If WVU leaves, C-USA/MWC alliance could be option for Big East

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A few weeks ago, commissioners from Conference USA and the Mountain West announced that the two conferences would merge into a 22-member, football-only alliance in an effort to protect membership in the ever-shifting world of college football realignment.

However, the Big East had the potential to slim the non-AQ “superconference” down by as many as five members. Just days before the football agreement, the Big East announced its intentions of expanding to 12 members following the losses of Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC; news that TCU would move on to the Big 12 came later that day. Big East commissioner John Marinatto never directly stated which schools were on the expansion list, the rumor mill churned out names such as Air Force, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Navy and SMU. A report surfaced last night from the Houston Chronicle that UH was preparing to make a jump to the Big East.

But the biggest hurdle for Big East expansion has come in the form of raising the conference’s exit fees. Big East presidents have unanimously voted to raise the penalty for departing members to $10 million from $5 million, but Marinatto has stated it will do so once it can add new members.

That was before.

Now that it appears all but signed and sealed that West Virginia will leave the Big East for the Big 12, the conference plucking could be shifting in a way that favors the Big East less, and the C-USA/MWC merger more. Andy Katz reports that  commissioners of the Mountain West Conference, Conference USA and the Big East Conference will meet in New York to discuss a nation-wide football conference that would consist of anywhere between 28-32 teams.

The ultimate goal of forming the super-duper conference would be to gain admission into the BCS (good luck with that).

Such a move by the Big East likely wouldn’t be an option as long as West Virginia and Louisville were part of the conference, especially the former. But if WVU bolts and Boise State chooses not to join the Big East, the five remaining Big East football schools may not have much of a choice. Katz reports that if Louisville remains a member of the Big East, the possibility remains that the league can survive, although its inclusion in the BCS discussion would in serious jeopardy.

C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said on the teleconference earlier this month that the football-only alliance considered adding more than the 22 teams that currently would make up the alliance. Marinatto stated in his own teleconference that he had no intentions of disbanding the Big East. Obviously, that was before news broke that West Virginia could be the latest to wave goodbye.

You can Bet Marinatto will try with great desperation to do everything he can to keep the Big East alive. Considering it just lost its four best members in the process of sitting on its hands, though, it might be too late.

UPDATED 6:24 p.m. ET: Big East spokesman John Paquette tells CBS Sports that Marinatto WILL NOT meet with commissioners from C-USA and the MWC over joining the football-only league.

Again, it appears Marinatto will fight to keep his conference alive to the bitter end, as if we could expect anything else.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.