Posted on: July 5, 2011 12:00 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 4:48 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
July 1 marked the first day in the house for recent conference jumpers like Utah and Nebraska. As the conferences continue to realign, eyes continue to turn to the 8-team Big East. With TCU arriving in 2012 and the negotiation of a new media deal on the horizon, it is assumed that the conference will be making more moves in the near future to increase membership. Jason Brewer, of SB Nation Philly, pulled together some interesting quotes from Temple recruits that suggest the Owls rumored move back into the Big East could come as soon as after this season.
First came quotes earlier from Temple Football Forever, which included TE Tanner Kearns sharing his excitement for the potential to play in Lincoln Financial Field and "knows" the Owls "plan on moving to the Big East soon." The father of Temple commit CB Tavon Young took it a step further, stating his son will be close to home and "in the Big East in 2012." Add those quotes to the recent statements from LB Michael Kalaman and TE Jameson McShea and you've got to assume that there there is something going on behind the scenes in Philadelphia.
Temple spent 14 years in the Big East before their departure in the exodus of 2003-2004. Since then current Miami head coach Al Golden worked to rebuild the program from within the MAC, bringing the Owls their first postseason appearance in 30 years in 2009. After his departure to the Hurricanes, the hiring of Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio has helped continue the momentum that Golden started in Philadelphia.
But Temple is not the only team that has been discussed in possible Big East expansion. The conference nearly gave one bid away to Villanova before discussions took a turn in another direction, many believe that UCF is a football powerhouse in the making that could benefit the conference geographic balance, and recently the addition of Army and Navy has been discussed. I doubt that Temple's staff would be outright lying to recruits, so they at least have some reason to believe that Temple's invitation to the BCS ranks could be coming in time to join along with TCU.
Big East commissioner John Marinatto told CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy that there is no "best model" for Big East expansion, but there is certainly an end date. By September 2012, the conference needs to be set in their membership in order to capitalize on the negotiation of a new media deal when their current one with ESPN expires. ESPN has already made moves to try and begin those talks, but the conference still has some moves to make before they are comfortable presenting their future product. Temple's potential addition would bring the conference to ten teams heading into the 2012 season, but what would that mean for their Philadelphia brethren Villanova? The Wildcats, already a member of the conference in every sport but football and women's lacrosse, would be one of the easier additions logistically. If the Big East brings in both schools to the football conference, that leaves only one spot left to finish with the magical 12-team count needed to hold a conference championship game. With UCF, Army, Navy, Houston, and East Carolina all likely interested in making the jump, someone is going to get left out. Again.
With all of the other five conferences securing new media deals in the last couple years, the Big East gets to be the prettiest girl at the dance for the next several months. Sure, the schools left aren't exactly the lighting up the BCS standings (only UCF and Houston have ever been ranked); but there is still a lot of potential value for a conference looking to make a statement on the national scene.
Posted on: June 8, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:42 am
By the Eye on College Football bloggers
To celebrate the (now fewer than) 100 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun.
We're now down to the nitty-gritty: Nos. 10-3 below, No. 2 tomorrow and our No. 1 unveiled Friday. Stay tuned.
10. JOHN MARINATTO, commissioner, Big East. Marinatto joined the Big East executive staff as senior associate commissioner in 2002, just in time to see the biggest shakeup in membership since the conference began football competition in 1991. Now, as the Big Ten and Pac-12 have shaken up the conference landscape with the expansion to 12 teams -- as well the ACC and Pac-12 recently negotiating lucrative multi-network media deals - the onus falls on Marinatto to bring the Big East up to par with the new standards of major conference football.
In his discussion with CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy, Marinatto made no mistaking that the primary driver of Big East expansion is the expiration of their current television deal with ESPN at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. Beginning in September 2012, the Big East will have a 60-day exclusive negotiation period with the network. At that point Marinatto hopes to have expansion completed, and be holding all the attractive chips for a bidding war that will pay out the way it did for the Pac-12. TCU's arrival next season obviously holds the greatest national intrigue, as well as reaching a very un-Big East audience in the Southwest. But where will expansion stop? With the right moves, the league cound finally abandon its role as college football's BCS-conference punchline.
For now Marinatto insists that there is no model, and all options are still on the table. The only driving factor in the eyes of the conference is how will the addition of a certain team add value to television contract negotiations. College football is a big money business that networks will pay for, and after seeing the deal that Larry Scott got for the Pac-12 everyone will one a piece. But we'll get to Scott soon enough ... -- CP
9. LANDRY JONES, quarterback, Oklahoma. With Oklahoma being the popular pick to start 2011 on top of the polls, there's no arguing that quarterback Landry Jones won't begin the season as a Heisman favorite. But it's not just the visibility of being under center for the nation's No. 1 team: the junior-to-be has thrown for 7,916 yards and 64 touchdowns in his first two seasons in Norman. The formula will be pretty simple--the more games that Oklahoma wins, the more talk you'll hear of Landry Jones.
The Sooners offense has been an explosive one for as long as Bob Stoops has been at the wheel, and one that gives the quarterback a lot of toys to play with. Life is a lot easier when you have guys like Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills and James Hanna to throw to. Still, Jones is the kid in charge of driving the car. He doesn't have a ton of room to improve this year, though he has thrown 26 interceptions in his career. If Jones can cut down on turnovers this season it will only boost his touchdown numbers, Oklahoma might never let go of that top spot, and Jones will be in New York this winter to pick up some hardware. -- TF
8. MIKE SLIVE, commissioner, SEC. If you thought for one red second someone other than Slive was the true ruler of the SEC, we hope you paid attention to the league's recent spring meetings. Slive proposed a "soft cap" of 25 signees per class, among other "roster management" initiatives designed to curb oversigning. The SEC's 12 head coaches voted against the proposal 12-0. But with the final decision in the hands of the league's presidents, the proposal passed anyway, the presidents voting 12-0 in favor. What Mike Slive wants, Mike Slive gets.
Well, except maybe a new television contract. The "no outs" nature of the league's current 15-year deal, signed three years ago, looks worse and worse as league after league (most notably the Pac-12) strike it rich on the open market and the Big Ten Network's revenues continue to grow. The SEC is hardly hurting for money, though, and it's Slive who has overseen the conference rise to five consecutive BCS championships -- spread across four teams, even more impressively -- even as its number of programs under probation has dwindled (pending a few open investigations, mind). The modern SEC might still be the Conference (former commish and BCS visionary) Roy Kramer Built, but Slive has done a masterful job of pressing its football advantages while pushing a handful of successful academic measures (like the oversigning legislation) to battle the league's win-at-all-costs image. If the SEC does make it six-for-six in 2011, its commissioner will no doubt get some measure of credit--and it's hard to argue he won't deserve it. -- JH
7. BILL HANCOCK AND THE BCS, Executive Director of/and championship cartel. Boo! Hiss! The BCS and Bill Hancock aren't the most popular topics amongst college football fans, but they are both incredibly influential in the world of college football. It's the BCS that helps inject more money in the BCS conferences, and is also a driving factor behind the conference realignment we've seen the last few years. After all, 2011 isn't TCU's final year in the Mountain West if they hadn't just finished two undefeated regular seasons and not gotten a chance to play for a title. Of course, while it's fun to rage against a acronym, it's also nice to have a face to go with that acronym.
Which is where Bill Hancock comes into play. No matter who you are -- a fan, a writer or the United States government -- if you present the BCS with a rational, well-thought and logical complaint about the BCS system, Hancock is the man you'll hear from. He'll be the guy telling you that you're wrong, and that the BCS is perfect. The BCS will then go about its business doing things the way it always has, and at the end of the season they'll determine who has the right to play for a national championship, and you won't. -- TF
6. JIMBO FISHER, head coach, Florida State. First Will Muschamp burned Texas to accept the job at Florida, then the recent Dana Holgorsen/Bill Stewart feud exploded at West Virginia. It seems like one of the only "coach-in-waiting" situations that has worked out recently was Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. After contractually getting the title in 2007, Fisher waited behind the legendary Bobby Bowden to take control of the powerhouse in Tallahassee. But in those last few years under Bowden, the Seminoles had slipped from being perennial national title contenders to perennially playing December bowl games. But that all seemed to change when Fisher took the reigns and delivered the Seminoles' first 10-win season since 2003.
Now Florida State returns 17 starters from that squad, and last year's backup quarterback E.J. Manuel steps in after leading the Seminoles to victory over South Carolina in the Chick Fil-A Bowl. Fisher's promotion also paid immediate dividends on the recruiting trail, with blue-chippers like defensive back Karlos Williams and running back James Wilder Jr. giving the 'Noles their strongest haul in years. (The 2012 class, incidentally, is already shaping up to draw consideration as the nation's best.) The pundits now have Fisher's team tagged as ACC favorites, and there is once again a major buzz around Tallahassee regarding Seminoles football. Fisher has demanded that his players understand what expectations mean. "Just because you're picked to win, they don't give you a trophy when the season starts," he explained recently.
The fast-talking Fisher will fill your ear with areas where his team needs to improve. He never gets complacent, and constantly asks more from his players. It was complacency that arguably played a major role in Florida State's fall from grace after the turn of the century, and now Fisher has a great chance to restore that dominance in 2011, in just his second year as head coach. College football's next true powerhouse could get its start here. -- CP
5. ANDREW LUCK, quarterback, Stanford. Luck finished runner up for the Heisman last season and many figured he'd be house shopping in the Charlotte area after dismantling Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Every NFL pundit was labeling him a surefire number-one pick and future Hall of Famer after watching him shred opposing defenses every time he dropped back. CBSSports.com draft analyst Rob Rang called him the best quarterback and elite prospect he's ever scouted. With his head coach, Jim Harbaugh, headed to the San Francisco 49ers, many assumed he was a lock to bolt for NFL riches.
The architectural design and engineering major from Houston had other plans, however. He kept his Palo Alto address and announced he would stay at Stanford for his redshirt junior year to try and capture the inaugural Pac-12 title. He'll be gunning for the few Stanford quarterback records he hasn't already broken and look to get back to a BCS bowl as well. He's not just an accurate pocket passer, though; he can run and doesn't mind giving a shove to defenders if they end up in his way. It's good that he's mobile as two of the Cardinal's biggest challenges under new head coach David Shaw are replacing several starters along the offensive line and finding a few targets for Luck to throw to. Despite the issues on offense, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound quarterback is the prohibitive favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year. He's got a lot riding on his heavily insured right arm in 2011, but with a manageable schedule and the fact that he's competed over 70 percent of his passes for his career, don't be surprised if the talented Luck keeps the Cardinal offense humming and the team in the national title hunt as well. -- BF
The COI will be in the news a lot this year, as the off the field headlines in college sports have dictated. First up is Boise State -- battling the dreaded charge of "Lack of Institutional Control" for violations in several sports -- and Tennessee this weekend. The Volunteers' case is one many observers are looking at with a close eye due not only to the coaches involved (Lane Kiffin and Bruce Pearl) but to see how they treat a coach that blatantly lied to investigators ahead of their later date with Ohio State and Jim Tressel. In addition to levying scholarship reductions, bowl bans, probation and a host of other penalties, the COI has also started to hand out suspensions to coaches, such as the three-game suspension for UConn head basketball coach Jim Calhoun.
The committee is not bound by prior case precedent -- though they say they use it as a guide -- so decisions can feel arbitrary and vary from case to case. All of that simply makes predicting what they will do harder than getting the right lotto numbers. It's not a courtroom where schools have due process rights; the COI, rather, is all about finding "clear and convincing evidence" to support the NCAA enforcement staff's case against schools. The NCAA has recently tried to be more transparent with the COI, showing how things are done and opening the door into their world ever-so-slightly under new president Mark Emmert. Questions still remain, though, about what penalties will eventually come out of the room for schools such as Tennessee, Ohio State, and eventually North Carolina. The only answer at the moment is to wait. -- BF
3. NICK SABAN, head coach, Alabama. It's the year 2011, and the argument is over; Nick Saban is the most powerful college football coach in Division I. Every rival who might have challenged him for that honor is in decline, or gone entirely. Jim Tressel: resigned in disgrace. Pete Carroll: fled back to the NFL just ahead of the NCAA posse. Mack Brown: went 5-7, ceded Big 12 superiority to Bob Stoops. Stoops: has seen Saban win two rings with two different teams since he won his last. Urban Meyer: retired to punditdom (however temporarily). And when it comes to being the biggest, baddest head coach on the FBS block, are they really any other challengers?
If Les Miles can down the Tide in Tuscaloosa this season on his way to a second crystal football, or Chip Kelly can get his Oregon team over the hump of their nonconference struggles, or--most likely--Stoops can finally grab that elsuive second national title, then we can talk. But it's Saban until then, not least because he's as likely to come away with this season's ultimate prize as anyone; between what projects as the nation's clearcut No. 1 defense and what should be a punishing ground game, even a potentially up-and-down passing game (featuring a first-year quarterback and wideouts mostly more steady than spectacular) may not be enough to prevent the Tide's second BCS title in three years.
The old saying is that college football teams take on the personality of their coaches, and nowhere is that more true than at Alabama. Saban's brutally professional, clinically detail-oriented, obsessively driven approach has created a program where sloppiness and shoddy preparation--from offseason workouts to gameday routines to play execution--isn't so much "not tolerated" as nonexistent. It's not a particularly personable philosophy, which is one reason Saban has arguably become the SEC's most hated villain. But as the 2011 season grinds into motion, it's also what's made him the nation's single most successful active college football coach. -- JH
The 100 will continue here on Eye on CFB tomorrow. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31, 30-21 and 20-11. You can also keep up with the 100 by following us on Twitter.
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Andrew Luck, BCS, Big East, Big Ten, Big Ten Network, Bill Hancock, Bill Stewart, Bob Stoops, Bobby Bowden, Boise State, Bruce Pearl, CBSSports.com College Football 100, Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Chip Kelly, Dana Holgorsen, David Shaw, E.J. Manuel, ESPN, Florida State, Heisman Trophy, James Hanna, James Wilder Jr., Jim Calhoun, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tressel, Jimbo Fisher, John Marinatto, Karlos Williams, Kenny Stills, Landry Jones, Lane Kiffin, Les Miles, Mack Brown, Mark Emmert, Mike Slive, NCAA, NCAA Committee on Infractions, Nick Saban, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Orange Bowl, Pac-12, Pete Carroll, Roy Kramer, Ryan Broyles, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, UConn, Urban Meyer, Virginia Tech, Will Muschamp
Posted on: May 24, 2011 9:40 am
By Brett McMurphy, CBSSports.com Senior Writer
PONTA VERDA BEACH, Fla. – UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun admits he likely won’t be coaching when it happens, but he still sees it coming. And it can’t be stopped.
Rapture? The end of the world? Not quite, but the end of the Big East Conference as we know it now.
“My own personal opinion – and I won't probably see this – in the next couple of years, four or five years down the road, I think you'll see a separation [of the football and non-football membership],” Calhoun said. “I think it's inevitable.”
The Big East currently has 16 members, including eight football members. Next season with the addition of TCU, that number inflates to 17 all-sport members and nine football members.
That number could increase even more in the next couple of years with the Big East looking to expand its football membership by as many as three teams, which conceivably could result in a behemoth 20 member conference, including 12 football members.
Big East commissioner John Marinatto has said the Big East’s 16-team basketball league could evolve into 20-teams, split into four pods of five teams or two 10-team divisions.
“If you go to 18 [members], oh boy,” Calhoun said. “We're talking about going to 17 [now and that] creates enough different issues.”
A split of the football and non-football schools has been speculated for some time, but league sources feel that would happen as only a last resort.
Calhoun, 68, said if the league split, the eight basketball members – DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova – would pursue some additional teams from the Atlantic 10, such as Xavier and Dayton.
“That’s what I think could happen,” Calhoun said.
Posted on: April 20, 2011 1:09 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Fiesta Bowl has been in the news a lot recently, and for all the wrong reasons. A report was released last month that showed that the bowl had been reimbursing employees for political contributions, which is a violation of election laws and the bowl games non-profit status. The CEO of the Fiesta Bowl, John Junker, was fired following the story for overseeing everything that had taken place, along with some questionable spending habits.
Since then the BCS has put together a seven-member panel to do it's own investigation of the Fiesta Bowl and figure out what is to be done with the game in the future. More specifically, whether or not the Fiesta Bowl will remain a member of the BCS, or if it will be replaced by another bowl game, possibly the Cotton Bowl.
Well, according to Penn State president Graham Spanier, who is the head of the BCS' committee, we may not have to wait all that long to find out. In an interview with the AP on Tuesday, Spanier said that hopes we know the fate of the Fiesta Bowl by mid-May.
"We do not expect to have this drawn out very long," Spanier told the AP. "There's a lot at stake for everyone. It's in everyone's interest to move this discussion along quickly."
The committee will have the final say in the fate of the Fiesta Bowl. Aside from Spanier, the committee also includes Northern Illinois President John Peters, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto, Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters, and athletic directors Jeremy Foley of Florida, Bob Bowlsby of Stanford and Richard Giannani of Southern Mississippi.
Posted on: March 3, 2011 4:05 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Over the last year or so, the Big East has been courting I-AA football power (and current Big East basketball power) Villanova to bump its program to I-A and strengthen the Big East's numbers from within. With TCU set to join the conference in 2012, a Villanova addition would push the conference up to 10 football teams. 10 is good. It's certainly better than eight.
Now, we've noted before that Big East commissioner John Marinatto wasn't going to "sit around and wait" for Villanova to make a decision on moving up a subdivision or not, but sometime between late January and now, Marinatto decided to do precisely that, because as the Sporting News reports, Villanova is coming close to accepting the Big East's offer and joining the big boys in football:
This would probably be a solid move for Villanova; not every school that has jumped to I-A has met immediate success, but 'Nova would have the built-in luxury of money coming in from the Big East's BCS deal, the Big East's TV deal, and healthy visiting ticket sales. Again, it's still up to the Wildcats to get good at football and keep their fans interested for the long haul, but that's a definite possibility, and one that could bring a significant payoff to Villanova's athletic department.
The fundraising comes first, though, and every week that passes without Villanova having the cash for those daunting startup costs is another week that Marinatto has to "sit around and wait" and wonder whether the fanbase is really there for Villanova. The Big East is hardly a titan of fan support, as BCS conferences go, but if Villanova and its fans can't afford the move up, they can't afford it, and Marinatto will have to look elsewhere for his expansion.
Still, Villanova wouldn't be trying to raise the funds if it didn't think it had a good chance to accomplish the task, and we could see a 10-team Big East in 2012. If so, the question facing the conference changes to a no-less-important, but happier one: nine-game round robin conference schedule, right? Don't let college football down on that front, Mr. Marinatto.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 2:14 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 4:02 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Earlier today I posted about Big East commissioner John Marinatto saying that the conference was not going to sit around and wait for a decision from Villanova before making a possible move on conference expansion. Were the Big East decide to not make Villanova its tenth football member, the odds on favorite to receive a Big East bid would be UCF. Though there may be a problem with adding UCF, as there are some rumors that USF isn't all that enthused about sharing a piece of the pie with another school inside the state of Florida.
The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi wrote a column on Wednesday discussing the rumors.
Hopefully, all of the whispers you hear about the University of South Florida trying to block UCF from gaining an invitation to the Big East are emanating from message boards and not meeting rooms.
But I'm starting to wonder.
"We have been hearing this, too," UCF spokesperson Grant Heston said in an e-mailed response to the Sentinel about USF obstructing UCF's potential path into the Big East. "We hope it's not true, because our joining the Big East would clearly be a win-win for both universities."
Here's all you need to know about Heston's response: If he is issuing a public statement of any kind on the issue, then UCF President John Hitt is clearly concerned that the Bulls may be lobbying against UCF joining them in the prestigious and profitable Big East. Heston would not issue a statement of any kind unless Hitt put his stamp of approval on it.
Then there is USF's suspicious silence on this issue. When I tried to contact USF President Judy Genshaft last week and early this week to ask her feelings about the Big East potentially inviting UCF, the university's publicity department said she would have no comment on the issue. "All Big East expansion inquiries need to be directed to Big East Commissioner John Marinatto," a school publicist said in an e-mail. "He is the sole spokesperson on this issue."Bianchi goes on to say that the silence from USF on the matter is somewhat damning, especially in light of the fact that other Big East coaches like Louisville's Rick Pitino and South Florida's own Skip Holtz have commented publicly on the idea of UCF joining the Big East.
Now, again, nobody knows for sure that South Florida is looking to keep Central Florida out of the Big East, but given the history and silence, it doesn't seem like it's that crazy of a theory. South Florida has enjoyed the money that comes with playing in a Big East conference, and if it's going to have to start sharing that money with two new schools, I can see why it wouldn't want to share the dough with an in-state rival. Recruiting in the state of Florida is hard enough as it is, given the other programs in the state and the fact that schools all across the country come to raid the plethora of football talent the state produces.
Giving another school in the state BCS resources would only make things tougher on USF.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 12:35 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
With TCU leaving the Mountain West for the Big East in 2012, it gives the Big East conference an uneven number of teams in its football conference. Which is manageable, but it's no secret that having an even number of teams makes scheduling easier and that the Big East is looking to add a tenth member. One of the favorites has been Villanova, which is already a member of the Big East in basketball, and has undertaken a study to see if the football program is ready to move up to the FBS level.
The study won't be concluded until April, but if Villanova thinks that the Big East is going to sit around and wait on Nova's decision before it makes a move, then Villanova would be wrong. At least, that's what commissioner John Marinatto told ESPN.
"We're not waiting for Villanova," Marinatto said. "It's their institutional decision to make, and they have a process set up to make it. They've got to determine what's in their best interest, and we've got to determine what's in our best interest.
"If the right situation developed in between, we would move on it. That's a very real possibility. We're not going to make a decision or not make a decision based on Villanova's study."
Which is the right approach for the Big East to take. Personally, I think the Big East would be better looking elsewhere. The conference's reputation in football has already taken its fair share of shots from critics, as among the BCS conferences, its easy to see that the Big East is the weak link. The conference didn't have a single team finish the season ranked in either poll. So I'm not sure that adding another team to the league that hasn't even played on an FBS level would be best for the level of play.
In my opinion, UCF or East Carolina would be better choices. Neither is a college football powerhouse, but both of those programs are a lot further along than Villanova will be for a few seasons. Of course, it's not just quality of team that matters in college football, and Villanova is more attractive than either UCF or ECU due to the fact it's located in Philadelphia. Were the Big East to look towards starting its own network like the Big Ten or Pac-12, that Philadelphia market would come in handy.