Aztecs aiding Boise in Big East move

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A year and a month or so ahead of its scheduled move from the Mountain West to the Big East, Boise State is reportedly having second thoughts about the conference switch, with its current league apparently launching a last-ditch effort to keep the Broncos from leaving.  Adding further fuel to the speculative fire, Boise has yet to officially notify the MWC of its intent to withdraw from the conference.

The reasons for Boise reportedly getting cold feet are myriad, chief among them one that has absolutely nothing to do with football, the sole reason for the intended move to the Big East in the first place.

Boise’s departure to the Big East is a football-only move, with the school’s other sports — the lone exception being wrestling, which is remaining in the Pac-12 — expected to be parked in the WAC beginning next year.  Given the upheaval in that conference, and valid concerns that league will cease to exist at some point in the not-too-distant future, Boise has enlisted the help of the Big East in finding a more stable home for its other sports.  As it turns out, BSU’s also getting a little help from its travel partner.

San Diego State will be heading to the Big East along with Boise in 2013, and the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that the school is looking to help the Broncos find a viable home for its non-football sports.  The Aztecs will also become a football-only member of the Big East, but its other sports will be parked in the much stabler Big West.  SDSU would like to see Boise’s sports in the Big West, but that conference, with all of its schools currently located in California — Hawaii will join in all sports but football in 2012 — is bucking against adding Boise due to the additional travel costs that would be associated with the move.

SDSU, though, may hold some leverage over its new non-football conference.  If the Big West continues to push against adding Boise, and if the Broncos are forced to remain in the MWC — that conference will not allow any school to take its football program and leave its other sports — SDSU will have a choice to make: stay the course and make a solo move to the Big East, or remain in the MWC.  And pull its non-football sports from the Big West.

Thus, SDSU could pressure the Big West, whose nine current members include Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara among others, into getting past another set of travel concerns, or else risk losing what would be its top basketball program as well as several high-caliber Olympic sports programs.

Another possibility raised by the Union-Tribune is the WAC reconstituting itself as a non-football-playing conference.  With all of the attrition the conference has experienced over the past two years, the WAC will likely be left with two football-playing members in 2013 — New Mexico State and Idaho.  The latter is already discussing the option of dropping back down to the Div. 1-AA (FCS) level, leaving the Aggies in football limbo.  The conference also recently added the University of Denver, Seattle University and UT-Arlington as non-football members, which means its future membership could consist of anywhere from three to five members, pending which direction current members Idaho and NMSU head.

How viable that conference would be even with Boise’s non-football sports is open for discussion.

Another “weapon” SDSU can hold over the Big West’s head?  If Boise decides to remain in the MWC, the terms of SDSU’s agreement with the Big East would allow that school to renege on its easterly move without paying an exit penalty.

“For clarity, neither party shall be obligated hereunder in the event that the conference does not have as a member on (July 1, 2013) at least one football-playing institution that is located west of the Rocky Mountains,” the contract states.

Boise, on the other hand, would be forced to pay a $5 million exit fee if it informs the Big East June 30 or earlier this year that it’s staying in the MWC, and $10 million if it makes the decision on or after that date.

UNLV ‘very excited’ to share Las Vegas stadium with Raiders

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The biggest news of the day in the NFL has a decidedly college football connection.

By a 31-1 vote, NFL owners approved the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas later this decade.  The new stadium that will eventually serve as the home for the NFL club is expected to be ready for play for the 2020 season.

As expected, it will also serve as the new home for Sin City’s FBS team, a fact that UNLV’s hierarchy was quick to point out and highlight in the hours after the vote was officially confirmed.  Below are the statements from the three main characters involved with the football program.

Len Jessup, UNLV President
UNLV and the entire Rebel family welcome the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. We look forward to a long-term partnership with the Raiders and the Stadium Authority Board to give UNLV football access to a world-class stadium and accompanying game day experience that will rival the best in college football. We also recognize and thank the numerous stakeholders – including the Adelson family – who invested their time and energy toward this vision. This is an historic day for Nevada and another example of how Las Vegas continues to reinvent itself.

Tina Kunzer-Murphy, UNLV Athletics Director
We are very excited to welcome the Raiders to our great city of Las Vegas. Our community is on the rise and that has clearly been recognized by the NFL owners with today’s vote. We can’t wait for the day our UNLV football program has a new home, sharing the new world-class stadium with the Las Vegas Raiders. What a great day for the NFL, our city and our university.

Tony Sanchez, UNLV Football Head Coach
Today is a huge development for UNLV Football and the city of Las Vegas. Sharing a state-of-the-art stadium with the Raiders is another thing that will allow us to recruit at a high level. The combination of an NFL stadium and our upcoming Fertitta Football Complex brings so much energy to this program and campus. As someone who has lived here for eight years, I’m also excited for this community. This is a great place to live and the pride of being an NFL city will make it an even better place.

In addition to being tenants in a new state-of-the-art stadium, the university will soon begin construction on an on-campus football practice facility.

There are five FBS teams that will share stadiums with NFL teams on at least a part-time basis in 2017 — UMass (New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium), Miami (Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Stadium), Temple (Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field), Pitt (Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field) and USF (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Raymond James Stadium).  Georgia State had shared the Georgia Dome with the Atlanta Falcons but are moving to the new Turner Field this season, while San Diego State will still call Qualcomm Stadium home even as the Chargers have bolted the facility for Los Angeles.

There has been chatter that both Temple (HERE) and USF (HERE) could find themselves in a position to build an on-campus stadium at some point down the road — although the latter could extend its agreement with its current home as it continues to evaluate its long-term plans.

The Los Angles Rams are also temporarily crashing at the home of the USC Trojans, Memorial Coliseum, until their new stadium is completed.

Kaylee Hartung leaves ESPN sidelines for CNN

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ESPN’s roster of college football talent has taken a bath lately. Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman broke up their critically acclaimed team for NFL work at different networks. Brad Nessler left for CBS. Brent Musuberger left for Vegas. Samantha Ponder has joined McDonough on the Worldwide Leader’s NFL team and, now, Kaylee Hartung is leaving the network as well.

Hartung confirmed her departure from ESPN on Monday. Though she did not name her next employer, it’s been an open secret within the industry for nearly a month Hartung will leave for CNN.

“Last night I worked my final event with ESPN,” Hartung announced on her Twitter page. “The decision to leave a job I love and take on a new challenge has been incredibly emotional but the overwhelming feeling I have today is gratitude. I am so grateful for the experience I’ve had within the ESPN family for 5 years. I’m grateful for the people I’ve worked with who have supported me, made me a better reporter, made me a better person and became my friends. I’m grateful for the coaches, athletes, staffers, and university officials who’ve shared their stories with me and let me be a part of their magical moments. I’m grateful for the fans who have embraced me and shared their passion with me. Thank you to everyone who’s been a part of my life during this incredibly fun and exciting chapter. I can’t wait to see what this next chapter has in store… Now I get to be a fan of you all!”

Hartung started with Longhorn Network and since moved to SEC Network and the mothership. Her final event for the network was Sunday night’s Women’s Elite Eight match between Mississippi State and Baylor. Hartung worked in the political media prior to landing with the Longhorn Network as an associate producer for the CBS program Face the Nation.

Final Four forces South Carolina to postpone indoor facility groundbreaking

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File this one under the most first world of all problems: the South Carolina football program is having to adjust its plans because the Gamecocks’ basketball team has been more successful than anticipated.

With Frank Martin‘s hoops headed to Phoenix for this weekend’s Final Four and taking all the Palmetto State’s attention with them, Will Muschamp‘s football program has been forced to alter what had been a big day planned.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to break ground on their announced indoor practice facility; those plans have now been postponed.

With only six days between South Carolina’s clinching of a Final Four berth and the football team’s planned Garnet-White game, the spring game will have to remain slated for Saturday. But it has been bumped forward to a noon kickoff.

Muschamp did not make the trip to Madison Square Garden for Sunday’s Elite Eight win (Florida’s Jim McElwain was in attendance) and Saturday’s spring game will also preclude his attendance, meaning the head football coach must wait until a possible national championship berth to support the basketball team in person.

With Brandon Harris off the board, Texas reportedly looking at former ND QB Malik Zaire

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Texas pursued former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris, but Harris is no longer interested in being pursued.

After Harris’s commitment to North Carolina, Tom Herman has reportedly turned his interests to the next logical choice in the graduate transfer market — former Notre Dame signal caller Malik Zaire.

The news comes from Chip Brown of Horns Digest who, unfortunately hid the goods behind a pay wall.

The move would be an interesting one considering Zaire’s history with the Longhorns. Zaire played like a Heisman candidate in a 38-3 crunching of Texas on the opening night of the 2015 season, hitting 19-of-22 passes for 313 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. As we know, Zaire was lost for the year to a broken ankle one week later, but managed to win back the starting job in training camp before the ’16 season.

Zaire didn’t last long, though, hitting 2-of-5 passes for 23 yards while being credited for no gain on three rushes, giving way to DeShone Kizer in an eventual 50-47 double overtime loss to the Longhorns in Austin to open last season.

Zaire would toss only 18 more passes as a Fighting Irish quarterback.

If Zaire reciprocates Herman’s interest he would immediately join an open quarterback battle with incumbent Shane Buechele and true freshman Sam Ehlinger. At the time of his South Bend departure Zaire was reportedly considering Wisconsin, Baylor and recently off-the-market North Carolina.