Memphis Tigers

MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 17:  Student section of the Memphis Tigers celebrates after a touchdown during a game against the Ole Miss Rebels at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Group of Five Power-Ranking: Memphis rising, Boise State and Western Michigan remain undefeated

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As another weekend of college football came to a close, there was no reason to suggest anyone was ready to knock Houston out of the pole position in the season-long Group of Five power ranking this week. The Cougars blasted Texas State on the road and look poised to make a run through the American Athletic Conference this season. It may not have been a great weekend for the MAC, but Western Michigan continues to make things interesting in Kalamazoo that can not be ignored. And then there is another school sporting the nickname of the Broncos that continues to stay in the running.

One spot in the New Years Six lineup will be reserved for the highest-ranked conference champion from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference or Sun Belt Conference. Houston received that invite last season and appears well on its way to taking it once again this season (unless they wiggle into the College Football Playoff by chance).

So, here is how I would rank the Group of Five contenders through four weeks of play.

1. Houston (4-0)

The Cougars are on a roll after a 64-3 victory over Texas State. Next up for Tom Herman‘s Cougars is a revenge game at home against UConn. The Huskies were the only team to defeat Houston last season, but Greg Ward Jr. is healthy this time around.

2. Western Michigan (4-0)

The Broncos took care of business at home against Georgia Southern, scoring 28 second quarter points to go on to win 49-31. Western Michigan has two wins against Big Ten opponents and looks to be the best team the MAC has to offer. 12-0 in play? Hmmm…

3. San Diego State (3-0)

The Aztecs were off this week, but that does not hurt them here. The highlight has been running back Donnell Pumphrey and they are the second of two Group of Five teams to be ranked  by the voters. It should be smooth sailing to the MWC Championship Game.

4. Boise State (3-0)

Boise State is not going away though, not after a second victory over a Pac-12 team (OK, so it was Oregon State and they already beat Washington State, but still). Boise State looks to have a more challenging schedule ahead of them than San Diego State, but keep an eye out for the Broncos.

5. Memphis (3-0)

If you thought losing a head coach to a bigger program and a starting quarterback to the NFL was going to slow down Memphis, think again. The Tigers put 77 on the board in a 77-3 blowout of Bowling Green. Memphis has outscored their FBS opponents 120-10 in the last two games. Next up? A road trip to Ole Miss.

On the Radar: Air Force, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Georgia Southern, Middle Tennessee, Navy, Southern Miss, Troy, Tulsa, UCF, USF

Report: Memphis no longer a candidate for Big 12 expansion

MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 17:  Daniel Montiel #80 celebrates with Paxton Lynch #12 of the Memphis Tigers after a touchdown against the Ole Miss Rebels at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Memphis, Tennessee.  The Tigers defeated the Rebels 37-24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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The Big 12’s list of potential expansion candidates appears to have shrunk by one notable name according to a recent ESPN report on Friday.

Sources told the network that the University of Memphis is the latest school to get cut from the Big 12’s list, which once numbered as many as 22 schools but is now down to a reported 11. The omission of the Tigers is bound to raise a few eyeballs as the athletic department has made significant strides in recent years and has the backing of powerful local booster Fred Smith and his FedEx empire.

The ESPN report noted that the 11 schools will begin meeting in Dallas with Big 12 officials starting next week, with a possible decision on expansion coming as soon as a board of directors meeting on October 17.

In addition to the notable names like Memphis and Boise State who are out of the running to join the Big 12, the names of the schools that could get an invite is just as notable. The usual suspects of BYU, Cincinnati and Houston were among the names ESPN reported are in the final 11, along with Air Force, UCF, UConn, Colorado State, Rice, South Florida, SMU and Tulane.

Interestingly, the report also said Memphis offering to take less revenue from the Big 12 actually may have hurt the school in the long run because the league wanted teams that could strengthen the conference as opposed to being “propped up” by an invite.

The entire Big 12 expansion process is seemingly never-ending but it appears that things are starting to move along now that the list of prospective schools has been riddled down. It remains anybody’s guess as to whether the Big 12 even expands at all, or whether they add two or four teams. Given how the process has played out so far, it might be wise to expect the unexpected.

Just ask Memphis.

Boise State confirms it too is no longer a Big 12 expansion candidate

BOISE , ID - SEPTEMBER 13: A general view of players cleets on the blue turf during the game between Boise State Broncos and Bowling Green Falcons at Bronco Stadium on September 13, 2008 in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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East Carolina confirmed Wednesday that the Big 12 had informed the university that it was no longer a candidate for the latest round of expansion.  A day later, a Mountain West school has done the same.

In a statement, Boise State president Bob Kustra confirmed that the school had expressed an interest in joining the Big 12.  However, “the conversations didn’t get far enough to spark a deep analysis on what the partnership could have meant to either Boise State or the Big 12.”

Below is the entire text of Kustra’s statement:

We will always explore opportunities to put our university and our students in the best position for success. In this case, we believe we provided the necessary information for the beginning stages of the process, but the conversations didn’t get far enough to spark a deep analysis on what the partnership could have meant to either Boise State or the Big 12. We remain confident that our membership in the Mountain West Conference provides tremendous opportunities for our student-athletes in all sports. We wish the best to the Big 12 as they move forward.

Boise was one of 20 Group of Five programs who made initial presentations to the Big 12 stating their case for inclusion.

It’s believed that some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn will ultimately be part of any expansion.  A report surfaced earlier this week that stated invitations have been sent to those six schools, as well as USF and two other unnamed AAC schools.  ESPN reported that number of finalists to be more than a dozen: Air Force, BYU, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Houston, Memphis, Rice, SMU, Temple, Tulane, UCF, UConn and USF.

Those on the receiving end of the invitations are expected to take part in another round of presentations, after which the conference will settle on their new members.  While the conference is looking at expanding by both two and four teams, it appears the former is the more likely number.  A final decision on both the members and number of members is expected at some point in October.

Report: Big 12 narrows expansion list to 6-8 schools

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 7: Greg Ward Jr. #1 of the Houston Cougars escapes the tackle of Alex Pace #99 of the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first quarter of a NCAA football game at TDECU Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images)
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And then there were six. Or eight.

We know East Carolina is no longer in the running for the two or four new spots possibly coming to the Big 12, but the folks at The Media Guides believe they do. The site reported Wednesday the Big 12 has sent formal invitations to Cincinnati, Houston, Connecticut, South Florida, Central Florida, BYU and “two other AAC schools” to advance to the next round of the process, which is believed to be in-person interviews at the league’s suburban Dallas headquarters.

With ECU out, Navy showing no interest and five of the league’s 12 teams already reported in, that leaves a pool of five possible teams for the two additional spots: Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa.

Local reports have stated SMU, Temple and Tulane still involved in the process as recently as today and yesterday.

So, yeah, you do the math.

While the process publicly — and painfully — rambles on, Oct. 17 is the date to watch there. That’s the next scheduled gathering of the Big 12’s Board of Directors.

Big 12 informs East Carolina it’s no longer an expansion candidate

GREENVILLE, NC - SEPTEMBER 05:  Head coach Skip Holtz of the East Carolina Pirates walks onto the field with his team before their game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Greenville, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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We don’t know yet which schools the Big 12 will add in its latest round of expansion.  We do know, though, one who won’t be added.

In a press release, and in a move that will surprise almost no one outside of the university, East Carolina confirmed that the Big 12 has informed them that they are no longer being considered as a candidate for expansion.  It had previously been reported that ECU was one of 20 Group of Five schools that contacted the conference about becoming a member.

The Big 12’s decision on ECU comes a couple of weeks after the current American Athletic Conference member conducted a video conference with commissioner Bob Bowlsby to make its pitch for membership.

“I am proud of the support Pirate Nation provided to our efforts,” ECU president Dr. Cecil Stanton said in a statement. “While I am disappointed by the decision, I remain undaunted in my commitment to ECU athletics and the excellence displayed by our wonderful student-athletes, coaches and staff.”

“While it is obviously not the decision we were hoping for, I am confident ECU put forth its best effort during this process,” a statement from the school’s athletic director, Jeff Compher, began. “Through a determined approach we were able to tell our story to not only the Big 12, but the entire nation. Our student-athletes, coaches and staff will continue to proudly compete for championships in the American Athletic Conference and we will represent our alumni and community with great resolve. We remain Undaunted!”

Nine other AAC members (Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane, UCF, UConn, USF) are up for consideration by the Big 12.  Schools from Conference USA (Rice), the MAC (Northern Illinois), Mountain West (Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV) and the Sun Belt (Arkansas State), as well as football independent BYU, are considered to be expansion candidates.

It’s believed that some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn will ultimately be part of any expansion.  A report from TMGSports.com surfaced overnight that stated invitations have been sent to those six schools, as well as USF and two other unnamed AAC schools.  Those on the receiving end of the invitations are expected to take part in another round of presentations, after which the conference will settle on their new members.

While the conference is looking at expanding by both two and four teams, it appears the former is the more likely number.  A final decision on both the members and number of members is expected at some point in October.