Big West open to discussing Boise’s non-football sports

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And that sound you hear is the Big East beginning to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Earlier today we noted a report from the San Diego Union-Tribune, which stated that San Diego State was working on behalf of Boise State in an attempt to find a home for the Broncos’ non-football sports.  With the WAC, which was where BSU was going to house conference-wise most of its other sports beyond football, on the verge of collapse, there was fear that Boise would back out of its planned football move from the Mountain West to the Big East.

While those fears still exist, they’ve lessened a bit with the news coming out of Idaho this evening.

In a conversation with Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman, Big West commissioner Dennis Farrell confirmed that his conference has engaged in dialogue with Boise regarding the issue of membership for its non-football sports.  According to Murphy, Boise State would need eight yes votes out of the 10 members that will be in the conference in 2013.

Interestingly, one of those members will be Hawaii.  The Warriors will move its non-football sports into the Big West this year — and its football program into the Mountain West this year as well.  Suffice to say, the island school might feel a bit of pressure from its new mainland football conference to vote nay on the Boise issue.

Regardless, it’s at least a topic the Big West is willing to discuss.

“We did talk about Boise State specifically and where we have come out on this is that we have agreed to entertain interest in Boise State would be the best way to put it,” Farrell said. “We’re open to at least explore the possibility.”

A “new membership assessment tool” has been sent to Boise by the Big West in order to begin the process of determining how the school’s athletics would fit into the conference.

Of course, an “assessment tool” and engaging in dialogue guarantees nothing at this point, but it certainly has to have the Big East feeling slightly more optimistic that Boise State will indeed join the conference in football in 2013 as planned.

That optimism had been waning somewhat in recent days as a report surfaced that Boise was having second thoughts on the move to the Big East next year, in large part over the issue of where exactly it would house its other sports if the WAC ceased to exist as a league.  Perhaps sensing an opportunity, the MWC reportedly met with Boise officials last week in an attempt to convince the school to remain in the conference.

One byproduct of Boise State reneging on the move to the Big East would’ve been San Diego State, scheduled to move to the same conference at the same time, doing the same, and without having to pay an exit fee.  So, SDSU and its proposed new conference have a vested interest on a couple of fronts in seeing Boise’s sports in the Big West, which is where its non-football athletic programs will move in 2013.

The very last thing the Big East can afford right now, with negotiations on a new television agreement in the offing, is to have what would become its flagship football program backing out of a move into the conference, and taking a sizable TV market with them.  If the Big West’s openness to engage in talks with Boise State is any indication, such a development becomes increasingly unlikely.

Boise State will, though, have a $5 million decision to make in the next month and a half.  If Boise, which has not yet officially notified the MWC of its intent to leave that conference, decides before June 30 of this year that it is backing out of the Big East move, it will owe the Big East $5 million.  If Boise decides on or after July 1 of this year that it will not compete in the Big East, the financial number owed to that conference would jump to $10 million.

In other words, Boise State — and by extension San Diego State and the Big East — needs an answer from the Big West before the calendar turns to July.  And let the countdown on that front begin in earnest… now…

Iowa LB Aaron Mends to miss extended time with injury

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Talk about a hard-luck story.

After never starting a game at Iowa, Aaron Mends (pictured, blocking punt) had earned a starting job at outside linebacker during practice this spring.  With football being the cruel mistress that it can be at times, the Hawkeyes announced Friday night that Mends “will miss an extended period of time due to injury.” The program offered no details as to the specific nature of the injury, although it’s believed to involve the knee.

According to the school’s release, the fifth-year senior suffered the injury during the final week of Iowa’s spring drills.

Mends was a three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class.  He was the highest-rated linebacker in Iowa’s class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Mends has played in 38 games the past three seasons.  A baker’s dozen of those appearances came during the 2017 season.

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.