“Big” Doings Around the “Pac”

As legendary Dodgers’ voice Vin Scully likes to say when a managerial move doesn’t pan out, “Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men.”

Pac-10, I mean, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott must’ve uttered Scully’s lament a few times this week. His hopes for a 16-team super conference were foiled when the Texas Longhorns declined an invitation to leave the dwindling Big 12 for the Pac-10.

Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State followed the Longhorns’ lead and declined Scott’s invite to remain in the Big 12 keeping it afloat with 10 schools after losing Colorado to Scott’s Pac and Nebraska to the Big Ten.

Commissioner Scott was forced to go to “plan B” with his conference at eleven schools needing one more to qualify for a lucrative conference championship football game. An invite was given to the Mountain West Conferences Utah Utes who will, undoubtedly, accept giving Colorado a geographical rival and travel partner.

Meanwhile, Western Athletic Conference power-house Boise State accepted an invite to the afore-mentioned Mountain West replacing Utah as the ninth school in the MWC leaving the WAC with eight..

So, let’s summarize the “college conference shuffle.”

The Big 12 loses two schools making it a ten-team league which means no conference championship game . Nebraska heads to the Big Ten, which actually had eleven teams with Penn State before the Cornhuskers move, now making it a 12-team conference gaining a title game. The Pac-10 now becomes the Pac-12, also gaining a title game, with ex-Big 12 school Colorado and ex-Mountain West school Utah joining the party.  The Mountain West remains at nine schools after the Utes bolted because they’ve been replaced by Boise State which left the Western Athletic. So, the WAC is now an eight-school conference after losing the Broncos.

Got that?!?

All these moves were made with football in mind. Those six BCS conferences (Pac-12, Big 12 {now with ten teams}, Big Ten {now with 12 teams}, South Eastern, Conference USA and Big East) battle for the gridiron national championship and major bowl bids leaving the other non-BCS conference (e.g. Mountain West and WAC) schools “at-large” bids to the BCS bowls with, virtually, no shot at making the national championship game regardless of whether a school goes undefeated during the regular season.

The BCS is being investigated for anti-trust violations because of this. Both Utah and Boise State have gone undefeated twice, gaining “at-large” bowl berths and winning their respective bowl games. The investigation was ignited by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff who was angered because, in all four instances, the Utes and Broncos were denied the opportunity to play for a national title because both resided in non-BCS conferences.

Working in Boise and covering the WAC for seven years, I suggested the winners of the WAC and MWC meet in a “Rocky Mountain Region Championship Game” giving the winner an automatic BCS bowl bid and a possible title game berth if the winner were undefeated. Makes sense creating a “pseudo super conference” and spreads the BCS wealth to the talented teams in both non-BCS leagues.

I think all these school movements are good and needed in the grand scheme of things because of the parity now enjoyed in college sports, especially in football and basketball. That means $$$ for the NCAA.

Anyway, all the conference re-shuffling will begin in 2011 and stay tuned for more schools, possibly, switching conference allegiances before then.

I’ll tackle USC‘s sanctions later.

The College Sports Landscape Is In For A Drastic Change.

Conference re-shuffling and expansion has resumed to create Super-Conferences in the College Football Bowl Subdivision (1A) with an eye, maybe, towards some sort of a playoff in college football.

The biggest casualty is the Big 12 Conference. It’s, basically, dead with Nebraska accepting an invitation to the Big Ten Conference (which is actually the Big 11 if you count Penn State which moved there a few decades ago which begs the question …“Will the Big Ten now be referred to as the New Big 12?”).

Meanwhile current Big 12 members Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and, most likely, Colorado are about to accept invitations to join the Pac-10 Conference making it the Pac-16, or the Southern-Pacific 16, or the Pacific-Southern 16.

That will leave the remaining Big 12 members which are Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Baylor and Iowa State in some sort of conference limbo.

Over in the Mountain West Conference, not one of the Bowl Championship Series conferences, it’s decided not to expand. So, for the moment, Boise State will remain in the Western Athletic Conference, another of the non-BCS leagues.

The WAC and MWC have represented well as BCS “at-large” participants in the major bowls. Boise State owned the Fiesta Bowl. TCU (MWC) fell to the Broncos in Arizona this past January. Utah (MWC) won the Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl and Hawaii represented the WAC in the Big Easy as well.

Having covered Boise State for seven years, and based on the Broncos’ two Fiesta Bowl wins, BSU can play with the big boys…………and IS one of the big boys. Same goes for Utah and TCU.

Here’s an idea I’ve been mulling over for a couple of years. The WAC and Mountain West Conferences should hold a ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHAMPIOSHHIP GAME which, in essence, creates a Pseudo 18-Team Super Conference, nine schools in each league, with the winner getting the BCS “at-large” or “automatic“ bid.

The ACC, Big East and Conference USA began the shuffling a few years back. Maybe those five Big 12 teams in limbo will be absorbed by one or more of these three…………and don’t be surprised if a couple more join Nebraska in the Big Ten…………er…………New Big 12. Maybe the mighty SouthEastern Conference could get involved as well.

Back to the Pac-10……………er……………Pac-16. The Dynasty is in trouble.

USC is getting hit with some NCAA sanctions because of issues with 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and one and done cager O.J. Mayo of the men’s basketball team. Two years worth of sanctions, folks.

A total of 20 scholarships could be lost. National television exposure could be cut for two seasons. The Trojan gridders could lose the 2004 BCS Championship Trophy, Bush could be stripped of his 2005 Heisman which begs the question, “What about Matt Leinart’s 2004 Heisman?” They  could go undefeated the next two seasons but, most likely, will be on the outside looking in for the bowl seasons. The cagers could go  undefeated the next two seasons and not take part in the conference tournament and March Madness.

Former USC football coach Pete Carroll saw the writing on the wall, bolting for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Former Trojan men’s hoops coach Tim Floyd did the same, resigning and is now back in the NBA as an assistant.

The Spirit’s, definitely, going to be gone from Troy.

It’s Madness!!

During this first day of MARCH MADNESS, upsets galore!! Midwest three-seed Georgetown out of Washington D.C., playing a Midwest first round game in Providence Rhode Island (what?) lost to 14-seed Ohio.

Meanwhile, West four-seed Vanderbilt out of Tennessee, playing in San Jose, California (makes sense) was upset at the buzzer by 13-seed Murray State.

After that game in the same gym, an East Regional game (huh?) pairing 11-seed and Pac-10 tournament champion Washington upsetting the East six-seed Marquette Golden Eagles.

Georgetown should’ve been in the East Regional playing in Providence, Rhode Island.

Vanderbilt should’ve have been in New Orleans instead of San Jose playing in the South Regional.

Washington, already playing in San Jose, but in the East Regional, should’ve been in the West Regional playing in San Jose.

But let’s get back to the Marquette University Golden Eagles out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Back before being “politically correct” became the norm, her athletic teams were known as the Warriors.

Marquette was the Warriors in the early 1970s when Al McGuire led Bo Ellis and Butch Lee to a National Basketball Title beating Dean Smith and North Carolina.

I bring this up because of an episode of “That 70’s Show,” which takes place in Milwaukee, I recently happened to catch on FX. The episode was about the teens in the cast going to visit the University of Wisconsin and Marquette. The guys went to visit the WU in Madison, while the girls went to visit MU in Milwaukee.

In the Marquette scenes of the show, athletic posters adorned some of the walls. They read “Marquette Golden Eagles”. WRONG! In the 70s, Marquette was referred to as the “Marquette Warriors.”

Typically on shows revolving around a certain period of time back in our history, like “That 70’s Show,” have behind the scenes staff that’s required to make sure all posters, names, mascots anything that is used on camera coincides with what they were in the time period the show re-creates.

“That 70’s Show” staff either didn’t do their homework. Or, they felt, to remain politically correct, and not offend anyone, they let the “Marquette Golden Eagle” slide for this instance thinking no one would catch the mistake.

Sorry “That 70’s Show”. But, I’m the one who pays attention to details like that especially since it’s a sports name issue.

My thought is being a “Warrior” isn’t something offensive or politically incorrect. It describes a proud defender. Considering that is sometimes how we refer to our own Men and Women in uniform, I think “That 70’s Show” blew it.

With that said, I’ll still watch “That 70’s Show”.  I love that show!!

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