Montana says ‘no thanks’ to WAC, Div. 1-A jump


As the WAC is set to add two football schools to their depleted ranks, the one school they were really hoping to grab has decided to stay put.

In a release issued by the school, Montana announced that they will stay in the Big Sky Conference and not make the jump from Div. 1-AA* to Div. 1 -A” at any point in the foreseeable future.  The Grizzlies have been in the midst of a feasibility study in an effort to gauge what it would take to move up a level in football, and were expected to make a decision in the next few weeks.

An invitation from the WAC was reportedly Montana’s for the taking, but the school has apparently decided the status quo is the proper course for its very successful football program at this point in time.

“It was a complex issue with many pros and cons,” said UM president Royce Engstrom. “In the end, the better course is to stay with the conference we helped establish in 1963 and to continue building on its solid foundation. …

“At this time, FCS football presents the best overall fit for the University, it provides our student-athletes and fans with a great experience, and it is consistent with the strategic direction of the University.”

Engstrom said in the statement on the school’s official website that there were three principles that guided his decision.

First, he wanted to maintain the cross-state rivalry between UM and Montana State University-Bozeman, which he regards as essential to the state’s cultural fabric. The two institutions played their first college football rivalry game in 1897. Now nicknamed the Brawl of the Wild, it’s the fourth-oldest active rivalry in the FCS and the oldest west of the Mississippi.

Second, he wanted UM to compete with more mission-similar institutions. He said the recent addition of the University of North Dakota strengthened the Big Sky Conference in that regard.

Finally, he wanted to ensure that UM athletic teams can compete successfully and maintain the prestige and integrity the program has demonstrated over the years.

The Grizzlies have been to the playoffs — Playoffs?  What are these college football playoffs they speak of? — a Div. 1-AA-record 17 straight seasons, and would certainly have been a quality addition to a conference in desperate need of such additions.

And, speaking of desperate additions, it was announced Thursday that Texas State and the University of Texas at San Antonio will be the seventh and eighth football members of the WAC, which will become the latest in a long line of conferences to reshape themselves over the past century-plus.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times)

(Writer’s note: I refuse to refer to the divisions of football by the names currently attached to them by the NCAA.  To borrow a line from one of the most underrated movies of all-time, “his momma called him 1-A/1-AA, I’ma call him 1-A/1-AA.”  Thank you, and have a nice day.)

Navy’s Army-Navy Game uniforms won’t give up the ship

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Navy lost a chance to play for the American Athletic Conference this past weekend with a road loss at Houston, but the Midshipmen will still get a chance to close out the regular season with a win. They will be doing so in quite a unique style.

On Monday, Navy took to social media to show off their specially designed “Navy Fleet” uniforms and hand-painted helmets that will be worn for the annual Army-Navy Game next week. We have seen individually hand-painted helmets before, but never quite like this. The helmets to be worn will pay tribute to seven historic battleships in the United States Navy, and each player will have a different ship on their helmet depending on their position.

Here is the helmet design breakdown, as explained by Navy:

  • Linebacker: Cruiser- Provides anti-air defense and packs the biggest punch of Naval surface ships representative of the linebackers on the Navy football team
  • Defensive Back: Destroyer- Known for significant fire power, speed, and anti-missile defense as are Navy’s defensive backs
  • Wide Receiver: Submarine- Predominantly utilized as blockers, wide receivers play a key role in driving the Navy rush attack, taking on a stealth-like persona as they blend into the rhythm of the offense but bring significant fire power when called upon, just like a Naval submarine
  • Lineman: Amphibious Assault Ships- Just as a lineman’s job is the create a hole for a running back or linebacker, these ships are utilized to establish the “beach head” that enables the invading force to gain access and ultimately accomplish their objective
  • Quarterback: Aircraft Carrier- The QB of the Naval Fleet, the aircraft carrier is the ultimate decision maker; the “quick strike” weapon of the Naval fleet
  • Running Back: Littoral Combat Ship- Like running backs, these fast and nimble ships can navigate through both crowded shallow and deep waters
  • Kicker/Special Teams: Minesweeper- Much like the specific task of the Navy special teams, this small ship has a unique mission of identifying and eliminating mines

Compared to some of the uniforms Navy has worn in the past for the Army-Navy Game, these are certainly more unique. I’m personally a fan more of some of the more recent uniforms worn, but I certainly cannot wait to see what these uniforms look like in person.

Army and Navy square off in Philadelphia on Saturday, December 12.

Report: Michigan QB Jake Rudock could play in bowl game

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We do not yet know which bowl game Michigan will be playing in this bowl season, but the outlooks appears promising for quarterback Jake Rudock and his chances to play in the postseason game.

Rudock was knocked out of Michigan’s weekend loss to rival Ohio State after being on the wrong end of a Joey Bosa takedown. The play ended up spraining an AC joint in Rudock’s non-throwing shoulder, according to a report by Dan Murphy for Murphy reports Rudock is expected to still be healthy enough to play for the Wolverines by the time a bowl game comes around.

Rudock has been a steady addition to Michigan’s offense under new head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Iowa transfer came to Ann Arbor and won the starting job and has been a rock for the offense. In 12 games, Rudock completed 64 percent of his pass attempts for 2,739 yards and 17 touchdowns with nine interceptions.

Michigan should be playing in a New Years bowl game in the Big Ten line-up. Which bowl game may have to be sorted after figuring out which Big Ten team (or teams) will be participating in the College Football Playoff and Rose Bowl. The winner of this weekend’s Big Ten Championship Game between Iowa (Rudock’s previous school) and Michigan State will be very likely to be in the four-team playoff. The loser will likely head to the Rose Bowl to represent the Big Ten. Ohio State’s possibility of sneaking into the playoff appears to be quite a long shot that would require both Clemson and Alabama to lose this weekend in their respective conference championship game, but the scenario is still on the table. After those three are sorted, Michigan will be one of the top Big Ten bowl participants.

Matt Campbell wants to bring greatness to Iowa State

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Nobody will argue the idea Matt Campbell is taking on a tall order to make Iowa State a respected football program in the years to come. Campbell, introduced as the new head coach of the Cyclones, addressed the difficulties that will come with building something at Iowa State.

“My job is to grow the foundation and build it to an elite level,” Campbell said at his introductory press conference Monday. “Change happens, but greatness is a choice. From this day forward, every decision I make will be to bring greatness to Iowa State.”

Iowa State is a perennial cellar-dweller in the Big 12, but it has its moments. The Cyclones have had three straight seasons with no more than three wins under former head coach Paul Rhoads. With Campbell on board, Iowa State will hope to pick up the offense to the level Campbell had working for him at Toledo. Campbell’s offensive background is the kind of profile Iowa State needed in a Big 12 conference that continues to open things up offensively. In a conference with Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, offense is key.

“You can’t just talk greatness, you have to show it,” Campbell said. “Every hand that touches this program has to show that.”

“When you have success, you are always tweaking and adjusting. The foundational principles of growth do not change.”

Campbell’s first mission will to assemble a coaching staff around him. Campbell did not offer a suggestion which way he will go with that task but did comment on the quality staff he leaves behind at Toledo that is now preparing for one final game during the bowl season. Current members of the coaching staff at Iowa State will be given an opportunity to stay on board if Campbell feels they can continue to play a role under his direction. No final decisions will be made before Campbell evaluates the current staff.

Chip Kelly says he never met to discuss USC vacancy

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Whether you chose to believe him or not, at least Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is officially on the record. During his regularly scheduled Monday press conference in Philadelphia, Kelly said he never met with anybody to discuss the previously vacant head coaching position at USC.

Alright then. So at least that’s that. (But what about his agent?)

USC filled the head coaching position this morning by officially announcing Clay Helton will remain the head coach after serving as the interim head coach following the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian earlier this season. Kelly, the former head coach at Oregon, has had his name attached to multiple coaching rumors at the college level since he left for the NFL, including Texas and Florida before this position at USC opened. Kelly has stood firm on his public statements about not having any interest in a college job, but that never seems to silence the fun hypothetical discussions about his probable eventual return to college football.