Posts Tagged ‘Kansas’

Weekly links out of hibernation …

 

Has it really been 29 years ago since Danny Manning led Kansas to the 1988 national title?

The Jayhawks are usually a high-seeded team that underperforms in March Madness. Think of all that tradition and the high number of great players and then ponder that the school has won just three national championships.

But Kansas was a major overachiever the year “Danny and the Miracles” won the national title. The Jayhawks were a No. 6 seed and weren’t even ranked in the final regular-season Top 25 poll.

The team that was 20-10 entering the NCAA Tournament crashed the Final Four. While everybody else pondered whether Arizona, Duke or Oklahoma would win the title, Manning carried Kansas to the crown. First the Jayhawks beat Duke in the Final Four and then they outlasted Oklahoma in the national championship game.

This famous occurrence is on my mind after writing the Wake Forest-Kansas State preview for Tuesday’s First Four game in Dayton.

Manning is Wake Forest’s coach and he has a long history with Kansas State. And it wasn’t always so memorable. Especially when you close your eyes and imagine this visual:

“One of my first games at K-State, that’s a very heated rivalry, they were throwing live chickens at us,” Manning said on Sunday. “I remember going in there and ducking some live chickens, also some not-so-live ones out of a KFC bucket or whatever.”

Yikes … live chickens landing on the court? … how about people bringing their buckets of chicken and slinging thighs and wings at Manning and his teammates?

That sure doesn’t happen in today’s college basketball world. And you know, I kind of miss the 80s era of college basketball.

Here is the stellar preview — http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/College-Basketball/2017/03/13/Kansas-St-vs-Wake-Forest-NCAA-Tournament-First-Four-preview-prediction/6181489433207/

 

One thing about March Madness is you learn some things you otherwise wouldn’t.

Like where the heck is Mount St. Mary’s? How would they match up with big-time schools?

Or the Pelicans aren’t the only basketball team from New Orleans? We got some Privateers crashing the big dance.

Mount St. Mary’s and New Orleans play each other in Tuesday’s First Four and there is no other time that any of us would even care if they played one another.

The winner gets to move on to Buffalo, where it gets to be trampled by defending-champion Villanova. But regardless, the winner gets to brag that it won an NCAA Tournament game. It will be the second in school history for the winner.

Mount St. Mary’s is located in Emmittsburg, Md. I’m not saying it is a town in the boonies (well, yeah I am) but it is closer to Gettysburg, Pa., than any town in Maryland you’ve heard of. Surely, they talk Civil War more than hoops.

As for the big boys, Mount St. Mary’s started 1-11 this season against a slate that included NCAA Tournament teams West Virginia, Iowa State, Minnesota, Michigan, Arkansas and Bucknell.

New Orleans recorded a road win at Washington State and the fact that the school is in the NCAA tourney is a stunner to the locals, who barely pay attention to the school’s team.

But that’s OK because both the city and university were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and both have recovered. There were no expectations of the Privateers being part of the NCAA field because they went 10-20 last season. So nice turnaround indeed.

Here is the stellar preview — http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/College-Basketball/2017/03/13/Mount-St-Marys-vs-New-Orleans-NCAA-Tournament-First-Four-preview-prediction/6381489438322/

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It’s a pretty safe bet that Jan. 5, 2014 will be remembered forever when it comes to San Diego sports history.

Since San Diego sports teams usually fall short when milestone victories stare them in the eyes, the double-double of the Chargers winning a playoff game and San Diego State’s college basketball team upsetting Kansas qualifies as one memorable day.

And something that also dwarfs both accomplishments occurred – longtime Padres announcer and San Diego icon Jerry Coleman died at the age of 89.

Makes you wonder what the sports Gods in heaven had in mind to have all three things occur on the same day.

It wasn’t all that long ago when the Chargers appeared destined to be watching the playoffs on television. Four straight victories to end the regular season got them into the postseason and now the team has posted a sharp 27-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals to reach the divisional round against the Denver Broncos next Sunday.

The first playoff victory in five years pretty much wipes off any remaining Norvocaine from the underachieving Norv Turner era. The Bengals were 8-0 at home this season before San Diego went in and took advantage of overmatched Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton.

The Chargers and Broncos split two meetings this season with San Diego winning in Denver. And since Peyton Manning is 0-2 against the Chargers in the playoffs – and all the pressure is on his team, not San Diego – perhaps a really stunning upset is still a possibility.

Funny how efficient Philip Rivers somehow is without Turner fouling things up, huh?

As for San Diego State, winning in Kansas’ famed arena is no small feat. The Jayhawks had won 68 consecutive home nonconference games before being outplayed by the Aztecs and losing 61-57.

Seems like ages ago now when barely 2,000 fans would show up to watch San Diego State games as they wobbled to 20-loss seasons. I used to cover that program when it was a complete joke so things like winning at Kansas still confuse the frontal cortex for a few seconds.

The Aztecs are 12-1 with their lone loss occurring against top-ranked Arizona. There is a good enough supporting cast in guard Xavier Thames and frontcourt players Josh Davis, JJ O’Brien and Winston Shepard for San Diego State to perhaps make a Sweet 16 run this March. Even more of a chance if emerging sophomore big man Skylar Spencer has more outings like his line against Kansas – 13 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots.

Not long before the Aztecs finished off their victory – one worthy of Coleman’s famous “Oh Doctor” – word began circulating that Coleman had passed away.

The former War hero and New York Yankees second baseman became a baseball icon in San Diego. Even his disastrous one-season stint as a manager – remember how Rollie Fingers would rip him to shreds in the media? – didn’t dent his popularity.

The baseball fans in San Diego all grew up with Coleman on the airwaves – reciting his call of the game-ending forceout against the Chicago Cubs in 1984 as the Padres won their first-ever pennant, or laughing about his on-air foul-ups that became known as “Colemanisms.”

Here are several of his more-popular doozies …

“Rich Folkers is throwing up in the bullpen.”

“McCovey swings and misses and its fouled back.”

“There’s a deep fly ball to right field. Winfield goes back, back, his head hits the wall and it’s rolling toward second base.”

“Jesus Alou is in the on-deck circus.”

“They’ve taken the foot off Johnny Grubb. Uh, they’ve taken the shoe off Johnny Grubb.”

“Ozzie Smith just made another play that I’ve never seen anyone else make before, and I’ve seen him make it more often than anyone else ever has.”

“The first pitch to Tucker Ashford is grounded into left field. No, wait a minute. It’s ball one. Low and outside.”

“Hector Torres, how can you communicate with Enzo Hernandez when he speaks Spanish and you speak Mexican?”

“Reggie Smith of the Dodgers and Gary Matthews of the homers hit Braves in that game.”

“Kansas City is at Chicago tonight, or is it Chicago at Kansas City? Well, no matter as Kansas City leads in the eighth 4 to 4.”

“On the mound is Randy Jones, the left-hander with the Karl Marx hairdo.”

“Hats off to drug abusers everywhere.”

“Whenever you get an inflamed tendon, you’ve got a problem. OK, here’s the next pitch to Gene Tendon.”

And of course this hard-to-beat visual might have been the best one ever:

“There’s a hard shot to LeMaster and he throws Madlock into the dugout.”

There are hundreds more as any Padres fan knows and the misspeaks became part of the Coleman legend. I remember writing a story on him he was approaching his 70th birthday and he had no issues at all with “Colemanisms” being part of his lore.

In fact, I also remember that the interview may have never ended if I didn’t need it to. In a sports world where too many people have inflated egos, there were no issues like that when it came to Coleman, one of the most popular people in San Diego sports history.

Hmmm, maybe there was a valid reason why Coleman died on the same day as epic Chargers and Aztecs victories.

It just makes it easier to remember on which day a great man left the earth.

John Calipari has finally won a national title.

So now we all get to wait and see if it gets stripped away someday.

The Kentucky Wildcats certainly are deserving on-court national champions after beating Kansas in Monday’s NCAA tournament title game.

Kentucky led by double digits much of the game before the Jayhawks made a late charge. The Wildcats held on for a 67-59 victory for their first national championship since 1998.

You have to wonder if Calipari’s mind began wandering back to 2008 when the Jayhawks trimmed an 18-point lead down to five. You may recall Calipari’s Memphis team blew a late nine-point lead and lost in overtime to Kansas in that season’s title game.

It actually was a superb deal that the Jayhawks won the 2008 title because otherwise there would be no champion from that season. The NCAA later stripped Memphis of its Final Four appearance, ruling star guard Derrick Rose had been ineligible all season due to a test score issue.

That was the second time a Calipari-coach squad had a Final Four appearance vacated. Calipari’s team at Massachusetts was stripped of its 1996 appearance due to star player Marcus Camby accepting gifts from an agent.

So with Kentucky loaded with one-and-done players – WON and DONE being the obvious headline in this instance – there will be skepticism that perhaps there has been some funny stuff going on in Lexington too.

Calipari is a terrific recruiter and relates well to young basketball players. There is no doubt he knows how to massage the egos of top-level players and get them to buy into a team concept. That part of the equation is impressive.

Freshman star Anthony Davis is a near-certainty to be the No. 1 overall pick in June’s NBA draft if he declares for the festivities. Fellow freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will also go near the top of the draft if he chooses to leave school.

But a lot of people around the nation wanted to see Kentucky fail. The majority of college basketball fans prefer seeing programs being built and getting to know the star players for two or three years.

At Kentucky, it’s one semester and then on to the NBA, which leaves people wondering how that fits into the “student-athlete” mantra the NCAA loves to boast about.

In other words, Kansas and coach Bill Self just lost the title game to an NBA team. There’s no shame in that.

The only shame would occur somewhere down the line if it should surface that Kentucky’s program isn’t clean.

And when a coach has had two Final Four teams stripped from the record books, it is natural for people to wonder. Calipari has lost the benefit of doubt whether he likes it or not.

Kentucky has its long-awaited title. But the burning question is this: Will it still belong to the Wildcats in 2014?

San Diego State has never won a single NCAA tournament game and finds itself in a position that would have shocked even the most positive alumnus just 18 months ago – a 2 seed in this year’s edition of March Madness.

The Aztecs being a 2 seed among all the giants of the college basketball world is similar to the Detroit Lions showing up in uniform on Super Bowl Sunday or the Chicago Cubs getting their fingers measured for World Series rings.

In other words, it defies logic at every level above preschool intelligence. Even a porcupine would’ve told you that you were nuts if you had predicted such a thing would occur in your lifetime.

But there is Steve Fisher’s team with a gaudy 2 next to its name on the bracket sheet. That’s the same seed as North Carolina and a better seed than every school in the field except for the four No. 1s – Ohio State, Kansas, Duke and Pittsburgh.

Look on the 3 line and laugh at Syracuse and Connecticut, two Big East powers that would never consider playing a road game at San Diego State. Over there on the 4 line is Kentucky, another elitist program. Longtime West Coast power Arizona is a 5 seed. Oh my, is that cocky UCLA way down there as a 7? The program that won’t even consider traveling two hours down the road to play the Aztecs is a 7 seed while San Diego State is a 2?

Ouch.

I see Michigan State is playing the Bruins in the first round as a 10 seed. Yeah, the same Spartans who were in the Final Four last season.

It almost lines up as “Bracket Gone Wild” to see San Diego State drawing a 2 seed and then getting favorable destinations along the way as long as it wins – first two games in Tucson, next two games up the road in Anaheim.

That type of easy path is normally reserved for the heavyweights of the college basketball world.

The Aztecs (32-2) open play on Thursday against 15th-seeded Northern Colorado and it will be a major surprise if the game is close for more than 12 to 15 minutes. And I say that fully aware that San Diego State has a well-earned reputation for falling short in the two major sports (football being the other).

I’ve dissected the bracket and I can only come up with one thing that can prevent San Diego State from reaching the Sweet 16. That would be possible second-round opponent Penn State. But first the Nittany Lions have to get past Temple.

Sorry fans of the Owls, I’ve dissected Temple pretty good and can’t figure out any way that tournament underachieving coach Fran Dunphy can win two games in this NCAA tournament with one of them being against San Diego State.

Penn State is the type of team that will give San Diego State problems. But I’m guessing the Aztecs aren’t going to be overlooking any team during this tournament. That comes with the territory when your program has zero NCAA tournament wins in its history.

The nucleus of this San Diego State squad came up short in last year’s March Madness, falling to what I felt was a very beatable Tennessee squad in the first round. Funny how the Volunteers ended up in the Elite Eight and I’m sure that memory is still very fresh in the minds of super sophomore Kawhi Leonard and seniors D.J. Gay, Malcolm Thomas and Billy White.

I see the Aztecs having a solid chance at playing Duke in the Elite Eight and it’s too bad that the Blue Devils’ Kyrie Irving is expected back from a toe injury. It would be hard enough for San Diego State to deal with accomplished stars like Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith – two big-time performers from Duke’s 2010 championship team – and the big Plumlee brothers (Mason and Miles) on the interior but now Irving will be back in the mix as well.

But hey, that’s a problem San Diego State hopes to face down the road. For now the Aztecs need to make sure they get NCAA tourney win No. 1 out of the way Thursday and figure out how to hold off Penn State on Saturday.

Of course, how dreadful would it be if the Aztecs end up being one of the high seeds that gets booted out in its first game by an upstart program nobody expects to win?

That can’t possibly happen, can it?

Then again, nobody had a 32-2 record and a 2 seed ever happening at San Diego either.

And nobody had Butler nearly beating Duke in last year’s title game either. Or George Mason reaching the Final Four in 2006.

So who knows what will happen as March Madness gets rolling on Thursday. San Diego State has been treated mighty fairly by the Selection Committee.

It’s time to see if the Aztecs can live up to the 2 seed.

The first third of San Diego State’s basketball season was a smashing success. The second third begins Wednesday when the Aztecs open Mountain West Conference play by visiting TCU.

San Diego State (15-0) finds itself in unprecedented territory as the nation’s No. 6 team entering the conference slate.

That the Aztecs have a good team this season is no surprise. San Diego State returned the core of a team that went to last season’s NCAA tournament and the Aztecs have been predicted to win the Mountain West this season.

But it is hard to get used to seeing San Diego State behind only Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the national rankings. Think about this – the Aztecs are ranked ahead of programs such as Kentucky, Michigan State, Purdue and Villanova.

That’s high-level territory, even more so for a San Diego State that was never previously nationally ranked prior to this season.

Of course, the season’s final third will be the most important for San Diego State as the Aztecs have never won an NCAA tournament game before. Based on the lofty midseason ranking, winning two tourney games and reaching the Sweet 16 is the new and heightened expectation.

TCU (9-6) has the look of an improved team with Virginia Tech transfer Hank Thorns and junior-college transfer J.R. Cadot making significant contributions. Star guard Ronnie Moss has a concussion and might not be available for the contest.

The Horned Frogs nearly upset the Aztecs in San Diego last season so it won’t surprise me if Kawhi Leonard and the Aztecs receive a nice test.

There’s also a Mountain West showdown in Las Vegas on Wednesday with Brigham Young (14-1) visiting UNLV (12-2). The Rebels have defeated BYU eight straight times at the Thomas & Mack so Cougars star Jimmer Fredette faces a supreme challenge.

Air Force (9-4) hosts Utah (7-7) in Wednesday’s other Mountain West game. The Falcons have a shot at beating the Utes, who are getting solid production from junior-college transfer Will Clyburn.

Colorado State (11-4) defeated Wyoming (7-8) on Tuesday in the first Mountain West contest of the season. The Rams are hoping to be a dark horse championship contender.

New Mexico (11-3) has the first-night bye and is playing Cal State Bakersfield.

For a deep look at the Mountain West Conference, here is the stellar weekly conference roundup: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/mwest/home.htm

If you haven’t already figured this out, the college football establishment can’t wait for Boise State to either be upset or trampled by a traditional power in a BCS bowl game. The power brokers certainly don’t want the Broncos anywhere near its so-called national title contest.

They would be elated and popping champagne corks if Louisiana Tech could somehow upset Boise State on Tuesday night.

The latest example of “Boise State can’t win by winning” is comments by ESPN college football analyst Robert Smith.

Smith, a former Ohio State star, isn’t impressed with the little boys from somewhere out West. His dig was that he doesn’t think Boise State could beat Virginia Tech if the two teams were to meet again now. I’m still trying to figure out how that is even relevant to the national title discussion.

This isn’t a comparison between two teams that didn’t play – the main reason all these meaningless analysts have jobs in the first place. Boise State and Virginia Tech actually played each other. The Broncos won.

Since this is college football and not an NFL home-and-home division rivalry, I don’t understand how a non-BCS team beating a ranked team once in a season isn’t good enough.

All I know is Boise State and Virginia Tech played under the same exact circumstances in terms of a season-opening game and time to prepare. In fact, the game was held close in proximity to Virginia Tech where Boise State had to fly 2,000-plus miles to play in front of a largely pro-Virginia Tech crowd.

Seriously, Smith couldn’t come up with anything better to analyze Boise State’s BCS chances?

Making the situation funnier – or perhaps sadder – is when October began, all we heard over and over from the shallow folks at ESPN was that Virginia Tech wasn’t that good this season and Boise State’s victory over the Hokies was no longer impressive.

Yeah, Boise State can’t win for winning.

On the other hand, I’m glad to know Smith is suddenly such a deep thinker. Can’t wait until two or three weeks from now when he says things like …

–“I’m not so sure South Carolina could beat Alabama if the two teams played today…”

–“I’m not so sure Kansas could beat Georgia Tech if the two teams played today.”

–“I’m not so sure Mississippi State could beat Florida if the two teams played today…”

–“I’m not so sure Iowa State could beat Texas if the two teams played today…”

–“I’m not so sure Missouri could beat Oklahoma if the two teams played today…”

And of course, the one you know the former Ohio State star can’t wait to say:

“I’m not so sure Wisconsin could beat Ohio State if the two teams played today.”

One thing I learned long ago as a sports reporter, anytime an athlete or coach begins a sentence with “I’m not so sure,” they usually aren’t so sure. In other words, they weren’t prepared to answer the question or hadn’t done their homework.

If Smith is going to accept money to be an analyst, it would be nice to see him develop his abilities to where he could actually enlighten people. Perhaps doing a little homework before a show would help.

But remember, ESPN hires these guys because they were big-name football players – Smith was a fabulous NFL running back with the Minnesota Vikings – and not because they spent years developing their craft or are experts in what they are discussing.

Since Virginia Tech is rolling now with six straight wins, I can’t wait until the eve of the ACC Championship Game when ESPN requests Smith to break down the game. You just know this famous line will roll off his tongue.

–“I’m not so sure James Madison could beat Virginia Tech if the two teams played today.”

The conference alignment shakeup in college football has sent the Mountain West Conference in the wrong direction.

A league that was creeping ever-so-closely to BCS-worthy status is now on the verge of solidifying that its future will revolve around being outsiders hunting for BCS crumbs.

Trading Utah and Brigham Young (if the Cougars do indeed leave to become an independent) for Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada is a major step downward for the lone non-BCS conference that had a shot of ever joining the big boys.

You can sense the six power conferences hysterically laughing inside over what’s occurring out West. That recent trend of a Mountain West or Western Athletic Conference team – or one from each league, like in 2009 – crashing a BCS bowl game is about to return to being a very rare occurrence.

If only the Mountain West had added Boise State a few years back. That football foursome of Utah, Brigham Young, Texas Christian and Boise State might have been enough to earn automatic BCS qualifying status.

Now what the Mountain West has assured is lifetime mediocrity, particularly once the Big 12 – now with 10 teams – decides to target TCU as a new member to get back to 12 and be eligible to hold a conference championship game.

Utah leaving for the Pacific-10 was a no-brainer but BYU’s decision to leave the Mountain West is a bit murkier.

BYU feels it can earn more money as a football independent and its plan was to join the WAC in other sports. But with Fresno State and Nevada leaving the WAC, that creates major issues per the Cougars’ plans.

BYU’s stellar basketball program would lose a lot of its luster and status, as would some of its highly productive women’s sports teams.  Scheduling for all sports will become a nightmare.

The WAC alignment would have given BYU the opportunity to play four or five WAC teams each football season as part of filling up a 12-game schedule. But with the WAC falling apart, where is BYU going to find a season’s worth of worthwhile games? Who will the Cougars play in November when everybody else is immersed in conference play?

I wouldn’t expect Mountain West teams to help the Cougars out with their scheduling issues if BYU follows through with the college football act of treason. And if BYU had to fill half its schedule with Top 25 teams, watch how quickly 6-6 seasons become the norm in Provo. Competing for a conference title in the Mountain West would suddenly seem like the good old days.

I’ll cut to the chase here: BYU needs to backtrack pretty quickly and say good-bye to its bold – but not sensible – plan and remain in the Mountain West.

BYU sticking around is also the only thing that keeps the Mountain West’s hopes of eventual BCS entry alive.

The current 10-team lineup would consist of just two top-flight programs in Boise State and TCU. Middle-of-the-pack programs like Air Force, Fresno State, Nevada and weak holdovers Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming don’t make for a BCS-caliber conference.

And think, when the Big 12 was teetering on collapse two short months ago, the Mountain West was close to lucking into schools like Kansas and Kansas State that would have strongly bolstered its football and basketball lineup.

But in mid-August, a league that is inconsequential to much of the nation – you know what I mean if you’ve ever tried to find a Mountain West football game on television while traveling in the Midwest or the eastern time zone – is about to become even more insignificant.

What BYU’s greed and this lightweight fight between the Mountain West and WAC over conference survival will do is reduce the chances of any non-BCS team sneaking its way into a BCS bowl.

And that’s exactly the way leagues like the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference like it.

Finally, some sanity could be returning to college football.

Texas decided Monday afternoon not to leave the Big 12 and head to the Pacific-10, meaning the domino effect that would have brought down the Big 12 and rendered it either defunct or a sad shadow of itself will not occur on Tuesday.

Texas A&M and Oklahoma reached similar decisions to stick with the Big 12 and that meant Texas Tech and Oklahoma State – two institutions riding the coattails of their more popular in-state rivals – would also be staying put.

There was legitimate concern that all five schools would leave the Big 12 on Tuesday, making seven departures in less than a week for the conference that had a stellar football season just two years ago. Colorado left for the Pac-10 last Thursday and Nebraska bolted to the Big Ten on Friday.

I’m glad to see that the conference won’t disband. The Pac-10’s quest for the unprecedented greed of a 16-team league wasn’t in the best interest of college football as a whole and certainly not for programs in the Midwest. (I’d also say in wasn’t in the best interests of women’s sports but universities don’t take the women’s tennis team into account when making these decisions.)

Schools like Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State suddenly don’t have to fear dropping down a level in terms of status. I’d say the same about Baylor but that school never has risen to the major-college level despite its Big 12 label.

It always seemed a bit unfair that the Kansas basketball powerhouse meant nothing in terms of expansion. It just shows that college football is no longer an amateur sport, no matter what deceitful athletic directors and university presidents claim.

All this expansion chatter was about money and football. And more money. Nothing else.

The Texas to the Pac-10 talks reportedly broke down because the Longhorns want to start their own television network but didn’t want to share revenues with the other Pac-10 members. Of course, Texas wants all the other benefits of being a member of a conference – you know, like getting a portion of Oklahoma’s BCS money, etc.

Greed, greed, greed.

Guess Texas just learned it’s not Notre Dame. You don’t see the Longhorns talking about becoming an independent, where they could then keep every dime.

It will now be interesting to see if the Big 12 sticks to 10 members or attempts to add two teams. Remember, a conference has to have 12 teams to conduct a big-money conference championship game.

Texas Christian would be a sensible program for the Big 12 to go after. The Horned Frogs were Southwest Conference mates of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech for ages before that conference broke up in the mid-1990s.

The University of Houston, another former Southwest Conference school, makes sense as well.

Losing TCU would be a big blow for the Mountain West Conference. But of more concern to the conference has to be losing Utah. The Pac-10 is sitting at 11 teams and needs one more team so it can start holding a conference title game.

There’s no chance in the world that Utah declines a Pac-10 offer.

The Mountain West recently added Boise State but badly needs TCU and Utah to remain in the league to have a shot at eventually qualifying for an automatic BCS berth.

Anyway, the collapse of the Big 12 didn’t happen – at least, in 2010 – and that’s a good thing for college athletics.

Boise State has officially joined college football’s big time.

The school’s lengthy flirtations with the Mountain West Conference finally resulted in success Friday when Boise State joined the league. The move qualifies as a major step up from the Western Athletic Conference.

The shakeup of college football is in the midst of exploding and Boise State couldn’t afford to be left behind. The Mountain West was prudent to add the Broncos as well as protecting itself should the Pacific-10 come after Utah over the next few weeks.

The Big 12 is breaking up fast. Colorado left for the Pac-10 on Thursday and Nebraska accepted an invitation to the Big Ten on Friday. The landscape shifting toward mega conferences pretty much forced the hand of the Mountain West to invite Boise State now instead of waiting until later this month.

By the middle of next week, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech also could be Pac-10 bound. Texas A&M also is considering a move to the Pac-10 but also has interest in joining the Southeastern Conference should the SEC opt to expand its 12-team league, which is currently the top football league in the nation.

If the Mountain West can keep all of its members, the conference has a shot at having a pretty good lineup after the Big 12 falls apart. Kansas and Kansas State will need homes and both schools would upgrade the quality of the league from both a football and men’s basketball standpoint.

Adding Boise State, Kansas and Kansas State to Texas Christian, Utah and Brigham Young gives the Mountain West six really good football programs. Air Force being the seventh-best program in a conference certainly isn’t a bad thing. The other conference members would be Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, Nevada-Las Vegas and Wyoming.

San Diego State and UNLV are conference doormats in football but have strong basketball programs. Adding prestigious Kansas and recently strong Kansas State to four programs (BYU, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV) that participated in the 2010 NCAA tournament would raise the stature of the league nationally.

Back to football – the addition of Boise State increases the chances of the Mountain West qualifying for an automatic BCS berth since the league can now use the Broncos’ recent success in terms of meeting the criteria.

It will be interesting to see how Boise State’s football program does playing Mountain West teams on a regular basis. The Broncos have done extremely well in head-to-head matchups over the past decade but it’s a bit different when you play eight or nine Mountain West teams in a season as opposed to one or two.

As long as Chris Petersen remains as Boise State’s coach, the Broncos will always have a solid program. But being in the Mountain West might mean some occasional 8-4 or 7-5 seasons and it will be interesting to see how the success-spoiled citizenry of Boise deals with such seasons.

Boise State had just two home sellouts (out of seven games) in a 33,000-seat stadium while going undefeated last season so it’s reasonable to wonder how fast the bandwagon would empty with a string of 8-4 records.

Another sore point in Boise will be television. Boise State has been ESPN darlings with their famed Blue Turf but Mountain West teams have played in relative anonymity since leaving ESPN and forming their own network (The Mtn.) that is a complete nonentity around the country. The conference’s other deals with Versus and CBS College Sports pale when compared to the exposure Boise State has enjoyed over the last decade.

But overall, it was a no-brainer for Boise State to finally see its goal come to fruition. Boise State needs the Mountain West and the conference needs the Broncos.

Call it a win-win deal for all parties.

The first domino has fallen in the greed-filled world known as college football.

Colorado has left the Big 12 to join the Pacific-10 and the Buffaloes apparently won’t be the only Big 12 school departing the conference this week.

Nebraska reportedly is prepared to jump ship to the Big Ten as soon as Friday.

It would have been better if the status quo had remained intact – the Big 12 was the talk of the college football world just two years ago – but money is what runs college athletics.

Anytime you hear coaches, athletic directors or university presidents spewing that it’s all about the student-athletes, just hold your nose and laugh. Remember, these same folks told you a decade ago that there couldn’t be a playoff because an 11-game regular season was long enough for college football players.

Then they went ahead and expanded the regular season to 12 games.

I’ll tell you the same thing most student-athletes of the major sports start figuring out in the latter stages of their college careers, it’s not about the student-athletes. Not at the major-college level. Not with all the money involved.

You’ll also hear presidents boasting about being a better academic fit. Really? And they somehow say it with a straight face.

Since when does Ohio State send its chemistry department to compete with Northwestern? When is Iowa’s political science department traveling to Penn State for a big debate? Gosh, can’t wait to see Florida and Alabama get together in the big psychology department battle to determine which school’s coach (Urban Meyer or Nick Saban) is the bigger egomaniac.

Let’s be clear here – expansion has nothing to do with academia.

Anything that creates more money is what these greedy folks are after. The Big Ten Network has been a major financial success for the 11 Big Ten teams and the other conferences want to receive similar riches with their own money-producing networks.

So for a conference like the Pac-10 that has all its schools located in Western states California (four), Oregon (two), Washington (two) and Arizona (two), it needs to grow eastward to be able to command a larger piece of the financial pie.

With the Big 12 sinking faster than Ben Roethlisberger’s reputation, the Pac-10 has reportedly targeted five other Big 12 schools – Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Texas and Oklahoma are two of the biggest powers in the history of college football. Texas, in particular, pretty much prints money and the Longhorns football team is the second most popular sports team in the state behind the Dallas Cowboys.

If the Pac-10 lands its other five targets, the Big 12 is history. The saddest thing is that a basketball powerhouse like Kansas has a strong chance of being left as an outsider or dropping down to the non-BCS Mountain West Conference or being part of a new league with Big 12 leftovers.

Schools like Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Baylor also are in danger of going from being a have to a have-not.

It would be poetic justice for Missouri to learn how the college football plebeians live. Missouri has been lobbying for a Big Ten bid but doesn’t have the football cache of a Nebraska. Same goes for Baylor, a do-nothing football school that repeatedly attempts to ride the coattails of Texas and Texas A&M and was hoping state legislators would figure out a way to force the Pac-10 to invite Baylor instead of Colorado.

Can you imagine the Tigers and Bears in the same conference as say Wyoming and New Mexico? Or in a league with Alabama-Birmingham and Tulsa? The two schools would instantly be dreaming of the good old days of the Big 12.

But all these BCS-caliber schools have only themselves to blame. There was nothing wrong with how college football was faring other than the lack of a playoff system. But making fistfuls of money wasn’t enough for all the power brokers.

Some schools want wheelbarrows full of money.

Now that the first domino has fallen, chaos looms on the horizon. And I can tell all the greedy people involved exactly who is to blame:

Someone who is even more greedy.