CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 21 Boise State

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2011 record: 12-1 overall, 6-1 in MWC (2nd)

2011 postseason: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas (56-24 win over Arizona State)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 8/No. 6

Head coach: Chris Petersen (73-6 in six seasons at Boise State)

Offensive coordinator: Robert Prince (fourth season at Boise State, first as OC)

2011 offensive rankings: 40th rushing offense (171.9 ypg); 11th passing offense (309.4 ypg); 9th total offense (481.3 ypg); 5th scoring offense (44.2 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: three

Defensive coordinator: Pete Kwiatkowski (seventh season at Boise State, third as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: 17th rushing defense (110 ypg); 43rd passing defense (210.8 ypg); 16th total defense (320.8 ypg); 12th scoring defense (18.7 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: two

Location: Boise, Idaho

Stadium: Bronco Stadium (37,000; FieldTurf)

Last league title: 2010 (WAC co-champs with Hawaii and Nevada)

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
With TCU’s departure for the Big 12, the Broncos are the undisputed kings of the Mountain West ahead of its 2013 move to the Big East. Additionally, the program was able to stave off yet another offseason of multiple attempts by other schools to pry Petersen out of Boise. And those are indeed good things, because …

The Bad
The Broncos return five starters total — three on offense, two on defense. Included in those 17 lost starters are the greatest quarterback in the school’s storied history (Kellen Moore); its leading rusher (Doug Martin); leading receiver in yards and touchdowns (Tyler Shoemaker) along with another starter at the position; three starting offensive linemen; the top four tacklers from 2012; and the entire starting defensive line. To say the Broncos will be a bit wet behind the ears this season would serve as a massive understatement.

The Unknown
Just how the Broncos will replace the on-field production and, perhaps more importantly, the off-field leadership Moore brought to the table will likely be the most significant factor in determining if Boise State can win 10-plus games for the seventh consecutive season under Petersen.  Joe Southwick is expected to emerge from the four-man competition and grab hold of the unenviable task of stepping into Moore’s immense shoes.  Certainly having some experience returning at receiver and along the line and will help ease the transition for Southwick — or whomever earns the starting job.  Unfortunately for the Broncos, there will be a very steep learning curve for the signal caller.

Make-or-break game: at Michigan State, Aug. 31
Yep, with all of the greenness at nearly every position, Boise will open the season against hands-down the most talented team they will see all year long during the regular season– and on the road, no less.  The rest of the non-conference schedule (Miami of Ohio, BYU and Southern Miss) will be manageable, while the conference slate is a multi-layered cupcake.  The game against the Spartans, however, will show whether the Broncos are ready to maintain its presence on the national stage — or if they’ll take a one-year hiatus as they gain some much-needed experience.

Heisman hopeful: None
With Moore and Martin out of the picture, there’s no one on the Broncos’ roster, at least at this point in time, who would merit even a leaping, stretching inclusion.

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

Mountain West preview, vote

Jake Butt’s draft tumble will net him $543k insurance payout

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The decisions to sit out their team’s respective bowl games made by Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey had little impact on either’s draft stock as both were selected in the Top 10 Thursday night.  Jake Butt‘s decision ended to play up costly him dearly, although he will see a (wee) bit of a financial cushion softening the blow.

Butt suffered a torn ACL in Michigan’s Orange Bowl loss to Florida State late last year.  At the time, Butt was considered one of the top tight end prospects for the 2017 NFL draft, with most experts considering him, at worst, a second-round selection.  Most, though, had him ticketed as a first-round pick in a deep class at the position.

Unfortunately, Butt saw his draft stock plummet because of the injury, with the talented tight end falling all the way to the fifth round as he was selected with the No. 145 overall pick by the Denver Broncos Saturday afternoon.

The injury and subsequent fall cost Butt millions of dollars.  The sliver of a silver lining is that Butt had taken out an insurance policy that will pay him a tax-free sum of $543,000, Darren Rovell of ESPN.com reported.

That said, Butt saw what would’ve been a potential signing bonus in the neighborhood of $4 million drop to just shy of $400,000.  Even considering the insurance payout, the injury will have cost Butt, at bare minimum, $3 million.

It could also have significant ramifications for the sport moving forward as, with the recent examples of Butt, Fournette, McCaffrey and even Jaylon Smith (HERE) fresh in their memories, star players could, more than ever, give significant consideration to skipping out on their team’s bowl game — maybe even a playoff game.

Suspended Michigan State staffer receives another contract extension

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Michigan State has added another one-month extension to the contract of suspended football staffer Curtis Blackwell as the school continues to investigate several sexual assaults involving the Spartans.

A schools spokesman confirmed the extension to the Detroit Free Press on Friday.

The move comes on the heels of a previous one-month contract extension for Blackwell that came at the end of March. His official title is that of the team’s director of college advancement and performance and he was hired by head coach Mark Dantonio back in 2013 after running a number of major recruiting camps in the region.

Blackwell was originally suspended back in February as the school and police began multiple investigations related to sexual assaults. According to reports, one Michigan State staff member had an arrest warrant issued for obstructing an investigation but he was never publicly identified by the school.

Probes into the matter, including a Title IX investigation, remain ongoing in East Lansing. The football team recently wrapped up practice missing over a dozen players in the spring game so it appears this wide-ranging scandal that has embroiled the Spartans is not going to be over anytime soon.

Ex-USC coach finally lands court date with NCAA over Reggie Bush case

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After years and years of meandering through the court system, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair finally has his day in court with the NCAA.

ESPN is reporting that the two parties will meet in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 18, 2018. The trial will finally get underway next year after nearly a decade of appeals on both sides.

McNair was the Trojans’ running backs coach during the glory days under Pete Carroll and responsible for coaching or recruiting many of the team’s top players. He was one of the few links to the program that the NCAA cited when determining that former star Reggie Bush received extra benefits, later leading to brutal sanctions back in 2010. McNair was given a one-year show-cause as a result of the Committee on Infractions findings and never coached again after the school let his contract expire shortly thereafter.

That wasn’t the end of the story however, as McNair later filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA in which he accused the association of violating protocol and showing bias against himself and the program in order to level unprecedented sanctions. Documents in the case have continued to seep out that have given credence to McNair’s case and the NCAA’s lawyers have fought bitterly at every turn in order to prevent the trial from actually getting underway.

Those efforts were unsuccessful however and it appears an already nasty legal battle is still not over. It remains to be seen if the trial will even happen, as a settlement could eventually take place between now and next April. If it does indeed go in front of a jury though, it just might be one of the most fascinating insights into one of the biggest NCAA scandals of the past few decades.

Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Jonathan Giles announces transfer from Texas Tech

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Thursday may have been a high point for the Texas Tech football program upon learning that former quarterback Patrick Mahomes was taken in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

On Friday afternoon though, the Red Raiders dipped right back down as star wide receiver Jonathan Giles took to Twitter to announce that he was leaving the program and transferring out of Lubbock.

Giles was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist a season ago after catching 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those numbers led the team in each category despite trailing off a bit down the stretch as Tech missed out on a bowl game.

Playing time could have been a big factor in the decision to leave the program as both Cameron Batson and Keke Coutee emerged as the top receiving targets and Giles was relegated to second-team status coming out of spring practice.

Tech’s Air Raid system and NFL quarterbacks had a lot to do with Giles’ big numbers but it’s fairly rare to see such highly touted and productive wideouts hit the transfer markets. While the decision probably isn’t what some Red Raiders fans wanted to hear on Friday, the receiver probably won’t be lacking for options when it comes to his next stop.