New Mexico Lobos

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New Mexico losing QB JaJuan Lawson as grad transfer

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It appears there will be another option on the graduate transfer quarterback market.

Bob Davie confirmed earlier this week that JaJuan Lawson has decided to transfer from New Mexico and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere. Lawson, firmly behind entrenched starter and fifth-year senior Lamar Jordan on the depth chart, had been contemplating a move since the end of the 2016 season.

“We’ve given him some time, and it looks like he’s made his decision to move on. … I wish him nothing but the best,” the Lobos head coach said according to the Albuquerque Journal.

“I love what JaJuan’s done for this program. … I fully back him. He’s been a totally unselfish guy, a good player that’s never really, quite honestly, gotten his opportunity to play.”

It’s believed that Lawson, who will be leaving the Lobos as a graduate transfer, is considering a pair of unnamed FCS football programs.

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2014, Lawson played in four games the past two seasons. In that limited playing time, Lawson completed three of his five passes for 54 yards. He also ran for 65 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

Mountain West alters revenue distribution plan based on TV appearances, but Boise State keeps sweetheart deal

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One of the more obscure remnants of the realignment era in college athletics is the way the Mountain West distributes television revenue. Most notably, Boise State was allowed to keep a certain slice of the pie (slightly less than $2 million) as part of the condition that they would stay in the league, then the rest of the remaining members would split what was left — with a catch.

That catch turned out to be a form of a bonus system that gave a little extra to schools who appeared on national television on conference partners like ESPN and CBS Sports Network. It appears the MWC has had a change of heart about how things are being distributed because that is changing going forward next season.

Per the Idaho Statesman:

The conference determined the formula and bonus structure was not performing as it had been intended. Now, Boise State’s membership agreement and its ESPN deal were honored, meaning the school gets $1.8 million up front annually. That’s the average bonus payout Boise State got from 2013-15 under the contract it agreed to when deciding to stay in the Mountain West. The remaining revenue will be divided among the 11 football-playing schools outside Hawaii, worth approximately $1.1 million per year, meaning a total of $2.9 million for Boise State.

The bonus system was a bit of a sore spot for many schools in the league, something commissioner Craig Thompson conceded in an interview last July. The new deal looks to be a little more fairer to everybody in the league and probably won’t draw as many complaints as before (though that Boise State sweetheart deal from realignment remains). While the overall figures aren’t anywhere close to their Power Five peers, it’s still a nice chunk of change for many of the Mountain West athletic departments.

A&M, UCLA both add New Mexico to future schedules

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Texas A&M and UCLA announced Wednesday that their 2017 opener had been moved from Saturday to Sunday.  As it turns out, that wasn’t the only scheduling news connecting the two football programs.

As part of a release announcing seven games being added to its future schedules, New Mexico confirmed that two of those contests will include A&M and UCLA.  Both of those games, obviously, will be on the road, with the Lobos traveling to College Station Sept. 18, 2021, and to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Sept. 13, 2025.

In its release, the school wrote that “[t]he game in College Station has a guarantee of $1,100,000 and 450 complementary tickets,” while “[t]he game in Pasadena has a guarantee of $1,200,000 plus 2,000 complementary tickets that UNM can sell for extra revenue.”

The last and only time New Mexico and UCLA squared off was in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, a 27-13 win for the Bruins.  UNM and A&M actually completed a home-and-home series relatively recently, with the Aggies winning both games played in the 2008 (28-22) and 2009 (41-6) seasons.

In addition to the future Power Five games, a continuation of the long-running rivalry with UTEP will be extended.  UNM will play in El Paso in 2021, then host UTEP in 2022.  Those two games will mark the 79th and 80th contests in the regional rivalry.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else

Mountain West commissioner says Chargers’ move to LA played role in Poinsettia Bowl folding

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One of the bigger surprises this offseason has been the announcement that the Poinsettia Bowl was closing its doors and folding for good this year after a strong dozen year run.

The move has left several in college athletics scrambling as a result of the shakeup to the postseason picture and the league most directly affected is the Mountain West. Perhaps not surprisingly, commissioner Craig Thompson isn’t too thrilled with the big hole in the bowl lineup now and went on 93.1FM/1350AM The Ticket up in Boise, Idaho to discuss the move and some of the reasoning behind it.

What’s most interesting there is the fact that Thompson thinks the Chargers move from San Diego to Los Angeles played a role in the decision to cancel the game. The Holiday Bowl, run by the same organization, has denied that is behind folding the game but has already begun to explore moving from Qualcomm Stadium to the San Diego Padres’ home of Petco Park in case the city decides to close the football stadium after next year.

“This is purely a decision made for our organization,” Mark Neville, executive director of the bowl game association, told the Associated Press last week.”It’s a completely different environment. Doing two games in San Diego, in the span of a week, is becoming more and more challenging in relation to ticket sales and sponsorships.”

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, as it has no doubt become much tougher to operate two bowl games in one city and the fact that the local pro football team is heading up the 405 certainly doesn’t help matters. In addition to the Mountain West needing to find a new spot for bowl eligible teams in 2017, BYU — which beat Wyoming in the final Poinsettia Bowl last December — is also looking for a new bowl game to go to next season.