ESPN.com’s Ryan McGee proposes that the Power 5 conferences reconfigure themselves geographically. ESPN.com’s Ryan McGee strikes a nerve in a column he posted yesterday. It’s headlined, “Flipping the Field: How college football’s Power 5 should expand.” McGee blow things up a little bit and proposes that the Power 5 conferences reconfigure themselves geographically, expanding to 16 teams apiece. Far-fetched, but fascinating. McGee’s inspiration was the Big 12’s apparent revelation that it needs to expand. “If you were surprised at this, then you’ll probably also be surprised at the next inevitable step for all five of those conferences: one more round of expansion and realignment across the board,” writes McGee. “This will be the final great tectonic shift that forever breaks the Power 5 away on their own, becoming some sort of self-governed alliance of 16-team conferences.”
I suppose you wonder what McGee did with Boise State. Well, he places the Broncos in the Pac-16. Who would the other three new Pac-16 teams be? McGee says Colorado State, UNLV and Hawaii (although he does give Air Force a mention as an alternate to CSU—same for Nevada with UNLV). No San Diego State? McGee thinks widening the footprint is more important than loading up on California. Then he drops this lightning rod: “If we’re serious about adding states and media markets, then doesn’t UNLV make sense? And this is where I tell you to spare me on the academics argument. I’m still waiting on the part of the College Football Playoff selection committee Q&A when the chairman says, ‘Well, we really wanted to put them in the field, but honestly, their chemistry department really isn’t up to our standards.’”
Here’s my favorite quote from McGee’s column, as he talks about panicked fan bases. “I love how people say, you really need to be making some phone calls to the Big 12,” one Group of 5 athletic director told McGee last week. “Yeah, thanks for the tip, like we haven’t been doing that already. You will be told otherwise, but the lobbying has never stopped, and not just to the Big 12.”. That could have come from someone we know. One should just never presume to know what’s going on behind the scenes.
Big 12 expansion candidates think they have an ally in Oklahoma president David Boren. Maybe they do, but that’s not a widely held sentiment among the university’s brain trust. Max Weitzenhoffer, the Oklahoma Board of Regents chairman, told CBS Sports he’s firmly against conference expansion. “I can tell you I’m not alone,” Weitzenhoffer said. The seven regents are said to have the final say in the Sooners’ vote on expansion, and they aim to clarify that at a Thursday meeting.
Weitzenhoffer looks at the schools most commonly mentioned—in the CBSSports.com story they were (in alphabetical order) Boise State, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Memphis and South Florida—and says the Big 12 has little to gain from them. “They have no seating capacities in their stadiums,” said Weitzenhoffer. “They really don’t build them up. They really don’t have any TV.” He singled out one school as an example. “The problem with Cincinnati is…then they start getting all this money,” Weitzenhoffer said. “Then what do we do? We build up somebody we don’t want to build up.” Isn’t the point that the conference as a whole needs to be built up to enhance its chances at the College Football Playoff?
One season after departing the Idaho Steelheads for the Kelowna Rockets of the more talent-rich Western Hockey League, coach Brad Ralph has parted ways with the WHL club. It’s not because Ralph wasn’t successful. He guided Kelowna to a 48-20-4-0 record this season, getting his club into the WHL Western Conference Championship before losing to the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Kelowna media release said Ralph “wants to pursue other coaching opportunities.” Ralph went 132-64-20 in three seasons with the Steelies, guiding them to 102 points in the standings in 2014-15.
The Boise Nationals Soccer Club has a new name and a new stage. The Nationals will become part of the Portland Timbers’ “adidas Timbers Alliance,” a strategic partnership with elite local youth clubs in the Timbers’ development territory. The goal is to channel top youth players in the territory towards the Timbers’ development programs and the Timbers Academy. BNSC, established in 1986 and the oldest soccer club in Idaho, is the first adidas Timbers Alliance club in the state. Since its inception, the Nationals organization has won over 70 percent of Idaho state championships while appearing in 90 percent of state title games played and producing 19 Idaho Gatorade Players of the Year. With the establishment of the new partnership, BNSC will be renamed the Boise Nationals Timbers.
Catchup from the weekend: Boise’s Brian Scott reversed the slide with a 22nd-place finish after a start in the No. 28 spot Saturday in the GoBowling 400 at Kansas Speedway. It’s not where Scott wants to be, but it’s his best result in the Sprint Cup Series since a season-high 12th-place finish on March 20 in the Auto Club 400. He had come in 30th at Talladega and 35th at Richmond in his previous two starts. Scott is currently 29th in Sprint Cup standings in his rookie year.
Boise’s Kristin Armstrong ended up second overall at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico Sunday, an important step as she ramps up for her 2016 Summer Games bid. More importantly, the two-time Olympic gold medalist had won her specialty, the individual time trial, last Friday. The conditions in Silver City, NM, were difficult—winds gusting up to 45 miles per hour and termperatures in the upper 80’s. Things will be a lot different in Rio de Janeiro in August. You can keep the “upper 80’s” in the conversation, but you can trade the 45 miles-per-hour wind for 90 percent humidity.
This Day In Sports…May 10, 1998:
Tiger Woods ends a 10-month victory drought with a one-stroke win over Jay Don Blake at the Bell South Classic. Woods’ last win had come in the Western Open in 1997, the season in which Tiger crafted his legend with his runaway 12-stroke triumph at the Masters. But the Bell South would be his only win of the ’98 season. Woods’ truly dominant run on the PGA Tour would begin the following year.
(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.)