NCF Nation: Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels

Houston is touting its academic advances as a way to promote its validity in an automatic qualifying league.

Is East Carolina a better fit for an AQ conference than UCF or Memphis?

Dismissed UNLV defensive lineman Malo Taumua claims he was told of his dismissal by an assistant rather than the head coach.

The Golden Eagles could be throwing the ball more with Blake Anderson calling the plays for Southern Miss.

ESPN college football analyst Craig James thinks TCU and Arkansas would be great additions to the Big 12.
Ten players from the nonautomatic qualifying schools have been named to the 2010 Rimington Trophy watch list. The trophy is presented to the nation's top center.

Every nonautomatic qualifying conference is represented on the list. Both the Mountain West and Mid-American Conference have three nominees. The WAC has two and the Sun Belt and Conference USA each have one.

The winner of the award will be the player who is the consensus All-American center pick from four existing All-America teams:

  • American Football Coaches Association (AFCA)
  • Walter Camp Foundation (WCF)
  • Sporting News (SN)
  • Football Writers Association of America (FWAA)

The center with the most first-team votes will determine the winner.

The list will be updated during the year.

Here’s a look at the watch list nominees for the 2010 award:

Chris Anzevino, Kent State

Joe Bernardi, Fresno State

Ben Bojicic, Bowling Green

John Gianninoto, UNLV

Trask Iosefa, San Diego State

Jake Kirkpatrick, TCU

Colin Miller, Central Michigan

Brad Paul, Memphis

Lon Roberts, Louisiana Tech

Brad Serini, Florida International
The Mountain West has been a hot topic of discussion recently and, depending on what you’re reading, the conference will either expand or be gobbled up by the Big 12 and Pac-10.

Ahhhh, speculation …

Regardless, that’s not happening for this coming season, so it’s time to look at possible postseason players. The Mountain West has five bowls this year with the addition of the Independence Bowl and there’s always a chance the conference could send a team to the BCS, which it has in each of the past two seasons.

Here’s a look at where I see the Mountain West’s bowl bids going:

[+] EnlargeMike Locksley
Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty ImagesNew Mexico coach Mike Locksley and the Lobos will have a hard time reaching a bowl game.
Count on it

TCU: Expectations are high for the Horned Frogs to at least match what they did a year ago. They lost just a few starters from that team and have found several competent replacements. TCU could be in the market for a BCS bowl, but the Frogs will have to pry the spot away from Boise State.

Utah: I think the Utes will be one of the surprises this year and likely will finish the season ranked in the Top 25. While quarterback Jordan Wynn faced some tough opponents in his four starts a year ago, he showed some moxie and will only get better with age. The Utes running game should be as good as 2008 and the defensive line should be stout.

BYU: The Cougars have a lot of uncertainty heading into this fall, but it’s hard to count them out just from a talent standpoint. Any of the quarterbacks will do well, but the Cougars need to find a consistent running game. There are also questions about the offensive line and the defense, but I think the Cougars will pull it together enough to get nine wins.

Air Force: This might be the year the Falcons upset the dominance of the Big Three. The offensive line is a work in progress, but the Falcons should be good everywhere else. The defense shouldn’t miss a beat despite losing coordinator Tim DeRuyter during the offseason.

Outside shot

Colorado State: This Colorado State team should be a little closer to 2008 than 2009. There are six wins for the taking on the schedule, but you can’t underestimate a new offensive line and quarterback. How those positions come along will determine the fate of the team.

Wyoming: I’m kind of a glass-half-empty kind of person, which is why I’m putting Wyoming on notice. The Cowboys did get better in the offseason, but they’re not going to sneak up on anyone this year. The nonconference schedule is a bear and they play at BYU and TCU. The second year is always the toughest, just ask Steve Fairchild.

San Diego State: In San Diego State’s case, I think the second year will be better than the first. The Aztecs showed flashes of being a pretty good team last year and with a better weight program and a little more discipline, I think this team could win some of those close games. The nonconference schedule is soft and I think that gets the Aztecs to at least six wins.

Better luck next year

UNLV: I don’t think you can judge Bobby Hauck as a coach on this year’s team. He doesn’t have the pieces in place to play his system and he doesn’t have a game-changer like the Rebels have had in past years. I think the running game will embrace change, but the rest of the team will struggle mightily.

New Mexico: The Lobos are still a few players away from being the team it was earlier in the decade. I think its amazing that coach Mike Locksley was able to keep his team together during a rough first year and it got better as the season progressed. I think it continues to get better, but I think winning enough games for a bowl berth is optimistic, especially with a brutal first five games.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson said he hopes Boise State considers all the WAC has done for it if another conference comes calling.

Former Colorado State safety Klint Kubiak has been named the quality control coach at Texas A&M.

At least one Las Vegas sports book doesn’t think much of UNLV football this upcoming season.

The Hawaii logo is becoming a brand in the lower 48.
UNLV football assistant coach Ty Gregorak was formally charged with a felony count of trespass of an automobile with intent to commit a crime and a misdemeanor theft count by the Boulder, Colo., District Attorney's office in Boulder, Colo., on Thursday.

The news prompted UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood to tell Gregorak, 31, that he could resign or wait until his contract was up on June 30. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gregorak has not yet resigned.

Gregorak was arrested in Boulder, Colo., last Friday after police said he took a loaded handgun and wallet from a bouncer at a downtown strip club.

Gregorak was turned away from the Nitro Club on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall after bouncer Joseph Benedetto determined Gregorak was too intoxicated to enter the club. Gregorak went to the bouncer’s car in a nearby parking garage, broke into it and took a wallet from the center console and a loaded .45-caliber Glock 36 handgun from the glove compartment.

Later that day, Gregorak went to Benedetto’s home to return the stolen items and apologize. Benedetto accepted the apology but took down the license plate number of Gregorak’s rental car and called the police.

Gregorak, who is the Rebels’ linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, is a former Colorado football player and was in town for personal reasons.
Houston quarterback Case Keenum has an opportunity to bring a Heisman to Conference USA.

The Laramie Boomerang examines how the growth of some of the larger conferences could affect the Mountain West.

The Orlando Sentinel profiles UNLV during its college football preview countdown.

TCU coach Gary Patterson talks about the success of last season and what he expects from the Horned Frogs this year.

Middle Tennessee assistants are quick to leave for better opportunities.
Deciding what to do with UNLV football assistant Ty Gregorak will be a program-defining moment for new coach Bobby Hauck.

San Diego State coach Brady Hoke explains the trials he faced when he first became the Aztecs coach.

Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora challenged his team, which has failed to win a conference championship since 2003.

Evan Mohl of The Daily News of Galveston County writes that Houston fans shouldn’t be waiting for the Cougars to join a big conference.

TCU coach Gary Patterson donated $1,500 to a 2011 Super Bowl initiative to get kids more involved in the community.
UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood is waiting for the Colorado district attorney to decide the fate of Rebels' recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach Ty Gregorak before he doles out a punishment from the school.

Gregorak was arrested in Boulder, Colo., last Friday after police said he took a loaded handgun and wallet from a bouncer at a downtown strip club.

Gregorak, a former University of Colorado football player, was turned away from the Nitro Club on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall after bouncer Joseph Benedetto determined Gregorak was too intoxicated to enter the club. Gregorak went to the bouncer’s car in a nearby parking garage, broke into it and took a wallet from the center console and a loaded .45-caliber Glock 36 handgun from the glove compartment.

Later that day, Gregorak went to Benedetto’s home to return the stolen items and apologize. Benedetto accepted the apology but took down the license plate number of Gregorak’s rental car and called the police.

Gregorak is scheduled for an advisement hearing at 2 p.m. MT Thursday in Boulder. Police have recommended charges of first-degree criminal trespass and prohibited use of weapons.

Livengood said the school should know something about the potential charges soon.

"I guess in the next 48 hours we'll know something more," Livengood told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday. "We're trying to let the legal system play out with his attorney and the court's decision."

UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck told the Review-Journal that Gregorak was on a personal trip to Boulder and was not recruiting.
Conference expansion has been a hot topic across the country, and on Sunday the Newark Star-Ledger took the projections for new conferences to a whole other level.

The paper proposes splitting college football into six “mega conferences.” The Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-10 and Atlantic-10 all have 16 teams. The Big Atlantic would have 20 teams, though four of them would participate in basketball only.

The idea is interesting, especially when you consider that 15 teams from the nonautomatic qualifying conferences would be added across the various leagues.

Here’s how it would shake out for the non-AQs:

  • The Big 12 adds TCU, Tulsa, BYU, Utah, New Mexico, Houston and Colorado State after losing Nebraska and Missouri to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-10.
  • The Pac-10 adds Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, UNLV and San Diego State.
  • The Big Atlantic, which is a hybrid of the Big East and ACC, adds Memphis, Central Florida, and Temple.
As you can see in this model, the Mountain West is pretty much dissolved after expansion. The only teams remaining are Air Force and Wyoming. Similarly, the WAC loses its top three teams, leaving Idaho, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Utah State, New Mexico State and San Jose State. The remaining Mountain West teams likely would merge with the WAC, which would do away with the Mountain West altogether.

The choices on the other side of the country are interesting as well. Memphis and Central Florida have been on the expansion radar from the beginning, but Temple? Yes, Temple has been a hot-button topic since it joined the Mid-American Conference and created havoc with the scheduling. But the school has one winning football season since 1990 and one bowl game since 1979. It’s not exactly a football powerhouse, though coach Al Golden, who recently signed a new five-year contract, has put the program on the map. Upon seeing this model, teams such as East Carolina, Marshall, Southern Miss and Central Michigan likely won’t be happy.

So with four teams gone from Conference USA, expansion will likely open up into the Sun Belt Conference and perhaps even some of the WAC. Louisiana Tech could be a target, as could Middle Tennessee, Troy and North Texas, which would give C-USA back its presence in the Northern Texas/Oklahoma area.

Obviously, the Star-Ledger’s plan is just an idea, but it’s the most aggressive expansion plan to date. And it makes sense. All of the schools geographically fit their conferences and rivalries remain intact.

The Mountain West has been a target in all of this and there’s been a lot of speculation that expansion might eat most of the conference because of the markets it occupies and the strength of its top teams. And wouldn’t that be something? The Mountain West fights against the injustices of the BCS only to see its teams leave for more money and opportunity.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the upcoming months.
Memphis’ new football and basketball coaches are rejuvenating the fanbase.

New Mexico weight room intern Stephen Reaves was arrested on a charge of aggravated DWI. Reaves is the younger brother of Lobos quarterbacks coach David Reaves.

UNLV is hoping to snag commitments from the area’s top running back and wide receiver.

Houston quarterback Case Keenum was named one of the school’s most valuable athletes.

Several Troy football players made ceramic bowls that will be auctioned off to fight hunger.

Central Michigan coaches are in Wisconsin to visit offensive lineman Foster Bush.
Boise State wrapped up spring football this week and Idaho Statesman reporter Chadd Cripe looks at what lies ahead for the Broncos.

UNLV has improved during spring football, but still has a ways to go to be where coach Bobby Hauck wants it.

East Carolina is done with spring football, but the Pirates continue to be a work in progress.

Former Central Florida players give rookies advice about the trials of the NFL.

After finishing last season 0-12, Eastern Michigan coach Ron English is pleased with the direction his team is headed.

Robert Gagliardi of the Laramie Boomerang breaks down the things Wyoming needs to do to get better before the 2010 season.
Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild rails on the BCS during a Q&A with fans in the Denver Post.

Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart inherited a bad team this spring and he’s eager to see how far they’ve come.

UNLV coach Bobby Hauck thinks a spring game will be a waste of time for the Rebels.

Central Michigan coach Dan Enos is in the process of trying to blend the spread offense with some under-center packages.

Hawaii’s receiver group is one of the tallest the Warriors have ever fielded.

Jon Eastman might be out of the starting quarterback competition at Colorado State, but he’s not giving up.

Spring superlatives: UNLV

April, 15, 2010
UNLV is getting a makeover this spring under new head coach Bobby Hauck, who is looking to install a power running game and refine the 4-3 defensive scheme. Hauck acknowledged that he doesn’t necessarily have all of the personnel to implement everything he wants to do this spring, but he’s slowly trying to turn the Rebels into the contender many thought they could be a year ago.

Here’s a look at the strongest and weakest positions for UNLV this spring:

Strongest position: Quarterback

Key returners: Senior Omar Clayton (60 percent completion percentage, 2,230 yards, 13 touchdowns, 12 interceptions), junior Mike Clausen (completed 52 of 88 passes, 463 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions)

Key departures: None.

The skinny: Even though Clayton has more than 20 starts in his career, Hauck opened the quarterback competition this spring. Both Clayton and Clausen have the ability to lead the team and have the ability to be a dual threat, which might come in handy as the running game, which was weak last season, continues to progress. Clayton and Clausen also are competing with freshman Caleb Herring for the starting role.

Weakest position: Defensive line

Key returners: Senior tackle Isaako Aaitui (31 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, .5 sacks), senior end Malo Taumua (26 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack)

Key departures: End Heivaha Mafi (37 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks), tackle Martin Tevaseu (28 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack)

The skinny: The UNLV defense struggled last season and was one of the worst scoring and total defenses in the country. Linebacker Jason Beauchamp, who led the team in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss, is gone, which will put even more pressure on the defensive line to produce. It had trouble stopping the run and getting to the quarterback last season. The defensive line returns two starters with 52 total starts between them, and players such as Preston Brooks, whose season was cut short because of a shoulder injury, and Nate Holloway could a make a difference in Hauck's 4-3 scheme.
Western Kentucky junior college transfer Matt Pelesasa seized an opportunity to take the lead for the starting quarterback spot Tuesday.

New Marshall head coach Doc Holliday is opening spring football today with no depth chart and an open mind.

The quarterback battle between Kelly Page and Aaron Mershman is highlighting Ball State’s spring.

North Texas is focusing on building depth on the offensive line this spring.

Fresno State coach Pat Hill was supposed to get a contract extension Dec. 13, but that extension still hasn’t been put to paper.

UNLV true freshman defensive tackle Nate Holloway is working his way into the starting lineup this spring.
New Louisiana-Monroe coach Todd Berry has been lauded for his promotion of competition during his first week of spring practice, but when the Warhawks donned pads for the first time Monday, Berry took competition to a whole new level.

Louisiana-Monroe made every player live during sessions involving the offense and the defense -- including the quarterbacks.
“With our offense, the quarterback has got to be live,” Berry told the Monroe News-Star. “We can’t evaluate them if they’re not. So much of our offense is predicated on those guys making plays.”

Berry said prior to spring practice that every position was open, including the starting quarterback spot that Trey Revell won after spring practice a year ago. Senior Zach Rhodes, sophomore Cody Wells and redshirt freshman Kolton Browning are also competing for the starting job.

Revell passed for 1,739 yards, 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 10 games last season. Wells, who started two games last year but played in all 12, threw for 762 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Rhodes, who took a hiatus from football in 2009, played in six games as a redshirt freshman at SMU in 2007. He transferred to Louisiana-Monroe after the year and sat out the 2008 season because of NCAA transfer rules.

Berry has been known for his reliance on his quarterback's playmaking abilities. At UNLV, quarterbacking duo Omar Clayton and Mike Clausen were both dual threats. Clayton is the only UNLV quarterback to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 in a single game.