Boise State having second thoughts on Big East move?

39 Comments

The rumors and speculation and whispers have been there for months, that Boise State, and San Diego State as well, was reconsidering its planned move from the Mountain West to the Big East.

Finally, there’s some definitive fire to go along with the smoke.

BSU is scheduled to join the Big East on July 1 of this year, but has yet to officially notify its current conference, the Mountain West, of its intent to withdraw, CBSSports.com‘s Brett McMurphy reported Friday morning.  Additionally, McMurphy writes, “Mountain West representatives met with Boise State officials earlier this week to persuade the Broncos to remain in the MWC.”

The university has until June 30 to officially notify the MWC of its intent to leave.  A contract BSU has already signed with the Big East states that the school would owe a $5 million exit fee if it “leaves” the Big East before July 1, a $10 million exit fee if it left on or after that date.

It’s believed that at least part of the MWC’s recent discussions with Boise entailed how the conference could help pay the $5 million exit fee.

It appears there are at least three reasons why Boise State is having second thoughts about a move to the Big East.

  • The biggest reason for that, one could argue, is the demise of the WAC.  With Boise’s football program moving to the Big East, all of the university’s non-football sports would be moving from the MWC to the WAC.  If the WAC ceases to exist — that’s a very real possibility — BSU would need to find another conference home for its other sports.  The MWC has already stated that it will not allow Boise to move its football program to the Big East while keeping its other sports in its current home.
  • With talk of eliminating automatic qualifying bids for the six “power conferences” as part of a revamped postseason in major college football, a major impetus for Boise State’s move to the Big East will suddenly be taken away.  The Broncos’ desire to take its football program out of the MWC and into the Big East was based on two reasons and two reasons only: to become a part of an AQ conference and pull in more money as a result.  Speaking of which…
  • The Big East last year reportedly turned down a television deal that would’ve paid all-sports conference members more than $14 million annually — just over $8 million annually for BSU and SDSU as football-only members — with the thought being the league could get even more in the future if it waited.  That was a big factor for Boise, which made in the neighborhood of $3 million annually off the MWC’s deal.  Now, however, it appears as though the Big East may have erred in turning down the original offer as McMurphy writes “the Big East’s new media rights will be worth substantially less than [the] $155 million per year” they could’ve gotten last year.  Less money, therefore, equals less incentive for Boise State to move to a conference two time zones away.

Add up all of the above, and mix in some lesser mitigating factors, and one could make a very compelling case for Boise to stay right where it is, which appears to be exactly what the MWC is attempting to do.  And, it seems, that’s an option to which Boise is more than willing to listen.

The loss of the Broncos would be a significant blow to the Big East.  With the departures of West Virginia (Big 12) and Pittsburgh and Syracuse (ACC) in 2013/14, the Broncos were being counted on to become the flagship program on the football side of the conference.  Losing BSU would very likely have a ripple effect on the Big East that would be extremely detrimental to the future of the conference, football-wise.

Most certainly San Diego State would pull out, as could Louisville.  Prior to McMurphy’s report, there was another from ESPN.com that stated the Cardinals, as has been the case for a handful of months, have made it perfectly clear to the Big East that the school wants to be in either the Big 12 or the ACC.  UConn as well continues to maintain that it wants to be a part of the ACC, although those feelings thus far have not been reciprocated.

Should Boise State opt to bail on the Big East and remain in the MWC, and the expected trickle-down effect takes place, the Big East could very well be left with Cincinnati, Rutgers, UConn and USF as current members, and Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF as members beginning in 2013.  And that’s provided the ACC doesn’t do an about-face on UConn.

In other words, it would be left with a league that’s nothing more than the Big Conference USA East.  Good luck getting major television dollars off that football grouping.

Texas LB Malik Jefferson’s status for bowl game still up in the air

Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images
Leave a comment

As Texas prepares to play in the Texas Bowl against former Big 12 foe Missouri, it remains unknown whether or not linebacker Malik Jefferson will play.

Jefferson was reportedly diagnosed with a case of turf toe recently and is said to be considered day-to-day. Nick Moyle of the San Antonio Express-News reported the medical update via Twitter, and he also notes Jefferson still has not made a definitive decision on whether to leave for the NFL or not.

Jefferson would be considered a solid draft pick option at linebacker in the event he decides to leave Texas a year early to pursue a chance to play in the NFL. How this injury might impact that decision is nothing but speculation. However, players deciding to take to the NFL Draft the following spring have increasingly made the trendy decision to forgo their senior season and skip the bowl game when injuries play a factor. If Jefferson is to go to the NFL, it would not be a stunner to see him decide to skip out on the bowl game as well.

Jefferson is Texas’ leader in tackles this season with 110, including 79 solo tackles.

Lane Kiffin’s biggest recruit to FAU may be Snoop Dogg

Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images
Leave a comment

There is no denying the allegiance Snoop Dogg has for his beloved USC Trojans, but Lane Kiffin has managed to find some room in Snoop’s rooting interests to bring him aboard the Lane Train. With Kiffin preparing FAU for their upcoming bowl game in the Boa Raton Bowl this week, Kiffin managed to bring Snoop Dogg and Luther Campbell out to a practice.

Campbell, of course, is a Miami fan, but FAU has become a bit of a popular secondary team with Kiffin to lead the charge. Getting Uncle Luke to suit up in FAU gear and pose for a picture with Snoop Dogg deserves an automatic retweet of Kiffin’s account on Twitter.

Kiffin coached FAU to the Conference USA championship in his first season as the head coach of the Owls. With a good blend of JUCO transfers and new offensive mindset, FAU soared under Kiffin as he rebuilt his coaching pedigree. Kiffin remains one of the names to watch in the coaching carousel, although this year’s cycle may have gone through the motions without Kiffin getting a chance somewhere else. But if Kiffin is successful in Year 2, the Lane Train may be leaving the Boca Raton station for another destination soon enough.

Middle Tennessee holds on to win the bizarre (and turnover-filled) Camellia Bowl over Arkansas State

Getty Images
1 Comment

Middle Tennessee State entered the Camellia Bowl 121st in the country in turnover margin and had lost the battle in nine of their 12 games this season. Arkansas State was only a little bit better in the same category, ranking 81st in turnover margin in 2017. Predictably those kinds of statistics came into play on Saturday night in the Camellia Bowl as the two sides played a bit of hot potato — six giveaways — before MTSU hung on for a 35-30 win to cap off the first day of bowl season in college football.

Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill had a game that could have been a nightmare for a veteran quarterback but ended up being alright thanks to his defense continually picking him on a night where chunk plays were hard to come by. The signal-caller threw the first of his three interceptions on the night on the first drive of the game but bounced back over the final three quarters, throwing for 232 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. That kind of performance, which included several big throws in the second half, helped secure the first bowl victory of his career and give him the rare distinction of being able to win a postseason game with his father Rick as head coach.

It wasn’t all about the Stockstill combo for MTSU however as their run game produced a pair of touchdowns behind tailbacks Terelle West and Tavares Thomas, and the team’s defense had one of their best outings of the season to limit the Sun Belt’s highest scoring offense to well below all their season averages. Linebacker Darius Harris led the way when his unit was on the field, flying from sideline-to-sideline and racking up 12 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a two pass break ups. His running mate at linebacker, D.J. Sanders, was equally productive with seven tackles and a 54 yard fumble return for a touchdown just before halftime.

The Red Wolves did what they could to threaten to make things interesting down the stretch but never could get over the hill. The team ran a fake punt to open fourth quarter, resulting in a 21 yard strike from the punter to gunner Chris Murray along the sidelines and appeared to seize momentum after a subsequent  touchdown to Warren Wand. However the defense failed to get a stop and then Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year Justice Hansen (337 yards, 3TD, 1 INT) threw a fourth down pass out of the end zone to all but seal a rather lackluster loss for a team that had won six of the last eight coming into the bowl.

Arkansas State also came up a bit short in the record books on the defensive side of the ball as well. In addition to allowing 35 points to MTSU, conference player of the year Ja’Von Rolland-Jones failed to record a sack and thus couldn’t break the NCAA career record (held by former Arizona State and current Baltimore Ravens star Terrell Suggs) of 44 career sacks after entering the game just shy of the mark with 43.5. While the pass rusher did manage to sack Stockstill in the game, the play was negated by a penalty to keep him from taking over on the all-time list.

The victory pushed Middle Tennessee over the .500 mark for the fifth time in six seasons and likely meant a little bit more to the program given how many key injuries the team suffered over the course of 2017 before capturing their first bowl win in eight years. Arkansas State did their best to prevent that from happening as they dropped to 7-5 on the season after a rather bizarre Camellia Bowl that had a little bit of everything.

Defense comes up big to help Middle Tennessee grab Camellia Bowl lead at halftime over Arkansas State

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Middle Tennessee State started off the Camellia Bowl on Saturday night in about the worst way possible with a pair of first quarter interceptions but leaned heavily on their stout defense to manage their way to a 21-10 lead over Arkansas State at halftime in a somewhat low-scoring affair few could have seen coming between these high-scoring offenses.

Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill tossed an interception on the team’s opening drive of the game but managed to bounce back and throw for  80 yards and a touchdown after another slow start for the veteran signal-caller. Luckily the team’s defense pitched a goal line stand after his first pick and proved to be similarly stout after his second to keep the team in things after such a rough start against the Sun Belt power.

Mistakes proved to be costly for the Red Wolves throughout the night on both sides of the ball as a roughing the punter ruined a potential stop early and led to MTSU tailback Terelle West running right off his left guard for a 45 yard touchdown and a quick lead for the Conference USA squad who wasn’t doing much to move the ball outside of that big play.

The wildest sequence of the bowl season (so far) happened in the closing minutes of the first quarter however, leaving fans, officials and coaches all confused at what exactly just happened. Stockstill appeared to find a receiver over the middle and on the door step of the end zone but ASU’s Justin Clifton had other ideas — stripping the ball and appearing to run it back (with help) for a touchdown. The call went through a lengthy review process that wound up giving Clifton an interception and his offense the ball back at their 18 yard line instead but they ended up punting it away for 61 yards to cap off a truly bizarre few minutes.

Arkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen had some decent numbers (151 yards passing, one rushing TD) but things just weren’t clicking for what had been the Sun Belt’s most prolific offense during the regular season. The signal-caller fumbled shortly before halftime, which allowed D.J. Sanders to rumble 54 yards with a fumble recovery touchdown that extended MTSU’s lead. The Red Wolves did manage to mount a scoring drive on the next possession to get right back in the game but they’ll need to show more down the stretch if they want to reach the eight win mark for the sixth time in seven seasons.

It’s had a few strange moments but the conclusion to the first Saturday of the bowl season is shaping up rather nicely down in Montgomery, Alabama. However both sides in this one will be sure to focus on correcting a bunch of mistakes after that somewhat whacky first half.