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Tag:Mountain West
Posted on: July 21, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 4:54 pm
 

SDSU's receiving corps takes a big blow

Posted by Tom Fornelli

There were a lot of questions facing San Diego State this season coming off of a bowl appearance, and perhaps none of them were bigger than trying to figure out how the Aztecs would replace the production of their top two receivers from 2010: Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson. That question just got a lot harder to answer on Thursday when we learned that San Diego State would be without both Dominique Sandifer and Jay Waddell for the entire 2011 season.

SDSU’s most experienced returning receiver, junior Dominique Sandifer, has been ruled out for the coming season with a knee injury suffered during offseason drills. Redshirt freshman receiver Jay Waddell also hurt his knee in the offseason and will be out for the year.

Looking at the bright side of it, head coach Rocky Long said, “We don’t see it as a big blow because we had inexperienced receivers anyway.”

“They were all going to be given a chance in the fall,” Long said. “The ones that played the best were going to get a chance to play. I don’t think situation has changed dramatically whatsoever.”

Long may have a point in his response to the news, but no matter how he tries to brush it off, this is still a big blow to the Aztecs offense. Sandifer may not have had a lot of experience in his career, but he's still the most experienced receiver San Diego State has after making 23 catches for 263 yards last season. He was also slated to be the Aztecs' deep threat in 2011, and while tight end Gavin Escobar will be a useful target for quarterback Ryan Lindley, he's not exactly going to stretch the field.

The upcoming season is going to be an important one for the Aztecs. Even though Brady Hoke left for Michigan, the expectations with the program are high enough that a second consecutive bowl appearance is the expectation. With Lindley, Ronnie Hillman and Walter Kazee all back, the Aztecs had the weapons on offense to ensure that it would happen again provided that the inexperienced receiving corps stepped up.

Now that Sandifer has been lost, along with Waddell, nobody can be sure what will happen to a passing attack that finished 12th in the nation in yards per game last season.  

Posted on: July 18, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Franchione draws Hawaii ire in scheduling snafu

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Seriously, who wouldn't want to schedule a game at Hawaii?

It's too expensive to make a habit out of it if you don't share a conference with the Warriors, but consider the benefits: you get to visit Hawaii. The NCAA's Hawaii scheduling exception lets you play a 13-game season, perfect for the young, developing team. The game will likely start late enough that it's certain to land on television somewhere, possibly even reach a national audience*. Also, you get to visit Hawaii.

So what kind of coach would not only turn down the Warriors, but do so by first reaching a scheduling agreement with them and then backing out just as most teams are finalizing their 2012 slates? Why, college football's old friend Dennis Franchione, now the head man at newly-minted FBS program (and 2012 WAC member) Texas State.

And no, as the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports, the folks at Hawaii are none too thrilled with Franchione's decision (emphasis added):

After "five or six months" of talking, UH said an agreement was worked out to bring the Bobcats here, only to have Franchione scuttle it when contracts were to be sent out.

When Texas State asked for a better financial package, UH said it complied, upping the terms. When the Bobcats requested a home game, UH said it offered a two-for-one deal and would make a later appearance in San Marcos.

Texas State athletic director Lawrence Teis said the Bobcats were interested in UH when they found out they would not be eligible for a bowl or the WAC title in '12 and saw a trip here as "great." But Teis said "we also had not completed (scheduling) our other 12 games yet ... Ideally, if Hawaii would have been in September or October, we probably could have made this work."

Instead, as a 13th game in December, "Coach Fran was concerned that (date) would cut into recruiting, which we desperately need to do moving to (the FBS) level," Teis said ...

[I]t has been taken very personally in Manoa, where athletic director Jim Donovan said, "We won't be working with Texas State anytime in my tenure."

To recap: Franchione could have given his fledgling program an extra week of practice and an extra game at the stage when it needs it the most; a likely television date for a team no doubt desperate for exposure; a home game against a nationally-recognized Mountain West opponent that won 11 games last year; and, oh yes, two visits to Hawaii. He turned it all down to spend one extra week recruiting (at a date on the calendar when most recruits have long since already decided their destinations), and turned it down in such a fashion as to eliminate all possibility of getting it back in the future.

So consider us skeptical this is the best decision for Texas State. To be fair, Franchione has no doubt forgotten more about coaching college football (as the saying goes) than we'll ever know. But we're also pretty sure we'd have known enough to tell him selling a super-secret newsletter to big-money Texas A&M boosters wasn't such a great idea ... and this one doesn't seem all that hot, either.

*A national audience at 1 a.m. Eastern, but still.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 3:56 pm
 

2011 Outland Trophy Watch List released

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Rolling on with the past weekend's Watch List announcements, here's the Outland Trophy's preliminary list. The trophy is handed out annually by the Football Writers Association of America to the nation's top interior lineman--either a defensive tackle, guard or center.

The 65 players on this year's Watch List are as follows:
Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State, OT
Jeff Allen, Illinois, OT
Don Barclay, West Virginia, OT
Chris Barker, Nevada, G
Kelvin Beachum, SMU, OT
Tony Bergstrom, Utah, OT
Mike Brewster, Ohio State, C
Ryan Miller, Colorado, G
David Molk, Michigan, C
Al Netter, Northwestern, OT
Lucas Nix, Pittsburgh, OT
Xavier Nixon, Florida, OT
Trevor Olson, Northern Illinois, OT
Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State, OT
Moe Petrus, Connecticut, C
Ken Plue, Purdue, G  
Dontari Poe, Memphis, DT
Nate Potter, Boise State, OT
Tydreke Powell, North Carolina, DT
Kheeston Randall, Texas, DT
Riley Reiff, Iowa, OT
Kendall Reyes, Connecticut, DT
Matt Reynolds, BYU, OT
Mitchell Schwartz, California, OT
Kawann Short, Purdue, DT
Bradley Sowell, Ole Miss, OT
Akeem Spence, Illinois, DT
Alameda Ta'amu, Washington, DT
Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State, G
Chris Thompson, Houston, C
Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech, G
William Vlachos, Alabama, C
Larry Warford, Kentucky, G
Brandon Washington, Miami, G
Rokevious Watkins, South Carolina, OT
Billy Winn, Boise State, DT
Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati, DT
Jerel Worthy, Michigan State, DT
Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin, G
By the conference numbers: Big Ten 13, SEC 11, Pac-12 9, ACC 7, Big 12 7, Big East 6, Conference USA 3, Independents 3, Mountain West 2, WAC 2, MAC 1, Sun Belt 1.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 3:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:04 pm
 

2011 Thorpe Award Watch List released

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The 13-day reveal of Watch Lists for college football's major awards rolls on today with the Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back. Thirty-seven names made the Thorpe's initial list:
Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami (Fla.), SS
Mark Barron, Alabama, SS
John Boyett, Oregon, FS
Brandon Boykin, Georgia, CB
Morris Claiborne, LSU, CB
Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska, CB
Tony Dye, UCLA, CB
Matt Elam, Florida, SS
Antonio Fenelus, Wisconsin, CB
Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma, CB
Donnie Fletcher, Boston College, CB
Blake Gideon, Texas, FS
Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, CB
Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt, CB
Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech, CB
Delano Howell, Stanford, SS
Duke Ihenacho, San Jose State, SS
George Iloka, Boise State, FS
Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma, FS
Leonard Johnson, Iowa State, CB
Coryell Judie, Texas A&M, CB
Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, CB
Robert Lester, Alabama, FS
Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State, SS
TJ McDonald, USC, FS
Chase Minnifield, Virginia, CB
Marco Nelson, Tulsa, FS
Brian Peters, Northwestern, FS
Greg Reid, Florida State, CB
Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, CB
Josh Robinson, UCF, CB
Trenton Robinson, Michigan State, FS
Harrison Smith, Notre Dame, FS
Keith Tandy, West Virginia, CB
Kenny Tate, Maryland, FS
Tramain Thomas, Arkansas, FS
Prentiss Waggner, Tennessee, SS
The conference-by-conference numbers break down as you might expect. Via the Jim Thorpe association press release: SEC (10); ACC (7); Big 12 (6); Big 10 (4); PAC 12 (4); C-USA (2); WAC (2); Big East (1); Independents (1). (Though no one was good enough to make the cut out of the Mountain West?) (Nevermind; the Thorpe's original tally still includes Boise State in the WAC.)

Of last year's 10 semifinalists, only Alabama's Mark Barron returns to the Watch List. (As for where Oregon's Cliff Harris is, we're not sure. Maybe the Thorpe is waiting to see how long his traffic arrest-induced suspension lasts?)



Posted on: July 8, 2011 1:29 am
 

Forcier 'strongly considering' Hawaii, SJSU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

He's already moved on from Michigan and Miami, so where's Tate Forcier headed next? From the sound of it, somewhere much closer to his original San Diego home. 

According to an ESPN report Thursday, Forcier is "strongly considering" two schools--Hawaii, where he plans to visit next week, and San Jose State. He is also reportedly holds an "interest" in Nevada.

If Forcier can wrangle a scholarship offer from all three of these schools -- and it's hard to imagine they wouldn't want to take a flier on him, considering his still-remarkable exploits as a true freshman for the Wolverines -- it seems somewhat obvious which would suit him best from a football standpoint. Hawaii has made stars out of plenty of quarterbacks before, and frequently ones that haven't possessed Forcier's live and accurate arm or his outstanding mobility in the pocket; the Warriors' Bryant Moniz, for instance, didn't receive a single scholarship offer coming out of high school before leading the entire FBS in passing yards last season. 

Like the Warriors, Nevada will also offer an established program playing at the Mountain West level starting next year. But at 6'0" and 185 pounds, Forcier may not have the frame necessary to absorb the poundings taken by the quarterback in Chris Ault's option-heavy pistol offense. (Though for what it's worth, Forcier was asked to make similar option reads out of Rich Rodriguez's shotgun during his time at Michigan; we're not sure he appeared to have any particular aptitude for it, however.)

As for SJSU, the Spartans have been a WAC doormat for years and are coming off a two-year span featuring all of three wins. Those fortunes might change under second-year coach Mike MacIntyre, but even if it does, will anyone notice once the conference has waved goodbye to Hawaii, Nevada, Boise State and Fresno State? 

Again, though: that's all from a football perspective. After both Tate's and older brothers Chris and Jason Forcier's nation-spanning careers (including collective stops at UCLA, Stanford, Michigan and Furman) family concerns -- not to mention academic concerns, after Tate's classroom issues in Ann Arbor -- may come first. And if that's the case, all bets are off.

Posted on: July 5, 2011 11:17 am
 

Maxwell Award watch list released

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's that special time of year when the watch lists for all the major college football awards are released, and once again this summer we begin with the Maxwell Award watch list. The Maxwell Award is given annually to the nation's most outstanding collegiate fooball player by the Maxwell Football Club. Last season the award went to Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.

Who will it go to this season? Your guess is as good as mine, but these are the 66 players you should be looking at now.

PLAYER NAME, SCHOOL, POSITION, CLASS

Edwin Baker, Michigan State, RB, Jr.
Montee Ball, Wisconsin, RB, Jr.
Vick Ballard, Mississippi State, RB, Sr.
Matt Barkley, USC, QB, Jr.
Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State, WR, Jr.
Tyler Bray, Tennessee, QB, Soph.
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma, WR, Sr.
Greg Childs, Arkansas, QB, Sr.
Marcus Coker, Iowa, RB, Soph.
Zach Collaros, Cincinnati, QB, Sr.
Kirk Cousins, Michigan State, QB, Sr.
Juron Criner, Arizona, WR, Sr.
Dayne Crist, Notre Dame, QB, Sr.
Dominique Davis, East Carolina, QB, Sr.
Knile Davis, Arkansas, RB, Jr.
Michael Dyer, Auburn, RB, Soph.
Andre Ellington, Clemson, RB, Jr.
Michael Floyd, Notre Dame, WR, Sr.
Nick Foles, Arizona, QB, Sr.
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA, RB, Jr.
Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M, WR, Sr.
Stephen Garcia, South Carolina, QB, Sr.
Mike Glennon, NC State, QB, Jr.
Ray Graham, Pittsburgh, RB, Jr.
Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M, RB, Sr.
Robert Griffin, Baylor, QB, Jr.
Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois, QB, Sr.
Montel Harris, Boston College, RB, Sr.
Jared Hassin, Army, RB, Jr.
Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State, RB, Soph.
LaMichael James, Oregon, RB, Jr.
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina, WR, Jr.
Damaris Johnson, Tulsa, WR, Sr
Landry Jones, Oklahoma , QB, Jr.
Case Keenum, Houston, QB, Sr.
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, RB, Soph.
Ryan Lindley, San Diego State, QB, Sr.
Zach Line, SMU, RB, Jr.
Andrew Luck, Stanford, QB, Jr.
E.J. Manuel, Florida State, QB, Jr.
Doug Martin, Boise State, RB, Sr.
Taylor Martinez, Nebraska, QB, Soph.
Bryant Moniz, Hawaii, QB, Sr.
Kellen Moore, Boise State, QB, Sr.
Aaron Murray, Georgia, QB, Soph.
Danny O'Brien, Maryland, QB, Soph.
Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati, RB, Sr.
Dan Persa, Northwestern, QB, Sr.
Chris Polk, Washington, RB, Jr.
Tauren Poole, Tennessee, RB, Sr.
Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky, RB, Sr.
Trent Richardson, Alabama, RB, Jr.
Denard Robinson, Michigan, QB, Jr.
Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois, QB, Soph.
Geno Smith, West Virginia, QB, Jr.
Rodney Stewart, Colorado, RB, Sr.
Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M, QB , Sr.
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford, RB, Jr.
Darron Thomas, Oregon , QB, Jr.
Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, QB, Sr.
Ed Wesley, TCU, RB, Jr.
James White, Wisconsin, RB, Soph.
David Wilson, Virginia Tech, RB, Jr.
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin, QB, Sr.
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas, QB, Jr.
Robert Woods, USC, WR, Soph.
 

Posted on: July 4, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 6:21 pm
 

Declaring some football independents on July 4

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Happy Independence Day everyone. It's been a remarkable 235 years but America is still going strong despite plenty of ups and downs. On the gridiron, it seems like Notre Dame, Navy and others have been independent of conference overlords for just as long. With BYU joining their ranks last week and in honor of the holiday, it's a perfect time to look at what programs could follow their lead and go out on their own.

While it's doubtful that any of these programs will actually pursue going independence in the near future, perhaps they could/would/should on second thought. Feel free to bring up some other programs that could go out on their own in the comments below.

Boise State

The Broncos have made quite the run the past few years, winning two BCS bowls and posting a remarkable three undefeated seasons. Boise State was originally a junior college who has, rather quickly, risen in the ranks from an independent in Division II to their current place in the Mountain West. Their wide-open style of play and ability to beat more talented teams has certainly earned them a national reputation and with that comes eyeballs. For example, last season's game against Virginia Tech earned a 6.8 overnight rating, making it the highest rated Labor Day night game since 1990.

From the Blue Turf to the trick plays, a lot of what has made Boise State football a national brand is due to the exposure they get on ESPN. For years they had several featured games on the network and, even if they were on late at night on the East Coast, people were at least able to see the games. Boise State is losing a lot of that exposure with the move to the Mountain West (with games on The Mtn. and Versus) in exchange for an increase in television revenue, which is expected to be around $800,000 a year based on the current conference agreements. If Boise State gets unhappy with the arrangement and decides to go independent, they could follow the lead of BYU. The Cougars recently signed a deal with ESPN to televise several football games with estimates putting the value of the deal at between $800,000 and $1.2 million per home game. As a program with a love-them-or-hate-them reputation that causes people to tune in, going independent might make sense down the road.

Florida State

If there's one team on this list that is actually familiar with football independence, it's Florida State. The Seminoles were conference-less from 1951-1991 prior to joining the ACC. In a curious twist of fate, the school was invited by the ACC to join their conference but were rejected by the SEC. Regardless, Florida State is aware of what it takes to be an independent and what challenges and benefits come with it. While most believe their relationship with the ACC is a good one, one never knows what will happen if another wave of conference realignment hits. The ACC is, mostly, a basketball-centric league and as winners of two somewhat recent national titles, Florida State is much more of a football school than the conference's other members.

Scheduling always gets tricky but Florida State has a long history of playing both Miami and Florida. Both games are usually big ratings winners so, like Boise State, the program would likely do well financially getting a majority of the television money versus splitting it with fellow conference members. Throw in nearby UCF and USF and the Seminoles could have nearly half a schedule from in-state programs alone. Add in a big name program, such as the one against Oklahoma this year, and Florida State could get back to being a much bigger draw nationally like they were in the 1990's. Of course, as with most Florida teams, they'd also have to win to stay relevant.

Oregon

The way things are going with the NCAA investigation into Oregon's football and basketball programs, it's likely more than a few Ducks fans have thought about leaving the NCAA altogether, much less the Pac-12. While the program itself hasn't seen much success on the gridiron outside of the past decade, there's one thing that lands Oregon on this list: Nike. The Beaverton, Ore., based company has already made the Ducks their featured program by ensuring they have the latest Nike gear and well over 160 uniform combinations (feel free to mix and match your own Duck uniform here).

The school already has an affiliate network of television and radio stations and it wouldn't be all that surprising if they teamed with Nike to get an actual cable channel going. Given what Nike has already done in the marketing sphere, the idea of "their" team crisscrossing the country might raise as many eyebrows in Indianapolis as it does in Eugene. At the same time, it's hard not to see the idea floated in Phil Knight's office at some point, is it?

Texas

Go ahead and insert your own Big 12-Texas joke here. If there was one lesson to be learned from last summer's realignment saga, it was that Texas is the major player in college athletics - and for good reason. The football program brought in the most revenue in the country last year with a staggering $94 million take and a nearly $69 million profit. If there's any program that could afford any initial financial hit from going independent, it's the Longhorns.

The program is also uniquely positioned (perhaps more so than anybody on this list) to head out on their own. The Longhorn Network will launch in late August and, with ESPN's backing, figures to expand the Texas brand into households across the country. Like BYU with BYUtv, having their own network already up and running would be a huge advantage over others that would be pondering a similar move. Schedule-wise, they would have no problem scheduling games based on the teams nearby and their draw nationally. Add in the fact that Texas is a large public school with plenty of alumni and fans across the country, and it's possible that football independence actually makes a lot of sense if administrators don't find the arrangement with the Big 12 to be working out.

USC

If you're making a list of things that a school should have if they're considering going independent, USC would have a lot of check marks next to their name. Lots of alumni all over the country? Check. Nationally recognized brand? Check. Traditional college football power? Check. Given the school's connections to Hollywood and Silicon Valley, it wouldn't be all that surprising if they were able to quickly move onto some unique and intriguing media options if they decided to pursue football independence.

The recent NCAA sanctions have certainly hurt the reputation of the school and the football program which might actually be one reason why the school decides to make the jump from the Pac-12 to join the ranks of rival Notre Dame as an independent. Plenty of alumni are not happy with the Pac-10's lack of support in their infractions case (unlike, say the Big Ten with Ohio State) and that cuts into some of the good will Larry Scott has brought with a new media rights package. The Trojans have plenty of history of going around the country and playing teams, why not a little more of that as an independent? The Pac-10 was known as USC and nine others during the run under Pete Carroll, so maybe the idea of separating from the bunch isn't too far-fetched.



Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



There's no doubting that these are exciting times for Nebraska football. Today's the day they officially join the Big Ten, the day they officially (as our own Dennis Dodd writes) start new rivalries with the likes of Ohio State, Penn State and -- most substantially -- their Great Plains brethren at Iowa. Today's the day they start drawing checks from the Big Ten Network money machine. It's the day that will, in short, define the future of their football program.

But amidst all that excitement, it's also a day which ought to be an occasion to remember the Huskers' past. Because in making the move to the Big Ten, Nebraska is cutting ties with years, decades, even centuries of their gridiron tradition.

Start with the rivalries. Nebraska vs. Kansas was only the longest uninterrupted series in the nation, having been played every year since 1906. The Huskers' and Jayhawks' started their annual grudge match so long ago, Oklahoma didn't even exist--and we're not talking about the Sooners, we're talking about the state.

But even that's not the oldest Nebraska rivalry that will end this season. The Huskers and the Missouri Tigers first met all the way back in 1892 and went on to play each other 102 more times, making it the third-oldest football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

Because of Nebraska's dominance over both foes -- the Huskers defeated Kansas 36 straight times between 1969 and 2004, and Mizzou 24 straight times from 1979 through 2002 -- neither rivalry ever quite ascended to "classic" status, despite each's longetivity. But that doesn't mean each didn't give us classic moments, like this one you knew was coming:



And even if those series didn't carry as much weight on the gridiron as some others, the same can't be said for the Huskers' showdowns with Oklahoma. The move from the old Big 8 into the Big 12 had already (shortsightedly) brought a halt to the teams' annual meeting after 70-plus years of uninterrupted battles, but the rivalry that gave us the "Game of the Century" still survived as part of the Big 12 scheduling rotation and in the occasional Big 12 championship game. Now? The two schools might meet again in 2020 and 2021, if we're lucky.

Go beyond just rivalries and scheduling, though, and the conference switch also represents a complete cultural realignment for Husker football. Since the very beginning, Nebraska football has associated itself first-and-foremost with other heartland schools; their first conference affiliation came in the Missouri Valley Conference with Iowa-based schools like Drake and Grinnell. When they moved to the Big 8, they did so alongside not just the Jayhawks, Tigers and Sooners but schools like Kansas State and Iowa State as well.

From their location to their "Cornhuskers" nickname to the undying, overwhelming support of the Big Red faithful to their regional and national dominance, Nebraska wasn't just an important part of Great Plains college football; in many ways, the Huskers were Great Plains football.

That's not going away entirely, of course. And the annual matchup with Iowa promises to be a particularly important game from a regional standpoint. But with a schedule dominated by trips to Midwestern-to-the-bone locations like Minneapolis and Chicago, in a conference long identified first-and-foremost with the Rust Belt pillars at Michigan and Ohio State, there's no way Nebraska's identification as the heartland football program won't erode. Those days are done.

That's not to say Nebraska should have turned the Big Ten down, of course. Money talks. Academics talks. The Big 12's Texas obsession most definitely talks. From the Nebraska perspective, there's no way to spin the jump to a more stable, more lucrative conference as anything other than progress.

But progress almost always comes with a price, whether it's Colorado ditching its decades of old Big 8 rivalries to head west, Boise State's leap to the Mountain West finally finishing off the WAC as a meaningful football conference for good, TCU and Utah going their separate ways just when things between them were getting good, or all that Nebraska is giving up in their move to the Big Ten.

Today deserves to be a celebration for the Huskers' future, and for the future of all the teams and conferences who have been officially realigned today. But this is college football, the sport where tradition and history and all those things that are not money matter more than any other. There should be time enough, even today, to mourn the things the great realignment of 2010 has lost us.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com