Tag:Houston
Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:39 pm
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Big East-to-West moves forward sluggishly

When the ACC raided the Big East once again in September, the stated intention of the fractured league was to remain a BCS conference. Or whatever the definition of a big time conference was going to be in 2014.

That’s the year when everything changes. College football’s postseason is going to be adjusted, making it less about what league you’re in and more about what your league is worth. Right now, the reconstituted Big East is attempting to rebuild its worth before increasing it.

And that’s the tragedy that overshadowed this week’s announcement that Memphis was joining the league in 2013. A few months ago Big East turned down a massive $1 billion offer from ESPN, hoping for something better. Sounds laughable now, doesn’t it? Memphis is in the league for the same reason West Virginia is suing to get out of it.

"The Big East and its Commissioner failed to take proactive measures to maintain, let alone enhance, the level of competition for the Big East football schools,” West Virginia’s lawsuit against the Big East reads.

Remember, this is a football discussion. While Big East basketball remains powerful, it is the economics of TV that football still drives these contracts. By far. Then throw in the fact that college basketball on television is becoming oversaturated. Football is going to have to carry the new Big East when formal negotiations begin later this year.

Things have changed a lot in six months. Commissioner John Marinatto has gambled and won in the sense that is league is still a league. He has lost in that a TV windfall along the lines of $1 billion look less likely. That was the amount ESPN offered last year (for nine years) to broadcast the Big East.

That was before the ACC struck and West Virginia left. Since then, Marinatto’s league has been reduced to selling the Big East brand to the likes of San Diego State more than selling Big East football.  Memphis is marginally better off, I suppose, than in Conference USA. Still, the jokes about Boise State being in the Big East West Division haven’t died down. It’s a great week for Memphis but in the end the school was nothing more than a live body willing fill out the lineup.

And that lineup for 2013 looks more like Conference USA. In about 2005. In fact, the projected 2013 Big East roster includes seven former Conference USA schools.

Back in the mid-2000s the Conference USA football deal was worth about $9 million per year. The current Big East deal, due to run out in 2014, is worth about $35 million per year for what in 2011 was eight teams.

That’s after the league turned down that $1 billion offer last year. Think an average of $111 million per year would have kept the 21-year old football conference together? It certainly would have kept the Big East on ESPN which all that matters these days as conferences morph into content farms for TV. Now there is speculation that the Worldwide Leader, upset at being rejected, could lowball the Big East  when its deal expires after 2013-14. Or drop out all together.

One industry analyst texted me saying the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC alone  will worth more than a new Big East deal in 2014. The Sports Business Journal reported Monday that the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse will mean a $1 million-$2 million bump per year for ACC members. In a matter of a whirlwind few months, the Big East’s hopes for a lucrative TV contract now rest with Boise State, Connecticut, Houston and Rutgers.

Those are the four most attractive Big East schools to TV, according to the analyst.

CBS Sports Network may be interested in the new Big East-to-West Conference. The same goes for the NBC/Comcast. Its new NBC Sports Network needs programming. But don’t expect a bidding war. That’s what has driven up the price of college football in the past decade – the public’s insatiable desire for more of it. But even during that gold rush there has been a clear dividing line – thank you, BCS – between the haves and have nots.

The Big East-to-West TV carrier(s) may pay a lot more than $35 million, but it/they won’t overpay. The point is not to lose money on a diminished football league, especially with the Big 12 out there for grabs in 2015.

No matter what the outcome, the Big East is going to be something like the sixth-richest conference, just like it was in the last round of negotiations.  The same market forces still apply. The Big East has been in the BCS only because of a waiver granted in 2007. The latest BCS contract expires in a couple of years, coincidentally at about the same time as the Big East’s TV contract.

Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese always said there should be a major college football presence in the Northeast. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore. Not in one conference. The league always claimed New York in its TV footprint. But with Syracuse leaving and San Diego, Boise, Houston and Memphis coming in, how much longer can Big East football be a big presence in the <>East<> much less nationwide?

 

Posted on: January 15, 2012 12:47 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 1:04 pm
 

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league

One option being considered Sunday by two conferences' CEOs is to "dissolve" Conference USA and the Mountain West before forming a new league, CBSSports.com learned.

The move could have ramifications on current TV deals and put the new "Big Country" -- let's call it -- in line ahead of the Big East for a new TV rights deal. Dissolving both leagues could conceivably alter current TV deals in place with the MWC and CUSA and make the Big Country a new entity to be bid on by TV rightsholders.

The Big East is attempting to survive by realigning prior to the end of its current TV deal in 2013-14. The Big East and Big Ten (after 2014-15) are next in line to cash in with rightsholders. In figures obtained by CBSSports.com, a 12-team Big East configured for debut in 2013, would be significantly ahead of a merged CUSA/MWC in terms of average BCS computer ranking.

A year ago, Conference USA signed a $43 mlllion deal with Fox to broadcast a mininmum of 20 football games per year including the league's title game through the 2015 season. At the time ESPN protested saying it believed it had the right of first refusal on such a deal with Conference USA.

CBSSports.com reported Thursday that the two leagues' presidents would meet Sunday in Dallas to discuss forming a new league. Beginning in 2013 the "Big Country" would have 17 teams. There has been discussion whether to stay at that number or possibly add a team or teams. The new league could be football only, all sports or some other consolidation. 

With the assumed end of automatic qualifying conferences in the BCS, the rush is on to simply become as attractive as possible to TV rightsholders. One of the advantages of a combined MWC/CUSA league is strength in numbers. Seventeen (or more) schools would fortify the new league against departures if it was raided in the future.

A 17-team league (at least) would be the largest conference in FBS (formally Division I-A). That would mean a lot of inventory for a rightholder(s) with teams in 14 states extending over five time zones.  

According to a source, the five current non-automatic qualifying conferences distribute BCS money based on a performance-based ranking system. Half of the money received from the BCS is split evenly among the five. The other half is split based on the ranking. For the first time in six years, the Mountain West was not the leader of those five (MWC, CUSA, MAC, Sun Belt, WAC). CUSA was No. 1 in 2011.

Previously, the Mountain West had applied for a waiver to the BCS presidents that would allow it to temporarily become a BCS conference in 2012 and 2013. MWC commissioner Craig Thompson told CBSSports.com last week, "I'm not overly optimistic."

According to the figures mentioned above, the average computer ranking for the projected 17 "Big Country" schools in 2011 was 86.18. That ranges from a high of 21.83 for Southern Miss and a low of 117.33 for New Mexico. The Big East average of 53.8 ranges from a high of 10.67 for Boise State to 89.5 for Central Florida.

The figures are based on this 12-team Big East projection:

Boise State
Central Florida
Cincinnati
Connecticut
Houston
Louisville
Navy
San Diego State
SMU
South Florida
Rutgers
Temple 

Posted on: January 12, 2012 2:10 pm
 

MWC, CUSA talk forming new league

Presidents from the Mountain West and Conference USA will meet Sunday in Dallas to discuss forming a new league, CBSSports.com has learned.

The move was not described as a full-on merger and talks are still in the early stages. According to a source, the new league could be football only, all sports or some other consolidation. Two sources said not all of the two conferences’ presidents will attend the meeting.

But there is urgency on both sides.  Raiding by the Big East has caused each conference to reconsider its future.  Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson told CBSSports.com last week that he is concerned about membership issues in light of recent defections. The NCAA requires a league to have at least six members that sponsor, at a minimum, eight men’s sports and six women’s sports.

The leagues announced in October that they were forming a football “association” for scheduling purposes. Back then, the idea was for the champions of the two leagues to play with the winner getting an automatic BCS berth. That was before the Big East moved aggressively to invite a combined five schools from both conferences.

A 90-day memorandum of understanding that came out of the October announcement expires on Sunday, the same day as the meeting.

Also in October, the Mountain West and Conference USA proposed a consortium with the Big East that would include more than a quarter of the 120 FBS schools.

CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy reported in December that the two leagues were looking at an all-sports merger. Boise State and San Diego State from the Mountain West as well as SMU, Houston and Central Florida from Conference USA were formally invited to the Big East in early December.

Crippling the leagues further: According to an industry source, Boise, SMU and Houston comprise three of the four most TV-attractive schools from the current Mountain West and Conference USA. Air Force is the other.

The earliest the new league being reported today could begin play is 2013, but that start date may have to be pushed back.

With the apparent end of automatic qualifying conferences (beginning in 2014), the two leagues would be fortifying themselves are strongly as possible. One Conference USA school source speculated how different a new league would be from the new Big East in terms of football strength and television viability. The answer as of now: Not much.  

Posted on: December 14, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 5:12 pm
 

Hypocrite Week during coaching silly season

The clear losers today in the coaching carousel are SMU and Arizona State. That’s two schools with coaches under contract.

That’s part of the problem.

The SMU administration already has taken back June Jones who dumped his employer of four years and had all but left for Arizona State last week. The ASU administration apparently learned nothing. It “quickly” went out – well, six days – and hired Todd Graham from Pittsburgh.  

The story is not that Graham stayed exactly 337 days with the Panthers. It's not that Arizona State took 17 days in a sun-splashed desert paradise to find a replacement for Dennis Erickson. 

It’s that either of these schools are actually honoring signed contracts. The guys they currently employ haven't. Graham has made the word “vagabond” seem like permanent employment over the course of his career. Carpetbaggers think he is disloyal.

Meanwhile, Jones has told SMU through his actions that he doesn’t want to be there. He knows that. The school knows that. Yet it has taken him back.

At some point, administrators are going to start treating coaches like free-lance workers. There will be no-compete clauses where coaches can’t talk to a potential employer. Their salaries will be end-of-the year retention bonuses. If a coach leaves within three years he owes a buyout: You name it, $2 million, $5 million, $10 million. It’s already been done.

Yes, coaches are not loyal. You’ll be reading a lot of that over the next several days. It has turned into an offseason angle du juor. But what about the schools? A week after the season ended, Texas A&M Bill Byrne was forced to fire Mike Sherman. The school president and a booster wanted change. They eventually got their man in Houston’s Kevin Sumlin.

That’s why coaches have buyouts too.

Shame on administrations, though, for repeating their mistakes. It’s often cited that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. What, then, about either school’s conduct tells anyone that they have changed?

Pittsburgh is Graham’s second school where he spent one season before bolting to the next best thing. Except in this case, going to Arizona State is a lateral move. At best. ASU traded a 6-6 coach (Erickson) for a 6-6 coach (Graham). The difference in the two jobs is the weather. Both Pittsburgh and Arizona State have been a chronic underachievers for years.

At least in Tempe, it’s a dry mediocrity.

If I’m an SMU player I have a hard time playing for Jones at this point. A coach who asked his athletes for dedication and loyalty has shown none. Even worse, Jones came back after swinging and missing at another job. Still worse, the school took him back.

I recommend you start following Pittsburgh receiver Devin Street on Twitter (@D_Street_15) for a street-level view.

Sample: I'm literally sick.. That man [Graham] pulled me in his office one on one and lied to me.

The poor players are caught in the crossfire. The Todd Grahams of the world have absolutely no remorse when they reportedly inform players of their departure by text. If the technology had been available when Dennis Franchione left Alabama he still wouldn’t have used it.

Simple human decency clauses need to be inserted in some of these contracts.

And the vicious circle continues. Wednesday’s magic number was 4: That’s the number of jobs Charlie Weis has held since December 2009. Also, the number of coaches Pittsburgh will have since December 2010 when it gets around to replacing Graham.

This is lovely karma for those who despise the actions of Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg. His name has been cussed in Big East circles for three months now. After once pledging loyalty to the Big East, Nordenberg led a surreptitious move to the ACC in September.

What comes around, Markie Mark.

As Hypocrite Week continued, someone tweeted these words an Arizona State administrator as Graham was introduced: "What we sought in a football coach was someone who would be in it for the long term at Arizona State"

And no one laughed. 

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: December 7, 2011 1:10 pm
 

Robert Griffin wins Scripps Heisman Poll

Baylor’s Robert Griffin III will be the Heisman Trophy winner according to the oldest Heisman poll.

Scripps-Howard News Service announced Wednesday that Griffin had barely nosed out Stanford’s Andrew Luck in its last Scripps Heisman Poll. The Scripps Poll has correctly matched the Heisman winner 20 of the last 24 years since it started in 1987.

Points are assigned on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis.

Ten media members vote each week. They are listed below.

 1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor, 40 points (6 first-place votes)

2. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford, 38 (3)

3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama, 19 (1)

4.(tie) Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin, 18; Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU, 18

Others receiving votes: USC QB Matt Barkley 7, Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden 5, Houston QB Case Keenum 3, Boise State QB Kellen Moore 2.

Voters: Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman; Randy Beard, Evansville Courier and Press; Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Bob Condotta, Seattle Times; Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com; Vahe Gregorian, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; John Helsley, The Oklahoman; Mike Griffith, Knoxville News-Sentinel; Michael Lewis, Salt Lake Tribune; and Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger.

Posted on: December 6, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 10:03 am
 

Comparing old Big East to new Big East

Start with the fact the Big East has BCS membership only because of a hall pass.

The BCS commissioners awarded the conference a waiver to stay in the club in 2007 just, well, because. Back then, the Big East still had enough existing juice from its teams and power from its administrators to keep its nose under the BCS tent.

No more.

You don’t have to be told that the Big East hasn’t had a team ranked in the final BCS top 20 since 2009. Or had one team in the top 10 of the BCS since 2008. (The Big Ten has had seven.) Such things matter when a conference is being awarded an $18 million-$20 million bowl game each year just, because.

That’s why you may have noticed the Big East is expanding, to chase that magic BCS berth like it was a contact high. CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy reported Tuesday that Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU and Central Florida will join the league in 2013.

The problem is no one really knows what it all means. Four of the five new schools are basically warm bodies to keep the Big East afloat. The league is hoping the fifth, Boise, can keep the conference in the BCS big time. Air Force and Navy may join later.

But there’s no certainty the BCS is even going to be around in a few years. Commissioners will spend most of the next year deciding what college football’s postseason will look like beginning in 2014 (when the current BCS contract expires). The question – now that there is a bit of clarity regarding Big East membership – is if the league is better off with this current expansion.

Short answer: No. Not even close. The schools that have left – West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh – have accounted for five BCS bowls in the 14-year history of the system. That’s more than twice as many as the new schools bring to the table, all of them by Boise State (two).

But what choice did the Big East have? After the latest ACC raid, it just needed a heartbeat.

Here is  breakdown between the old and new. Decide for yourself if the Big East is worthy of a BCS bid.

(Note: We are considering the “highest level of football” since 1973 when Division I was established by the NCAA. Boise State moved up to Division I-A in 1996. All ranking references are to the Associated Press and BCS.)

 

Boise State

Conference: Mountain West, first year

Age of program at highest level of college football: 16th year in Division I-A/FBS

Years in the BCS era that the Broncos ended the season ranked (1998-present): Seven

The last year the Broncos ended the season ranked: 2011

BCS bowls: two (2007 Fiesta, 2010 Fiesta)

 

San Diego State

Conference: Mountain West, 13th year

Age of program at highest level: 39th year in Division I/Division I-A/FBS

Years in the BCS era that the Aztecs ended the season ranked: None.

The last year the Aztecs ended the season ranked: 1977

BCS bowls: None.

 

Houston

Conference: Conference USA, 16th year

Age of program at highest level: 39th year in Division I/Division I-A/FBS

Years in the BCS era that the Cougars ended the season ranked: One (2011)

The last year the Cougars ended the season ranked: 1990

BCS bowls: None



SMU

Conference: Conference USA, sixth year
 
Age of program at highest level: 39th year in Division I/Division I-A/FBS

Years in the BCS era that the Mustangs ended the season ranked: None.

The last year the Mustangs ended ranked: 1984

BCS bowls: None.

  

Central Florida

Conference: Conference USA, sixth year  

Age of program at highest level: 16th year in Division I-A/FBS

Years in the BCS era the Knights ended the season ranked: One (2010)

The last year the Knights ended ranked: 2010.

BCS bowls: None.

 

The skinny on new teams

Average stay in current conference: 8.4 years

Average age of new programs at highest level of football: 29.8 years

Total seasons in the BCS era that ended with a ranking: Nine (average of 1.8 times per school)

Average length of time, in years, since last end-of-season ranking: 16.4 years

Last season ranked at the end of the season: Boise, 2011

Total BCS bowls: Two.

 

The skinny on departing teams (West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse)

Average stay in current conference: 20 years (Each year was a charter member in football.)

Average age of programs playing at the highest level of football: 39

Total seasons in the BCS era that ended with a ranking: 12 (average of four times per school)

Average length of time, in years, since last end-of-season ranking: four

Last season ranked at end of the season: 2011 (West Virginia)

Total BCS bowls: 5


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