Tag:Mountain West Conference
Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:20 am
 

Keys to the Game: Boise State at UNLV

Posted by Chip Patterson

BOISE STATE WILL WIN IF: Feeling pretty comfortable saying there are very few "if's" regarding Boise State's chances at victory on Saturday against UNLV. Coming off a bye week, the Broncos have seen many of the other undefeated teams fall in the last two weeks and know this is an opportunity to seize. I expect Kellen Moore, who needs just one more win to become college football's all-time winningest quarterback, to be as effective as ever carving up the conference's worst passing defense. Moore will spread out UNLV's coverage, and find his receivers in space with pinpoint accuracy, as he has all season.

UNLV WILL WIN IF: One thing Air Force showed in their losing effort to Boise State was a way to limit their effectiveness on offense. By using their ground game to dominate the time of possession, the Moore and the rest of the Boise State offense was given small windows of opportunity to operate. UNLV does not have the effective ground attack of the Falcons, but they can use similar strategies to keep the game from getting out of hand early.  Unfortunately in this matchup, "keeping it from getting out of hand" is about all you could ask for as a Runnin' Rebels fan.  Keep it close early, and hope for a miracle late.

X-FACTOR: Preparation. As if UNLV didn't have enough to worry about with the high-powered Broncos' offense coming to town, one of the nation's last undefeated teams has had extra time to prepare for the conference matchup. Boise State head coach Chris Petersen is 22-2 when having 10 or more days to prepare between games. The Broncos' preparation has been one of the reasons for their sharp execution in notable season-openers and bowl games, and only serves as another sign the trend should continue on Saturday.

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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: October 1, 2011 4:00 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 4:40 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Air Force 35, Navy 34 (OT)


Posted by Chip Patterson

AIR FORCE WON. Eight of the last ten Air Force-Navy games have been decided by a one-score margin. So when Air Force jumped out to a 28-10 lead in the fourth quarter, it seemed as though this annually decisive showdown in the battle for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy might be different. However, Navy scored 18 points in the final 9:34 - including recovering an on sides kick and converting a 2-point attempt - to tie the game and send it to overtime. Navy's failure to convert on the extra point following overtime's first touchdown eventually decided the outcome and Air Force defended the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy with a 35-34 win.

HOW AIR FORCE WON: Falcons' quarterback Tim Jefferson orchestrated three methodical scoring drives in the first half, and the defense held strong against the bruising Navy offensive attack. The Midshipmen dominated the stats, with 466 total yards of offense and more than 40 minutes time of possession, but Air Force came up with enough big plays thanks to Ty MacCurther and Asher Clark.

WHEN AIR FORCE WON: It appeared the Falcons had this game won at several different points, but due to Navy's resilience it wasn't over until the final whistle blew. Jefferson punched in the touchdown for Air Force after Navy missed the extra point on the opening drive of overtime.

WHAT AIR FORCE WON: A great road victory against a very good Navy team.  Blowing that fourth quarter lead would have been a terrible way to head into a big-time matchup next Saturday against Notre Dame in South Bend.  The win also makes the Falcons 32-3 under head coach Troy Calhoun when leading at the start of the fourth quarter.  

WHAT NAVY LOST: Likely a chance to reclaim the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. The Midshipmen held on to the heralded hardware from 2003-2009 before falling to the 14-6 to the Falcons in Colorado Springs a year ago. Terrific comeback though, and memorable game for the series.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Everything? Everything.

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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: July 26, 2011 2:55 pm
 

MWC's Boise State among non-AQ favorites

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Several non-AQ conferences have held their preseason media days and polls, and it won't surprise anyone to learn that the Mountain West's edition has anointed newcomers Boise State the league favorites in their first MWC campaign.

The Broncos earned 28 out of a possible 31 first-place votes, with reigning champion TCU picking up three nods to finish second in their final MWC preseason poll before 2012's jump to the Big East. Air Force placed third, followed by San Diego State.

Personally, we'd have slid the Aztecs into the third slot* thanks in large part to Ronnie Hillman, the explosive sophomore running back who was named to the MWC's preseason all-conference team, also announced Tuesday. But it was the Broncos who predictbably dominated the list of honorees, earning a conference-high seven selections. In addition to Kellen Moore (who was named the preseason MWC Offensive Player of the Year), the Broncos were also saw less-household names like safety George Iloka, defensive end Shea McLellin and offensive tackle Nate Potter.

TCU
picked up four selections, including preseason Defesnive Player of the Year Tank Carder. No doubt the MWC itself is hoping the media have their predictions right; having the Broncos oust the Frogs in the two teams' only shared conference season would be a feather in the league's cap as TCU departs (and the MWC fights for a BCS automatic berth.

But as mentioned, the MWC isn't the only league that's been busy issuing its preseason polls. Checking in on two of their non-AQ brethren:

MAC: The Mid-American Conference held its Media Day Tuesday and announced the league's press had selected up-and-coming Toledo the league favorite for 2011. The Rockets return a league-high 18 starters in the third season of Tim Beckman's tenure, including dynamic receiver/returner Eric Page, a Biletnikoff Award Watch list member.

But the Rockets were far from a slam dunk choice, gaining only five of the 13 votes cast for MAC champion. Reigning divisional champions Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio) each picked up three nods, with Ohio and Western Michigan each picking up a token vote. All in all, seven different teams earned votes as champions of one division or the other--promising a well-heated MAC race this fall.

SUN BELT: The SBC doesn't issue a media vote, but last week the league's coaches released their own picks for the 2011 Sun Belt standings, with an unfamiliar name at the top: FIU.

Behind co-preseason Offensive Player of the Year (and CBSSports.com College Football 100 member) T.Y. Hilton, the Golden Panthers usurped usual league overloards Troy, receiving five of the nine votes in the poll. And in maybe the quirkiest single vote in any of those polls mentioned in this post, someone is very high on Western Kentucky; despite going 2-10 last year (and 2-22 the past two seasons), the Hilltoppers received one first-place vote.

*Yes, despite the devastation in the SDSU receiving corps. Between a veteran line, Hillman, and senior QB Ryan Lindley, they'll be fine. 

Posted on: June 13, 2011 12:55 pm
 

Wyoming down to two scholarship QBs

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Mountain West wants an automatic BCS bid. To accomplish this, it needs a forgiving mood from the BCS powers-that-be and strong performances on the field. It can count on those from the likes of Boise State, TCU (this season, anyway) and Fresno State. But it also needs better performances from the woeful bottom half of the conference, where the four teams at the bottom of the standings -- Wyoming, UNLV, Colorado State and hapless New Mexico -- went a staggering 2-34 in 2010 against all other FBS competition.

It looked like Wyoming wasn't going to be keeping that kind of company after their breakthrough 2009 season, in which first-year coach Dave Christensen led them to a 7-6 record and a thrilling New Mexico Bowl upset of Fresno. But it's all been downhill since then, as the Cowboys stumbled to a 3-9 record, handed New Mexico its only win of Mike Locksley's two-year tenure, and saw starting quarterback Austyn Canta-Samuels elect to transfer after the season.

Now things have gone from bad to worse as fellow signal-caller Emory Miller Jr. has also decided to leave Laramie following spring practice. "Personal reasons" were the only factor cited by the Laramie Boomerang, and Christensen declined to comment other than to wish Miller luck at his next destination.

Miller's and Canta-Samuel's decisions leave Christensen in a gigantic bind at the quarterback position. The Cowboys are down to just two scholarship quarterbacks on their projected 2011 roster: Brett Smith and Adam Pittser. But there's an even bigger problem than the numbers, as both Smith and Pittser are true freshmen straight from the Cowboys' 2011 recruiting class.

For the optimists in the Cowboy fanbase, Smith enrolled in time for spring practice and battled Miller to at least a draw in their battle for the starting spot, and Pittser (a "dual-threat" QB from Richmond, Ill.) is one of the most highly-regarded recruits of Christensen's tenure. To boot, Christensen has already enjoyed some success with a true freshman under center in Laramie; Canta-Samuels started the majority of the 2009 campaign and was named the MWC Freshman of the Year.

But surely no one, Christensen included, believes that entering the 2011 season starting a quarterback a year removed from high school and backing him up with a second quarterback a year removed from high school is the optimal situation. And should the Cowboys suffer through another lackluster season and help deprive the MWC of the automatic bid it so desperately wants, that'll go double in the MWC offices.


Posted on: February 1, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: February 1, 2011 11:08 am
 

Patterson takes high road after schedule change

Posted by Chip Patterson

When the Mountain West Conference made moves to begin boosting it's BCS resume by plucking Boise State from the WAC, they imagined a in-conference rivalry between TCU and the Broncos would certainly draw some of the attention (ahem, revenue opportunities) that the BCS big-wigs value so highly.  I imagine that conference commissioner Craig Thompson was not too happy when he first learned of TCU's exit to the Big East in 2012.

But TCU still has to play 2011 in the Mountain West, and that will include a single conference game against the Broncos.  In the initial arrangements, the game was to be played in Fort Worth.  But the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors decided to switch that game to a home game for Boise State, leaving TCU with a pretty brutal road schedule.

“I wish they had balanced it out a little,” Patterson told Sporting News in a recent telephone interview. “The other two teams that are going to be picked high, Air Force and San Diego State, we’ve got to go on the road there, also. But if you want to win a championship, you’ve got to be able to go on the road and win.”

The official statement from the conference cited "best interests of the conference," which of course reads a lot like: "because TCU decided to bolt."  Patterson could have easily lashed out at the conference, but the 2009 Coach of the Year has clearly decided to take the high road.  TCU is fresh off arguably the biggest win in program history, finishing an undefeated season with a 21-19 Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.

The Horned Frogs have their eyes set on a national championship now, hoping to use the momentum from the bowl victory to keep them in the voters' good favor come August/September.  It is a very similar plan that Boise State had coming into 2010, the challenge will be not to replicate the regular season loss that knocked them from title contention.
Posted on: January 25, 2011 3:46 pm
 

MWC expansion appears unlikely after statement

Posted by Chip Patterson

We really should have learned our lesson already when it comes to expansion talks.  The first time we think anything is going to happen, it likely will not.  It doesn't necessarily mean that won't down the road, but it seems that as soon as any move is brought up it is quickly put to rest by one of the sides involved.  

On Monday, the Deseret News reported that the Mountain West Conference was expected to vote "yes" on expansion, and "yes" on that expansion including Utah State.  That vote was supposed to take place late Monday or early Tuesday, and an official statement from the Mountain West Conference makes it seem as though the Aggies won't be making a jump anytime in the immediate future.

The official statement from the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors:
"Over the past two days, the Board of Directors has engaged in a very thorough discussion of several key topics pertinent to the future of the Mountain West Conference. This has included, but not been limited to, issues related to television, the Bowl Championship Series and membership. The Board feels strongly the membership configuration already established going forward creates outstanding prospects for future success. In addition, we are continuing with our strategic initiatives related to our television partnerships and the MWC's efforts to effect change in the BCS structure. The Board is excited about what is undoubtedly a bright future for the Conference."
If the board feels strongly about the "membership configuration already established," then they do not feel like the time is right to offer an invitation to any other schools, including Utah State.  One of the main reasons for expansion is to increase the conference's membership to 12 teams, securing the right to host a potentially lucrative conference championship game.  But with membership already in flux, it seems like the Board of Directors would like to see what kind of luck they will have with their current lineup, as the MWC will make a case for a television deal and an automatic berth to a BCS bowl game.
 
 
 
 
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