Tag:WAC
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: July 11, 2011 3:56 pm
 

2011 Outland Trophy Watch List released

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Rolling on with the past weekend's Watch List announcements, here's the Outland Trophy's preliminary list. The trophy is handed out annually by the Football Writers Association of America to the nation's top interior lineman--either a defensive tackle, guard or center.

The 65 players on this year's Watch List are as follows:
Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State, OT
Jeff Allen, Illinois, OT
Don Barclay, West Virginia, OT
Chris Barker, Nevada, G
Kelvin Beachum, SMU, OT
Tony Bergstrom, Utah, OT
Mike Brewster, Ohio State, C
Ryan Miller, Colorado, G
David Molk, Michigan, C
Al Netter, Northwestern, OT
Lucas Nix, Pittsburgh, OT
Xavier Nixon, Florida, OT
Trevor Olson, Northern Illinois, OT
Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State, OT
Moe Petrus, Connecticut, C
Ken Plue, Purdue, G  
Dontari Poe, Memphis, DT
Nate Potter, Boise State, OT
Tydreke Powell, North Carolina, DT
Kheeston Randall, Texas, DT
Riley Reiff, Iowa, OT
Kendall Reyes, Connecticut, DT
Matt Reynolds, BYU, OT
Mitchell Schwartz, California, OT
Kawann Short, Purdue, DT
Bradley Sowell, Ole Miss, OT
Akeem Spence, Illinois, DT
Alameda Ta'amu, Washington, DT
Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State, G
Chris Thompson, Houston, C
Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech, G
William Vlachos, Alabama, C
Larry Warford, Kentucky, G
Brandon Washington, Miami, G
Rokevious Watkins, South Carolina, OT
Billy Winn, Boise State, DT
Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati, DT
Jerel Worthy, Michigan State, DT
Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin, G
By the conference numbers: Big Ten 13, SEC 11, Pac-12 9, ACC 7, Big 12 7, Big East 6, Conference USA 3, Independents 3, Mountain West 2, WAC 2, MAC 1, Sun Belt 1.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 3:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:04 pm
 

2011 Thorpe Award Watch List released

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The 13-day reveal of Watch Lists for college football's major awards rolls on today with the Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back. Thirty-seven names made the Thorpe's initial list:
Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami (Fla.), SS
Mark Barron, Alabama, SS
John Boyett, Oregon, FS
Brandon Boykin, Georgia, CB
Morris Claiborne, LSU, CB
Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska, CB
Tony Dye, UCLA, CB
Matt Elam, Florida, SS
Antonio Fenelus, Wisconsin, CB
Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma, CB
Donnie Fletcher, Boston College, CB
Blake Gideon, Texas, FS
Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, CB
Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt, CB
Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech, CB
Delano Howell, Stanford, SS
Duke Ihenacho, San Jose State, SS
George Iloka, Boise State, FS
Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma, FS
Leonard Johnson, Iowa State, CB
Coryell Judie, Texas A&M, CB
Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, CB
Robert Lester, Alabama, FS
Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State, SS
TJ McDonald, USC, FS
Chase Minnifield, Virginia, CB
Marco Nelson, Tulsa, FS
Brian Peters, Northwestern, FS
Greg Reid, Florida State, CB
Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, CB
Josh Robinson, UCF, CB
Trenton Robinson, Michigan State, FS
Harrison Smith, Notre Dame, FS
Keith Tandy, West Virginia, CB
Kenny Tate, Maryland, FS
Tramain Thomas, Arkansas, FS
Prentiss Waggner, Tennessee, SS
The conference-by-conference numbers break down as you might expect. Via the Jim Thorpe association press release: SEC (10); ACC (7); Big 12 (6); Big 10 (4); PAC 12 (4); C-USA (2); WAC (2); Big East (1); Independents (1). (Though no one was good enough to make the cut out of the Mountain West?) (Nevermind; the Thorpe's original tally still includes Boise State in the WAC.)

Of last year's 10 semifinalists, only Alabama's Mark Barron returns to the Watch List. (As for where Oregon's Cliff Harris is, we're not sure. Maybe the Thorpe is waiting to see how long his traffic arrest-induced suspension lasts?)



Posted on: July 11, 2011 3:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:04 pm
 

2011 Thorpe Award Watch List released

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The 13-day reveal of Watch Lists for college football's major awards rolls on today with the Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back. Thirty-seven names made the Thorpe's initial list:
Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami (Fla.), SS
Mark Barron, Alabama, SS
John Boyett, Oregon, FS
Brandon Boykin, Georgia, CB
Morris Claiborne, LSU, CB
Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska, CB
Tony Dye, UCLA, CB
Matt Elam, Florida, SS
Antonio Fenelus, Wisconsin, CB
Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma, CB
Donnie Fletcher, Boston College, CB
Blake Gideon, Texas, FS
Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, CB
Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt, CB
Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech, CB
Delano Howell, Stanford, SS
Duke Ihenacho, San Jose State, SS
George Iloka, Boise State, FS
Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma, FS
Leonard Johnson, Iowa State, CB
Coryell Judie, Texas A&M, CB
Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, CB
Robert Lester, Alabama, FS
Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State, SS
TJ McDonald, USC, FS
Chase Minnifield, Virginia, CB
Marco Nelson, Tulsa, FS
Brian Peters, Northwestern, FS
Greg Reid, Florida State, CB
Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, CB
Josh Robinson, UCF, CB
Trenton Robinson, Michigan State, FS
Harrison Smith, Notre Dame, FS
Keith Tandy, West Virginia, CB
Kenny Tate, Maryland, FS
Tramain Thomas, Arkansas, FS
Prentiss Waggner, Tennessee, SS
The conference-by-conference numbers break down as you might expect. Via the Jim Thorpe association press release: SEC (10); ACC (7); Big 12 (6); Big 10 (4); PAC 12 (4); C-USA (2); WAC (2); Big East (1); Independents (1). (Though no one was good enough to make the cut out of the Mountain West?) (Nevermind; the Thorpe's original tally still includes Boise State in the WAC.)

Of last year's 10 semifinalists, only Alabama's Mark Barron returns to the Watch List. (As for where Oregon's Cliff Harris is, we're not sure. Maybe the Thorpe is waiting to see how long his traffic arrest-induced suspension lasts?)



Posted on: July 8, 2011 1:29 am
 

Forcier 'strongly considering' Hawaii, SJSU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

He's already moved on from Michigan and Miami, so where's Tate Forcier headed next? From the sound of it, somewhere much closer to his original San Diego home. 

According to an ESPN report Thursday, Forcier is "strongly considering" two schools--Hawaii, where he plans to visit next week, and San Jose State. He is also reportedly holds an "interest" in Nevada.

If Forcier can wrangle a scholarship offer from all three of these schools -- and it's hard to imagine they wouldn't want to take a flier on him, considering his still-remarkable exploits as a true freshman for the Wolverines -- it seems somewhat obvious which would suit him best from a football standpoint. Hawaii has made stars out of plenty of quarterbacks before, and frequently ones that haven't possessed Forcier's live and accurate arm or his outstanding mobility in the pocket; the Warriors' Bryant Moniz, for instance, didn't receive a single scholarship offer coming out of high school before leading the entire FBS in passing yards last season. 

Like the Warriors, Nevada will also offer an established program playing at the Mountain West level starting next year. But at 6'0" and 185 pounds, Forcier may not have the frame necessary to absorb the poundings taken by the quarterback in Chris Ault's option-heavy pistol offense. (Though for what it's worth, Forcier was asked to make similar option reads out of Rich Rodriguez's shotgun during his time at Michigan; we're not sure he appeared to have any particular aptitude for it, however.)

As for SJSU, the Spartans have been a WAC doormat for years and are coming off a two-year span featuring all of three wins. Those fortunes might change under second-year coach Mike MacIntyre, but even if it does, will anyone notice once the conference has waved goodbye to Hawaii, Nevada, Boise State and Fresno State? 

Again, though: that's all from a football perspective. After both Tate's and older brothers Chris and Jason Forcier's nation-spanning careers (including collective stops at UCLA, Stanford, Michigan and Furman) family concerns -- not to mention academic concerns, after Tate's classroom issues in Ann Arbor -- may come first. And if that's the case, all bets are off.

Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



There's no doubting that these are exciting times for Nebraska football. Today's the day they officially join the Big Ten, the day they officially (as our own Dennis Dodd writes) start new rivalries with the likes of Ohio State, Penn State and -- most substantially -- their Great Plains brethren at Iowa. Today's the day they start drawing checks from the Big Ten Network money machine. It's the day that will, in short, define the future of their football program.

But amidst all that excitement, it's also a day which ought to be an occasion to remember the Huskers' past. Because in making the move to the Big Ten, Nebraska is cutting ties with years, decades, even centuries of their gridiron tradition.

Start with the rivalries. Nebraska vs. Kansas was only the longest uninterrupted series in the nation, having been played every year since 1906. The Huskers' and Jayhawks' started their annual grudge match so long ago, Oklahoma didn't even exist--and we're not talking about the Sooners, we're talking about the state.

But even that's not the oldest Nebraska rivalry that will end this season. The Huskers and the Missouri Tigers first met all the way back in 1892 and went on to play each other 102 more times, making it the third-oldest football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

Because of Nebraska's dominance over both foes -- the Huskers defeated Kansas 36 straight times between 1969 and 2004, and Mizzou 24 straight times from 1979 through 2002 -- neither rivalry ever quite ascended to "classic" status, despite each's longetivity. But that doesn't mean each didn't give us classic moments, like this one you knew was coming:



And even if those series didn't carry as much weight on the gridiron as some others, the same can't be said for the Huskers' showdowns with Oklahoma. The move from the old Big 8 into the Big 12 had already (shortsightedly) brought a halt to the teams' annual meeting after 70-plus years of uninterrupted battles, but the rivalry that gave us the "Game of the Century" still survived as part of the Big 12 scheduling rotation and in the occasional Big 12 championship game. Now? The two schools might meet again in 2020 and 2021, if we're lucky.

Go beyond just rivalries and scheduling, though, and the conference switch also represents a complete cultural realignment for Husker football. Since the very beginning, Nebraska football has associated itself first-and-foremost with other heartland schools; their first conference affiliation came in the Missouri Valley Conference with Iowa-based schools like Drake and Grinnell. When they moved to the Big 8, they did so alongside not just the Jayhawks, Tigers and Sooners but schools like Kansas State and Iowa State as well.

From their location to their "Cornhuskers" nickname to the undying, overwhelming support of the Big Red faithful to their regional and national dominance, Nebraska wasn't just an important part of Great Plains college football; in many ways, the Huskers were Great Plains football.

That's not going away entirely, of course. And the annual matchup with Iowa promises to be a particularly important game from a regional standpoint. But with a schedule dominated by trips to Midwestern-to-the-bone locations like Minneapolis and Chicago, in a conference long identified first-and-foremost with the Rust Belt pillars at Michigan and Ohio State, there's no way Nebraska's identification as the heartland football program won't erode. Those days are done.

That's not to say Nebraska should have turned the Big Ten down, of course. Money talks. Academics talks. The Big 12's Texas obsession most definitely talks. From the Nebraska perspective, there's no way to spin the jump to a more stable, more lucrative conference as anything other than progress.

But progress almost always comes with a price, whether it's Colorado ditching its decades of old Big 8 rivalries to head west, Boise State's leap to the Mountain West finally finishing off the WAC as a meaningful football conference for good, TCU and Utah going their separate ways just when things between them were getting good, or all that Nebraska is giving up in their move to the Big Ten.

Today deserves to be a celebration for the Huskers' future, and for the future of all the teams and conferences who have been officially realigned today. But this is college football, the sport where tradition and history and all those things that are not money matter more than any other. There should be time enough, even today, to mourn the things the great realignment of 2010 has lost us.

Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:56 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 12:01 pm
 

Nevada's Wimberly out of ICU

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Brandon Wimberly, a wide receiver for Nevada who was shot in the abdomen over a week ago and is suffering serious injuries, has been removed from the ICU. He was taken out of the unit Sunday, though there is still no word on when Wimberly will be able to leave the hospital.

“He’s still in the hospital, but he is doing better," Nevada coach Chris Ault told the Reno Gazette-Journal while visiting Wimberly at the hospital Monday. "He's walked a little bit. He’s making some good improvement now and there’s certainly some reason for optimism.

“He’s a little more clear-headed now. He's certainly still in some pain and it's still a pretty serious thing, but yesterday we had some good conversations and he's a lot more alert than he was. Right now, they're focusing on giving his body enough medication to heal and get a little better every day. But these last couple of days have been really good." 

Wimberly, the former WAC Freshman of the Year, was out with fellow members of the football team when they got into an argument with another group early on the morning of June 18. After the argument, Wimberly approached a car carrying the other group when he was shot in the abdomen.

While he's recovering from his wounds, and the fact he's been removed from the ICU is good news, it's not expected that Wimberly will ever be able to play football again. 

Posted on: June 27, 2011 4:49 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 5:01 pm
 

Hawaii, Wyoming can't find Hawaii-Wyoming trophy

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Attention college football fans: do you live in Honolulu, Hawaii, or Laramie, Wyoming? Have you seen a trophy that looks like this?



If so, please contact the athletic departments at either Hawaii or Wyoming. That's the "Paniolo Trophy," created by a group of Hawaii fans with Wyoming roots in 1979, when the then-Rainbows-now-Warriors joined the WAC and began playing Wyoming on an annual basis. Informally known as "the Cowboy," the trophy was awarded to the winner of the Hawaii-Wyoming game for nearly 20 years until the WAC-Mountain West split in the late '90s.

With the Cowboys and Warriors due to be reunited under the MWC banner in 2012, the two teams would like to start playing for the Cowboy again.

There's just one little problem: no one knows where it is:
Wyoming, which won the last five meetings, was thought to have had it. But Wyoming associate athletic director Kevin McKinney said, "We have looked everywhere for it here and it is not to be found. (We) were talking about it and we seem to remember that it had been damaged and was in a shop over there for repairs."

But, McKinney added, "(we're) not totally sure about that."

Neither is UH, which said it has conducted its own search without success.

This is the sort of thing that has sometimes happened in the annals of college football. But usually it's back in the early 20th-century when 112-year-old equipment manager Adolphus Buttlifson got confused and threw the trophy in the river and put the dead cat in the trophy case, or something similar. Was it that hard to keep track of a heavy, sculpted cowboy used as an award for winning a college football game in 1997?

Apparently, it was. Since Hawaii seems committed to finding trophies for its resumed series (the "Kuter Trophy," given to the winner of the annual meetings between the Rainbows and Air Force, has been located and seems on its way to being returned to service), though, maybe "the Cowboy" will turn up.

To the pawn shops!

HT: Mountain West Connection.


Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
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