Tag:Appalachian State
Posted on: February 16, 2012 5:05 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 9:08 am

A sad goodbye to Karl Benson & perhaps WAC

The enduring image of Karl Benson will be his practically skipping through the University of Phoenix Stadium press box on Jan. 1, 2007.

Boise State had just shocked Oklahoma, college football and the world. The commissioner of the Broncos’ league was along for the ride. Karl Benson, a former Boise State shortstop, had just seen the gosh-darndest thing in his life. Along with the rest of us.

He was proud that his lowly-but-proud Western Athletic Conference had taken advantage of the BCS rules to – put in terms of the conference’s marketing slogan – Play Up. Yes, the loosening of BCS bowl access rules in 2006 contributed to Boise’s rise. But it took the team’s performance on the field to convince the world that college football wasn’t the exclusive domain of the Big Six conferences.

WAC member Hawaii went to the Sugar Bowl a year later but the new wave punk band that was the WAC slowly broke up over the years. Boise State skipped from the Mountain West to the Big East. Others followed.

The plucky little conference that couldn’t be killed was on its death bed Thursday with the news that Benson had become the new Sun Belt commissioner. On the surface, Benson is trading a job at the 10th-rated conference in FBS to one rated 11th(and last in the division).

In reality, it is the latest shift of conference realignment tectonic plates. The 50-year old WAC that Benson leaves behind be damaged beyond recognition.  It was formed in 1962 in order to grab an NCAA tournament automatic bid – there were only 24 at the time. The Original Six included Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.  The current seven-team league (in football) could be absorbed like rain into the soil by some combination of Benson’s new conference and the emerging Big Country (Conference USA/Mountain West conglomeration).

It really depends on the intentions of the Big Country. 

Benson, 60, fought the good fight out West with dignity. Now it’s time to keep the Sun Belt alive and kicking. Time after time on the conference call announcing his hiring, Benson was not shy about saying he wanted the 10-member Sun Belt (in football) to grow to 12. At least. It doesn’t take too much to figure out where those two (or more) teams are going to come from.

As mentioned, in 2012 the WAC is down to seven teams, one above the NCAA minimum. The teams that emerged from that conference to gain BCS bowls under Benson’s watch – Boise State and Hawaii – are long gone. Just a guess but look for the Sun Belt to go after WAC member Louisiana Tech – if the Big Country doesn’t get to Ruston first. The New Orleans-based Sun Belt already has members at Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe.

“There are schools in the [Louisiana] footprint that would make sense,” Benson said.   

Other possibilities: Any combination of Appalachian State, Georgia State, Jacksonville State and Liberty. All four are moving up or in the process of moving up to FBS.  

Benson has literally held the WAC together by force of personality. First, reorganizing after half the then-16 team league left in 1999 to form the Mountain West. (He got the news lying down on the couch at home after eye surgery.) Then with the departure of Boise State (Mountain West, then Big East) as well as Fresno, Hawaii, Nevada (Mountain West) Benson hustled within the last year to add Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. The next FBS game those two schools play will be their first.

The pity is if in the end Benson was somehow forced out of the WAC. The conference owes its current existence to him. With the Sun Belt’s Wright Waters stepping down, the lowest-ranked FBS league is about to experience a rebirth. The so-called Group of Five non-BCS conferences (WAC, MAC, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt) could to shrink to three.

In a way it consolidates Big Six conferences’ power. The apparent end of BCS automatic qualifying conferences in 2014 means that access to the game’s biggest bowls becomes more important for the “non-AQs” that Benson helped make famous.

“I often asked who is the next Boise State?” he said. “With my Sun Belt hat on, why not someone from the Sun Belt?”


WAC football membership in 2012

Louisiana Tech
New Mexico State
San Jose State
Texas State
Utah State

Sun Belt football membership in 2012

Arkansas State
Florida Atlantic
Florida International
Middle Tennessee
North Texas
South Alabama
Western Kentucky

Posted on: December 6, 2010 8:51 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 9:23 pm

BCS fumbles final standings

If you read Jerry Palm's scoop Monday, then you know we came close to the end of the Bowl Championship Series.

Palm discovered, by simply checking the math, that Wes Colley's computer rankings -- one of six computer indexes used to determine BCS standings -- were wrong in the final BCS standings. It was a minor glitch -- Colley missed the Appalachian State-Western Illinois score. Minor -- this time. It caused a switch in the standings between No. 11 Boise State and No. 10 LSU.

But what if the mistake had changed the order of the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams? In other words, changed which team was playing in the national championship game. The outcry would have burned the BCS to the ground. Trust me, I know these people. You thought the commissioners were upset with the Cam Newton NCAA decision last week? They have actual control over what occurred on Monday. Imagine BCS director Bill Hancock telling No. 2 Oregon, "Woops, sorry. Our bad. TCU is really supposed to play for the national championship."

Court battles would have been the beginning of the controversy. Picture Oregon having to get a court injunction to play for the national championship. In the end the BCS would have ended. It would have lost total credibility. I know, I know, it doesn't have much credibility with the public now. But at least most of us accept Oregon-Auburn as the "right" national championship game.  After this kind of screw-up, I imagine the bowls would have advocated a switch back to the old system.

At least in the arranged bowl marriages of the past, schools had somewhat of a say in things. This is potential death by arithmetic. Boise's elevation did enhance, in some small way, the Mountain West's quest for automatic qualifier status in 2012 and 2013. Boise's recent success will be applied to the Mountain West during a four-year evaluation of the BCS worth of all conferences.

Suddenly we're all thinking the same thing: How many BCS errors haven't been caught? Are the right teams even playing?

The only reason Palm caught Colley's error is that Colley makes his formula available. None of the other five masters of BCS computer indexes release theirs, not even to the BCS. That's right, the BCS assumes their numbers are right. Colley was wrong because he relied on a database assembled by fellow BCS computer honcho Peter Wolfe. Wolfe told me that Colley had picked up his scores before they were updated with the App State-Western Illinois game.

Kind of adds new meaning to the BCS motto: Every Game Counts.

This is a database, Wolfe said, that he meticulously maintains and is cross-checked by Jeff Sagarin, probably the most well known of the BCS computer guys.

"This is my 10th year, every year there are 4,000 games. That's 40,000 games," said Wolfe from Los Angeles where he is an associate clinical professor at the UCLA medical school. "I do my best. I'm sorry this happened. In general this is unfortunate, we're all human. I do this because I'm interested in it. If my name is on something, I want it to be right."

Hancock was in touch with Wolfe Monday asking what had happened. There was a subsequent BCS release Monday night that quoted Hancock: "I was deeply disturbed when I learned about this today. This error should not have happened and is unacceptable." Hancock added that the issue will be "near the top of the agenda" during the spring BCS meetings.

Is the potential there to infect the whole system with bad math? Not in this case. Wolfe's scores are accessible to anyone on his website. Colley just happened to use the numbers before they had been updated. The core issue here remains that aside from Colley, the computer guys do not reveal their formulas.

"It is something we have developed," Wolfe said. "It does have some [proprietary] value."

Like me, you're probably wondering why the BCS can't find six guys who will make their formulas public.

"You're right," Wolfe said. "It is trust."

With a national championship now potentially at stake, the BCS, then, is asking us for what dwindling trust is left.

"We don't know if any of these guys are right ...," Palm said. "Could you imagine if we had to change who played in the BCS title game today?"

Already have. It would have been a disaster, leading to a real death to the BCS.

Posted on: August 31, 2008 5:39 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2008 8:53 pm

Deep thoughts on a football Saturday

As long as I'm piling on the ACC couldn't resist this one ...

Well, it's not an ACC error per se but why not kick a mediocre league while it's down. It seems that Duke officials 
were shocked when parachutists descended into Wallace Wade Stadium with the game ball about an hour before Saturday's 
James Madison game. One problem. Duke hadn't ordered a game ball. However, North Carolina, eight miles away, did.

 Will we look back on this as the football equivalent of The Beatles playing the Cavern Club? In other words, the 
modest beginning for a monster talent? Terrelle Pryor looked more than capable in his career debut against 
Youngstown State, 35 yards passing, 52 yards rushing and a touchdown.


For up-to-the-minute updates go to Pryor's 24-hour webcam. You've got to see the archived stuff of him having the 
Caesar salad for lunch on Friday. Classic.

 Appalachian State won! The third quarter, 7-3 over LSU.


 Nothing like patience. This from a Detroit columnist: "(Michigan quarterback) Steven Threet needs to start based on his performance 
(against Utah)." After watching that mess in The Big House does it matter?


 Hawaii AD Jim Donovan is a smart, smart man. There are no more SEC teams on the Warriors schedule for the 
foreseeable future. The last two outings against the SEC have resulted in combined losses of 97-20 to Georgia and 


 If you want to put a new name atop the hot seat list, feel free to add San Diego State's Chuck Long. We did get 
our designated I-AA upset late Saturday although it wasn't the earth shaker you might think. Cal Poly beat the Aztecs 
for the second time in three seasons. This time it was 29-27. A San Diego columnist the program "reached the bottom of its existence."


 Big 12 starting quarterbacks threw a combined 20 touchdown passes on Saturday. That's an average of 2.2 per man without two of the  nine starters throwing for a score. The breakdown:  Kansas' Todd Reesing (three), Missouri's Chase Daniel (three), Nebraska's Joe Ganz (four), Kansas State's Josh Freeman  (three), Texas' Colt McCoy (three), Texas' A&M Stephen McGee (none), Texas Tech's Graham Harrell (two), Oklahoma State's Zac  Robinson (none) and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford (two).


 Five years ago to the day Dennis Franchione started his Texas A&M career with a 26-11 victory over Arkansas State. 
Franchione's replacement, Mike Sherman,wasn't so fortunate losing to the Red Wolves 18-14 in his first game as 
Aggies' coach. The usually staid Associated Press called it "one of the most embarrassing losses in A&M history."  

 Nebraska recovered a fumble against Western Michigan. That brings the Huskers to one-third of their total for all 
of 2007.

 Pittsburgh is now 5-13 since starting 6-1 in 2006. 

 How important are those Virginia Tech special teams? Huge. The Hokies had won 17 consecutive games when blocking a 
kick. Ironically, East Carolina's T.J. Lee blocked a punt and scored the game-winning touchdown in a 27-22 Pirates' 
victory. East Carolina became the only team below the BCS level that beat a top 20 team. The other teams 
with a win over top 20 wins on Saturday were Missouri and Alabama.


The Pirates became the first Conference USA team to beat back-to-back ranked teams. They had defeated Boise State in 
last year's Hawaii Bowl. That says more about Conference USA than it does East Carolina. Conference USA is 13 years 

 Injury watch: Georgia's monster defensive tackle Jeff Owens is out for the season with a knee. How many more injuries can UGA stand?...There are varying reports about the severity of Jeremy Maclin's injury late Saturday. Missouri's all-purpose 
king apparently twisted an ankle (X-rays were negative).


 Novenas are being said in Columbus for tailback Beanie Wells. Ohio State's tailback has some sort of right foot 
problem. Again, X-rays were negative. Even if he is 100 percent look for Jim Tressel to seriously limiting Wells' 
playing time this week against Ohio. The Bucks need him healthy for USC in two weeks. We should know something on Monday.


 Most impressive on opening weekend? It had to be USC which slapped around Virginia. Pete Carroll looked like he 
was sandbagging us during the preseason. Three weeks after dislocating his knee, quarterback Mark Sanchez looks 
ready and able to become the new Leinart after throwing for a career-high 338 yards.


"Everything happened just right," Carroll said. "Too bad we let them score."

 If you're looking ahead to Tennessee-UCLA on Monday night consider UCLA's Kevin Craft. The juco transfer 
quarterback faces some uphill odds. The last juco transfer qb to lead a team to a Pac-10 title was USC's Tim Green in 

 Hurricane Gustav's impact is being felt all the way to Alabama. Tulane has already gone threat ahead of the storm 
in preparations for this week's game at Alabama. Troy goes over to LSU in a game that could be a prime candidate for 
cancellation. The Category 3 storm is expected to hit Louisiana on Monday.


 OK, so there is no Terrelle Pryor 24-hour webcam but if you got down this far believing it, gotcha!


Posted on: August 27, 2008 12:10 pm

Hurricane Gustav update

I hate to consider the thought but New Orleans and surrounding area is once again being threatened by a hurricane. This just came from the LSU Sports Information Dept.


For immediate release:  August 27, 2008 – 11 a.m. CDT




BATON ROUGE – LSU athletics officials are working closely with university and state personnel to monitor the progression of Hurricane Gustav, but there is no anticipated impact on the LSU vs. Appalachian State football game at this time.


LSU is scheduled to open its 2008 football season at 4 p.m. on Saturday against Appalachian State at 4 p.m.


LSU will update fans on any changes via the news media and LSUsports.net should conditions warrant it.


Category: NCAAF
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