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In the end, the Big East never had a chance

In the end, the Big East never had a chance

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on January 3, 2013 at 8:42 AM

Thursday, January 3, 2013.

Boise State president Bob Kustra told the media yesterday there wasn’t any one “tipping point” moment that steered the Broncos back to the Mountain West from the Big East.  Not the loss of Rutgers and Louisville, nor the announced exit of the seven Catholic non-football schools.  In fact, it was really something that didn’t happen at the end of the year.  “There was no way to get a proposal from the Big East,” said Kustra.  “That was pretty much it.”  The Big East wasn’t in a position to deal on TV rights, since it has no agreement beyond 2013 and doesn’t appear to be close to getting one.  Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said the conference didn’t want to go down that road anyway.

San Diego State now has a “right of first refusal” to rejoin the Mountain West by January 31.  “I’m sure as of this moment, they’re trying to figure this out,” said Kustra, who heaped praise upon the Aztecs’ leadership for its role in getting Boise State’s non-football sports into the Big West.  As steadfast as SDSU has been regarding its football move to the Big East, Aresco hasn’t given up hope.  “As for San Diego State, we very much want them to stay,” said Aresco on CBS SportsRadio yesterday.  “We’ll see how that works out.”  But if you think it was going to be difficult for Bronco basketball to shuffle off to the Big West, consider the Aztecs’ plight now.  Basketball is the big dog at San Diego State—now the university is going to accept losing its spot on the Mountain West pedestal while it’s all by itself on the Western fringe of Big East football?

Kustra briefly touched on BYU, which left the Mountain West in 2011, primarily due to its extreme dissatisfaction with the conference’s TV deal.  With this newly-discovered Mountain West TV flexibility, might the wheels be turning in Provo?  “I know how strongly the president at BYU feels about the old (MW) agreement,” said Kustra.  “I don’t know—it may give them pause.”  As an independent, the Cougars have no clearly-defined path to what are being called the “access bowls” beginning in 2014, whereas there is one through the Mountain West.  And there are conference championships and all-league honors to be won, incentives BYU doesn’t currently have.  But the Cougars are making plenty of money from ESPN now.

Maybe this will become clear in time, because it sure isn’t right now.  If Boise State (and other conference schools fortunate enough to get on national TV) is to make $300,000 for a weeknight national TV appearance and an additional $200,000 for one on Saturday, where will the money come from?  If the Broncos and Fresno State play on CBS Sports Network on a Saturday, the league is on the hook for $1 million?  I’m sure the Mountain West thought this through.  “I cannot give commissioner (Craig) Thompson enough credit for figuring this thing out,” Kustra said.  I sure hope it’s figured out.

Until Monday, Big East champion Louisville’s performance in the Sugar Bowl last night was going to be relevant.  It still was for those Boise State fans pining for the game against the Cardinals on the blue turf next fall that will now go by the wayside.  Louisville drilled the third-ranked (third-ranked?) Gators 33-23 in a game that wasn’t that close.  Safe to say it was not the best night in the life of former Bronco offensive coordinator Brent Pease, now the Florida OC.  The Gators mustered only 286 total yards.

In addition to former Boise State quarterback Bush Hamdan, new Arkansas State coach Bryan Harsin has added one-time Bronco assistant Kent Riddle to his staff as assistant head coach, tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.  Harsin coached with Riddle on Dan Hawkins’ staff at Boise State, and the Bronco special teams prospered (think kicker Tyler Jones, punt returner Quinton Jones and kickoff returner David Mikell, among others).  Riddle followed Hawkins to Colorado and has been at North Texas since the CU staff was fired in 2010.  Hamdan finished his stint as Florida wide receivers coach last night in that loss to Louisville.  He’s a man after Harsin’s own heart, a career backup QB at Boise State who was destined to coach.

Our former Bronco NFLer of the Day is Chicago defensive end Shea McClellin, the highest of Boise State’s six draft choices last April.  The first round pick posted 14 tackles and 2½ sacks while missing two games because of concussion and knee problems.  But Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times sees McClellin’s rookie season as “solid.”  “Any time you get injured, it’s definitely frustrating,” McClellin told Jahns. ‘‘As far as being a rookie, it hurts your development just being out a week.  You get a little rusty.”  Jahns points out that Seattle’s Bruce Irvins led all rookie D-ends going into Week 17 with eight sacks, but—according to Pro Football Focus—Irvin had 18 hurries in 387 snaps; McClellin had 18 hurries in 299 snaps. 

Former Boise State coach Dirk Koetter has inked a one-year extension to remain the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.  Koetter’s name had been widely floated as a possibility for the sudden slew of NFL head coaching jobs.  He met with Kansas City Chiefs management on New Year’s Day about that team’s opening but decided to keep working with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Michael Turner et al.  With Koetter turning Ryan loose this season, the one-time MVP of what is now the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl put up career highs in passing yards (4,719), TD passes (32) and completion percentage (68.6).

Boise State was favored by four points going into last night’s game at defensive-minded Texas-Arlington.  Oddsmakers forgot to account for the “E factor.”  Jeff Elorriaga canned six three-pointers on the heels of the 10 treys he made last Sunday to lead the Broncos past the Mavericks in a 64-46 cruiser.  Elorriaga scored 22 points and just missed his first career double-double with nine rebounds.  Boise State endured foul trouble in a tightly-called first half to lead by eight at the break before going up by as many as 26 in the second half.  “This was a good learning game for us,” said coach Leon Rice on his KBOI postgame show after his team was whistled for 13 personals and a technical before the intermission.  “We’re going to Wyoming in a week, and we won’t able to weather that (first half foul storm).”  The Broncos host Walla Walla Saturday night.

Mike Peck’s expected roster tweaks are coming to pass.  The Idaho Stampede coach has traded forward Paul Carter to the Santa Cruz Warriors in exchange for guard Carlon Brown and a fourth round pick in the 2013 NBA D-League Draft.  Brown, the Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player for Colorado last March, was averaging 5½ points per game for Santa Cruz.  He was in the Golden State Warriors’ training camp this season.  Brown will be in uniform tonight when the Stampede play at Austin.

Bakersfield was a woeful 7-23-3 with a nine-game losing streak when it welcomed the Idaho Steelheads to Rabobank Arena last night.  But it turned out to be dueling netminders, as the Steelheads’ Tyler Beskorowany and the Condors’ Scott Greenham were spotless through the first two periods before each allowed one goal in the third.  It stayed a 1-1 game through the overtime period—then the shootout went an exhausting nine rounds before former Steelie Deron Cousens tallied to beat his former teammates in a 2-1 final.  The Steelheads received a nice boost before the game last night when it was announced the Dallas Stars were returning forward Austin Smith to the club from Texas of the AHL.  Smith resumes his role as the Steelies’ leader in goals—he has 16 in just 21 games with Idaho this season.

This Day In Sports…January 3, 1993, 20 years ago today:

The Buffalo Bills pull off the greatest comeback in NFL history, rallying from a 35-3 third quarter deficit to shock the Houston Oilers, 41-38, in overtime in an AFC Wild Card game.  Backup quarterback Frank Reich, subbing for an injured Jim Kelly, threw four touchdown passes—three of them to Andre Reed—to overcome a four-touchdown first half by Oilers quarterback Warren Moon.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket.  He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)