Making the Rounds: Random Offseason News

ESPN: Air Force is joining the in on the barage of football games at Yankee Stadium and will take on Army in 2012.  Also, Notre Dame is possibly looking at scheduling TCU, but not in 2010 as some suggest.   That game, if scheduled, would be a one and down if the money is high enough and might be in either 2011 or 2012.

Kelly Lyell, The Coloradoan: The Rams finally get back safety Klint Kubiak after he had a right ankle sprain that cost him five games and torn ligament in his left knee that cost him two more.

Kubiak was one of the teams leader last year and should be able to help improve a defense that was last in the Mountain West.

Jake Schaller, The Gazatte: Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson at the annual media days was still fighting the fight against the BCS.  Thompson believes the league must prove it on the field but had this to say about the BCS:

“If we don’t do well, they’ll say, ‘Yup, see, they can’t do it. They’re not there,’If we do have success, they’ll say, ‘Maybe they’re right, maybe they can play at this level.’ … It is what it is. We know we have to win games.”

On the field performance is the key for the Mountain West to have a chance of inclusion to the BCS, but even that may not be enough because the rules for BCS inclusion are so vague. However if the league is able to continue its 2008 success then the BCS will have to include the MWC.

Lya Wodraska, Salt Lake Tribune: The Utes picked up another recruit in Star Lotulelei who is a 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive lineman. He was planning on going to BYU but while at Snow College communication was lost, so Lotulelei ended up at Utah.

“BYU didn’t stay in touch with me,” he said. “I heard from the Utah coaches, both coach (Jay) Hill and (Kalani) Sitake stayed in touch with me. I’m excited, Utah is close to home so my family will be able to see me a lot.”

Looks like Utah was able to snag this recruit from BYU, but it may not have mattered because BYU has only a few scholarships left for the2010 season.  That could be why BYU did not keep in touch.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News: The bottom of the Mountain West is looking form someway to catch the Big three — BYU, Utah, and TCU.  Air Force looks to be the closest with the resurgence from new head coach Troy Calhoun.

UNLV and Colorado State are making strides but are still not there. The rest New Mexico, Wyoming, and San Diego State, are hoping that their new hires will be the move that gets them over the top. New Mexico head coch Mike Locklsey believes the difference is not that large:

“Now, having been indoctrinated into the league as a head coach, you see that there is the Air Force Academy, Colorado State, and UNLV is nipping at your heels. New Mexico? I didn’t know much about it, but when you look at the run New Mexico’s had over the last 10 years, they’ve won as many conference games as some of the Big Three as we’ve talked about.”

Brent Schrotenboer, San Diego Union Tribune: The Aztecs have finally reached a ten year deal to keep San Diego State in Qualcomm Stadium.  The 2008 season had the Aztecs playing in the stadium without a lease, but Qualcomm allowed them to play the season while working on a new deal.

Qualcomm was weary about  a new lease because of they were losing about 30,000 dollars per game, below is the basics for the new deal:

“Under the new lease, SDSU will pay the city about $95,000, including the $30,000 in additional expenses and an estimated $15,000 from the added surcharge. Most tickets will include the surcharge except for student tickets and some others.”

This is a relief for the Aztecs, because without this they would have no place to play.  The surcharge is going to be just one dollar per ticket to all sporting events to cover the rest of the costs.

Joey Nowak San Diego Union Tribune: Head coach Brady Hoke is doing a great job in recruiting and so far has a verbal commit from four star quarterback Tyler Bray.  He also is the fourteenth rated pro style quarterback and is the 229th ranked player in the 2010 class.

His choice game down to San Diego State, USC, and Tennessee and his decision came down to where other top quarterback recruit Jesse Scroggins was going.  Scroggins chose USC which made Bray’s decision easier.  Here is what his high school coach Dace Steele had to say on his choice:

“I think (Bray) felt he had a good opportunity to come in and be productive fairly early in his career at (SDSU). The program is in the right direction, so I was excited for him when he decided that’s what he wanted to do.”

Even though Bray has said his choice is firm Tennessee is still pursing Bray, because the Vols lost out on the Scroggins sweepstakes.

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Fiesta Bowl Rematch in 2010 With Pitt Traveling to Utah

The good writers at BlockU found this nugget from Utah Assistant athletic director for corporate sales and ticket operations Zack Lassiter’s twitter feed.

“Fiesta Bowl rematch in the works. Pitt to play at RES in 2010 as part of a home and home series. Contract on its way to Pitt for signature”

Now that would be cool to have a home and home with a BCS league and for the game to be played first in Rice-Eccles

This is what 2010’s OOC schedule looks like right now for the Utes:

@ Iowa State


@ Notre Dame

San Jose State

Good to see the Utes are able to make some noise in scheduling home and home and not just the one in done they have inked in recent years: most notable Michigan in 2008 and Notre Dame next year.

UPDATE: For some reason the twitter post has been removed, I was going to do a screen shot to post, but life got in the way and when I checked back it was no longer there.

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Previewing 2009 New Mexico Opponents: Texas Tech Red Raiaders

Texas Tech is going to take a step back from last year, because the lost all-everything wide out Michael Crabtree to the NFL and gun slinger Graham Harrell to the CFL.

The pirate Mike Leach historically has had little problem replacing the production at quarterback, but the only difference is that Graham Harrel is the only three year starter under Mike Leach’s offense.

New quarterback Taylor Potts is a former three star recruit and should produce at least 4,000 yards even though he has little game experience which is detailed in the chart.

Passing Com% Yards TD INT
Taylor Potts 63.9 260 2 1
Rushing Carries Yards Yards Per Carry TD
Baron Batch 113 758 6.7 7
Receiving Catches Yards Yards Per Catch TD
Detron Lewis 76 913 12.0 3
Lyle Leong 18 206 11.4 3
Edward Britton 35 577 16.5 6
Rashad Hawk 5 65 13.0 0

Everyone knows what to expect from the Red Raiders offense, all passing all the time.  The player most likely to try to replace Michael Crabtree will be Lyle Leong who as the secondary receiver still managed 76 catches and near 1,000 yards.

His yards may not be able to improve too much but Leong will be the primary target and increase his touchdown total to around ten.  Not only do the Red Raiders have to replace their play makers they only return four starters on offense; which happens to include four offensive lineman.

Even though four lineman need to be replaced that area should not see a drop off and the only problem will be how long it takes for them to gel up front.

Even though the Tech offense is known as ‘Air Raid’ they did have two backs rush for over 750 yards and a 6.7 yard per carry, and the Raiders used much more two back sets then in recent years.  They also return their leading rusher from 2008 in Baron Batch who will be accompanied by redshirt freshman Harrison Jeffers who happens to be the fastest player on the team.

The offense will be fine, especially in the Big XII where there is little or no defense, and speaking of defense the Raiders must stop someone to try to break the choke-hold of Texas and Oklahoma at the top.

However this is not the year for the Red Raiders who will most likely finish fourth in the Big XII South and they should welcome the Alamo Bowl with open arms.

They do return six players on defense, but it was a mediocre defense and gave up 28 points per game which surprisingly was fourth in the Big XII.  The defense main responsibility is to try to slow down which has been so-so over the years.

The star on defense Jamar Wall who plays cornerback and had seven picks and he has the ability to take away half of the field on pass defense.  However the rest of the secondary is very questionable, and in a league with Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy at the quarterback the secondary will be in trouble.

The defensive line should be the strength of the defense which will be led by Colby Whitlock and Rajon Henley and are very good against the run.  The rest of the line includes Brandon Sesay, Sandy Riley and then there is incoming freshman Pearlie Graves, who turned down Tennessee and Michigan to join Texas Tech so there is  optimism at the end position.

The Red Raiders will definitely take a stop back but still has a solid chance at getting nine wins for the upcoming season.

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The Revenue Disparity is Bigger then You Think

The Orlando Sentinel is running a series on the “Tough times: College sports and the economy.” It is a very good read so far, and in their college football blog  there is post today — a must read for any college fan — about the revenue each FBS school took in from 2008.

The total for the MWC was $276,800,202 a quarter of a billion dollars is not bad, but the top three schools alone are over $340 million.  The MWC teams are listed in bold, and a few things surprised me.

First is that TCU was highest MWC and non-BCS school on the list and by a good margin.  The biggest surprise was that Utah ranked 7th in revenue for the timeframe.

There is no surprise that the BCS schools make more money but the amount is staggering, just look at the bottom of the list with Louisana-Monroe who pulled in less then seven million!

This makes what any non-BCS school accomplish seem to be even greater then we thought.  Just look at Utah they defeated Alabama who took in $88 million which is more then three times what Utah brought in last year who was just under $27 million.

The list is after the jump.

Continue reading

Time For the Annual Expansion Talk … This Time We Mean It

Each year around this time expansion gets talked about by adding Boise State and others to form a stronger league for BCS consideration.   This topic goes back a few years and really became interesting last November when Paul J. Schneider reported on KTIK that says Boise State has received a letter indicating that the Mountain West will invite the school to the conference next spring.

We all know that did not happen, and in my opinion for very good reason, because the four year cycle for BCS evaluation began last year.  By not inviting Boise this year to join next year possibly could hamper Boise’s record may not be as stellar if they stay in the WAC.

So, for example if Boise State were to move to the MWC next season in 2010 which would be year three of the cycle their firs to years in the WAC would count.  2008 Boise State finished the regular season in the top 10 — we use the regular season because that is in the BCS rules — and this year they most likely they will be in the top 20 at worst.  Those years would count toward the Mountain West conference evaluation even though they would still be in the WAC.

My opinion is that the call will come next June for at least Boise State to join the Mountain West and begin play in the 2011 season.  There is no concrete evidence with the exception of that mystery letter last November.

My reasoning is that historically Boise State has been ranked in the top 20, and the most important factor is that during the first three years they would have done their typical WAC dominance and then have one year in the Mountain West.  That first year in the MWC may not result in a 11 win season, but they would be on par with BYU, Utah, and TCU.

While in my opinion this would be a good news for the MWC to add Boise State and that would prop the conference to be included for the BCS and possibly even ahead of the Big East and ACC.

However Dirk Harmon from the Deseret News disagrees that expansion will ever happen, and his reasoning is not because that Boise State is not a great program but it is money.

That reasoning is weak, because Harmon says that the school presidents have done in-depth research and feel that splitting the television contract another way is not worth it.  Also, Harmon must not know his very recent history from last year and writes this in his column:

“No non-BCS conference champion has ever gone to a BCS bowl with a loss. And probably never will.”

What he does not realize that TCU was ranked high enough to qualify with one less, it just happened that Utah and Boise State were ranked higher.

The money situation may be valid in the short term, however when a new deal is reached there will be more money because there are better teams.  Plus with the extra team there would be more games to be broadcasts.

There is also an outside shot of CBS running noon eastern games for the MWC when their next deal comes up.  The MWC is all ready partners with CBS College Sports, so that could help the league move a few games to CBS.

If the league gets included to the BCS the eventually money would be enough to supplement of adding a 10th team to the Mountain West, and it would there would be an additional bowl game.

The money argument is weak because each BCS bowl pays out approximately $18 millions and they do not have to share with the other leagues, as it is currently stated when a non-BCS school gets invited.  Over time that  money would offset the extra split of the pie, plus that extra money could yeild UNLV, SDSU, and the others who have been at the bottom of the league could make a jump like Cincinatti.

The other factor is if the league wants to go to a nine game conference schedule –similar to the Pac-10– with three non-conference games.  The league should not adopt that because that would guarantee more loses within the league and limit the bowl teams.  That is something the Pac-10 is learning the hard way.

Also, Air Force would object because they all ready play Navy and Army each year and that would give them only one non-conference game.  The other objection could be similar to the Big 10 where the league does not play each other and on a certain year a lesser team could be 8-0 league play without having to play top teams.

That is not too hard to fix, because if Boise State makes the move there would be four very good teams and it would be hard for a team to sneak by because on an off year they would face three of those teams.  The Big 10 is different because they miss two teams instead of one.

Again, my prediction is bold but Boise State will be invited to the Mountain West next year, and start play in the 2011 season.  That happens to be the last year of the four year BCS evaluation and Boise State’s previos three years will count and that could possibly move the MWC to an automatic qualifier in the BCS.

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Making the Rounds: More Media Day Madness

Daily Herald, Darnell Dickenson: Last year BYU was predictable on offense and changes were not made to adjust.  Now this year in an attempt to change that with Bronco Mendenhall passing along play calling to defensive coordinator Jaime Hill:

“I’ll take more of a consultant role,” Mendenhall said. “But I reserve the right to make a play call in a critical moment, a key third down. I’ll work toward managing the entire game.”

This might make the difference for BYU since last year they were very predictable, and maybe a new prospective will do BYU good.  Bronco did pass it off as no big deal but it is because of how last year the team flamed out against good opponents.

Lya Wodraska Salt Lake Tribune: Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham is now the top of the MWC and the non-BCS schools for his 2008 season.  Coach Whittingham is taking it in stride by telling players that 2008 was great but it is behind us, and here is what he specifically said about moving forward:

“What we did last year was great, but it’s time to move on,” he said. “We had that meeting in January. It wasn’t easy to put it into practice, when the town was having parades, there was no clean cut from last year. Hopefully everything is behind us and we can move forward.”

Smart move for Whittingham to move forward and focus on 2009.  He does have experience since he took over after the 2004 Utah team that went undefeated, so hopefully he picked up a few tricks to keep the team focused.

Stefan Stevenson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Jerry Hughes had two goals he wanted to accomplish from his playing career at TCU, which is why he did not go to the pros last year.  Which was to get his degree and get a ring:

“I felt like the season we had last year we left a lot of things incomplete,” Hughes said. “TCU is a great academic school and I always knew if [a degree] was something I had an opportunity to get I was going to go through with it.”

Very smart for Hughes to want to get a degree to help himself once he is done after his NFL career, and hopefully if TCU is as good as they should be his draft stock will only increase.

Ken Ritter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson who has been lobbying for change feels that it will take five years before any change, if any, will occur with the BCS.

“If you perform and you win games and you’re playing quality opponents and you’re beating the Oklahomas, the Alabamas, the UCLAs, the Michigans, and all the people we’ve beaten,” he said, “that should be our statement.”

I typically do not always agree with the Commish, but this is the only way to get inclusion.  In my opinion the MWC is very close to earning an auto-bid for the BCS, and if they have another year of multiple teams in the top 16 then the MWC deserves an auto bid to the BCS.

Jay Drew, Salt Lake Tribune: With all of the hissy fits that were thrown in an effort to find out who did not vote for Tim Tebow brought out another major flaw in the voting process that everyone knows: coaches do not fill out their own ballot.  BYU head man Bronco Mendenhall believes that voting should not start until week six:

“I don’t think it is possible to pick, nor do I think, philosophically, that there ought to be any preseason polls, period,” he said. “I don’t think there ought to be a preseason conference poll, nor do I think there should be a preseason national poll.”

Six might be a bit much but after week four should be the date when polls are released.  We all know that will never happen, because television wants to promote we have such and such ranked here so come watch out game.  Plus, even with the Harris Poll starting their voting in October it essentially mirrors the AP and coaches poll when it is released.

Lya Wodraska, Salt Lake Tribune: This article is something I have been harping on with the unfairness of money distribution of BCS money.  Finally MWC Commissioner, Craig Thompson, is bringing this to the for front.  Currently the non-BCS teams share nine percent of the revenue each year, but in a year when a non-BCS gets in the money is an additional nine percent, but that is shared with all five non-BCS schools.

That money should be awarded to the conference for sending a team to the big money games, but since everyone is greedy the other four leagues cry foul with that statement since that is a way they improve their football program.  Here is what Thompson said on the issue:

“I can see those other four leagues getting some for participation, but the best for us would be when a conference gets a team in the BCS, the other nine percent goes totally to that conference,”

Common sense is a dangerous word in college football, because not many have it and it is needed in this situation to realize the league deserves the money for qualifying. As a side note MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson was renewed through 2012.

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