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Boise State, Mountain West release joint statement

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The developing situation between Boise State and the Mountain West Conference has taken yet another twist.

Earlier this month, the MWC announced a new six-year television deal that would significantly increase the annual revenue for league members.  The only problem?  MWC commissioner Craig Thompson stated earlier this month that Boise State’s sweetheart arrangement that allowed it to receive broadcast revenue above and beyond what other league members receive — originally part of a deal to remain in the conference after briefly going to the Big East during realignment’s heyday — would be coming to an end when this new deal expired.

That was apparently news to Boise State, which stated Tuesday that the university was “weighing our options to move forward.” One of those options, apparently, was the legal one as it was reported earlier Wednesday that Boise State filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the MWC.

Two hours or so after those reports emerged, a “joint statement” from Boise State and the Mountain West addressed the latest development.

Last week, Boise State filed a complaint regarding media rights against the Mountain West Conference; however, that action alone does not formally begin a lawsuit. The University and the Mountain West are currently in discussions in hopes of bringing this matter to a resolution without litigation.

In the agreement that allowed Boise State to return to the MWC after the Big East flirtation, the university was to receive an additional $2 million in conference revenue annually.

Boise State suing Mountain West over new TV deal

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Boise State’s biggest fight in Mountain West play may not come on the blue turf this year but in the courtroom.

The Broncos have surprisingly filed a lawsuit for breach of contract against their own conference in local district court over the league’s new TV deal with Fox Sports and CBS.

At the heart of the matter? MWC commissioner Craig Thompson told reporters in early January announcing the deal that Boise State’s sweetheart agreement to take an extra cut of broadcast revenue — originally part of a deal to remain the conference after briefly going to the Big East during realignment’s heyday — was ending. That was news to the Broncos, who were not too happy with such a change that they apparently never agreed to.

“Boise State’s decision to join the conference was predicated on a number of negotiated provisions, including the right to separately negotiate material terms of media rights relating to our home games,” the university said last week in a statement to the media. “This is stated in our conference agreement and cannot be changed by any vote of the membership or conflicting agreement. We will not support any change to this provision and are in the process of weighing our options to move forward.”

Those options naturally included a lawsuit and that’s just what we have now. Interestingly, based on the timing of things, that suit was filed just a few hours after the school issued their statement on Jan. 17. The university is demanding a jury trial on the matter and is seeking that the re-entry agreement signed in late 2012 with the conference be honored (worth over $1.8 million a year).

We’ll see what, if anything, ultimately comes out of this latest tiff between the MWC and Boise State but it certainly does threaten to loom large over the coming months before the new broadcast agreement goes into effect. The Broncos have had a difficult relationship with their peers in the league ever since they first departed (though never in reality) for the Big East many moons ago and then rejoined the conference.

Now that friction is making its way into the courtroom in a way that could lead to even more fireworks than a typical BSU football game features on a typical Saturday night.

Syracuse still looking for a defensive coordinator after Zach Arnett takes Mississippi State job

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Let’s hope for Zach Arnett’s sake that he was renting and didn’t end up buying in upstate New York.

A little less than two weeks after the former San Diego State defensive coordinator was hired at Syracuse in the same role, Arnett has changed his mind and accepted the same position at Mississippi State instead.

“I couldn’t pass up the chance to join an SEC program like Mississippi State,” Arnett said in a school release. “I am grateful to Coach Leach and [Director of Athletics] John Cohen for the opportunity to be a part of this first-class institution. Mississippi State has a history of great defenses. The staff Coach Leach has assembled is tremendous, and I can’t wait to get down there and get to work.”

Arnett is a longtime Rocky Long disciple dating back to their time at New Mexico when the former was a player. The latter eventually hired the former as a graduate assistant at San Diego State and promoted Arnett to linebackers coach in 2014 and eventually coordinator after Danny Gonzales left to become DC at Arizona State.

The Aztecs defense under Long and Arnett was annually one of the best in the Group of Five and the country overall for much of their time together. SDSU ranked third in scoring defense during the 2019 season and also forced 27 turnovers last year.

The hire comes after Mike Leach had previously discussed the Bulldogs job with Navy defensive coordinator Brian Newberry. He will stay in Annapolis for 2020 however as the Capital Gazette also reported on Wednesday that he signed a new contract to stay put with the Midshipmen.

While it probably isn’t too surprising to see Leach try to hire somebody familiar with the high seas, landing Arnett is still a quality choice for MSU. It should be fascinating to see what Mississippi State looks like this fall, from both the standpoint of their head coach in general and given the number of athletes on the roster running unique versions of both the Air Raid and 3-3-5 defense. We’ll have to find out just how good the Bulldogs will be but regardless the team should look a lot different from their SEC peers on the field going forward on both sides of the ball.

LSU, two B1G schools will have most players on Super Bowl rosters

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The LSU Tigers football program represented the sport well in winning the 2019 national championship, and now they’re set to be well-represented when the next level crowns its Super Bowl champion as well.

Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs again overcame an early deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship game. In the NFC championship game, the San Francisco 49ers pummeled the Green Bay Packers to earn a berth opposite the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. That game will be played at the home of the Miami Hurricanes, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Feb. 2.

The 49ers, seeking their first Super Bowl win since 1994, have four former LSU football players currently listed on their official online roster*. The Chiefs, in search of their first title since 1969, have one former LSU football player on their Super Bowl roster. That total of five is tied for the most for a single school in this year’s game.

The number for LSU is matched by a pair of schools from the Big Ten — Iowa and Penn State — for the most players on Super Bowl rosters this year. Three former Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes play for the 49ers, two for the Chiefs.

Two SEC schools, Florida and Vanderbilt, each have four former players as part of the game, as does Stanford. Middle Tennessee State and San Diego State are two of a gaggle of schools with three players on teams playing in the game, which is the most of any Group of Five conference member.

Conference-wise, it was the SEC leading the way (again) with 32 players, followed by the Big Ten’s 22. The ACC (17), Pac-12 (16), Big 12 (12) and Conference USA (11) were the only other FBS leagues in double digits.

As for the other conferences?

  • Mountain West, nine
  • AAC, six
  • MAC, five
  • Sun Belt, four

Football independents accounted for six players. There were a total of 21 players who played at levels of football other than the FBS.

Below are all of the individual schools that will be represented on Super Sunday:

FIVE
Iowa
LSU
Penn State

FOUR
Florida
Stanford
Vanderbilt

THREE
Arizona
Auburn
Clemson
Kansas State
Middle Tennessee State
Mississippi State
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Oklahoma
Pittsburgh
San Diego State
South Carolina

TWO
Alabama
BYU
Central Michigan
Duke
FAU
Florida State
Georgia Southern
Michigan
Michigan State
NC State
Ole Miss
Oregon
Purdue
Southern Miss
Tennessee
Texas
Texas A&M
USF
Utah
Virginia

ONE
Air Force
Alabama A&M
Appalachian State
Arizona State
Arkansas
Baylor
Boston College
Bowling Green State
Buffalo
Cal
Cincinnati
Colorado
Colorado State
Colorado State-Pueblo
Eastern Illinois
Eastern Michigan
Eastern Washington
Georgia
Georgia Tech
Grand Valley State
Harvard
Hawaii
Illinois
Indiana
James Madison
Louisiana Tech
Louisiana
McGill (Canada)
Minnesota
Montana State
New Hampshire
New Mexico State
North Texas
Northern Illinois
Northern Iowa
Oklahoma State
Old Dominion
Oregon State
Princeton
Samford
San Diego
San Jose State
SMU
South Carolina State
TCU
Temple
Texas Tech
UConn
Utah State
Valdosta State
Villanova
Virginia Tech
Wagner
Washington
West Alabama
Western Illinois
Western Kentucky
Wyoming

(*Includes players on injured reserve, practice squad, etc.)

Mountain West Conference lands rich new TV deal with two TV partners

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The Mountain West Conference has a brand new TV deal locked in, and it’s a big one for the conference. The Mountain West announced it has agreed to terms on a new media rights deal with CBS Sports Network and FOX that will run through 2025-2026. The six-year contract is valued at $270 million for the conference.

The new media contract with CBS Sports and FOX will send 23 Mountain West Conference football games to CBS, CBS Sports Network, FOX, or FOX Sports 1, and an additional 10 games may be added to CBS Sports Network or CBS’s streaming digital platform, which is a paid service. FOX will air game son both network television and FOX Sports 1. FOX will have first dibs on any Boise State home games as part of the deal. FOX will broadcast the Mountain West Conference championship game as part of its package of games on either FOX or FOX Sports 1.

Boise State continues to be a winner in the new deal with a higher percentage of conference TV revenue share. However, it has been noted this will be the final time Boise State gets such an advantage.

Also of note, Hawaii will be keeping its own local rights agreement. In return, Hawaii will hand over conference games as part of the TV deal. Hawaii’s revenue share will be calculated differently as well.

The new media deal is certainly heavy on traditional television outlets as opposed to the push for digital streaming options. Even though the media landscape continues to move away form traditional cable options, the Mountain West Conference going with a relatively shorter contract shows the conference is still comfortable with the media landscape’s stability for the near future. And for how much the conference will distribute to conference members for the next six years, everyone should be pretty happy about the deal. As far as Group of Five conferences go, the Mountain West has a very good deal in place with multiple viewing options to expand the visibility of the conference’s football and basketball brands.