Tag:Boise State
Posted on: October 6, 2010 7:35 pm
 

Montana AD talks money with fans in long e-mail

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As has been reported earlier, Montana is one of the schools being closely considered for membership in the WAC. It'd be a huge step up for the Grizzlies, who haven't been a I-A football school since 1962, and Montana fans are understandably anxious about whether a study commissioned by the school determines Montana should move up a division or not. These aren't decisions to be made on a whim, like what to eat at McDonalds or hiring Lane Kiffin.

Montana's AD Jim O'Day has heard these concerns, and replied with a remarkably long, detailed e-mail that was circulated among Montana fans before being posted to eGriz.com, a popular Montana Grizzlies fan board. We have confirmed with the Montana athletic department that the letter is genuine. And while it's much too long to post here in full, there was one particularly scary detail about how the school currently struggles with finances (bolded emphasis ours):

The FCS playoff system is hurting financially. We produced $1.1 million of last year’s budget of $2.5 million. The other 11 games produced less than $1 million TOTAL. The NCAA lost almost $500,000 again, and it will not continue to tolerate to follow this plan. Now we’ve added another round and four more teams…. Being on the committee, and as chair, I know this is a major concern to the NCAA – and a last-gasp reason for changing to Frisco, Texas, in hopes of attracting more attention and support. It won’t help to move the championship back three weeks into January – let alone that it will be taking place 40 minutes away from the Cotton Bowl, which has also been moved to that night. So much for FCS exposure on national television. Just to keep the student-athletes on campus during Christmas will also cost the two schools in the championship an additional $100,000 – none of which is budgeted. And to put in perspective, we LOST $150,000 each of the past two year going to the championship game. Had we won, the incentives for coaches would have put the losses over $200,000 each time. We get no additional revenue for any of this.

It's really strange to think of a school being unable to afford to win a championship in football, but depending on what budget flexibility existed at Montana, that could have certainly been the case. Now, an economist would look at this and simply deduce that the compensation structure is insane -- after all, according to O'Day, winning the title would not have resulted in the revenue necessary to justify $50,000 in bonuses. But incentives in a highly competitive job field are often just this insane, so here we are.

It is a cannon shot to the stomach of playoff advocates to see this kind of evidence that the current FCS playoff structure is -- to put it lightly -- in serious trouble. Of course, the money involved in a FBS playoff would be dramatically different, but the unpredictable nature of the playoff is usually a severe detriment to fan involvement, and we see that in the light revenues from most of the FCS playoff games this year. Fans can't reliably make and change plans week to week, and that's what would be asked if the NCAA moved anywhere past a plus-one format.

But this is about Montana, and whether Montana should go to the WAC, and their own financial struggles despite being the preeminent FCS program west of the Mississippi. Why do they struggle? Because the rest of the conference knows Montana's the cash cow. Take what happens whenever Montana plays at arch-rival Montana State:

By league policy, 60% of the revenue from these telecasts go to the HOME team (not UM), 35% to the visitor and 5% to the league. So how out-of-line is this: Last year, MSU received $60,000 of KPAX’s bid (to do UM games), while Montana received $35,000 and the conference $5,000. These are the reasons why Boise State left the Big Sky in the mid-1990s; why BYU and Texas are doing what they’re doing right now. They want to control their television money. The television money should be following UM, but we get outvoted on this 8-1 whenever it comes up.

Of course, this can only mean disaster for the Big Sky if that cash cow leaves, and O'Day freely acknowledges that as a concern. It's easy to say "well the Big Sky's problems aren't Montana's problems," but they are Montana State's, and Montana doesn't exist in a vacuum away from the other member schools -- especially if Division I changes force Montana to rejoin any of them in the unforeseen future.

So if things are this up in the air for Montana, the strongest of the five contenders for WAC membership, imagine what uncertainty awaits the other schools trying to make the leap -- and, for that matter, what awaits the schools who aren't even considering a move to FBS.

Posted on: October 6, 2010 2:26 pm
 

Pac-10 starting games earlier? Yes, please

Posted by Tom Fornelli

I watch a lot of college football every year.  Some people have always liked to use their Saturdays to go outside or spend time with their families, but I've always preferred watching college kids beat each other up on the gridiron.  I live in Chicago, after all, and it gets cold outside in the fall, I don't want to go out there.

I prefer the comforts of my recliner and the television.  It's because of all this college football that I watch that I'm comfortable saying that I know quite a bit about teams from all over the country, but I'll openly admit that I know less about the teams on the west coast of the country than I do teams in the east, midwest and south.  Some would tell you that this is because of the east-coast bias that exists in the media that largely ignores the other side of the country.

I've no doubt that this plays a part of it, but there's always been a bigger reason for me.  On any given Saturday I'll watch 12 hours of college football, starting at 11am local time through the end of the primetime games at 11pm.  Unfortunately for me, though I would be interested in watching more Pac-10 games, by the time those games kick off I'm a bit worn down.

LaMichael James is hard enough to keep your eyes on while he's flying down the field, when you're eyes are half-closed and glazed over, it's nearly impossible.

Which is why I'm so happy to hear that the Pac-10 is considering earlier start times for their games, which will allow the rest of the country to tune in a bit more.  Last weekend's game between Oregon and Stanford was originally scheduled to start at 8pm PST but was moved up three hours so ABC could feature it as it's primetime game of the week.

Because of the decision, a lot of people who ordinarily wouldn't have had a chance to see either team were able to tune in and see an Oregon offense that is, as Will Brinson put it, like crack on meth.  You'll notice that on Sunday Oregon had leapt Boise State in both the AP and Coaches poll to move in to the top three.

Don't think for a second that having this game seen by the entire country didn't play a role in that.  Before Saturday's game, most people on the east coast had seen Boise State play more often than they had Oregon.

Moving game times to earlier in the day would help the Pac-10 in a lot of areas.  It would give the conference greater exposure throughout the country, which would not only help in possible revenue once the conference launches its own network, but it'll also help the programs expand their recruiting bases to states they don't normally have any access to.

Not to mention that having more games seen nationally would also help get more BCS bowl bids, which in turn lead to more cash money.

Also, there's really no disadvantage to the Pac-10 to do this.  It's not like moving games to noon local time would affect attendance at the home stadiums.  Noon start times work just fine on the east coast, as do 11 am starts throughout the central time zone.

There is a lot of good football being played in the Pac-10 right now, something folks on the west coast already know, but it's about time the rest of the country was given a chance to figure this out as well.
Posted on: October 5, 2010 1:02 pm
 

Idaho AD Rob Spear can finally fly Horizon Air

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Last year the Idaho Vandals were getting ready to board a plane to head to Boise to take on in-state rival Boise State when athletic director Rob Spear refused to get on the plane.   Why?  Well, the plane was painted in orange and blue, which happen to be Boise State's colors.  It's one of many planes that Horizon Air has given college themes, including planes for Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State.

Well, Spear said at the time that he wouldn't fly on a Horizon Air plane until they'd painted one with an Idaho Vandals theme.  It looks like he won't be missing any road games in the near future.

Horizon Air has announced that a Q400 aircraft will be painted in Idaho silver and gold. The plane will be available for service in November, a year after Spear made headlines for declining to board the Boise State plane.

In a statement, Spear called the Vandal plane a "bold recognition of Idaho's flagship university."

So I guess you can say that the plane has been Vandal-ized.  Oh man, trust me that one hurt me just as much to type it as it did for you to read it.  Seriously, though, this hardly seems fair.  George Clooney's character in Up In The Air had to fly ten million miles just to get his name put on an airplane, and Spear just has to throw a hissy-fit and he gets his own personally themed plane.

Who knew the athletic director at Idaho could have so much pull?  If I'm Alabama AD Mal Moore I'm demanding my own airport.

Hat tip to the good Doctor.
Posted on: September 29, 2010 7:36 pm
 

WAC targets: UTSA, TSU, Denver, Seattle, Montana

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Last week, we mentioned that the WAC was entertaining two potential new members in UT-San Antonio and Texas State as part of the conference's quest to, well, save itself. The WAC has only six members lined up for the 2011 season, and while the NCAA will recognize the WAC and allow its members postseason bids if a group of at least five schools have been in the same conference for the five prior years is there, six just won't cut it when it comes to actually making schedules.

At any rate, we weren't terribly impressed by UTSA or TSU, but were intrigued by commissioner Karl Benson's statement that there were three other schools that would be presenting to the WAC during their meeting in Dallas this week. It was intriguing mainly because, well, who would they be? All of the FBS schools in the WAC's central region are in the Mountain West or Pac-10, and both of those conferences were acquiring schools during the latest conference realignments, not losing them. Now we know the rest of them, and... well, it's a work in progress:

 

The league is studying the possibility of adding the University of Texas-San Antonio, Texas State University, the University of Denver, Seattle University and the University of Montana in the wake of losing Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada to the Mountain West Conference.

All five schools will remain on the WAC radar after a meeting of the league’s membership committee in Dallas earlier this week, though Benson left open the possibility that other prospective members “could come back into play” if there’s another round of conference realignment.

Interestingly enough, the school with the best football program of the bunch (which isn't saying much, since three don't even have programs) is Montana, and they didn't put together a formal presentation for the meetings because they were still waiting on the results of a study into whether it's worth their time to move from FCS to FBS designation. Instinctively, the answer to that question is yes; Grizzlies fans routinely pack Washington-Grizzly Stadium at a capacity of a little over 25,000, so even if the WAC or NCAA want capacity expanded, there'll probably be butts in the new seats. But we'll see what the study says.

Past that, the Universities of Denver and Seattle wouldn't even bother fielding football teams (wise), so while they could very well be smart additions for every other sport, they're not going to help fill out a conference schedule when the time comes. That's why, barring the re-entry of new schools into this discussion, we think UTSA and Texas State will end up joining the conference: at the end of the day, you need guys on the gridiron.

And no, those aren't particularly impressive candidates, but you know what? If anyone's acutely aware of how non-AQ the WAC is, it's the WAC, and at the very least they're not wasting anybody's time by publicly courting Oklahoma State or the like. The WAC is what it is, and Benson's just embracing it these days.

Posted on: September 29, 2010 4:30 pm
 

Boise State safety Venable suspended for one half

Posted by Adam Jacobi

When Boise State kicks off their conference season against powerhouse (cough) New Mexico State this weekend, they'll be doing so without one of their leaders on defense. Winston Venable, a senior safety, was suspended one half by WAC commissioner Karl Benson after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Oregon State wide receiver James Rodgers. From Benson:

"After reviewing this play, it was determined that a flagrant personal foul should have been called by the game officials which would have resulted in the player being ejected" said WAC commissioner Karl Benson.

Rodgers, who wasn't even the ball-carrier on the play (it was a quarterback scramble by Ryan Katz), suffered a concussion and appeared to lose consciousness briefly.

The WAC was planning on suspending Venable for a game before a Boise State appeal cut the punishment in half. The Broncos obviously don't need to have Venable in their secondary to beat NMSU; heck, they could throw head coach Chris Peterson back there and still win by 30. But preparation and routine are important in football, and it'll be easier for Venable to stay in the proper mindset for the season if he's going through practice and preparing to actually be on the field come Saturday -- even if the game could be such a blowout that the rest of the starters will be ordered to sit at the half.

To the larger point, though, it's nice to see a commissioner's office take some proactive steps to combat this sort of thing. Venable's hit didn't make a lot of sense from a football perspective; he didn't try to shed the block, he just decided to initiate the inevitable contact rather than absorb it, and he laid a hellacious hit on Rodgers. Of course, while he was doing that, Katz was staying on his feet and picking up the first down. Tactically, it was a dumb decision, and it ended up being a pretty dangerous one too. Football's got to start actively avoiding that style of play; it's not "dirty" in the normal sense of the word, but it leads to enough brain injury -- on both sides and both immediate and cumulative -- that it's in everybody's best interests to stop such play.

Posted on: September 29, 2010 11:43 am
Edited on: September 29, 2010 11:58 am
 

Boise State RB Harper out for the season

Posted by Chip Patterson

Boise State could not afford to slip in their final game against a team from a BCS AQ conference on Saturday, and left the Smurf Turf victorious after the 37-24 victory over Oregon State.  But one of the Broncos did slip, and it is going to cost him the rest of the season.  

Running back D.J. Harper has stepped up as a significant big play threat for Boise State's offense, returning to the field after missing last season with a torn ACL.  Trying to make a cut against the Beavers, Harper injured his knee.  He ended up returning to the game, but tests revealed a re-injured left knee, and bad news for the redshirt junior.
Boise State junior tailback D.J. Harper has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee for the second straight season, Boise State announced Tuesday. He is out for the rest of the season.

Harper also was injured in the third game of the 2009 season. He redshirted.  

Having lost two seasons to injury, it's possible Harper could ask the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility after he completes his senior year in 2011.
Harper kicked off the 2010 season with a bang, breaking a 71-yard touchdown run in the season opener against Virginia Tech.  The run revived a Broncos team that looked to be stalling after giving up a 17-0 lead.  Harper has also been a receiving threat out of the backfield, catching a pair of Kellen Moore passes in the first two games of the season before getting hurt against Oregon State.

Junior Doug Martin has been the leading rusher for the Broncos, and Harper's role will likely be filled by senior Jeremy Avery.  Avery only has 18 attempts thus far on the season, but was a 1,000 yard rusher a year ago.

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Posted on: September 27, 2010 4:17 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 5:50 pm
 

Mike Riley is in Boise and TCU's corner

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Now that Boise State has gotten past Oregon State it's entirely possible that when the regular season ends both Boise and TCU could be undefeated.  Which, depending on how the rest of the college football landscape unfolds, could create some BCS chaos.  For argument's sake, let's pretend that Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon all finish the season with a loss and TCU and Boise are the only unbeatens left standing.  Also known as The Doomsday Scenario amongst the BCS.

Would you put them in the BCS title game?

A lot of people wouldn't, preferring a one-loss Alabama or what have you, as they'd argue that Boise State and TCU didn't play the same quality of competition.  Which is a valid argument -- unless you've seen a Tennessee or Georgia game this year -- that has a lot of merit, and one that I might be inclined to agree with.

Still, if either school is looking for someone to stand up and sing their praises, they won't have to look further than the head coach of the team that both of them have beaten this year: Mike Riley.

Although Riley artfully dodged choosing between them Saturday, he did make a fairly significant statement after the news media scrum dissipated. Riley said that Boise State and T.C.U. were worthy of their top-five rankings, something that some coaches from high-profile programs have been hesitant to admit.

“I give both T.C.U. and Boise tons of credit to be where they are,” Riley said. “I would not in any way begrudge their positions one bit. They’re both fine programs with really good players; they’re good teams, and they’re well coached.”


Riley even went on to say that both Boise and TCU's defenses are "about as quick and fast as we've played against ever."  Considering some of the USC defenses Riley has faced during his years in Corvallis, that's not praise to be taken lightly.

Neither are Boise State and TCU.



Posted on: September 25, 2010 10:41 pm
 

Penalties, mistakes haunting Boise State

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Boise State's leading this game, as they have for the vast majority of play tonight. But it's only a 24-17 margin, and Boise State can point directly at the penalties it's been committing as a reason that Oregon State's been hanging around in this game.

Twice, during Oregon State's last touchdown drive, Boise State committed drive-extending penalties after holding Oregon State on 3rd down. First, they sacked Ryan Katz, only to commit a taunting penalty after Katz went down. Later, Katz scrambled for a first down and came up short... except a Boise defender led with his helmet, which is another automatic first down.

The Broncos would come back to score a touchdown on their ensuing possession to push the margin back to 14 points, and they held Oregon State to a three and out. Unfortunately, Boise returner Titus Young fumbled the punt, the Beavers recovered, and Oregon State would score a touchdown a few snaps later. The score's now 31-24, late in the third quarter, and the Broncos only have themselves to blame.

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