Big East back on life support, on verge of collapse

22 Comments

As the conference expansion roulette wheel spun over the past couple of years, the Big East was declared all but dead only to bounce back from the brink.

This time around, though, there doesn’t appear any bounce left in the conference.

CBSSports.com is reporting that, barring an unexpected change of plans, the seven non-football members of the Big East will break away from that conference, while ESPN.com reports that it would be an upset if those schools — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova — remained as part of the Big East.  An official announcement on the future of the league is expected in the next 24-48 hours.

The seven basketball schools have the power and the votes to dissolve the conference, although it’s unclear at this point if that’s the tack the group will take.

New Big East commissioner Mike Aresco has been in involved in the discussions and is attempting to hold his conference together.  Aresco met with the presidents of those seven schools Sunday, and took part in a teleconference earlier today.

What happens to the Big East if the seven schools break away or even dissolve the conference is the great unknown, throwing the football futures of several programs into chaos and uncertainty.  Boise State, Houston, Memphis, SMU, San Diego State and UCF are slated to join the Big East in 2013, followed by Tulane and East Carolina in 2014, and Navy in 2015.  UConn — the only founding member of the conference that would be left in 2013 — Cincinnati, Temple and USF are the only current members with plans to remain in the Big East if it survives some way, shape or form.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced last year that they will be moving to the ACC in 2013, while Louisville (ACC) and Rutgers (Big Ten) announced earlier this year that they will be leaving the conference.

The biggest blow to the Big East is that the tumult and turmoil comes in the midst of negotiations on a new television contract.  From ESPN.com:

If the seven basketball schools leave the Big East, it will be a crippling blow to the league’s media-rights negotiations. Last week CBSSports.com projected the value of the Big East’s media-rights revenue between $60 million and $80 million.

An industry source thought the figure would be closer to $50 million, he told ESPN on Tuesday. The estimates reported by CBSSports.com and ESPN both included the basketball schools as part of the package.

If the Big East loses the seven Catholic basketball schools, it would decrease the value of the league’s media rights by “15 to 20 percent,” an industry source said.

Such a development could prompt several new members, particularly Boise State and San Diego State, to reconsider their move.  Uncertainty on the part of the two schools and their move surfaced a couple months ago, with the Idaho Statesman confirming again today that the Mountain West would welcome them back with open arms.

Regardless of which direction the situation takes, there appears to be just one certainty — courts, and not the basketball kind.

“Lawyers are going to have to sort it all out,” a source told CBSSports.com. “I don’t think anybody knows exactly how this is going to happen. They just know it’s time to separate.”

Arkansas assistant Vernon Hargreaves added to Mizzou’s staff

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Vernon Hargreaves wasn’t retained by the new coaching staff in Fayetteville, but he’ll end up remaining in the SEC anyway.

Missouri confirmed Thursday that Hargreaves has been hired by Barry Odom and added to the second-year head coach’s staff.  The veteran assistant will serve as Odom’s inside linebackers coach.

“I’ve known Vernon for a number of years and have always respected the way his position plays the game,” said Odom in a statement distributed by the school. “He will be a great teacher and mentor for our student-athletes. His experience will be so valuable for our program; I’m excited about Vernon and his family joining our Mizzou family.”

Hargreaves spent the past three seasons as the linebackers coach at Arkansas.  Most notably, he served in the same capacity at Miami from 1998-2005.

Hargreaves also spent time on staffs at Houston (2013-14), South Florida (2010-12), East Carolina (2007-09), Florida International (2006) and UConn (1985-97).  He was also the special teams coordinator at USF and ECU in addition to being a position coach.

Telly Lockette takes job at Florida State as TEs coach

Associated Press
Leave a comment

As Willie Taggart constructs his first coaching staff at Florida State, he’s added yet another familiar face.

Taggart, FSU announced earlier Thursday, has hired Telly Lockette as the Seminoles’ tight ends coach.  Lockette had spent the past three seasons as the running backs coach at Oregon State.

Prior to that, Lockette was a member of Taggart’s coaching staff at USF as running backs coach for two seasons and maintains deep ties to the fertile recruiting soil of South Florida.

“I’ve known Coach Lockette for a long time and am excited he is joining our staff at Florida State,” Taggart said. “He was an important part of my first staff at South Florida and has gained Power 5 experience with his last three seasons in the Pac-12. Coach Lockette is a tremendous recruiter and coach who does a phenomenal job developing student-athletes on and off the field. While we were at South Florida he was the primary recruiter for the Miami area and helped us sign a number of impact players, including Quinton Flowers, Khalid McGee and Deatrick Nichols. His expertise will benefit our current and future Seminoles.”

The job with Taggart at USF was Lockette’s first at any level of college football.  The first 10 years of his coaching career were spent at the high school level, including a five-year stint at Miami Central from 2008-12.

Amidst Arizona State chatter, Texas Tech DC David Gibbs signs contract extension

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Almost without fail, it pays to have your name circulating through the annual churning of the coaching rumor mill.

The latest example is David Gibbs, with the Texas Tech defensive coordinator being rumored as a target for the same job with Herm Edwards at Arizona State over the past few days.  Fast-forward to Thursday night, and Tech announced that it has finalized a new two-year contract extension with Gibbs.  The coordinator is now signed through the 2019 season.

According to the school, Gibbs’ pay will be bumped from $550,000 per year to $650,000.  That number puts Gibbs right in the middle of Big 12 DC pay.

“We are fortunate to have one of the top defensive coordinators in the country in Coach Gibbs,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said in a release. “Since the conclusion of the regular season, finalizing this new contract to keep Coach Gibbs at Texas Tech has been a priority for myself and [athletic director] Kirby [Hocutt]. We look forward to continuing to build one of the nation’s top defenses in the years to come under Coach Gibbs.”

Long a punchline, the Red Raiders’ defense has steadily improved in the three years under Gibbs.  This season, their 27 takeaways led the Big 12 and are the most in a season for the football program since 2008.  They’re also currently seventh in the country with four defensive touchdowns.

With Gibbs back, he’ll have 10 returning starters with which to work next season.

“There isn’t a better person to work for than Kliff Kingsbury, and I’m looking forward to continue building this program with him,” Gibbs said. “There is still plenty of work that needs to be done, but I’m excited about the future of our team.”

RB Justin Crawford to skip West Virginia’s bowl game, begin preparing for NFL draft

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sometimes the personnel gods giveth, and sometimes the personnel gods taketh away.

Thursday evening, West Virginia announced that quarterback Will Grier will return to Morgantown for the 2018 season.  Not long after, the same football program confirmed that Justin Crawford has decided to eschew playing in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Instead of preparing for Utah in the postseason, the senior running back will instead begin preparations for the 2018 NFL draft.

“Justin has logged a lot of miles and been a key contributor for us the past two seasons,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He made a decision to not play in the bowl game based on what is best for him and his family. He came to West Virginia to further his education and be a featured back in the Big 12 and he accomplished his goals. As he starts his preparation for the NFL Draft, we wish him nothing but the best.”

Crawford has led the Mountaineers in rushing each of the past two seasons.  He’s the first WVU player to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Noel Devine in 2008-09.

After finishing third in the Big 12 this season with 1,061 yards on the ground, he was named second-team all-conference for the second straight season.  Following the 2016 season, he earned the league’s Newcomer of the Year honor.