The Houston Chronicle is reporting that officials from Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference were briefed about a possible football-only merger that might help the new league become part of the Bowl Championship Series.
Under the proposed merger, the leagues would play separate schedules and at the end of the season the two champions would meet in a title game with the hope that the winner would receive a BCS bid.
The report says talks will continue Tuesday and Wednesday during the annual meetings of Division I athletic directors in Dallas. The report says a football-only federation which would include 22 to 24 schools would offer the new league a “strength in numbers” response to recent conference realignment.
“It’s an intriguing concept,” Rice athletic director Rick Greenspan told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s one that is probably a bit unique in college athletics.”
C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a statement that the two leagues were discussing a merger and “working to create consolation strategies that have the potential for positioning our members well into the future.”
Conference USA currently has 12 schools that play football: East Carolina, Marshall, Central Florida, Southern Miss, Memphis, Alabama-Birmingham, Southern Methodist, Tulsa, Tulane, Houston, Rice and Texas-El Paso. East Carolina applied for Big East membership last week and Central Florida has expressed interest in leaving for the Big East.
The Mountain West schools include Texas Christian. Colorado State, Boise State, Wyoming, San Diego State, UNLV, Air Force and New Mexico. Texas Christian will head to the Big East on July 1, 2012. Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii (football only) will join the league in 2012.
Los Angeles Lakers Luke Walton is taking a different approach in how he’s handling the NBA lockout as he will become an assistant on the University of Memphis Tigers basketball team. Memphis coach Josh Pastner and former teammate of Walton has recommended Walton fill the vacancy on his staff while he waits for the league to return.
A two-time NBA champion with the Lakers and a veteran of Arizona’s 2001 Final Four squad, Walton will take the second spot that opened when Willis Wilson left to become head coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Glynn Cyprien became an assistant at Texas A&M under Billy Kennedy.
“Luke is going to bring great excitement and great energy to the Tigers program, and we’re thrilled to have him,” Pastner said in the school’s release. “Luke is someone who has not only played for but also learned from arguably one of the greatest coaches in basketball history in Phil Jackson. Luke’s also played with and against the best-of-the-best at the highest level of basketball in the NBA, including being a teammate of one of the NBA’s all-time greats in Kobe Bryant.”
“Luke will be a great coach because he brings a wealth of knowledge and a winning attitude to the Tigers program. His experiences, which include playing in four NBA Finals and winning two NBA World Championships, are lessons that he can share with our players to help them grow and develop their games.”
The Arizona connection on the Tigers staff runs deep as Pastner also has Damon Stoudamire on the saff.
University of Kentucky held a celebration for men’s basketball head coach John Calipari’s 500th win after their defeat Florida on February 26th. It turns out now Calipari hasn’t reached 500 career victories after all. The school says it will change Calipari’s career record because of 42 vacated victories from his time at Memphis and Massachusetts. In a statement, Kentucky said it had consulted with the NCAA and determined it was “in error” to have celebrated the 500th win against Florida.
The school says it will report Calipari’s career record “consistent with the NCAA’s official records and statistics.” The school had debated the issue with the NCAA because Calipari was never found to be at fault for the violations that led to the vacated wins.
The University of Memphis cheerleading team found themselves as one of the two finalists for the National Cheerleading Championships, when the results were announced, Marina Barrett extremely excited at the win nearly kills several of her teammates with her violent head-tossing.
This game goes down on the ESPNU network and it features the Mississippi State University Bulldogs taking on the Louisiana State University Tigers at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
Head coach Les Miles finally gets to bring his Tigers back in front of their home fans as this is the latest they have gone into a season without playing a home game since 1993 and are 24-1 in Saturday night home games under Miles.
The Tigers opened SEC play last week with a 27-3 win against Vanderbilt and go 2-0 overall for the season. Junior quarterback Jordan Jefferson,8-20 for 96 yards 1 INT, is helped the Tigers to the undefeated start but needed the rushing attack to lead them to victory last week. Junior running back Stevan Ridley,159 yards one touchdown, picked up the slack as the passing game was non existent.
The Tigers defense ranks among the top five nationally in total defense,285.5 ypg, run defense,44.5 ypg, and has 10 sacks. Tigers senior defensive tackle Drake Nevis leads the SEC with 3.5 sacks.
Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen has a difficult task off rebounding a team that went from 569 total yards in the opener against Memphis to just 246 yards against Auburn on offense. Mullen is making a mistake rotating junior quarterback Chris Relf, 12-26 for 110 yards, and freshman quarterback Tyler Russell, 4-9 for 19 yards 1 INT.
Defensively the Bulldogs limited Auburn to just 158 passing yards but overall where lead by star senior linebacker Chris White who had 11 tackles and freshman defensive back Nickoe Whitley and his 6 tackles 1 INT.
This is the 104th meeting between the two schools with LSU holding a 67-33-3 lead in the all-time series, winning 10 straight and 17 of the last 18 meetings.
PICK: Louisiana State University Tigers
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Auburn University Tigers taking on Mississippi State University Bulldogs in Starkville.
Mississippi State happens to be my sleeper team in the SEC this year and they are sure to awaken the rest of the conference that they are on the schedule. Head coach Dan Mullen might not have the luxury of sneaking up on opponents next year after his Bulldogs impress a lot of people this year but he will have them in prime position to compete in the SEC every week.
The Bulldogs are hoping to prevent a fifth consecutive loss to Auburn in Starkville but are hoping to use their momentum of rolling past Memphis in the opener, 49-7, while holding the Tigers to just 41 rushing yards. The Bulldogs were dominant on both sides of the ball especially in the passing game which totaled 372 yards and 5 touchdowns. Although junior Chris Relf, 7-9 116 yards 1 touchdown 1 INT, started at quarterback but freshman Tyler Russell, 13-16 256 yards and 4 touchdowns, played most of the game.
Sophomore Brandon Heavens led the receivers with 5 catches for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns and sophomore Chad Bumphis added 4 catches 100 yards 1 touchdown. Vick Ballard lead the rushing attack with 7 carries for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Bulldowgs finished the game with 569 total yards.
The Tigers finished 8-5 a year ago under Gene Chizik, including an Outback Bowl victory over Northwestern but only finished 3-5 against the SEC, its second straight losing campaign. Auburn hasn’t played well on the road well over the last two years, losing seven of eight. The Tigers hope that changes and they can continue on with what they started against Arkansas State, 52-26, last weekend.
Auburn fans need to take notice that they have a stud in quarterback Cameron Newton, who arrived at Auburn this season after starting his career with Florida, then spending the 2009 season leading Blinn College to the junior college national championship. Newton, 9-14 186 yards 3 touchdowns and rushed for 171 yards 2 touchdowns, was an absolute one man show.
The Tigers did receive contributions from freshman running back Michael Dyer, 95 yards one touchdown, and senior wide receiver Mario Fannin, 4 catches 65 yards 2 touchdowns.
Defensively the Tigers allowed Arkansas State to throw for 33-49 and 323 yards while unable to create a single turnover. Senior defensive end Antoine Carter was phenomenal against Arkansas State as he recorded 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. It’s still unclear if Auburn will get linebacker Craig Stevens back in the lineup after he was suspended for the opener for disciplinary reasons.
Auburn owns a 58-23-2 series advantage over Mississippi State, including a 49-24 thrashing over the Bulldogs last season.
PICK: Mississippi State University Bulldogs
This game goes down on the ESPNU network and it features the University of Memphis Tigers take on Mississippi State University Bulldogs in Starkville.
Mississippi State looks to improve on a 5-7 record 3-5 in SEC play as coach Dan Mullen enters his second year as the Bulldogs main man. Last season the Bulldogs competed against some of the traditional SEC powerhouses while leading the conference in rushing, 227.6 ypg and finishing 9th in the nation. Offensively the Bulldogs return seven starters but lose quarterback Tyson Lee and Running Back Anthony Dixon.
Replacing Lee will be junior Chris Relf, 22 of 41 passes 283 yards and 5 touchdowns, saw very limited action under center. Relf was also the Bulldog’s second leading rusher with 76 carries for 500 yards and 2 touchdowns. No matter who is under center the Bulldogs will have the protection of SEC beast left tackle Derek Sherrod.
Vick Ballard looks to take over Dixon’s vacated spot at tailback but do return top receivers Chad Bumphis and Marcus Green. Together they combined for 59 receptions for 681 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Defensively the Bulldogs return seven starters including the linebacker duo of KJ Wright, 82 tackles 2.5 sack, and Chris White, 75 tackles. However Mullen not satisfied how his defense finished the season went out and hired two defensive specialists in hired Manny Diaz (Middle Tennessee) and Chris Wilson (Oklahoma) to run things.
Memphis starts a new ear in Starkville with new head coach Larry Porter, former assistant at LSU, and new quarterback Cannon Smith. Porter inherits a squad that went 2-10 and 0-5 in Conference USA under Tommy West. It doesn’t get easier for the first year coach as the Tigers will also replace their top two rushers from a year ago as well as the program’s top two all-time receivers. While the specialty positions on offense will be new to playing time the offensive line returns every starter from last season.
Defensively there are six returning starters but that’s from a defense that finished nationally 116th. Tackles Dontari Poe (6-5, 350) and Charlie Bryant (6-8, 320) anchor the defensive line while senior linebacker Jamon Hughes, 87 tackles, mans the middle.
Mississippi State has won 10 straight meetings with Memphis to take a 31-11 series edge, although these teams haven’t faced off since 2003.
PICK: Mississippi State University Bulldogs
Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose is known for having a sweet tooth. A college teammate once revealed he ate Gummy Bears for breakfast and Honey Buns for dinner. Now that he’s an NBA All-Star, the candy makers come to him.
When the Chicago-based Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company got word that Rose’s diet included handfuls of Skittles, they delivered to his house a customized vending machine and a promise to keep it fully stocked with the tangy treats for three years.
Rose can even record a message on the machine to remind him to eat more Skittles.
NBA free agent Lorenzen Wright who had vanished on July 19 was found dead at the age of 34. The former Los Angeles Clipper, Atlanta Hawk, Memphis Grizzlie, Sacramento King and Cleveland Cavalier was last seen July 18 when he was expected to fly out of Memphis.
His body was found in Southeast Memphis in a wooded area and according to the Commercial Appeal “police sources confirmed earlier that they are investigating a 911 hangup call from Wright’s cellphone made July 19.” During the call, at least ten gunshots could be heard.
Sgt. Alyssa Macon-Moore of the Memphis Police Department wrote in an e-mail to the AP that police were investigating the death of an unidentified man beside a wooded area about 15 miles south of downtown Memphis. Asked if the man was Wright, she wrote they could not confirm the victim’s identity Wednesday night.
Wright left the University of Memphis early for the NBA, and the Clippers made him a lottery pick with the No. 7 selection overall.
He averaged 8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in 778 career games.
With the Big 12 crumbling right before our eyes as each school tries to get the hands on the mighty dollar a new twist emerges in college. It comes from FedEx CEO Fred Smith, a University of Memphis alumni, has spoken to various conference officials and made it known that his Memphis-based company would provide millions of dollars to be included in a BCS-affiliated league. It’s being reported that Smith has offered up as much as $10 million per year.
Now the NCAA has someone stepping to the front door with cash in hand and willing to spend to just get in. FedEx has consistently been a top 50 spender in sports advertising over the past decade and spent $51.6 million in 2009. There’s speculation that FedEx choose not to renew its contract with the Orange Bowl so it could free up money for this power move.
Who will open the door and admits its all about the cash grab?
The recently traded Shawne Williams, who was traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the New Jersey Nets for Eduardo Najera, was indicted on eight drug charges in Shelby County, Tennessee
Four counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and four counts of conspiracy to distribute the drug codeine.
Each crime is considered a felony and carries a sentence of 1-2 years. Williams was one of 24 defendants busted in a Memphis police sting.
When Tommy West was fired after nine seasons as head coach of the University of Memphis, he warned that the program would not improve until the university made a stronger commitment.
The Tigers have shown exactly that by hiring LSU assistant coach Larry Porter, one of the nations best recruiters and member of their own family.
Porter ranks sixth in career rushing at Memphis with 2,194 yards, and scored 20 touchdowns from 1990-93. He later coached at Tennessee-Martin, Arkansas State and Oklahoma State before joining Les Miles at LSU, where Porter has coached running backs since 2005.
Porter has never served as an offensive coordinator or head coach, but those shortcomings are offset by his ties to Memphis, and his reputation, one in which LSU’s coach Les Miles has been on record of saying he has had many assistant coaches but never one as good as Porter.
The task of building Memphis into a winner won’t be easy even if they do play in Conference USA as the school is located in the heart of the SEC and must compete with Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas for players.
The Tigers finished the season 2-10 and 1-7 in Conference USA and a overtime loss to Tulsa.
University of Memphis football coach Tommy West was fired on Monday and in his exit interview went out swinging, telling the city of Memphis and its alumni to stand up and give the school a fighting chance. The pure honesty and truth behind what West is saying makes it top 5, it sure isn’t the outburst but the truth for every mid major university that thinks it should field a D-1 football program, you need to support the program or what is the point of have one.
I love the AD that takes to the podium after and has that look on his face of “well then, ummm the cafeteria will be serving chicken and waffles latter.”