Report: Boise State and AAC heading to mediation over exit fees

3 Comments

Boise State never officially joined the Big East during the height of the conference realignment madness in the past couple of years, but the university will have to pay some sort of an exit fee after initially agreeing to join the conference. According to a report by The Idaho Statesman, Boise State and the American Athletic Conference are heading to mediation next month to come to a settlement over exit fees stemming from when the university left the conference at the altar.

Boise State decided to back out of an agreement to join the Big East when the conference lost the core of its basketball operations. The “Catholic Seven” took the Big East flag and started a new conference under the same name while the remains of the football conference rebranded under the American Athletic Conference. But Rutgers accepted an invitation to the Big Ten and Louisville accepted a spot in the ACC. Boise State and San Diego State decided it was best to stay put in the Mountain West Conference, but Boise State filed a lawsuit against the AAC claiming the school was damaged by the inability of the AAC to maintain the conference membership Boise State thought it would be a part of. The conference countered with its own lawsuit seeking $5 million from the university as a fee for backing out of a membership expansion agreement.

“I’m hopeful that we can put this to bed,” Boise State President Bob Kustra told the Idaho Statesman. “… There wouldn’t be a mediation if the two parties didn’t agree we were closer.”

Boise State actually may have come out ahead in the whole realignment process anyway by getting a better deal with the Mountain West Conference when it comes to media rights and not having to pay for increased travel expenses that would have come with playing in the AAC, which will add Tulsa, Tulane and East Carolina this fall. Had Boise State (and San Diego State) joined a Big East conference that managed to keep Rutgers, Louisville and Notre Dame (in all sports besides football), then things may have been different.

Before Boise State got cold feet with the Big East, TCU also left the Big East before ever officially joining. TCU accepted a spot in the Big 12 following the loss of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC. The Big 12 also added West Virginia. Though never officially a member, TCU agreed to pay the Big East an exit fee of $5 million. Boise State had a similar agreement in place, calling fo a $5 million penalty if it did not join the conference. The Big East sued TCU to get the money but dropped the suit once TCU agreed to pay.

This has been a busy couple of days for Boise State news of course. This week Kustra took aim at power conferences looking for NCAA reform and the university sold the naming rights to Bronco Stadium. Who knows what tomorrow might bring?

LSU reportedly offered Duke star Zion Williamson a scholarship to play football

Getty Images
1 Comment

We’re in the thick of the college football season and months away from March Madness, but even the most casual college sports fan who has been soaking up the action on the gridiron has mostly likely heard of Duke freshman basketball player Zion Williamson by this point.

Perhaps more appropriately, just about everybody has hopefully at least seen the potential No. 1 NBA draft pick throw down a vicious dunk or two this season and thought the 6-foot-7, 285-pounder would make for a pretty decent tight end at the next level. It turns out, those thoughts are not limited in their scope as LSU reportedly offered the hoops prodigy a football scholarship back when he was in high school

“Honestly, I just thought it would be really fun and would be good exposure for LSU if we offered him for football. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to be too [interested],” former Tigers tight ends coach Eric Mateos told ESPN. “Coach O said go recruit the best athletes in the country, and that’s what I tried to do.

“I thought, hell, why not, he’s probably the best damn tight end to ever live.”

Mateos, who is now the offensive line coach at Texas State, apparently extended the offer in the fall of 2016 to Williamson but did so without the knowledge of head coach Ed Orgeron. 

It’s hard to find anybody in football circles who wouldn’t love to turn somebody like LeBron James into a tight end and many current or future Hall of Famers like Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates famously played hoops in college before making their name in the NFL.

Williamson could probably follow in all their footsteps if he wanted to but it seems like sticking to throwing down monster dunks for the Blue Devils is the better course of action at the moment.

North Texas serving up In-N-Out, energy drinks and discounted beer to lure fans for FAU game

Getty Images
Leave a comment

At the beginning of the season, many expected that North Texas hosting Florida Atlantic would serve as a potential Conference USA title game preview — just like it did a year ago. Fast forward to Thursday night however and that is far from the case for either program as both enter struggling a bit this late in the season.

The Mean Green though, are doing everything they can to lure fans to Denton for the game either way for the 8:30 p.m. CT kickoff on CBS Sports Network. And when we mean everything they can to juice the numbers, that means just about everything you can think of.

Per the Denton Register Chronicle:

The school has offered up two free guest tickets to students who already get in for free. And that’s just for starters. UNT is also giving out 700 free In-N-Out Burgers to students, free coffee and free energy drinks. Once people get inside, it’s $2 hot dogs and $3 beer and wine. UNT is also putting out heaters on the hill above Apogee Stadium, where students hang out before the game (and during the game, if we are being honest).

While it is a late kickoff on a school night in the metroplex, that’s still a lot of stops to pull out in order to get people to the stadium. It’s also interesting to note that UNT went with In-N-Out for students coming to the game and not the much more appropriate Whataburger that is much more synonymous with a meal in the state.

It still sounds like the program will set an attendance record for the season even if it’s just a normal turnout for the final home game of the year but AD Wren Baker is not one to rest on his laurels in order to hit the mark. While there are unique challenges of filling up a stadium at schools not in the same stratosphere of Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, etc., it will still be interesting to see if this kind of practice continues to spread across college football to entice folks off their couch and into their seats.

AAC commissioner changing tune on College Football Playoff expansion

Getty Images
2 Comments

Welcome to the dark side, Mike Aresco. It’s about time.

The AAC commissioner told ESPN this week that he’s changing his tune on expanding the College Football Playoff given recent events involving his conference and, particularly, the undefeated run UCF is on.

“The point is, I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to expansion of the playoff, but I’m giving more thought to it, only because it seems to me that if half of FBS is pretty much going to be left out of this. Then I think maybe you have to think more about it,” said Aresco. “I don’t think there’s much impetus for it now, but it might grow because also you’ve seen a couple of [Power 5] conferences left out… This year, you could have a scenario where three could be left out. It’s possible. If that’s the case, you might even see some sentiment on that side to expand it, whether you go to six and have byes or whether you go to eight.

It goes without saying that a big talking point for the AAC the past 18+ months or so has been whether or not the Knights could get into the playoff if they run the table for a second straight season. The team is currently ranked No. 11 by the Selection Committee, a mark that is the highest for a Group of Five team but far from the area where they need to be to get consideration for the final four.

Then there’s Aresco’s larger point that you could have multiple Power Five leagues also left out of the Playoff with the Pac-12 and Big 12 in particular on the outside looking in thanks to the presence of undefeated Notre Dame. Larry Scott’s league in particular could miss out for a second straight season.

Calls for an expanded playoff of either six, eight or even 16 teams have been thrown around forever and even pre-date the current system’s creation. There’s likely to be even more calls for more teams getting involved as the years go by and an actual conference commissioner starting to warm up to the idea could mark the beginning of the process — even if we’re really no closer to a bigger playoff in 2018 than we were a few years ago.

Still, talk led to action when it came to getting rid of the BCS and we may be entering the early stages of the same when it comes to the playoff being just four teams.

Les Miles, LSU settle prolonged buyout… coaching gig next for the Mad Hatter?

Getty Images
5 Comments

Try to contain your excitement, but the grass-eating Mad Hatter could be back on the sidelines sooner than expected.

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, LSU announced a $1.5 million settlement with former head coach Les Miles that would conclude the two parties financial relationship and close out the latter’s buyout from the school… potentially paving the way for the title-winning coach to accept another job.

“It’s time for both parties to move forward,” said Tigers athletic director Joe Alleva. “One of the challenges of the buyout that was in place was there just wasn’t a lot of incentive to move on to other things. We were looking to provide that and Coach Miles and his representatives were also ready. It was a mutually agreed upon goal and a very positive process from beginning to end.”

The news can be viewed as a win for both parties. LSU had owed Miles a hefty buyout — some $6.5 million coming into this week of a total figure of $9 million — after canning him back in 2016 that resulted in monthly payments continuing for several more years. Now, not only does the school save some $5 million as a result of the lump sum payout, the head coach himself is no longer subject to contractual terms requiring him to specifically pursue other jobs with that salary offsetting the rest of the buyout.

The timing of the move is particularly interesting given that Miles has strongly been linked to the opening at Kansas this year and might even be considered the front-runner for the position. The former LSU and Oklahoma State head coach was also rumored to be involved with other searches at Arizona, Oregon State, Ole Miss and Houston among others over the years as well.

Fully freed from his contract with LSU, Miles can now take that position with the Jayhawks without any strings or move forward with his budding broadcast and acting careers that he’s embarked on recently. It seems like several things are on the table now for one of the game’s biggest personalities and the Tigers get to save a pretty penny in the process.