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

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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?

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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.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson frowns upon Group of Five playoff idea

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The chances a team from the Group of Five ever gets selected to play in the College Football Playoff range from slim to none. As such, talk from within the Group of Five has kicked up from time to time, especially over the last year, about a possible Group of Five-only version of the College Football Playoff. The reactions to that idea has been mixed, but add Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson to the group of people who thinks that idea should be tossed aside.

While attending meetings for the College Football Playoff, Benson told reporters he would prefer to see conference champions from the Group of Five (American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) receive better bowl bids instead of playing in a minor version of the College Football Playoff.

It’s time to have a realistic conversation about creating a playoff for the Group of 5,” NIU athletic director Sean Frazier told Brett McMurphy, then of ESPN.com, back in December. “Why not?”

Well, there are a number of reasons. First, not everybody seems to be on board with playing the college football version equivalent of the NIT. Sure, it would be on TV and would get ratings, but the reward at the end of the JV playoff would mean little. Nobody would consider it a national championship. That’s what the FCS is for.

Benson is not alone in his anti-Group of Five playoff stance. MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher also has been on record saying he is not interested in such a plan, and he oversaw a member from his conference go undefeated last season and play in the Cotton Bowl (Western Michigan).

My initial reaction is that’s not something I’m interested in,” Steinbrecher said, according to MLive.com in December. “We’re part of the (College Football Playoff) system, and it’s done a lot of very good things for the Mid-American Conference.”

Without the support from two of the Group of Five commissioners (and you can almost be guaranteed you can add Mike Aresco of the American Athletic Conference to the list given the conference’s push to be considered a power conference), this idea is pretty much dead on arrival.

LSU’s Arden Key: I am not sitting out my junior year

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After taking a little time off from the LSU football program this spring, Arden Key calmed the nerves of Tigers fans on Wednesday with a simple message on his Twitter account.

Key announced to his Twitter followers he will be on the field for the Tigers this fall. Back in February, LSU released a statement saying Key would be stepping away from the program “for personal reasons.” What those personal reasons were is unknown, but he did so with the support of head coach Ed Orgeron and the entire football program at the time.

Key earned second-team All-SEC honors last season after leading LSU with 14.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, a school record. With news, he would be stepping away from the program and the age of top NFL Draft prospects opting out of bowl games, the mere thought that Key might become the first potential NFL Draft pick the following season sitting out the entire football season was difficult to completely ignore. Fortunately, especially for LSU and not so much for LSU’s opponents, Key is choosing not to break that barrier at this time.

Texas A&M removes WR Kirk Merritt from roster

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After being charged for allegedly exposing himself to tutors at Texas A&M, wide receiver Kirk Merritt is no longer an Aggie. Merritt has been removed from the Texas A&M football program, according to a report from The Eagle. Though there has been no official statement confirming such news, Merritt’s name has been wiped off the team’s online roster.

Merritt pleaded not guilty to a pair of indecent exposure charges against him stemming from an incident last October. Merritt allegedly exposed himself to female academic tutors. Merritt was suspended by Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin a few days after the alleged incidents. The suspension was expanded to indefinite status following Merritt’s arrest on November 8. The suspension has since been lifted after the university’s conduct process wrapped up in January.

It has been a bit of a bumpy year for Merritt. Merritt left Oregon for Texas A&M last summer due to family reasons. He participated in Texas A&M’s spring practices but did not play in the spring game.

Big 12 revenue eclipses $300 million mark

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When it comes to revenues, the SEC and Big Ten continue to set the pace and leave the rest of the competition in the dust. That said, the Big 12 saw a second straight sizable revenue bump, according to recent tax returns.

As reported by USA Today, the Big 12 recorded a revenue of $313 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 on its tax return. The figure is up roughly $40 million from last year’s revenue, and the conference has now doubled its revenue since the 2012 fiscal year amid conference realignment changes. As for the revenue shares for each Big 12 program, the numbers ranged from $28 million to West Virginia to $28.9 million for Oklahoma. This marked the first time West Virginia and TCU were eligible to receive their full conference revenue shares as Big 12 members.

The biggest reason for the big jump in revenue came from increased bowl revenue. The Big 12 pulled in $114.5 million in bowl revenue in 2016, which was just $74.5 million in 2015. The 2015 season, which was included in the fiscal year outlined by this tax return, saw Oklahoma advance to the College Football Playoff and Oklahoma State be selected to play in a New Years Six bowl game (Sugar Bowl), which led to a larger bowl game distribution for the Big 12. The previous year saw no Big 12 team in the College Football Playoff (TCU, Baylor).

The Big 12 still lags well behind the SEC. Most will, of course. The SEC announced a revenue of $584.2 million for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, with each SEC member receiving a revenue share of $40.4 million. The SEC and Big 12 are the only conference revenue numbers currently on record for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, but expect the Big Ten to be a solid second in the pecking order, with the ACC likely to come in front of the Big 12 and the Pac-12 to be toward the bottom of the pack.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a pay increase as well. Bowlsby reportedly earned a little more than $2.6 million in 2015, earning more than $70,000 than the previous year.