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…

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.