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Updated: WAC, two members issue statements on realignment

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If you check this here site on even a semi-regular basis, you’ve no doubt read by now that the WAC appears to be on its last leg as programs left and right are reportedly nearing a mass exodus.

Future WAC members Texas State and UT-San Antonio, as well as current members Louisiana Tech, Utah State and San Jose State, have all been connected, in one form or another, to moves to Conference USA, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt*.

(*That’s how you know things are bad)  

So while there is undoubtedly a lot of moving parts behind the scenes, the WAC issued the following statement today, courtesy of interim WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd:

“The Western Athletic Conference Board of Directors is well aware of the changing landscape in Division I athletics and has been in discussion about it for the last several weeks. Further, it continues to evaluate the impact upon the WAC and is closely engaged in evaluating its membership options.  It will not speculate relative to those options, but it has confidence that the WAC will maintain its more than 50-year history as a preeminent Division I conference.”

Additionally, New Mexico State released this statement:

“The national conference situation is a changing landscape and the administration on campus is doing their duediligence to secure a plan for the future. I don’t think anyone can project what the end game will be within the next 90 days or even a year or two down the road. It is so easy to look at this as the sky is falling but in reality a lot of conversations are happening about conference affiliation.  We remain extremely optimistic and committed to the future of NM State Athletics.”

And here’s one from Idaho:

“Conference realignment has been a major story in college athletics for several years now. A growing appetite for more funding and a steady flow of television and other media dollars feeding that appetite has resulted in conference alignments and realignments. That uncertainty continues today.

“Over the past several weeks, President Nellis and director of athletics Rob Spear have worked actively to advocate for the University during this recent shift in conference realignment. We are disappointed in the recent changes that are driven not by tradition, academic quality, competitiveness, or the student experience, but by money.

“Our student-athletes continue high rates of success on and off the field. The Vandals currently are atop the Western Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Cup standings and have been rewarded often for their academic successes.

“We believe our strong presence in the Northwest media markets is being overlooked during this crucial evaluation period. We are a presence in both the Spokane and Boise media markets, which extends our reach throughout the entire Inland Northwest.

“As we anticipate future conference movement, we continue to believe strongly that athletes are students first and the experience for them and our fans is first and foremost. We will continue to work diligently to most strongly position the University of Idaho.”

Now, it is important to reiterate that the rate at which conference realignment is reported is almost always faster than the rate at which these things actually occur. That said, the future doesn’t look bright for the WAC.

LB Christian Bell becomes latest ‘Bama player to transfer

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 15: The flag girls of the Alabama Crimson Tide marching band perform before the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 15, 2008 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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For the third time this offseason — a number that could ultimately turn into four — Alabama has seen a player depart Nick Saban‘s football program.

On Twitter over the weekend, Christian Bell announced that, “[a]fter a lot of thoughts and prayers,” he has decided to transfer from the Crimson Tide. The linebacker gave no reason for his departure less than two weeks before the start of summer camp, although al.com has an idea:

Alabama is very deep at outside linebacker and has several other young outside linebackers who were higher-rated recruits than Bell and were ahead of Bell on the depth chart.

Bell took a “grayshirt” for the 2015 season, ultimately enrolling in classes at UA this past January. The Birmingham, Ala., native participated in spring practice with the Tide this year.

A three-star recruit according to 247Sports.com, Bell was rated as the No. 19 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 17 player at any position in the state of Alabama.

In January, it was reported that Shawn Burgess-Becker had decided to transfer, with the defensive back ultimately moving on to UCF. A month after Burgess-Becker’s departure surfaced, reports emerged that linebacker Adonis Thomas was leaving ‘Bama for a junior college.

Senior defensive back Maurice Smith has also been granted permission to transfer, although Smith’s family at one time indicated that the door was open for a return. Earlier this month, it was reported that UA had thus far denied Smith a release from his scholarship.

Florida’s Geoff Collins could become next million dollar coordinator

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 18: The Florida Gators run onto the field before the game against the Missouri Tigers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 18, 2014 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Heading into his second season in Gainesville, Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins just received a significant raise.

Collins, who signed a three-year contract paying him $600,000 annually after leaving Mississippi State to join Jim McElwain‘s staff last winter, netted a bump to $890,000 with a $150,000 retention bonus according to contract details obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

Nine assistants earned at least $1 million in 2015 according to USA Today, with six of those hailing from the SEC.

Additionally, defensive line coach Chris Rumph‘s salary moved to $500,000 with a one-year extension through the 2017 season, offensive line coach Mike Summers will earn $498,500, linebackers coach Randy Shannon‘s $400,000 salary grew by just under $10,000, and new defensive backs coach Torrian Gray signed a two-year deal paying him $335,000 annually.

Florida’s defense ranked eighth nationally in yards per play allowed in 2015, helping the Gators win an unexpected SEC East championship.

Jim Grobe to be paid $1.25 million for ’16 season, per report

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Jim Grobe of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons looks on from the sidelines against the Louisville Cardinals during the 2007 FedEx Orange Bowl at Dolphin Stadium on January 2, 2007 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
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In an odd way, here’s the best way to show just how far Art Briles took Baylor’s football program: his interim replacement will make more money for eight months of work than the full-time head coaches at Iowa State and Kansas.

Jim Grobe will earn $1.25 million for his work from late May through the end of the upcoming football season, according to a report from Brett McMurphy of ESPN on Monday. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell will earn $1.2 million in an incentive-laden contract this year, while KU’s David Beaty will net $800,000.

Grobe’s $1.25 million deal is also the richest for any interim head coach on record. Arkansas paid John L. Smith $850,000 for 10 months of work back in 2012.

Baylor opens its season Friday, Sept. 2 against Northwestern State.

Six Wazzu players targeted in fireworks brawl investigation

PULLMAN, WA - OCTOBER 17:  The Washington State Cougars take the field against the Oregon State Beavers at Martin Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Pullman, Washington.  Washington State defeated Oregon State 52-31.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
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Six Washington State football players have been named persons of interest in a brawl that left two students hospitalized and even more injured over the weekend.

According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, a group of students that included Cougars players started threw fireworks at attendees of a Pullman, Wash., party early Saturday morning. That led to a verbal altercation that soon became physical, where one suffered a bloody wound on the back of his neck and another was forced to undergo facial reconstruction surgery after suffering a broken jaw.

“We’re looking at this as a very serious felony assault level based on the injuries to two victims,” Pullman police commander Chris Tennant told the paper. “I would like to make arrests later in the week. I don’t know if that’s a realistic timeline. I expect this to be a lengthy investigation. A lot of people have to be interviewed.”

Wazzu AD Bill Moos released the following statement Monday afternoon:

“In regards to the events that took place over the past weekend, the university was made aware of the situation shortly after the incident occurred. It is our understanding there is a thorough investigation underway by local law enforcement and we will cooperate fully as we take these matters seriously. In addition, facts are being gathered within the athletic department in order to provide assistance. We have high expectations for the conduct of WSU student-athletes, and treat any alleged allegations with the utmost transparency. The WSU athletic staff is in constant communication with the Office of the President and the Office of Student Life to ensure that university leadership is aware of the continuing investigation by local law enforcement. We will refrain from further comment until the findings of the investigation are complete.”