Tag:WAC
Posted on: October 8, 2010 1:29 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2010 9:06 am
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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: 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 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.

Posted on: September 1, 2010 3:03 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2010 3:55 pm
 

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

Maybe it started in 1996. That year BYU went 13-1 in the regular season and was ranked fifth in both polls. In the old Bowl Alliance, there was no room for the Cougars even then in the four big bowls that would become the foundation of the BCS -- Sugar, Fiesta, Orange and Rose.

That year No. 7 Penn State, No. 20 Texas (both Fiesta) and No. 10 Virginia Tech (Sugar) all got into big-time bowls before BYU.

The Cougars settled for the Cotton bowl, beat Kansas State and became the first team in major-college history to win 14 games in a season. That year, BYU finished No. 5. Florida, 12-1, won Steve Spurrier's only national championship.

That perceived injustice would lead WAC commissioner Karl Benson to lobby Congress for his schools' inclusion in the major-bowl postseason. Out of that trip to Washington D.C. eventually evolved the BCS two years later.

Or maybe it was what happened in 1999. That's when the Mountain West formed with BYU as its lead dog.

It certainly had to hit home in the last four seasons when BYU won 11 games three times, 10 games in the other season. And went to the Las Vegas Bowl each time.

It was clear that the last non-BCS school to win a national championship had to try something revolutionary to win another one. That's why it made sense for BYU to go independent in football. Everything else, the shifting of most other sports to the West Coast Conference, is an afterthought.

This was about the long-term viability of BYU football. Why did it take this radical step? Because it could. It had leverage.  Utah has been good since 2004. Boise State has had one of the country's best records since 2000. TCU just played in it first BCS bowl.

BYU has been a national power for decades. It is a true football factory. Used to be Quarterback U. Lavell Edwards, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, all that.  It did win that national championship in '84.

It finally became time to separate itself. ESPN bought in with an eight-year agreement to televise BYU's home games. BYU already has its own network (BYU TV). Now it has its matchmaker. ESPN executive Dave Brown is one of the sport's power brokers when it comes arranging made-for-TV matchups.  That will help a lot when it comes to scheduling games. If that sounds a lot like Notre Dame and NBC, you're right.

"We're going forward with an opportunity to extend our reach, not to play it safe," AD Tom Holmoe said.

 The final straw might have been the Mountain West  "attacking" BYU last week. In an effort to keep the school in the conference (and wreck the WAC), Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson invited Fresno State and Nevada.

Before that, Benson had devised a plan to lure BYU back into the WAC by luring San Diego State, UNLV and Texas El-Paso.

The only "winner" was BYU. Alone. It had a problem with the MWC's relative anonymity. The conference isn't fully affiliated with ESPN. MWC games are shown on Versus and CBS College Sports. The MWC's conference network, The mtn., hasn't turned a profit yet. That BYU signed off on this strategy years ago to keep from having to play mid-week games hardly matters.

The WAC wasn't an option because of questions about its long-term viability after Thompson's Fresno-Nevada raid. If we've learned anything from this Summer of Sleaze it's that the only accountability is to yourself. In addition to the ESPN agreement, BYU also announced a six-game series with Notre Dame.

 "We'll do all we can to assist them in scheduling," ND AD Jack Swarbrick said. :We look forward to playing them."

The way it played out, the MWC and WAC were assured of mutual "destruction." Things broke down when Utah bolted for the Pac-10. That seriously wounded the MWC's chances of getting a temporary automatic BCS bid in 2012 and 2013. BYU knew it.

When the WAC lost Boise State, it tried an end-run to get UNLV and San Diego State, in a bold attempt to lure back BYU. When Thompson got wind of that, he tried to collapse the WAC. Fresno State and Nevada came but the result was a net loss. The MWC lost Utah and BYU. It gained Boise, Nevada and Fresno. That's hardly an even trade in the BCS' eyes. A net loss in BYU's eyes.

So where are we?  The MWC is now closer to the WAC than it is the BCS.  The WAC's best program is Hawaii -- if the Warriors don't go independent -- maybe Louisiana Tech. The glory days of Boise may be in jeopardy playing a tougher MWC schedule in the future. Even with the addition of Boise and the retention of TCU, the MWC lost most of its traction for that BCS bid.

 Halfway through a four-year evaluation process for that bid, the MWC is not certain to meet evaluation threshholds needed for an automatic BCS bid. (1. Average ranking of highest-ranked team in a conference; 2. Average conference rank in BCS; 3. Number of teams in top 25 of final BCS).

It's as if the Cuban Missile Crisis actually became a confrontation between the U.S. and Russia. Both conferences are diminished.  There are no winners. The WAC will fill in with I-AA programs, probably from the West Coast if Hawaii stays in the league. The MWC's schedule strength goes down.

BYU determined that it could make more money and perhaps get easier access to the BCS controlling the schedule.  Spreading the Mormon faith via these stand-alone games had to be a factor too. Its BCS access point will suffer (automatic only if BYU finishes No. 1 or No. 2, "eligible" in top 14). But as I reported earlier, the BCS and BYU have at least had conversations. Don't be surprised if football gets some kind of relief on that issue. As it stands, BYU is in the same BCS boat with Army and Navy.

"Right now the BCS is not the reason we made this move," Holmoe said.


If nothing else, BYU football is going to be a lot richer and a lot more visible. That's not something the MWC and WAC can say.

Posted on: August 25, 2010 3:44 pm
 

The WAC's BYU resolution

Here's a copy of the WAC's resolution dealing with BYU obtained by the Salt Lake City Tribune.

It mentions only that BYU is a WAC partner, not that BYU is going independent in football or putting its minor sports in the WAC. I hope the Tribune didn't base its "done deal" asseration last week based on this resolution. While interesting, it is hardly a smoking gun.

Meanwhile, we're in Day 6 of BYU being a member of Purgatory West -- neither in the Mountain West or operating as an independent.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 23, 2010 2:44 pm
 

Have the BCS and BYU talked regarding access?

You have to assume that BYU's schedule as an independent is not a problem. At least not as big a one as I believed in the beginning.

The Salt Lake City Tribune reported last week that it was a "done deal" that BYU's football program was going indy. You don't get that far down the road without having a reasonable idea that there will be enough teams to schedule. Whether the WAC lives or dies, there's still a chance to play four to six of the remaining teams. Notre Dame could be sprinkled in every now and then. Throw in the two service academies, Army and Navy. That still leaves, at least, four games remaining.

But, again, I'm going to assume BYU has that figured out.

The real reason that BYU is in Purgatory West, rather than the Mountain West at this point is TV revenue. It's no secret the administration is not satisfied with The Mtn., the league's four-year old network which has yet to turn a profit. BYU may be talking to ESPN for both carriage of some of its games and as a partner to line up opponents as an independent.

The questions might be: What kind of deal is ESPN willing to do with BYU as an independent vs. what kind of break MWC will give BYU in terms of television exposure outside The Mtn.

Another huge reason for BYU's waffling, it is becoming clear, is its BCS access. It can line up a schedule. It can get more games on ESPN. But the only way it gets closer to a BCS bowl without having to go back to the MWC hat in hand, is to get easier access to the BCS. I have reason to believe BYU and BCS parties have talked. Could it be about improved access? As an independent BYU, along with Army and Navy, would have worst access to a BCS bowl. Those three teams would have same access point: Ranked No. 1 or No. 2, automatic. Other than, no automatic access point. Those three teams would be eligible if they finished in the top 14 of the BCS. BYU finished No. 14, its highest BCS finish, in 2009 and still was trumped by Florida, Iowa and Boise State as at-large teams.

 Remember, there are only four available at-large spots (out of 10) for independents. The other six spots (seven if Notre Dame qualifies) are taken up by the BCS conference champions.

The feeling is that BYU would have gone independent and placed its minor sports in the WAC had Craig Thompson not plucked Fresno State and Nevada. Now BYU has to determine if it wants to put its minor sports in the WAC (what WAC?), the West Coast Conference or the MWC. In the case of the last option, it's doubtful the MWC would allow BYU to put its minor sports in its league if football was independent.

Right now, no one has full leverage. BYU can't find enough games, improved access or more television money at the moment. The MWC doesn't want to lose BYU because it might lose The Mtn. Thompson wouldn't confirm there is language in the contract that allows The Mtn. to dissolve if Utah and/or BYU leave. That, however, is the assumption.

We are in Day 5 of a strange standoff.

For entertainment purposes only here are BYU's games already scheduled through 2014 (source: San Jose Mercury News).

2011

Utah
Oregon State
Texas
Utah State
Games needed: 8

2012

Oregon State
Utah State
Boise State
Hawaii
Utah
Games needed: 7

2013

Texas
Boise State
Hawaii
Utah
Games needed: 8

2014

Texas
Boise State
Utah
Games needed: 9

Posted on: August 21, 2010 3:12 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2010 3:24 pm
 

Preseason AP poll analysis

His name is Joe Giglio of the Raleigh News and Observer.

In 10 keystrokes of brilliance he made himself and his newspaper more relevant. That's not a swipe, that's a salute to the only AP voter to award a No. 1 vote to Boise State. In a year when the whole seems to have turned Crimson, Giglio hopefully made us aware of the obvious.

Boise State can win the national championship. Not just because it is ranked No. 5 in the coaches' poll and No. 3 in AP. True, it is positioned well to make a run -- Virginia Tech, Oregon State and the bye known as the WAC schedule.

But you have to see these guys play. I don't mean reading a preseason mag, I mean really see them play. For some not-fully-explained reason, every time Boise plays "up" it seems to win. (4-1 vs. BCS schools since 2006) I already wrote that coach Chris Petersen is upset that the Broncos aren't the cuddly underdog anymore.

Now we have to admit they are a powerhouse. What other proof do you need? They're not good because of who they don't play. You can only play the teams in your conference. You certainly can't criticize them for playing a weak non-conference schedule.

If Boise State gets to the championship game, it will have earned it. Giglio is like me. His eyes have been opened.

Other observations about the AP preseason poll ...

This is the first time since 1978, Alabama has been the AP preseason No 1. In the wire service era, Alabama is 72-8-3 in years after national championships.

The highest-ranked Big East team is Pittsburgh at No. 15. This important only because of the Panthers' schedule which has them playing Utah and Miami in the first four weeks.

To no one's surprise, the SEC has six teams in the top 25.

At No. 14, USC has its lowest preseason rank since 2002, Pete Carroll's second year.

At No. 23, Georgia has its lowest preseason AP rank since 2001.

The farthest back a team has come to win a championship in the BCS era is LSU in 2003. It was No. 12 in the first BCS rankings.

Posted on: August 20, 2010 11:48 am
Edited on: August 20, 2010 5:01 pm
 

CUSA and MWC discuss BCS play-in and updated info

The commissioners of Conference USA and the Mountain West have had preliminary discussions regarding a BCS bowl play-in game between the two conferences' champions that would lead to an automatic BCS bowl berth, MWC commissioner Craig Thompson confirmed Friday after CBSSports.com's initial report.

Thompson and his Conference USA counterpart Britton Banowsky spoke Thursday in the midst of upheaval below the BCS conference level according to the source. There are few specifics at this point but the idea is to make both conferences more relevant and perhaps coax BYU into staying in the Mountain West. Thompson stressed the preliminary nature of the talks. Here is how the MWC couched things on its website.

"We had probably set this up about a month ago," Thompson said. "We said, 'Let's just talk about what's going on if there are going to be all these superconferences ...' We did speak about, 'What if a group of 22-24 teams were to approach the BCS about an automatic bid vs. the nine, or eight or 10-mmeber Mountain West?' That was on the table. I'd like to label it a 'think session.' "

No information has been submitted to BCS officials from the two leagues. In fact, 2010 begins a new four-year cycle for the BCS. That would mean the soonest anything could be in place is at the end of the 2014 season.

"The conferences have agreed to this format for the next four years," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said.

Conference USA and the Mountain West were among those conferences.

"We talked [with CUSA] about marketing 24 instead of 12, 10, whatever," Thompson added. "The bottom line is this is the first of four years. We haven't played this year's BCS games. This is like kindergarten in formal education. We're just talking."


Nothing much has changed in terms of access in the new BCS agreement. The champions of the six BCS leagues get automatic BCS bowl berths (ACC, Pac-10, Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Big East). The other four BCS bowl berths are filled by schools that reach at-large qualification standards. In the Mountain West, Utah (twice) and TCU have gained at-large berths in recent years. Conference USA has not had a BCS bowl team.

CUSA and the MWC are among the conferences that are halfway through a four-year evaluation process to determine a possible temporary BCS automatic-qualifying status in 2012 and 2013. The Mountain West was close to achieving that status until it lost Utah in the offseason and invited Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada into the league.
 
The subject of a BCS bowl play-in game among non-BCS leagues has been discussed informally in the past. Conference USA and the MWC would probably have to get approval from the other nine Division I-A conferences. One potential roadblock: The three other non-BCS leagues (MAC, WAC, Sun Belt) probably would have an issue with those two conferences playing for a BCS bowl instead of them. The WAC probably isn't on the best terms with the MWC right now. The WAC has placed teams in BCS bowls three times (winning twice) since 2007.

This would not be a merger between Conference USA and the MWC, but a play-in game to advance to the BCS after both leagues decided their conference champions. Conference USA already stages a conference championship game. The Mountain West is in a state of flux as BYU decides if it wants to leave the league and play as an independent in football. Fresno State and Nevada accepted invitations to join the MWC this week, supposedly beginning in 2012. Since it's not certain how many members the MWC will have going forward, it's not certain if it will attempt to stage a conference championship game of its own.

A play-in game could mean at least one of the leagues would be playing 15 games in a season, counting a conference title game, BCS play-in game and bowl game.

The MWC is still waiting on BYU's decision. As of Friday afternoon, the Mormon flagship was supposedly still deciding whether to go independent in football. BYU had, or has, a standing agreement to play four-to-six games against WAC teams and put its non-football sports in the conference.


Thompson addressed the status of his conference's automatic BCS qualification in 2012 and 2013. If the MWC (and other non-BCS leagues) achieve a level of three mathematical benchmarks during a four-year evaluation period ending after the 2011 season they would earn a temporary automatic access to a BCS bowl. If they achieve two of the three benchmarks -- which is where the MWC is right now -- their admission would be subject to a waiver granted by the BCS. That waiver process has not been defined by the BCS.

In the past, the Big East has retained automatic BCS status by waiver.

"The numbers aren't that frigging difficult to figure out," Thompson said. "No, we are no qualified. We have not qualified. We've got two years left to go."


As of early June, the MWC's BCS prospects looked excellent. Boise State had joined the league, adding its numbers to the mix. Then Utah bolted for the Pac-10. When Fresno and Nevada joined that possibly diluting the numbers.

Thompson would not be specific on the status of The Mtn. contract with league. A source told CBSSports.com this week that the absence of Utah and/or BYU could allow conference's network to walk away from the MWC partnership. Thompson said only that there is language in the contract regarding membership. The Mtn. is owned by Comcast and CBS College Sports.



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