When the Big 12 Conference said last week it will entertain expansion candidates, it essentially created an open application process from Group of Five teams seeking some of the big bucks a move to a Power Five conference would bring.
For a school in a conference like the Mountain West, it might as well give it a shot, right?
That’s what a few schools have done, Commissioner Craig Thompson said Tuesday.
[Related: Once again, Broncos picked atop Mountain West.]
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“I should’ve known something was going to happen, it was too quiet,” he said. “A number of Mountain West institutions have expressed interest in looking at Big 12 membership.”
Thompson said some schools have informed him of their interest, and others have expressed interest directly to the Big 12. He did not elaborate on who has or hasn’t reached out. Two of the primary candidates mentioned in the realignment craze have been Boise State and Colorado State. Thompson called Boise State football “the highest brand in the Mountain West Conference.” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin was unaware of any deep talks.
“It’s very hard from my perspective because I don’t have a lot of interaction with those conversations, what’s being said, I don’t know,” he said. “It’s good for Boise State to be in those conversations. It certainly says things about our program, and that’s not a bad thing.”
Colorado State coach Mike Bobo had a similar sentiment.
“You want expectations, want people believing in your program, want guys talking about your program. All that is a good thing that we’re in the conversation,” Bobo said. “It’s not going to be my voice, our players’ voice. I don’t want them thinking their performance is dictating it.
“There’s going to be more talk, it’s just getting started.”
Last month, a proposed move to a $10 million exit fee was voted down by a 6-4 vote, Thompson said.
Thompson also said the league distributed approximately $41 million in revenue this year, down about $5 million from last year, but that number was aided by Boise State’s Fiesta Bowl appearance after the 2014 season. Exact numbers for Boise State’s part of the payout weren’t disclosed, but Thompson said again, it had the largest share. He also said it technically would be allowable, but highly unlikely that a school leaving for the Big 12 as a football-only member could keep its other sports in the Mountain West.
Hill’s dreads are dead
Wyoming junior running back Brian Hill rushed for 1,631 yards last season sporting some serious dreadlocks. But on Tuesday, he appeared at Mountain West Media Days with a close-cropped haircut.
“I cut it because too many people were pulling on it during games,” Hill said. “I was kind of depressed after I cut it, but I got over it. (Tacklers) took advantage of it. It was painful.”
Hill said he had been growing his hair out since eighth grade, but had a cousin cut it earlier this summer. He kept them afterward.
“I feel more aerodynamic, think I lost about four pounds off my head,” he said.
Stopping offenses — and hackers
New Mexico senior linebacker Dakota Cox graduated in three years with a finance degree and is working on his Masters in sports administration. He’s also taking some classes in cyber security.
“I would like to, hopefully, maybe down the road, to get in the FBI or something like that,” said Cox, who has 312 tackles for the Lobos. “It’s something I’d like to get deeper into.”
Calhoun: New policy changes little
A report earlier this month by The Gazette (Colorado Springs) found a huge change in the policy at Air Force, that a “service member can request to be tendered an appointment in the reserve upon graduation and satisfy their commissioned service obligation in the Ready Reserve.” In other words, future athletes that hope to play pro sports won’t have to serve two years of active duty after graduation.
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said it could be a big benefit to athletes in other sports, or allow them to pursue a Rhodes or Marshall scholarship, but don’t think it will affect football much.
“For us, it won’t change how we recruit one bit,” Calhoun said. “Still, the makeup, the character, we have to make sure that’s the priority.
“They’d still have to get admitted to school, go through basic training, do survival training. It’d be a huge, huge mistake if we went into the home and that’s all we discussed, then all of a sudden, he gets there and is like ‘I didn’t know I have to shave my head.’”
A win to remember, aftermath to forget
Utah State senior defensive end Ricky Ali’ifua described the Aggies’ 52-26 win over Boise State last October in Logan in dream-like descriptions Tuesday, saying “it was a lovely moment” seeing the Broncos turn the ball over repeatedly. He said “even if there was one second on the clock, I felt like they could score a 50-point touchdown or something.” Ali’ifua recalled the large swath of Boise State fans, saying “I looked up and I thought I was in Boise until I looked at the grass and it was green.”
The Aggies went 2-5 after the win. Air Force lost three straight to end the season after beating the Broncos. New Mexico was 1-2 after their win in Boise.
“We’d never been in that position, where we controlled our own destiny. We thought it was going to be easy. If we could take care of Boise, we were home free, but that was a horrible mindset,” Ali’ifua said. “We learned that lesson, but it was a tough lesson to learn.”