NCF Nation: mailblog
Just a few more weeks until fall camp starts and we really get into this thing full time. I'm enjoying the last of my weekends and I hope you are too. Football season is right around the corner.
Dustin from Las Vegas writes: Graham, read your blog post today. I appreciate your coverage of the MWC media days, but I noticed something missing. What was Stevenson Sylvester's great quote?
Graham Watson: Well, he had many great quotes, but you'll have to wait until my story comes out in late August. I know, a long time to wait, but he was a great interview. I will say that he was probably the most honest player I have ever spoken with. And that he knows every word to the movie "Norbit," which he said he's watched more than 200 times. He even has it stored on his iPhone.
Aaron from Provo, Utah, writes: Hola, Graham. Craig Thompson's comments about adding a 10th team implied that the MWC would seek to continue it's round-robin conference schedule if it were to expand. Do you know anything more about that? Also, do you know if the conference would ever consider adding a school on a provisional basis, or maybe as a football only member at first?
Graham Watson: The way Thompson was talking, it seemed like he wanted to do a round-robin format and take out a nonconference game like the Pac-10 currently does. He admitted that it wasn't a great idea considering that's taking out an opportunity to strengthen the conference's BCS résumé, but you also don't want to get into a situation where a team goes undefeated but doesn't play one of the toughest teams in the conference during that given year. It would take some talking out to decide the best direction to proceed.
Andy from Kailua Hawaii, writes: Now we will have more teams that are mid majors...fighting even harder to get a fair shot at the BCS.... Ya a big blow to the WAC, but Fresno and Hawaii have both beat some well respected schools in their history both have been ranked top 25 multiple times... Hawaii has been to a BCS bowl.... How are these teams going to improve their conf by taking one of top teams out...They should have a playoff not destroy 8 teams in the WAC to better the chances of two others to get a championship run...Other teams WILL go undefeated and will have just as much a right to play at the top bowl games.. GO WARRIORS (who by the way will go undefeated again soon and WIN their Bowl).
Graham Watson: Essentially, we're talking about a power conference if Boise State moves to the Mountain West. It would strengthen the Mountain West's clout nationally and make the league stronger. But, if this happens while the Mountain West doesn't have an automatic bid, I think the other schools need to be weary of a cannibalistic approach. Teams such as TCU, BYU, Utah and Boise State will be beating up on each other, making it difficult to go undefeated.
Nerole from Dallas writes: The MWC is making a lot of noise about the BCS - but everyone should remember the original members were part of the 16-team WAC. This league included the huge Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston markets. The original MWC members met secretly behind the backs of their fellow WAC schools to form the MWC and never even gave their sister schools a courtesy call. Rice coach Ken Hatfield said at the time "What they did was wrong, R-O-N-G. With less than ethical conduct like this, I say forget about the MWC's crying and let real football teams play.
Graham Watson: The 16-team WAC was brought up at MWC media days. The difference here is that the MWC hasn't made it a secret that it's looking to improve its BCS résumé. And really, the Mountain West has looked upon Boise State's involvement in the fight for BCS equality favorably. I mean, you didn't see WAC commish Karl Benson testifying on Capitol Hill. And his conference has had as much success with the BCS as the Mountain West. I think everyone involved knows that things are in motion even if no one will come out and say it.
Brian R. from Dayton, Ohio, writes: Hey Ms. Watson, great job on the posts. If I had to cover as many teams across the country as you do, I'd be loopy. I was wondering if you had any information on how the new coach up at Toledo is working out? I don't live up in the swamp anymore, so I am curious to know what the odds are of the Rockets starting to climb their way back into prominence in the MAC. I don't expect them to be at the top this year or anything, but any info would be great. Thanks, and keep it up, I need my non-bcs news!
Graham Watson: I spoke to Tim Beckman a couple of weeks ago and he seemed excited about his team and the players he's inherited. There's a lot of senior leadership there and that's what Beckman hopes comes out this season. There is also a lot of talent that wasn't fully realized a year ago. I think you're right to keep your expectations guarded, but that side of the MAC is pretty wide open and with the talent on Toledo's roster, it can challenge with the right leadership.
John from Salt Lake City: You've stated that the Idaho Vandals should be better this year. So given their full complement of scholarships, easy non-conference schedule, and a team with some playing experience; do you think that they have a chance of making it to a bowl game this year?
Graham Watson: I do like Idaho, but I'm not sure it's ready to take the next step to a bowl game. I also don't think it has an easy nonconference schedule. Northern Illinois and Washington are going to be better this year. San Diego State could be a win, but Colorado State is iffy. The WAC as a whole will be a much better league than it was a year ago. Obviously, Boise State is going to be good. But teams such as Nevada, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech and Fresno State should also be pretty good. I think Idaho probably finishes in the top of the bottom third of the conference or perhaps sixth, which might not net them enough wins for bowl eligibility.
J Tully from Somonauk, Ill., writes: Love your reporting.... it seems you have a nice pulse on the non-BCS teams. I know this is a hard question but, financially, do you see any of the non-BCS teams withering in this tough fiscal environment and maybe being forced out? Keep reporting on the nonBCS.... We have fans too as you know... Thanks! Go NIU btw.
Graham Watson: When I was e-mailing all of the conferences, I didn't get a sense that any of the schools were hurting so much that they'd have to dump their athletic programs all together. That would take a lot of debt, and while schools in the MAC and Sun Belt are hurting, they also keep getting guarantee money from a lot of the BCS teams.
Shawn from TCU writes: Could you do a column on you're favorite MWC stadiums? I am curious as to where you rank TCU. Don't forget, TCU is upgrading its stadium.
Graham Watson: I might do this after this season only because I haven't been to enough stadiums to give an accurate account of which are the best. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to see a few more C-USA games this year, which will help diversify my picks.
David from Naples, Fla., writes: Dear Graham, I'm a big Boise State fan and soon to be a graduate from BSU. I was just wondering what you think the deciding factor is going to be when Oregon travels to Boise and faces the Broncos here on the smurf turf? Also what are Oregon's and Boise State's records when playing a Thursday Night game. We
always seem to hear about the curse of top ten teams and there is a slight possibility from what I read and hear that Oregon could be a Top 10 team when the polls are released?
Graham Watson: Since it's the first game of the season, it's hard to determine a deciding factor. But I think Boise State's home-field advantage is a big deal. No doubt about it. Oregon is 2-2 on Thursday night and 1-2 in Thursday night road games. Boise State didn't have the stat readily available. Sorry about that. Oregon will at least be in the top 15 when the polls are released, but so will Boise State.
Warren from Boise writes: Did ESPN drop the games Oregon vs. BSU and Oregon vs. Utah AND BYU vs. Oklahoma? All in September. People in your post are confused because you left out all these games and I was curious if they've been dropped.
Graham Watson: No, these games are still on. The games I posted were in addition to the games that already had been announced. Sorry for the confusion, but I clarified it in the lede to the post.
Mike from Shelley, Idaho writes: Maybe I missed it, but I can't believe this link was not be featured in the blog. It's been over a week now: I'd love to hear your comments on it as well when you're back from vacation.
GW: For those who haven't read or clicked on the link, it's commentary from Boise State president Robert Kustra blasting the unfair practices of the BCS. While I thought it was fine commentary, I was wondering who saw the letter other than those who regularly follow Boise State? If it was a letter sent to the BCS oversight committee then bravo. If it was an open letter to the school then I have to wonder what the point of it was. Drop me a line if you know the answer to that.
Joe Vandal from Boise writes: I'm sensing a change in Moscow. What are your views on the upcoming season for the Vandals? Seems like Rob Akey has the team pointing in the right direction. With a great returning core of Nathan Enderle and Deonte Jackson it's looking like a promising year. Plus the Kibbie Dome is getting a makeover, maybe the natural light coming through the new windows will boost morale.
GW: I don't know about the light boosting the morale, but I do think Idaho is going to be much better than it has been in some time. I agree that Akey has the team moving in the right direction and with several returners and a full complement of scholarships, the Vandals could get out of the WAC cellar. In fact, I fully expect that.
Tyler from American Fork, Utah writes: Graham, I just wanted to comment on the completely bias directly aimed transfer rule, which was amended. I am talking about the "official church mission" transfer eligibility rule, which now prevents kids who serve a mission from transferring right away. Instead if the kid is in jail for two years he can transfer right away. This is the WAC just crying for no reason and it makes it unfair to a young man who decides that maybe his life should go in a different direction after retuning home from his mission.
GW: I can see both sides of this, but I think the rule was being abused and that's why the NCAA had to step in. It's really not fair to allow a kid to transfer and play right away on the basis of a religious practice. It's just not. I think the transfer rule should apply to everyone, unless granted a waiver. No one should get special treatment there. Probably not the answer you wanted, but that's just my thoughts.
Corey from Baton Rouge, LA writes: With the recession cutting into athletic costs across the country, do you foresee a widening gap between the BCS automatic qualifiers and the rest of the FBS?
GW: Yes, but because the economy is hitting everyone so hard, I'm not sure it would be any worse than it is now. It's all going to be relative. If Troy and Michigan are both losing money, chances are they're probably still going to be as far about a year from now as they are right now. Not sure if I explained that well, but I think the proportion will remain the same.
pettyofficerkeller from Newport News, VA writes: What are the Mountain West's expansion options? Which do you think is most likely? And what do you think the timeframe is?
GW: I don't see the Mountain West expanding anytime soon, and quite honestly, I don't think we'll see any expansion before the current BCS contract ends in 2011. Even then, I think there won't be any movement until like 2014 when the next contract ends. The only reason conferences would start to expand earlier is because of the economy. And in the MWC's case, the move to expand might be to all but guarantee that non-AQ BCS spot (and money) every year.
Mike P from Arkadelphia, Ark., writes: Will we ever see a day where Arkansas State will finally get over the "mediocrity" hump and become a regular bowl contender like Troy? Go Red Wolves!
GW: I think the best way for that to happen is for the Sun Belt Conference to have more bowl opportunities. Now, those are currently in the works, but until that happens, it's going to be tough for any Sun Belt team to consistently be a bowl contender.
Zach from Akron, Ohio writes: I've been reading a lot of chatter recently about the MAC wholly or partially moving down to the FCS level. Do you think it would be a good move for the MAC to drop a few teams?
GW: OK. First, I don't see this happening. If you're thinking teams in the conference might move down because of finances, that would be ridiculous. The MAC schools make most of their money from the nonconference guarantee games they get from AQ schools. Those schools won't play those MAC teams (or whatever conference they would be) if they were FCS. Also, I e-mailed the league office and there's been no chatter about this there.
Joe from Dothan writes: Graham, While everyone seems to agree that Troy is the favorite to repeat in the Sun Belt, I think that a lot of us would like to see maybe an upset of one of those SEC teams we have lined up. Your thoughts on our chances?
GW: Well, I think Florida is probably going to be out since Tim Tebow will be on a mission to finish off his collegiate career right. I don't think the Gators drop a game against Troy. But Arkansas, right in the middle of the season, sandwiched between South Carolina and Mississippi State, could be very interesting. I like that it's late in the year and though the Trojans will be focused on conference play and making a bowl, I do think they'll be in a good place chemistry-wise to really make the Razorbacks sweat in that game.
TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
2:00 PM ET Washington State Colorado State 3:30 PM ET 20 Fresno State 25 USC 5:30 PM ET Buffalo San Diego State 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:15 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State