More from MW football media day

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson gave his state of the conference address Wednesday here in Las Vegas as the league’s football media day functions concluded.

A few quick highlights:

–The agreement or partnership with Conference USA is on hiatus and pretty much dead.

–There are no immediate plans to expand past its current 10-football playing members, and it doesn’t sound like it will add in any other sports.

–An announcement on more local and regional TV coverage for football will be soon.

For more on that, and what I think the future of the conference holds see my column in Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and on WyoSports.net.

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MW, CUSA to form new conference

Here is the news release from the Mountain West on the forming of a new conference with Conference USA:

UNIVERSITIES ANNOUNCE PLANS TO FORM CONFERENCE

DALLAS, Texas – Presidents and chancellors from 16 universities met in Dallas Sunday to discuss future conference membership plans and agreed to work on forming a new intercollegiate athletic association that would begin competition in the 2013-14 academic year.

This presidentially led association will ensure stability and be built upon the principles of operating at the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship, enhancing the student-athlete academic and competitive experience, bringing fiscal discipline into athletics and ensuring competitive fairness.

“This is an exciting development that will stabilize the current conferences and create the first truly national conference with members in five time zones and television viewership from coast to coast.  This partnership brings together like-minded institutions to improve the integrity and stability of intercollegiate athletics,” said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. “We are moving our plans forward rapidly and expect to complete our conversations in the near future. Look for further announcements soon as we work together on this exciting new venture.”

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Wrapping up at MW Media Day

I think I’ve done just about all the interviews I can on this final day of Mountain West Football Media Day here in Las Vegas.

Wyoming senior linebacker Brian Hendricks said he was impressed with the Cowboys’ two true freshmen quarterbacks this summer — Brett Smith and Adam Pittser. Hendricks was impressed with Smith’s overall strength, and said he did some good things in the weight room. Smith enrolled at UW in January and went through spring drills. Hendricks also said Pittser is an impressive athlete with a good arm, who is trying to learn the offense as fast as he can.

Just got done talking to Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. He’s a really nice and humble guy who just got married last weekend. But at first glance, he doesn’t look like one of the best college quarterbacks in the nation. One person told me last night he looks more like a mathlete than an athlete.

Maybe, but the guy can play quarterback.

San Diego State quarterback Ryan Lindley looks the part. He’s a big, physical specimen that could probably play linebacker on defense. Lindley doesn’t have his two best receivers from last season in Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson, and two returning receivers suffered season-ending injuries this summer.

“It doesn’t matter if I have Randy Moss or any of the best receivers around me, if the guys up front don’t block we don’t do anything,” Lindley said. “We will be fine, and we have good backs and receivers to turn to if we have to.”

Rumors surfaced late Tuesday night that Utah State would soon join the MW. But MW commissioner Craig Thompson said both the school presidents and athletics directors didn’t discuss expansion in their last meetings in May and June. One MW official said the league has no interest in Utah State.

Thompson gave his annual state of the conference address, and for more on that see my story in Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com.

It’s back to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo for me Thursday through Sunday. But before that I’ve got to get some other work done and catch a flight home. Thanks to all of those who followed me on Twitter the last couple of days, and commented on the blog. Looking forward to hearing more from you in the coming weeks.

MWC board makes some key decisions

Along with coming up with a new logo, the Mountain West’s board of directors announced some other decisions at the conclusion of their summer meetings Tuesday in La Jolla, Calif.

–Charging members who leave the league after June 30 $5 million, or pay double the amount of the final year’s revenue from the conference, which ever is greater. If members give notice prior to June 30, they give up revenue generated by the conference. In the past there hasn’t been a buyout.  Had this been in place, BYU and TCU would owed the league some serious money.

–In 2014 and beyond, the MW (there is no more ‘C’ in the league’s new branding) will play eight conference football games. It already will do that in 2012 and 2013. This means everyone won’t play everyone in league play on a rotating basis. Let’s just hope the conference has enough sense not to have Colorado State out of Wyoming’s rotation. It also gives MW schools the chance to schedule four non-conference games, with the hopes not all of them will be cupcakes. Who won’t play who, and how the rotation will work has yet to be determined.

Which team would you like Wyoming not to play?

–The establishment of a “state of the art” instant replay system for basketball starting this season. You might as well use the technology if you have it, right?

–Commissioner Craig Thompson’s contract was extended through June 30, 2015.

Thoughts on any of this?

Here is the link to the official release from the MW.

http://www.themwc.com/genrel/060711aab.html

Talking to the commish

I talked to Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson today about the league’s Board of Directors meeting in Las Vegas earlier this week.

He reiterated that expansion is not on the immediate horizon.

“I think unless something dramatic changes in the market place, we’re probably done,” he said. Dramatic changes, Thompson added, would involve teams leaving the MWC which he doesn’t anticipate.

Thompson still is a proponent of the league’s current TV contracts with Versus, CBS College Sports and the MountainWest Sports Network. The money generated for each school remains good, compared to the past contract with ESPN and what some of its new members (Boise State, Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada) made off its ESPN deal in the WAC. But talks will continue with the TV partners since the league has and will change a lot in the future.

I asked Thompson about football scheduling. The MWC will go with an eight-game conference slate in 2012 and 2013. It won’t be a true round-robin format. Someone won’t play someone. Talks are ongoing now on how all that will work.

I asked him the chances of Wyoming not playing Colorado State in the annual Border War.

“I would say there is a high probability that game will remain on the schedule forever,” he said.

Based on that, don’t expect Air Force and New Mexico to be left off UW’s schedule, either. Thompson didn’t hint on who that team might be for UW or any other school. My guess would be one of the new members.

Thompson said the MWC Board usually meets during the league’s men’s and women’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas in early March, and also will meet in the first week of June. Those meetings, which were in Jackson last year, will likely be in California this year.

For more on my conversation with Thompson, see my column in Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com

Statement from MWC presidents meetings

Here’s the statement from Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson after the league’s presidents concluded their meetings in Las Vegas Tuesday.

“Over the past two days, the Board of Directors has engaged in a very thorough discussion of several key topics pertinent to the future of the Mountain West Conference.  This has included, but not been limited to, issues related to television, the Bowl Championship Series and membership.  The Board feels strongly the membership configuration already established going forward creates outstanding prospects for future success.  In addition, we are continuing with our strategic initiatives related to our television partnerships and the MWC’s efforts to effect change in the BCS structure.  The Board is excited about what is undoubtedly a bright future for the Conference.”

Doesn’t sound like they decided anything right now, or nothing they’re ready to announce.

If Thompson is still serious about effecting change in the BCS structure, adding San Jose State and Utah State (as published reports have indicated recently) isn’t the way to do it. Staying put would be better served for the league.

I have some follow-up questions submitted to Thompson and the conference office. If I get them, I will share them with you.

Any initial thoughts or opinions?

More from the MWC on Hawaii

Just got off the phone with Javan Hedlund, associate commissioner for communications for the Mountain West Conference. I asked him if I could talk with Commissioner Craig Thompson about Hawaii joining the league in football only. Thompson was flying back from Las Vegas and even though he didn’t talk to me, Hedlund asked him some questions for me.

I asked why only football for Hawaii? I assumed it was because it was too expensive for both the MWC and Hawaii to have all its teams travel to and from the islands. That was basically the case. Hawaii wanted to be in the Big West in other sports to cut down on travel and costs. All of the Big West schools are in California with relatively easy flights to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Also, the MWC presidents gave Thompson permission to go after Hawaii in football only.

With 10 teams in 2012, will the MWC play a nine-game conference schedule with an unbalanced league slate of four home games and five on the road, or vice versa, every year?

Hedlund said that will be discussed later. I know I am not a fan of unbalanced league schedules like that.

There were some travel subsidies agreed upon to make this move financially sound for both Hawaii and the MWC. What were they?

Hawaii will pay a “prescribed fee” to MWC teams that play at Hawaii each year, but MWC don’t have to do the same when Hawaii comes to their place. Hedlund said Thompson wouldn’t say what that fee is.

Is the MWC done expanding?

I think it is, but Hedlund said Thompson told him the league is “potentially interested but not actively looking” to expand at this time.

One would assume the Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu where Hawaii plays its home games would join the MWC’s list of bowls. That likely will happen but there will have to be some talks. However, that should be a mere formality.With a bowl game in Boise as well, don’t be surprised if bowl MWC bowl ties with the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth (where TCU is located) and the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., don’t get re-worked in the future.

Any thoughts on these issues? See my column in Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more.

McCoy looks good as punter and kicker

For the last few weeks junior Austin McCoy has been pulling double-duty as Wyoming’s punter and kicker. He will handle the place-kicking chores in Saturday’s season opener with Southern Utah because sophomore Ian Watts will serve a one-game suspension for violating team rules.

During fall camp when McCoy was doing both, he was inconsistent at both. Wednesday at practice he looked sharp. He made a 46-yard field-goal near the end of practice, and also boomed a 70-yard punt from his own end zone. He also did a good job of getting hang time on his punts on a short field.

“He’s kicking a lot better and getting good height on the ball,” coach Dave Christensen said. “We’re not going to ask him to kick a lot of 50-yard field goals, but he’s certainly good from the 30-yard line and in. He’s done a nice job. … He’s punted well and has been consistent there.”

McCoy did both at the start of last season. He was 4 of 6 in field goals with a long of 25. He also made 3 of 4 field goals. He averaged 43.3 yards per punt, which was nearly five yards better than his average in 2008 as a freshman.

Some other thoughts and observations from Wednesday’s practice:

–Junior Bryson Studnicka has been moved from defensive end to fullback.

–UW lists nine receivers among the four position spots on this week’s depth chart, and its likely all nine will play against Southern Utah based on the rotations in practice.

–True freshmen quarterbacks Sam Stratton and Austin Woodward shared time as the scout team quarterback this week, as has true freshman receiver Drew Martinez. Woodward, a walk-on from Sheridan, is listed as the backup punter to McCoy.

–UW had five running backs practice today, only four will be available for the opener and only one — sophomore Alvester Alexander — has any game experience.

–Shane Sullivan, a walk-on true freshman receiver from Orange, Calif., broke his leg early in fall camp and has been on crutches and in a cast since. But he still goes to every practice and meeting. He told me the leg feels pretty good and hopes to be out of the cast soon.

–Christensen on BYU leaving the Mountain West Conference: “It hasn’t changed my thought process any. We’ve got to get ready for Southern Utah. I have no control over it and I don’t spend a lot of time on things I don’t have control over.”

Join me at 3 p.m. Thursday for a live chat about UW football, anything UW sports related and even the latest happenings in the MWC. Here is the link  http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2010/08/31/live-chat-cowboy-football/

You also can go to this blog and scroll down until you see it.

And, be sure to join me at 6:30 p.m. Saturday for the first live blog of the year for the season-opener against Southern Utah. Here is that link http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2010/09/01/live-blog-wyoming-vs-southern-utah/

See Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.comfor a story on UW junior offensive guard John Hutchins and how he doesn’t plan to let another opportunity to start for the Cowboys slip away. Also see a reaction story from other UW coaches on BYU’s departure from the MWC.

Speaking of that, here is a good story by Frank Schawb of the Colorado Springs Gazette on that as he talked to MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson Wednesday http://gazetteafasports.freedomblogging.com/