CFT predicts: Mountain West standings

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As we look ahead to the 2011 college football season, we take with us the lessons we learned from seasons past. We calculate, scrutinize, dissect and digest schedules, returning starters, coaching changes, injuries, and yes, even hunches, and spew it back in the form of how we think each of the 11 Division 1 FBS conferences — and the independents — will pan out by year’s end.

Of course, these are merely our opinions. Feel free, as we know you will, to disagree. We know that’s why you really come here anyway.

Here are our predictions for the Mountain West:

Ben’s take
The Mountain West thought that it would be inching closer to becoming a newly-minted member of the BCS’s automatic qualifying conferences by adding WAC powerhouse Boise State.

Then TCU announced it is leaving for the Big East after this season, Utah bolted for the Pac-12 and BYU pursued football independence.

Oops.

But regardless of the MWC’s place among college football’s best conferences, the Broncos are expected to make an immediate impact as first-year members. Boise State loses a talented receiving duo in Titus Young and Austin Pettis to the NFL, but at this point I’m convinced Kellen Moore (he’s so dreamy) could make my grandmother a 1,000-yard receiver. Running back Doug Martin returns from a 1,200-yard junior season and should be able to take some of the pressure off Moore. The Broncos also get TCU and Air Force at home this year (they just won’t be able to wear all blue uniforms).

I have Air Force at the No. 2 spot not so much because of what the Falcons have, but what TCU doesn’t. I’ll never underestimate Gary Patterson’s recruiting tactics and ability to plug guys into his system, but the Horned Frogs have some serious hurdles to jump over in 2011. Replacing quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver Jeremy Kerley — both have gone on to the NFL — won’t be easy, and TCU has road games at Boise State, San Diego State and Air Force.

Rocky Long inherits an elevated, senior-laden program in San Diego State from Brady Hoke, so the Aztecs will do pretty well in 2011.

Colorado State, Wyoming, UNLV and New Mexico all have work to do to improve in the win/loss column.

John Taylor’s take
In with the new, out with the old, which will be a wash-rinse-repeat cycle next year at this time as well. Such is the storyline for the Mountain West in 2011. Not so unexpectedly, both the new and the soon-to-be-old schools will likely be the ones staking a claim to conference bragging rights — and another potential BcS bid — at the end of the year.

Even as it will be its first year in the MWC, Boise State will be the prohibitive favorites, based in part on Broncos’ past success in the WAC and in large part to returning 14 starters from last year’s 12-1 squad, including one of the likely Heisman frontrunners in Moore. The Horned Frogs, on the other hand, return just eight offensive/defensive starters, the second-lowest total in the country, just ahead of defending national champion Auburn.

The biggest loss for TCU will be Dalton, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the school’s history whose leadership may be missed even more than his on-field production. Obviously, the Nov. 12 showdown in Boise — originally scheduled as a home game for TCU — will very likely determine the conference champion.

Both Air Force and San Diego State should be improved, but not to the point where either is ready to challenge the conference heavyweights.

More predictions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, C-USA, MAC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt, WAC, Independents

CFT’s preseason Top 25

Adam Schefter: ‘strong conviction’ among people in the sport there will be college football this season

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It appears a pair of highly-criticized college football coaches have some company. Anonymous company, but company nonetheless.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy was roundly criticized when he argued that college coaches should get back to the business of football May 1, with players following shortly thereafter. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney took numerous shots when he very boldly claimed there’s no doubt the college football season would start on time.

OSU was forced to publicly address the kerfuffle kicked up by Gundy. An unapologetic Swinney, meanwhile, defended his faith-based opinion.

Thursday, however, an ESPN NFL insider offered additional optimism. In a tweet, Adam Schefter wrote that “there is a ‘strong conviction’ there will be college football this season.”

Below is the full text of Schefter’s tweet:

Speaking to people in and around college football this week, there is “strong conviction” there will be college football this season. Uncertainty about when – multiple scenarios being debated – but they sound certain there still will be college football this season.

As is the case will of these types of opinions, though, there’s no timeline attached to it.  Nor should there be, at least at this point.

At this point, it’s decidedly uncertain when the 2020 college football season will start. Or if it will even start, despite Schefter’s positive missive. There’s chatter that it could start in October, although one Bay Area health official doesn’t expect sports to return until at least Thanksgiving. January has been floated as a possibility as well. So has the spring of next year.

Playing games with no fans has also been tossed around. More than one prominent athletic director, though, has tossed cold water on such a plan. Fan-less games would very likely be an absolute, utter Hail Mary of a last resort to salvage some semblance of a season.

We’ve said myriad times before and we’ll continue to say it: The only certainty in all of this is that everyone involved in the sport will go to extreme lengths to ensure that a season is played in some form or fashion. Head coaches, though, will be far down on the list of people who will determine when a season starts. Or even if it does.

Justin Fields takes veiled shot at ex rival Tate Martell

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Justin Fields hasn’t said much about Tate Martell since enrolling at Ohio State. Actions speak louder than words, after all, and 51 touchdowns says plenty all on its own. But that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten.

Martell, of course, was an Ohio State quarterback before Fields, and all but challenged Fields’ manhood to come in and try to take the job Martell viewed was his.

“[W]ord of advice: don’t swing and miss… especially not your second time,” Martell tweeted on Dec. 22, 2018.

“Why would I leave for somebody who hasn’t put a single second into this program yet?” Martell later said. “I’ve put two years of working my ass off into something that I’ve been praying for and dreaming of my whole life. To just run from somebody that hasn’t put a single second into workouts or anything like that and doesn’t know what the program is all about, there’s not a chance.”

Two weeks later, Martell was in the transfer portal.

So, yes, Fields hasn’t said much, because he hasn’t had to. Fields led Ohio State to a Big Ten title and a College Football Playoff berth in 2019; Martell led Miami to seven passing yards.

But, on Tuesday, Fields reminded Martell that he still remembers that since-deleted tweet.

Fields won the battle with Martell a long time ago. Won it before it even began, actually. But Tuesday’s tweet was a nice victory lap, 15 and a half months in the making.

Louisville assesses pay cuts for all head coaches, senior athletics staff

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On Thursday, Louisville followed Iowa State’s lead in implementing pay cuts for all 21 of its head coaches plus its senior athletics department staff.

AD Vince Tyra told WDRB the cuts are necessary to make up for $2.1 million in lost revenue from the canceled ACC and NCAA tournaments, plus anticipated losses from the football season.

“We’re looking at everything,” Tyra said. “There’s nothing that’s not on the table to me. You have to (look at every expense). When I got into this job (in 2017) I had no idea I was going to have to use my business skills as much as I have.”

WDRB reported Louisville’s four highest-paid coaches agreed to salary cuts on Friday. The head coaches plus Tyra and 12 senior staffers will say goodbye to 10 percent of their salaries. For head Cardinal football coach Scott Satterfield, that means a drop of $325,000 from his $3.25 million salary.

Tyra will slash $85,000 off his $850,000 salary. He’ll also forgo bonuses due to him both this and next June.

Tyra also said the department is looking to cut its budget by bussing to games eight hours or fewer from campus, which figures to affect other sports more than football. Peering ahead to Louisville’s 2020 schedule, that could mean bus trips to Clemson on Sept. 12 (a 7-hour drive, per Google Maps), Virginia on Nov. 7 (7 hours, 30 minutes) and Notre Dame on Nov. 21 (4 hours), though that may prove to be one of those things where Tyra is talking to other U of L head coaches more than Satterfield.

Louisville is implementing such efforts to avoid cutting any of its 21 sports. One aspect not helping see-saw the budget in the right direction, according to Tyra: the $14 million buyout the school owes Bobby Petrino.

Colorado State losing LB Trey Sutton to transfer portal

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If you had Colorado State as the next participant in the spinning of “Ye Olde College Football Transfer Portal Wheel of Future Fortune,” collect your winnings. Which is essentially a cyber pat on ye olde back.  Congrats?

As most of the cool transfers are doing these days, Trey Sutton utilized Twitter to announce he’s made the first move in leaving the Colorado State football team by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database. The linebacker stated that he will be leaving the Rams as a graduate transfer.

That means Sutton would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school immediately in 2020. He also claims he will have another season of eligibility he could use in 2021 as well.

That, of course, means he was granted a sixth season of eligibility at some point by the NCAA.

Sutton was a three-star member of the Colorado State football Class of 2016. The Florida product took a redshirt for his true freshman season.

After playing in four games in 2017, Sutton saw action in a career-high 12 the following year. He started three of those contests. Those were the only starts of his collegiate career thus far.

Interestingly, Sutton didn’t see the field at all in 2019.

Colorado State will be under new leadership this fall as Steve Addazio was hired as the program’s new head football coach. Addazio replaces Mike Bobo, who was fired earlier that month.