Tag:Craig Thompson
Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:40 pm
 

MWC commish 'open' to Minnesota AD job

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi won't be officially retired until June 30th, but the school would like to have his successor in place before then, and one name that has come up is current Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson.

Thompson, who has been the commissioner of the Mountain West since the conference was first formed in 1999, is a Minnesota graduate. He's also said he's open to the idea of returning to the school to run its athletic department.

"But there would be a million questions to learn more about the position," Thompson told the Pioneer Press. "Is there a budget deficit? Is fundraising the issue? Is the focus on rebuilding the football program? Are there academic concerns? Is there a support system to graduate student-athletes? There would be a lot more to know about the needs and wants of the athletic department before you can even think about taking the next step."

While there are plenty of questions for Thompson to ask Minnesota, there are probably just as many questions for him to ask the Mountain West. The first question being, what would Thompson's role be within the conference should it merge with Conference USA?

With the future of the Mountain West being unclear at the moment, this might be the best time for Thompson to make the next move in his career.

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Posted on: October 20, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 3:47 pm
 

PODCAST: Brett McMurphy on Week 8

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If you're a college football expert who's picked not one but two undefeated, top-10 teams to go down in shocking upsets in one topsy-turvy Saturday -- as CBSSports.com senior writer Brett McMurphy has -- then you've set yourself up to look like either a genius or a fool.

In this edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, McMurphy explains why he expects Missouri (over Oklahoma State) and Michigan State (over Wisconsin) to make him look like the genius this week. McMurphy and Adam Aizer also talk over Craig Thompson's new 16-team playoff proposal, the LSU suspensions, Russell Wilson's Heisman chances, what team in the BCS standings is overrated, and more.

To listen, click below, download the mp3, or click here to open up our popout player in a different window.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store. Enjoy:

Posted on: October 20, 2011 3:19 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 1:16 pm
 

Mountain West commish proposes 16-team playofff

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In one of the strongest overtures yet to a revamped offseason in college football, the Mountain West Conference has proposed a 16-team playoff in the current FBS -- and a complete dismantling of the Bowl Championship Series.

Craig Harris of the Arizona Republic reports that MWC commissioner Craig Thompson has submitted the plan to the NCAA, and says it could increase playoff revenue multiple times over:

Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson, in an interview with The Arizona Republic, estimated a playoff would generate $700 million annually for college football, more than three times the nearly $182 million the BCS generated last year.

"What we are trying to do is offer an alternative with the current system. We have not been comfortable with the current system," said Thompson, who based his financial projections on current television contracts with various conferences.

The Mountain West plan would make it easier for champions of all 11 Football Bowl Subdivison conferences to qualify for the post-season as long as a team is ranked among the top 30 in the country. The rest of the tournament would be filled with at-large selections, and a committee would determine the seeding. Teams not making the tournament could play in minor bowl games.

CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd has all the details of Thompson's plan, which you can peruse here.

Now, the odds of this proposal actually being adopted are somewhere between "no" and "NOOOOO," because there's nothing to suggest that Thompson has the support of any of the BCS conferences. Plus, if the current logjam atop the polls works itself out to the point that there's two clear BCS Championship participants, a playoff suggestion would be political kryptonite for at least 12 months. "The system works," the powers that be will all crow, and let's face it: they'll have a point.

However, if let's say Wisconsin and Stanford are both undefeated and left out of the playoff situation -- or if somehow a one-loss LSU or Alabama overtakes a BCS conference team -- the tide could theoretically turn against a BCS system in favor of a playoff. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has long enjoyed his conference's relative power in the current BCS arrangement, when a 12-0 Big Ten team never has any problem garnering a BCS Title Game invitation for its troubles. Change that arrangement, though, and who knows what enmity Delany will be garner?

That all said, while the number of 16 teams sounds admrably inclusive, there exists the pesky problem of dilution of quality. Here are the current Nos. 11-16 teams in the 2011 BCS standings as of October 19.

11. Kansas State

12. Virginia Tech

13. Nebraska

14. South Carolina

15. West Virginia

16. Michigan State 

That group of teams -- which also comprises 11-16 in the AP poll but in a different order, so there aren't any unpopular shenanigans with determining that tier --  is not bad. It's also depressingly mediocre compared to Nos. 1-6 in the same polls, and in no way a group of teams that has any legitimate claim at the national championship. And that's if we ignore Thompson's plan to incorporate conference champions who are in the Top 30 of the BCS standings. That would sub out Michigan State for Houston, and No. 28 Notre Dame and No. 32 UL-Lafayette might be sniffing bids too. This is the Mountain West's plan.

Now yes, looking at the NCAA basketball tournament, mid-majors with middling resumes are not universally a bad thing. Butler, in particular, was an extremely compelling Cinderella team -- in 2009.

But Thompson would be much wiser to look at Butler in 2010, when the team was seeded at No. 8 again and made an unlikely run to the title game again, only to stink up the joint in a loss to heavily favored UConn, a game so bad it sort of cheapened the Huskies' NCAA title and made some grumpy fans wonder how, precisely, this was all the NCAA could muster for a supposedly authoritative championship game. And when the BCS has faced similar complaints about quality, it's been from its placement of BCS-conference teams -- even when they're ranked, ohidunno, 16th -- into bowl games where they clearly don't belong. And now we want to open the door for those teams to, in theory, make the championship game?

So that's the test for how deep a playoff's cutoff really ought to go: not whether fans would enjoy seeing a team of that seed compete for a championship, but whether that low seed getting blown out in a championship round would tarnish the tournament for a significant portion of fans. If your playoff plan can't pass that test, it's not an improvement over the current BCS, which -- for its maddening lack of credibility and fairness -- does a fine job of putting deserving teams on the field with the championship on the line. Pretty low hurdle to clear, really, but I'm not sure Thompson's plan does that job.

Posted on: July 27, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 12:18 pm
 

MWC forbids Boise from all-blue look at home

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When San Diego State head coach Rocky Long called the combination of Boise State's home Smurf Turf and their all-blue uniforms "unfair" this past April, we applauded his candor but also assumed he was giving voice to run-of-the-mill behind-the-scenes sour grapes. If Boise hadn't been so good, and their opponents on the blue turf hadn't lost so many times, no one would care about the color of the field or uniforms, right?

Maybe not. But as it turns out, Long is far from the only coach to believe the Broncos' home color-coordination gives them an unfair advantage. In fact, so many of the coaches in Boise's new Mountain West Conference home complained that the league prohibited the Broncos from wearing all-blue uniforms in their conference home games as a prerequisite for their entry into the league.

While the Bronco administration had little choice but to sign off on the agreement (what, they were going to stay in the WAC over their uniforms?), you couldn't have expected the MWC's plan to go over well in Boise. And it hasn't, with even usually soft-spoken head coach Chris Petersen railing against the decision at MWC Media Days Tuesday:
“I thought it was ridiculous,” Petersen said of his reaction. “… That’s our colors. That’s who we are. That’s who our fans have wanted us to be since I’ve been at Boise State. That’s what it’s been through and through.”

The MWC's explanation?

Said commissioner Craig Thompson: “What we had heard from our coaches is ‘a competitive advantage.’ It’s as simple as that.”
Again: color us skeptical the Broncos' "competitive advantage" in Boise has anywhere near as much to do with the field or the uniforms as the long travel, players like Kellen Moore, and coaches like Petersen. And we're particularly skeptical the coaches' gripes are based in legitimate competition issues -- rather than a conference-wide sort of rookie hazing -- when we read the following:
One complaint from coaches is that it’s difficult to watch video of the Broncos’ home games. Petersen said that’s true, but shouldn’t be an issue as schools switch to high definition.
It's a little more difficult to watch film of their games, so you're going to tell the Broncos what uniforms they can and can't wear at their own stadium? Really?

Really. As a neutral viewer, we shouldn't complain; the all-blue look on the blue turf does take a few series' of visual adjustment (even in HD), and monochrome uniforms in bright colors aren't exactly the height of football fashion no matter the color of the field. But quirky home-field advantages have always been a part of college football, and this one seems even more quirky and innocuous than most.

So: we anxiously await confirmation from the MWC that as part of their invitations to join, Hawaii will be playing their home games in California, Nevada will be playing theirs at sea level (and only in September and October, what with those chilly November/December temperatures in Reno), and at theirs Fresno State will force Pat Hill to coach clean-shaven.

Posted on: June 6, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Mountain West unveils new logo

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson held a press conference today under the slogan "This is our time." We're not sure about that -- unless Boise State does some serious flag-carrying, the past three seasons' three BCS bowl berths and two undefeated seasons are likely to be as close to being the MWC's time as they'll ever get -- but if Thompson meant "our time to unveil a logo that puts the one put together by the bajillionaires in the Big Ten to shame," then yes, he's correct:



The reaction to the logo on Twitter hasn't been entirely positive, to say the least, nor even behind the scenes with the Eye on CFB team, where our Tom Fornelli described it as a better logo for the (fictional) Morgan-Walters Investment Corporation. (Our sister college basketball blog also disapproves.)

But as for this blogger, well, it's eye-catching, it's simple, it's pleasingly symmetric/geometric ... I'm not sure what's wrong with it. (Other than the fact the conference has decided to give the logo its own nickname, "The Rock." Guys: you're trying too hard. Except for the part where you still haven't given the world a full-size digital image of thing, meaning you're not trying hard enough.) M.C. Escher would probably approve, and so do I.


Posted on: January 28, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2011 2:49 pm
 

Thompson tells bottom of MWC to shape up

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It was just yesterday that UNLV's reported upcoming stadium announcement gave us an excuse to look at the Runnin' Rebels' sorry 2010 season, one that finished at 2-11 with zero victories that didn't come at home against Wyoming or New Mexico, Vegas's partners in mediocrity at the bottom of the Mountain West standings. Between the three of them, the Rebels, Cowboys, and Lobos combined to win just one game against the rest of the conference, Wyoming's season-ending blowout of Colorado State, a team that itself won just one game against teams that weren't MWC bottom-feeders.

All together, the bottom four teams in the Mountain West went a staggering 2-34 against all other FBS competititon, the only victories Wyoming's five-point win at Toledo and Colorado State's two-point escape against Idaho.

So it's no surprise that as his conference scrapes and claws for a BCS automatic bid, with every game its members play either helping or hurting its argument, MWC commissioner Craig Thompson isn't real pleased with how his bottom three teams are performing. He said as much in an interview yesterday with ESPN's Andrea Adelson , where few words were minced (emphasis added):
It’s never been an issue at the top. We’ve been in the Top 10. We’ve played in BCS games, but I read a recent Q&A with John Swofford of the ACC. Their strength is 12. I am not badmouthing any of our teams, but we need to have our six, seventh and eighth finishing teams have better seasons, period.
Well, no offense Commish, but that seems like you kind of are badmouthing those sixth, seventh, and eighth teams (i.e. CSU, UNLV, and Wyoming). (Why the No. 9 Lobos are spared, we're not sure, unless Thompson has joined the rest of the country on simply giving up on the Mike Locksley's train wreck of a program.)

But that's fine; their 2010 efforts deserve some badmouthing, especially when -- as Thompson's Q&A makes clear -- they're such a major stumbling block to a BCS bid that for now looks just slightly out of reach. The MWC needs to come in at sixth or better in the BCS polls and the BCS computer rankings to qualify for the bid, and in the 2008-2011 evaluation period, Thompson says they've hit that bar in the polls but don't have the computer juice (finishing seventh). Where the 2010-2013 period is concerned, they've cleared it in 2010, but just barely--and how much better will things get without Utah, BYU or TCU?

Without the necessary rankings, the MWC would have to apply for a waiver from the current BCS conferences, and though Thompson doesn't dismiss the possibility the guess here is that such a waiver will be granted when pigs rule the skies. The league's best bet is to put together a smashing 2011 that puts them in the top six for 2008-11, and they simply can't do that if the bottom four teams can't pull some tiny measure of their weight.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 6:59 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 7:02 pm
 

No change in Mountain West TV contracts

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's been plenty of news to come out of the Mountain West's presidents meeting this week, most of which are covered here by the Idaho Statesman's Chad Crippe following a discussion with commissioner Craig Thompson. To recap: the TCU-Boise State game will be moved to Boise; the conference won't invite Utah State and San Jose State to join, despite reports to the contrary, and looks set at 10 teams for the foreseeable future; and various scheduling details have been ironed out, like placing the TCU-Boise marquee matchup at season's end and giving each team two rivalry games that won't rotate off the eight-game schedule.

But one detail from Crippe's report shouldn't escape notice, even among the expansion madness and TCU-Boise brouhaha:
[Thompson] did not collect bids from the TV partners based on an expanded league. “Because I didn’t know specifically who we’d be talking about,” he said ... The Mountain West is talking only with its current TV partners. Colorado State president Tony Frank told The Coloradoan that he doesn’t expect the TV money to change significantly from the current $12 million per year.
So no new television partners, and no major changes to a contract that runs through the 2015-2016 season? That's not what fans of the Mountain West want to hear, not when that contract offers the entire conference some $3 million less than ESPN is paying Texas by itself for the forthcoming "Longhorn Network."

The lack of television exposure (despite MWC games airing weekly on the excellent CBS College Sports, now in 94 million homes !) and, more importantly, television money is explicitly what's driven league mainstay BYU into football independence, and severely hampered the conference's efforts to keep other departed members Utah and TCU. While the MWC doesn't appear to be in any further danger of having its current 10 teams poached by larger leagues, that San Diego State and the Big 12 have had some measure of contact shows that that danger isn't entirely passed.

And besides: every year the MWC accepts relative peanuts while the Texases of the world get fatter and fatter on their TV deals, the gap between the conference and the BCS gate they want so desperately to crash will only widen. In short, a new, richer TV contract will be a key part of the MWC's long-term success ... and if it's not on the immediate horizon, it's fair to question how high the ceiling on that success can rise.
Posted on: January 19, 2011 5:51 pm
 

MWC may move Frogs vs. Broncos to Boise

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

One of the unfortunate end results of TCU's jump to the Big East just as Boise State arrives in the Mountain West is that what ought to be the biggest, best rivalry in all of college football mid-majordom will last for just one season: this fall's, when the Broncos are scheduled to travel to Fort Worth for a rematch of the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.

But those travel plans could change, according to this report from the Idaho Statesman's Chadd Cripe , in which MWC commissioner Craig Thompson acknowledges the league is considering changing the venue for the one-and-only conference meeting between the Frogs and Broncos to Boise. The decision will be made by a vote of MWC presidents--a vote from which TCU, by virtue of their Big East defection, will be forced to abstain.

But why bother with such major alterations to the league's slate -- one of Boise's current home dates would have to become a road game to accommodate the change -- at such a relatively late date? You guessed it: your favorite scapegoat and mine, the BCS:
Moving the game to Boise would make sense for the future of the Mountain West. As the league chases an automatic bid for the Bowl Championship Series, it gets to count results from Boise State and TCU for the evaluation period that ends in 2011 (2008-11). But for the next period, which runs from 2010 to 2013, the Mountain West gets Boise State’s results and TCU’s results carry over to the Big East. The Mountain West and Big East could be competing with each other for BCS positioning in that cycle.
No, offering TCU this kind of a kick in the pants as they head out the MWC door wouldn't be particularly sporting. But the Frogs' choice to bolt the conference just as it geared up for its big push for a BCS automatic bid wasn't too gentlemanly, either. When (speaking in the long term) the MWC's very survival could be riding on joining the BCS boys' club, they can't afford to gain every possible advantage they can.

It's not nice. But it's the right decision. In the brave new world of conference expansion, realpolitik is the only guideline that matters. Now, if the Broncos will just do their new conference home the favor of winning ...

HT: GTP .

 
 
 
 
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