Tag:North Texas
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

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 30, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 9:09 pm
 

Why UCLA is going bowling

UCLA’s waiver to go bowling at 6-7 hinged on three key issues according to an NCAA source.

The NCAA’s bowl licensing subcommittee made a bit of history when it granted the Bruins bowl eligibility even if it loses the Pac-12 championship game on Friday. They are currently 6-6.

UCLA will go bowling regardless according to an NCAA …

… because the Pac-12 championship was not a scheduled game. UCLA, then, is being viewed as a 6-6 team for bowl purposes. (Certainly not for bowl promoters’ purposes.)

…because the Pac-12 cannot fill all seven of its bowl slots.

More to the point, there are only 71 bowl-eligible teams at the moment. Denying UCLA would have put the college football right at the cut line – just enough teams to fill 35 bowls. That means that a non-regional team probably would have been shipped out West to fill the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

North Texas was allowed to play in a bowl after winning the Sun Belt at 5-6 in 2001. The Mean Green lost the New Orleans Bowl to Colorado State to finish 5-7. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 25, 2011 8:55 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 7:58 pm
 

On A Football Saturday: UNM considering Leach?

So, would New Mexico consider Mike Leach?

The answer seems to be a resounding yes. Within minutes of releasing the statement that announced the firing of Mike Locksley, New Mexico AD Paul Krebs texted his qualifications for the new coach.

Head coaching experience is strongly preferred. Ability to recruit in Texas is a virtual must. Also, ties to the Albuquerque area will be considered.

Leach qualifies for all three. He spent a decade at Texas Tech recruiting Texas. Lubbock qualifies as having area ties. It is 320 miles from Albuquerque.

Don't sleep on this situation. New Mexico's interested. Is Leach?



--A quarter of the way through the regular season these are surprising undefeated teams:

Baylor: Robert Griffin III has more touchdown passes, 13, than incompletions, 12.

"A young man like Robert Griffin, it's like you're playing with 13 people," said Rice coach David Bailiff after Saturday' 56-31 loss to the Bears.

Houston: In his sixth year of eligibility, Case Keenum is now the third-leading passer of all time

Illinois: The Illini are 4-0 for the first time since 1951, the year they won a national championship in something called the Boand System.

Clemson: Give Dabo Swinney a microphone, he'll scream into it. Tigers have early advantage in the ACC Atlantic after beating Florida State.

Georgia Tech: Another Paul Johnson classic. A route of Kansas, followed by a late win over North Carolina. Can we just go ahead and call that offense the hardest to play against in the country?

South Florida: While the Big East agonizes over membership in the future, the Bulls are the league's only undefeated team right now.

Florida: Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps are finally becoming a fearsome <>combination<> under Charlie Weis.

Kansas State: Bill Snyder still has some magic left. The same Wildcats who almost to Eastern Kentucky at home, stopped Miami at the 1 to go 3-0 for the 16th time in Snyder's 20 seasons.



--That "Big 12, Big 12" chant by Oklahoma State fans Saturday at Texas A&M. It was as much a taunt as pride. Okie State probably didn't know that one A&M fan was waving a giant SEC flag at Friday's midnight yell practice ...



--Don't know what this means: The top six rushers in the country are from six different conferences ... The top two rushers in the Big Ten are quarterbacks: Denard Robinson (168.67 yards per game), Nebraska's Taylor Martinez (105.25) ... Anyone notice conference play is beginning? ...

Blowing by you on the bayou: This just in at LSU. The Tigers are incredibly fast ... Also, Oklahoma State is incredibly resilient: "What this comes down to is I thought our team was in better physical condition by a long shot," said coach Mike Gundy. Game time temperature was 91 degrees accompanied by bright sunshine. Pokes gave guts and character. Can't wait until the Bedlam game Dec. 3 in Stillwater ... Oklahoma hadn't trailed in 20 consecutive home games until falling behind Missouri 14-3 in the first quarter ... Clemson has gained at least 455 yards in all four games. Quarterback Tajh Boyd has consecutive 300-yard passing games ... The Big Ten went 8-2 on Saturday but the two losses were embarrassing. North Dakota State beat Minnesota for the second straight season. North Texas got by Indiana ... West Virginia gave up its most points in six years in LSU's 47-21 rout ...

Who says you can't win committing seven turnovers? East Carolina did it, beating Alabama-Birmingham 28-23 ... Southern Miss has beaten Virginia in consecutive meetings ... SMU and South Carolina have the best conference records in FBS, 2-0 ... Toledo had a 22-play drive against Syracuse and settled for a field goal. Sure, it got screwed on that extra point that Big East on-field and replay officials ruled good (it wasn't.). But the Rockets would have done themselves some good by punching it in the first quarter.


--This week's Heisman ballot: 1. Robert Griffin III, Baylor; 2, Marcus Lattimore; South Carolina; 3, Kellen Moore, Boise State; 4. Denard Robinson, Michigan; 5. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State.


If Steve Spurrier ever gets a big head -- how could that happen? -- all he has to do is watch this 45-year old tape from the Ed Sullivan Show. Ed obviously didn't know who Spurrier was or his school. Miami? 
Posted on: November 28, 2010 8:20 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2010 8:23 pm
 

UF's Dan McCarney reportedly going to North Texas

North Texas is close to hiring Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney according to this report.

McCarney is "99 percent sure" he is headed to North Texas according a source who spoke with the coach told CBSSports.com.

The 57-year old McCarney was head coach at Iowa State for 12 years from 1995-2006. He took the Cyclones to five bowl games, winning at least seven games in five of those seasons. In 2000 Iowa State finished 9-3, nearly upsetting Florida State that season.

After leaving Iowa State, McCarney spent one year as an assistant at South Florida before going to Florida as a d-line coach in 2008. His overall head coaching record is 56-85.

McCarney replaces Todd Dodge who was fired on Oct. 20. That leaves five openings in Division I-A -- Colorado, Minnesota, Miami, Indiana and Kent State.

McCarney is the eighth former Urban Meyer assistant to become a head coach. This would be the third straight season a Meyer assistant has left to become a head coach.

Charlie Strong, Florida  - Louisville
Dan Mullen, Florida  - Mississippi State
Doc Holliday, Florida  - Marshall
Kyle Whittingham, Utah  - Utah
Greg Brandon, Bowling Green  - Bowling Green
Mike Sanford, Utah  - UNLV
Tim Beckman, Bowling Green - Toledo

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 20, 2010 11:08 am
Edited on: October 20, 2010 11:29 am
 

Todd Dodge out at North Texas

Dodge Ball is done. The movie did better than the label attached with so much excitement to Todd Dodge's offense when he arrived at North Texas in 2007.

Dodge was fired Wednesday after 3 1/2 frustrating seasons in the Sun Belt. The Mean Green had won four consecutive conference titles under previous coach Darrell Dickey. Under Dodge, North Texas sunk to the bottom of the conference.

His hiring was a bold move for both the school and the coach. Dodge, a former Texas quarterback, had gone 79-1 in his last 80 games as a high school coach at nearby Southlake Carroll. A high school coach. The winning prep percentage did not translate to success in even the lowest-rated Division I-A conference.

I feel for Dodge. When I spoke to him shortly after he got the job, he was still bitter over the way he was treated at times at Texas. Those teams were a shadow of the powerhouses Mack Brown has put together recently in Austin.

"Everything about you as a man will be exposed," Dodge said of being the Longhorns quarterback. "Character, toughness, resilience. There's times when you walk around town and everybody wants to love you up. It's ridiculous. Other times, you walk around town and you're a leper."

I feel for Dodge for having relive those feelings today. The usual factors applied in his firing. He was 6-37 in those 3 1/2 seasons. His son, Riley, was the quarterback but broke his wrist a few weeks ago. The team has gone through four starters at the position. There have been 12 players suffer what are considered season-ending injuries. Let's see Ohio State win under those circumstances. A new $78-million, 30,000-seat stadium is due to open next season. It needs to be filled.

Those are the reasons Dodge is gone, but will emerge somewhere. Dodge is a decent man and a good coach who will end up as a successful offensive coordinator in his next job. It was his spread option offense at Southlake Carroll that spread like a virus around to the state's high schools. His former quarterback at Southlake, Chase Daniel, is in the NFL.

I feel for him today. I don't want all those repressed feelings about being Texas' quarterback coming up again. He deserves better.

Posted on: May 18, 2009 10:49 am
Edited on: May 18, 2009 1:05 pm
 

Picking the Sun Belt

(Over the next few weeks I'll pick the order of finish in each I-A conference. Why? Because it's the offseason and I can't get cfb out of my mind....Starting with the Sun Belt.)

The Sun Belt has graduated from pushover to pesky. Last season four of the eight teams were bowl eligible. Two went bowling and one (Florida Atlantic) became the first Sun Belt team to win consecutive bowl games.

The likes of Maryland and Texas A&M got stung by Sun Belt teams. Typically on the lowest rung of Division I-A conferences, some of the programs have more stability than some power conferences. Howard Schnellenberger nurtured Florida Atlantic from zygote to a share of the conference title in 2007.  Larry Blakeney (2008 Sun Belt coach of the year) is beginning his 19th season at Troy. Steve Roberts is in his eighth season at Arkansas State.

This how an improved Sun Belt stacks up for 2009:

1. Troy -- Blakeney has won eight games each of the last three seasons. That's almost impossible to do in the Sun Belt. Look for at least eight wins this season. Troy might have the league's most loaded team.

You've got to like a linebacking crew named Boris and Bear. That's seniors Boris Lee (126 tackles) and Bear Woods (nine TFLs), who might be among the best pair of linebackers in the country.

Quarterback Levi Brown and receiver Jerrell Jernigan will hook up frequently. Brown threw only three interceptions in 326 attempts. Jernigan caught a school-record 77 passes.

The schedule does Blakeney no favors. The Trojans end the season against Arkansas, Florida Atlantic and Louisiana-Lafayette. If Troy is intact after the Arkansas game, the conference title might be on the line in the final two weeks against the Owls and the Cajuns.

Wait a minute: Bear Woods?

2. Arkansas State -- If a rebuilt offensive line comes around the Red Wolves could upset the Trojans and win the league. Quarterback Corey Leonard broke his own record for total offense in 2008. Tailback Reggie Arnold (1,074 yards) was the league's No. 2 rusher. Eight starters return on defense including Sun Belt defensive player of the year Alex Carrington (10.5 sacks, 19 TFLs) at defensive end.

Texas A&M is still trying to figure out how it lost to Arkansas State. It's pretty simple: The Red Wolves were that good and A&M was that bad.

3. Florida Atlantic -- After a 6-1 finishing kick, the Owls became the first Sun Belt team to win back-to-back bowl games. Will there be a hat trick? It's up to the defense, which returns a bunch of starters but must get better. It finished 110th in sacks.

Any team with Rusty Smith will have a chance. The senior quarterback has thrown for 62 touchdowns and for more than 8,000 yards. 

Returning tight end Jason Harmon went from jock to picking up jocks. An all-conference pick in 2007, Harmon tore his knee up in 2008 spring practice and decided to become a student equipment manager while he rehabbed.

4. Middle Tennessee -- Rick Stockstill might be the next big thing for some I-A power. In three seasons with the Blue Raiders he has won the league, led them to a bowl game and beaten Maryland.

Watch the offense which has 10 starters back and is being led by Tony Franklin, Auburn's deposed offensive coordinator. With no one looking over his shoulder and better pieces to fit his scheme, Franklin should thrive. Get ready Dwight Dasher (38.6 percent passer as a backup), your life is about to change. Dasher is one of the more athletic players in the league. Franklin, though, will emphasize the quick passing attack.

5. Louisiana-Lafayette -- It would seem the Ragin' Cajuns have to slide. They lost Sun Belt player of the year (tailback Tyrell Fenroy) and offensive player of the year (quarterback Michael Desormeaux).  The offensive line, however, is the best in the league with center Chris Fisher (Rimington Trophy watch list) and coach Rickey Bustle's son Brad (Lombardi Award watch list ) at left guard.
 
If Rickey Bustle is relying on the defense to get the Louisiana-Lafayette to a bowl he might be disappointed. The Cajuns defense gave up more than 200 yards per game rushing and was 100th in sacks last season.

6. Florida International -- The provost can't get the all-star basketball coach's name right. Where does that leave Mario Cristobal? After somehow scratching out five victories in '08, the third-year football coach has a bigger task ahead: Getting bowl eligible with a schedule that includes road trips to Alabama, Rutgers and Florida.

Nine starters return on offense but the unit was last in Sun Belt rushing and total offense. That's the good news. A whole new defensive line must be installed. The D gave up at least 31 six times last season.

It is South Florida and Christobal has recruited well. Freshman All-American T.Y. Hilton averaged 180 yards in all-purpose yards.

7. Louisiana-Monroe -- Entering his seventh season, coach Charlie Weatherbie has yet to finish above .500. After losing quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster, the Warhawks could lose eight again (4-8 in '08). A lot will be put on Trey Revell who was impressive in nine games as a backup.

Louisiana-Monroe falls into that Sun Belt trap of having to play too many guarantee games. How do the Warhawks get better when they have to travel to Texas, Arizona State and Kentucky?

8. North Texas -- Things have not gone well for Todd Dodge in his first two seasons since coming from Southlake Carroll High School. Three victories in 24 games have Dodge on the hot seat.

Offense hasn't been a problem. North Texas scored at least 26 points five times last season. Todd's son Riley takes over at quarterback. The pair were deadly in high school. Riley originally committed to Texas but signed with the Mean Green. Now both have to produce.

The defense has to get better. Try to figure out this dichotomy: The D was the worst in I-A last season but is one of the more experienced groups in the Sun Belt this season.

9. Western Kentucky -- The Hilltoppers officially enter Division I-A as its 120th member and are eligible for the Sun Belt title. Welcome to the big time, boys, now accept your whipping. Playing only six conference teams last year, Western Kentucky went 2-10. Against I-A competition outside the Sun Belt, the Hilltoppers went 0-5 and didn't score more than 13 points in any game.

Posted on: December 8, 2008 7:38 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2008 11:22 am
 

Random thoughts on a football Monday

Colt McCoy is the Heisman leader in the prestigious Rocky Mountain News poll. Yours truly voted in it this season.

 Nagurski Award (best defensive player) went to a Big 12 player? Texas' Brian Orakpo was sixth in sacks and 11th in tackles for loss. Okaaay ....

 

CBSSports.com's All-America team (including our defensive player of the year) will be released on Friday.


 Once again, one person didn't vote in the Harris poll. That made it three times this season someone was missing from the 114-person panel.


 Eighteen coaches voted for their own school in the coaches poll. The individual ballots were released  Monday in USA Today. There were some interesting results.

--Oregon's Mike Bellotti voted for Cal (No. 25) but Cal coach Mike Tedford did not.

--North Carolina finished with six points in the coaches poll. Two of them came from coach Butch Davis who voted the Tar Heels No. 24.

--Mike Leach voted Oklahoma No. 1, Texas Tech No. 2 and Texas No. 5. No. 5? That at least equaled the lowest ranking of the Longhorns among the 61 voters.

--Nebraska got all of five points in the poll. Four of them came from coach Bo Pelini who slotted his Huskers No. 21.

--Most overrated team by a coach: Missouri. Gary Pinkel had his Tigers at No. 18. They barely stayed in both polls.

--Three five-loss teams finished with votes -- Kansas, Rutgers and Buffalo.

 Here are the combined top five of the seven Big 12 coaches who voted in the coaches poll. This is an issue, of course, because Texas finished .01816 of a point out of the BCS title game.

 

1. Oklahoma (five first-place votes)
2. Texas (1)
3. Florida (1)
4. Alabama
5. USC

The seven are: Art Briles, Baylor; Mack Brown, Texas; Dan Hawkins, Colorado; Mike Leach, Texas Tech; Gary Pinkel, Missouri; Gene Chizik, Iowa State; Bo Pelini, Nebraska. Only Chizik and Mack Brown had Texas ahead of Oklahoma on their ballots. Briles, Hawkins, Leach, Pinkel and Pelini voted Oklahoma No. 1.

Four coaches voted Texas No. 1 in the coaches poll. Amazingly, one of them wasn't Mack Brown: Chizik, Todd Dodge, North Texas; Rick Neuhiesel, UCLA; Mike Price, Texas-El Paso.

Chizik worked for Brown. Dodge played at Texas. Price played Texas this year was grateful for the Horns coming and filling his stadium. Neuheisel is the head scratcher but a lot of stuff The Rickster does causes us to scratch our heads.

 How my BIG playoff would have looked in 2006 and 2007:

 


2007

Regular season national champion: Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC


Playoff bracket

No. 1 LSU vs. No. 8 West Virginia
No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 5 Missouri
No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 7 Kansas
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 USC

2006

Regular season national champion: Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC


Playoff bracket

No. 1 Florida vs. No. 8 Oklahoma
No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 7 Auburn
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 Boise State

 The old lady next to us offered us a drink, she was guzzling gin out of a thermos. That much I remember from the last time the Cardinals won a division. Back in 1975 they were the St. Louis Cardinals and I was just out of high school.

 

Friend Jack Scanlan and I somehow scored tickets in the bleachers at old Busch Stadium to what was then the biggest football game in The Loo's history.  On a cold, cold day, Jackie Smith caught a touchdown pass and the Cardinals of Jim Hart, Terry Metcalf and Mel Gray beat the Giants 14-6.

It was a bigger deal then than it was today in Arizona. The Cardinals migrated from Chicago in 1960 and spent 27 mostly-frustrating seasons in my hometown. I still follow the Cards enough to know that the Bidwells are still the Bidwells.  Cheap and clueless.

Good on ya to Arizona, though. The city deserves a team to fit that magnificent stadium.

And, no, take the old lady up on her offer. I was only 18, besides I'm a vodka man.

Posted on: October 28, 2008 4:41 pm
 

High at North Texas

North Texas is either the worst I-A program or a crossroads for this country's illegal drug trade.

Wait, it's both.

I'm starting to understand why the (like, wow, far out) Mean (cough! cough!) Green (dude, the ceiling's melting) are 0-8 and has lost nine in a row. At least coach Todd Dodge has talked the students into a fee increase that would fund a new stadium. Seems about right.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: North Texas
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com