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


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…

Florida RB Mark Thompson cited for pot possession

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 15:  Mark Thompson #24 of the Florida Gators rushes for yardage during the game against the Missouri Tigers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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And now we know a little bit more of the rest of the story.

Friday afternoon, Florida announced that Mark Thompson would not travel with the rest of the team to Jacksonville for Saturday’s game against Georgia.  The only reason given was “some choices and decisions he’s made.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel, one of those choices was smoking weed, with that decision resulting in a citation for possession of marijuana.  The citation was issued after the running back ran a stop sign very early Thursday morning and was pulled over by a university police officer.

From the Sentinel:

UFPD spokesperson Maj. Brad Barber said the officer smelled the odor of marijuana in the car and after a search discovered Thompson in possession of fewer than 20 grams of the substance.

Thompson was given a notice to appear for the misdemeanor violation and also cited for failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to provide proof of insurance.

Thompson, a 6-2, 237-pound redshirt junior, is currently third on the Gators in rushing yards (262) and second in rushing touchdowns (two). This is the back’s first season in Gainesville after transferring in from the junior college ranks earlier this year.

Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp set to return after two-game absence

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 10: Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp #1 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers grabs a touchdown pass against linebacker D.J. May #7 of the Wyoming Cowboys at Memorial Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Wyoming 52-14. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
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When undefeated and seventh-ranked Nebraska takes the field for its biggest game of the 2016 season thus far, it’ll do so with one of the most experienced and productive pieces of its passing game back in action.

Jordan Westerkamp sustained an injury to his back during the Week 5 win over Illinois, and was briefly hospitalized after being hit by an Illini defender. The wide receiver missed the Week 7 win over Indiana and the Purdue win the following Saturday because of the injury.

This week, however, Westerkamp practiced without any type of restrictions ahead of the Week 9 game against No. 11 Wisconsin in Madison. Westerkamp, who stated his injuries included tiny fractures on the transverse process in his spine as well as what was described as a deep muscle bruise, confirmed the obvious, that he will suit up for the Cornhuskers and play against the Badgers in the huge Big Ten West matchup.

“It’s been good,” Westerkamp said, by way of the Omaha World-Herald, of his return to practice. “My confidence is at an all-time high and we’re ready to go get back with the team and kick butt this Saturday.”

At the time of the injury, Westerkamp led the Cornhuskers in receiving touchdowns (four) and tied for the team lead in receptions (13). His 228 receiving yards were second behind Alonzo Moore‘s 310.
Last season, Westerkamp led the ‘Huskers in all three of those categories.

‘Due to some choices and decisions he’s made,’ Florida RB Mark Thompson won’t play vs. UGA

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Mark Thompson #24 of the Florida Gators in action during the second half of the game against the North Texas Mean Green at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Sounding very similar to a disappointed parent, Florida has announced that one of their kids will be in timeout instead of on the field this weekend.

Ahead of Saturday’s annual rivalry game with Georgia, Florida announced via Twitter that running back Mark Thompson not only won’t play this Saturday but won’t even make the trip to Jacksonville for The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.  Why? “[D]ue to some choices and decisions he’s made.”

The school, obviously, will not go into any further details as to the issue or issues that will sideline the player.

Thompson, a 6-2, 237-pound redshirt junior, is currently third on the Gators in rushing yards (262) and second in rushing touchdowns (two). This is the back’s first season in Gainesville after transferring in from the junior college ranks earlier this year.

Big 12 eschews two-division setup; instead, top two teams to play in league title game

WVU vs Marshall
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The Big 12 earlier this month eschewed expansion.  A short time later, they’ve done the same for splitting up the conference.

The league announced late Friday morning that, when the conference championship game returns for the 2017 season, there will be no split into two five-team divisions.  Instead, the teams with the best and second-best record in conference play will square off in the conference championship game.

Each conference member will continue to play nine league games every season, one against each other member.

“There are a number of advantages to matching our top two teams,” said commissioner Bob Bowlsby in a statement. “Given our round-robin, nine-game scheduling model, it is expected the Big 12 champion will be uniquely positioned for College Football Playoff consideration. I would argue there will be no path more difficult than our champion’s, where it will have played every team in the Conference, faced at least one Autonomy Conference non-conference opponent, and then plays in our championship game.

“The guaranteed No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup will be a great game for our fans, and it’s hard to imagine a stronger position for a conference champion.”

The release gave no indication as to how three-way ties would be handled, although CFP rankings would likely come into play.  The decision to not split into two divisions likely won’t sit well with the league’s coaches, however, even as it’s arguably the wisest decision the conference has made in years.

The conference also revealed that the site of the 2017 conference championship game “will be announced in the coming weeks.” AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, is widely believed to be the front-runner for at least the first renewal, and is viewed as the far and away favorite if the league opts to “anchor” the game at one site for a period of years.