This is an interesting article by Berry Tramel from The Oklahoman. It was a sit-down interview with Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 commissioner. As usual, he regurgitates the party line but it is interesting for him to say that if there is going to be any movement, it will Cincinnati, UConn, or BYU joining the Power Five. Most likely, the Big 12 would be conference with the strongest need to move up.
This is article by Chuck Landon from the Herald Dispatch, a newspaper from West Virginia. He states that there is a rumor of the Big 12 being highly interested in Cincinnati. It is possible but it is unclear that any of the ten members will split the pie of their locked-in contract. Reading further into this, it seems to be that he is like some fanboy, well-wishing for this to happen because of the daisy chain of events that would unfold after Cincy leaving the AAC. He says that not only it will Cincy but East Carolina, Central Florida, and South Florida will leave also, which leaves the AAC with six members. Scrambling for new members, Aresco and the AAC will invite my alma mater Southern Miss, Florida Atlantic, maybe UMass, and most importantly, Marshall. To me, he is praying for Marshall to move up to the AAC and into a better conference that is supposedly trying to get their members to sign a grant of rights. Ultimately, there are two faults with this article: one, I agree that Cincy is the most viable candidate but he has forgotten BYU and two, the AAC will most likely not have a grant of rights because the majority of members in that conference want out.
I remember watching Pauly Shore movies and noticing how stupid and pointless they were. Army’s football program has sunk into absolute irrelevancy, worthy of a Shore comedy. Last time Army was in a bowl was the Armed Forces Bowl in 2010, where they beat SMU 16-14. Currently, Army is an independent with a 1-3 record, including an overtime loss to Yale, a FCS school. Along with BYU, Notre Dame, and Navy, they are the only independents left. Even Notre Dame saw the utility of at least coming to an arrangement with the ACC. Navy read the tea leaves and did not want to get lost in the shuffle and will join as a football-only member in the AAC after over one hundred years of independence. What becomes of Army in the succeeding years? Is independence viable for Army? Can they just remain a Mickey Mouse game for the other schools? The answer is no.
Army was founded in 1802 as the US Military Academy and even before that, it was occupied the Continental Army starting in 1778. As a matter of fact, the act treason committed by Benedict Arnold was the selling of this fort to the British. Army started playing football in 1890 and has a hallowed history attached to it. Its venue Michie Stadium is one of the most picturesque stadiums in the nation. Nestled near hills and on the Hudson River, it offers breathtaking vistas for any visitors, not to mention having a 40,000 capacity seating. Three Heisman trophy winners have came from Army, including Doc Blanchard, Glenn Davis, and Pete Dawkins and Army has three straight national championships to their credit from 1944-46.
As of right now, the glory days have faded into obscurity and no one really cares about the past. The future currently involves power conferences, lucrative TV contracts, and nationwide exposure. Army has none of those. BYU is panicking for need to be in a power conference and will die on the vine if they cannot reach a resolution. Army will not survive as an independent due to the fact that the Power Five will become more insular as the years come and will not play schools like Army as much. Scheduling games later in the season against marquee opponents will prove to be impossible. What options are available to Army, conference-wise?
If you look at what is out there, not a whole lot but it is not hopeless. Two of the best options will be the MAC and the AAC. From a competitive standpoint and geographically, the MAC would be an excellent fit. The last conference Army was in was C-USA but geographically and competitively, a terrible fit. The furthest school would be Northern Illinois and would be a much-needed eastern school for the MAC. Army is located in West Point, only fifty miles from New York City. Also, they would be a great in-state rival to Buffalo. Army would transition well in the MAC, considering they play at least 4-5 opponents in that conference each seasons.
Nonetheless, if Army wanted to be in the MAC, they would be in already. The best in most intriguing option would be the American Athletic Conference. Navy will join in 2015 and will play a full conference load as a football-only member. The AAC is actually a decent conference. East Carolina is a top-25 program right now while Cincinnati and Central Florida are always dangerous and contenders for the championship while Houston and Tulane are much improved. Army getting invited would stir a ripple that may or may not start a daisy chain of expansion in the Group of Five. If Army was admitted into the conference, why would the AAC stop at thirteen? Just ask the MAC how awkward it was for them to sit at 13.
First, if you have both Army and Navy, think of the implications for the AAC. They would have the opportunity to broadcast the Commander-in-Chief’s Game. In my opinion, it is the purest rivalry because these two schools play the game for the love of it because the next year, a lot of them will be serving tours of duty and some even will die for their country. If you have both Army and Navy in their conference, why not try to persuade Air Force? Air Force would definitely be tempted join a conference with their two biggest rivals and one that has exposure in recruiting hotbeds like Texas and Florida. If Air Force was to accept an invitation, the divisions may shake out like this:
Since Navy insists upon being in the west due to their need to have visibility in Texas, it would only make sense for Army and Air Force to be in the same division due to the fact that if one school was in another division, you would never see any other games played with cross-division foes. The ripples would start in the Mountain West. Sitting at eleven would not bode well for them and would immediately scout C-USA to replenish their loss. Losing Air Force would be costly but they could survive because at least they would still have Colorado State to keep their toehold in that state. After TCU left for the Big 12 in 2012, the MWC has been trying to find an in-road into Texas and the new member will most likely come from here. There are several schools including UTEP, Texas State, and North Texas but the two best ones would be Rice and UT-San Antonio.
Historically, Rice is a really good option. Rice is an AAU institutions, so you know they have the academic chops. Rice is the defending C-USA champion in football and in 2002, they won the NCAA championship in football. Rice is in the city of Houston, a huge market. The city Houston has more than enough fans to support the Houston Rockets, Houston Texans, Houston Astros, and even the University of Houston but the base has to be spread thin but nonetheless, if they are looking for a school that can be immediately competitive, Rice would fit the bill. If the MWC is unsure, UT-San Antonio may be another compelling option. San Antonio is a top-ten media market and the only competition for viewership will come from the San Antonio Spurs. In their inaugural season, UT-San Antonio saw over 57,000 fans attend the game. San Antonio is hungry for football and is an untapped market while Rice has way too much competition for eyeballs. Even though UT-San Antonio is an unproven quantity, they have a lot of potential to be a great program.
If I was one of the presidents or the commissioner, it would be a tough choice but I would choose UT-San Antonio. The facilities and fan base alone would tip the scales in their favor. C-USA would have to fill the void with a western school they would choose between New Mexico State and Texas State. New Mexico State would get the nod because C-USA needs a rival for UTEP that is in close proximity to them. With only ten schools and Karl Benson wanting a conference championship in the Sun Belt, he would most likely petition the president to take North Dakota State as a football-only member while adding Liberty or Eastern Kentucky as a full-member. Another alternative altogether would be Air Force staying in the MWC and breaking this chain of events. The AAC would end up adding UMass as a full-sports members and to even things up for all other sports, Saint Louis would be an excellent school as an associate member. Imagine the basketball in the AAC with Saint Louis, UConn, Cincy, Temple, and UMass. What a conference!
In conclusion, Army stands at the precipice of maybe falling into perpetual darkness. Army will have to join a conference or else face elimination. How long will it take for them to decide?
Cincinnati has the chance to do something it has not done since 1897: beat Ohio State. Certainly, all sorts of pandemonium and chaos would ensue if the Bearcats were to pull off such a feat. Other than UConn, no other school has gotten the muddier end of the stick on expansion than Cincinnati. When it was the Big East, they won the conference championship three times and went undefeated two years in a row. With them two seasons, they went to two straight BCS bowls. Ohio State leads the all-time series 13-2. Currently, Ohio State will limp into the game #22 in the rankings. Despite a much-maligned Big Ten and a Buckeyes, damnit, they are still Ohio State and a marquis program. In 2002, on their way to winning their last national championship, Ohio State managed to squeak by Cincy with a 13-9 victory. In weight of the loss, Cincinnati had nothing to be ashamed. Even Jim Tressel coach of Ohio State said that we were lucky to win because they outplayed in every facet of the game. Cincinnati has a great stage to prove themselves that they are worthy of being with the Power Five Schools. They are currently 2-0 and if they can beat Ohio State and do it convincingly, I hope the Big 12 will be put on notice. Also, it would be even more delicious to Cincinnati because they can call themselves the best school in Ohio. Imagine that. With the Bearcats beating the Buckeyes, they have a good chance of going undefeated and in my opinion, with all the schools that were poached from the AAC/BE, the American Athletic Conference still is a decent and balanced league. Who is to say that they would not go to playoffs? What more could you ask for? They scheduled worthy opponents and they won their conference outright. If this cannot raise the eyebrows of the short-sighted power brokers in the Big 12, then what will? If not for full membership, what about an associate membership?
For further reading, click below for an intriguing article. Gunner Kiel of Cincinnati could be one of the better quarterbacks that will come up for the draft in 2015.
Interesting article from ESPN. Mark Dantonio, coach of Michigan State, states that conferences that hold championship game should be awarded by the playoff committee with a spot. Schools with similar records from those that do not play a championship game should take precedent. This is coming from the backlash that Big Ten received with the big road loss they had against Oregon, Ohio State’s loss to Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame blanking Michigan 31-0. I am sure he is taking a shot against the Big 12 when he says this. Who knows? Pressure from other conferences may force the Big 12’s hand.
For the second straight year in a row, BYU has absolutely dominated Texas and once again, the rushing attack of the Cougars have cut new orifices into Big Daddy Longhorn. Sure, Texas is rebuilding with a new head coach but to be considered a mid-major program and go into Darryl K. Royal and tear them a new asshole is nothing short but of impressive. Taysom Hill engineered the complete destruction of the Big 12 juggernaut known as Texas. Bronco Mendenhall, the head coach of BYU, has stated that the Cougars need to join a conference like the Big 12 in order to still be with the elites of college football. Even with impressive consecutive exhibitions of their artistry of dissecting Texas’ defense, the Big 12 hardly even bats an eye to at least considering BYU. I could rehash every argument that I have made for BYU but those are in my other posts. If money is a concern, BYU has plenty of it. Nonetheless, I cannot help but be proud of BYU as currently, they sit at 4-0 including wins against Virginia, Houston, UConn, and the aforementioned Texas. Looking forward to the rest of the season, the games that stick out are Cal, Boise State, and UCF. Not the most marquee of schedules but the way BYU is playing, they could possibly go undefeated and maybe get into the playoffs or at least finish with the best record in the Group of Five and go to an Access Bowl. In closing, if the Big 12 is waiting for a reason to admit BYU, maybe they should treat the two times they stomped the Longhorns into the ground as an audition. If not for only Texas but also look at the win they had against Oklahoma in 2009, when the Sooners had Heisman quarterback Sam Bradford. As a matter of fact, that game changed the fortunes of the Sooners because Bradford sustained a season-ending injury and Oklahoma’s quest of going to the national championship game was dashed. How many more games will it take for the Big 12 to realize the BYU belongs with them?
For further reading, click on this link here to read an article from Tulsa World, which states all the arguments I have have made for and against BYU’s inclusion in the past. Also, this is an interesting piece that traces the link between BYU and the state of Oklahoma.