Stuart December 5th 2011 opponents draw tough bowl assignments Seven of Colorado’s thirteen opponents in 2011 will be going bowling in 2010 (assuming that “Open Date” doesn’t turn into another bowl opponent). In order of appearance, the Buffs will play Hawai’i, Ohio State, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, Arizona State and Utah. (The five teams on the schedule*which are*done for the season are: Colorado State, Washington State, Arizona State, USC, and UCLA). Bowl games to keep an eye on over the next month … December 22nd *- Las Vegas Bowl – Utah v. Boise State – The Broncos were a potential BCS championship game participant two weeks ago. A tough draw for the Utes, who struggled in their rivalry game against BYU. December 24th – Hawai’i Bowl - Hawai’i v. Tulsa – The Golden Hurricane finished 9-3 and on a six game winning streak (including a win over Notre Dame in South Bend). December 29th - Alamo Bowl - Arizona v. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys lost only two games all season, to Nebraska and Oklahoma (and scored 41 points in both games). December 30th – Holiday Bowl – Washington v. Nebraska – The Huskies had to score in the last minute in the Apple Cup to defeat 2-10 Washington State just to get a bowl bid. For their reward, they get a return date with the Cornhuskers, who defeated Washington 56-21 in Seattle back in September. January 3rd – Orange Bowl – Stanford v. Virginia Tech – The Cardinal were hoping for a shorter trip to the Fiesta Bowl. Instead, Stanford travels cross country to face a team which has won 11 straight games after an 0-2 start. January 4th – Sugar Bowl – Ohio State v. Arkansas – The Razorbacks are 10-2, and are on a six game winning streak. Included in the streak are*wins over ranked South Carolina, Mississippi State, and LSU in three of their past four games. January 10th – BCS National Championship game – Oregon v. Auburn – The game speaks for itself. Two undefeated teams squaring off for the national title. A loss to the Tigers will not make it any easier for Colorado to play Oregon in 2011, so just sit back and enjoy! Paul Ricardson Staying! A few days after Ryan Miller announced that he would be returning for his senior season, Buff fans received another piece of good news … Sophomore-to-be Paul Richardson will be back as well. The record-setting freshman wide receiver told the Longmont-Times Call Saturday night, “I’ll be back”. There had been speculation that Richardson, home sick for southern California, was considering transferring. Instead, Richardson will be back in Boulder. “It was only half a year,” Richardson said of his 514 receiving yards, a Colorado freshman record. “No telling what it would have looked like if it was for the entire season.” The only thing changing for Richardson next year will be his number. Instead of No. 80, Richardson will wear No. 6, which is the number he had in Pop Warner. “I’ve been getting a lot of love (from my teammates), and I feel this is where I should be, and I should finish out my college career here,” said Richardson. “Mainly it was talking to my mom, and she wants me to stay where I am.” Thanks, Mom! Darian Hagan’s son found dead DeVaughn Levy-Hagan, son of Colorado running backs coach Darian Hagan, has died. A Garden City Community College student, Levy-Hagan, 20, was a star at Cherry Creek high in Denver. Condolences from the entire Buff Nation … * Brock Berglund stars in state finals Colorado recruit Brock Berglund led his Valor Christian team to the state Class 4A title Saturday. Berglund, who reaffirmed his commitment to Colorado after Dan Hawkins was fired, threw for 280 yards and ran for another 122 in leading Valor Christian to a 38-8 victory over Wheat Ridge in the state title game. Berglund went 12-of-16 passing for three touchdowns and had 14 rushes for his 122 yards, including a 24-yard run for*another score. “I love it in Boulder and I’ve grown up a CU fan, and that’s where I’m going to school,” said Berglund after the game. Valor Christian (11-3), a new school with a varsity program for just three years, already has two state championships (winning the state 3A title last season). Wheat Ridge (12-2), has won seven titles, and lost in the state championship game for the first time. The last win for the Farmers in the title game, as Buff fans might recall, was when Parker Orms, playing on both sides of the ball, led Wheat Ridge to the state championship in 2008. Orms, who sat out the 2009 season, was the starting nickel back for the Buffs in the opener against Colorado State, but was injured early in the first quarter. Orms qualifies for a medical red-shirt, and will still have four years of eligibility remaining come next fall. * * December 4th More reports on Bieniemy Colorado already has an offensive coordinator under contract, Eric Kiesau, but that may change this weekend. It is being reported by multiple sources now that Minnesota Vikings running backs coach Eric Bieniemy will be named Monday as the Buffs’ next offensive coordinator. Kyle Ringo of the Daily Camera has posted a statement that EB is coming, and Vikings’ running back Albert Young put out a “tweet” congratulating his position coach on accepting the offensive coordinator position. For his part, Bieniemy texted the Denver Post, “Be there soon!”. Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn is meeting with Washington Redskins tight ends coach Jon Embree in New York on Saturday, presumably to work out final details in anticipation of a Monday press conference announcing that Embree will become the 24th head coach in Colorado history. The Redskins are in New York to play the Giants on Sunday, which may well be Embree’s last game with the Redskins. Washington head coach Mike Shanahan has already indicated that he will release Embree to join the Buffs. However, it remains unclear as to whether Bieniemy will be afforded the same opportunity. According to a story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Bieniemy will finish out the season with the Vikings. The story notes that Bieniemy, in addition to*being the running backs coach, is an assistant head coach, including working with the entire offense on blitz protection. * Cabral to Northern Colorado? Colorado still has an opening on its 2011 schedule. The Buffs need to come up with a replacement for Cal on September 10th, and, with seven road games and home games against the likes of Oregon and USC, an “easy” game would be welcome. Anyone up for Northern Colorado … coached by Brian Cabral? The Colorado interim head coach, who went 2-1 replacing Dan Hawkins, has had a discussion described as “preliminary” with Northern Colorado of the Big Sky Conference. Asked if he would be interested in taking over in Greeley, Cabral said, “I’m not sure yet”, adding that he wants to wait and find out if he still might have an opportunity to stay on at Colorado. “I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Cabral said about the imminent hiring of Jon Embree. While no one could blame Cabral for wanting to take on a head coaching job, most Buff fans would be in agreement that they would like to have Cabral back coaching linebackers for a 22nd season in 2011. Arizona State staying home for the holidays The Arizona State Sun Devils won a wild double overtime rivalry game against Arizona Thursday night. Two blocked extra points, one at the end of regulation, the other in the second overtime, gave Arizona State a 30-29 victory and a 6-6 overall record. Normally, that would result in a bowl bid, especially in a season when the Pac-10 is struggling to fill its bowl slots (Oregon and Stanford are looking at BCS bowl games, and USC is not eligible for a bowl bid). However, there is the slight issue of the Sun Devils schedule. Arizona State opened the 2010 season with two wins – over schools from the Big Sky Conference. Only one win against a 1-AA school counts toward bowl eligibility, however, leaving the Sun Devils with only five wins to count toward bowl eligibility. Arizona State asked the NCAA for a waiver, but was denied. “It’s a pretty steadfast rule, but I thought we had a chance in our discussions with the NCAA because of our situation,” said Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson. “They didn’t okay it, and I understand that.” As a result of the NCAA’s decision, four of the six teams in the newly formed Pac-12 South will not be going to a bowl game this season. Utah, with a 10-2 record, will be playing in the Las Vegas Bowl as a representative of the Mountain West Conference. Arizona, with a 7-5 record (but losers of four straight games), will get a bowl bid … but that is it for the Pac-12 South. USC has a winning record, but is ineligible due to NCAA sanctions. Arizona State, as noted, finished with a 6-6 record but only five wins which counted towards bowl eligibility, is out, as is Colorado (5-7) and UCLA (4-7, with a finale against USC still to be played). Not exactly murderer’s row, folks … R.I.P., Keith English Keith English, an All-American punter for Colorado in 1988, died in his sleep Wednesday night. He was 44. English could have been a multiple year award winner, but he sat for two years behind All-American punter Barry Helton. Finally given a chance in his senior season, English had 51 punts for a 45.0 yard average. English was a consensus All-American, the only Buff so honored in 1988. “It was an absolute shock when everyone got the news about Keith,” said former teammate Joe McCreary. “It would have made (Embree’s return) more fun to have Keith a part of everything,” said another teammate, Trevor Smotherman. Keith English will be missed. * * December 3rd Bieniemy agrees to be Offensive Coordinator? Mark Johnson of KOA Radio, the play-by-play announcer for CU games, is reporting that Eric Bieniemy has accepted the job as offensive coordinator for the Buffs. If so, the hire will go a long way towards appeasing those who felt that Bieniemy should have been given the head coaching offer over Jon Embree. More, when and if the story is confirmed … Ryan Miller returning In what could be considered the first good roster news*of the Jon Embree regime, junior Ryan Miller indicated on Friday that he will return to Colorado for his senior season. “I’m with the black and gold regardless of what coach is hired,” said Miller in a statement. “I will play my senior* seaaon in a University of Colorado jersey.” Miller will be a fifth-year senior in 2011. December 2nd Colorado “Final Three” down to the Final One? … Denver Post says it’s Embree (and so does Coach Mac) The Denver Post is reporting*that Jon Embree is going to be the Buffs’ choice as the next head coach, and BuffStampede.com says that it has confirmed the hire as well. *For its part, the University is saying that the rumors are not true …*In a*statement*by CU athletic director Mike Bohn released*on Thursday afternoon,*the Post storied was denied:*”The rumors that the University of Colorado has hired our next football coach are untrue … I want to make clear that the search committee has not yet completed its work, and we have not yet offered the job to*any candidate …”. However, former head coach Bill McCartney, who gave the story to the Post, was quoted later in the day on Thursday that, “Embree is going to be the head coach,” said McCartney. “Take it to the bank and hang your hat on it.” McCartney also indicated that Eric Bieniemy, the Vikings running backs coach, would be coming to Boulder to act as Embree’s offensive coordinator (this part of the story was not confirmed by BuffStampede.com). Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan indicated to reporters Thursday that if Embree were to be named head coach, that the Redskins would allow Embree to leave in order to recruit for the Buffs. “I told them (CU) that I would (release Embree) if he was given the job to help them with recruiting and stuff,” Shanahan told the Washington Post. “I’ve always believed, and I’ve always had the philosophy that if one of your assistant coaches has a chance to be a head coach, and really upgrade their job, and a lifelong dream for him, that I’d be more than happy to let him go early.” The speculation is now that the official announcement that Jon Embree will be named the 24th head coach of the University of Colorado football team – and the first black head coach – could come as early as Friday, but no later than Monday. Stay tuned … Meanwhile, back at the Ranch … The University of Colorado has reached an agreement with Dan Hawkins, with the former Buff coach to receive $2.1 million in compensation for not coaching. Hawkins’ contract went through January 31, 2013, and had Hawkins been in Boulder for his full term, he would have received $2.8 million. Where will the Buffs come up with $2.1 million to buyout Hawkins, when the school is facing a shortfall in revenue due to the penalty for leaving the Big 12 a year early? Anyone check out the Colorado 2011 schedule, say around September 24th? Colorado at Ohio State … a one time deal, no return date. Payout? With the television rights, it should work out to about … $2.1 million. Welcome to the “Buyout Bowl” Resumes for the Finalists … Assuming it will be one of the three finalists, here are the* resumes of Bieniemy, Embree, and McElwain … Eric Bieniemy Resume:* As a Player … At CU … Eric Bieniemy’s name, 20 years after his last season in Boulder, remains littered throughout the Colorado record book. Bieniemy is Colorado’s all-time leading rusher, with 3,940 yards, and all-time leader in all-purpose yards (4,351). Until Mason Crosby came along, “EB” was also the Buffs’ all-time leading scorer, with 254 points. Third in the Heisman trophy balloting in 1990, Bieniemy was an All-American, and was a two-time All-Big Eight selection. Even before his senior year, Bieniemy was named to the Colorado All-Century team in 1989 … In the NFL … Bieniemy was a*second round pick in the*1991 NFL draft, and played*1991 to 1999, suiting up*for San Diego, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia. In his nine seasons, Bieniemy accumulated 1,589 yards rushing, 1,223 yards receiving, and 1,897 yards returning kicks. As a coach … Bieniemy’s first collegiate job in coaching came at Colorado, where he coached running backs in 2001 and 2002. Bieniemy moved on to a similar position at UCLA from 2003-05. In his last season, Bieniemy took on the additional titles of recruiting coordinator and*rushing game coordinator. In 2006, Bieniemy moved on to the NFL and the Minnesota Vikings, where he has been the running backs coach ever since. In 2010, Bieniemy also assumed the role of assistant head coach for the offense.* At Colorado, Bieniemy was the running backs coach when Chris Brown scored six touchdowns against Nebraska, and Colorado ranked 8th in the nation in rushing. In 2002, Colorado ranked 9th in the nation, with Chris Brown ranked 3rd in the nation individually. While at UCLA, Bieniemy coached Maurice Jones-Drew for three seasons before Jones-Drew went on to become a 2nd-round NFL pick. In his first four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, he has coached a 1,000-yard rusher each season. Adrian Peterson has been an All-Pro three straight seasons, and, in 2007, Minnesota led the NFL in rushing. Positives - As was the case with Bill McCartney, loyalty to the University of Colorado, and a knowledge of the opportunities and limitations which come with the head job in Boulder, cannot be questioned in Bieniemy. EB still bleeds black-and-gold. - Motivational skills. Bieniemy was a leader of the 1990 national championship team, and EB is an “in your face” verbal motivator. - Recruiting skills. Bieniemy hails from La Puente, California, and coached at UCLA. While he has been away from the college game for the past five years, the move by Colorado to the Pac-12 would open any number of doors for the Buffs if Bieniemy were to be named head coach. - Positive vibe for the school. After a five year drought, the Colorado fan base needs to be restored. Positive energy and positive press would follow Bieniemy back to Boulder. - Bieniemy has coached some talented players, and has been successful with the running games he had headed. Negatives - This summer, Bieniemy was named assistant head coach for offense at Minnesota. While Bieniemy is unquestionably loyal to the University of Colorado, should he be successful in Boulder, would he turn down an opportunity to return to the NFL? - Bieniemy has some baggage in returning to Boulder, including his infamous run-ins with Marcus Houston. The top running back recruit in the nation in 2000, Houston had a difficult, controversial, and ultimately short stay at Colorado. - Bieniemy has never been a head coach at any level; nor has he been a coordinator. Can Bieniemy assemble a staff and deal with the increased pressures of being a head coach? * Jon Embree Resume:* As a Player … At CU … Jon Embree was an outstanding player on some poor Colorado teams. Embree was a first-team All-Big Eight tight end in 1984, leading the Buffs in record-setting fashion. Embree caught 51 passes for 680 yards, shattering CU records in both categories. The four-year letterman also led the team in catches in 1985 … with nine catches. After the Buffs switched to the wishbone, Embree’s pass-catching role was reduced considerably, with Embree catching only 17 passes his last two seasons. Still, Embree did enough in his years in Boulder to be drafted in the 6th round by the Los Angeles Rams in 1987 … In then NFL … Embree played only two seasons with the Rams before suffering a career-ending elbow injury in 1989. As a coach … Jon Embree spent ten years as an assistant coach at the University of Colorado, coaching under Bill McCartney, Rick Neuheisal, and Gary Barnett. While in Boulder, Embree coached tight ends (1993-94; 1999-2000), defensive ends (1995-98), and wide receivers/kickers (2001-2002). Embree moved on to UCLA in 2003, named as assistant head coach/wide receivers (2003), and assistant head coach/tight ends and passing game coordinator (2004-05). While in college, Embree coached two John Mackey Award winners – Daniel Graham at Colorado and Marcedes Lewis at UCLA … In 2006, Embree was hired as tight end coach by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he coached All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez. Under Embree, Gonzalez led all NFL tight ends with 99 catches for 1,172 yards. After three years with the Chiefs, Embree joined the staff of the Washington Redskins as tight ends coach in January, 2010. Positives - Again, like McCartney and Bieniemy, Embree would bring an unquestioned loyalty to the Colorado program, and would understand the opportunities/limitations of the head coaching job in Boulder. - Embree is a Colorado native, going to high school in Denver (Cherry Creek), and committed to play for CU and Bill McCartney in one of the darkest periods of Colorado history. He was a team leader for a team which only had one winning season in his years in Boulder, but he was there on the field for the epic 20-10 win over Nebraska in 1986. He understands what it is like to see CU at the bottom, and what it takes to get Colorado back on top. - Embree will have a number of recruiting advantages, having ties to both the Denver area, as well as a number of years coaching (and recruiting) for UCLA. - While best known as a tight ends coach, Embree has had a number of different positions to coach, including wide receivers, defensive ends and*kickers. He has also served in the capacity as an assistant head coach while at UCLA. Negatives - While a known quantity for many Buff fans, Embree would not likely be seen as a “home run” hire by the national media. Bieniemy was a star on a national championship team, while Embree toiled in anonymity for a poor to fair Colorado program. - Without a head coaching background, concerns will be raised about Embree’s ability to bring aboard a first-class assistant coaching staff. - Embree’s son, Tyler, is a junior at UCLA. Would Embree want to coach against his son in 2011? * Jim McElwain Resume … Jim McElwain is in his third year of a very successful run as the offensive coordinator at Alabama. Born in Missoula, Montana, in 1962, McElwain was an all-state quarterback in high school before going on to play football at Eastern Washington. McElwain stayed on as a graduate assistant after graduating in 1983, earning an assistant coach position at Eastern Washington in 1985. In nine seasons in Cheney, McElwain coached quarterbacks and wide receivers, with the Eagles twice earning 1-AA playoff bids. McElwain then moved on to another Big Sky school, Montana State*(I knew there was a reason I liked this guy!). The highlight of his four years in Bozeman came in 1998, when the Bobcats led the conference in scoring, with 31.6 points per game. McElwain’s first 1-A coaching job came in 2000, when he was hired as the receivers and special teams coach by Louisville. In his first season, the Cardinals set a school record with nine blocked kicks. After the 2002 season, McElwain was offered the position of assistant head coach at Michigan State, following Louisville head coach John L. Smith to East Lansing. In his three seasons with Michigan State (2003-05), McElwain coached receivers and special teams. The NFL came calling after the 2005 season, but McElwain’s experience with the League was brief. McElwain was the quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2006, but, after a 2-14 season, the entire staff of Art Shell, including McElwain, were fired. McElwain then spent one very successful season with Fresno State. There, as offensive coordinator, McElwain helped lead the Bulldogs to a 9-4 record, with Fresno State averaging almost 33 points per game (ranked 32nd in the nation). On February 1, 2008, McElwain was hired by Nick Saban to be the offensive coordinator for Alabama. In his first season with the Crimson Tide, Alabama went 12-0 in the regular season, and was ranked No. 1 in the country before season-ending losses to Florida in the SEC title game and to Utah in the Sugar Bowl. In 2009, however, Alabama redeemed itself, going*undefeated and winning the national championship. In 2009, Alabama was ranked 12th in rushing offense and 22nd in scoring offense, with Mark Ingram winning the Heisman trophy. So far in 2010, Alabama is ranked 30th in rushing offense, 36th in passing offense, 23rd in total offense, and 24th in scoring offense. Positives - McElwain is from the west, and has recruited in Pac-10 country during his stints at Eastern Washington, Montana State, and Fresno State. Unlike Malzahn, McElwain does not have roots in the SEC, and would be far less likely to leave Colorado for an SEC head coaching position. - McElwain has seen what it is like to compete at different levels. From humble beginnings with Big Sky Conference teams, McElwain has reached one of the pinnacle of the college football world, Alabama, and has*won a national championship and coached a Heisman trophy winner. - McElwain has coached different positions. He has coached quarterbacks, wide receivers, and special teams on his way to being an offensive coordinator. Negatives - While Alabama did win the national championship in 2009, and McElwain did coach a Heisman trophy candidate, the Crimson Tide wins most of their games with defense. Alabama in 2009 was ranked 92nd in the nation in passing offense – for a 13-0 team. The Alabama defense, at the same time, was ranked in the top ten in nearly every category, and was ranked second in the nation in rushing defense, total defense, and scoring defense. McElwain won’t have the Alabama defense to bail him out in Boulder. - McElwain has never been a head coach at any level. - While he has coached seven different schools, none of them had any great success until McElwain hit Alabama. It could*certainly be argued that McElwain is more of a product of Alabama’s success than that Alabama owes its success to McElwain.** Which would you prefer? Post your comments below … December 1st Les Miles “not expecting to hear from any other school” LSU head coach Les Miles, the former Colorado assistant, has been a dream candidate for many Buff fans. Wednesday, though, Miles said that he not interested in coaching openings elsewhere. “I’m not expecting to hear from any other school,” Miles told the Times Picayune. ” I very much enjoy where I’m at.” The speculation was that Miles was unhappy due to the pressure applied by rabid fans to his family, but that rumor was seemingly dispelled. “I have every reason to enjoy how my family is progressing,” Miles said. “And enjoy the team I’m fortunate to coach and the school I’m fortunate to represent.” While you can never say never in this free-for-all, it doesn’t sound like Miles is leaving Baton Rouge for Boulder … for now … McElwain a prime candidate? Jim McElwain, the offensive coordinator at Alabama, interviewed for the Colorado head coaching job on Monday … if Joel Klatt is to believed. McElwain (bio under “The Next CU Head Coach …” has been the offensive coordinator at Alabama for the past three seasons. A Montana native, McElwain has had stints at Eastern Washington, Montana State, Louisville, Michigan State, Oakland Raiders, and Fresno State. “I think Colorado would be a great fit for him,” BamaOnLine writer Christopher Walsh told Buffstampede.com. “He is always talking about the Rocky Mountains. I think in the long run he wants to go back somewhere out west … The only draw for him to stay here besides the salary ($410,000 this year) is his daughter’s enrollment here at the school.” McElwain meets some, but not all of the stated priorities of CU athletic director and the search committee: 1) Ties to the Colorado program (none); 2) Ties to the West, or the West coast, for recruiting purposes (McElwain was the offensive coordinator for Fresno State for one season, 2007. Prior to that, you have to go back to 1995-99 when McElwain was the offensive coordinator for Montana State to find ties to the West coast); 3) Previous head coaching experience, or at least a coordinator position (is currently an offensive coordinator; served as an assistant head coach at Michigan State); 4) Proven ability as a recruiter and game planner (Alabama’s numbers are good, but not great. Even in the national championship season last year – and with the Heisman trophy winner in the backfield – Alabama was ranked no higher than 42nd in total offense and 22nd in scoring offense); and 5) Must recognize the limitations of the Colorado program, and be able to raise money and create enthusiasm for the program (an unknown). With all of the hype surrounding the possibilities of a “family” member being hired – McCartney, Bieniemy, or Embree – a McElwain hire would be a hard sell for some Buff fans … … but nothing that eight or nine wins in 2011 wouldn’t cure. * November 30th Calhoun out of the running Troy Calhoun, the head coach at Air Force, is no longer being considered for the head coaching position at the University of Colorado. This may be Calhoun’s choice (next fall, his first recruiting class will be seniors, and he doesn’t want to leave them), or it may be CU’s (recruiting concerns; not a big “splash” hire; no ties to*Buffs), but it does appear that Calhoun is not going to be the next head coach at Colorado … Solder; Smith First team All-Big 12 Senior offensive tackle Nate Solder continues to add to his list of accolades, being named the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year in the Big 12. Solder was also named to the First Team All-Big 12 team, along with senior cornerback Jimmy Smith. Solder was also named First Team All-Big 12 in 2009. No Buffs were named to the second team All-Big 12 team, but eight were given honorable mention: senior cornerback Jalil Brown; senior linebacker B.J. Beatty; senior tight end Ryan Deehan; junior defensive end Josh Hartigan; senior wide receiver Scotty McKnight; junior offensive guard Ryan Miller; sophomore defensive lineman Will Pericak; and freshman wide receiver Paul Richardson. Colorado junior Rodney Stewart, who was third in the Big 12 in rushing (with 1,318 yards), first in rushing attempts (290), and third in yards from scrimmage (1,608, including receiving yards), did not receive even honorable mention status. Counting two each on the first and second teams, and four others listed as honorable mentions, a total of eight running backs were honored by the Big 12 … but not Speedy. Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy was named Coach of the Year. The offenisive player of the year was OSU wide receiver Justin Blackmon, with Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara named the defensive player of the year. In the 15-year history of the Big 12, Oklahoma won the most major All-Big 12 awards, with 25. Texas was next in line, with 22, followed by Kansas State (16), Nebraska (14), and Oklahoma State (10). Colorado is next in line, with seven major award winners during the Buffs’ stay in the Big 12. November 29th TCU heading east If you can’t get ‘em to let you in, join ‘em … TCU, which might be undefeated and uninvited to the BCS championship game, will be joining the Big East starting in 2012. “Having BCS automatic-qualifying status was a priority for our football program, and a great reward for the success we’ve had the last decade,” said TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte. The departure leaves the Mountain West Conference in a state of flux. Utah and BYU are leaving, Boise State joins in 2011, and Fresno State and Nevada join in 2012. “It’s not the league we joined,” said Del Conte, by way of explaining the move out of the MWC. “It’s not the same house that we bought, it’s not the same home we were invited into. Things changed; the landscape changed.” For those of you scoring at home, the Big East will be the fourth conference for TCU since the old Southwest Conference disbanded in 1995. TCU was a member of the Western Athletic Conference from 1996-2000, then joined Conference USA from 2001-2004 before jumping to the Mountain West in 2005. “Today’s intercollegiate athletics environment is very fluid,” said Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson in the understatement of the year. In two years, then, the Mountain West Conference will have: Colorado State; Wyoming; New Mexico; UNLV; San Diego State; Air Force; Boise State; Nevada; and Fresno State (with Hawai’i still a possibility). The losses of Utah, BYU, and now TCU will hurt the Mountain West’s chances for automatic qualifying status in the BCS, though the efforts of TCU will still count as the Horned Frogs’ records are being posted during the BCS “evaluation period”. WAC commissioner Karl Benson, whose league was gutted by the race to join the Mountain West, had this to say: “I’m sure the WAC members that have elected to go to the Mountain West (Boise State, Nevada, and Fresno State) thought they were going to get closer to the automatic qualifying conferences. But, in effect, not a whole lot of upward movement has been made by those three schools.” So, it was a good day and a bad day for the Buffs’ rivals to the north. Colorado State gets to check off an automatic loss off the calendar *(TCU is 6-0 against CSU as a member of the MWC), but the hopes for extra riches which comes from being an automatic qualifying conference participant are now just that much further away. Originally posted by CU At the Game Click here to view the article.