Tag:Mountain West Conference
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 .

Posted on: November 29, 2010 10:08 am
Edited on: November 29, 2010 10:18 am
 

Report: TCU accepts offer from Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

After another release of the BCS standings moved us one step closer to an Oregon-Auburn national championship, TCU reportedly sealed the deal to make the jump to a BCS conference.  Brett McMurphy of AOL Fanhouse is reporting Monday that TCU has accepted an invitation to become an all-sports member of the Big East Conference.

TCU will join the league on July 1, 2012, and begin conference play in their new conference for the 2012-2013 school year.

For the Big East, the move comes just in time.  The current four-year evaluation period for the BCS ends in December 2011. While the Big East has not produced the contenders to warrant their AQ status in recent years, TCU's arrival will strengthen their prominence on paper significantly.  When the BCS heads get to crunching numbers, the Big East will get to report TCU's accomplishments (including their three Top 11 BCS finishes) along with the rest of the conference.  

For TCU, it is a perennial chance to arrive unaided in a BCS Bowl.  Not only does the Big East control an automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl, but playing a full conference schedule against BCS AQ opponents should create a boost in the Horned Frogs' strength of schedule.  Many will argue that the current state of the Big East would not provide much of a boost, but the Horned Frogs will take their chances now with an automatic bid.  TCU also gets a huge boost by getting to add their other sports to an already massive conference in the Olympic sports.  While no one is expecting TCU to make an immediate play for the Big East basketball title, but playing in a league that garners so much more national attention will help raise the status of all of the Horned Frogs' sports teams.  

Posted on: November 3, 2010 1:51 pm
 

MWC blames "combined human error" in Replaygate

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When we last touched on the epic brouhaha surrounding the BYU -San Diego State botched replay debacle, we predicted that the BYU administration would issue a terse "no comment" in response to SDSU's requests for clarification, but that the Mountain West itself would have to reveal its findings to preserve any kind of integrity ... and to keep the Aztecs and Cougars from spening the entire next offseason at each other's throats.

Sure enough, the expected BYU response ("Insinuations that any locally contracted member of the MWC replay team influenced the replay ruling or did not follow Conference protocol are inaccurate. The University will have no further comment on this matter ") came down almost immediately. And as of yesterday, though their findings weren't released directly, a letter from MWC commissioner Craig Thompson to the SDSU president's office obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune has made the results of the conference's investigation public:

The Mountain West Conference determined that the botched replay call resulted from the “combined human error” of all three replay crew members who worked the booth for that football game against San Diego State Oct. 9. The three-man crew included two BYU alumni who didn’t notice or “weren’t sufficiently aggressive” in pointing out that conclusive video evidence of the controversial play was available and on live television in their booth ...

The revelation of BYU alumni working for the league in the replay booth raised concerns at SDSU of a conflict of interest. In his letter, Thompson stated that the MWC “was convinced no malfeasance had occurred and that a combined human error was as the root of the missed replay call.” He stated the league still has confidence in these crew members.

The league suspended the three replay staffers for one game “because they had failed to communicate effectively as a unit and did not successfully utilize the information available to make a correct decision,” Thompson stated in the letter.

The nuts and bolts of the breakdown: head replay official Mike Angelis apparently became too focused on one particular (inconclusive) replay of J.J. Di Luigi 's obvious fumble, and the two BYU-affiliated replay staffers failed to either notice or provide Angelis with the better view.

Why those staffers did not will obviously be a matter of discussion in San Diego for a long, long time to come, and the conference's belated decision to ban school employees from working the replay booth for their school's games was obviously a horse-out-of-the-barn moment. But if the MWC has explained where the breakdown occurred and has cleared them, there's nothing else SDSU backers can really ask for.

That's not going to keep them from asking anyway, of course. For anyone convinced that "malfeasance" was indeed behind the video mistakes, this conclusion to Replaygate likely won't come remotely close to providing satisfaction. But with all three official parties (SDSU, BYU, and the MWC) having commented and sworn not to comment again, it's fair to say this is the conclusion Replaygate has reached.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 1:33 pm
 

Nevada, Fresno St. told to grab a Snickers

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Why the delicious nougaty candy-related reference to lead off this post? Because Nevada and Fresno State are, as the tagline goes, not going anywhere for a while . Their move into the Mountain West and out of the ever-wobbly WAC has been delayed by a year, until 2012, as part of the resolution of a WAC lawsuit that asked the Wolf Pack and Bulldogs to either wait it out one extra season or fork over a cool $5 million each.

That kind of money doesn't grow on non-AQ trees, so both schools will pay a meager $900,000 (though they'll also forfeit their 2011-2012 league distribtuion check , making the true price tag a bit heftier) and spend another year lining up against the remnants of the WAC. That conference and commisioner Karl Benson came out the clear losers in this latest round of west coast conference expansion, but this is a major win that will give Benson a desperately-needed extra year in which to cobble together a strategy for keeping the 48-year-old conference afloat.

Everyone else involved in the MWC-WAC-BYU expansion brouhaha, though, comes out a loser in the short-term of today's decision. Let's count the ways:

Nevada and Fresno : Not that either program will likely be looking at a BCS berth in 2011, but nonetheless that goal will be all-but-impossible playing in a watered-down, Boise State -less WAC that will rank with the Sun Belt and MAC as the FBS's worst. Maybe more practically, a MWC schedule would be substantially more appealing to ticket-holders than going another round with San Jose State and Idaho . (The proud Pack men's hoops program would have been much more likely to earn an NCAA Tournament at-large berth out of the MWC, too.)

Boise State : Speaking of the Broncos, the 2011 MWC will likely offer a better strength-of-schedule quotient than the 2011 WAC, thanks to the likes of TCU , Air Force , and a rejuvenated San Digeo State . But without the Pack and the Bulldogs (or, of course, deserters BYU or Utah ), the sad-sack bottom half of the MWC still projects to be so weak that there won't be that much difference. If the Broncos do mount another undefeated charge at the national title game, tilts against known quantities like Nevada and Fresno would have come very much in handy.

The Mountain West: The MWC keeps trying to push the rock that is automatic qualification up the hill that is the BCS , and it keeps rolling downhill. A league with Boise added to the Utah-BYU-TCU axis was a lock, but the Utes and Cougars jumped ship. A league with Nevada and Fresno adding depth to the TCU-Boise axis also stands a good shot given the Big East 's current woes, but now that league won't start play until 2012, by which time it's possible a bigger fish picks off the geographically-distant Horned Frogs. (There's already rumors about TCU being offered a spot in the Big East.)

After today, the league seems more than ever to be merely running to stand still.

Posted on: October 27, 2010 10:06 pm
 

SDSU, BYU won't be exchanging Christmas cards

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It all started the way so many things in college football start: a blown call. Back on Oct. 9, a Mountain West conference replay booth ruled that BYU running back J.J. Di Luigi was down when he was obviously not , and a fumble recovery that could have led the way to a San Diego State victory instead became a first down that led to a BYU touchdown and a 24-21 Cougar victory instead.

Then it was revealed that two of the officials in the replay booth -- the "replay communicator" and "replay technician," who do not make decisions on reviewed calls but are responsible for providing the head replay official with the replay in question -- had BYU ties, one being an alumnus and the other a current BYU athletic department employee. Things unraveled from there: SDSU coach Brady Hoke called the situation "not appropriate"; the BYU-affiliated officials offered either no comment or an angry no comment at every turn; the MWC first suspended all three officials involved and then banned school alumni or employees from serving as replay officials at the schools they represent; an SDSU broadcaster called BYU " the dirtiest, slimiest, most ill-behaved football team" the Aztecs play and was forced to apologize.

And somehow, the furor has still more legs to it as three prominent SDSU boosters (one the former CEO of Jack in the Box ) have decided to take their complaint straight to the top of the BYU chain-of-command:

Leon Parma, Bob Payne and Jack Goodall sent the letter to BYU President Cecil Samuelson via express mail on Monday. In it, they also ask him to “declare the game forfeited” to SDSU if he finds evidence of gross negligence or foul play committed by the BYU alumni who were working for the Mountain West Conference video replay booth that day.

“There are too many open questions for you not to act on this matter,” said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune ...

“Your representatives have stonewalled the press and others asking for an explanation and have... denied access to the three officials in the replay booth under the direction of either or both BYU and/or the conference commissioner’s office. You have the ability to clear the air on the issue.”

Odds this leads to a hard-hitting inquiry from Samuelson's office that results in a forfeiture: very slim. Odds this leads to some sort of veiled "mind your own business" retort from the BYU administration: much better.

But this is not to say that the SDSU boosters don't have a point. No less a personage than SDSU athletic director Jim Sterk has claimed that head replay official Mike Angelis wasn't shown the primary television feed that showed Di Luigi fumbling; if this is true, and the issue is more complicated than a replay official simply overlooking an obvious call, then the Aztecs have every right to know why that feed wasn't offered to Angelis.

That the Mountain West has yet to confirm or deny that key detail means that the longer the two BYU-affiliated officials go on issuing "no comment"'s, the more it appears they have something to hide. For the sake of the conference's integrity, it ought to issue a statement either clarifying what replays Angelis had access to and exonerating the officials of "gross neglicence or foul play," or admit that Angelis was denied key information and reveal whether this occurred through unfortunate human error ... or something worse.

If the MWC does not offer further comment, all indications we have to date are that the volleys back and forth between San Diego and Provo are simply going to continue until it does.

HT: The Wiz .
Posted on: October 26, 2010 6:19 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2010 6:20 pm
 

ESPN exposure key to Boise poll advantage?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's an excellent Tuesday night to be a college football fan, since hey, there's college football to watch. Boise State is playing host to Lousiana Tech in the program's first-ever Tuesday night appearance, and the style-points-conscious Broncos will need to come out with all guns blazing to impress the national TV audience.

Of course, since that audience will be watching a different network, the CBS College Football Blog totally understands if you want to watch two (awesome) hours of NCIS and the (just as awesome) The Good Wife . Besides, that would make BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall a happier man, since he said today views the WAC 's television deal with that network -- and the lack of the Mountain West 's deal with the same -- as the reason the Broncos have received more recognition than his conference-mates at TCU :

The coach had an interesting reply to a question about why Boise State is ranked ahead of TCU in the national polls, and why the Broncos seem to be a national media darling as opposed to the Horned Frogs.

His answer was basically that the Broncos, through the WAC's television contract with ESPN, simply get more exposure than the Horned Frogs (or the Utah Utes, for that matter) ...

Mendenhall's answer also sheds more light, if any more is needed, as to why the Cougars are taking the independent route.
It's about exposure, as Boise State will learn next year when it is part of the MWC. The Broncos may be in for a rude awakening.
Mendenhall may have something of an argument in the big picture, since it's true that TCU's appearances on the Mountain West network the mtn , Versus , and (the seriously awesome) CBS College Sports can't quite reach as many potential viewers as those on the other network ... yet . (CBSCS is totally working on that.)

But Mendenhall isn't acknowledging all the factors in play here. For one, both the Broncos and the Horned Frogs have made the exact same number of appearances on ESPN's networks this season, two. Whether fair or not, the polls are likely reflecting the fact that the two programs (and nearly all the same key players) met at the Fiesta Bowl just last January, with Boise coming out on top. It's also worth recalling that BYU's disappointment in the MWC's television arrangments were what spurred the Cougars' move towards independence in the offseason; even if Mendenhall is arguing on TCU's behalf, it's his own team's ax that he's grinding.

The litmus test will come when TCU squares off with Utah on CBSCS; the same high-profile matchup airing on the same network in 2009 proved enough to propel TCU to the highest ranking for any non-AQ team, Boise included, entering the postseason. Until then, we'll all have to watch and wait to see what happens, both on the field and in the polls. And if what happens tonight is that Boise struggles with a Bulldog team pollsters will expect them to crush, the exposure Mendenhall sees as a blessing may in fact be a curse.




Posted on: October 19, 2010 2:15 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 2:16 pm
 

Gary Patterson still not a fan of reporters

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's no transcript just yet (that we've found, anyway), but it sounds like today's Mountain West media conference call with TCU head coach Gary Patterson was quite the doozy :



Patterson didn't even stop there. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette's Frank Schwab, he followed up by accusing the reporter of taking that film and giving it to the Boise State coaching staff. As Schwab notes, this is a heck of an accusation to throw around.

But then, Patterson has never been particularly fond of media members who have rubbed him the wrong way. Like TCU student reporter Brian Smith, who Patterson essentially admitted to having booted from the Mountain West TV network's "On Campus Cam" program in 2009 for suggesting that Patterson consider starting freshman quarterback Casey Pachall over veteran Andy Dalton .

No one at TCU is going to care, of course, what Patterson thinks of the media as long as he's rolling to undefeated seasons and planting the Horned Frogs in the top 10. (In fact, most Frog fans are probably applauding his willingness to take on the Statesman reporter, who Schwab reported denied the accusation.) And for all the occasional talk about how coaches need the media on their side, poll voters and beat writers are almost always scrupulous enough that Patterson's, ahem, misgivings about the media won't actually affect the fortunes of his football team in the slightest.

But clearly, Patterson isn't out to make any friends in the press box on the Frogs' rise to prominence.


Posted on: October 19, 2010 10:11 am
Edited on: October 19, 2010 2:06 pm
 

Midseason Report: Rest of Non-BCS

The Midseason Report separates the contenders from the pretenders in each conference race, and in the some of the smaller conferences, it's anybody's conference crown. Here's what's happened so far and what might happen down the stretch.

MOUNTAIN WEST

The MWC crown is almost certain to come down to one game: TCU (7-0, 3-0) at Utah (6-0, 3-0) on Nov. 6. Neither the Horned Frogs nor the Utes have broken a sweat in conference play to date (the Frogs have gone three weeks without even allowing a touchdown), and with nonconference challenges like Oregon State, Pitt, Baylor, and Iowa State all collectively behind them, chances are good both teams will go into their showdown undefeated, ranked in the top 10, and ready for a mega-hyped, winner-take-all matchup for the conference title.

And if a handful of the BCS conference powers above them in the BCS standings drop games between now and then, the stakes could be even higher than that.

The only team with a realistic shot of upsetting the MWC Game of the Century apple cart is Air Force (5-2, 3-1), which will travel to TCU this week and host the Utes Oct. 30. The Falcons came within a whisker of collecting a huge scalp at Oklahoma and have the inside track on the Commander in Chief's Trophy after ousting Navy, but their 27-25 loss last Saturday at San Diego State (4-2, 1-1) means they'll likely have to sweep the TCU/Utah pairing to take the conference title. Good luck with that, Falcons.

And hey, speaking of the Aztecs, Brady Hoke 's impressive salvage job has SDSU all of six points (and two questionable calls, one each at Missouri and BYU ) away from a perfect 6-0 record. As is, they'll likely have to settle for playing spoiler against the two league powers and their first bowl berth since 1998.

The less said about the other five teams in the league -- and their combined 7-22 overall record -- the better.

C-USA

We are in for quite a race in the East with East Carolina (4-2, 3-0), UCF (4-2, 2-0) and Southern Miss (5-2, 2-1). East Carolina already beat Southern Miss but plays at UCF on Oct. 30. The Golden Knights will host Southern Miss on Nov. 13.

 UCF might be the best of the trio with a defense ranked as one of the best in the nation. The Knights have been led by defensive end Bruce Miller (seven tackles for a loss) and cornerback Josh Robinson (eight breakups). The offense has come along despite not having starting running back Brynn Harvey. Freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey has done well this season, rushing for 310 yards, while throwing for 669.

East Carolina has one of the best passing offenses with former Boston College quarterback Dominique Davis (16 TDs, nine INTs). The Pirates can pass with anybody, but the biggest problem right now is the defense. East Carolina's defense is ranked 111th in the nation and has given up 40 or more points in four of the six games.

Southern Miss will need to beat UCF and get some help after losing 44-43 to East Carolina a few weeks ago, but this is still a pretty good team. Austin Davis is having a good season (1,480 yards), but top receiver DeAndre Brown has been struggling with a leg injury all season. The Golden Eagles need him to have a shot to win the conference crown. The defense is once again strong against the run with LBs Korey Williams and Ronnie Thornton leading the way.

In the West, SMU is in the driver's seat with Houston, UTEP and Tulsa all giving chase. The Mustangs lost some tough out-of-conference games against Texas Tech and TCU, but is still undefeated in conference play. It should be no surprise that SMU has been able to pass and put up points. Kyle Padron is doing very well with 1,818 yards passing and 19 TDs. Aldrick Robinson has become Padron's favorite receiver with 580 yards receiving. SMU faces Houston this weekend and at UTEP on Nov. 6. It already beat Tulsa 21-18 on Oct. 9.

WAC

Make no mistake about it, Boise State is in total control of the WAC. It went undefeated through the conference last season as is expected to cruise through this year. Kellen Moore is once against having a fantastic season with 16 touchdown passes with only one interception. Also to nobody's surprise, Boise State ranks in the top 5 in both offense and defense, including having the No. 1 rush defense in the nation. The only games that could spell trouble for the Broncos are vs. Hawaii on Nov. 6 and at Nevada on Nov. 26.

Hawaii's passing attack and Nevada's pistol offense can be tough to defend, but it would be a major shock if Boise State lost either of those games.

MAC

This conference is wide open, but looks like it's going to come down to Northern Illinois (5-2, 3-0) or Toledo (4-3, 3-0) in the West and a trio of teams in the East.

 Miami (Ohio) has been the biggest surprise of the conference, sitting on top of the East with a 3-0 record and 4-3 overall. The RedHawks still have their toughest competition left with Ohio (Oct. 23), at Temple (Nov. 23) still on the schedule. It's also pretty amazing since Miami (Ohio) has one of the worst rushing games in the nation, gaining just 69.7 yards per game (112th). I'm not sure this team can win the East, but we'll have to keep an eye on them.

Ohio stumbled against Marshall, but has won three in a row and can take a big step toward the East title with a win over Miami (Ohio) this weekend. It would have to play at Temple on Nov. 16. Boo Jackson is doing pretty well back at quarterback with 913 yards passing and nine TDs. The defense has done a solid job, being led by Donovan Fletcher who leads the team with 42 tackles and five interceptions.

Everybody's favorite Temple is right in the thick of the race and gets to host Ohio and Miami (Ohio) later this season. If I had to pick a team to win the conference, I would pick the Owls. The passing game needs to get better, but the rushing attack has been just fine. When Bernard Pierce is healthy, he gives the Owls a huge boost over every team in the conference. And when Pierce is out, Matt Brown has stepped right in just fine.

Out West, Northern Illinois has been using a strong rushing attack, led by Chad Spann (753 yards, eight TDs) and quarterback Chandler Harnish (457, 6.4 avg) to improve to 3-0 in the conference and 5-2 overall. It will host Toledo on Nov. 9 in what will probably decide the division. Toledo's offense hasn't been all that great this year, but does have one of the top wide receivers in Eric Page (54 catches, 580 yards). Archie Donald has been fantastic at linebacker, recording 72 tackles, which ranks 18th in the nation.

Sun Belt

The conference is Troy's to lose ... again. Middle Tennessee was supposed to contend, but the Trojans did away with them 42-13. Louisiana-Lafayette put up a fight, but Troy beat them 31-24. So who's left? Keep your eye on Florida International . The Golden Panthers are 2-0 in the conference and hung with Rutgers and Texas A&M earlier in the season. That game is at Troy on Nov. 13.

Troy hasn't missed a beat with freshman quarterback Corey Robinson . He has thrown for 1,740 yards and 12 touchdowns, while RB DuJuan Harris (300 yards rushing) and Jerrel Jernigan (501 yards receiving) have also done a nice job. FIU also has a good receiving core with Greg Ellingson and T.Y. Hilton . Anthony Gaitor is one of the best defensive backs in the conference and could be a factor in their game next month.


 
 
 
 
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