‘Cuse to a 4-0 record to start the 2023 season, then they lost seven of their last nine games to finish the regular season at 6-6. After a 45-0 demolition at the hands of the South Florida Bulls in the Boca Raton Bowl, Babers lost his job.

Heading into the 2024 season, Coach Brown has lived up to his recruiting superlatives by assembling a class of high school prospects and talented transfers that is rated the highest in 10 years. Among those talented transfers are three that will make a positive impact on Syracuse football in the fall.


QB Kyle McCord

Previous School: Ohio State Buckeyes

6’3”, 215 lbs.

As a first-year starter for the Buckeyes in 2023, Kyle McCord passed for 3,170 yards, 24 touchdowns, and six INTs, while completing 66% of his passes and helping to lead Ohio State to an 11-2 record. Those numbers were good enough for #2 in the Big Ten. For is efforts, he was shown the fast lane out of Columbus by head coach Ryan Day.

McCord recorded four games of three passing touchdowns and 70% completion percentage. In addition, McCord went six consecutive weeks without throwing an INT (while throwing 12 TD passes over that stretch). As a result, McCord earned 2nd Team All-Big Ten honors.


S Devin Grant

Previous School: Buffalo Bulls

6’3”, 180 lbs.

Devin Grant was #2 on the Buffalo team in tackles last season with 79. In addition, Grant picked off five passes (#6 in FBS), broke up four passes, forced a fumble, and blocked two kicks. Three of those INTs came against Central Michigan, and two were returned for scores.
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Franklin and Lally to Serve as Spring Game Guest Coaches - Syracuse University Athletics (cuse.com)
The Syracuse Spring Game on April 20 will have some additional Orange back on the sidelines.

Orange alums John Lally and Zaire Franklin will serve as guest coaches for the game. Tickets are free to the public at Cuse.com/Tickets.

Franklin, an NFL star, was a three-time captain for the Orange before going on to lead the Colts in tackles in each of the past two seasons. He has served as a captain each of the past four seasons and signed a three-year 31.5 million extension this offseason to keep him in Indy. Franklin has the second-most tackles in the NFL over the past two seasons.

Lally played offensive guard from 1977-81 for the Orange, before going on to a successful business career. Originally from Clarence, New York, Lally is the former president and owner of PCB Piezotronics Inc., headquartered in Depew, New York. In 2019, he pledged the lead gift for the creation of the John A. Lally Athletics Complex, the state-of-the-art academic and athletics village that serves as home to 20 Syracuse University athletics teams. The hub of activity and the center of student-athlete life for Syracuse University athletics, the Lally Athletics Complex supports the academic and athletic experience of the Orange 600 student-athletes.
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The Spring Game will kickoff at 7 p.m. Fans who can't make it in person can watch on ACCNX.

Syracuse Football: 'Cuse continues to recruit New Jersey hard, 4-star WR to visit (itlh; Adler)

Syracuse football head coach Fran Brown, a New Jersey native, and his staff secured commitments from a ton of talented prospects who hail from that state.

New Jersey native Fran Brown, who was officially introduced as the new head coach of Syracuse football on December 4, recruited a lot of talented four-star and three-star prospects from that state for his strong 2024 class.
On Wednesday, which kicked off the early signing period for high school seniors, the Orange landed official commitments from 24 players, including six transfers.
Many of those new Syracuse football commits hail from New Jersey. Additionally, several of Brown’s assistant coaches are from the Garden State.
Brown and his staff, in a short period of time, did a tremendous job of hauling in a great 2024 cycle, inclusive of both high school players and college transfers.

Let’s look at those Syracuse football commits who come from New Jersey.

Here are 2024 high school commits who reside in New Jersey:
•Three-star defensive lineman Maraad Watson of Irvington High School in Irvington, N.J.
•Three-star defensive end/tight end Jahide Lesaine Jr. of Irvington High School in Irvington, N.J.
•Three-star defensive back Braheem Long of Camden High School in Camden, N.J.
•Three-star wide receiver Ta’Ron Haile of Millville Senior High School in Millville, N.J.
•Three-star wide receiver Jaylan Hornsby of Winslow Township High School in Atco, N.J.
•Four-star wide receiver Emanuel Ross of Red Bank Catholic High School in Red Bank, N.J.
•Four-star running back Yasin Willis of Saint Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, N.J.
•Three-star linebacker Jayden Brown of the Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, N.J.
•Three-star linebacker Fatim Diggs of Eastside High School in Camden, N.J.
Three of the Orange’s 2024 pledges are from the state of Georgia. Prior to joining the ‘Cuse as its head coach, Brown served as the defensive backs coach at Southeastern Conference powerhouse Georgia. Here are those players:
•Four-star edge KingJoseph Edwards of Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Ga.
•Three-star quarterback Jakhari Williams of the First Presbyterian Day School in Macon, Ga.
•Four-star tight end/wide receiver Jamie Tremble of The Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, Ga.
Two former Georgia players have transferred to the Orange, and they are four-star freshman wide receiver Yazeed Haynes and three-star junior wide receiver Jackson Meeks.
Haynes is a native of Philadelphia who attended North Penn High School in Lansdale, Pa.
Both Brown and new Syracuse football defensive coordinator Elijah Robinson, who are long-time friends, grew up in Camden, N.J., which is near Philadelphia and Lansdale.
Three-star West Virginia freshman linebacker James Heard Jr., who has transferred to the Orange, went to Camden High School in Camden.
Four-star Texas A&M junior defensive lineman Fadil Diggs, who is also transferring to the ‘Cuse, is the older brother of Fatim Diggs. Fadil Diggs played at Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, which is now known as Eastside High School.
Robinson, by the way, is currently the interim head coach and co-defensive coordinator at SEC school Texas A&M.
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(youtube; podcast; Syracuse Orange)

On the latest episode of Syracuse Sports, Brent Axe and Emily Leiker put the spotlight on the Syracuse football quarterback room.Ohio State transfer Kyle McCord is clearly QB 1 for the Orange. How is he leading and developing chemistry with his new teammates since arriving in January? How is the backup QB situation rounding out? Brent and Emily discuss that and hear from QB coach Nunzio Campanile and tight end Dan Villari on how McCord is acclimating at Syracuse.

Isaiah Hastings "The 315" 4-4-24 (ESPN; radio; The 315)

New Syracuse Football transfer Isaiah Hastings joins Brian Higgins on #The315 to talk about the upcoming season for SU. The two discussed the move from Toronto to Alabama to now ‘Cuse. Isaiah went over his expectations of the team, coaches, himself, and more!

SU football less than 8 disappointment - cusesportstalk on Twitch (twitch.tv; radio; CuseSportsTalk)


SU football less than 8 disappointment

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Kirby Lee Usa Today Sports

Cardinals Met With Syracuse DB (si.com; Druin)

The Arizona Cardinals continue to explore draft opportunities in the secondary after virtually meeting with Syracuse DB Isaiah Johnson, the player revealed in a recent interview with The Draft Network.

"I’ve spoken with a bunch of teams since the NFL Combine. I met with a few more teams at my Pro Day as well. We’re scheduling some visits as we speak. I met with the Cardinals on Zoom. I met with the Titans, Steelers and Lions at Pro Day. I spoke with the Bills and Cowboys as well," he said.

Johnson is considered versatile enough to play either cornerback or safety at the next level. Arizona is set at safety with Budda Baker/Jalen Thompson but could look to bring more corner help to the desert even after signing Sean Murphy-Bunting in free agency.

More from his official Syracuse bio:

"Team captain ... Started every game of the regular season ... Was fifth on the team with 62 tackles ... Also had six pass breakups, one interception, a forced fumble and a tackle for loss on the year ... Graded out as Syracuse's second-best defender according to Pro Football Focus ... Was responsible for just four opponent passing touchdowns on 51 targets ... Made five tackles and a tackle for loss in the season opener vs. Colgate (9/2) ... Had a season-high nine tackles and a pass breakup against Western Michigan (9/9) ... Made five tackles, forced a fumble and had a pass breakup at Purdue (9/16) ... Made five tackles against Army (9/23) ... Notched a solo tackle against Clemson (9/30) ... Had five tackles at North Carolina (10/7) ... Tallied four tackles at Florida State (10/14) ... Had two pass breakups and allowed just one reception on four targets at Virginia Tech (10/26), while also tallying seven tackles ... Notched six tackles and a PBU against Boston College (11/3) ... Made five tackles and broke up a pass against Pittsburgh (11/11) ... Recorded his first interception at Syracuse and added three tackles at Georgia Tech (11/18) ... Made seven tackles against Wake Forest (11/25) ... Did not play in the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl ... Senior Bowl Watch List."

The Cardinals have 11 total draft picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, six of which come in the first three rounds. The first night of the draft - where Arizona currently has two first-round picks - begins on April 25.

Syracuse Football: “Super League” Bound? (orangefizz.net; Aitken)
“The current model for governing and managing college athletics is dead.”

That’s what Kent Syverud, the chancellor of Syracuse University, said to The Athletic in an article released earlier this week.

It’s a statement made in the midst of a flurry of changes happening in college sports, with football being the main proponent for change. Name, Image, and Likeness has brought the payment of players into the public eye, the transfer portal has opened up, and conferences are either growing or collapsing.

In an attempt to navigate through that, Syverud is a part of a group campaigning for a “Super League” for college football. There would be 80 teams, split across eight divisions with ten members each. The top seven divisions would be locked into the Super League, while schools in the last division would be involved in a promotion/delegation system with a second-tier league made up of an additional 50 schools.

This is a system that feels as though it’s pulling in two different directions. On one hand, it’s very new and out of the ordinary for college football. There would be much more organization than before, from a league that’s sole focus is football. On the other hand, and in a weird way, a Super League would keep some key parts of the sport the same. It would keep more teams relevant than the alternative, a world where the Big Ten and SEC start to separate themselves from other conferences.

That last point is most relevant to Syracuse right now. The ACC is by all accounts still a power conference, but far from the top two. In 2022, the SEC and Big Ten brought in $2 billion of revenue each. The ACC, along with the Big 12, brought in roughly half of that.
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ACC News

How an 80-team, 8-division 'Super League' would've looked in 2023 (theathletic.com; Khan Jr)


A college football “Super League”? It may not be as far-fetched — or far away — as once thought. But what would it look like if it materialized?

Using the basic outline discussed by the 20-member group touting a plan to someday revamp college football’s top level, we decided to see how such a setup would have played out if it was already implemented, using the 2023 season as a test case.

We organized the former Power 5 schools, plus independent Notre Dame and soon-to-be ACC member SMU, into seven 10-team divisions for the permanent 70 teams envisioned within College Sports Tomorrow’s plan. For the eighth 10-team division that would be subject to promotion and relegation, we took the Group of 5 leagues’ 2022 conference championship game participants and “promoted” them for 2023.

The 10-team division size constraint required us to take some liberties, so be prepared for some unique and maybe awkward fits. But it also allowed us to bring back some old rivalries. (Welcome back, Southwest Conference and Big East!)

We used teams’ 2023 regular season records, before conference championship games were played, to seed them for the proposed 16-team playoff. The eight division winners took the top eight seeds, and the eight wild cards took the remaining seeds. Where there was ambiguity, we defaulted to the penultimate 2023 College Football Playoff rankings (which is why Georgia is the No. 1 seed and Michigan is No. 2).



Below is the result of our hypothetical 2023 college football super league.

ACC

TEAMOVERALL2023 CONFERENCE
FSU12-08-0 (ACC)
NC State9-36-2 (ACC)
UNC8-44-4 (ACC)
Clemson8-44-4 (ACC)
Duke7-54-4 (ACC)
Maryland7-54-5 (Big Ten)
GT6-65-3 (ACC)
South Carolina5-73-5 (SEC)
Virginia3-92-6 (ACC)
Wake Forest4-81-7 (ACC)
We kept eight current ACC teams in this division, brought back former member Maryland and added South Carolina, which was a charter member of the ACC until departing in 1971 to become independent. Florida State gets the rightful playoff berth it was denied by the College Football Playoff selection committee, but no wild cards emerge from this group.

Big East

TEAMOVERALL2023 CONFERENCE
UL10-27-1 (ACC)
ND9-3--
WV8-46-3 (Big 12)
Miami7-53-5 (ACC)
VT6-65-3 (ACC)
BC6-63-5 (ACC)
RU6-63-6 (Big Ten)
Syracuse6-62-6 (ACC)
Pitt3-92-6 (ACC)
UC3-91-8 (Big 12)

Notre Dame has fiercely held onto independent status amid the current wave of realignment changes, but to be a part of this Super League vision, the Fighting Irish would have to play within a division. We place them in the revived Big East, where they were basketball members from 1995 to 2013. They join a host of former Big East members that return, and ’23 ACC runner-up Louisville takes the automatic playoff berth.
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Canzano: Digesting the new college football proposal (johncanzano.com; Canzano)
“College Sports Tomorrow” went public this week with a plan it thinks should replace the NCAA and College Football Playoff.

Per The Athletic:

The current CST outline would create a system that would have the top 70 programs — all members of the five former major conferences, plus Notre Dame and new ACC member SMU — as permanent members and encompass all 130-plus FBS universities.
The perpetual members would be in seven 10-team divisions, joined by an eighth division of teams that would be promoted from the second tier.
The 50-plus second-division teams would have the opportunity to compete their way into the upper division, creating a promotion system similar to the structure in European football leagues. The 70 permanent teams would never be in danger of moving down, while the second division would have the incentive of promotion and relegation.
Some thoughts…

• I’m intrigued by the concept. It solves some of the glaring problems facing college athletics and offers a measured, rational solution to the unsustainable mess forming in college athletics. Also, the relegation element incentivizes schools to invest in football or quit bellyaching. If you want to matter, you invest. If you don’t, you don’t.

• I’m skeptical that the SEC and Big Ten will embrace any changes to the system unless they’re squeezed into submission by the lawsuits lining up out there.

• The CST outline would bring Oregon State and Washington State back into the fold as top-tier members. It offers a hopeful solution for those schools. It also would separate football from other college sports, harness NIL, and embrace college football players as employees.

• The 20-person group that is driving the CST pitch includes Syracuse chancellor Kent Syverud, West Virginia president Gordon Gee, and Brian Rolapp, a top executive in the NFL’s league office. According to The Athletic, the lead organizer is Len Perna, chairman and CEO of the search firm TurnkeyZRG.

• I need to know more about the potential involvement of private equity firms. I’ve spoken with a few firms that are currently on the sideline, salivating, stretching out, hydrating, and waiting for cash-strapped schools and conferences to wave them into action. Does anyone else have questions?

• Bob Thompson, the retired Fox Sports Networks president, offered on social media that he thinks 80 teams is “way too many.” Thompson suggested, “The top 48 moving up and out from the current model would generate as much TV revenue as the top 80 because the matchups would be consistently better.”

• The ACC took a meeting with the CST folks, per the report. The Big Ten, SEC, and Big 12 did not, however, out of respect for their TV partners. You need no further proof that television is in charge of college athletics.

• It’s unlikely that anything will happen until the current TV deals expire. The Big Ten (2030) and SEC (2034) are contractually bound. So are the Big 12 (2031) and ACC (2036).

• It’s possible those deals could be unwound somehow, I guess. Or if Florida State and Clemson are successful in litigating their way out of the ACC, it could cause chaos. As one conference commissioner told me: “If the lawsuits prevail it hurts all leagues as it may make our bylaws moot.”

• I reached out to Washington State President Kirk Schulz on Thursday to ask what he made of the “College Sports Tomorrow” proposal. After all, it includes a home for WSU and Oregon State. Schulz told me he was still digesting it.

He told me: “We do need to have some of these conversations — and I am glad to see these ideas out in the open. Presently, if the Big 10 and SEC do not support something — not sure how it happens.”
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News headlines from WWL-TV in New Orleans, Louisiana | wwltv.com (wwltv.com; video)
A new proposal for a college football “super league” has been reported by Andrew Marchand and Stewart Mandel of The Athletic.

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips: ‘Narrative’ surrounding the league doesn’t match reality (yahoo.com; Carter)

Jim Phillips, in his fourth year as the commissioner of the ACC, found himself in Dallas on Sunday knowing that the conference was going to have a Final Four team no matter what. That regardless of the outcome between N.C. State and Duke in the NCAA Tournament South Regional final, the ACC would be back on college basketball’s most illustrious national stage.

Again. Same as always, it seems.

Yet he knew, too, that one conference team had to lose. It made for a strange and challenging dynamic, said Phillips, who during an interview with The News & Observer on Thursday described watching State’s victory against Duke as a day of “great joy, and a celebratory moment” but one mixed with “great heartache,” for the Blue Devils.

“And we’ve done a lot of that in our conference,” he said, referencing the Duke-North Carolina game in the 2022 national semifinals, which UNC won, and Clemson’s victory against Notre Dame in the men’s soccer national championship game last fall.

“It demonstrates just the level of play and the level of success that we’re having in a multitude of sports,” Phillips said. “But certainly it’s a unique time. You get there and you’re wishing that they weren’t playing each other, honestly — that they both would have a chance to get to the Final Four.

“But that’s how it goes.”

If only the divided allegiance was the most difficult part of his job these days. Phillips, and the ACC, have been under siege in recent months — attacks coming from several angles. Florida State and Clemson, for one, are both suing the conference over its grant of rights agreement. The ACC, for a while now, has fought an ongoing and growing perception problem related to football.

Not even ACC basketball, once considered the national standard of the sport, has been immune. Since after the 2018-19 season, when Duke, UNC and Virginia all earned No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, the conference has endured annual attacks about its strength and relevance. This season, national pundits routinely dismissed the ACC as inferior; some suggested it wasn’t as good or as deep of a basketball conference as the Mountain West, let alone the Big 12, which became something of a media darling.
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2025 Overall ACC Football Team Rankings (247sports.com)

2025 Overall ACC Football Team RankingsLast updated on 04/04/24 at 7:46 PM CST


FSU lawsuit vs. ACC suffers a setback in North Carolina court (tallahassee.com; Henry)

Florida State University’s request to dismiss the Atlantic Coast Conference’s lawsuit was denied Thursday by a judge in North Carolina.

The decision puts the focus now in Leon Circuit Civil court, where the first hearing between the pair in Florida is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9, at 9:30 a.m. in front of Circuit Judge John C. Cooper.

FSU and the ACC are in a legal dispute over the league’s Grant of Rights, an agreement in which schools agree to transfer their media rights to their conference for a set period of time (2036 for ACC schools).

The Seminoles believe they should be allowed to leave the ACC without penalty, saying it would cost $572 million to exit the conference. The ACC's suit seeks to uphold the Grant of Rights.

Thursday's ruling is seen as a significant win for the ACC, which filed its lawsuit in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dec. 21, 2023 in anticipation of FSU's lawsuit the following day.

“We are pleased with today’s decision, which confirms North Carolina courts are the proper place to enforce the ACC’s agreements and bylaws," the ACC said in a statement Thursday. "We remain committed to acting in the best interests of the league's members and will see this process through to protect and advance the ACC."

FSU could also still appeal the ruling and downplayed the significance of the ruling in a statement.
...


BREAKING: Judge decides ACC-vs-FSU Case should remain in NC (RX; HM)

BREAKING: Judge decides ACC-vs-FSU Case should remain in NC


From 247Sports: ACC vs. FSU: FSU's motion to dismiss in NC is denied in part and granted in part, motion to stay is dismissed, here are some highlights:

Of FSU's six motions to dismiss, five were denied...
Is ACC's case invalid? Nope.
FSU's arguments... that the ACC filed its North Carolina lawsuit prematurely... "The Court finds this argument without merit"... because the ACC was within its rights to sue FSU to protect its Grant of Rights when it felt like "breach was imminent."

FSU also argued the point of Sovereign Immunity -- the fact that the government cannot be sued without its consent... "The Court will... deny the FSU Board's Motion to Dismiss to the extent it seeks dismissal on grounds of sovereign immunity."
Is GoR a legitimate contract? Yep.
Another FSU point... focusing on the ACC not naming the actual party, "FSU", to the Grant of Rights... was considered a "non-starter" by the court. "At this stage... regardless of whether the FSU Board approved the Grant of Rights Agreements, the FSU Board should be estopped from challenging or has waived its right to challenge these agreements by its conduct in accepting the benefits of these agreements for many years without protest."...

The court also permitted the ACC's declaratory judgment claims that the "Grant of Rights Agreements are valid and enforceable contracts and that the FSU Board is estopped from making or has waived by its conduct any challenge to the Grant of Rights Agreements" based on those agreements to proceed.
Confidentiality: tbd
FSU also sought to dismiss the ACC's claim that the FSU Board breached its obligation to keep confidential the terms of the ESPN Agreements... The court determined that, although FSU was not party to the ESPN agreements, "the ACC has sufficiently pleaded at least an implied-in-fact contract between the ACC and the FSU Board to maintain the confidentiality of the terms of the ESPN Agreements as well as the FSU Board's breach."

"The Court therefore will deny the FSU Board's Motion to Dismiss the ACC's fourth cause of action for breach of contract concerning confidentiality."
Fiduciary duties? None.
FSU also sought to dismiss the ACC's claim that it breached and continues to breach "its fiduciary obligations to the Conference..." Per the ruling, an "unincorporated nonprofit association does not qualify as a joint venture and, thus, the ACC cannot establish that a de jure fiduciary relationship existed between itself and FSU."... "The Court will therefore grant the FSU Board's Motion to Dismiss the ACC's fifth claim for relief for breach of fiduciary duty and dismiss this claim with prejudice [i.e. the ACC cannot refile this claim]."

FSU's sixth and final point for seeking to dismiss centered around a claim for breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing under the ACC's Constitution and Bylaws. This motion to dismiss was denied.
Trial location: NC
FSU also aimed to stay -- delay -- the case in favor of proceeding in with the Florida case. The North Carolina court denied this motion to stay based on its assertion that FSU couldn't reasonably prove that a case in North Carolina would result in a "substantial injustice". The ruling stated that FSU erroneously argued that it was the "real" plaintiff in this dispute.

The court also concluded that "the determination of whether the ACC's Grant of Rights Agreements are legally enforceable is critically important to all Members of the Conference, and the resolution of that issue is of tremendous consequence to the North Carolina-based ACC since it may directly bear on the Conference's ability to meet its contractual commitments to ESPN as well the Conference's future revenues, stability, and long- term viability." Essentially, the court concluded that a North Carolina court holds "a local interest in resolving the controversy" that exceeds the local interest of the Florida courts...

All things considered, the ACC side must be pretty happy with this result.


Is ACC Win Over Florida State SIGNIFICANT? (youtube; podcast; Voice of College Football)

Is ACC Win Over Florida State SIGNIFICANT?
Judge denies motions by Florida State to dismiss ACC lawsuit, likely keeping case in North Carolina (cbssports.com; Backus)
A North Carolina judge denied two motions filed by Florida State to dismiss or stay a lawsuit from the ACC, marking a notable win for the conference in its ongoing legal battle with FSU. The ruling will likely allow the lawsuit to proceed through North Carolina courts, where the ACC is headquartered, rather than in Florida. At stake is more than $500 million that Florida State could be ordered to pay if it leaves for another conference before 3036 in violation of the conference's grant of rights.

"We are pleased with today's decision, which confirms North Carolina courts are the proper place to enforce the ACC's agreements and bylaws," said the ACC in a statement. "We remain committed to acting in the best interests of the league's members and will see this process through to protect and advance the ACC."

Florida State's Board of Trustees unanimously voted on Dec. 22, 2023, to file a lawsuit against the ACC challenging its grant of rights; however, the ACC preempted this move with a lawsuit of its own the day before, accusing Florida State of breach of contract.

"Although it's highly unusual for a court to dismiss a lawsuit at this initial stage, we are disappointed in the Court's decision not to dismiss the North Carolina lawsuit," Florida State said in a statement following Thursday's decision. "At the same time, we appreciate the ruling today that Florida State could not have breached any supposed fiduciary duties to the ACC by seeking legal relief from the Conference's gross mishandling of member school media rights. We will continue to aggressively advocate for the University, for FSU Athletics, and for the sovereignty of the State of Florida as these cases proceed."

At issue is the ACC's withdrawal penalty, which would cost Florida State $572 million -- $130 of which would be drawn from TV revenue -- if it chooses to leave the conference before 2036. The ACC grant of rights is meant to keep schools tethered to the conference. Its media rights agreement with ESPN runs through 2027 with a unilateral right to exercise a nine-year option through 2036.
...


FSU vs ACC: Judge ANSWERS with UPDATE on NC Case (youtube; podcast; Double Fries No Slaw)

We are chatting with Doug Rohan of Rohan law about the FSU vs ACC case where the judge in NC has just issued a ruling on FSU's motion to dismiss!

Teams Facing Rough 2024 Realignment? (RX; HM)

Teams Facing Rough 2024 Realignment?


SaturdayBlitz posted "5 college football teams doomed to have roughest conference realignments in 2024", so of course we're going to take a look from an ACC point of view...

1. UCLA Bruins (from Pac-12 to Big Ten)

2. Arizona State Sun Devils (from Pac-12 to Big 12)

3. Stanford Cardinal (Pac-12 to ACC)
Ten years ago, Stanford was still one of the preeminent programs in college football. The Cardinal won at least 10 games in five of David Shaw's first six seasons as head coach, with three Pac-12 titles over a four-year span between 2012 and 2015. Since that time, the wheels gradually fell off in Palo Alto as Stanford regressed back to the mean. The team failed to win more than four games in any of Shaw's last four seasons—albeit including a 4-2 campaign during the COVID-shortened 2020 season—and Shaw stepped down after 2022.

His replacement, Troy Taylor, struggled to right the ship in his first year on the Farm despite previous FCS head coaching experience. Taylor went 3-9 in 2023 as the Cardinal struggled to maintain any momentum. Six of Stanford's nine losses were by double digits, and they won two of their three victories by just a field goal.

Given the fact that they were blown out in most of their defeats and benefitted from luck in most of their victories, the Cardinal are unlikely to break a bowl drought that now extends to five years and counting. With four cross-country road trips looming, Stanford is bound to struggle as the Pacific coast stalwart adjusts to life in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

4. SMU Mustangs (from American to ACC)
SMU becomes the latest mid-major program to take the leap to major-conference status when they join the ACC in 2024. The Mustangs enter their new haunt on a roll, as they come off an 11-win season in Rhett Lashlee's sophomore campaign as the head coach in Dallas. But running the table in the American Athletic Conference is a far different proposition than doing so on a move up to a major conference.

The last three teams to rise from mid-major status to a major league all came from the American. Only one of them reached .500 during its first regular season as a Big 12 member. Cincinnati's move was coupled with a coaching change, as Luke Fickell moved on to the Wisconsin job and Scott Satterfield went 3-9 after crossing over from Louisville. Houston benefitted from the stability of Dana Holgorsen's fifth year at the helm, but the Cougars managed only one more win than Cincinnati. UCF managed to go 6-6 before losing in a minor bowl game.

That UCF example is probably the ceiling for SMU as they adjust to life as a small fish in a big pond for the first time since their Southwest Conference heyday. More likely is a season that resembles those put up by Houston or the Bearcats.

5. Colorado Buffaloes (from Pac-12 to Big 12)

It's hard to argue with these, to be honest. Arizona State, Colorado and Stanford all struggled last season, while UCLA and SMU both figure to play a tougher schedule with a lot more traveling... there's always an adjustment when a school changes conference affiliation (new stadiums, new opponents, even new referees!). We'll see how quickly these programs adjust.
...


How Much $ Will Newbies Get? (RX; HM)


How Much $ Will Newbies Get?

Some of the debate about whether the ACC should even talk with Utah officials revolves around the fact that, while Utah will get a full share of Big XII revenue, Cal and Stanfordare getting phased-in partial shares for a time from the ACC. That begs the question: how bad is that? From the X account of Stewart Mandel:

Some more detail: It's 30 percent of *Tier 1* media distribution (which is about $24M per school). They still get a full share of ACC Network, CFP money, bowls, NCAA units.

ACC all-in distribution to schools last year averaged $39M. https://t.co/VfqeBfHHxc
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) September 1, 2023
So it's only the T1 television revenue that's phased-in - everything else is 100% from day one (and the same is, presumably, true for SMU?).
What does that mean in terms of money? From user Wahoowa84 on CSNBBS:

Stanford & Cal each surrendered an estimated $17M per year for seven years. This “lost revenue” estimate assumes that Tier 1 ESPN distribution payments will be $24M per team next year.
With the increase in CFP and ACCN distributions, plus general inflation, ACC payouts should average at least around $50M per team in fiscal year 2024-2025. So Stanford & Cal will still get around $33M from ACC distributions next year. That distribution is more than SMU and ND (who should get mid $20sM), and about $20M less than legacy ACC members. In addition, “success initiative” teams will probably earn at least $60M in ACC distributions next year.

My sources had previously indicated the T1 payouts for 2024 would be $21M, with ACCN kicking in at least another $12M (no idea how much Texas and California will add to that); 30% of $21M = $6.3M.
...


Way-too-early game-by-game predictions for Duke's 2024 football season (usatoday.com; Haley)

Basketball is still the talk of the town in Durham, especially with the Elite Eight loss to NC State still so fresh, but football will be back before we know it.

The Blue Devils had a promising 2023 campaign, starting the season with a top-10 victory over Clemson en route to four straight wins to start the year. An injury to quarterback Riley Leonard derailed the momentum slightly, but Duke still finished with a 7-5 regular-season record and a Birmingham Bowl victory over Troy.

A lot will look different at Wallace Wade Stadium in 2024, however. Former head coach Mike Elko left to coach Texas A&M, and Leonard transferred to helm the Notre Dame offense. In their places, former Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and former Texas quarterback Maalik Murphy will lead the squad instead.

Can the duo keep up last year’s success in the first year of a new era? Here’s an early, early look at Duke’s 2024 schedule and game-by-game predictions to see what record the Blue Devils might end up with.

Game 1 – Elon (Aug. 30)


The Friday opener isn’t the scariest game on the calendar. The Phoenix finished 6-5 last season with a 6-2 record in conference, but they lost to Wake Forest by 20 points. The Demon Deacons, notably, finished with a 1-7 record against ACC opponents. There’s room for rust, especially with a new quarterback trying to mesh with a new receiver room. However, based on the one-handed catch we saw Eli Pancol show off last week in practice, I think Murphy is settling in nicely.
1-0

Game 2 – Northwestern (Sep. 7)



Neither school in this game is particularly known for its football or athletics in general, especially considering their academic prowess. However, this isn’t the same Northwestern team that surely comes to your mind. The Wildcats finished with an 8-5 record under first-year coach David Braun after winning their last four games of the season, including a win over Wisconsin on the road and a Las Vegas Bowl victory over Utah. This might be a loss that incites panic on paper, but I think the Northwestern surge under Braun late last season was real, and that will be apparent by mid-season.
1-1

Game 3 – Connecticut (Sep. 14)



The Huskies might have the best basketball program on the planet right now with both teams in the Final Four just one year after the men cut down the nets. Football, traditionally, has been a different story. Connecticut only won three games last season, and Diaz is too good a coach to let this program catch him off guard.
2-1

Game 4 – Middle Tennessee (Sep. 21)



Middle Tennessee came within four points of upsetting Missouri last season, a stellar performance considering the team that the Tigers turned out to be. MTSU still finished with just one non-conference win in 2023, however, and it came against Murray State. Expect this to be the start of Murphy and the Blue Devils drawing eyes after three big wins in four weeks, at least for a short time.
3-1

Game 5 - North Carolina (Sep. 28)




For any other team on the schedule, I’d say last year’s heartbreaking double-overtime loss might offer extra motivation, especially after the Blue Devils scored a go-ahead touchdown with 41 seconds to play. Duke never needs extra motivation against North Carolina, however. Transfer quarterback Max Johnson and sophomore Conner Harrell give the Tar Heels’ quarterback room some life, but I think future top NFL draft pick Drake Maye made up for a lot of holes on the UNC roster. Between his departure, the loss of star receiver Devontez Walker, and a defense that allowed more than 27 points per game last season, this is a vulnerable North Carolina team.
4-1 (1-0)
For more North Carolina coverage, go to Tar Heels Wire.

Game 6 - Georgia Tech (Oct. 5)



Get ready for a take that might look silly in six months: I think Georgia Tech might be really good in 2024. Not “contending for the ACC title” good but “can beat anybody and ends up with eight or more wins” good. The Yellow Jackets took down two ranked teams in Miami and North Carolina last season, the former of which in stunning fashion after the Hurricanes didn’t kneel out the clock. Quarterback Haynes King, who began his career with Texas A&M, compiled more than 3,500 yards of total offense and scored 37 total touchdowns. All that being said, however, Georgia Tech was incredibly inconsistent from game to game, and I’d be underselling Duke’s talent to say the Blue Devils can’t hang with them. Maybe I’m trying to have my cake and eat it by saying the Yellow Jackets could beat Duke but not predicting them to, but I think Diaz and the Blue Devils survive for a stellar start.
5-1 (2-0)

Game 7 - Florida State (Oct. 18)



The Seminoles, who won the conference title after an undefeated regular season in 2023, lost a ton of talent. Star quarterback Jordan Travis is gone, star wide receiver Keon Coleman is gone, star edge rusher Jared Verse is gone. However, Florida State is still a ridiculously deep team. Former Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is back in the conference after a one-year stint with Oregon State, and Mike Norvell is quickly becoming the man to beat in the conference. Diaz can make some noise in the ACC in year one, but he’s some time away from challenging FSU.
5-2 (2-1)

...

Other


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Clockwise from top left: Cacio e Pepe, carciofi pizza, side of rigatoni and veal parmigiana.

Review: How does Abbiocco in Downtown Syracuse compare to its predecessor? (PS; Pucci)

I knew A Mano was special on my first visit there, which came in December 2018, a few months after the restaurant had opened its doors inside the Icon Tower in Downtown Syracuse.

The newcomer was a finalist in our syracuse.com search for CNY’s best Italian restaurant. Its rapid rise to the upper echelon of Italian restaurants in Syracuse indicated how quickly the restaurant had won over diners. For me, it was the filled pumpkin cappelletti pasta, served in brown butter and topped with fried sage, toasted pumpkin seeds, grated parmesan, and taleggio cheese, a dish that evokes the warm, comforting flavors of fall, that cemented A Mano’s spot atop my Italian restaurant power rankings. They finished second in the contest because I was but one judge and democracy isn’t always perfect.

So when I heard A Mano was closing its doors last summer, I was saddened to think that Syracuse was losing a true innovator, a place that dared to fly in the face of common Italian-American fare in favor of the pursuit of pasta perfection.

Luckily, it was only a few months before owner Anthony Fiachi opened the rebranded and reconceptualized Abbiocco. Even luckier for us, the magic of A Mano has not been lost.

Upon entering, one first notices how the restaurant itself is largely unchanged, save for the restaurant’s new name painted above the brick wood-fired oven that serves as a center point in the spacious dining room. The decor too appears untouched, including a trio of painted wine barrels, one of which still bears the former A Mano name.

The menu at Abbiocco is shorter than the usual menu at A Mano, with a stronger emphasis on pizza and what they call “Sputini & Piattani”, or snacks and small plates. At the time of the transition, Fiachi told syracuse.com that the new Abbiocco would be modeled as a trattoria, which typically indicates a more casual, rustic restaurant and this heightened attention toward sharable pizzas and snacks is a clear indication of that change.

From that selection, we opted for the fried calamari ($18) and wood-fired brie ($12), topped with a blueberry compote. Calamari is an excellent barometer of the meal to come. If you’re presented with a plate of crispy rubber bands, it’s a bad omen of what’s to come. Thankfully, both the rings and tentacles — my favorite part — were wonderfully tender. The squid was topped with a long hot pepper agrodolce, a sweet and sour sauce with just a bit of kick. The agrodolce provided enough complimentary flavor that the side of lemon aioli, bright with fresh lemon, wasn’t essential, but quite welcome.

The brie came to our table still sizzling inside a shallow crock alongside long crostinis for spreading. Warm brie and fruit is a common combination, but this rendition stood out for the balance between fruit and cheese, as well as the blueberry compote itself that wasn’t syrupy or too sweet, allowing the flavor of the cheese to shine and keep this dish firmly in the starters category and not the desserts.
...


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Best burger competition 2024New York State Beef Council

4 Central NY restaurants among top 10 finalists in state’s best-burger contest (PS; Miller)


Four Central New York restaurants are among the top 10 finalists in the annual best-burger contest put on by the New York Beef Council.

The contest opened March 1, with the public nominating their favorite burger. The finalists, chosen by the number of votes in an online ballot, were announced this morning. Among the four locals to make the cut is Ale ‘n Angus, the reigning champion. The others are 317 @ Montgomery in downtown Syracuse, and Bear Creek Restaurant and Brewer Union Cafe, both in Brewerton.

The top 10, listed alphabetically, are:

317 @ Montgomery, Syracuse
Ale ‘n Angus, Syracuse
Bear Creek, Brewerton
Ben’s Fresh, Port Jervis
Brewer Union Cafe, Brewerton
Butchers & Sons, Corning
Chatham Brewery, Chatham
Danny D’s Burgers, Port Jervis
Rock Burger, Niagara Falls
Tap It Bar & Grill, Rochester

A panel of anonymous judges will visit each of the finalist over the next few weeks. They will evaluate their burgers based on taste, appearance, and adherence to proper doneness standards (160 degrees Fahrenheit).

The judges’ scores and comments will be tallied, culminating in the winner’s announcement on May 1, the start of May Beef Month.

Three of this year’s finalists made the list last year. Ale ‘n Angus Pub, Bear Creek and Brewer Union Café were were among the top 10. Ale ‘n Angus won it last year. It was the seventh time Randy and Matt Beach won the best burger.
 

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