BYU’s Mendenhall welcomes a Big 12 invite, if only it would be extended


BYU is embarking on its fourth season as a football independent since leaving the Mountain West Conference behind. At the time the decision was made to abandon conference affiliation in football, there was a sense of pride and ambition for the program and the plan actually seemed to make some sense early on. What BYU may have failed to predict was the continued evolution of the college football landscape and how it would impact BYU. Now, perhaps feeling a need to secure a footing in the college football world, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is letting it be known his program would appreciate consideration for a spot in the Big 12. Why wouldn’t he?

“We would love to be in the Big 12,” Mendenhall said in a story posted by the Austin American-Statesman. “I would love to be a member of that conference. I think that would make a lot of sense. In fact, if that was your headline, that would be great.”

It would make plenty of sense for BYU. Not only would a spot in the Big 12 cement BYU with a connection to one of the power conferences in college football, lump it in with brands like Texas and Oklahoma, but it would solve one of the biggest problems BYU faces as an independent; scheduling. The stress of having to fill out a 12-game schedule annually would be relieved with eight or nine conference games locked in every season. BYU would also cash in on Big 12 conference revenues, which could end up being more profitable than the current financial structure in place for BYU despite having power to arrange its own media rights deals without having to share a dime with any other school.

If the Pac-12 was not going to invite BYU (it opted for Utah and Colorado, remember), then the Big 12 is the most logical conference destination for BYU if it is to be a part of a power conference. The problem is, the need to add BYU is not there for the Big 12, a conference establishing a comfort level with a 10-member line-up after letting the ground settle in conference realignment madness of recent years.

Mendenhall has seen the way power conferences are viewing Notre Dame and feels BYU is deserving of that same level of respect as an independent. Notre Dame will qualify as a power conference opponent for the ACC’s non-conference scheduling requirement, but BYU will not. This does not sit well for the head coach at BYU.

From the Austin American-Statesman;

“We have a chip on our shoulder,” Mendenhall said. “I could have given you that instead of the longer answer. I’m just wondering who fights for us as an independent?

“Between myself and my basketball coaches, there’s no two featured programs that have won more games,” Mendenhall continued. “Our attendance is high enough. And our winning percentage is high enough.

“We have the entire Salt Lake City and Utah market as well as a worldwide following because of the church. There’d be a ton to offer the Big 12, because it’s a money-generated world right now. You’re talking about an amazing kind of brand.”

The Big 12 has said time and time again it is fine sitting on a membership of ten schools. For the Big 12, the lack of a conference championship game has not been a major concern, to this point at least. One of the big questions moving into the College Football Playoff era is what will the impact of a conference championship game have. If it looks as though the Big 12 is losing a step to the SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 because it does not play a championship game, rumbles about expansion may kick up some dust. If that is the case, would BYU be among the potential candidates?

It appears there are four options for BYU.

1. The Big 12 answers Mendenhall’s prayers and invites the Cougars to join the conference along with some other school to get to 12 members and play a conference championship game. This is likely a long shot at best right now.

2. Work with the Big 12 to establish some sort of relationship similar in structure to the ACC’s deal with Notre Dame. Having five games with BYU on the schedule certainly is not a drain on the Big 12’s non-conference schedule and it provides BYU with some more stability with scheduling. If BYU can even sneak into the Big 12’s bowl line-up the way Notre Dame will in the ACC, that is a bonus.

3. BYU continues as a football independent, hoping to secure scheduling deals with Pac-12 schools (like UCLA) and push for national scheduling. This may urn out to be the most likely scenario, and may still be the best case scenario if the power conferences do not totally split off from the rest fo the NCAA.

4. BYU gets left behind in the power shift in college football and rejoins the Mountain West Conference, providing for schedule stability in whatever happens in the future of the college football landscape.

Are there any other options on the table for BYU? Which is the best plan?

Iowa basketball player making move to football, although his gridiron destination is unknown

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Iowa basketball’s loss could be Iowa football’s gain — maybe.

In a press release, it was announced that Ahmad Wagner has decided to leave the Hawkeyes men’s hoops program “to train and get my body into football shape so I can be ready for when I decide where I will finish my athletic and academic goals.” The 6-7, 235-pound Wagner played three years of basketball at the Big Ten school, starting 25 of the 96 games in which he played.

Below is Wagner’s statement on his decision, released through the university’s athletic department:

I have had recent discussions with my family and the coaching staff, and ultimately decided to leave the Hawkeye basketball program and end my college basketball career so I can finish my collegiate eligibility playing football. A person of strong faith, I am following God’s plan and I am eager for this next chapter. I leave the Iowa men’s basketball team with new friendships and incredible memories that I will forever treasure. I want to thank coach McCaffery, staff, and teammates for helping me grow both as a basketball player and person.

“My plan now is to train and get my body into football shape so I can be ready for when I decide where I will finish my athletic and academic goals. Thank-you Hawkeye nation for your support and welcoming me when I first stepped onto campus.

If Wagner opts to remain at UI and plays for the football Hawkeyes, he would have two years of eligibility that he could use beginning with the 2018 season.  The same goes for a move to an FCS program.  If he were to opt for another FBS school, however, he’d have to sit out the 2018 season, which would leave him with one year of football eligibility to use in 2019.

Wagner played one year of high school football, helping to lead Wayne High School to the Div. 1 championship game in the Ohio state playoffs his senior season.  As a wide receiver that year, he caught 58 passes for 1,028 yards and 17 touchdowns in earning first-team all-state honors.

According to the’s Scott Dochterman, Kentucky offered Wagner a football scholarship while Ohio State was interested in him as a football player as well.

Lane Kiffin slaps FAU QB Chris Robison with ‘day-to-day suspension’

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Chris Robison‘s time in Norman ended in controversy. As he gets set to begin his quest to become Florida Atlantic’s starting quarterback, Robison is again mired in a bit of a kerfuffle.

As FAU kicked off spring practice Tuesday, Lane Kiffin confirmed that Robison has been indefinitely suspended from his football program.  The only reason given was the standard unspecified violation of team rules.

One sliver of light amongst the latest off-field cloud for Robison is that the suspension trigger seems to be relatively minor in nature as the head coach said it could be lifted at any time.

“[He’s] not doing things right off the field and not just that he hurt himself, but he hurt his team,” Kiffin said by way of the Palm Beach Post. “Like we just told our players, you got choices; we can’t make the choices for you. If you don’t want to make the right choices, [there are] punishments for them.

“I think our punishments are a bit more severe than most people would be, but we want to teach our guys they gotta do everything right.”

A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April of that year for public intoxication; four months later, OU announced that Robison had been dismissed from the football program.  In August of last year, Robison announced his decision to transfer to FAU and ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017 season.

Robison and De'Andre Johnson are expected to compete for the starting job vacated by Jason Driskel, who announced earlier this offseason that he was retiring from the sport.  Johnson missed most of the 2017 season after blood clots were discovered in one of his arms.

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa injures thumb on throwing hand in spring practice opener

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This is not exactly the most optimal way to open the spring for Nick Saban and Alabama.

Shortly before seven p.m. ET this evening, grad transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew, who originally committed to play his last season of college football at Alabama, announced on Twitter that he will instead move on to Washington State.  Not long after that, after the Crimson Tide had completed their first practice of the spring, Saban confirmed that Tua Tagovailoa sustained an injury to the thumb on his right (throwing) hand.  Specifically how he sustained the injury wasn’t clear.

The rising sophomore will be taken to Birmingham for further evaluation; just how long he’ll be sidelined remains to be seen.

Jalen Hurts started every game but one at quarterback the past two seasons, guiding the Crimson Tide to a 26-2 record in that span.  He was under center for the national championship game loss to Clemson, and was in the same spot for this year’s title game against Georgia until a 13-0 halftime deficit compelled Saban to pull the trigger on a change.

And the rest, as they say, is history, as Tagovailoa played a significant role in a second-half comeback that was capped by the true freshman’s game-winning touchdown pass in the first overtime.  Even as it seems obvious to those on the outside that this is Tagovailoa’s team moving forward, given how much more advanced the backup is in the passing game than the erstwhile starter, Saban is not quite ready to pull the trigger on a full-time change at the position.  In fact, the head coach even stated that he’s open to playing both quarterbacks.

Minshew, who started five games at East Carolina last season, was viewed as experienced insurance in case Hurts decided to transfer.  Or, if Tagovailoa suffered an injury.

After committing to Alabama, grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew tweets flip to Washington State

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So much for the implementation of the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™.

In late February, Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer quarterback from East Carolina, confirmed that he had committed to play for Alabama and would enroll at the university in May.  Nearly three weeks later, Minshew shifted his course significantly, announcing on Twitter that he is “[p]roud to say that I’ll be playing my last year of college ball at Washington State.”

At least when it comes to the opportunity for playing time, the Cougars, looking to replace Luke Falk, make much more sense than the Crimson Tide, who has, in addition to a two-year starter in Hurts, national championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa.

As a graduate transfer, Minshew will be eligible to play immediately for Wazzu in 2018 and could be in line to win a starting job at the Power Five school.

Minshew started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.

The news of Minshew’s initial commitment to UA came a little over a week after Minshew visited the Tuscaloosa campus.  Earlier in February, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.