Four-down territory: TCU gets played by the MWC

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TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte recently expressed his displeasure when the Mountain West was considering shifting his school’s home game with Boise State from Fort Worth to Boise next fall. Well, he isn’t happy this morning as the MWC sent out a press release on Tuesday declaring that it had taken away the home game from the Horned Frogs and given it to the Broncos. Boise State, of course, will be playing in the MWC starting next season, and TCU will be playing its last season in the league before moving onto the Big East.

To accomodate the move, the league moved Boise’s home matchup with San Diego State to Qualcomm Stadium, so the TCU game will not be an extra home date for the Broncos. Still, with these two teams being non-AQ’s until TCU moves into the Big East and the MWC gets an automatic bid — if ever — this move is a really big deal for 2011. Besides the game against Georgia, this matchup against TCU is Boise State’s biggest test of the season, and it’s now going to be played on the Smurf Turf and not on the road.

The league sent out a release that read:

Kellen MooreICONKellen Moore and the Broncos will host TCU next season.

“After carefully considering all sides of the issue, the MWC Board of Directors decided to implement the change in the 2011 football schedule as had been recommended by the athletics directors. TCU will now play at Boise State, while Boise State’s contest with San Diego State will be played in San Diego. The Board felt the change was in the best interest of the Mountain West Conference and would help address current and future scheduling concerns created by the new set of circumstances which stemmed from another change in membership.”

Now, I don’t see how this is anything but a way for the MWC to protect its new member and stick it to TCU — an outgoing member who jumped ship to an automatic qualifying conference. Clearly, playing at home gives Boise a significant advantage. You have to consider what the MWC would rather have — an undefeated Boise State, which will be in the league seemingly for the long haul, or an unbeaten TCU, which will no longer have allegiance to the conference after 2011.

The move seems clear as day to me. MWC commissioner Craig Thomspon is certainly aware that the last time Boise State lost at home in the regular season was 2001.

By the way, the Mountain West decided not to expand following a two-day meeting of its Board of Directors in Las Vegas. There were reports that Utah State was given an invite, and San Jose State was also mentioned as a potential future member so the league could have 12 schools. Those programs really added little value to the Mountain West, though. So while the league will have no championship game in the foreseeable future, it can still focus on trying to get an automatic BCS bid when the BCS contract runs out. I’ve mentioned in the past that while the new MWC will not be as strong without TCU, Utah and BYU, the additions of Boise State, Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii will still keep the league solid.

Speaking of TCU and the Big East, the Horned Frogs will be the league’s ninth member. But which school will be the tenth? Villanova is still determining whether it will move up to the FBS level, and that process is expected to be completed in April. Big East commissioner John Marinatto will not wait on ‘Nova, however. The league originally had hoped for an answer from the school by the end of 2010, but the FCS member wanted more time to study the finances of major college football. Marinatto certainly will act in the league’s best interest, but I do expect the Wildcats to eventually move up. The program is solid and I think it could be a nice little addition to the league. However, I still think Central Florida would be a real good get — it would give South Florida an in-state partner and the Knights are ready for such a move, whereas Villanova would need a few years to get up to FBS qualifying standards anyway. Would the Big East consider adding a team such as UCF now before examining Villanova and another school in the near future to eventually get to 12 and get a league title game? It’s something that Marinatto and the league may want to consider.

An update on the Iowa hospital scare we heard about on Tuesday. The 12 players admitted Monday night are reportedly being treated for exertional rhabdomyolysis, a condition often caused by extreme exercise that can produce damage to the kidneys in serious situations. The team had been going through their winter workouts — permitted under NCAA rules. All the players should be fine, however. According to The Cedar Rapids Gazette, players recently participated in lower-body drills that included a series of 100 squats followed by sled work — a workout the team has used in the past, according to the report. This condition causes muscle soreness and turns urine brown. There was a similar outbreak last summer with a high school football team in Oregon, a situation caused when the team picked up the pace in its training regimen, which could also be the case with the Iowa players. The identities of the hospitalized players remain unknown, and Iowa athletic director Gary Barta says the school will investigate the situation. Again, the players are stable and nothing serious should come out of this — with the exception being the program will investigate why this occurred so it won’t happen again. And if I was head coach Kirk Ferentz, I would make sure I came back from my recruiting trip ASAP.

On the recruiting trail…If production issues get ironed out, I will have a special National Signing Day edition of the On The Quad podcast coming soon. The big day is Feb. 2, and all of the major-college powers we’re used to seeing — Alabama, Texas, USC, Florida State, etc. — are looking to comprise Top 5 classes. I still think Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles will check in only behind Alabama and Texas when all is said and done.

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