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Tag:Mountain West
Posted on: October 14, 2011 5:49 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 7:51 pm
 

CUSA, MWC consolidate into one for football

Conference USA and the Mountain West announced Friday a football consolidation of their combined 22 schools "in one large association."

The plan is for the champion of each conference to then play in a championship game perhaps as soon as 2012. The unique, first-of-its kind arrangement will span five time zones and reach from the East Coast to Hawaii. The arrangement had been discussed by the two leagues for more than a year and even had its own new conference name, at least in this blog.

There are no assurances that the champion of the new consolidation will get a BCS bid moving forward, a high-ranking BCS source said.

The current BCS deal with ESPN extends through the 2013 regular season and 2014 bowls.

"Who knows whether there will even be a BCS [beyond 2013]," said Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky. "There are some folks who believe if you play at the highest level you deserve it, regardless if you're champion of a particular conference. We will stand up as one champion and speak with one voice and expect our champion to be recognized at the highest level. "

How long the association stays at 22 schools is up for debate. CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy reported Friday that the Big East is poised to invite four schools, three of them from Conference USA and the Mountain West -- Boise State and Air Force from the Mountain West, Central Florida from Conference USA and Navy, an independent. 

"I believe Boise and Air Force are gone [to the Big East]," said one source familiar with the Mountain West.

If that's the case, there are plenty of schools left over for the "Big Country". The Mountain West has been around since 1999. The league is currently at eight members, but is losing TCU after this season to the Big 12. It will grow to 10 in 2012 after gaining Hawaii (football only), Nevada and Fresno State from the WAC. The 12-team Conference USA has been in existence since 1995.

The new consolidation could grow and shrink with ease because of its size. The consolidation most likely will debut in 2013, even though 2012 remains possible. There will need to be a change in NCAA legislation allowing the two CUSA championship game participants to play 14 games. CUSA will continue to have its own conference championship game before that champion meets the Mountain West champion.

The current NCAA limit is 13 for regular-season games.

"I don't think it's nutty at all," Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said of the new arrangement. "It's proactive. It's bold in some way. We're trying to position our members in the best light possible."

On its face, the move seems to be part of a gold rush for an automatic BCS bid that could be up for grabs. The Big East holds one of those six automatic bids through the 2013 season. However, that bid is in danger with the Big East down to six members after the loss of TCU, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

It is trying to rebuild with the addition of Central Florida, Air Force Navy and Boise State.

"We've got 22, and they're at 6," Banowksy said. "I will tell you there is room for everybody in this college football world."

One industry source said there are only four schools with television appeal among the 22 in the new consolidation. The Big East would be taking two of them, Air Force and Boise. SMU and Houston are the others.

The same source that the Big East's addition of Air Force, Navy, Central Florida and Boise would make up for the loss of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and TCU in terms of football, markets and television appeal.

Thompson said the Air Force and Boise presidents participated in the vote to form the new consolidation.

"They both mentioned they were in contact with the Big East, but did not elaborate," Thompson said.

Banowsky said he does not expect to lose Central Florida, one of the largest universities in the country.

It the modern world of cutthroat college athletics, the Big East's move could essentially keep Conference USA and Mountain West out of the BCS until at least the 2018 season.

"They [Mountain West/Conference USA] could still merge but the value is gone," one source said before Friday's announcement.

"It's all about inventory and it's all about programming" Thompson said. ""Better is better and more is better in the television industry."



















Posted on: September 28, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: September 28, 2011 12:33 pm
 

Neinas "key consultant" for SD-based firm

Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas told CBSSports.com he will not be working for an emerging San Diego-based consulting firm while working for the conference.

According to Sports Business Journal, Neinas is a "key consultant" for JMI Sports, which oversaw the planning and building of Petco Park in San Diego

Neinas is among 17 consultants in JMI's new college division according to SBJ.  They are all current or former college administrators. That list includes Texas AD DeLoss Dodds, Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky and Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson.

Neinas said Friday he would not be consulting or doing coaching searches while working for the Big 12, aside from an active job he had with Conference USA and the Mountain West that did not conflict with his Big 12 duties. Neinas runs Neinas Sports Services, one of the most influential head-hunting companies in college athletics.

The story said the consultants would be paid on a project-by-project basis.

Neinas officially takes office on Monday. He is currently meeting with Big 12 ADs in Dallas.  

Former San Diego State AD Jeff Schemmel is JMI college division's new managing director. The University of Houston has been signed as a client according to SBJ. 

Posted on: September 25, 2011 5:08 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2011 7:39 pm
 

UNM's Locksley first casualty of the season

New Mexico coach Mike Locksley has become the first coaching casualty of the season. The Lobos' third-year coach was fired Sunday, a source told CBSSports.com. The firing comes less than a day after a youth was arrested for DWI while driving what was reportedly a car registered to Locksley.

Locksley was 2-26 in less than 2 1/2 seasons, his latest loss coming in overtime Saturday to FCS Sam Houston State. When AD Paul Krebs hired him in December 2008, Locksley was a hot coaching prospect having helped lead Illinois to the Rose Bowl. Locksley was known as an ace recruiter. Prior to his first season, he went to directly to a familiar area attempting to stock the New Mexico roster -- Washington, D.C.

In 2007, D.C. native Arrelious Benn was the Big Ten freshman of the year for Illinois. Benn was among at least nine players Locksley landed from the D.C. area from 2005-2008.

Things quickly went South in Albuquerque. Before his first season, Locksley was hit with a sex and age discrimination lawsuit by an administrative assistant. In September 2009, he was reprimanded after an altercation with an assistant. Locksley was suspended for 10 days.

On Saturday, recruit Joshua Butts was arrested for aggravated DWI, a minor in possession of alcohol and driving without a license.New Mexico does not believe Butts is a recruitable athlete which could complicate matters with the NCAA.

One final piece of fallout from Locksley's regime: The losing may be a huge contributing factor in keeping the Mountain West from an automatic BCS berth in 2012 and 2013. The league is currently at the end of a four-year BCS evaluation period. The league reportedly meets two of the three benchmarks needed for automatic qualification status and may have to ask the BCS for a waiver going forward.

The Mountain West is one of five conferences without an automatic BCS bid.

Posted on: September 19, 2011 8:48 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 11:09 pm
 

MWC, CUSA discuss first super, duper conference

Don't you dare try to copyright the latest (possible} conference on the horizon.

I'm calling it the Big Country.

CBSSports.com has learned that merger talks have heated up again between the Mountain West and Conference USA on a possible 22-to-24-team combination that would span the country and result in an automatic BCS bowl berth for the winner of the amalgamation.

As CBSSports.com initially reported, officials from each conference first discussed the arrangement last year. Each league would produce individual champions who would then play off in a championship game for the BCS berth. Officials from each conference have met recently on the subject CBSSports.com also learned.

There are complications. The Mountain West is still waiting to learn if it will receive temporary BCS status in 2012 and 2013 as a result of meeting a series of benchmarks over a four-year period that concludes after this season. Aside from that, with conference realignment in full swing, college athletics' first super, duper conference just might work. Assuming the remains of the Big East and Big 12 merge, there will be one less automatic BCS berth. The Big Country snatch that up, spanning from the Carolinas, Florida and Mississippi to Texas and the West Coast and Hawaii.

There were no details on how the champions in the individual conferences would be decided. Conference USA is a 12-team league, that is decided by a championship game between the two division winners. The Mountain West is currently an eight-team league that will be 10 teams in 2012. It is losing TCU to the Big East next year and getting Nevada, Hawaii and Fresno from the WAC. It's not clear if the conference would or could expand further to 12 teams.

"It would strengthen our league and give us more television sets," said an administrator from the possible Big Country. "I think it's a big picture thing for us."

Using the current configuration, think of a Boise State-Central Florida Big Country champ game for a berth in, say, Orange or Fiesta Bowl. Not sure how the Orange or Fiesta feel about that. That's another blog for another time.
Posted on: July 25, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 8:43 pm
 

NCAA calls summit re: college networks

The NCAA has called an Aug. 22 summit to discuss collegiate networks, CBSSports.com learned Monday afternoon.

Texas received a letter dated Monday from Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs, inviting it to participate in an "educational summit regarding NCAA member and conference networks broadcasting youth sports." The growing issue of broadcasting high school games has become big enough for the main stakeholders to discuss the issue. The meeting will include representatives from Texas, BYU, the Big Ten, Notre Dame, the Pac-12 and the Mountain West. All of those entities have or are starting collegiate networks.

The move almost assures that The Longhorn Network will launch Aug. 26 without broadcasting high school games at least at the beginning of the season. The issue has become the latest hot-button offseason item in college sports because of Texas A&M's concern over Texas gaining a recruiting advantage.

"I'm stunned [at some of this]," said Texas AD DeLoss Dodds. "We've been saying the same thing from the beginning of this. We are not and will never do anything [to violate rules]. I'm a little surprised people would be concerned about us doing something."

Dodds added that the Big 12 ADs will meet Aug. 1 to discuss the issue. Those ADs, minus Texas, are still considering starting their own network. The issues are significant and confusing enough that the NCAA seemingly hasn't been able to rule on the legality of Texas broadcasting high school games.

"If you read Sports Business Journal or the New York Times, you'll see that viewership is up but attendance is down," said A&M AD Bill Byrne. "I'm worried about that. Everybody has a big flat screen. I've got one at my house. If it's a bad day, you don't have to go out to the ballgame, you can stay home. I worry about overexposure." 

Dodds also told CBSSports.com that Notre Dame may be interested in starting its own network after speaking to ND AD Jack Swarbrick.
Posted on: February 8, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Why the NFL loves the ACC

Gil Brandt loves to analyze the draft. At times, Gil Brandt is the draft. The former vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys (1960-89) was responsible for evaluating and drafting several hall of famers in his career.

For the last eight years he has been a draft expert and personnel guru for NFL.com. For the purposes of Tuesday's ACC story, he shared with us some exclusive statistics regarding the conference's strength in NFL war rooms. Since 2000, the ACC is second only to the SEC in total number of players drafted. Highlighting that is a stat Brandt calls a "value index". He assigns a number for each player drafted. For example ...

Schools get 10 points for each player drafted in the top 10; 11 through 30, eight points; 31-60, six points; 61-100, four points; 101-150, two points; 150-plus, one point. Here is the ACC's individual players drafted and value index from 2001-2010 ...

Miami, 62 players drafted/215 VI; Florida State, 51/149; Virginia Tech, 47/106; Virginia, 29/73; Maryland, 26/73; North Carolina State, 27/72; Clemson, 29/70; North Carolina 27/63; BC, 19/58; Georgia Tech, 22/55; Wake Forest, 16/36; Duke, 1/1.

Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State and Maryland won ACC titles in those 10 years.

This is where it gets even more interesting for the ACC in the butt-kicking draft department ...

--From 2001-2010, seven current ACC teams are in the top 26 in Brandt's value index: 1. Miami; 6. Florida State; 12. Virginia Tech; T22. Virginia; Maryland; 24. NC State; 25. Clemson.

The top three probably aren't a surprise but certainly Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina State and Clemson being in the mix raises some eyebrows. During that time Virginia produced the likes of Heath Miller (30th overall, 2005), D'Brickashaw Ferguson (fourth overall, 2006), Chris Long (second overall, 2008) and Eugene Moore (eighth overall, 2009). Maryland notables included E.J. Henderson (second round, 2003), Shawne Merriman (12th overall, 2005), Vernon Davis (sixth overall, 2006) and Darius Heyward-Bey (seventh overall, 2009). NC State draft highlights include Philip Rivers (fourth overall, 2004) and Mario Williams (first overall, 2006). In 2006, the Pack had three total first-round picks. Clemson had Gaines Adams (fourth overall, 2007) and C.J. Spiller (ninth overall, 2010). 

--From 2000-2009, 31 schools have produced 50.8 percent of all selections, essentially a quarter of Division I-A. ACC schools finished second (Miami), fourth (Florida State), ninth (Virginia Tech) and 26th (Virginia) in total picks.

--In that same span, 14 schools produced 56 percent of the top 10 picks. Miami, Florida State, Virginia and NC State are among that group.

--Nineteen schools produced 61 percent of the top 30 draftees. The ACC finished first (Miami), fourth (Florida State) and 16th (Boston College).

--Twenty schools produced 53.3 percent of the top 60 draftees. The ACC finished first (Miami), fourth (Florida State), 14th (Virginia Tech) and 15th (BC).

--Twenty-two schools produced more than half (50.7 percent) of the top 100 picks. The ACC finished first (Miami), fourth (Florida State), 15th (Virginia Tech) and 17th (Maryland).

What does all this mean? The three newest ACC members (Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech) haven't added much in terms in pro talent compared to their previous accomplishments. A large portion of Miami's numbers above came before it joined the ACC in 2004. From 2005 through 2010, Miami has averaged 4.5 draftees per year and has only six first-rounders (none since 2008). From 1999-2004, Miami averaged 7.18 draftees and had a staggering 21 first-rounders. Boston College post-expansion: 1.83 draftees per year; pre-expansion, 2.33. Virginia Tech, has seen its NFL production increase only slightly since joining the league -- 29 drafted from 2005-2010, 25 drafted from 1999-2004. 

--Another strange stat courtesy of the ACC. Through 2010, the conference leads the NFL in linebackers (including those on injured reserve, practice squads and physically unable to perform lists.)

1. ACC, 53; 2. Big Ten, 49; 3. SEC, 46; 4. Big 12, 35; 5. Pac-10, 31; 6. Mountain West, 20; 7. Big East, 17; 8. WAC, 8; 9. Sun Belt, 7; 10. MAC, 6; 11. Conference USA, 5. 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: January 25, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2011 3:33 pm
 

Latest conference alignment tremors

Conference USA raised some eyebrows earlier this month when it signed a new deal with Fox Sports Media Group for $7 million per year through 2015-16. That may be the reason why the Mountain West is reportedly targeting Utah State and San Jose State as expansion candidates. CUSA possibilities for the MWC -- SMU, Texas-El Paso and Houston -- are now more than happy in their current league with a new network deal. CUSA also has a new side deal with current partner CBS College Sports. The combined deals represent approximately a 47 percent increase in broadcast revenue. ($14 million, up from $9.5 million according to reports).

As always in conference realignment, it's better to track the networks before tracking the teams. The government's approval of the NBC/Comcast deal last week seems to have caused a mini-tremor in conference realignment.

The Mountain West met again Tuesday, in part, to discuss whether to add two more teams in order to make it more attractive to bidding networks. Comcast, a partner in the league's network, is thought to be a player in a deal that could be worth $15 million per year over an undisclosed period of years. ESPN also may be interested, which is significant because the conference at one time made a conscious decision to move away from the cable giant. A few years ago, the Mountain West presidents told commissioner Craig Thompson to move off of ESPN after tiring of having weeknight game times dictated to them.

The Mountain West's network  that resulted from that move away from ESPN hasn't turned a profit yet.  Comcast, a partner with CBS College Sports in the MWC, has an out clause in the deal if both Utah schools depart the league, according to a source. BYU is going independent. Utah is joining the Pac-12. The current network deal with CBS College and Comcast is worth $120 million over 10 years. The contract ends in 2016.

That's why the MWC may be looking to increase its value. In addition to the loss of BYU and Utah, TCU is bolting for the Big East in 2012. The addition of Hawaii, Fresno State, Nevada and Boise State has made the league look more like the old WAC than a new Mountain West. The expansion to a 12-team league, though, would mean the addition of a conference championship game.

The MWC board released a statement Tuesday intimating it will stay at 10 teams for the time being. The conference presidents are next scheduled to meet in June, although they could get together at the MWC Tournament in March.

It's interesting that one conference moved away from ESPN (Conference USA) while another (the MWC) may be moving toward it. Bottom line: There is plenty of money out there, even for the non-BCS leagues. Texas last week announced a $300 million, 20-year deal with ESPN for The Longhorn Network. The ACC doubled its money last year in signing a long-term deal with ESPN (12 years, $1.86 billion). That perhaps left money for Fox, a bidder for the ACC, to hook up with Conference USA.

Comcast is a national communications company headquartered in Philadelphia. For college sports purposes, it is a regional cable giant that also owns E! Entertainment Television, the Golf Channel and VERSUS. There has been speculation ever since Comcast struck the NBC Universal deal what that would mean for sports properties everywhere. For example, what will happen next with the Pac-12 and Big 12 are next in line waiting to cash in on new network deals? Consider this passage from a USA Today story regarding Comcast:  "The [NBC Universal] deal fulfills a longtime goal of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts to turn his family-controlled company into a global media colossus."

Both the Pac-12 and Big 12 will begin negotiating this year with a new-looking product. The Pac-12 added Utah and Colorado. The Big 12 slimmed down to 10 teams after the loss of Colorado and Nebraska. ESPN and Fox made financial promises to the Big 12 last spring that eventually allowed Texas to stay in and keep the league together.

The Big Ten and SEC remain the big dogs in the college television landscape. The SEC finalized a $3 billion, 15-year deal with ESPN and CBS in July 2009. The Big Ten Network continues to be a force after turning a profit slightly more than three years ago.


Meanwhile, losing the San Jose State and Utah State could effectively kill the WAC. The WAC already is trying to reorganize after the loss of Boise State, Nevada, Hawaii and Fresno State to the Mountain West.


Posted on: January 2, 2011 6:46 pm
 

TCU's legacy both BCS and non-BCS

On the same day TCU received its first Rose Bowl bid, its stadium was demolished.

The two occurrences on Dec. 5 are actually related. In a strange way, the Frogs were in Saturday's Rose Bowl because Amon G. Carter Stadium was being demolished. The win over Wisconsin was a culmination of events that might have elevated TCU to being the best non-automatic qualifier in existence.

Part of the stadium was torn down as part of a $100 million facilities upgrade. Call it an overall upgrade, the biggest in school history. With the Rose Bowl win and a 13-0 season, TCU is on the edge of breaking into college football's elite. It certainly has passed Utah and Boise as the best non-BCS programs of the BCS era (since 1998). World's tallest midget status is a bit meaningless now, though, with TCU joining the Big East in 2012.

It will leave behind quite a legacy before starting a new one as one of the game's haves. Gary Patterson is a defensive savant but his teams have been tremendously balanced. Departing senior Jeremy Kerley was a dual threat as a receiver and returner. Quarterback Andy Dalton leaves as the winningest active quarterback in the game. His placement will be either Casey Pachall, a redshirt freshman, or Matt Brown, an Allen, Texas star who changed his commitment from Arizona in February.

Only 10 starters return with the loss of 26 seniors in 2011. But Patterson has been good at replenishing and rebuilding. Most of the 2010 recruiting class redshirted. Only three true freshmen played any significant time. This season marked the program's fifth in the last six with at least 11 wins. The residual gift from those victories will benefit both the Mountain West and Big East. BCS executive director Bill Hancock confirmed Saturday night that the leagues will each get credit for TCU's records in 2010 and 2011.

A four-year evaluation period for automatic BCS conference qualification has been adjusted to match up with TV contracts. That's why TCU will most likely help the Big East keep its BCS status and aid the Mountain West in getting its shot. If the MWC meets a series  of benchmarks it will get temporary automatic qualifying status in 2012 and 2013. That would help sustain the league despite the losses of Utah and BYU next season and TCU in 2012. Boise State joins the MWC in 2011. Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii (football only) will arrive in 2012.

As TCU AD Chris Del Conte said, that wasn't the MWC that TCU had joined or wanted to be part of in the future.

Some dope tweeted Sunday about TCU's weak schedule. While the MWC has been damaged by defections, it is on the brink of BCS automatic qualification because of the accomplishments of TCU, BYU and Utah. The Frogs have actively sought a tougher schedule in the Big East. Meanwhile, in the non-con Boise State comes to Fort Worth in 2011. Oklahoma and Virginia follow in 2012. There's a home and home with LSU in 2013 and 2014.

Let's see Ohio State (Marshall, Ohio and Eastern Michigan this season in the non-con) match that.

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