Tag:Mountain West
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: November 1, 2010 11:38 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2010 12:16 am
 

Big East possibly discussing expansion on Tuesday

Big East presidents and athletic directors will meet Tuesday to discuss possible expansion, the New York Post reported on Monday.

The Post originally broke the story of Big East's interest in seemingly unlikely expansion candidate TCU. The interest turned out to be reciprocal. If you believe that college football is trending toward the mega-conference, then schools need to get into a BCS conference before the window of opportunity closes.

The Big East is interested in staying relevant by remaining one of those BCS conferences. It received a waiver to remain an automatic qualifier conference by the other BCS commissioners in the past because of television's desire to have those Northeast markets. With conference realignment anything but dead, commissioner John Marinatto wants to protect his league from poachers. Earlier this year, the Big Ten was a threat to the Big East. Rutgers emerged as an attractive addition to the Big Ten and perhaps will remain one in the future. The Big Ten eventually settled on Nebraska -- for now.

TCU is looking for its own relevance. The loss of BYU and Utah has damaged the Mountain West's ongoing attempt to get at least a temporary BCS bid in 2012 and 2013. TCU has shown a willingness to conference hop to improve its profile since being left out of the Big 12 in 1996. Ironically, if the Horned Frogs get a second consecutive bowl bid this year it would have gotten a huge boost from beating resurgent  Baylor. TCU was left out of the Big 12 in favor of Baylor 15 years ago, mostly because of a political power play by then-Texas governor Ann Richards.


"If you're not aligned with an automatic qualifying conference prior to the super realignment you have no shot," CBS College Sports analyst Aaron Taylor said. "At least if you're there to begin with, you're in the topic of conversation and discussion. On paper, you'd think that TCU being in Texas doesn't make sense. But they're the furtherst team to the East in the Mountaint West. They would be the same distance, but West, to the Big East."

Other schools being mentioned for Big East expansion are Houston, Central Florida and either Temple or Villanova from Philadelphia. TCU and Central Florida seem to be the most likely expansion candidates at this point.

Posted on: October 14, 2010 11:25 am
 

What I believe about the BCS

Full disclosure? I'm on the fence about a playoff. It could work, sure. It also could diminish the regular season like it has in college basketball.

As someone who covers it, I like the BCS. The drama, the lunacy, the fuzzy math. It has given us some of the wackiest moments in the sport's recent history ... Texas' campaigning in 2004 to get in ahead of Cal. The lunacy of Nebraska getting in in 2001. LSU fans' continued disbelief that their team actually shared the 2003 title with USC.

Of course, I don't have a Bulldog in the fight so, of course, it's fun.

What I think folks forget is that the BCS is miles better than the old bowl system. Joe Paterno will go to his grave knowing he could have won four more national championships if not for the old-style back-room bowl deals. We've had 13 1 vs. 2 games in the BCS era (since 1998). From 1943 (the first 1 vs. 2 game) to 1997, we had 31. That's an average of one per year (guaranteed, by the way) compared to one every 1.7 years.

I'll never forget Tommy Tuberville canvassing votes in the Orange Bowl press box (2004). I'll always wonder at Nebraska and Miami stepping onto the Rose Bowl turf as "foreigners" in 2001. I lost part of my hearing watching LSU win two titles. Like it or not, the BCS gave us all that.

With the first set of standings being released on Sunday, this is what I believe about the BCS ...

--Every week is a playoff.

True: In the sense that you lose once and you're in danger of being eliminated for the BCS title game. That has made for some great theater over the years.

"I think we've got to preserve this regular season," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said. "No one knows how much, but it would be diminished. Energy would go from the regular season into the playoff."

--A playoff would ruin the regular season.

False: Sorry, Bill, rivalries are rivalries. A playoff doesn't diminish Ohio State-Michigan, Alabama-Auburn or Kansas-Missouri. Three years ago, Missouri beat Kansas to go to No. 1 in the country. KU went to its first BCS bowl (Orange) in almost in 40 years. Missouri played for the Big 12 title before losing to Oklahoma. Both of those teams would have been safely in a 16-team bracket. And it wouldn't have mattered a lick to the rivalry.

--The BCS is about power, not money.

True: The presidents and ADs would rather keep a system where most of the money goes to the power conferences ... than make more money with a playoff. A playoff would mean more trickle down for non-BCS schools who one day might join the power elite. The BCS, without saying it, wants to keep the membership exclusive.

A BCS executive disagrees.

"The Mountain West could never be [an equal] to the Big Ten," the source said. "Not in your grandkids' lifetime, not in my grandkids' lifetime."


--The BCS is in legal danger.

False: I'm no lawyer but it has survived every legal challenge so far. Obama and the Justice Department don't seem to want to get involved. PlayoffPAC sends out a heck of a press release but has yet to make an impression. The Mountain West's trip to Washington D.C. in 2009 seems less compelling now that the league has lost BYU and Utah.

--If the commissioners wanted it today, a playoff could be implemented.

True: No question. If Jim Delany can talk the Big Ten into the BCS and, later conference expansion, he could talk its presidents into a playoff.

--The windfall from a playoff would cure all financial ills.

False: A 1994 NCAA study into a playoff abruptly died when the opinion of Florida State's Derrick Brooks was solicited. Brooks reportedly told officials something like, "What's in it for me?" Any windfall would re-start the pay-the-players argument. Pay the players and you have withholding. If you have withholding, the you lose tax exempt status.

The basketball tournament income is different because it is controlled by the NCAA and parceled out in "units."


--The only playoff that works is a 16-teamer.

True: That way all the conference champions get a berth, along with five at-large teams. That takes care of the non-BCS champions who would suddenly be guaranteed a berth.

Anything else merely extends the argument from who's No. 2 to who's No. 5 (in a four-team playoff) to who's No. 9 (an eight-team playoff).

--A selection committee could pick those five teams.

False: Not all of them. No way. You'd have lawsuits from here to Boise. Look at the trouble we got in weaving voters and computers into the process. Putting, say, 12 people in charge of picking the final few teams of a college football playoff would introduce all kinds of human biases.

--The bowls are a great way to throw away money.

True: As reported in the new book Death to the BCS, schools are lucky to break after having to pay for their own transportation, lodging and having to buy bowl sponsorships and tickets.

"The fact that we didn't go to a bowl game means we actually made money," former Michigan AD Bill Martin said in the book.

--The bowls would die if there was a playoff.

False: How can the likes of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and Humanitarian Bowl be any more meaningless? A playoff doesn't affect that at all. 

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 4, 2010 12:46 pm
 

National notes

Before we begin, here is your daily dose of Les Miles. Actually, it's the only dose of Les Miles you need for this week. If you learn anything more from this postgame video about Saturday's Unlucky 13 vs. Tennessee, let me know.


**A warning going into Week 6 ...

There is a real chance almost halfway through the season of an unprecedented logjam at the top of the BCS -- six undefeated conference champions, four of them in BCS leagues.

It's early but there is some separation and definition to the season after five weeks. Alabama is clearly the class of the SEC. Nebraska and Oklahoma are undefeated in the Big 12, and can't meet until the conference championship game. Ohio State's trip to Wisconsin in a couple of weeks suddenly looks less daunting. Boise State is going to rush through the WAC. TCU and Utah are likely to decide the Mountain West head-to-head. Oregon looks like it is going to run away with the Pac-10.

If all that happens, here is one projection of how the final BCS standings might look. Is too early? Never. The first BCS standings will be released in two weeks.

1. Alabama: With all the talk about the Pac-10's strength this season, the SEC still rules. The Tide are all but assured of playing three more ranked teams -- South Carolina, LSU and Auburn.

2. Oregon: Pollsters are already falling in love with the Ducks despite a dicey strength of schedule to this point.

3. Ohio State: Like Alabama, likely to play three more ranked teams (Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan). If you think the Big Ten's strength will carry the Buckeyes into the top two, think again. Oregon's offense is stronger and will make a stronger case, especially on the road where Jim Tressel seems to play conservatively.

4. Big 12: I am well aware that Kansas, Oklahoma State and Missouri are also undefeated making it five in this league. I'm also projecting that, regardless, this is where an undefeated Big 12 champion would end up if everyone else wins out. Among the five Big 12 undefeateds: Kansas State plays Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Missouri. Missouri plays Kansas State, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Nebraska plays  Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Missouri. Oklahoma plays only Missouri and Okie State. The Cowboys still have Kansas State, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

5. TCU/Utah: The Mountain West race will come down to the teams' Nov. 6 meeting in Salt Lake City. If either finishes undefeated it will most likely finish ahead of an undefeated Boise.

6. Boise State: There was bad, bad news for the Broncos on Sunday. They were jumped in both polls by Oregon for No. 3 in the rankings despite having superior accomplishments and super schedule strength to this point. Oregon has played a I-AA (Portland State) and a team that might as well be I-AA (New Mexico). Boise has played two ranked teams, one in the top 10 on the "road" (Virginia Tech at FedEx Field).

For the previous two weeks Boise, at No. 3, had gained on No. 2 Ohio State and pulled away from the No. 4 team. After one week of WAC play -- against admittedly horrible New Mexico State -- the voters have fallen in love with Oregon and are already damning the Broncos for their schedule.

There are 18 remaining undefeated teams. Five of those (28 percent) are in the Big 12. By the end of this week there will be 16 because of head-to-head meetings (Michigan State-Michigan, Nebraska-Kansas State). Also, by the end of the week a maximum of 11 teams will have the possibility of finishing undefeated because of assured head-to-head games. After this week only four undefeated teams will be alive in the Big 12; three in the Big Ten. Only one undefeated team (at most) will be able to come out of the Mountain West, Pac-10, SEC and WAC.

**Texas is out of the AP poll for the first time in 162 weeks (2000). The streak in the coaches' poll had lasted 192 weeks. Texas, 3-2, still has games left against Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M meaning it could be headed for its worst season since before Mack Brown arrived in 1997.

**TCU posted its first road shutout of an opponent in Gary Patterson's 10 years as head coach, 27-0 at Colorado State. That's significant because Patterson is a defensive wizard whose teams have finished tops in total defense each of the last two seasons.

**Speaking of the Horned Frogs, the interest in the Big East is apparently real and reciprocal. TCU could join the league as soon as next season. One reason: There is no financial penalty to leave the Mountain West.

**Poor Jaime Hill. The BYU defensive coordinator was fired after Friday's loss at Utah State. You expect that in the SEC, but at BYU? Hill joined the staff from the CFL in 2006 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2008. BYU, 1-4, is off to its worst start in almost four decades.

Some other d-coordinators who might want to watch their backs:

Tyrone Nix, Mississippi. The Rebs got upset by Jacksonville State giving up 49 points and got beat by Vandy, 28-14. Had to hold off Kentucky 42-35 on Saturday. Rebels allowing almost 33 points per game.

Doug Mallory, New Mexico. Not really fair because his future is tied to embattled head coach Mike Locksley. The Lobos have allowed a I-A-most 35 touchdowns and 52.6 points per game.

Co-coordinators Keith Patterson/Paul Randolph, Tulsa. The Hurricane gave up 51 points at East Carolina, losing on the last play of the game. Oklahoma State put up 65 on Tulsa which is 106th in pass efficiency defense.

Ray McCartney, Wake Forest. His defense has given up 68 points to Stanford, 24 touchdowns in five games and 36.8 points per game.

**Team Schizo: Washington has lost to the worst BYU team in years, got run off its home field by Nebraska and now has beaten USC in consecutive seasons.

**Team Schizo II: Kansas lost to Baylor by almost seven touchdowns, 55-7, in Waco. Not even the locals care about Baylor, a Big 12 doormat. There were an estimated 15,000 empty seats at Floyd Casey Stadium. It's bad when your team is intimidated by the Bears.

"When I went out there, they were bigger than I thought,” KU linebacker Steven Johnson told the Kansas City Star. “I’m just like, ‘What in the world are they eating?’ ”

Posted on: September 28, 2010 7:47 pm
 

National notes

What the hell happened to the Big East?

No one was predicting a national championship this season, but things were looking up weren't they? Pittsburgh had a bonafide Heisman candidate in Dion Lewis. UConn was going to beat Michigan and begin the end for Rich Rod. West Virginia had Noel Devine. Cincinnati wasn't 12 wins good, but it was 10 wins good. Right?

The only thing good about the league at this point is that September is ending. At least the Big East can start 0-0 in October. It was 1-10 against BCS conference schools in September. Every team in the league has at least one loss. There are no ranked teams. UConn has changed quarterbacks. There has been an APB sent out for Lewis. Syracuse? There's hope. The Orange are 3-1.

Remember, this was the league that Paul Tagliabue thought was worth saving.

Here's what went (really, really) wrong.

Brian Kelly left Cincinnati. The Bearcats were thinking the worst and hoping for the best. Turns out that Kelly did have the magic touch to get a mid-major into a BCS bowl. It also turns out that the growing pains under Butch Jones were going to be significant.  A 1-3 start means the Bearcats have one less loss than they have had in last two seasons combined (four).

Rutgers never capitalized. It was almost four years ago that Rutgers lit up the nation and New York with that magic win over Louisville. The Scarlet Knights didn't follow through to win the Big East and capture that BCS berth. Greg Schiano keeps recruiting well but Rutgers has lost that Cinderella the program had. It dropped to 2-1 Saturday with a loss to North Carolina.

Ditto for South Florida. Wasn't it just three years ago that the Bulls rose to the No. 2 in the country? South Florida was a fun story for a while under fiery coach Jim Leavitt. Then they always seemed to fade in November. Leavitt got sideways with the administration and may have struck a player. A lawsuit trying to dispel that assertion is what takes most of his time lately. Skip Holtz was the right hire but it's going to take time. Actually, the Bulls might have the brightest outlook after one month. They stuck with Florida for a half and should be 4-1 heading to Morgantown on Oct. 14.

Pittsburgh underachieved again. The Panthers were a prohibitive favorite to win the league in the preseason. They still might do it but have already lost twice. Thursday's four-touchdown rout by Miami was embarrassing. There will be no 10-win repeat.

Four of the league's eight teams have switched coaches in the last two years.
Remember, continuity is a good thing.

There's always Temple and/or Villanova. The two schools have been rumored to join the league as a way of bolstering its major-market profile if and when the Big Ten gets the expansion jones again. There was a report that the league may be interested in TCU. Makes sense for both sides, sort of. If TCU loses once in the Mountain West, it could be out of the BCS running. If it loses three times (non-conference games) while playing in the Big East, it could still get a BCS bowl.

None of that fixes what's wrong now. 

The top 10 September teams (No preseason polls involved. Strictly based on accomplishments to date)

1. Alabama -- beat two ranked teams, one top 10 team on the road. No drop off after losing nine defensive starters.
2. Boise State -- beat two ranked teams, one on the "road" (Virginia Tech). No drop off after undefeated season.
3. Stanford -- Most underrated team in the country. Andrew Luck could win the Heisman. Cardinal could win the Pac-10.
4. Auburn -- Complete team now with Cam Newton.
5. Nebraska -- Defense alone could get it to national championship game.
6. Oregon -- Scorched the earth until Arizona State, then Devils handed them a game by turning it over seven times.
7. Arizona -- Win over Iowa was biggest in years.
8. NC State -- Won twice impressively on the road (Central Florida, Georgia Tech). Suddenly an ACC favorite.
9. Ohio State -- Against the only upright opponent showed flaws but still picked off four Miami passes. Still waiting for Big Ten sked.
10. Michigan -- Can't argue with 4-0 for the second straight season. Denard Robinson emerging as Heisman favorite.

The Quarter Pole

(The best after four games. Team and player)

Best of the Big East: West Virginia, Jordan Todman (UConn)
Best of the Big 12: Nebraska, Taylor Martinez (Nebraska)
Best of the Big Ten: Ohio State, Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State)
Best of the ACC: NC State, Russell Wilson (NC State)
Best of the SEC: Alabama, Ryan Mallett (Arkansas)
Best of Conference USA: East Carolina, Bryce Beall (Houston)
Best of the Pac-10: Oregon, Andrew Luck (Stanford)
Best of the Mountain West: TCU, Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State)
Best of the Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee, Jerrel Jernigan (Troy)
Best of the WAC: Boise State, Kellen Moore (Boise State)
Best of the MAC: Temple, Bernard Pierce (Temple)

Posted on: September 28, 2010 5:10 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 10:07 pm
 

Report: Big East interest in TCU

Citing anonymous sources, the New York Post is reporting that the Big East is interested in adding TCU.

Forget the geographic ramifications. TCU plays in the Mountain West Conference, but is nowhere near mountains in the west. The Big East is probably willing to do anything, including adding a school from Texas, to keep itself relevant. The names of Temple and Villanova have already been tossed around as future additions, at least in football.

That said, I guess this makes some sort of sense if the Big East believes it can add a market in Dallas-Fort Worth. TCU basketball is, at best, struggling. Both entities, TCU and the Big East, would be desperate to have access to an automatic BCS bowl berth in the future. That would be a heck of commute, though, for the Rutgers volleyball team.

TCU coach Gary Patterson said via text he was "surprised" at the report. A message left for TCU AD Chris Del Conte was not immediately returned.

Posted on: September 14, 2010 2:20 pm
 

WAC sues Fresno, Nevada and Mountain West

It's still not clear, though, where Boise State stands on this.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson said Tuesday that Boise is not a party to the lawsuit that is trying to force Fresno and Nevada to stay through the 2011 season. But since it will not officially join the Mountain West until July 1, is it not a defendant in the suit either. At least that's the way Benson sees it. That's called legal limbo, folks. It's also good for Boise unless you consider that some of their monies contributed to the WAC conference coffers (i.e. bowl money, dues, basketball tournament revenue, TV revenue) will be used to fund the legal challenge.

Obviously, the WAC needs until 2012 to attract other members to remain a viable conference. Benson said that by 2012, the WAC could have as many as 12 teams. It currently has six. In 2012, the NCAA is increasing the minimum number, from six to seven, of conference teams needed to retain an automatic berth in the NCAA basketball tournament, Benson said.

There isn't much doubt that the WAC can lure teams to replace Fresno and Nevada, but it needs time. There are scores of I-AA programs out there that would kill to join the WAC. But a current NCAA moratorium on I-AA teams jumping up to I-A expires in June. That means the soonest a current I-AA program could join the WAC as a full I-A member would be 2013.

If the WAC doesn't win this suit, it will be OK in terms of BCS and NCAA Tournament automatic qualifying status, Benson said. At least in the short term.

"We are not expecting that any of this will jeopardize any of our automatic qualifying status," Benson said.

He also said the WAC will remain part of the BCS through the current four-year deal that began this year. The BCS is compromised of all of Division I-A. The WAC does not have an automatic bid to a BCS bowl for its champion. That's part of the reason Boise is moving to the Mountain West next season.

Benson added that he doesn't believe that Fresno and Nevada have begun scheduling Mountain West contests for 2011.

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