Posted on: September 18, 2011 12:19 am
Edited on: September 18, 2011 12:20 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. Oklahoma's defense is championship caliber. Having to go to Tallahassee to face a top five team in Florida State in only your second game of the season is not an easy test for any team. That being said, it was still a test that Oklahoma passed on Saturday night. Now, it was not a pretty game, particularly for Oklahoma's offense, as Landry Jones and the Sooners looked as discombobulated as I can ever remember them being in the last few seasons. Thankfully the Sooners defense was more than up to the task. Florida State scored 96 points in its first two games of the season, but the Sooners held the Seminoles to 310 yards of total offense and only 13 points.
The Sooners also brought the wood on defense, handing out some big hits -- including a scary one on Florida State receiver Kenny Shaw that ended up with Shaw immobilized on a stretcher -- and knocking quarterback E.J. Manuel out of the game. It was nice that the world finally got a chance to see just how good this unit is since the Sooners offense struggled so much. If Will Venables' unit keeps playing like this for the rest of the year, it's going to be hard to beat Oklahoma.
2. Texas needs to run the ball more. Texas's offense looked the best it has all season on Saturday afternoon in the Rose Bowl -- something about that venue for the Longhorns -- and it wasn't just because Garrett Gilbert had been replaced by Case McCoy. No, while McCoy and David Ash played well enough, it was the ground game that really carried the Longhorns. Texas rushed for 284 yards against the Bruins on Saturday, led by Malcolm Brown's 110 yards. Fozzy Whittaker also rushed for 63 yards and 2 touchdowns. Still, the more I see of Malcolm Brown running the football, the more I begin to feel that Texas may have finally found the back it has been looking for since the days of Ricky Williams and Cedric Benson.
3. If you offer the Big 12 cupcakes it will eat all of them up, possibly even the wax paper that comes with them. On Saturday Texas Tech, Missouri, Baylor, Texas A&M and Kansas State played New Mexico, Western Illinois, Stephen F. Austin, Idaho and Kent State respectively. In those five games the Big 12 schools outscored their opponents 250-20. Of those 20 points, 13 were scored by New Mexico and the other 7 were scored by Idaho on the Vandals' final possession of the game. Though I suppose it's possible Stephen F. Austin might have managed a touchdown against Baylor if the two teams had been allowed to play a fourth quarter.
4. Seth Doege is somewhat accurate with a football. Speaking of Texas Tech's scrimmage against New Mexico, quarterback Seth Doege made some history in the Raiders' 59-13 win. Doege completed 40 of 44 passes for 401 yards and 5 touchdowns. And he did this without playing in the final quarter. Still, the truly remarkable thing is that Doege's completion percentage of 91% is the highest completion percentage in NCAA history in a single game for a quarterback with at least 40 pass attempts. Who knew Texas Tech quarterbacks would still be re-writing history books even after Tommy Tuberville came to Lubbock?
5. Steele Jantz may not be the greatest thing ever. Last week I was very impressed with Steele Jantz's performance against Iowa, and apparently so was the Big 12 as he was named the conference's offensive player of the week. Well, let's hope the Big 12 wasn't watching Jantz on Friday night. Steele threw three interceptions in his first four passes of the game. Yet, somehow, someway, Jantz was able to recover from that terrible start and help lead the Cyclones to a comeback victory over UConn, giving Iowa State its first 3-0 start to a season since 2005. Iowa State would go on to finish the 2005 season 7-5 following a loss to TCU in the Houston Bowl.
6. The Kansas defense is terrible. I know that Georgia Tech's option offense can be tough to handle. I know this. Still, I don't care how tough it is to stop, that's no excuse for allowing it to rack up 768 yards of offense against you. No that is not a typo, and yes you read it right. SEVEN HUNDRED SIXTY-EIGHT yards of total offense. That includes 604 yards rushing! Georgia Tech ran the ball 50 times and averaged 12.1 yards per carry! Georgia Tech also scored a 95-yard touchdown on its first play from scrimmage, and then tossed in a 63-yard touchdown run, a 67-yard touchdown pass and a 52-yard touchdown pass just for added flavor. It was one of the most embarrassing performances I've seen from a defense in a long time, and that includes pee-wee games.
7. Weather is terrible too, but not as terrible as Kansas' defense. Once again college football saw games have to be ended early, as Baylor's 48-0 win over Stephen F. Austin ended after only three quarters. Which means that Robert Griffin's brilliant night (20/22 for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns, 78 yards rushing) likely won't count in the NCAA record books. To make matters worse, storms in Tulsa postponed the Oklahoma State/Tulsa game long enough that it is yet to kickoff as of the time this post was published.
Tags: Baylor, Big 12, Case McCoy, Cedric Benson, David Ash, E.J. Manuel, Florida State, Fozzy Whittaker, Garrett Gilbert, Georgia Tech, Idaho, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Kenny Shaw, Kent State, Landry Jones, Malcolm Brown, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ricky Williams, Robert Griffin, Robert Griffin III, Seth Doege, Steele Jantz, Stephen F. Austin, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Tommy Tuberville, Tulsa, UConn, Western Illinois, What I Learned, Will Venables
Posted on: September 17, 2011 5:25 am
Edited on: September 17, 2011 5:28 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Pretty chilly this morning, eh? Yep -- that's football weather. We've got a lot of games on today's schedule of Top 25 teams. A LOT of games. Almost seems like it practically doesn't matter whether a program schedules a tough opponent or a cupcake in the non-conference, doesn't it? At any rate, not much bad weather on the horizon today, but summer's sure not sticking around this year. Happy tailgating/game-going!
No. 21 Auburn at Clemson, 12:00, Clemson, SC: Mid 60s, overcast
No. 18 West Virginia at Maryland, 12:00, College Park, MD: Mid 60s, mostly cloudy
Louisiana-Monroe at No. 23 TCU, 2:00, Fort Worth, TX: Mid 80s, mostly cloudy
Tennessee at No. 16 Florida, 3:30, Gainesville, FL: Upper 80s, partly cloudy, storms
Washington at No. 11 Nebraska, 3:30, Lincoln, NE: Lower 60s, cloudy, storms
No. 7 Wisconsin at Northern Illinois, 3:30, DeKalb, IL: Mid 60s, partly cloudy
Missouri State at No. 12 Oregon, 3:30, Eugene, OR: Mid 60s, partly cloudy
No. 23 Texas at UCLA, 3:30, Los Angeles, CA: Lower 70s, clear
No. 15 Michigan State at Notre Dame, 3:30, South Bend, IL: Mid 60s, partly cloudy
Arkansas State at No. 13 Virginia Tech, 4:00, Blacksburg, VA: Lower 60s, mostly cloudy
Navy at No. 10 South Carolina, 6:00, Columbia, SC: Lower 60s, cloudy, light rain
Florida A&M at No. 20 South Florida, 7:00, Tampa, FL: Mid 80s, partly cloudy, storms
No. 22 Arizona State at Illinois, 7:00, Champaign, IL: Mid 60s, partly cloudy
Stephen F. Austin at No. 19 Baylor, 7:00, Waco, TX: Lower 90s, mostly cloudy
Idaho at No. 9 Texas A&M, 7:00, College Station, TX: Upper 80s, partly cloudy
No. 17 Ohio State at Miami, 7:30, Miami Gardens, FL: Mid 80s, partly cloudy, rain
North Texas at No. 2 Alabama, 7:30, Tuscaloosa, AL: Mid 70s, partly cloudy
Troy at No. 14 Arkansas, 7:30, Fayetteville, AR: Lower 70s, cloudy, storms
No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 5 Florida State, 8:00, Tallahassee, FL: Mid 70s, partly cloudy
Late night kickoffs
No. 8 Oklahoma State at Tulsa, 10:00, Tulsa, OK: Lower 70s, mostly cloudy, storms
No. 6 Stanford at Arizona, 10:45, Tucson, AZ: Lower 70s, clear
Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Clemson, FCS, Florida, Florida A&M, Florida State, Football Weather, Gameday Weather, Idaho, Illinois, Independents, Kickoff Weather, Louisiana-Monroe, MAC, Maryland, Miami, Michigan State, Missouri State, Navy, Nebraska, Non-BCS, Norhtern Illinois, North Texas, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, SEC, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Stephen F. Austin, Sun Belt, Tailgate Weather, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Troy, Tulsa, UCLA, Virginia Tech, WAC, Washington, Weather Updates, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 11, 2011 4:52 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 4:53 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big 12 fared, from the top of the polls to its bottom, and what it means.
Oklahoma (AP:1/Coaches:1) - Much like a player shouldn't lose his job to injury, pollsters feel that a team shouldn't lose its spot atop the polls due to a bye week. While I would put LSU ahead of Oklahoma on my ballot at the moment thanks to that win against Oregon, it's hard to blame people for feeling otherwise. Of course, should the Sooners head to Tallahassee this weekend and hand the Seminoles a loss, it'll be hard to argue putting Oklahoma anywhere else but at the top of your ballot.
Oklahoma State (8/7) - The coaches are higher on the Cowboys than the media is at the moment, but either way, it's hard to be angry with a spot in the top ten if you're Oklahoma State. This offense has not disappointed through it's first two games, scoring 98 points and amassing 1,260 yards. What's more important, though, is that the Cowboys defense has proved capable through the first two weeks, and this team should be off to a 3-0 start after a trip to Tulsa on Saturday. The first true test of the year will come in two weeks, however, when the Cowboys travel to College Station to take on the Aggies. Speaking of Texas A&M...
Texas A&M (9/9) - Much like Oklahoma, the Aggies took the week off after playing a game last Sunday night. The Aggies' performance against SMU was strong enough to warrant this spot and keep them there, and that's not likely to change when Idaho comes to town this weekend.
Baylor (19/24) - I guess coaches have short memories. After a bye week Baylor sits at 24th in the Coaches Poll while TCU is at 23rd. I'm still trying to figure out what world we have to be in for that to make any kind of sense. At least the AP Poll was able to hold on to some semblance of credibility by putting the Bears at 19th, four spots ahead of the Horned Frogs team they beat last week.
Texas (24/21) - Much like last week, I'm not exactly sure what Texas has done to deserve to be ranked just yet other than being Texas. The Longhorns beat a Rice team that it should have beaten, but then struggled against BYU at home to eek out a 17-16 victory. Surely there are other teams in the country who have had a better start to their season than Texas. We'll have to wait and see if Texas can really earn this ranking when it travels to UCLA next weekend seeking revenge for that home loss in 2010.
Drop Outs: Missouri - I didn't think Missouri would be able to go into Tempe and get a win against Arizona State after a poor showing by the offense in Week 1, and Missouri didn't. That being said, the Tigers offense performed much better on Friday night. With a very winnable game against Western Illinois this weekend, it's possible that the Tigers can sneak back into the polls next week, though a date with Oklahoma in Norman looms after that.
Receiving Votes: Iowa State picked up a couple of votes in the Coaches Poll after beating Iowa in double overtime. Two votes that I'm happy to see the Cyclones get because beating Iowa hasn't been an easy task for anybody in recent seasons, but Iowa State doesn't deserve to crack the Top 25 just yet either. Though that could change with a winnable game on the road against UConn coming up, and then a home date against a Texas team that just hasn't impressed me much.
Posted on: August 18, 2011 12:03 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here are my choices for the Preseason All-Big 12 team.
Bryant Moniz, Senior, Hawaii
Moniz is the latest in a long line of quarterbacks to rack up insane yardage totals out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In 2010 he threw for 5,040 yards and led the country with 39 touchdown passes. He also led the nation in total offense, and "Mighty Mo" will look to do the same things in 2011 as he makes a Heisman push.
Also watch for: While Moniz gets the most attention in the WAC, don't forget about Fresno State's Derek Carr -- you may remember his older brother David -- and Idaho's Brian Reader. Those two could put up some nice numbers as well.
Robbie Rouse, Junior, Fresno State
Rouse showed a lot promise in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he'll be looking to continue to impress in 2011. If he can, it will be a big boost to Fresno State's chances of winning the WAC.
Robert Turbin, Junior, Utah State
After missing all of the 2010 season with an injury, the only person who wants to see Robert Turbin on the football field more than Aggie fans is Turbin himself. As a sophomore Turbin started 11 games and rushed for 108 yards per game to become Utah State's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2001. Along with being a threat carrying the ball, Turbin is also dangerous catching balls out of the backfield and contributing in the passing game.
Also watch for: There are a number of good running backs in the WAC, but there are two that come immediately to mind. Nevada's Mike Ball will get plenty of carries with the Wolfpack now that Vai Taua is no longer around. Then there's Louisiana Tech's Lennon Creer.
Rishard Matthews, Senior, Nevada
I do not envy the position that Nevada quarterback Tyler Lantrip is in trying to replace Colin Kaepernick at Nevada, but he could certainly do a lot worse than having Rishard Matthews around to throw the ball to. Matthews led Nevada with 55 receptions and 873 yards last season, and will be Lantrip's go-to option in the passing game.
Royce Pollard, Senior, Hawaii
With both Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares no longer playing wide receiver for Hawaii, somebody is going to have to step up and catch all those passes, and Pollard is the best bet. As Hawaii's third receiving option in 2010 Pollard finished the year with 64 catches, 901 yards and 7 touchdowns. Imagine the numbers he'll put up as a number one!
Also watch for: Louisiana Tech has a talented duo in Taulib Ikharo and Ahmad Paige. Of course, when it comes to receivers, just about everybody on Hawaii's depth chart is a candidate to excel this season.
Ryan Otten, Junior, San Jose State
Otten missed a lot of time for San Jose State thanks to injuries in 2010, but he came on strong at the end of the season. His three touchdown receptions came in the final two games of the season, and he still finished third on the team in touchdown catches even though he missed half the year. He'll be looking to build on the momentum he picked up after getting healthy in 2011.
Also watch for: Idaho sophomore Taylor Elmo and Utah State's Kellen Bartlett are two other tight ends capable of putting up some nice numbers this season.
Center Jeff Meads, Senior, Nevada
Meads earned the starting job at center last season, starting all 13 games, and played a key role on an offensive line that helped the Wolfpack finish third in the nation in rushing offense.
Guard Chris Barker, Junior, Nevada
Since redshirting in 2008, there hasn't been a single game that the Wolfpack guard hasn't been in the starting lineup. He's another big reason that Nevada ran the ball on everyone it came across last season.
Guard Kevin Saia, Junior, Louisiana Tech
Saia earned the starting job at left guard at the end of 2009 and held onto it during the 2010 year, helping open plenty of holes for running back Lennon Creer.
Tackle Austin Hansen, Senior, Hawaii
When you have an offense that drops back to pass as often as Hawaii's does, you're going to need a left tackle you can count on to keep your quarterback on his feet. Hansen has been just that for the Warriors, starting 22 games the last two seasons.
Tackle Tyrone Novikoff, Senior, Idaho
Novikoff has seen time on the Idaho offensive line since his freshman season, and has started 25 games the last two years at left tackle. There's a reason for it too, as the 6-foot-7 tackle is not the easiest man to get by.
Also watch for: Utah State boasts a nice pair on its line in Funaki Asisi and Philip Gapelu. There's also Stephen Warner at Louisiana Tech. New Mexico State's Sioeli Fakalata and Hawaii's Chauncey Winchester-Makainai deserve your attention for their names alone, but both are talented as well.
DE Matt Broha, Senior, Louisiana Tech
Broha is one of the most prolific pass rushers in Louisiana Tech history. His 9 sacks in 2010 moved him into third all-time on the schools sack leaders, and he'll be looking to climb to the top in 2011.
DE Travis Johnson, Junior, San Jose State
Johnson has started 17 games in his career as a Spartan, and he's only entering his third season with the team. In 2010 he led all SJSU defensive lineman with 62 tackles and led the team in sacks with 7.5. He also had 9.5 tackles for a loss.
DT Logan Harrell, Senior, Fresno State
Logan Harrell was a monster for the Bulldogs on the interior of the defensive line. Though defensive tackles aren't generally known to be pass rush specialists, that still didn't stop Harrell from leading the WAC with 10.5 sacks and racking up another 14 tackles for loss.
DT Brett Roy, Senior, Nevada
Nevada's Brett Roy also proved to be problematic for offensive lines in 2010, tallying 8 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss with the Wolfpack.
Also watch for: Hawaii's Kaniela Tuipulotu and Idaho's Michael Cosgrove were also terrors on the inside and should continue to improve this season. Also on Hawaii's defensive line is Vaughn Meatoga -- mmmmm, meat toga -- and Donte Savage lives up to his last name for New Mexico State.
Bobby Wagner, Senior, Utah State
Wagner has already been named First Team All-WAC in his career at Utah State so why not go for a third? While he has other talented players around him, at times you get the sense that Wagner is the Utah State defense, as there is rarely a play run that he isn't a part of.
Corey Paredes, Senior, Hawaii
Corey Paredes is to tackles what Hawaii wide receivers are to receptions. He makes all of them. Paredes finished with 151 tackles last season, which was the second-highest total in school history. Paredes also showed that he could possibly play some wide receiver for Hawaii if he had to, picking off 4 passes during the year.
Adrien Cole, Senior, Louisiana Tech
Cole started only 6 games for the Bulldogs in 2010, but he made the most of the opportunity given to him. He finished the year as a second-team All-WAC selection, and I feel that if he shows the effort and skill that he did while making 80 tackles in limited time last year, he'll be making the leap to the first team this season.
Also watch for: The WAC is home to quite a few linebackers worthy of your attention. Keith Smith (San Jose State), Jay Dudley (Louisiana Tech) Aaron Brown (Hawaii), Kyle Gallagher (Utah State), James-Michael Johnson (Nevada), and Robert Siavil (Idaho) are just a few.
CB Isaiah Frey, Senior, Nevada
Frey's 2010 season was good enough to have him named second team All-WAC, and he's looking to move up this year. He may be the most consistent corner in the entire conference, and finished 2010 with 14 passes broken up. He's also not afraid to stick his nose into the fray and make a tackle on a running back coming around the corner.
S Walter McClenton, Senior, Utah State
McClenton made ten starts at safety for the Aggies last seson and finished the year third on the team in tackles with 62. He also broke up 2 passes and had a sack. He's somebody I'd consider more of a run-stuffer than a coverage safety, but if he can improve on his pass defense in 2011 his stock will soar.
S Duke Ihenacho, Senior, San Jose State
Since San Jose State joined the WAC in 1996 its never had a player named first team All-WAC. This season Ihenacho will look to be the first. Unfortunately he didn't have the chance last season after missing the last ten games of the season with an injury, but he's back and healthy this year and will be a force once again.
S Phillip Thomas, Junior, Fresno State
Thomas is a safety that is loaded with potential and he flashed signs of it last season, finishing the year with 64 tackles, 9 passes broken up, 2 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. Now, as a junior, he'll be looking to fulfill that potential even more, and I fully expect him to.
Also watch for: Given the amount of passing offenses in the WAC, safeties play an important role in slowing down offenses, and the WAC has a few who are more than capable. Players like Louisiana Tech's Chad Boyd, New Mexico State's Donyae Coleman, Richard Torres at Hawaii and Nevada's Duke Williams play key roles for their teams.
K Kevin Goessling, Senior, Fresno State
P Bobby Cowan, Junior, Idaho
KR Kerwynn Williams, Junior, Utah State
PR Rishard Matthews, Senior, Nevada
Tags: Aaron Brown, Adrien Cole, Ahmad Paige, All-WAC Team, Austin Hansen, Bobby Cowan, Bobby Wagner, Brett Roy, Brian Reader, Bryant Moniz, Chad Boyd, Chauncey Winchester-Makainai, Chris Barker, Colin Kaepernick, Corey Paredes, David Carr, Derek Carr, Donte Savage, Donyae Coleman, Duke Ihenacho, Duke Williams, Fresno State, Funaki Asisi, Greg Salas, Hawaii, Idaho, Isaiah Frey, James-Michael Johnson, Jay Dudley, Jeff Meads, Kaniela Tuipulotu, Kealoha Pilares, Keith Smith, Kellen Bartlett, Kerwynn Williams, Kevin Goessling, Kevin Saia, Kyle Gallagher, Lennon Creer, Logan Harrell, Louisiana Tech, Matt Broha, Michael Cosgrove, Mike Ball, Nevada, New Mexico State, Non-BCS, Philip Gapelu, Phillip Thomas, Preseason All-WAC Team, Richard Torres, Rishard Matthews, Robbie Rouse, Robert Siavil, Robert Turbin, Royce Pollard, Ryan Otten, San Jose State, Sioeli Fakalata, Stephen Warner, Taulib Ikharo, Taylor Elmo, Tom Fornelli, Travis Johnson, Tyler Lantrip, Tyrone Novikoff, Utah State, Vaughn Meatoga, WAC, WAC Preview, Walter McClenton
Posted on: March 7, 2011 6:16 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Last week there was a report that Villanova was close to coming to a decision and making the jump from the FCS level to join the Big East. The Big East added TCU to the conference with play beginning in 2012, and as the conference looks for a tenth member, Villanova does make sense based on their success at the FCS level. Add in the fact that the school is already a member of the Big East's basketball conference, and it becomes even more feasible.
Though according to one report, though it may make sense for both Villanova and the Big East to become partners, there's another school in the conference that may not be as excited by the idea.
According to sources close to the situation, administrators at the University of Pittsburgh are unhappy with the idea of having such a small venue in the conference, and would prefer that Villanova plays it’s home games at a venue that can hold a minimum of 35,000 fans (to match Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium).
Pittsburgh was also reportedly upset that Villanova has pushed the ultimate decision on this issue back until April, despite the fact that large the capital investment in moving from FCS to FBS football requires more due-diligence than a move from one FBS conference to another.The tiny venue Pitt seems worried about would be PPL Park, which is where Villanova would prefer to play its games. As presently constructed, the stadium only seats 18,500. Only two schools in the FBS have stadium's with a smaller capacity than that: Idaho and FIU. It would also be the lowest capacity in the Big East by far.
Still, I'm not sure Pitt's real problem with Villanova is stadium size. I wonder if Pitt's hesitation has more to do with a third BCS conference school suddenly showing up in the state of Pennsylvania, as Pitt already has to compete with Penn State for recruits in the state.
Besides, it's not as though Villanova doesn't have options. While the school isn't likely to spend money constructing a new stadium, there are other places it can play. First of all, PPL Park was built with expansion in mind, and it's possible that the place could seat around 30,000. Then there's Franklin Field, which seats over 50,000, but that would be a problem because it's on another campus: Pennsylvania. Scheduling could prove to be quite a headache with both the Quakers and Wildcats sharing the stadium.
A natural move would be to have Villanova play at Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles. The problem there is that Temple holds the lease on the stadium until 2017, and there's no way that three football teams can call the place home at once. Though it is possible that Villanova could play in a temporary home until 2017 when the lease expires, and then move into Lincoln Financial Field.
Bottom line, if Villanova wants to join the Big East, then Villanova is going to join the Big East. The only thing that can keep Villanova from making the move is Villanova itself.
Posted on: December 2, 2010 4:18 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
BYU may have wanted out, Utah may have wanted out, TCU may have wanted out, but the continuing expansion drama surrounding the Mountain West Conference has proven that there's still plenty of schools that would be happy to be in. The Honolulu Star-Advertister reported yesterday that Hawaii officials were in Colorado this week, speaking with MWC commissioner Craig Thompson and ironing out the final details of what appears to be a done deal to bring the Warriors aboard as a football-only member. (UH's other sports will join the California-based Big West. )
But the MWC may not stop there. According to this AOL Fanhouse report , Utah State officials have also been making a face-to-face plea to Thompson and Co. this week, asking for a MWC invite and a lifeline out of the lame-duck WAC . The Aggies won't bring much to the table in terms of football pedigree, but at least they've taken steps forward in recent years under coach Gary Andersen (including beating BYU this season for the first time in 10 tries) and can claim a sterling men's basketball program and solid academics.
USU's interest gives the MWC several options when it comes to expansion. Running them down:
They could stand pat at 10 teams . There seems to be little downside to bringing Hawaii aboard, especially in football alone -- the travel costs of visiting the islands are easily offset by the NCAA provision allowing teams a 13th scheduled game if they travel to Hawaii -- so it seems unlikely the MWC will suddenly stiff-arm the Warriors and stay at 10 teams. But few other immediate options will do much to raise the league's football profile, and weaker members on the gridiron could put the league's dream of a BCS automatic bid in jeopardy.
They could expand to 12 teams and start a championship game . A title game could be an excellent carrot for the MWC to dangle when they start looking to finally get out of the less-than-lucrative current television contracts that drove BYU into football independence. Utah State might be the most obvious candidate, but Conference USA member SMU would bring the highly attractive Dallas media market back into the league after TCU's defection, and under June Jones the Mustangs have made major strides on the field as well. With C-USA's chances of ever snagging a BCS bid set at "nil," the Mustangs would likely jump at the chance. The same goes for Houston , which is an even more distant geographical fit but features an even-better established football program and a similarly-lucrative market.
Other potential WAC refugees like Idaho or New Mexico State would also be options, but probably only in the event the BCS bid was already off the table and SMU and Houston had turned the league down.
They could merge with C-USA. This seems like a terrible idea from the MWC's perspective, but nonetheless the Orlando Sentinel reported today that Thompson and C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky have had prliminary discussions about "a variety of potential collaboration options." But it's hard to see what, other than potentially a push for a joint TV contract, the C-USA can offer the MWC; the latter is the stronger conference top-to-bottom, has more brand recognition (compare the profiles of Boise State and even, say, Fresno State to C-USA powers like East Carolina and Southern Miss ), and already has the BCS bid process underway. If the C-USA is looking to create a full merger, it would seem to eliminate any chance of the league being powerful enough to wrangle a BCS bid; if all they want is an end-of-year title tilt, that's likely just one more obstacle in the way of a Boise or, well, Boise and a BCS at-large berth.
Butit's on the table, along with a lot of other possibilities for the MWC. Thompson has some very big decisions to make, decisions that will help shape the future of college football in the West for years to come.
Posted on: November 18, 2010 10:38 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Friends! Let's hop in the Wayback Machine, all the way back to ... November 2, 2010. Wow, that's a long time ago. Here was our characterization of the new Mountain West after all the conference realignment takes place:
[...] by the time these moves all get made, the Mountain West won't look like a new power conference at all; if anything, it'll just be the WAC 2.0, but with fewer trips to Honolulu and more to Las Vegas. Hey, win some, lose some. But a conference led by Boise State, Fresno State, and Nevada didn't get a sniff from the BCS Committee when it comes to awarding an automatic BCS bid (and guaranteeing BCS money), and it won't this time around either.
Well, apparently the MWC is going all-in on this "WAC 2.0" business, because according to a report from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Mountain West has offered a conference spot to Hawaii:
If true, this puts the WAC on the brink of going defunct; NCAA rules state that for a conference to receive an automatic postseason bid -- or really be recognized by the NCAA in any way -- it must have a group of five member schools that have been in the same conference for at least five years. With Boise State, Nevada, and Fresno State all headed to the Mountain West and now Hawaii joining them, the WAC would be down to the bare minimum of five tenured schools in 2012: Louisiana Tech, Idaho, New Mexico State, Utah State, and San Jose State. If even one of those schools leaves before 2017 (when brand new members Seattle, Texas State, and UT-San Antonio hit the five-year mark), the WAC will effectively cease to exist. That would be its own special brand of history, wouldn't it?
Posted on: November 18, 2010 4:16 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College football's efforts to crack down on illegal head shots continued Wednesday, as the WAC suspended Idaho safety Shiloh Keo for the first half of the Vandals' next game for this blow to the helmet of Boise State backup quarterback Mike Coughlin :
Frankly, Keo is lucky he's only missing a half; he was initially suspended for the entire game but had it reduced on appeal. (Not that anyone at Boise can complain; Bronco cornerback Winston Venable also had a WAC-induced suspension reduced earlier this year.)
That Keo is suspended at all, though, further emphasizes the new, uh, emphasis in the sport this year on preventing head injuries. But is it coming at the expense of other kinds of equally nasty hits? The SEC raised eyebrows this week when it declined to punish Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley for a late blow to the back of Georgia 's Aaron Murray , and passed as well on issuing punishment to the two Bulldog linemen whose attempted retaliation on Fairley sparked a near-brawl. Notre Dame 's Kerry Neal went unpunished for this stomp on the torso of a Navy player.
The crackdown on blows to the head and concussions is, without question, an admirable one. But those are not the only dangerous -- and avoidable -- hits on the football field.