Tag:Louisiana Tech
Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:26 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Football "not on horizon" for newest WAC member

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

What we mentioned Tuesday as a foregone conclusion became official Thursday as the WAC and commissioner Karl Benson welcomed the beleaguered league's 10th member, UT-Arlington.

The announcement gave UTA president James D. Spaniolo the chance to answer the million-dollar question concerning the league's football future: Now that the Mavericks have got their FBS conference membership locked up, will they restart their football program, dormant since 1985? That answer, for the time being, is "oh heavens no":
"We have not closed the door to football, but it's not on our immediate horizon," Spaniolo said. "We will look at that some time down the road, but we've got some other immediate priorities that need attention."
Translation: We told Benson we'd think about it, since we really wanted this for our hoops team. But it ain't happening anytime soon enough to matter to him. Spaniolo essentially offered Benson the college football equivalent of "Yeah, that party sounds fun, we're doing something else but maybe we'll stop by afterwards."

Not that this kept Benson from the classic Jim Carrey "you're saying there's a chance!" response:
"We know President Spaniolo will take a good, hard look at (adding football) and the WAC is hopeful the answer will come back yes," Benson said.
Keep hoping, Karl. In the meantime, it's time to check out what football schools you could add in the Central Time Zone before geographically-awkward, football-prioritizing Louisiana Tech bolts; Benson admitted yesterday that he has not "ruled out" "any FBS, any FCS school that is in our footprint."

But with UTA taking a pass on getting back on the gridiron, if the two football schools Benson's promised wind up more along the lines of a low-profile FCS also-ran like, say, Lamar, the WAC center may still fail to hold.

Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:42 pm
 

LaMichael James headlines Doak Walker watch list

Posted by Chip Patterson

Keeping the watch lists coming here at the Eye on College Football, with the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announcing the initial list for the prestigious Doak Walker Award. The award, which was first given to Washington's Greg Lewis in 1990, celebrates the nation's top running back.

Oregon running back LaMichael James won the award last season, and he is back on the watch list for 2011. In the award's history, only two players have won in back-to-back years: Ricky Williams (1997-1998) and Darren McFadden (2006-2007).

Here is the rest of the watch list, which will continue accepting nominations through October



Posted on: July 12, 2011 10:45 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:07 am
 

With UT-Arlington addition, where does WAC stand?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It is, by many accounts, all but a foregone conclusion: This Thursday, University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks will join the WAC in all sports but football. Their addition gives the venerable-but-reeling league 10 members total but still only seven for the 2012-13 football season.

UTA won't make it eight. The Mavericks gave up football in 1985 and, according to the Texas board of regents' agenda, "UT-Arlington’s invitation is not conditioned on starting a football program.” So why are we mentioning this development in this space rather than leaving it to our sister Eye on College Basketball blog?* Because UTA's addition nevertheless has the potential to dramatically reshape the reeling WAC's identity as a football conference -- either for the better, or the (even) worse.

A breakdown of both scenarios:

SCENARIO 1: Maybe the Mavericks haven't been interested in football before. But WAC membership might change the equation, thanks first to the bump in television money and exposure, and secondly to the natural rivalries UTA would enjoy with fellow FBS start-ups UT-San Antonio and Texas State. The Mercury-News's Jon Wilner reported this week that UTA "believes there’s money to be made in the FBS and in the WAC."

If the Mavericks do decide to take the plunge, Wilner outlines a possible dream future for the WAC. With three different guaranteed opponents in nearby Texas, Louisiana Tech (and its potentially wandering eyes) would be mollified; North Texas might look at the number of Texas brethen available in the WAC (not to mention the Bulldogs) and jump ship. The WAC would then be able to bring aboard another basketball-only member to reach 12 schools total, while still offering its nine football programs a clean eight-game round robin. And if commisioner Karl Benson could lure away a prominent FCS program like Montana, so much the better.

Unfortunately for the WAC, that scenario isn't nearly as likely as ...

SCENARIO 2: UTA might have better prospects for a hypothetical football program than before, but that doesn't mean the Mavericks are rushing into anything. "I don’t have any indication they have plans to add football," the commissioner of the Mavericks' former home, Tom Burnett of the Southland, told the San Antonio Express-News. "If they do decide that, it’s just a bonus for the WAC." The Express-News added that a second source indicated UTA football "has not been seriously discussed."

If that's the case, Benson may have some unhappy campers on his hands. Both Utah State and Louisiana Tech have made no secret of their desire for new football-playing members sooner rather than later, with the geographically outlying Bulldogs specifically asking for one closer to their Ruston home. If Benson can't convince the Mavericks to add football or find a Central Time Zone football school by the 2013 season -- and we're not sure if there's any realistic quality candidates out there, unless you count other Southland question marks like Sam Houston State -- Tech could decide to cut their losses and head for the Sun Belt. At that point, with just six football schools, the WAC would be on the edge of unraveling.

The good news for Benson is that Tech athletic director Bruce Van De Velde expressed hope this week for the WAC and downplayed the Sun Bell speculation, citing -- of all things -- the Sun Belt's academics. Like the Bulldog fan quoted in that Shreveport Times article, Van De Velde is likely holding out hope that the Big East's expansion dominoes could open a spot for Tech in Conference USA.

If the Big East looks somewhere besides UCF (or the other C-USA schools rumored to be under consideration), though, Van De Velde's hand may be forced; will his school really want to remain in a conference with weaker competition, less exposure and substantially greater travel costs?

Though it remains to be seen, we're skeptical. Thursday's UT-Arlington addition could be the start of the WAC's new Division I foothold ... or the final flailings of a league destined for the FBS history bin.

*Which you really ought to be reading as well, and don't just take our word for it.



Posted on: February 28, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Midweek MACtion will wait until November

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Once upon a time, in those halcyon days of, say, 2003, the MAC was known for two things: grooming future NFL quarterbacks like Byron Leftwich and Ben Roethlisberger, and playing league games whenever ESPN asked them to, often on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday nights.

Now that it's the year 2011, things have changed. Oh, the MAC is still playing weeknight games ... but as they've done the past couple of seaons, thanks to travel and academic concerns they aren't playing them at the drop a proverbial hat any longer. Per the official 2011 MAC schedule released today , no MAC team will play a midweek game between Week 1 (when four teams kick off their seasons on Thursday night) and Week 10, when Northern Illinois visits Toledo for a Tuesday night ESPN2 broadcast.

That matchup kicks off the MAC's version of Shark Week, as ESPN airs seven MAC games over the next seven weeknights. The backloaded midweek slate helps the MAC accomplish two goals: keeping the bulk of their schedule on Saturdays where they naturally belong, while still ensuring that the biggest games of their season are aired to a national audience.

But is it worth it? Ceding the midweek slots to conferences like the WAC (remember Boise State playing Louisiana Tech on a Tuesday this past season?) may have resulted in smoother scheduling and easier logistics, but it's also resulting in less exposure; the 2011 schedule features 15 guaranteed ESPN dates, where the 2010 version offered 19.

Of course, the MAC already tried the maximum exposure route and decided it wasn't worth the trade-off. As the league's contiued adherence to the "no midweek games until they matter" plan shows, even ESPN's power has its limits.

Bonus link of interest: Did you see where Kirby Hocutt bolted from the Miami (Fla.) athletic director's chair for the same position at Texas Tech last week? Well, before going to Miami Hocutt was also AD at Ohio; here's an open letter to fans from his Bobcat days which discusses, in part, the MAC's midweek scheduling dilemma.

Posted on: February 8, 2011 12:59 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Miles: Crowton schemes were too 'elaborate'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

On paper, it's hard to imagine Maryland landing a better offensive coordinator than they did when Randy Edsall hired old colleague Gary Crowton in January. Crowton was the mastermind behind two of the nation's most explosive offenses of the past 15 years, first at Louisiana Tech and then BYU, and would go on to earn a national championship ring as the coordinator for Les Miles' 2007 LSU team. Speaking in terms of overall resume, only a handful of offensive coaches in the entire country are in Crowton's ballpark.

But if Crowton looks like a big catch for the Terps, it's without noticing the big catch on that resume: his final two years in Baton Rouge, in which his offenses -- despite a bounty of talent (quarterback arguably aside) that would be the envy of nearly any team in the country -- managed to finish dead last and 11th in the SEC in total offense, respectively. Despite Crowton's high-flying history at Tech and BYU, the Tiger passing game was particularly atrocious, finishing 97th in the nation in aerial yardage in 2009 and 107th in 2010.

What went so wrong? Speaking to the press this weekend about what he was looking for out of new coordinator hire Steve Kragthorpe, Miles may have let slip about what he saw as the problem (emphasis added):
"I just felt like [Kragthorpe] could short cut some of the elaborate thought process that was going on ," LSU coach Les Miles said. "I think the reality of it is I need a guy who needs execution. I don't want him to say, 'Boy, that's a good idea.' The 'good idea' that's not executed looks like an ugly play, OK. And so for me, I needed it to be done extremely well."
It doesn't even take much reading between the lines to see that Miles believes Crowton's philosophy got too "elaborate," that he tried to incorporate more "ideas" into the offense than his team could correctly execute.

As Chris Brown at Smart Football pointed out when Crowton was hired at Maryland , the kitchen-sink strategy was nothing new for Crowton. From a 1998 Sports Illustrated profile of record-breaking Tech quarterback Tim Rattay:
Rattay also liked Crowton, the mastermind behind what some people in football call a “global offense” for its anything-goes approach to moving the ball. As a journeyman assistant, Crowton studied under LaVell Edwards, Mike Holmgren and Tom Coughlin , among others, and at Tech he has established his reputation as a formation geek who really likes to chuck the ball. Having run out of numbers with which to label his plays, Crowton, who became head coach in 1996, turned to the heavens for inspiration. “We’ve got formations called Moon, Sun, Stars and Mars,” he says. “Something we did looked like a star, so I called it that."
Sometime between Crowton's early successes and LSU failures, Crowton crossed the line from keeping defenses off-balance with his offense's variety and keeping his own team off-balance and uncertain (a process Brown calls "subtraction by addition"), with Miles's stinging comments the final, don't-let-the-door-hit-you confirmation. That's in no way meant to suggest Crowton can't succeed and succeed in style at Maryland, but it also seems clear that to live up to his full resume's billing, he's going to have to simplify, simplify, simplify. As Miles said: at some point, putting even the best ideas to use is a bad idea.

HT: Mr. SEC


Posted on: November 18, 2010 10:38 pm
 

Report: Hawaii to join MWC, further imperil WAC

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Friends! Let's hop in the Wayback Machine, all the way back to ... November 2, 2010. Wow, that's a long time ago. Here was our characterization of the new Mountain West after all the conference realignment takes place:

[...] by the time these moves all get made, the Mountain West won't look like a new power conference at all; if anything, it'll just be the WAC 2.0, but with fewer trips to Honolulu and more to Las Vegas. Hey, win some, lose some. But a conference led by Boise State, Fresno State, and Nevada didn't get a sniff from the BCS Committee when it comes to awarding an automatic BCS bid (and guaranteeing BCS money), and it won't this time around either.

Well, apparently the MWC is going all-in on this "WAC 2.0" business, because according to a report from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Mountain West has offered a conference spot to Hawaii:

The University of Hawaii is being extended an offer to join the Mountain West Conference, the Star-Advetiser [sic] has learned.

A 7 p.m. [HST] press conference has been called for Bachman Hall to make the announcement.

The MWC presidents met today to approve conditions under which the conference would accept UH, which is expected to join the Big West in all sports except football.

If true, this puts the WAC on the brink of going defunct; NCAA rules state that for a conference to receive an automatic postseason bid -- or really be recognized by the NCAA in any way -- it must have a group of five member schools that have been in the same conference for at least five years. With Boise State, Nevada, and Fresno State all headed to the Mountain West and now Hawaii joining them, the WAC would be down to the bare minimum of five tenured schools in 2012: Louisiana Tech, Idaho, New Mexico State, Utah State, and San Jose State. If even one of those schools leaves before 2017 (when brand new members Seattle, Texas State, and UT-San Antonio hit the five-year mark), the WAC will effectively cease to exist. That would be its own special brand of history, wouldn't it?

Posted on: November 10, 2010 3:49 pm
 

Boise eyeing stadium expansion as way forward

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Boise State writers and fans want to know : why exactly is the TCU team that's virtually identical to the TCU team that lost to a Boise team that virtually identical to this year's Boise team in last year's Fiesta Bowl so widely considered to be better of the two teams? If the Broncos were better then, why are the Frogs better now?

It's a valid question. One answer, the simplest one, is that TCU owns both the better strength-of-schedule to date and the bigger win; as dominant as Boise has been and as valuable as a win over likely ACC champions Virginia Tech should prove to be, no win in the country is as impressive as TCU's dismantling of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Then again, part of the answer might also be that like it or not, in the minds of many poll voters Boise comes across as the mor e "mid-major" of the two mid-major programs. The Broncos are tucked away in one of the most remote parts of the continental U.S., while TCU is located in the middle of Texas in one of the nation's largest metro areas; the Broncos wear loud bright blue and orange uniforms and play on the notorious (and notoriously unique) blue turf while TCU stays with a muted purple-and-black color scheme; the Broncos play in a league where the biggest challengers are outsiders like Nevada , Hawaii , and Fresno State , whereas the Frogs get a former national champion in BYU and a team in Utah that has two BCS bowl wins this decade; Boise occasionally plays Tuesday night games against the likes of Louisiana Tech ; etc.

It's not fair --- it's not even close to fair -- but to say for certain those kinds of stereotypes don't have any effect on the perception of the two programs is to give poll voters the benefit of an awful lot of doubt. So it's no wonder that Boise is aggressively working to change that, first with their jump to the Mountain West and now with expansion and renovation plans for 33,500-seat Bronco Stadium :

 

Longtime Boise State donors Larry and Marianne Williams and Jerry and Muriel Caven have pledged a total of $5 million toward Bronco Stadium expansion — money that is earmarked to build the new football complex on the north end.

The football complex, 5,000 seats and the completion of Dona Larsen Park — where the track will be relocated — represent Phase I of the stadium master plan.

"We are at a significant disadvantage in supporting a nationally ranked team with half the number of seats to raise the revenue to pay for the program and thereby forcing us to raise ticket prices too often," Boise State president Bob Kustra said in a press release.

It's no secret that money is what makes the world of big-time college football go round as often as not; when Kustra cites the need to "pay for the program," he's not just talking about shoulder pads and cleats, he's discussing the need to pay for coach Chris Petersen , a larger recruiting budget, staff raises -- all the things that go into making a football program every bit as successful away from the field as the Broncos already are on it.

It will take more than a "stadium master plan" to erase all the skepticism regarding Boise (or even to hold on to Petersen if one of the sport's true heavyweights comes calling). But Broncos have to happy to have the school and its donors making the effort all the same.

 


Posted on: November 1, 2010 1:47 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 2:07 pm
 

Report: WAC to invite teams you've never heard of

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After the Mountain West 's smash-and-grab of Nevada and Fresno State foiled their plans to add BYU and left them with only six football-playing members, it was common knowledge that the WAC was going to have to make a desperate move to remain a viable Division I league.

How desperate? According to this report from the San Marcos Daily Journal , home newspaper for the Texas State Bobcats, this desperate:
Consider it a done deal.

Texas State will receive an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference within the next 30 days — or sooner — along with Denver, Seattle and Texas-San Antonio. Montana has gone from a sure bet to sitting on the fringe, at least for the time being.

WAC Commissioner Karl Benson has stated he’d like the conference to get back to having at least eight football-playing members and with the immediate addition of Texas State and UTSA, it would bring the WAC to eight. When Montana finally gets around to declaring itself ready, it would bring that total to a favorable nine.

“It’s pretty obvious at this point,” WAC Senior Associate Commissioner Jeff Hurd said. “You know who the football playing schools are and you know who the non-football playing schools are. I don’t know if you can say it’s automatic but if you’re looking at a probability, it’s pretty high.”
If you're keeping track, that's two football programs in TSU and Texas-San Antonio with FCS records of 4-4 (1-3 in the Southland Conference ) and FILE NOT FOUND , respectively. Why no record for UTSA? Because the Roadrunners don't even have a football program yet . They're scheduled to begin FCS play in 2011. (Their head coach is former Miami head man Larry Coker , so they've got that going for them.) The one potentially known quantity on the FCS level, former I-AA national champion and Big Sky  powerhouse Montana , is apparently taking a pass for the time being.

So yes, the WAC will be able to continue playing FBS football. But if this report is accurate, the teams involved appear to bring so little to the table that that's the only bare-bones positive they'll be able to find in this entire expansion mess. (Though geographical odd duck Louisiana Tech  might also be happy about exchanging two cross-country trips for relatvely short jogs into Texas.) The bottom line is that come 2012, the Sun Belt is going to have a serious challenger for the "honor" of being the FBS's weakest conference.

HT: Cowboy Altitude


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com