Updated: WAC now reportedly on MEGA life support (again)


UPDATED 4/30 @ 7:20 p.m. ET: You never want to say for sure a conference is dead until it is — right, Big 12? — but the WAC seems to be fading from existence on a day-to-day basis.

Not one day after reports surfaced linking two current WAC members — Utah State and San Jose State — to the Mountain West, another future WAC member, Texas State, is also being connected to what is amounting to a mass exodus from the conference.

BobcatReport, a Rivals.com affiliate for TSU, is reporting that the Bobcats, entering the 1-A world this year, will instead make the Sun Belt their permanent home beginning in 2013. The move is said to be a replacement for North Texas, which could make a move to Conference USA.

Hopefully, y’all should know how the realignment news works by now: a lot of “sources”; a lot of “reports.” That’s not to say we have any reason to doubt the fellas at BobcatReport, but when things begin picking up like this, a disclaimer is often needed.

If the report holds true, however, the WAC as we know it is rapidly dissolving and the future of two members — Idaho and New Mexico State — remain very much undetermined.

UPDATED 4/29 @ 9:50 p.m. ET: Highlight. Copy. Paste. The WAC is reportedly on life support once again.

Just days after CBSSports reported (see below) that Conference USA was close to adding UT-San Antonio, a former 1-AA program that is supposed to be headed for the WAC, more reports are surfacing that the Mountain West is also on the verge of plucking more teams from its beleaguered western athletic counterpart.

The San Jose Mercury News and the Salt Lake Tribune report that San Jose State and Utah State are indeed close to joining the Mountain West, with the former article indicating an invite could come for the Spartans this week for the 2013-14 season.

If/when this becomes official, it would be a huge blow to a conference standing on shaky ground. The WAC is already losing Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada to the MWC and could lose four more members if reports about UTSA, SJSU, USU and Louisiana Tech (to C-USA) come to fruition.

In other words, the WAC could eventually be down to Idaho, New Mexico State and Texas State in the not-too-distant future.

WACBelt, anyone?


With Conference USA and the Mountain West apparently staying as two separate leagues for the immediate future, the two conferences now must plug the holes left by respective members leaving for the Big East.

C-USA looks like they’re getting the ball rolling in that department.

Brett McMurphy of CBSSports confirmed that UT-San Antonio will join C-USA in 2013, pending approval from the University of Texas System Board of Regents on Wednesday. RowdyReport.com first reported that accepting an invitation to C-USA was on the UT Board of Regents’ agenda.

Conversations between the two sides reportedly began in March.

The Roadrunners, along with fellow former 1-AA member Texas State, were originally planning to join the WAC, which means the beleaguered non- AQ league could now be down yet another member. Additionally, current WAC schools Utah State and San Jose State remain strong candidates to join the Mountain West, with Louisiana Tech as another option for C-USA.

If UTSA does join C-USA instead of the WAC, it would be a situation similar to TCU standing up the Big East for the Big 12. UTSA would not have to pay any exit fee for such a move, only a $2 million entry fee to C-USA (note that TCU did pay an exit fee to the Big East, but did not wait the required 27 months to leave the conference according to the league bylaws).

North Texas and FIU also remain on C-USA’s radar. Earlier this week, UNT gave president Lane Rawlins the authority to look at other conferences and make a move should the opportunity present itself, an important move along the chain of events for a school to join another conference.

There’s no exit fee should one or both of those teams leave the Sun Belt, but each could forfeit approximately $500,000 in revenue sharing.

Given the timetable for entry (2013), I would expect something official regarding all this potential moving and shaking over the next couple months.

Former Navy LB Caleb King killed in fighter jet crash

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A routine U.S. Navy training flight that ended in tragedy had a college football connection.

Earlier this week, two Navy aviators were killed when a fighter jet crashed off the coast of Key West, Florida, this past Wednesday.  Those who lost their lives were, according to the Associated Press, Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson and Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King, who served in the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron Two One Three (VFA-213).  Johnson was the pilot of the aircraft.

“[T]he aircraft crashed on final approach to Boca Chica Field following a training mission,” Military.com wrote.  While details are scant at the moment, below is from that website’s report:

The crash happened around 4:30 p.m., Hecht said. Both pilots onboard the Super Hornet ejected, he said. Initially, Hecht said a search-and-rescue effort for the aircrew was still ongoing around 6 PM, but later he said the pilots were recovered within minutes and taken by ambulance to the medical center.

An eyewitness, Barbie Wilson, told Military.com the crash “looked like something out of a movie.”

Wilson, who lives on the back side of the air station, said she stopped to watch an F/A-18 flying overhead, as she often does, and was shocked to see what appeared to be a massive malfunction in midair.

“Literally, the wings went vertical, and there was a fireball, and it just literally dropped out of the sky,” Wilson said.

King (pictured, left) was a linebacker for the Midshipmen football team from 2009-11.  He played in 38 games during his time at the military academy.

“Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to the entire King family,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said in a statement. “We lost a dear brother and warrior. The entire Navy Football Brotherhood mourns the passing of a great American. We love you Caleb!”

Temple’s on-campus stadium plans stall after city council meeting

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The dream of Temple football playing in an on-campus stadium appears as though it’s on hold after a Philadelphia city council meeting got heated once again and resulted in the pulling of support by a key local leader.

Per KYW 1060, City Council President Darrell Clarke told the radio station that he would not support the reported $125 million project at a meeting earlier this week. Though the university leadership remains focused on making the new stadium happen eventually, the dwindling support from those in the community have basically stalled the effort and puts into question where the team will play football in 2020 and beyond.

Protestors against the stadium being built already interrupted a town hall meeting on the project last week.

“We do not feel that a 35,000 seat stadium fits in a residential block,” said Reverend Bill Moore, who is part several local groups pushing to ax the project.

Temple had signed an extension on their lease with nearby Lincoln Financial Field (the home of the Philadelphia Eagles) but that agreement runs only through the 2019 season. The hope had been to get the new on-campus stadium built by the time the 2020 campaign rolled around but that is looking increasingly unlikely as local residents — and now city council members — become more and more vocal in their opposition to the project.

The university has not issued a formal statement on their next steps after this latest setback but at least the team itself is moving forward as usual with spring football already under the way in Philly.

Study says War Memorial Stadium needs millions in upgrades to remain in use for Arkansas games in Little Rock

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Just like an old house, older stadiums require tons of money to keep them up to date. Those in the state of Arkansas are very aware of that when it comes to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that a study commissioned by the state has found that roughly $17 million worth of repairs, maintenance work and improvements are needed at War Memorial if the 70 year old venue wants to remain in operation. The timeline for such changes were listed as anywhere from three years for “critical” issues to five years for other items, which come as part of a whopping $160,000 study from Conventions Sport & Leisure International LLC.

The millions of dollars of work required is notable because the Fayetteville-based Razorbacks have annually played a game at the stadium in Little Rock dating back to 1948. The team will not only host their first spring game under new coach Chad Morris at the venue but will also play Ole Miss in Little Rock during the upcoming season. That contest is the last scheduled game for Arkansas at War Memorial however as the contract to hold games there is expiring in 2018.

It remains to be seen what the next steps are for UA football, the state and the venue are. Even prior to this most recent study being commissioned, the Razorbacks were looking to have as much as $10 million worth of work done at the stadium to meet their own requirements and those of the SEC in general for conference play.

“Discussions are continuing” Kevin Trainor, associate athletics director at Arkansas, said in an emailed statement to the paper.

Could this be the last we see of the Razorbacks in Little Rock? Given the history between the city, stadium and team it would seem doubtful but somebody’s got to pay for renovations and it may be a while before anybody ponies up the cash needed to get the venerable old building up to date.

Sean McDonough on leaving Monday Night Football: College football is more fun

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While we’re not exactly formal media critics here at CFTalk, you really don’t have to have too much experience watching television to know that ESPN’s Sean McDonough calling Monday Night Football the past two years was a bit of a round peg in a square hole. The veteran play-by-play man has called a lot of major sporting events over the years but was known to most prior to his NFL stint as one of the regular voices on the college football circuit after all.

McDonough is just now starting to open up about his departure from MNF and is perhaps not surprisingly excited at the prospect of returning to the college level, which he insists was his decision. Awful Announcing passes along an interview he did with Boston area radio program The Kirk & Callahan Show this week and let’s just say that McDonough confirms what we already know about which sport is better if you’re picking between the NFL and college football.

“I say that after a lot of reflection and mostly a lot of belief that, ultimately, what is the most important thing in life is to be happy,” McDonough said. “As much as it was a great honor to be the voice of ‘Monday Night Football’ –– and you guys know me well enough, and certainly a lot of my friends and family do –– it wasn’t a tremendous amount of fun the last two years. When I took my ego out of it, when the conversation about a reboot of MNF came up, when I took the ego part of it out, and rationalized it, I really could be fine with  not being the voice of MNF, then it became easy. I love college football. For me, it’s more fun, and that’s a personal taste.”

Amen Sean, amen.

While it is great news that CFB is getting back McDonough, the sport’s gain is tempered by the loss of fellow play-by-play man Joe Tessitore, who will be taking over in the MNF booth calling games. Something says that the esteemed JoeTess will do a great job calling NFL games every Monday night but will, like McDonough, come to miss the excitement, wild endings and colorful presentation that happens at the college level every Saturday.