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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.

San Jose State adds former hoops starter to the mix at wide receiver

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The college basketball season just wrapped up with North Carolina winning the national title but it appears one hardcourt player isn’t ready for college to be over just yet and is moving over to the gridiron.

San Jose State senior Brandon Mitchell spent the past four years with the Spartans basketball team but according to the San Jose Mercury News, has traded his sneakers in for cleats and is now practicing as a wide receiver. A forward known mostly for his defensive ability, the 6-foot-6, 210 pounder played in 86 hoops games at the school but apparently wanted to stick around in college athletics after his team’s season ended with a loss to Utah State in the Mountain West basketball tournament in March.

The move from basketball to football is becoming more and more common, with the NFL providing plenty of success stories (especially at the tight end position). It remains to be seen if Mitchell can make much of an impact for SJSU given the presence of receivers like Justin Holmes, Tre Hartley and a host of others but he does bring plenty of size to an offense that is shifting gears to more of an up-tempo spread attack under new head coach Brent Brennan.

The Spartans recently started spring practice and Mitchell’s progression as a receiver could be one of the more interesting storylines for the team heading into their April 15th spring game.

Fresno State formally announces Jamar Cain as DL coach

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Jeff Tedford‘s first coaching staff at Fresno State is once again whole.

As first reported earlier this month, the Bulldogs have confirmed that Tedford has hired Jamar Cain as his defensive line coach.  Cain will replace Tony Tuioti, who left last month — after less than two months with the football program — to coach outside linebackers at Tedford’s former employer, Cal.

“We’re excited about Jamar, I’ve had my eye on him a long time,” said the head coach in a statement. “He had a proven track record as a winner at North Dakota State, he’s highly respected in the field, a quality person, a great recruiter, and cares about the student-athletes on-and-off the field.”

Cain comes to Fresno from San Jose State, where he had spent less than two months as the line coach for the Mountain West rivals.  Prior to that, he spent three seasons (2014-16) as the line coach at FCS power North Dakota State.

Prior to NDSU, Cain was an assistant defensive line coach at Wyoming (2013), Cal Poly (2009-12), and Missouri State (2006-08). While with the Cowboys, Cain was promoted to interim defensive coordinator at midseason after Chris Tormey was “relieved of his duties.”

Dan Mullen taps Ron English to fill hole on Miss. St. staff

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A former FBS head coach is the newest addition to the defensive side of Dan Mullen‘s Mississippi State coaching staff.

MSU announced Thursday that Ron English has been hired by Mullen as the Bulldogs’ safeties coach.  English replaces Maurice Linguist, who left Starkville to take the defensive backs job at Minnesota.

“We are fortunate to hire someone of Ron’s caliber as safeties coach,” Mullen said in a statement. “To bring someone to our staff who has served as an FBS head coach and been a successful defensive coordinator is a tremendous asset for our program. His knowledge of the game, especially in the secondary, will complement our staff. We are excited to welcome Ron and his family to Starkville.”

English spent the 2016 season as the defensive coordinator at San Jose State, his first coaching job in nearly three years following a controversial departure from his last one.

Eastern Michigan announced Nov. 8, 2013, one day before its game with in-state rival Western Michigan, that English had been fired as its head football coach.  A day later, athlete director Heather Lyle alluded to a tape of English using “wholly inappropriate language” in a team meeting that had been brought to her attention and triggered the dismissal.

English subsequently apologized for losing his poise and using “homosexual slurs” in the meeting.  In his mea culpa, English added that he was looking “forward to continuing a career that has been marked by molding men of integrity, passion, and intensity for 21 years.” That continuation didn’t come until mid-February 2016 when he was named the coordinator at SJSU.

Prior to his five-year stint at EMU, English was the defensive coordinator at Louisville (2008) and Michigan (2006-07).

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