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

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


Sun Belt football membership in 2012

Arkansas State
Florida Atlantic
Florida International
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Monroe
Middle Tennessee
North Texas
South Alabama
Troy
Western Kentucky


Posted on: November 19, 2010 9:57 am
Edited on: November 20, 2010 8:38 am
 

WAC tries to stay alive

The Western Athletic Conference will attempt to soldier on despite an apparent death blow Thursday night. Hawaii's reported defection to the Mountain West weakens the WAC but it doesn't kill it, according to WAC commissioner Karl Benson.

Hawaii apparently has a deal to leave the WAC after 32 years -- to play football in the Mountain West and all other sports in the Big West -- according to overnight reports. That would leave the WAC with only seven members in football and eight in basketball beginning in 2012. The WAC's Division I basketball membership would be affected first. Per the NCAA's "continuity-of-membership" clause each basketball conference needs a minimum of six Division I members who have been together at least six years. Beginning in 2012, the year Hawaii reportedly will leave for the Mountain West, the WAC will have only five such members.

However, Benson said pending NCAA legislation will allow the WAC to keep its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"We're anticipating the new NCAA legislation that is expected to be adopted in January that eliminates the continuity-of-membership issue," Benson said Friday morning.

Told of Benson's comments, one Division I-A official said, "I can't imagine that that [legislation] would get through."

The league's BCS membership (as a non-automatic qualifier) is unaffected at least through the current television contract that goes through the 2013 season (2014 bowls). The BCS does not require a minimum number of conference members, according to Benson.  Benson said the NCAA requires a minimum of eight conference members but that is only for NCAA governance purposes. The WAC could still compete in football with the seven members. The league would not be listed as Division I-A.

"It [number of members] doesn't matter for this contract," said one person familiar with the BCS process. "It remains to be seen what happens in the next contract."

However, the WAC is not done adding members, Benson said. Montana and Cal-Davis have been mentioned as possible WAC additions.

"Our plan today is to get back to eight football-playing members," Benson said. "That still will be our goal."

The WAC recently added emerging I-AA programs Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. Both begin WAC play in 2012 as I-A members. Denver was added in basketball only. The WAC had to make a move after losing Nevada, Fresno State and Boise State to the Mountain West in the last few months. Hawaii will move to the Mountain West in 2012 giving that conference 11 members.

Benson said his league was in the process of allowing Hawaii to compete in the WAC in football only and putting all its other sports in another conference. Instead, Hawaii went for the Mountain West deal. The MWC is chasing an automatic BCS bid -- at least temporarily in 2012 and 2013. That pursuit was hurt by the loss of Utah to the Pac-10 and BYU going independent.

This is the current membership of the WAC

Boise State
Nevada
Fresno State
Hawaii
Louisiana Tech
Utah State
Idaho
New Mexico State
San Jose State

This is what the WAC membership could look like in 2012 if Hawaii leaves

Denver (basketball only)
Texas State
Texas-San Antonio
San Jose State
Idaho
New Mexico State
Louisiana Tech
Utah State
 

Posted on: October 10, 2010 11:24 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2010 10:44 am
 

The Day After In College Football

Les Miles is going to hell. The man has obviously traded his soul for football wins.

That's the only logical conclusion after what we saw Saturday night. A fake field goal led to the eventual winning touchdown for LSU at Florida. Not just any fake field goal. With less than a minute to go, holder Derek Helton flipped the ball over his head to kicker Josh Jasper. The ball bounced once and, amazingly, right into the hands of Jasper who ran for the first down.

There was so much wrong with the play that it seemed finally Crazy Les had outfoxed himself. First, there was the question of whether Helton's flip was a forward pass. By the slimmest of margins, it was ruled a backward pass which was a key distinction. A fumble on fourth down can only be recovered by the fumbler. But since the ball was ruled a backward pass it can be advanced. Helton, the holder, was not ruled down even though his knee was on the ground for the attempt. There is a special exemption on such plays for holders who can initiate a backward pass while still being on a knee.

Of course, Miles knew on this before extending his contract with the devil that promises his soul to Lucifer in exchange for some extremely good fortune on the field. Right? Is there room on Broadway for "Damn Tigers"?

**Nebraska is back in a familiar spot, No. 2 in national rushing. Most of the improvement is because of redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez who is quickly becoming one of the program's best quarterbacks. Here is a glimpse at Martinez' dramatic effect on the offense:

Nebraska's 21 rushing touchdowns have covered 668 yards, an average of 31.8 per run. That rushing yardage surpasses the team's total on all 36 scoring plays from scrimmage last season (555 yards).

Also last season, Nebraska had six touchdown runs of 10 or more yards. This season they have 15 TD runs of 10 or more yards, 11 of 20 or more yards.
 
Martinez as a passer: Last season three of Nebraska's 16 touchdown passes were of 33 yards or longer. This season, three of five TD passes have been that long. Those five TD passes have averaged 42.3 yards. The Huskers averaged 22.7 yards per scoring pass last season.
 
Also, Martinez is averaging 34.9 yards on his nation-leading 12 rushing TDs. Denard Robinson has nine rushing touchdowns have averaged 28.7 yards.
 

**Texas A&M has had at least four turnovers in four consecutive games. That's a staggering total of 18 for the season. Only New Mexico (20) has more. Last year, 25 teams didn't turn it over 18 times all season.

**In leading the country in total offense (567 yards) and scoring offense (54.33 points), Oregon is averaging more than seven touchdowns per game. There are still three teams that haven't accumulated seven touchdowns all season (Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State and San Jose State). At the current pace, the Ducks would surpass Oklahoma's modern-day record of 702 points in a season set in 2008. Oregon is on pace to score 706.2 points in one less game (13) than OU did in '08 (14).

Despite missing a game due to a suspension, Oregon tailback LaMichael James is leading the nation in rushing (169.6 yards per game) and is on pace to run for 2,000 yards. James is also the active career leader in yards per game (133).

**After losing to New Mexico State it's hard to find another victory on the schedule for New Mexico coach Mike Locksley (career record, 1-17). New Mexico (0-6) still has to play ranked teams Air Force and TCU in the Mountain West.

**Arizona State is the worst BCS conference team in the red zone. It has scored on only 22 of its 32 drives inside the 20. Only 15 of those have resulted in touchdowns.

**Army is the only team not to have thrown an interception this season.

**In the last two seasons, Boise State's Kellen Moore has thrown 53 touchdowns and only four interceptions.

**Texas (3-2) will be trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 1999 when it plays at Nebraska this week.

Posted on: October 8, 2010 1:29 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2010 9:06 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Judgment time: More than half of Division I-A (61 teams) will reach the halfway point of the regular season having played six games after this week. The season reaches its official halfway point after the games of Oct. 16. Seven weeks down, seven weeks to go on the college football calendar ...

Strangely, the end of Saturday's LSU-Tennessee game was similar to the conclusion of the Fifth Down, at least in the confusion category. If you're looking for link between the two it's LSU third-string quarterback Chase McCartney. Chase is the grandson of former Colorado coach Bill McCartney who was the Buffs' coach against Missouri 20 years ago. Missouri and CU meet for the final time as Big 12 opponents Saturday in Columbia ... What's the big deal about Turner Gill's curfew which doesn't allow Kansas players to see women after 10 p.m. during the season? With all the mistreatment of women in sports, this is a bold, positive step. The alternative is Florida (30 arrests in six years). Gill was asked if his curfew would hurt recruiting. "I guess it could. But we can explain it. It's not that big a deal." The Jayhawks host Kansas State on Thursday ...

Sometimes you just feel pity. Purdue (2-2 going to Northwestern) has lost its quarterback (Robert Marve), best receiver (Keith Smith) and top running back (Ralph Bolden) to season-ending injuries ... Penn State is 114th in red zone offense, worst among BCS conference schools ... Florida State (25) and Miami (17) are 1-2 nationally in sacks. Best of luck to Jacory Harris and Christian Ponder ... Baylor (4-1 vs. Texas Tech at the Cotton Bowl) is trying for consecutive wins away from Waco for the first time since 1996 ...

Stay away from this trend, gamblers. Toledo is 0-2 at home but 3-0 on the road heading to ... Boise. Oh no. ... What's your deal? USC will try to stay within 34 (margin of loss in last year's meeting) when it travels to Stanford ... Who needs BYU in the Mountain West for BCS strength? The Cougars (1-4 and hosting San Diego State) are off to their worst start since 1973 ...  UNLV (at West Virginia) hasn't played in the Eastern Time Zone since 2004 ...

WAC commissioner Karl Benson is the latest source to want coaches' poll ballots made public. His former school, Boise State, was jumped last week in both polls by Oregon. "My guess is that there are coaches who voted Boise State in double-digits," Benson said. "Boise State, unlike any other team in the country, has won the games that they're supposed to win."

Benson brought into question the process which was further muddied by New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker, whose team lost to Boise 59-0 last week. Walker wasn't sure if he had a coaches' poll (he doesn't), but "I usually let my assistant coaches handle that stuff." Let's hope he never gets a vote ...

Posted on: October 1, 2010 12:18 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

The Pistol formation is sweeping the country, if you consider sweeping a list of about 10 schools. The variation on the shotgun was invented by veteran Nevada coach Chris Ault in 2005. It features a quarterback four yards behind center and a running back three yards behind him.

The advantage for the offense is more downhill running than in a zone read where the running back frequently is running parallel to the line. Because the backfield is essentially in an I-formation it's harder for defenses to target their blitzes. Alabama, Arkansas, Boise State, Duke, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and UCLA are using it in varying degrees this season.

Nevada (at UNLV) is 4-0 for the first time since 1992 and ranked in the AP poll for the first time since 1948.

Boise State (at New Mexico State) is chasing a national championship.

UCLA (vs. Washington State) switched to it to jump start its offense this season. The Pistol produced 264 rushing yards last week against Texas.

Alabama, Boise, Indiana (vs. Michigan) and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are undefeated.

"Most great ideas are born out of necessity," UCLA's Rick Neuheisel said. "We needed to run the football better. Looking at the equipment we had, it just wasn't working. We had to accept that. We were very fortunate to have been given some great advice from the University of Nevada coaching staff. We kind of poured ourselves into it. It was a little bit of a leap of faith." ...

NC State (hosting Virginia Tech)  is ranked for the first time in seven years ... In a game that might go a long way toward deciding the ACC's best quarterback (non-Russell Wilson division), Miami's Jacory Harris plays at Clemson against Kyle Parker. Each of the last three games between the teams have gone into overtime ... Former Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis goes against the Vols for the first time when Tennessee visits LSU ... The problem at LSU is offense, specifically Jordan Jefferson's passing. Jefferson has yet to throw a touchdown pass and has completed less than half his passes to go with three interceptions ... A.J. Green returns for Georgia in its game at Colorado. The losing coach should check the temperature of his chair. Mark Richt and Dan Hawkins, are all but on notice about their job security ...  Florida Wildcat sensation Trey Burton is the grandson of Lawrence Burton who finished fourth in the 100 meters at the '72 Olympics, was a first-round pick of the Saints and played receiver at Purdue ...

Not surprisingly, the Big Ten and the SEC combined have almost half the teams in the top 25 (six each). You can see what this is coming down to: The Big Ten and/or SEC champion vs. Boise State in the polls/BCS/public discussion ... Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh on playing at Oregon:  "Just thinking about it, we're going to be ready to walk out of that tunnel, 80,000 screaming Duck fans. We'll have our team huddled around us beneath that stadium. It doesn’t get any better than that. I'm getting excited thinking about it." Sounds lyrical except that Autzen Stadium seats only 54,000 ... Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker will miss his fourth consecutive game because of what are reportedly complications from diabetes ...  The Sun Belt player of the year so far is Troy's Jernell Jernigan. The sophomore receiver is second nationally in all-purpose yards (208 per game). In addition to averaging almost 100 yards in receptions per game, Jernigan returns kicks and punts and lines up in the Wildcat. Troy is No. 14 in total offense and plays perhaps the Sun Belt game of the year Tuesday at Middle Tennessee ... Central Florida's George O'Leary (Wednesday vs. Alabama-Birmingham) is 1-19 against BCS teams. That's the same record as the man he replaced in 2004, Mike Kruczek. That's according to research done by CBSSports.com's Matt Brodsky.

Posted on: September 23, 2010 4:36 pm
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

The closest Alabama has come to the schedule it will face the next three weeks came in 1952. Bama faced No. 5 Georgia, No. 2 Maryland and No. 16 Auburn. The Tide could face three consecutive top 10 teams considering it plays No. 10 Arkansas, No. 9 Florida and No. 12 South Carolina in the next three weeks ... Oregon State is basically admitting that Boise's blue turf is in its head. You might have read -- how could you not? -- that Oregon State painted its practice field blue to get ready for Saturday's showdown in Boise. There is some thought that the blue turf blends in with Boise's blue home jerseys.  Maybe, but that still makes it hard to explain Boise's success at home -- 63-2 since 2000, which leads the nation. The Broncos haven't lost in blue (jerseys) on the blue (turf) since 2001 ...

Houston true freshman Terrance Broadway starts this week against Tulane. UCLA knocked out the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart, Case Keenum (knee) and Cotton Turner (collarbone), for the season ... While Florida's offense still needs to get it together, its defense has been impressive -- a nation-leading 10 interceptions and plus-7 in turnover margin ... Is there any more cursed program when it comes to running back injuries than Iowa? For the second consecutive year, Jewel Hampton will miss the season with a knee injury ... New Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Wheeler leads the country with 11 touchdown passes. Veteran Zac Robinson, since departed, threw 15 td passes all of last season. New offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen is making his mark ...

For what it's worth here are SWWL top four defenses (in random order) -- Texas, TCU, Nebraska, Alabama. Combined they have allowed 3.97 yards per play and a total of 19 touchdowns (1.18 per game) ... There's a reason Kansas may have had problem signaling in plays last Friday at Southern Miss. The Lawrence Journal-World reported that Joe Dailey, KU's on-campus recruiting coordinator, was taken off play-signaling duty prior to the game  because his role had been against NCAA rules. The NCAA states that "field level" duties are for those "who are performing a service associated with action on the field of play ..." In other words, a coach. Dailey is a former Nebraska quarterback who coached with Turner Gill at Buffalo. KU hosts New Mexico State trying to come out of the non-con 2-2 ...

Former Kansas coach Mark Mangino has not been hired by Minnesota as a consultant according to the Gophers AD. Joel Maturi denied a broadcast report that Mangino had been hired. Several outlets reported that Mangino was on the sideline during Saturday's loss to USC. Mangino resigned under pressure in December and has been residing in Naples, Fla. ... Guarantee-game fallout: Louisiana-Lafayette and Florida Atlantic are tied for the best overall record in the Sun Belt, 1-1 ... The SEC has as many teams ranked in the top 15, six, as every other BCS conference combined ... Boise is 7-17 all-time against teams from BCS conferences. Five of those wins have come since 2006 ... My picks this week. I'm really good.

Posted on: August 19, 2010 2:19 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2010 2:30 pm
 

Karl Benson says WAC will go forward

The WAC commissioner spent 80 minutes on a conference call Thursday explaining why his conference would survive.

He mentioned several schools by name that would be interested in joining -- Cal-Poly, Cal-Davis, Sacramento State (already a member in baseball), Texas-San Antonio, Texas State, Montana. The WAC staff was checking what the minimum number of teams it takes to have a I-A conference. I checked the NCAA Manual a while ago and it's confusing. Not sure by the by-law if it meant six teams for a division, or six teams for a league.

However, the WAC wants to bulk up to at least eight.

Benson called the defection of Fresno State and Nevada "disappointing" and "selfish." On Wednesday, the commissioner thought he had secured BYU as a non-football member. On Thursday, his league was fighting for its life. The Mountain West raided the WAC for Fresno and Nevada as a preemptive strike to keep BYU from leaving. As of Thursday, BYU was considering its options. The school's move to independence is, in fact, not a done deal.

For a guy who has given blood in trying to keep his conference together, it was a bitter day for Benson. There are only two teams left from the last year of the old 16-team WAC in the late 1990s (San Jose State, Hawaii). From that he built a league that sent its champion to a BCS bowl three times in four years.

"We will be successful, Benson said.

"I fully expect Utah State or New Mexico State to jump from the pack and go to a bowl [in 2010].  I won't be surprised at either of those teams," he added.

What the WAC might look like in a couple of years:

San Jose State -- almost dropped football a few years ago.
Hawaii --pondering independent status itself?
Idaho -- Robb Akey led Vandals to 2009 bowl
Louisiana Tech -- Let's just say Derek Dooley got out at a good time
New Mexico State -- Named by me the worst I-A program in the country a couple of years ago
Montana -- could be the next Boise State
Texas State -- see above
Utah State -- the state of Utah could have a Pac-10 team (Utah) an independent (BYU) and this WAC member
Posted on: October 23, 2009 11:24 am
Edited on: October 24, 2009 9:49 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Montana coach Bobby Hauck has disgraced his profession. Wonder why the American Football Coaches Association hasn't weighed in on this issue...Let's see, because it condones this conduct by ignorning it. Bullying students, real nice Bobby ... 

Let’s see, the SEC officials blew in the Florida-Arkansas game. Then, Bobby Petrino is reprimanded for reminding them that they blew it. The SEC can’t suspend the officials and reprimand Petrino at the same time. Only the SEC can tell Marc Curles he is wrong?

 There’s tough and there’s SEC tough: Since suffering a broken jaw and concussion on Oct. 3 against LSU, Georgia tailback Caleb King has missed one game while subsisting on a liquid diet. King scored two touchdowns against last week against Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs are off this week before the Cocktail Party on Oct. 31.

 Whatever happened to that Sam Bradford press conference to announce his future? Love this stat: Three starting Big 12 quarterbacks have started against Texas. Three Big 12 starting quarterbacks have not finished this games.

 WWL saw USC’s Matt Barkley on some Heisman lists this week. Check the Pac-10 first. Barks isn’t even the best freshman quarterback in his own league. Stanford’s Andrew Luck has thrown for almost 1,600 yards with nine touchdowns.

Pittsburgh’s Dion Lewis (fourth in rushing) is the only freshman in the top 22 in rushing.

 National rushing leader Ryan Mathews of Fresno State is on pace to rush for almost 2,000 yards. Four of the six rush defenses he will face the remainder of the season are ranked 98th or worse against the run (New Mexico State, Utah State, Louisiana Tech and Illinois).

Looking ahead to next week:  Florida-Georgia in the Cocktail Party. Dawgs get to rest up this week. Florida is at Mississippi State. Tebow plays his last Georgia game.

 USC at Oregon. Trojans haven’t won in the state of Oregon since 2005 and need this one to stay in the Pac-10 and national championship hunt. Beavers, though, could end USC’s seven-year run of dominance with a win.

Texas at Oklahoma State. Cowboys thought they should have beaten the Horns last year in Austin. If they win in Stillwater, Pokes take control of the Big 12 South.

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