Posted on: April 19, 2010 11:35 am

Rating the Big Ten expansion candidates

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany travels to the Arizona desert this week which is kind of fitting. For some unlucky schools, there is going to be a college football wasteland once the Big Ten gets done expanding. The BCS meetings this week in Phoenix could be where it all starts. Out of public view, mind you, but it could start. Delany could begin the process of notifying affected conferences that he is about to raid them.

With that in mind, it's time to rating the Big Ten expansion candidates in terms of relevance:

1. Notre Dame: If the Big 16 (or whatever) is able to lure/coerce ND into joining, the other schools don't really matter. Notre Dame brings everything -- class, quality football, eyeballs to the Big Ten Network. The two parties will have to figure out how to do deal with the NBC contract. That's really just a detail once the school decides to join, though. At issue: ND must decide that after 22 years without a national championship, it's better chasing a Rose Bowl every year than hoping for a BCS bowl in some years.

2. Connecticut: A UConn/Syracuse/Rutgers triumvirate maybe makes New York care enough about the Big Ten for the region's big cable carriers to start putting the Big Ten Network on the basic tier. Theoretically, you get New Jersey, New England and, maybe, New York. Taking UConn would be a big of a departure for the Big Ten because it is not an AAU school.

3. Missouri: Outside of getting Notre Dame and turning on New York, Missouri is the next biggest "get" for the Big Ten. It is virgin territory from which the BTN could reap a big profit. Kansas City is a Kansas town (followed closely by Missouri), but St. Louis is a Big Ten/Illinois/Mizzou town. With the likes of Ohio State and Michigan coming to Columbia on a regular basis, cable carriers would have to consider  featuring the BTN on the basic tier. If it's five teams, then count Missouri in. Delany could boast of having markets from the Great Plains to the Atlantic Ocean to New England.

4. Rutgers: By itself, Rutgers does little in the New York market. If the Big Ten took just Rutgers, it could be taking it on the come. We all remember how the region got turned on 3 1/2 years ago. It could happen again. Most likely, Rutgers needs a partner or partners in expansion.

5. Syracuse:  Almost a tag-along at this point. The 'Cuse by itself doesn't make sense because it doesn't bring a market or consistent football. Basketball is great, but that's not what this expansion is about at all. 'Cuse football is going to be better. We all know that. But does the Big Ten expand hoping Syracuse will get good? No, the school would be  a throw-in with Rutgers and UConn if Delany chooses to influence New York (see No. 1) 

6. Pittsburgh: There is little buzz about Pittsburgh at this point. The Big Ten is already in Pennsylvania with Penn State. When Joe Paterno talks about adding another school in the East, that kind of eliminates Western Pennsylvania.

Posted on: March 13, 2010 1:04 am
Edited on: March 13, 2010 9:44 am

Baylor all-access ends with an epic Big 12 final

(My week of being embedded with Baylor ended Friday with the Bears' 82-75 loss to Kansas State. Now the focus shifts to the third meeting of the season between Kansas and Kansas State.)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It had to be this way. They didn't pack the Sprint Center since Wednesday to watch a couple of outsiders play in the Big 12 Tournament championship game.

And so it will be Kansas-Kansas State in the final Saturday. Never mind the Sunflower State rivalry will be played out for a third time this season in the Show-Me State. That is a mere detail with KU 40 miles away and K-State two hours away. Despite the best efforts of Texas A&M and Baylor, the day's semifinal losers, it's on between the Jayhawks and Wildcats in a conference final for the first time since 1981.

Here's what it means nationally: Some mild interest with two top 10 teams matching up. Kansas is still going to be a No. 1 seed. Kansas State could still finish as high as a No. 2 seed.

Here's what it means to those of us who have watched these rivals take shots and lob insults at each other for what seems like forever: Heaven.

It figures to be one of the best sports days in the city's history. Fans will be able to eat (and drink) all day at the still-new Power and Light District, literally across the street from the Sprint Center.

They will migrate over to the arena with more than full bellies. If there isn't extra security here, I'll be surprised.

"It's what you practice for," K-State coach Frank Martin, fresh this week from signing an extension, a just reward for coaching up the best K-State squad in 22 years.

"I've got to think that it's going to be the best environment of any conference championship game in the country."

The last time this game was this big was, well, last week. On March 3, the rivals met ranked together in the top five for the first time since 1958. Prior to that game nine days ago, you have to go back to '88. Kansas and Kansas State met in a regional final in Detroit to decide who would go to the Final Four. KU, of course, won going on to win the championship with Danny (Manning) and the Miracles.

Manning is now a KU assistant coach. K-State is still waiting for its miracle. Kansas State last won the conference tournament championship in 1980 when Rolando Blackman was starring.

With all day left to get "ready" for the 5 p.m. CT tip, it will be an epic day.

But not without forgetting Baylor. It was not pleasant to see hanging heads in their lockerroom after the loss to Kansas State. In my  four days with the team this week I've learned that Bears' coach Scott Drew likes chicken parmesan, rims on his Escalade and the 1-1-3 zone.

I've learned that two rabid guards from down South -- LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter -- are called the "The Louisianimals."

I've learned that Baylor's bus driver is from Scotland and its best big man (Epke Udoh) is from Michigan, by way of Oklahoma.

I haven't learned how to deal with separation anxiety. As jazzed as I am about Saturday, my time with Baylor ended too soon. It might have been foreshadowed at Friday's scouting meeting.

I found out that assistant Jerome Tang's son is named Ivan Seven Tang, aka Seven. The religious significance is that the number symbolizes perfection. Nine-year-old Seven didn't get to come here because his uncle died and he had to travel to Houston with his mother.

Seven loves the Bears and he would have loved to see them attain tournament perfect. But it would have depressed little Seven to see Baylor end its run losing by a little ... seven to be exact.

Thanks Bears. Now let's bring on the Show-Me version of the Sunflower Shootout. It had to be this way.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 10, 2010 10:30 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 2:02 pm

More expansion: A proposed new look

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.

Sooner or later doesn’t Big East football and basketball have to split? The unwieldy existence between the two sides (16 teams in basketball, only eight of which play football).

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.

Schembechler Division

Michigan State

Grange Division
Ohio State
Penn State

BIG 12
North Division
Kansas State
Iowa State

South Division
Texas Tech
Texas A&M
Oklahoma State


North Division
Oregon State
Washington State

South Division
Arizona State

Fresno State
Boise State
Texas-El Paso
Air Force
San Diego State
New Mexico
Colorado State



Posted on: February 3, 2010 3:20 pm

Signing day notes

Before we begin, the recruiting “get” of the day goes to CBSSports.com’s J. Darin Darst. He was able to find Alabama’s “fax cam.”

If you didn’t believe it before, recruiting is officially out of control.


Tennessee: Never mind Derek Dooley’s closing job. The recruiting class just became that much better. A Boise television station reported Tuesday night and ESPN said Wednesday that Boise defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is headed to Tennessee.

Wilcox is one of the young up and comers. He was a short timer at Boise after his unit shut down Oregon and TCU on national television. The 33-year-old has coordinated the Broncos D for the last four seasons. Boise led the WAC in scoring defense and total defense in each of those four seasons.

The Oregon grad also worked at Cal before for three years as linebackers coach before coming to Boise for the second time in 2006.

Urban Meyer: A life-changing health problem. Rival recruiters running him into the ground. A revamped coaching staff. It is amazing that Florida has still been able to assemble the nation’s No. 1 class.

Auburn: Formal apologies to Gene Chizik who was largely derided in this space after his hiring from Iowa State. Chizik won eight in his first season, almost beat Alabama, and then actually beat the Crimson Tide – in recruiting. Auburn was listed above Bama in the top five midway through Wednesday.  Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn are fired up about national juco player of the year and former Gator quarterback Cameron Newton.

Texas: Let’s stow any speculation that Mack Brown is retiring anytime soon. This class showed that he still has the hunger to chase championships.  Texas finished with what was largely considered to be the nation’s No. 2 class. Most notable – West Chester, Ohio linebacker Jordan Hicks and Plano, Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.

Missouri: Finished with what is believed to be its highest ranked class ever (top 20). Gary Pinkel continues to aggressively recruit Texas and lock up the best players in Missouri. The Tigers aren’t going away as an annual bowl team and factor in the Big 12 North. The Big Ten has to be happy.

Notre Dame: A respectable top 15 class that’s a good sign for Brian Kelly in 2011 when he has a whole year to recruit. Kelly completed revamped the coaching staff and didn’t get blown out of the water.

Cal: Jeff Tedford continues to solidify his spot as second-best coach in Bear’s history. (Hard to argue with Pappy Waldorf.) Tedford recruited aggressively landing a top 15 class with prospects from seven states. Typical of the far flung recruiting philosophy was getting five-star defensive back Keenan Allen to drop Alabama and come all the way from Greensboro, NC

Non-winners (Can’t bring myself to say ‘losers’ when no one knows how these kids will turn out):

Miami: The locals are grumbling about the lack of five-star recruits (none) and abundance of two and three-star prospects (19). Howard Schnellenberger might not approve. Nine players came from outside the “State of Miami”, including prospects from Buffalo, NY; New Berlin, NY and Evanston, Ill.

Kansas: Turner Gill got a late start, completely changed the coaching staff and had a hard time luring top recruits. Potosi, Mo. running back Brandon Bourbon should ease the pain.

Indiana: Rivals.com’s lowest ranked BCS conference school (No. 90). Let’s hope rankings mean little. Bill Lynch (7-17 the past two seasons) still deserves a chance to get the Hoosiers turned around.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks are one of the “it” teams in the SEC for 2010. Maybe. A class ranked in the 50s might have impressed in Fayetteville but not elsewhere.
Ed Orgeron: Coach O’s reported poaching of Tennessee recruits on his way out the door to USC didn’t get the proper attention. “It’s been done before,” Tom Lemming said. “It’s not illegal, it’s unethical.” Maybe it should be illegal.

Best names:

MarKeith Ambles, USC.  Scoured from Twitter: Keith Ambles didn’t want to name his son after himself, so naturally he added a “Mar”

Emmanuel Beavers, San Diego State. How did he get away from Oregon State?

Furious Bradley, Southern Miss. Let’s hope he’s fast too.

Shaban Dika, Iowa State

Steele Divitto, Boston College

Pep Konokalafi, Hawaii

Munchie Legaux, Cincinnati. Please, God, make this be a nickname. Can’t imagine a parent who would name their child “Munchie.”

Shaquille Richardson, UCLA. And you thought there was only one.

 Another cautionary recruiting tale: It was announced this week that Miami linebacker Arthur Brown is leaving the program. The one-time five-star prospect made 17 tackles in two seasons. Speculation is that Brown and his brother Bryce, a tailback at Tennessee, could transfer to Kansas State.

 Good to know that top defensive end J.R. Ferguson has his head screwed on straight. His nickname is “Ego” (dad is actually Ego Sr.). Friends and family wear clothing labeled “Team Ego.” Let’s hope that LSU, his college choice, feeds his ego.
Posted on: December 26, 2009 10:46 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2009 10:52 pm

Dan Mullen leading candidate at Florida

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen may emerge as the leading candidate at Florida in the aftermath of Urban Meyer stepping down Saturday night.

The key to the new hire is the state of the Florida staff. The move must be made quickly and in the heart of recruiting season. In most cases, that means hiring a coach who would want to bring in an entirely new staff or, at least, forcing the new coach to keep the core of Meyer's staff.

That staff is in the process of landing what looks like another top 10 class. Transitioning in the middle of the recruiting season could be messy. That's why Mullen seems like the ideal answer. Florida's former offensive coordinator would be able to keep the staff and recruiting together. Mississippi State finished 5-7 in its first season under Mullen.

Mullen has been with Meyer since 2001 when he was hired as Bowling Green's quarterbacks coach. A member of the "New Hampshire Mafia", Mullen shares offensive philosophies with LSU's Gary Crowton and Oregon's Chip Kelly. All three are from New Hampshire. It was Mullen's offense that made Tim Tebow a star and made his successor John Brantely want to stick around for three years to get the starting job. The key for Florida is continuity.

Mullen is in the process of hiring a defensive coordinator after losing Carl Torbush to Kansas. One player who won't be coming with him is quarterback Cam Newton, one of top junior college prospects. Newton was being recruited heavily by Mullen. Both were at Florida a couple of years ago when Newton was thrown off the team for allegedly stealing a laptop. He has emerged from his juco experience as a five-star prospect.

Mullen just completed the first of a four-year contract that is paying him $1.2 million per season.

Other names attached to the opening include Jon Gruden, Bobby Petrino, Bob Stoops, Steve Spurrier, Kyle Whittingham and Mike Shanahan
Posted on: December 12, 2009 7:09 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2009 7:19 pm

Turner Gill at Kansas

I've confirmed that Buffalo's Turner Gill has taken the Kansas job.

Gill is 20-30 in four seasons in Buffalo, where he won the MAC title in 2008. The former Nebraska star moves from a fledgling Division I-A program to one that won the Orange Bowl in 2007. Gill would replace Mark Mangino who resigned after eight seasons amid allegations of mistreatment of his players.

Apparently Jim Harbaugh was just a dalliance at best. A Kansas City television station erroneously reported on Friday that the Stanford coach had been offered a contract.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Buffalo, Kansas
Posted on: December 11, 2009 6:03 pm

Erroneous news about Harbaugh at Kansas

Jim Harbaugh has not been offered the Kansas job athletic director Lew Perkins said Friday.

A report from Kansas City television station KMBC apparently posted an erroneous report to the contrary Friday afternoon. That doesn't mean Kansas officials haven't spoken to Harbaugh or are targeting him at the moment but the match doesn't make sense. Harbaugh's only tie to the area is his wife who is from the Kansas City area.

Taking the Kansas job would be perceived as a lateral move, at best. With Brian Kelly off the market, Harbaugh assumes the postiion of The Nation's Hottest Coach. It wouldn't be likely that he would take a job at a mid-level Big 12 program. The way Stanford is trending upward, he'd be much closer to a BCS bowl game at The Farm than in Lawrence, Kan. whree there is a rebuilding job to be done.

Last week Harbaugh was close to signing an extension that would pay him $1.25 million, making him the highest paid coach in Stanford history.

If the coach is going anywhere it would be to the NFL or his alma mater Michgian, as soon as after next season. If he goes Kansas, fans would have to worry about how long he would stay.

Harbaugh is 46-25 in six seasons at both San Diego and Stanford. The Cardinal will play Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 9, 2009 10:00 am
Edited on: December 9, 2009 10:04 am

Kansas coaching situation

Don't expect official word on Kansas next coach until next week.

KU officials spoke with Ole Miss' Houston Nutt on Tuesday. Nutt then took his name out of consideration. KU is known to favor Buffalo's Turner and East Carolina's Skip Holtz in that order. After the Louisville and Notre Dame hires, Kansas will have the college football landscape to itself next week to make the hire.

Don't know if this means anything but Gill's daughter, Jordan, has begun working for Kansas' athletic fund-raising arm, the Williams Fund. That comes from the Lawrence Journal-World. Jordan Gill is believed to be a theater major.
Category: NCAAF
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com