Saturday, September 10, 2016

Big Sky Divisions for 2017 with Idaho Returning

This also includes some alternative proposals:

The Vandals return to the Big Sky Conference next season.  Perhaps it is time to pick divisions.  In the FCS, divisions are for scheduling.  There is no prevision for a championship game.  The Big Sky conference has rarely been denied a second NCAA bid in the playoffs.  It would be nice to decide a champion on the field.  Perhaps the NCAA will change the rule and allow the two division champions to meet in Las Vegas to determine who will get the auto bid.  When the CAA or other conference that has had divisions, usually they are both awarded a championship unless the two division champions met in the regular season.  Then the winner of that game is awarded the championship.  The NCAA auto bid would go to the higher ranked of the two teams.

The division names, by my choice, are after the two most popular national parks in the west.

The Yellowstone Division

Eastern Washington
Idaho
Idaho State
Montana
Montana State
North Dakota
Portland State

The Grand Canyon Division

Cal Poly
UC Davis
Northern Arizona
Northern Colorado
Southern Utah
Sacramento State
Weber State

How the scheduling works

Each team will play 1 designated rival from the other division, plus one other game on a rotational basis.  That will give the conference teams 8 games.  The teams can play games against teams from the other division as non-conference games.  However, this proposal has a problem.  Weber State is one of the founders of the conference, and the other four founders: Idaho, Idaho State, Montana and Montana State will be together in the other division.  Weber State would likely be assigned Idaho State as a recognized rival, and then play the other four founders once every six years.  One way around this would be to switch with either Portland State or North Dakota, which would obviously present travel issues.

Alternative Proposal 1:

However, I have a solution to fix this that perhaps has not been discussed, or may it has.  Cal Poly and UC Davis are in the Big West Conference.  Is it possible, and I am not sure that it is, to resurrect the Big West Football Conference (Similar to the Missouri Valley Football Conference) and allow some schools to leave the Big Sky Conference for Football.  For Example:

Big Sky Conference:

Eastern Washington
Idaho
Idaho State
Montana
Montana State
North Dakota
Northern Colorado
Northern Arizona
Southern Utah
Weber State

Big West Football Conference:

Cal Poly
UC Davis
Portland State
Sacramento State
San Diego

Alternate Proposal 2:  Keeping Idaho at the FBS level.

FBS Big Sky Conference (Primary Conference if not Big Sky)

Cal Poly (Big West)
Eastern Washington
Hawai'i (Big West)
Idaho
Montana
Montana State
North Dakota State (Summitt)
Portland State
Sacramento State

Grand Canyon Conference (FCS Big Sky...Probably must have a different name.)

UC Davis (Big West)
Idaho State
North Dakota
Northern Colorado
Northern Arizona
Southern Utah
San Diego (WCC)
Weber State

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Preview of the 9/10/17 college football week in Utah

Utah State at USC

You may have heard that the Trojans lost last week.  Actually, they were embarrassed.  It probably wasn't a fun week of practice in Los Angeles, either.  The fans will be angry as well.  They are hoping to take it out on the USU Aggies.  Sagarin says that the Trojans should win by 11.  I think it will be a little bit more spread out than that.

USC 35 Utah State 17

Weber State at South Dakota

Sometimes getting drubbed by your big brother is a good thing.  It can be a learning experience.  You learn what you weaknesses are and how to improve them.  That does not necessarily mean that you will come away with a victory next time.  Weber State now travels to the Dakota Dome which looks like the love child of the Kibbie Dome and the Walkup Skydome.  It is basically a concrete Walkup.  It  should not be all that unfamiliar to the Wildcats.  I expect that they will do better than the touchdown underdog that they are right now.  I am not predicting a win.

South Dakota 24 Weber State 21

Southeastern Louisiana at Southern Utah

The Thunderbirds are a two-touchdown favorite against the Lions.  SE LA was taken to the woodshed last week in Stillwater by the Cowboys.  The T-Birds were stellar on defense against Utah last week, but the offense was another story.  During the last few seasons, offense has never been the thing in Cedar City.  It's been about defense, field position, forcing turnovers and special teams.  After all of that, the offense should be good enough to take advantage.  I expect a lot of that this week.

Southern Utah 45 SE Louisiana 15

BYU at Utah

Like last year, I have 3 scenarios for the BYU at Utah match-up.  I think that either one is possible.

Scenario 1--Same ol' Stuff, different year.

Kalani Sitake hasn't been in Provo long enough to get Bronco Mendenhall completely out of the system.  The Cougars come out nervous, cough up the ball, Utah builds a big lead, and the Cougars attempt to come back.

Utah 38 BYU 28

Scenario 2--Not last year's BYU team, but a similar result.

BYU comes to play, it is a close defensive struggle.  It's a field position battle, possibly no one gets into the end zone.  BYU's hero from last week proves that he is human and pushes wide a kick that could put the game into overtime.

Utah 9 BYU 6

Scenario 3--Utah did play an FCS school last week.

Utah doesn't respect BYU and expect to come out with an easy win.  The offense does not produce, and the Utes are the ones who give the ball away.  BYU's offense is methodical and deliberate.  The do not put up big numbers in the first half, except in time of possession.  BYU has a two-touchdown lead at the half 17-3.  Utah comes back, does a little better in the 2nd half, especially on defense.  The offense isn't quite experienced enough to finish a comeback.  With a 3 point BYU lead, Utah's final drive ends on downs with less than a minute left.

BYU 24 Utah 21

Monday, September 5, 2016

Week 1 MVPs and Power Rankings

FBS Independents

Last I checked, BYU was still independent.  I must avoid the temptation to put BYU in the Big 12 conference before they are there.  However, there is a game against West Virginia on the schedule.  That might be the time to address such things, especially if they are official by then.

Game of the Week: Texas 50 Notre Dame 47
Offensive MVP: BYU RB Jamaal Williams
Defensive MVP: Army DB Marcus Hyatt
Special Teams MVP: BYU K Jake Oldroyd

Power Rankings

1. BYU
2. Notre Dame
3. Army
4. Massachusetts

PAC 12

It was not a good start for the season for the PAC-12 South.  But it is only the first week of the season.  Colorado suddenly looks like the best team for the south.  However, consider the level of competition.  USC and UCLA both played FCS teams on the road.  Colorado and Arizona played G5 schools.  Utah and Arizona State played schools from the Grand Canyon Division of the Big Sky Conference (Yes, I came up with that just now, and I think they should use it.  Thank you very much.)  As far as USC is concerned, no one expected the Trojans to come away from Tuscolusa with a win, but no one expected them to lose that bad.  However, Washington State laid the egg of the week at home against a team from the Yellowstone Division of the Big Sky Conference.  I guess we now know which head coaches are on the hot seat.

Game of the Week: BYU 18 Arizona 16
Offensive MVP: California QB Davis Webb
Defensive MVP: Washington LB Keishawn Bierra
Special Teams MVP: Washington KR John Ross

Power Rankings:
1. Stanford
2. Oregon
3. Washington
4. California
5. Utah
6. Arizona State
7. Colorado
8. UCLA
9. Arizona
10. Oregon State
11. USC
12. Washington State

Mountain West

It was either swimming in the kiddie pool or the deep end for the Mountain West in week 1.  Except for the Wyoming Cowboys.  That turned into a pretty good game, and perhaps Wyoming is finally beginning to rise a little bit in the conference.  I guess we will have to wait until week 2 to find out how good everyone really is.  One other exception is Nevada.  What happens when you nearly drown in the Kiddie Pool? Eventually you have to stand up.

Game of the Week: Wyoming 40 Northern Illinois 34
Offensive MVP: Utah State RB Devonte Mays
Defensive MVP:Boise State DE Jabril Frazier
Special Teams MVP: New Mexico KR Chris Ian Davis, Jr

Power Rankings

1. Boise State
2. San Diego State
3. Utah State
4. Wyoming
5. Air Force
6. New Mexico
7. UNLV
8. Nevada
9. San Jose State
10. Fresno State
11. Colorado State
12. Hawaii

Big Sky Conference

It was money week in the Big Sky Conference.  That is where teams accept a huge payout from an FBS school or they play a Division II, Division II or NAIA school and run up the score.  Either way, it's more of a glorified scrimmage.  What do we learn?  Sometimes nothing.  Sometime a lot.  This week we learned that SUU still has a pretty good defense.  Eastern Washington is as good as expected.  Sacramento State is going to struggle this year.  There were two games that I wouldn't classify as money games.  Montana State lost a close one at Idaho.  Idaho will be returning to the FBS and the Big Sky Conference, soon.  North Dakota struggled offensively at Stony Brook.

Game of the Week: Eastern Washington 45 Washington State 42
Offensive Player of the Week: Eastern Washington QB Gage Gubrud
Defensive Player of the Week: Idaho State LB Ryan Shields
Special Teams Player of the Week: Idaho State K Zak Johnson

Power Rankings:

1. Eastern Washington
2. Montana
3. Cal Poly
4. Portland State
5. Idaho State
6. Northern Arizona
7. Montana State
8. Southern Utah
9. Weber State
10. UC Davis
11. Northern Colorado
12. North Dakota
13. Sacramento State

Sunday, September 4, 2016

College Football Week 1 Review

Now that week 1 is over with, I would like to remind everyone that often teams that look good in week 1, don't amount to much the rest of the season and visa versa.  I hope that I am not this guy, but I probably will be.


BYU 18 Arizona 16

The last two minutes of this game were fun.  The rest of the game, in spite of being a defensive chess match from two programs known for scoring lots of points, was interesting.  It wasn't exactly a punt fest.  There was a lot of deliberate action by both teams.  Clearly, the Bronco Mendenhall era is gone in Provo and fans will be happy that there is no more go fast go hard.  No more 3 and out in 15 seconds.  Arizona fans should also be happy not to see that either.  The points will come as the season moves on.

BYU MVP: RB Jamaal Williams

Utah 24 Southern Utah 0

This is probably not the way that Utah wanted to start the season.  (See the above photo.)  I think that opening with an FCS program, and having your big rivals come to town next week probably made it a little bit difficult for KW and his staff to motivate the team.  That happens to the best of programs.  No need to panic.  Utah will be ready for BYU next week.  Besides, I think the defense WAS ready for the Thunderbirds.  In spite of a bad showing on offense, the Utes still had twice as much everything as the T-Birds.


Utah MVP: S Marcus Williams
Southern Utah MVP: None Chosen

Utah State 45 Weber State 6

At least the score wasn't 70-0, for those of you remember that game from 3 years ago.  The Weber State defense was gobbled up by the Aggie offense.  Again, this is FBS vs FCS, and you are not exactly comparing the same caliber of athletes.  If WSU players could run with USU players, they would be at USU.  (Again, that is Captain Obvious speaking).  However, it was probably much more of a learning experience for the Wildcats, who has some weaknesses exposed, and know what they need to fix to be ready for the rest of the season.  We will have to wait another week for USU to know that.

USU MVP: RB Devante Mays
WSU MVP: RB Treshawn Garrett

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Swagger's College Football Preview

There are a couple of changes that I am making this year to this blog.  First of all, I am not predicting the Big 12 expansion.  The information that is coming is changing regularly and those who are normally "in the know" are not in the know this time.  The main reason for this trouble is Houston.  There is a lot of political pressure for the 2 Texas public schools to push for Houston's inclusion.  This could be a warning to all of the other power conferences should they expand again.  A lot of this could be made up as writers strive for relevance.  For me, I know that I am irrelevant, and therefore I am staying away.  However, if the Big 12 does expand, I am 90% confident they will be a lock.

Second, when I rank the most difficult games remaining, it does not mean that team A on the future schedule is better than team B.  For example. Southern Utah will play at both BYU and Utah.  I will list Utah as the tougher of the two games.  Not because Utah is necessarily the better team, which we will find out next week.  But early season games, especially road games, can be more difficult.

BYU Cougars

There is a new boss, and this is a new era in Cougarland.  It is not like Bronco Mendenhall left Kalani Sitake a bad team to work with.  There are a few missing pieces, like no experienced tight ends.  Bronco recruited more heavily on defense, and there was some inconsistency at other positions.  Defensively, BYU should be kept close enough to any of their opponents to win games that they should not.  However, don't hold out hope for a perfect season.  Just enjoy the ride.

BYU games from toughest to easiest:

Likely Losses
At Michigan State
UCLA
At Utah

Probable Loss
vs. West Virginia

Probable Wins
vs. Arizona
Mississippi State
At Boise State
At Cincinnati

Likely Wins
Toledo
Utah State
Southern Utah
UMass

Optimistic Result 9-3.  Pessimistic Result: 4-8
Off Season Prediction: Poinsettia Bowl

This week's game: BYU 29 Arizona 24

Utah Utes

Stellar defense, questions at quarterback.  Some things never change in Salt Lake City.  That has been the formula for Kyle Whittingham in the past 8 years.  The good news for Utah and their fans, most of the hardest games of the season are at home.  That could be the difference this year.

Utah games from toughest to easiest

Likely loss
at UCLA

Probable Loss
Oregon
USC

Probable Wins
Washington
at Arizona State

Likely Wins
BYU
Arizona
at California
at Oregon State
at Colorado
as San Jose State
Southern Utah

This week's guess: Utah 55 S. Utah 13

Optimistic result: 11-1.  Pessimistic result 7-5
Post-Season Prediction: Alamo Bowl

Utah State Aggies

It's kind of a mixed bag for Utah State this year.  They have underated talent, but don't really have the schedule to show them off.  Not that I am predicting that they will go into the LA Colosseum and come home celebrating a win, but I don't really see them finishing worse than 2nd in the MW Mountain.  The real question in Logan is how much longer can they hang on to Matt Wells if they keep doing so well.

Games from toughest to easiest

Likely Losses
at USC
at Boise State
at BYU

Probable Loss
San Diego State

Probable Wins
at Nevada
at Colorado State
New Mexico

Likely Wins
Arkansas State
Air Force
at Wyoming
Fresno State
Weber State

Optimistic Result: 9-3 Pessimistic Result: 5-7
Post-Season Prediction: Hawaii Bowl

This week's guess: USU 32 Weber State 10

Weber State Wildcats

Jay Hill knows a little about opposition.  He is the Weber State head coach, a program that seems cursed.  Now his wife has cancer.  But the team has rallied behind their coach's family.  And that is what a good team does.  The program continues to dig out of the hole that was dug when Ron McBride retired.  The talent is still young.  They are really about 1 year away from being good again.  However, I don't see Montana or Eastern Washington on the schedule this year.  Such is life in the Big Sky Conference

Games from toughest to easiest

Likely Loss
at Utah State

Probable Losses
Cal Poly
Northern Arizona
Portland State

Probable Wins
at South Dakota
Montana State
at Southern Utah

Likely Wins
at Idaho State
Sacramento State
at North Dakota
UC Davis

Optimistic result 10-1 Pessimistic Result 4-7
Post-Season Outlook: Is there an NIT in the FCS playoff?

Southern Utah Thunderbirds

It is easy to say that SUU had a great year last year.  But they lost too much, including coach Ed Lamb.  However, don't expect the T-Birds to just lie down and be the punching bag of the Big Sky Conference.  They still have the potential to be the surprise team in the Big Sky Conference.

Games from toughest to easiest

Likely losses
at BYU
at Utah
at Montana
at Northern Arizona

Probable Losses
Portland State
Weber State

Probable Wins
NE Louisiana
Montana State

Likely Wins
at North Dakota
at Idaho State
at UC Davis

Optimistic result: 7-4 Pessimistic Result: 3-8

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Commentary on the Olympics

I am currently prepping the College Football Preview, which will be downsized this year.  I have other things on my plate, but will continue to blog weekly about the college football scene in Utah.  I find the Big 12 expansion debate thrilling, but I have no credible information leading to how it will turn out in the end.

The Olympic games just finished in Rio.  Overall, things went well for the United States.  There were some disappointments.  There always are, and there always will be.  At this level of competition, anything can happen.  Eventually, the women's basketball team will lose, and someone else will dominate the pool.  But that is all another place and time.  But there is nothing for Americans to be ashamed of.  I, for one, am proud.

There were some off-the-field embarrassments.  Ryan Lochte was one of them.  He should just admit he was drunk, and therefore not capable of telling the truth about what happened.  That would be the most believable thing he should say.

Hope Solo was an ungracious loser.  Soccer is a funny sport.  More than any other popular sport, the underdog has a chance in any given game.  This is why most professional soccer leagues world-wide do not crown a champion after a playoff.  It is very likely that the best team overall during the season will lose.

The same thing can be said in selecting a host city for the games.  I do not think that Los Angeles will be the hose of the 2024 games.  It is likely Rome or Paris.  There were 52 years between the LA games of 1932 and 1984.  That is about right time between games hosted in the United States.  Even if it can be done on the cheap.  Atlanta hosted the Olympic games of 1996.  The next time the United States should host the summer games is 2048.

Sale Lake City had a good plan when building Olympic Venues for the 2002 winter games.  They set aside money for continuous upkeep.  They constantly bid to bring the World Cup to Salt Lake.  They open up the venues for the public to use.  Some of the venues are still used for training.  If Salt Lake were to host the games again, they really could do it with little money.  It is a much better plan that hosting the game and then letting the venues wither away through neglect and non-use.  This should be the template going forward.

There were 22 years between the Lake Placid games of 1980, and the Salt Lake games.  24 years is about right for the United States to wait for their next Winter games.  The USOC should plan on putting a strong bid for the 2026 Winter games.

I am very surprised to find that no cities in North America are bidding for the 2028 games.  Buenos Aries will host the 2018 youth games.  If Paris or Rome wins the right to host the 2024 games, Argentina becomes the front runner for the 2028 games.  No other cities in either North or South America are planning bids for 2028 so far.  Perhaps this is a sign that the USOC will put together a bid for the 2026 Winter games should the LA bid fail.

If 2024 LA fails, then the next window of opportunity for the US to host the summer games, is literally 2040 as the IOC loves to rotate the games around the world.  2024 is likely to be in Europe.  2028 is likely to be in the Americas with Buenos Aires the only city in the Americas that has expressed interest, so far.  2032 is likely to be in Asia or Oceania.  2036 would then be in either Europe or Africa.  US Cities will likely try and bid, but the best chance is 2040 when the Summer games will visit the Americas once again.

The winter games don't necessarily follow this pattern.  No one in Europe or the Americas bid for the 2022 winter games.  All of the other cities dropped out.  That is why you get two winter games in a row for Asia and three consecutive Olympic games in that part of the world.  Very good chance that if the USOC goes for the 2026 Winter games, they will get it, whatever city they choose.  Therefore, choose wisely.

Hosting the Olympic games is costly.  Most cities don't plan for what to do with the venues after the games.  With planning and architecture improving, I see more games making use of temporary stadia and venues that will be taken down or re-purposed after the games are over, much like some of the venues in Rio.  Many of the venues in Tokyo will be temporary.  This is another model that may work for future Olympic games.

Let's hope that they can find ways to keep the Olympic games affordable for host nations and keep the tradition alive.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Big 12 Expansion, How I think the Dominoes will Fall

Scenario 1

Big12--Expands to 12

Adds: BYU and Houston or Cincy

American adds Army for football only

End of scenario

Scenario 2

Big 12--Expands to 14

Adds: BYU, Colorado State, Houston and Cincinnati

American adds: Army and Air Force for football only
Air Force joins Missouri Valley for other sports

Mountain West Adds: UTEP and Rice

Conference USA Adds: New Mexico State and Texas State

Sun Belt Adds: Lamar

Scenario 3

Big 12--Expands to 12, but does not include BYU

Big 12 Adds Houston and Cincy (Or any two schools from the AAC)

American Adds: Army and Air Force

Mountain West Adds: UTEP

Conference USA Adds: New Mexico State

Scenario 4

Big 12--Really Crazy Scenario

Well, let's just hope it doesn't get too crazy this time.