Posted on: August 20, 2010 3:41 pm
Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson just told me there is nothing to the Houston speculation.
"I haven't had any communication with Houston," he said.
There had been increasing speculation that Houston was headed to the MWC from Conference USA. Thompson did meet with CUSA commissioner Britton Banowsky on Thursday. He called it a "think tank" session. Out of the brainstorming came an idea to perhaps stage a BCS play-in game between the two conferences.
There was also the discussion that 22 or 23-team partnership, short of a merger, where the two conferences could market themselves together. He also said that there is language in the The Mtn. network contract with CBS College Sports and Comcast regarding BYU and Utah. He would not be specific about the viability of The Mtn. going forward without one or both in the Mountain West.
Posted on: August 19, 2010 11:39 am
Edited on: August 19, 2010 3:17 pm
If you don't believe BYU as an independent is a done -- and a lot of people don't -- consider another Mountain West option.
With BYU, the MWC is currently at 11 teams. There are still questions about whether financially and athletically (putting its minor sports in the West Coast Conference) BYU is viable as an independent. In that scenario, the MWC isn't going stay at 11. Hello, Houston, maybe Texas-El Paso from Conference USA which could make it a 12-team league with two six-team divisions. The drawback is, as usual, money. Current MWC members are making a paltry $1.5 million in television revenue. Conference USA makes about the same amount.
CUSA also has seven bowl tie-ins compared to five for the MWC. I know for a fact that UTEP doesn't want to lean West for its fans' sake. It likes being in the Mountain and Central time zone. Don't know about Houston.
Posted on: August 18, 2010 3:42 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2010 4:26 pm
BYU football has gone independent in football, the Salt Lake City Tribune is reporting.
Essentially, one of the country's foremost football factories was forced into a decision by the dynamics of the BCS era: Was it easier chasing a BCS bowl by winning the Mountain West or by finishing in the top 14 in the BCS?
The key words are "eligibility" and "automatic". Non-BCS league champions get an automatic berth by finished in the top 12 or top 16 if it finishes above a BCS conference champion. Any team that does not win its conference (and independents besides Notre Dame) is eligible for a BCS bowl if it finishes in the top 14. BYU finished with its highest final BCS ranking last season, 14th, and was eligible. But, it was upstaged by Florida, Iowa and Boise who were all ranked higher and were taken by BCS bowls.
Top 14 only guarantees eligibility for BYU as an independent. Other than that, it would have to finish No. 1 or No. 2 to play in a BCS bowl.
So what's better, conference or independence? BYU may have answered the question by breaking up the Mountain West and keeping all the money for itself. No one knows for sure if the MWC is breaking up but it is certainly on life support with only eight teams and little around it to bolster those automatic BCS hopes.
At the root of BYU's decision is the need for more television exposure. The league's decision to get off ESPN a few years ago and start its own network has had questionable results. The decision, ironically driven by the BYU president at the time, was based on Mountain West teams playing a lot of weekday games. The conference presidents wanted to play more on Saturday even if it meant leaving ESPN. The four-year-old mtn. has yet to turn a profit.
As an independent, BYU can create its own TV-friendly schedule. The school also has its own HD network, BYU TV.
The paper is also reporting that Boise State could return to the WAC. There is no buyout for Boise leaving the Mountain West at this point. Certainly the Mountain West's bid to get automatic BCS access in 2012 and 2013 is all but dead.
Once Utah went to the Pac-10 that put the Mountain West in bad shape for its BCS bid. Each program charts a path of least resistance to what it considers "success." BYU has won a national championship, ironically, in the old bowl system. In the BCS era, it has been upstaged by Utah and TCU in its own conference and Boise State from its region.
If it is going to keep falling short of a BCS bowl, it might as well keep all the money while doing it. BYU reportedly will place all its other sports in the WAC.
Boise was a de facto independent in the WAC because it was so far above its conference competition. The top-12 automatic spot for non-BCS conference champions goes only to the highest-ranked team, even if more than one are in the top 12.
Look for BYU to schedule other independents (including Notre Dame) plus Utah. It can still play its old WAC rivals as well. Heck, a similar schedule has worked for Boise.
Posted on: August 18, 2010 10:58 am
So far it's only anonymously sourced, but there are multiple rumors and reports that BYU is considering leaving the Mountain West to become an independent.
BYU would be prompted to leave the 11-year-old league after Utah bolted to the Pac-10 this summer. BYU may feel that the conference will ultimately be diminished financially and competitively without Utah. With a worldwide following, BYU could keep all its revenue becoming a mini-Notre Dame: Playing football independently and putting its other sports in the WAC.
BYU pulling out would severely damage the Mountain West which thought this summer it hard shored up its BCS chances by grabbing Boise State (beginning in 2011). With Utah leaving for the Pac-10, the Mountain West would be down to eight teams. BYU was not invited to the Pac-10 because it made little sense for the league to get two teams from the Salt Lake City market. Also, there were academic concerns about BYU compared to other Pac-10 institutions. It is neither a member of the elite Association of American Universities nor a highly rated Carnegie research institution. Seven of the 10 current Pac-10 members are both. The other three are either one or the other. Utah, for example, is rated by Carnegie.
The MWC is hoping for automatic BCS qualifier status in 2012 and 2013. The Mountain West is currently being evaluated (along with all other I-A leagues) on a four-year rotating basis. The BCS is halfway through that evaluation process.
"You've got to solve the non-football side of the equation," Swarbrick said, "but it can work. I don't know if there will be others but it wouldn't shock me because the landscape is so fluid."
Swarbrick added he had not spoken to any particular school about it becoming an independent. There are currently only three independents in Division I-A -- Notre Dame, Army and Navy.
This is what BYU AD Tom Holmoe told the Salt Lake City Tribune in July:
"Independence is an option that obviously has been out there. We will look at everything. We have looked at everything. There are pros and cons to the Pac-10, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Mountain West Conference and independence. With all these things there are pros and cons.
"So what you have to do is you have to weigh those and measure them against what? What is right for BYU. And not for what is right for BYU in the year 2010, but what is right for BYU into the future.
Posted on: August 9, 2010 11:20 am
Edited on: August 9, 2010 1:52 pm
A former BYU lineman, now working in radio, is kicked out of Utah practice. Are we a bit paranoid, Utes?
Also, the infamous Byron Hout talks. Who is Byron Hout? The guy who touched off the near-riot last year between Oregon and Boise State. Coach Chris Peterson waited 11 months to let Hout explain why he baited Oregon's LeGarrette Blount last season.
Posted on: February 23, 2010 11:13 am
(This is the first of an irregular offseason series breaking down the schedules of the BCS leagues.)
The league has won only two BCS bowl games sporting the worst winning percentage (.166) of any BCS league in those major bowls. Miami and Florida State haven't stepped up. In fact, each has shrunk from superpower status. Virginia Tech, an afterthought in the original expansion, has won the most titles (three) since 2004. While Clemson and Florida State are rebuilding, Maryland and Virginia have slipped.
Butch Davis has all the coaching chops but North Carolina hasn't made a dramatic move under him yet. The best stories will be Year One at FSU A.B. (After Bobby). Jimbo Fisher enters his first season as head coach with mounds of pressure on him.
Virginia Tech has the best program. Georgia Tech had last season's best team. Coach Paul Johnson is making everyone adjust to his option offense. In his second season, the Jackets broke through their first ACC title since 1998.
Game of the year: (non-conference) Miami at Ohio State, Sept. 11. In a rematch of the 2002 national championship game, Miami puts its renovation project on display against a national championship contender. Figure on this one being at night with 105,000 lubed up Buckeyes wanting blood. Why not? Ohio State has won 50 of its last 52 non-conference games at The Shoe. The winning team's quarterback could come out of this as one the Heisman frontrunner.
The Canes don't want to be pushed around by a second consecutive brawny Big Ten team. (see: the Champs Sports Bowl).
Game of the year: (conference) Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, Nov. 4. Does the new boss meet the old boss? Johnson has split his two meetings with Frank Beamer. Virginia Tech has played in four conference title games and won three ACC championships since expansion in 2004. After winning the ACC in 2009, Johnson isn't going to stand still. Beamerball and PJ will likely come into 2010 with teams projected 1-2 in the league.
Team on the spot: Florida State. Fisher has to start producing right away. Recruiting was good. The defense needs to be overhauled. There isn't much room for error, not with Oklahoma and BYU back-to-back after a season opener against Samford.
If FSU negotiates that mine field, there are back-to-back road games at Virginia and Miami in October. Will a 3-3 start be tolerated?
Toughest non-conference schedule: Once again, Miami has doused itself with kerosene and is hoping no one lights a match. It worked, sort of, last season with a 5-1 start after opening with Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. But that ambitious start might have had something to do with a 4-3 finish.
Easiest non-conference schedule: Virginia Tech. In a league where five teams are playing at least one SEC opponent, the Hokies follow a neutral-site opener against Boise State with home games against James Madison and East Carolina. The other non-con is a homer against significantly diminished Central Michigan. There are no true non-conference road games on the schedule and only two road games at all after Oct. 2.
Posted on: February 10, 2010 10:30 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 2:02 pm
The Mountain West is on notice.
The Big East too.
Don’t forget the Big 12 which could be ripped asunder.
One or all of those conferences are going to be impacted if, as expected, the Pac-10 and Big Ten expand in the near future.
After writing about the big picture on Wednesday, we’re here to speculate freely about how other conferences might be impacted.
Mountain West: After leading his league to the brink of BCS automatic qualifying status, commissioner Craig Thompson has to be concerned.
A BYU-Utah defection to the Pac-10 makes a lot of sense. In basketball, the league has travel partners (Washington-Washington State, Arizona-Arizona State). The Utes and Cougars are bitter rivals but would be make ideal additions due to the far-flung nature of the league.
I still don’t know how the Pac-10 views the academic aspect of expansion, so I’m not sure how it views the combination of a state school (Utah) and what amounts to a private school (BYU). If there is a fallback, it could be San Diego State.
If the Big Ten were to take Missouri, that’s a potential three teams ripped from the Mountain West and could mean the end of the league. The three most likely replacements would be Boise State, Fresno State and Texas-El Paso.
The best non-BCS league could find itself teetering on the edge of existence, or at least relevance.
Big 12: The biggest hit comes if both Colorado (Pac-10) and Missouri (Big Ten) leave.
If Missouri or Colorado leave, the Big 12 would go get TCU from the Mountain West. While that would wound the MWC, the league would most likely then invite Boise State.
If both Colorado and Missouri left, the Big 12 would get TCU and, maybe, Houston? Either way, the Big 12’s TV stature would shrink.
Big East: The league was almost wiped out when the ACC expanded five years ago. What happens if Pittsburgh, Syracuse or Rutgers is taken by the Big Ten?
Most likely the Big East would raid Conference USA for Central Florida. That would get the league further into Florida. UCF is third-largest school in the country (53,000) behind Ohio State and Arizona State. There's got to be some football players in there somewhere. Plus, the school has made a huge commitment to facilities.
After the wounds caused by the ACC, another hit could cause the end of the Big East in football.
My latest look on how the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12 and MWC might look in the future.
Tags: ACC, Air Force, Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boie State, BYU, Cal, Central Florida, Colorado, Colorado State, Fresno State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Mountain West, Nebraska, New Mexico, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-10, Penn State, Purdue, San Diego State, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas El-Paso, Texas Tech, UCLA, UNLV, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Posted on: November 16, 2009 12:43 pm
One of the knocks on USC this week is that it got eviscerated by Stanford and still remained in the polls (No. 21 in coaches, No. 22 in AP). Had it been a Clemson or a Missouri, they would have been dropped so far out of the polls they would have needed the Hubble telescope to see No. 25.
But the Trojans are still ranked and still have a slight chance to go to the Rose Bowl through a series of tiebreakers. How Cincinnati takes on the USC disguise is if it passes TCU in the BCS rankings down the stretch. Cincy probably has a weaker schedule than TCU but will get a big push from playing Illinois – yes, Illinois – and Pittsburgh in the final two games.
TCU has Wyoming and New Mexico. A jump by Cincinnati could make a huge difference if two of the top three lose. While that’s not likely, imagine the screams you would hear from Fort Worth if Cincinnati played for a national championship over the Frogs.