BYU v Boise State

Report: Boise, BYU, SDSU all still in conversations with MWC


As is usually the case, one realignment story — in this case, Maryland’s departure from the ACC to the Big Ten — tends to open up the proverbial flood gates to a handful of other reports, which opens the gates for others and soon enough you have a college football pyramid scheme.

One such report involves — surprise! — the future of the Big East conference. Per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Boise State, BYU and San Diego State are still having conversations with the Mountain West Conference about re-joining the league. However, it’s reported that the talks did not originate solely because of this latest round of conference realignment. Though not official yet, it’s believed that Big East member Rutgers will also announce it’s intention to apply for Big Ten membership tomorrow (Tuesday).

Rather, discussions reportedly began when it was announced last week that college football’s new playoff would have six access bowls with one spot guaranteed to go to the highest-ranked team from a conference that does not have a contractual tie-in to one of the major bowls (i.e., the Big East, C-USA, MAC, MWC and Sun Belt). In terms of access, the Mountain West would be on the same level as the Big East. Still, McMurphy reports that discussions among the three former and possibly soon-to-be former members have “greater significance” because of the latest moving and shaking between conferences.

The Big East is currently on the open market for a new TV deal after its 60-day exclusive negotiating window with ESPN passed. This is where things get messy with the likes of Boise State and San Diego State. On one hand, there’s still no definitive number (yet) that Boise and SDSU can hold as affirmation that a move to the Big East is financially worth it. On the other hand, any reports of wavering support from the two MWC programs — this is not the first time it’s been rumored that BSU and SDSU were showing trepidation — could affect the Big East’s TV negotiations.

And around and around it goes.

BYU, a former member of the MWC, is in a slightly different situation. As a football independent, the Cougars are in the middle of a TV deal with ESPN that brings in about $4 million annually. While a return to the MWC may not payout that much for BYU — it’s not even clear how the school could break such a contract at this time — it would give the program potentially greater access to an at-large spot in one of the six access bowls (and a higher payout).

The one thing to keep in mind about realignment since this is now everyone’s third rodeo in as many years is that everything was fine in the college footbal landscape as of a couple of weeks ago. Now, there’s at least some sense of panic. There may be moving parts, but not all of them will lead to change.

Updated 11:45 p.m. ET: Boise State president Bob Kustra released the following statement (H/T Idaho Statesman) about its future with the Big East:

“We are in contact with the Big East Conference office and are evaluating the information that has come forward regarding conference realignment the past few days.”

Not much going on the statement. Not overly promising, but not total doom and gloom either. Just evaluating options. Again, the lack of a TV deal really hurts the Big East going forward.

Win over Grambling approved, Cal officially becomes bowl eligible

Jared Goff
Associated Press
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Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.

Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.

But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.

“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”

The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.


Tulane reportedly set to fire head coach Curtis Johnson

Curtis Johnson
Associated Press
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The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.

According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.

Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”

Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.

If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.

Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.

Reports: Michigan DC D.J. Durkin a “strong candidate” for Maryland vacancy

D.J. Durkin
Associated Press

Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.

“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”

Added Feldman:

Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).

Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.

Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.

“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.

“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”

Illini to decide on fate of interim head coach Bill Cubit by Sunday

Bill Cubit
Associated Press
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Illinois will decide whether or not to retain interim head coach Bill Cubit for the full-time job by Sunday, interim AD Paul Kowalczyk told WSKJ-FM Wednesday.

“We need to make that call and figure out which way we’re going for everyone’s sake,” Kowalczyk said, via the Chicago Tribune. “For me, it’s posthaste.”

Illinois closes its regular season Saturday against No. 16 Northwestern in Champaign. The Illini are 5-6 on the year and, for what it’s worth, Cubit desperately wants the job.

Also worth noting: the athletics department is operating under a total state of dysfunction in the wake of AD Mike Thomas‘s firing.

From 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday:

Sources tell 670 The Score that as overwhelmed university officials are dithering and providing little guidance, the group of trustees, boosters and alums left to run things can’t yet agree on much.  Some want to hire a search firm with a spotty recent track record, others want to form their own search committee, while another faction thinks they need to act faster by using their own contacts to target specific AD and coaching candidates right now and just get moving.

Any support for retaining Bill Cubit is getting strong push-back from those who don’t believe he wasn’t aware of Tim Beckman’s aberrant behavior, and from some who feel strongly about making a more dynamic hire.

For those keeping score at home: Illinois is dealing with a power vacuum of trustees, boosters and alums battling for control while an interim chancellor and interim athletics director work to reach a resolution on an interim football coach.

And the coaching carousel starts spinning in full four days from now.