Won't Someone Please Think of the Vandals?: In the midst of all that other nonsense early in the week, we actually had some realignment non-happenings. For the teams which seem destined to still be affiliated with the gasping corpse of the Western Athletic Conference as of next July, not a single piece of this news is good. Things kicked off with the proposal which was aired by Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton (listen here) of a pseudo-merger between the WAC and the Big Sky in which several Big Sky teams would move to the WAC for olympic sports while remaining in the Big Sky for football since none of them want to move up to FBS. That plan wouldn't have helped Idaho and New Mexico State any on the gridiron, but would have solved everyone's basketball issues. Why would the Big Sky's membership consider this? Easy: it would drastically increase the chances of two current Big Sky teams earning automatic bids in any given sport, any given year. That plan seemed to be dead two days ago, but may have picked up legs again in the wake of New Mexico State suddenly realizing that putting all their eggs in the "Please, Mountain West, please like us" basket was a case of Choosing Poorly.
That, of course, was borne out when a firm "thanks but no thanks" message was sent to Idaho and New Mexico State from the Mountain West, as reported by Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman (the go-to guy for this entire saga). That came packaged along with statements at Mountain West Media Days officially putting the dagger in the back of the proposed Mount America proposal, as the MWC is now clearly content to stay a 10-team league for now. (Personal suspicion: they're waiting for Boise State and San Diego State to realize through the miracle of experience that being part of the Big East is financially and geographically ridiculous.)
In the wake of all that, even more craziness has ensued; there are rumblings about east-coast FCS programs willing to make the leap and latch onto the WAC as a home. There's also been an entirely unsourced report, the veracity of which I sincerely doubt but will share just in case it finds some legs, that Denver and Seattle may be considering the possibility of starting football programs. Barring any of this, Idaho and NMSU are going to have to fly independent; neither school appears willing to drop down, though Idaho hasn't removed the possibility from consideration yet. Finally, there's the matter of the Boise State/Big West discussions, which should be coming to a vote among the Big West membership in the next week or two based on previous reports.
It's all crazy out there in the Rockies.
Losing Accreditation Is No Joke: Mountain State University in Beckley, WV (which despite its name is a private school), was stripped of its accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission earlier this month. This week, the fallout hit as the university announced it would not be enrolling new students for the fall semester and that it would be laying off half its employees effective in September. Included in those layoffs: the head basketball coach and athletic director, Bob Bolen, who's now superflous as the loss of accreditation prevents the school from competing in the NAIA.
You've probably never heard of Mountain State, but this is a school which won the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball in 2004, lost in the championship three other times and had appeared in the tournament every year since 1999. The team's final contest was a 77-56 loss on March 19 to Oklahoma Baptist in the semifinals of this year's tournament.
If you're at all interested in really seeing what a loss of accreditation looks like, the web site for the local CBS station has a very in-depth special section on the crisis which is definitely worth a look. Also maybe worth forwarding to any Penn State folks...
Funeral March: A dead basketball program is one thing; two dead basketball players are another entirely. Michael Haynes, a former UTEP player and incoming JUCO transfer at Iona, was shot and killed Thursday night in Chicago while trying to defuse an argument. Meanwhile, former Indiana Hoosier and Southern Mississippi Golden Eagle Neil Reed suddenly died of a heart attack Thursday. Reed, of course, was most famous for being the guy Bobby Knight choked on camera, leading to the zero-tolerance policy which Knight couldn't even go seven months without violating. After transferring to Southern Miss following the incident, Reed averaged 18.1 ppg as a senior, then went on to a career as a high school coach and teacher. Thoughts and prayers to both families.
The One That Got Away (From Craig James): While Craig James callbacks are certainly all the rage, I think it's more important to realize that if we could only convince the NCAA that getting to sex up a prostitute without paying constitutes an impermissible benefit, we'd get to have more NCAA violation fun at SMU. On the other hand, it's probably only a secondary violation since the player in question did perform restitution, of a sort...
Diablerie: Northwestern has disturbing new uniforms. They're not even remotely as disturbing as this atrocity which Nebraska will wear against Wisconsin, though. Also with new unis: Mississippi State. Unfortunately for us, theirs aren't worthy of hysterical laughter. ... Iowa RB De'Andre Johnson was busted Thursday night for "keeping a disorderly house", and if I'd known that was an actual crime I could have gotten rid of my first wife with police assistance. What? Oh, that's not what disorderly house means? Hamburgers. ... None of us like Scott Drew, but he does have some insight which might be useful for Bill O'Brien, I suppose.