Tag:BYU
Posted on: February 16, 2012 5:05 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 9:08 am
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A sad goodbye to Karl Benson & perhaps WAC

The enduring image of Karl Benson will be his practically skipping through the University of Phoenix Stadium press box on Jan. 1, 2007.

Boise State had just shocked Oklahoma, college football and the world. The commissioner of the Broncos’ league was along for the ride. Karl Benson, a former Boise State shortstop, had just seen the gosh-darndest thing in his life. Along with the rest of us.

He was proud that his lowly-but-proud Western Athletic Conference had taken advantage of the BCS rules to – put in terms of the conference’s marketing slogan – Play Up. Yes, the loosening of BCS bowl access rules in 2006 contributed to Boise’s rise. But it took the team’s performance on the field to convince the world that college football wasn’t the exclusive domain of the Big Six conferences.

WAC member Hawaii went to the Sugar Bowl a year later but the new wave punk band that was the WAC slowly broke up over the years. Boise State skipped from the Mountain West to the Big East. Others followed.

The plucky little conference that couldn’t be killed was on its death bed Thursday with the news that Benson had become the new Sun Belt commissioner. On the surface, Benson is trading a job at the 10th-rated conference in FBS to one rated 11th(and last in the division).

In reality, it is the latest shift of conference realignment tectonic plates. The 50-year old WAC that Benson leaves behind be damaged beyond recognition.  It was formed in 1962 in order to grab an NCAA tournament automatic bid – there were only 24 at the time. The Original Six included Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.  The current seven-team league (in football) could be absorbed like rain into the soil by some combination of Benson’s new conference and the emerging Big Country (Conference USA/Mountain West conglomeration).

It really depends on the intentions of the Big Country. 

Benson, 60, fought the good fight out West with dignity. Now it’s time to keep the Sun Belt alive and kicking. Time after time on the conference call announcing his hiring, Benson was not shy about saying he wanted the 10-member Sun Belt (in football) to grow to 12. At least. It doesn’t take too much to figure out where those two (or more) teams are going to come from.

As mentioned, in 2012 the WAC is down to seven teams, one above the NCAA minimum. The teams that emerged from that conference to gain BCS bowls under Benson’s watch – Boise State and Hawaii – are long gone. Just a guess but look for the Sun Belt to go after WAC member Louisiana Tech – if the Big Country doesn’t get to Ruston first. The New Orleans-based Sun Belt already has members at Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe.

“There are schools in the [Louisiana] footprint that would make sense,” Benson said.   

Other possibilities: Any combination of Appalachian State, Georgia State, Jacksonville State and Liberty. All four are moving up or in the process of moving up to FBS.  

Benson has literally held the WAC together by force of personality. First, reorganizing after half the then-16 team league left in 1999 to form the Mountain West. (He got the news lying down on the couch at home after eye surgery.) Then with the departure of Boise State (Mountain West, then Big East) as well as Fresno, Hawaii, Nevada (Mountain West) Benson hustled within the last year to add Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. The next FBS game those two schools play will be their first.

The pity is if in the end Benson was somehow forced out of the WAC. The conference owes its current existence to him. With the Sun Belt’s Wright Waters stepping down, the lowest-ranked FBS league is about to experience a rebirth. The so-called Group of Five non-BCS conferences (WAC, MAC, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt) could to shrink to three.

In a way it consolidates Big Six conferences’ power. The apparent end of BCS automatic qualifying conferences in 2014 means that access to the game’s biggest bowls becomes more important for the “non-AQs” that Benson helped make famous.

“I often asked who is the next Boise State?” he said. “With my Sun Belt hat on, why not someone from the Sun Belt?”

 

WAC football membership in 2012

Idaho 
Louisiana Tech
New Mexico State
San Jose State
Texas State
Utah State


Sun Belt football membership in 2012

Arkansas State
Florida Atlantic
Florida International
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Monroe
Middle Tennessee
North Texas
South Alabama
Troy
Western Kentucky


Posted on: January 1, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Looking back at 2011, ahead to 2012

Recapping 2011, anticipating 2012 (more or less) A-Z …



American Football Coaches Association: It was not a good year for the professional organization that counted Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno among its members. There wasn’t a peep of contrition or explanation in 2011 out of the old boys’ club that continues to have an ethics committee as part of its structure.

Meanwhile, the AFCA continues to rig a BCS system it profits from in the coaches’ poll. Before coaches demand accountability from media, players and assistants, they need to give up control of a poll that holds the purse strings to a multi-million system and awards its final No. 1 ranking to the BCS title game winner.


BCS: After the championship game, the BCS continues to deliver some stultifying matchups.

Michigan-Virginia Tech? (Where was Boise, Kansas State?)

Clemson-West Virginia? (Six combined losses?)

Oklahoma State-Stanford is nice in the Fiesta Bowl but there are those who believe the Cowboys should be playing LSU in New Orleans. A Plus-One wouldn’t totally fix things but we’d love to see one this season – No. 1 seed LSU vs. No. 4 Stanford and No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State.

Unfortunately, the next chance for change, 2014, looks to be more of the same. The Pac-12 and Big Ten aren’t likely to allow the Rose Bowl to become a national semifinal. Even a Plus-One wouldn’t account for No. 7 Boise, a team that was a missed kick away from playing for the national championship.

 

BCS trivia: Nick Saban (4-1) and Les Miles (5-2) have each beaten Alabama at least four times as SEC coaches.

 

BYU: Courted by the Big 12 and Big East (at least) during conference realignment, BYU stood strong and stayed independent in 2011. Whether the Cougars’ status stays that way remains to be seen. Glory is still elusive. A seventh consecutive bowl resulted in the world’s largest Mormon school beating the FBS school with the smallest enrollment (Tulsa) in the final 12 seconds in the Armed Forces Bowl.

 

Charlie Weis: Quietly, Notre Dame’s former coach accounted for the biggest recruiting day in the history of Kansas football. On December 22, Weis lured quarterbacks Dayne Crist (Notre Dame) and Jake Heaps (BYU) as transfers.

OK, it’s only Kansas and it’s a couple former five-star quarterbacks who underachieved. But as long as Weis is in Lawrence, Kansas will be worth our attention. The Big 12 is a quarterback league. Weis has his for at least the next three years. He and the Jayhawks will be a story as Weis tries to rehab  his college coaching image.

Conference realignment: In the chase for money and automatic qualifying status, networks and commissioners couldn’t help themselves. They acted like businessmen at a strip club during happy hour, making it rain. The change was so fast and furious that we’re still not sure what conference West Virginia will play in 2012.

 

David Boren: Oklahoma’s president trashed the Big 12 and then-commissioner Dan Beebe one day. Then, after finding out 24 hours the Pac-12 wasn’t going to take his Sooners, he shifted stance and said he was actually trying to save the league.

Oklahoma’s former governor is a dangerous, manipulative, powerful, fascinating figure. Just don’t cross him. Boren ran Beebe out of the Big 12 in one of the great injustices of the year.

 

Death Cam: On the second-last day of 2011, there was a sobering warning for 2012. An ESPN SkyCam almost smashed an Iowa player Friday night during the Insight Bowl. Dear networks: Our desire to see every possible angle has been sated. We’ve got HD, blimps and replay. We don’t need a debilitating injury – or worse.

 

LaMichael James: Quietly – yes, quietly – “LaMike” became one of the era's most dangerous weapons and the best running back in Oregon history. If James stays for his senior season, which he is not likely to do, he would challenge Ron Dayne for the NCAAA career rushing record.

As it is, James will have plenty left for the NFL because of his efficiency (6.6 yards per carry, only 746 career carries). The question is, can the leading edge of Chip Kelly’s quick-strike offense survive as a pro at only 5-foot-9, 185 pounds?

 

Lane Kiffin: Before Todd Graham jilted Pittsburgh, Monte’s boy was bolting Tennessee after a season. Funny, how we’ve forgotten. Lane matured before our eyes in 2011 leading the probation-crippled USC to a 10-2 record, including a win at Pac-12 champion Oregon.

It looks like the Trojans are back. This time, Kiffin isn’t going anywhere.

 

LSU: Look at the roster. It’s so young. The SEC defensive player of the year is a sophomore (Tyrann Mathieu). There are 13 sophomores (or younger) in the two-deep. On defense. These Tigers were built to win in 2012. This season has been gravy.

No matter what happens Jan. 9, the Tigers are a good bet to start as the 2012 preseason No. 1.

 

Matt Barkley: Probation, what probation? USC’s blond, Hollywood-ready quarterback is returning for his senior season Leinart-style. After a 10-win season during a second consecutive bowl-ban season, the Trojans will likely start 2012 in the top five and be the Pac-12 favorites.

 

Mike Leach: He’s baaaack and that’s good for all of us. The talk turns from lawsuits to alignments again for The Pirate who has been out of the game too long. Things are about to get real interesting in Pullman.



NCAA:
The sometimes secret association opened itself up in 2011 – to media, to the public, to its members. There were countless press releases. Some of them named names of wrongdoers, calling out Cecil Newton, calling out media Also, welcoming media during a revealing Enforcement Experience in May.

What a emerged was a more accessible NCAA but one that, at times, was more interested in promoting itself than addressing the issues. That August summit was a great idea but moved too fast to the point that groundbreaking stipend and scholarship legislation was overridden. The decision to allow the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl a year ago remains inexplicable.

 

Notre Dame: Weis recruited quarterbacks but couldn’t produce enough wins. So far, Brian Kelly can’t even get the quarterback thing straight. The Irish are becoming something they can never be – boring. After losing to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl, ND is now 2-10 in its last 12 postseason games.

Its last two coaches have been decidedly offensive guys. Those Notre Dame offenses have, since 2005, finished 61st or worst more times (three) than they have in the top 10 (two). The 2007 unit under Weis was dead last. That’s an average of No. 46 in total offense since Weis arrived. That equates to the offensive standing of Virginia in 2011.

Before the Irish can return to national relevance, they have to become more exciting.



Offense:
With bowl games still to be factored in, the offensive revolution of college football continues.

The average figures for points per game (28.3), passing yards (229.4), completions (19.2) are all on pace to finish second all-time. The current total offense mark of 392.75 is ahead of the record set in 2007, 392.64.



Penn State:
The job left behind by JoePa has proved to be toxic to the coaching profession. At one point its reported top two choices – Tom Clements and Mike Munchak – had a <>total<> of four years college experience. Sixteen years ago.

 

SEC: You don’t have to be told again … The SEC is so dominant that the best football conference is assured of both its sixth straight title and first title game loss.

The league has used the BCS to make an unprecedented run. Voters and computers are conditioned to give the SEC champion the benefit of the doubt each season. Not saying that’s wrong, it just is. It’s sort of like the next Jay-Z album shooting to the top of the charts in preorders.


Twitter: In 2011, the Twitterverse became our universe. Use it as a tool to argue with a friend across from you on the cyber barstool or as a de facto wire service. Where were you when Bin Laden was killed and the Penn State scandal broke last year? Twitter followers and users brought us the news in real time.


Tyrann Mathieu: How does a 5-foot-9, 180-pound cornerback become the best defender in the country? Proving all the doubters wrong. Tennessee and Alabama deemed him too small to play. Les Miles to a chance on a local kid. What emerged was the best ball hawking corner since Charles Woodson. 


Will Lyles:
The former talent scout/mentor/Dancing With The Stars participant (Ok, kidding on that one) is the key figure in the NCAA futures of LSU, Cal and Oregon.

Lyles reportedly sang to the NCAA in August. That followed allegations that Chip Kelly’s program commissioned after-the-fact recruiting info that it had already paid $25,000 for. There is still the unsettling feeling that Oregon could be in for major sanctions in 2012.



ZZZ:
What we’d like to do a little more in 2012. Somehow, we know that’s not going to be the case. Let’s hope that college athletics regains a bit of its moral and ethical compass in 2012. 

Posted on: December 10, 2011 8:56 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 10:01 pm
 

Robert Griffin III wins the 2011 Heisman

NEW YORK -- The humble son of two retired Army sergeants now becomes a name for the ages.

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III became the 77th winner of the Heisman Trophy here beating out two-time finalist Andrew Luck of Stanford. Alabama's Trent Richardson was third.

The redshirt junior caught the nation’s attention with his accurate arm, incredible moves and scholastic achievements. In other words, what the Heisman should be about. Griffin threw for almost 4,000 yards and accounting for 45 touchdowns for an equally humble Baptist school in central Texas.

His win helps Baylor elevate itself from a low point that included a player’s murder eight years ago. Twice in the last 18 months, the program faced an uncertain future with the possible breakup of the Big 12.

But Griffin changed all that. He has been compared to everyone from Michael Vick to Vince Young to any role model you can imagine. If he doesn’t declare for the NFL next month, Griffin will apply for Baylor Law School. There can’t be many former winners who were pursuing their master’s when they accepted the award.

Griffin had two signature Heisman moments this season. On Nov. 19 he threw the game-winning touchdown pass against Oklahoma with eight seconds left. A week ago, he threw for two scores and ran for two more in a blowout win over Texas. In terms of Heisman voting, that was the clincher. Luck and Richardson had completed their seasons.

Actually, there was a third Heisman moment. Griffin outdid himself as a wearer of outrageous socks. He pulled up his pant leg at the ceremony to reveal he was wearing Superman socks – complete with cape. He is the first Heisman winner to play his high school football in Texas since BYU's Ty Detmer in 1990. That's also the last year a player won it from a private parochial school.

Luck and Richardson were thought to be the leaders late into November. But Griffin overtook them winning comfortably by 280 points over Luck (1,687-1,407). For those on the Richardson bandwagon, he didn't even carry his own region. Griffin won even that region 303-256 over the Alabama tailback. 

Griffin was born in Japan, the son of Army lifers Robert Sr. and Jacqueline Griffin. Enrolled at Baylor at age 17, he was a Big 12 400-meter hurdles champion in track before he took a snap. When he did, he became the youngest starting quarterback in FBS in 2008.

Coach Art Briles saw something that others didn’t. Other schools projected him either as a track star or something other than a quarterback.

But that was at Houston where Griffin originally committed. When Briles got the job at Baylor, Griffin followed like a loyal puppy.

“A big part of the decision was I wanted to go where I could play early,” he said. “Not that I thought I was better than anyone else, I just didn’t feel like it would be good to sit behind somebody for two years then play.”

In the third game of the 2009 season he tore his ACL. In 2010, he was back throwing for 3,500 yards. This season he threw for almost 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns. He was more accurate than Luck, more exciting than Richardson. If his pass efficiency numbers hold up through the bowl game, Griffin will complete, statistically, the best season in NCAA history.

RGIII also became the third player in FBS history to throw for 10,000 yards and 2,000 yards rushing.

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 17, 2011 7:53 am
Edited on: November 17, 2011 7:54 am
 

How Case Keenum can win the Heisman

He’s 6-foot-2, 210, in his sixth year of eligibility from Abilene, Texas. Houston quarterback Case Keenum has two 5,000-yard passing seasons to his credit, leads the nation in that category this season and already is the game’s all-time leading passer (17,537 yards), passing touchdowns (144) and total offense (18,434).

If the Heisman Trophy is considered a lifetime achievement award, how does Keenum not get a trip to New York as a finalist? At least. He has battled through a knee injury that ended his 2010 season prematurely. Barring a loss, Keenum can probably book a trip to Marriott Marquis in Times Square for the ceremony.

 

Here’s why:


1. With an undefeated season, Houston would become the new non-BCS darling. The school would be the 46th ever to go to a BCS bowl in the 14-year history of the postseason arrangement.

Look what BCS status did for Boise and Utah. Boise quarterback Kellen Moore was a Heisman finalist in 2010. Utah’s Alex Smith finished fourth in the voting in 2004.

2. Exposure. If you didn’t know Keenum, you will  now. GameDay is in Houston this week and will certainly yank a tear or two out of your ducts in regards to the married 23-year-old.

3. If you’re into that sort of thing, Keenum is an NFL prospect. Guys who throw for almost 18,000 yards get into NFL camps, at least. The previous record holder, Timmy Chang, did. So did the previous, previous record holder, Ty Detmer.

4. Sheer numbers. Keenum passed for nine touchdowns against Rice. OK, it’s Rice but it’s still nine touchdowns. And coach Kevin Sumlin called off the dogs too. Over his last five games, Keenum has 23 touchdowns. That’s at least as many as 101 FBS schools over that span.

5. Keenum is on track to become the most efficient single-season passer in history. His current 193.4 rating is ahead of record-holder Colt Brennan of Hawaii (186 in 2006).

6. He is fourth in both the current Heismanpundit.com straw poll vote and  Scripps-Howard News Service Heisman poll.

7. Houston has its BCS scalp, beating UCLA to start the season. The Bruins are still in the running to win the Pac-12 South.

8. It’s about time. The last non-BCS player to win it was Detmer in 1990.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 16, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 10:02 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Team/coach/player/name of the week: Iowa State/Paul Rhoads/Steele Jantz. In his three seasons the Cyclones' coach Rhoads has picked off Nebraska, Texas and, last week, Iowa in overtime.

The plucky Cyclones are guided by Jantz whose All-American name is only slightly less noticeable than his quarterback talents. Jantz went to high school in California, played scout team for a season at Hawaii, then went to City College of San Francisco before winning the job at Iowa State.

As for the name, Steele's grandmother started the tradition that carried over with his father (Fox), a brother (Wolf) and an uncle (Truk).

Rhoads has become the toast of Ames as Iowa State goes to Connecticut Friday night with a chance to go 3-0 for the first time since 2005. The former Missouri Western defensive back grew up a few minutes from Jack Trice Stadium. When Iowa State called him at Auburn following the end of the 2008 season, Rhoads would have crawled to Ames.

With conference realignment swirling, he may be single-handedly holding the program at the BCS level.


The road to Atlanta for the SEC title game goes through Nashville: Or another way to identify surprising 2-0 teams.

Vanderbilt: The administration whiffed on Gus Malzahn. James Franklin has brought a steadying hand. A 3-0 start is doable with the SEC opener at home against Ole Miss.
Kansas: A shootout win over MAC power Northern Illinois sets up Jayhawks for a trip to Georgia Tech. Two of the top passing teams in the country.
Northwestern: Dan Persa's injured Achilles could have wrecked the season. Instead the Wildcats have rallied around backup Kain Colter heading into Army.
Illinois: One of the more entertaining games of September Saturday night in Champaign vs. Arizona State.
Colorado State: For the first time since 1941 the Rams plays Colorado with a record of 2-0. For the first time since 1939, the Buffs come into this game 0-2 or worse.
Eastern Michigan: The Eagles first 2-0 start since 1986 gets a test -- a big one -- at Michigan. At least Eastern won't have to travel far from Ypsilanti to get whipped.
Washington State: Lose starting quarterback? No problem, Cougs lead the country in scoring offense.
Florida International: After beating Louisville, Mario Christobal is the nation's new "it" coach.


Scorching SEC: Now the Strength Everywhere even leads the country in scoring offense averaging 39.12 points per team. Two of the top four scoring teams include Arkansas (51.5 points) and South Carolina (50.5). The Big 12 is second at 36.66 points per team.

Best wishes: Minnesota's Jerry Kill is expected to coach Saturday against Miami (Ohio) after suffering seizures last week during the New Mexico State game. Kill has a history of seizures, one of which led to the discovery of his kidney cancer in 2005


More Bobby Bowden on Jimbo Fisher and Florida State: "Jimbo is an excellent football coach. A lot of people forget I was the one that hired him. I've known him since he was a child. He played for my son Terry in college. Terry told me 20 years ago this kid is going to be a great coach.

"I do not feel like Oklahoma's players they're superior to Florida State's. They might be more mature.
"We've been out of that [national picture] for the last 10 years. During the '90s we were up there every year. During the 2000s, we'd gone 10 wins every year for 14 years. Then we fell to eight, went to nine, went to 10. I said, 'Oh boy, we're back.' But instead we went kind of down."


Quote of the week: Tennessee's Derek Dooley describing what it means to go into SEC play (this week against Florida). "How many scars do you have?"


Meaningless stat: Wisconsin and Georgia Tech are first and third nationally in passing efficiency this week. Russell Wilson you can kind of understand making a difference for the ground-based Badgers. But Tech starter Tevin Washington has passed only 21 times in two games. (The Jackets have thrown 26 passes overall.)

Two traditional rushing powerhouses, Georgia Tech finished first and Wisconsin was 12th in that category in 2010.


Signal-stallers: Going into Week 3 Miami, Texas, Penn State and Notre Dame all have quarterback issues. Those schools have produced a total of four Heisman-winning quarterbacks.


Noting: Georgia Tech (hosting Kansas) has five plays of at least 70 yards. No other conference has produced that many ... USC (vs. Syracuse) has outscored its opponent in the fourth quarter only twice in the last 11 games ... Didn't you used to be the Holy War? Utah and BYU meet early this year due to the Cougars' move to independence and the Utes migration to the Pac-12. Something has been lost in this rivalry with no conference implications ... Jimbo Fisher claims that Doak Campbell Stadium has the most bricks of any building in North America. Will Oklahoma be another brick in the wall?


Heisman picks going into Week 3: 1. T.Y. Hilton, FIU: 2. Denard Robinson, Michigan; 3. Robert Griffin, Baylor; 4. Kellen Moore, Boise State; 5. Tyrann Mathieu, LSU.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 9:05 pm
 

As long Big 12 has OU & UT, it has options

Let's look at this current conference alignment thing a different way. No commissioner wants to be seen as the one to cause Alignment Armageddon. But if it has to be the Big 12, who could blame Dan Beebe? His embattled league has suffered enough. Suddenly it has options, good ones, with or without Texas A&M.

We all pretty much agree that we're headed sooner or later toward the age of the super conference with four 16-team (or whatever number) conferences. The question is how or when. Right now, we stand on the precipice with Texas A&M wanting to go to the SEC, but the SEC still thinking about whether to take the Aggies.

That's because the SEC doesn't have to expand. It's fine how it is with 18 years to run on a $3 billion contract with CBS and ESPN. If A&M goes then sooner or later, the SEC is going to have to get a 14th member. Commissioner Mike Slive seemingly loves A&M but he -- and his presidents -- don't necessarily want to be that guy, responsible for breaking up another league.

The question is whether Beebe has such reservations. And as long as he has Oklahoma and Texas, he has leverage.

As mentioned, it's looking suddenly like the Big 12 is dealing from a position of strength. It could lose Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC and still be able to lure two teams (or more) to stay viable. Why? As long as the Texas/Oklahoma axis remains solid, so is the league. Fox invested $1.17 billion over 13 years just for the secondary rights. The Big 12 is going to hit another big financial home run in a couple of years when it goes out to bid. (The assumption is that ESPN will re-up for the primary rights.)

To this point, Oklahoma has shown a willingness to stay with Texas. While the schools are rivals on the field, ADs Joe Castiglione and DeLoss Dodds are close. They know that the fortunes of the two superpowers are mutually beneficial.

If Texas and Oklahoma stay bonded, the Big 12 is in somewhat of a position of power. It could raid the Big East and go to 12 or 16. Why not go get Pittsburgh and Louisville? Sure, Big East basketball great but think of a hoops league with Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Pittsburgh and Louisville.

BIG POINT NO. 1: Even though the Big East is due for a windfall rights fee of its own in a few years I'm told that the pending primary rights deal for the Big 12 would be bigger than the Big East's entire deal. 

Would that possibility pry Notre Dame loose? Not likely. ND AD Jack Swarbrick reiterated for the millionth time on Monday that his school is happy with independence. ND probably would need eight home games to make the deal work in the Big 12 because of its deal with NBC, at least one of those being a neutral site game. The school makes a reported $15 million a year from that deal. The Big 12 wouldn't say no then ND also reaping $20 million from the Big 12 deal. Heck, it's Notre Dame.

Texas AD DeLoss Dodds said publicly last year that the Big 12 would be an attractive place for Notre Dame's minor sports. The schools do start a four-game football series in 2015.

While we're at it, let's also forget the talk of Arkansas, SMU and Houston to the Big 12. Arkansas would be taking a pay cut. The Big 12 is already in the Dallas, Houston and state of Texas markets. SMU is making its case in part because it has been to back-to-back bowls. Is that all it takes these days?

In this age don't think of conference affiliations, think of which schools assembled together make for the most lucrative media rights deals. Remember, geography matters little. When TCU enters the Big East in 2012 that will be its fifth conference since 1995.

That's why the pool of candidates for the SEC's No. 14 has to include Missouri, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia Tech. That's not the list, it's a best-guess list if you believe that the SEC isn't going to expand inside its footprint. That means no Georgia Tech, no Louisville, no Clemson, no Florida State.

Whether the Big 12 loses Missouri or not, BYU has emerged as an attractive replacement for Texas A&M. That's not news. BYU has a loyal and large following. The question is whether BYU would give up its long-range plan for independence after only one year. One source last week went as far as to say BYU would be "excited" about the prospect of joining the Big 12.

AD Tom Holmoe told Brett McMurphy this month that his school was happy at the moment

While the Cougars have ESPN as a scheduling partner, it has to become apparent to the school sooner or later that it is all but out of BCS contention in most seasons. By going independent, it has the essentially the same BCS status as Army and Navy. That is to say, the only automatic berth would be if BYU finishes No. 1 or No. 2.

The six BCS conference champions are guaranteed a bid. A champion from one of the five non-BCS leagues get a bid if it finishes in the top 12 or top 16 if it is ranked higher in the final BCS standings than a BCS conference champion. Notre Dame (because it's Notre Dame) gets an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight of the BCS.

Army, Navy and BYU? Guaranteed only in the top two. BIG POINT NO. 2: Essentially that means BYU could finish 10-2 (or even 11-1) and have nothing guaranteed in the BCS.

Earlier this year, I wrote that BYU's independence was more about faith that most people thought. I'm starting to think all it would take is one year of being left out of the BCS (and a call from the Big 12) for the school's fans and officials to change their minds about independence.

Meanwhile, the "composition language" in the SEC contract is probably similar to that of the Big 12's. That means ESPN would most likely try to renegotiate downward its current deal with the Big 12. Say that is 10 percent of the contract given that A&M represents 10 percent of the Big 12. At that point it becomes like rearranging deck chairs. ESPN could tell the SEC, the money it is taking away from the Big 12 goes to the SEC. In essence, A&M's money would follow it to the SEC.

It isn't that easy. The SEC would most likely negotiate for more saying it is gaining huge viewership in the state of Texas. BIG POINT NO. 3: What's forgotten is the SEC isn't starting from a zero position. In case you haven't noticed, ESPN is already in Texas. SMU AD Steve Orsini told me last week that the ratings for Big 12 and SEC games in Dallas are "even." Whether that's true or not, there is already a big following for the SEC in the Lone Star State because there is a big following for the SEC everywhere. That's why the league already gets the big bucks.

A further hang-up on this A&M thing: It's better for everyone if the SEC expands by two all at once. That's one negotiation, rather than two. But if Texas A&M is one, what's the other?

It might not matter to the Big 12.
Posted on: July 25, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 8:43 pm
 

NCAA calls summit re: college networks

The NCAA has called an Aug. 22 summit to discuss collegiate networks, CBSSports.com learned Monday afternoon.

Texas received a letter dated Monday from Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs, inviting it to participate in an "educational summit regarding NCAA member and conference networks broadcasting youth sports." The growing issue of broadcasting high school games has become big enough for the main stakeholders to discuss the issue. The meeting will include representatives from Texas, BYU, the Big Ten, Notre Dame, the Pac-12 and the Mountain West. All of those entities have or are starting collegiate networks.

The move almost assures that The Longhorn Network will launch Aug. 26 without broadcasting high school games at least at the beginning of the season. The issue has become the latest hot-button offseason item in college sports because of Texas A&M's concern over Texas gaining a recruiting advantage.

"I'm stunned [at some of this]," said Texas AD DeLoss Dodds. "We've been saying the same thing from the beginning of this. We are not and will never do anything [to violate rules]. I'm a little surprised people would be concerned about us doing something."

Dodds added that the Big 12 ADs will meet Aug. 1 to discuss the issue. Those ADs, minus Texas, are still considering starting their own network. The issues are significant and confusing enough that the NCAA seemingly hasn't been able to rule on the legality of Texas broadcasting high school games.

"If you read Sports Business Journal or the New York Times, you'll see that viewership is up but attendance is down," said A&M AD Bill Byrne. "I'm worried about that. Everybody has a big flat screen. I've got one at my house. If it's a bad day, you don't have to go out to the ballgame, you can stay home. I worry about overexposure." 

Dodds also told CBSSports.com that Notre Dame may be interested in starting its own network after speaking to ND AD Jack Swarbrick.
Posted on: March 2, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 1:55 pm
 

BYU's honor code from the football side

PROVO, Utah -- In the middle of a spectacular sunny afternoon at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains, Bronco Mendenhall brought up the subject of player conduct. The BYU football coach probably didn't understand that a revealing look at the school's honor code would, in a few hours, take on added significance. 

It turns out Mendenhall was speaking hours before BYU suspended basketball center Brandon Davies on Tuesday for an honor code violation. The information was released Tuesday night. 

BYU is in the process of transitioning from the Mountain West to independent status in football. Almost all of its other sports will play in the West Coast Conference beginning next season. There is more urgency right now in basketball because it is seeking its first No. 1 seed. Davies was a key element in that chase. 


Here is BYU's honor code. You've probably heard or read about it in the past. The basics: honesty, chastity, abiding by the law, clean language, no alcohol, tobacco, tea or coffee and dress and grooming standards. Pertaining to nothing in this blog, it also includes a clause dealing with homosexuality.  

We didn't talk Tuesday about Mendenhall losing lost star running back Harvey Unga in April. Unga voluntarily withdrew from school because of an undisclosed honor code violation. These Mendenhall quotes are from an interview dealing with football independence. Once again, the Davies suspension had not been announced. 

"It doesn't mean that we still don't have a young man who makes a mistake out there," the coach said. "I'll lose about five players a year, probably, through academic choices or social choices or honor code choices ...

"To my knowledge we have the highest GPA in the country. When you're talking about recruiting young men, we're talking 3.3 cum [grade-point average] with at least a 19 [ACT] plus honor-code endorsed plus Division I [talent]. If we lose a player who, for some reason, hasn't had success here you're talking about an increased difficulty in him being replaced. We lose about 40 percent of our team every year through [two-year] missions and graduations. It's probably the highest turnover of any program in the country ...

"We really recruit quite a different kid. We will run into Stanford more than we'll run into Utah [in recruiting]."

Mendenhall said BYU players are a mix of those with Stanford's academic standards, the moral standards of military academy recruits with a "dust of Notre Dame". That refers to the religious underpinnings of the school. Oh, and they have to be good enough play in "a top 25 program." 

"Rather than complain about it," he said, "I see it as a great competitive advantage ... It matters how we play and it also matters how the kids live. More importantly it matters what they represent."

Mendenhall was reminded that, because of that honor code, what would be news at BYU isn't,  necessarily, at other schools. The trade-off, perhaps, is that the coach doesn't have to lecture his players on Fridays about staying out of trouble over the weekend. "I don't say that at all," Mendenhall said. It assumed they will walk the straight and narrow. He added that the 15 members of the football team who aren't Mormon, are seeking the same structure as the Mormon Church provides for members. 

"Grade-point average has been a better predictor of social conduct than religious preference," said Mendenhall who has coached at BYU six seasons. "The higher the grade-point average of these kids coming in, the more obedient they are, the more faithful they are."

Over those six seasons, a question was asked of each of the players: Why did you choose BYU? Ninety percent, the coach said, replied "faith." 

"Most of them want to be around like-minded youth," he said. "Catholic kids, Methodist kids, Lutheran kids that come, I don't offer any of them scholarships unless their parents come on campus. How do you explain through words or pictures what this is?"
Category: NCAAF
Tags: BYU, Stanford, Utah
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com