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November 20, 2009

Mailbag: Can Boise get into Big Six league?

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Everyone wants to attend an exciting party. People want to join exclusive country clubs. Teens want a prom date.

Wanting it is easy. The tricky part is being extended an invitation.

The same goes for college conferences. A lot of teams could improve their circumstances if they could get into a better conference. It's like moving into a better neighborhood.

Memphis has gone as far as to hire former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese as a consultant in hopes that he can show the way out of Conference USA and into a Big Six league.

A number of programs could benefit from a new conference. Some could even make a strong case for inclusion. But that doesn't mean the invitation will come.

A crying shame

From Leatrell in Virginia Beach, Va.: Should Boise State leave its weak conference and join one of the Big Six conferences to get more respect and end all the Broncos' crying?

Boise State would jump at the chance to join a Big Six conference. But no invitation has been made.

The only two Big Six conferences that would make any kind of geographic sense for Boise State would be the Big 12 - which, as its name indicates, already has 12 members - and the Pac-10.

But the feeling here is that if the Pac-10 decided to expand, it would make an offer to BYU and Utah. And if the Pac-10 threw a curveball and opted to extend an invitation to, say, Colorado, the Big 12 probably would go after Utah or make a run at luring Arkansas away from the SEC.

Those are all hypothetical situations, of course.

No doubt, Boise State would rather be in a higher-profile conference than the WAC. Membership in a Big Six conference would result in more exposure to potential recruits and a slice from a bigger financial pie of TV and bowl revenues generated by the conference.

But getting into a Big Six conference is a long shot at best for Boise.

Rather, the Mountain West Conference, which deals with the same problems as the WAC, should consider extending invitations to Boise and maybe two other WAC teams - Fresno State and Nevada, perhaps - to form a 12-team league.

A conference that includes TCU, Utah, BYU and Boise State as well as Air Force, Nevada and Fresno would compare well to some of the Big Six conferences. Maybe an expanded MWC would rate automatic-qualifier status from the BCS.

Adding those three teams also would cause major issues for the WAC, which would be down to six teams.

But that wouldn't be Boise State's problem anymore.

Coaches come back

From David in Salem, Ore.: Which former successful coaches are interested in returning to coach in the NCAA?

Plenty would like to get back.

A few months ago, I talked on the telephone with Tommy Tuberville, who was 85-40 in 10 years at Auburn - including a perfect season in '04. Tuberville made it clear he wants to return to coaching.

Frankly, Tuberville would seem a great hire for just about any program in need of a coach. He had eight consecutive winning seasons from 2000-07 and dominated state rival Alabama. Guys with those credentials are hard to find.

The question is whether any jobs that appeal to Tuberville will be available.

Last week, I spoke with former Alabama and Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione, who was 187-101-2 as a college coach and now is working on ESPN radio broadcasts. Franchione also said he would be interested in coaching again.

Rumor has it that Tommy Bowden, who was 90-49 at Tulane and Clemson, has keen interest in the Memphis position that came open with last week's firing of Tommy West.

I'd also look for the names of former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer and former Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski to surface as possible candidates when more jobs become open in the next few weeks.

Split championship

From Trey in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: All of the BCS nightmare scenarios involve all of the top teams losing and then figuring out who would end up playing in the championship game. Here's a what if: Florida and Texas play in the title game and Florida wins - but TCU, Boise State and Cincinnati also win their bowls and finish undefeated. Could there be another split national championship?

In that scenario, I believe the Florida-Texas winner would be the unified national champion. The winning team would have finished unbeaten and closed its season with a victory over another unbeaten team. That's impressive.

It's unlikely any of the other teams will make that boast. I'd expect either Cincinnati or TCU to face the SEC runner-up in the Sugar Bowl. If Boise State gets into the BCS, it could head to the Fiesta Bowl - probably against Iowa.

Just for the sake of argument, for there to be a split national championship in your scenario, it would involve the team with the impressive Sugar Bowl victory.

Here's how it would have to happen, I think. Let's say Florida won a close game over Alabama in the SEC championship game. Then, let's say Florida edged Texas by a field goal and TCU beat Alabama by a few touchdowns.

In that scenario, it's possible that TCU could get enough votes in The Associated Press poll to win that version of the national championship. The reasoning: Florida and TCU are unbeaten, but TCU beat Alabama by a more comfortable margin than did the Gators.

But that's unlikely. The AP poll currently has Florida ranked No. 1, with 36 first-place votes. Alabama is second with 14 first-place votes, Texas is third with 10 first-place votes and TCU is fourth with no first-place votes. An undefeated Florida wouldn't figure to lose any first-place votes and certainly would pick up several from voters who've been ranking Alabama and Texas No. 1.

No Nesbitt love

From Jay in Texarkana, Texas: Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt is having a great season. Why isn't he getting any Heisman hype?

When Heisman contenders are discussed, I'd rather give the reasons why a player would get my vote as opposed to why he wouldn't. Too often, it's interpreted that you don't like or respect a player you don't rate among the national leaders.

That's unfair. There are 120 FBS schools and about 10,000 FBS players. It's often viewed as a slight if you rate a player seventh or eighth.

Heisman ballots are due Dec. 7. Three weeks remain in the season, and things could change. But as of now, the three candidates that I'd vote for are running backs - Alabama's Mark Ingram, Stanford's Toby Gerhart and Clemson's C.J. Spiller.

So why isn't Nesbitt on my ballot?

Well, he has had a few pedestrian games. Just two weeks ago, he passed for 51 yards and rushed for 54 in a 30-27 victory over Wake Forest.

Of course, passing isn't stressed in Tech's triple-option offense, but Nesbitt has completed fewer than half of his passes in five games. Nesbitt more than compensates by deftly leading the offense and making big plays via the run. But he has rushed for more than 100 yards just twice.

Frankly, one would expect Nesbitt and Georgia Tech to put up gaudy rushing stats. Tech has a prolific running offense, and it's also faced six opponents that rank 79th or worse in the nation in rushing defense.

I think Nesbitt is a heck of a player. But those are some factors I have to take into account when rating Heisman leaders.

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.
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