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Big East not looking to expand into footprint states right away

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Because the Big East doesn’t care about football, of couse.

They care about basketball and holding their tournament in the Mecca of all basketball arenas, Madison Square Garden. And I get it — there are few things more exciting than the Big East tourney in the Garden — but even Big East basketball is now suffering because of the inability of commissioner John Marinatto to do what’s best for the football side of things.

And football is the breadwinner.

If the Big East cared about football at all, Central Florida and Houston would already be, or on their way to becoming, football-only members of the Big East. Conference realignment has taught us that being proactive is the only way to come close to guaranteeing your conference won’t be picked apart like a carcass  — and that’s not limited to expansion. Fortifying and raising exit fees; updating television contracts; revisiting revenue distributions — these are items crucial to maintaining long-term stability.

Marinatto tinkered around with Villanova for a year trying to figure out a way to get the Wildcats up to Division 1-A.

Now that Syracuse and Pittsburgh have departed for the ACC, not to mention that every other football member will jump at will for the next best opportunity, the Big East is left trying to scrape the bottom of the non-automatic qualifying pool. And, still, Central Florida and Houston are nowhere to be found atop the short list of candidates to replace two tradition-rich (and one founding) members.

Why? Because the Big East doesn’t want to look beyond states where conference members already reside. Case in point: South Florida president Judy Genshaft, who spoke in front of the Hillsborough County legislative delegation today, and said the Big East is looking to get away from states like Florida and Texas when it comes to inviting new members.

I am not stopping any university from coming in,” Genshaft said about the rumor USF was blocking UCF’s entry into the Big East. “What is happening is the league, or the conference, now is looking at schools and they have looked very much at schools that are not in any of the states that are represented by the Big East schools right now. The ones that they’re looking at right now, they do not sit in any state that the Big East schools currently are in.”

Sorry, Central Florida; sorry, Houston. Your fertile recruiting grounds, competitive football programs and guaranteed once-a-year trips to Florida and Texas just aren’t the top priority right now.

“It will be interesting if the SEC would open up their league for USF (or ACC),” added Genshaft. “But that’s not the way it happens. It’s very interesting. There are other leagues also but that’s not the way these leagues work.”

But the Big East isn’t like the “other leagues”. Not even close.

Frankly, it’s astounding that a gentleman’s agreement not to look in-state right away is even a criteria. Pickin’s are slim for the Big East and the conference is getting picked apart. Go out and get the best available program(s) for the conference’s bottom line and future stability. That should be their only criteria, and the fact that the Big East hasn’t done that already is why two prominent members left and why more want to leave.

If the Big East had done what’s best for football over the past year, it may not have prevented Pitt and Syracuse from leaving, but it would have given the conference a better shot to survive.

Now, it’s hanging on life support.

Record-breaking QB one of two coaches hired by New Mexico State

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Doug Martin‘s 2017 on-field coaching staff will have a decidedly familiar feel to it, even as it’s in some ways brand-new.

New Mexico State announced that two coaches have been hired by Martin, Chase Holbrook and Kai Brown.  The former will serve as tight ends coach, the latter as defensive ends coach.

Holbrook spent the 2016 season as a quality control coach for Mike Leach at Washington State.  A former NMSU quarterback, he still owns the school’s single-season and career records for passing, passing attempts, completions, touchdowns, total offense and total touchdowns.

Brown was a graduate assistant the past three seasons for the football program.

“We are really excited about Chase coming back to New Mexico State,” Martin said. “Having a former great quarterback that has his name written all over the Aggie record book will have a huge impact on us taking that next step. Chase really believes and cares deeply about the football program here. To have a coach of his talent join our staff makes us a better program immediately. …

“Kai has been a very loyal hard working coach for us as a GA and it gives me great pride to add him to our staff in a full time role. He brings a lot of enthusiasm to our program and has a great relationship with our players.”

This will be both coaches’ first foray into full-time coaching responsibilities at the FBS level.

Cal turns to Fresno State to complete Justin Wilcox’s staff

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 14:  A member of the California Golden Bears spirit squad waves a team flag while standing next to the Bears' mascot in front of the Michigan State Spartans crowd on September 14, 2002 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan.  California defeated Michigan State 46-22.  (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Getty Images)
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In late December, Fresno State hired Tony Tuioti as part of Jeff Tedford‘s first coaching staff with the Mountain West program.  Two months later, Tedford’s former Pac-12 employer has poached said staff.

By way of a press release, Cal announced that Tuioti has been hired as Justin Wilcox‘s outside linebackers coach.  Tedford served as Cal’s head coach from 2002-12; Tim DeRuyter, Fresno’s head coach for five seasons before being fired and replaced by Tedford, is now Wilcox’s defensive coordinator with the Golden Bears.

“Tony has a tremendous resume that showcases his diverse skill set and abilities both on and off the field,” Wilcox said in a statement. “Not only is he an excellent coach, but the experience he has as a director of player personnel will be a tremendous benefit to us in the structuring and organization of our recruiting operation. Finding someone with a skill set as unique and diverse as Tony’s is challenging. We are fortunate that we have found that in Tony and are looking forward to his contributions to our program.”

“Working at Cal for a coach like Justin Wilcox was an opportunity I could not pass up,” a statement from Tuioti began. “I have a tremendous feeling about the positive direction Cal is headed, and I really wanted to be a part of that and contribute all I could to a football program with tremendous potential.”

In 2016, Tuioti worked as a football staffer at Michigan.  His last on-field job at the collegiate level came at Hawaii (2012-13, linebackers coach; 2010-11, defensive line).

Georgia raising money to build Devon Gales a home

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It’s been close to a year and a half since Southern football player Devon Gales fractured his C6 vertebrae when covering a kick at Georgia. While the two sides will forever be linked, Georgia has gone above and beyond its duties to help improve his life.

In addition to regularly visiting him in the hospital and paying for his parents’ travel to Georgia, the Bulldogs will now raise funds to build him a house.

Gales received an NCAA Sportsmanship Award at the Bulldogs’ basketball game on Saturday, and it was announced that the UGAAA will launch a “Drive to Build a Dawg House” for Gales and his family.

“Anybody can just their prayer for you and send you on your way, but they didn’t. They took me as one of their kids, not just as another player, but as one of their children,” Gales said.

To contibute, text (707) 204-1707 to donate $5 toward the fund.

Mike Gundy says Sugar Bowl loss to Ole Miss wasn’t on a “level playing field”

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01:  Laquon Treadwell #1 of the Mississippi Rebels celebrates scoring a 14-yard touchdown against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the fourth quarter of the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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Mike Gundy originally blamed himself for Oklahoma State’s 48-20 loss to Ole Miss at the Sugar Bowl that closed the 2015 season.

Speaking at the AFCA Convention in Nashville last month, I heard Gundy explain to thousands of fellow coaches he felt he overtrained his Cowboys in preparation to play the physically imposing Rebels. The end result backfired. As I wrote for FootballScoop:

As Oklahoma State prepared to face No. 12 Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl, Gundy pushed his players harder than usual in December practices. “They’re going to knock us off the ball and it’s not going to look pretty,” he remembers thinking. That strategy backfired on him, though, as the Rebels pounded Gundy’s team 48-20. Oklahoma State was out-rushed 207-63 and averaged only 6.7 yards per pass attempt to Ole Miss’s 9.9. “We weren’t physical and we were slow,” Gundy said.

But now Gundy thinks something else may have contributed to that 28-point spanking.

As he explained to the Tulsa World‘s Bill Haisten, Gundy said he couldn’t help but think of the Sugar Bowl when he learned of the NCAA’s charges against Ole Miss.

“The first thing I thought about was (OSU’s recent experience with the NCAA),” Gundy said, “and the second thing was the Sugar Bowl and my players and what they went through.”

He continued: “We’ll never know what we could have done in the Sugar Bowl if it was a level playing field. That is the truth. I’m not sure we would have won the Sugar Bowl, but we’ll never know.”