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The Dig: Kicking Off UTEP vs. UAPB Gameweek Edition

In The Dig: It's Game Week but WAC/C-USA/BYU rumors and links have consumed the Dig.  Don't worry, there's some football stuff in here too.  We're 5 Days Away....


The UTEP Miners


A Trade of Teams?  In College Athletics?  And UTEP's Involved?

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser article that revealed that the WAC Commissioner Karl Benson aimed to "trade" for UTEP in exchange for Louisiana Tech is drawing attention from across the country.  Jay Christenson, the Wiz of Odds, has an excellent recap of the whole series of events.  It's fascinating that the C-USA was probably who told the MWC about Benson's plan to pry away BYU.  

With BYU on board and the rest of the plan coming together, Benson contacted C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky to inform him of possible changes. Up to this point, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson had shown little sign of connecting the dots, and WAC officials now suspect Thompson was tipped off by someone with C-USA

What Will BYU Do on 9/3/2010?

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that BYU is still pushing for independence.  The WAC is still in the picture.  Any chance Benson/ESPN make a second stab at a trade?

The WAC’s Benson confirmed Friday evening that one of those options for BYU is still the WAC, saying that his conference is "still working on a deal" with BYU that would be "beneficial" to both parties.

Utah State:  Wheelin' & Dealin'

Utah State may have been behind the idea to steal BYU from the very beginning.  Now, the two schools still seem set on working together in the future.

As for Utah State's part in the developments, the source said the Aggies and BYU -- as much as some may find it hard to believe or even accept -- have formed a partnership of sorts to work toward a mutually beneficial arrangement that ultimately will lead to a conference partnership with BYU an independent on the football field.

All the Aggie dealing has led to harsh criticism of Utah State President Stan Albrecht.

"I’ve received a lot of criticism on this issue," Albrecht told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday morning. "But if we make this happen, we’ve secured a very good place for Utah State, and we believe that expansion would have followed. We knew the risks, but we thought we had to go forward and take those risks. Before last week, I thought I knew what a binding agreement meant. Now I don’t know what it means anymore."

Will Houston Consider an MWC Invite?

The Chron's Steve Campbell has an excellent rundown of UH's position in the realignment picture.  

That leaves UH with two exit strategies, should it choose to do so: 1) Cut a deal with C-USA — presumably with some MWC support — to leave in 2011 and roll the dice on being a part of the automatic qualifier solution; or 2) Give notice effective 2012, reducing the exit costs but making UH of no use to the MWC in the BCS evaluations.

Back to Football

The Hot Seat?

Bret Bloomquist has a great look at the state of Mike Price's job security at UTEP.  Great quotes from Bob Stull.

"Mike is still the most popular sports figure in town," Stull said of a coach who quickly won over the city with his personal touch and obvious love of El Paso. "He can walk into any place, a restaurant or a store, and people come up wanting to talk with him. That has nothing to do with won-loss record. It's him and his wife and the personality they have.

Local Flavor

Three local El Paso high school graduates are walking on at UTEP.  Luis Morales and Jermain Hicks played for Andress High School.  Chris Whatley starred at Hanks High.

"I thought about other places, but UTEP is still home," said the true freshman defensive lineman Hicks. "I can see myself playing next year, but I have to earn everything. I have to work hard and I plan on doing that. I want to see more El Pasoans playing here."

Speaking of Walk-Ons

UTEP freshman walk-on Sam Quintanilla is keeping a blog chronicling his first year in pads at UTEP.  Check this out, he has some very insightful comments.  Great to see more Miners blogging.

What made me feel like a Miner was how when it started to rain the band who was practicing on our practice field had to continue under the cover of the stands. So the whole time we could hear the band play through the tunnels. That was enough to give me chills because theres something about college football and the schools band playing that cuts to the core for me. The most memorable moment so far of my time at UTEP was after we finished practice for the night the band played the fight song as we left the field and walked to the lockeroom. I had chills like never before when I walked past the band playing the fight song.

Quintanilla is a 6'7" offensive tackle prospect out of Rockton, Illinois.  He can also wrestle.  Check out this video, Sam is a beast.


Naca Naca Nagonnaworkhere

Former Miner quarterback Tim Curry has decided to transfer to Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches.  Did I spell that right?

Know Your Enemy

I'm trying, really, to find news clipping on the Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions.  I'm not kidding, they are really hard to find.  The local paper charges for access to their site and I just don't see myself paying for UAPB news.  The loca news stations only want to cover the Razorbacks?  I'll see what I can dig up during the week.

Random Basketball Link

Rivals is grading the latest round of basketball hires.  Most of their panelists don't think hiring Tim Floyd was a good idea, but Jason King doesn't.

Some may disagree, but I think the Tim Floyd hire at UTEP also was a good one. The Miners have done a good job with their past few hires (Billy Gillispie, Doc Sadler, Tony Barbee), and there aren't many game tacticians out there as strong as Floyd.


The Houston Cougars

Quick Transfer:  Steve Campbell also reported that the Cougars lost transfer DB Colton Valencia.  Valencia played in all 12 games last season for Texas A&M and was expected to contribute to a UH team with a lot of seniors in the secondary.

The UAB Blazers

Raising Expectations:  Neil Callaway keeps saying that the time for winning is now at UAB.  Now, he's saying it's bowl game or bust.  If the Blazers don't make a bowl, I think these comments might push him out the door...

"We need (a bowl game) in the worst way," Callaway said. "Our guys work extremely hard. You've seen the change in the culture in what we do in the offseason. Our players need to gain some of the rewards and reap some of the benefits that they've been working for."

The Southern Miss. Golden Eagles

Gettin' Ready:  USM opens up the season on Thursday against the South Carolina Gamecocks.  The game will be televised on ESPN.  USM has two quarterbacks that are looking good right now:  Martevious Young and Blake Anderson.  

"It's hard to measure how far he's behind him," Anderson said. "They're just different. If you did a survey of our team and asked them all, it's clear to our team that Austin is the starter and leader of the team. They all feel comfortable with Martevious and they all trust that he would compete well and be prepared. We've got a very unique situation to have both of them. I just can't say that I've ever had that situation before."

The Marshall Thundering Herd

Revenge:  The Sentinel is counting down Marshall's schedule and has some comments on the Marshall-UTEP game.

Saturday, Oct. 30: Trevor Vittatoe becomes UTEP's career leader in total offensive yards this season, but not even that is enough to offset Marshall's determination to wipe out last year's meltdown in the regular-season finale.

The New Mexico St. Aggies

Stephen F. Austin is Taken:  Within days of NMSU announcing that JC transfer Matt Christian would start at quarterback, last year's starter Jeff Fleming announced he would transfer.  

Fleming, a native of Fullerton, Calif., started nine games for the Aggies a season ago. He completed 87-of-172 pass attempts for 789 yards, four touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His highlights last year were starting in the Aggies' first win of the season, a 21-18 Week 2 victory over Prairie View A&M, and throwing the winning touchdown against the University of New Mexico in a 20-17 Week 4 contest.

Random But Noteworthy

ESPN Rise has compiled a list of the best high school football stadiums in the country.  El Paso High's beautiful stadium made the list.  Great link.

The unique aspect of Jones Stadium is the sight of one of the oldest high schools in the state – with a six-column archway entrance – looming up above the seating area at one end of the round stadium. The facility was refurbished recently with an all-weather playing surface.
"You can compare the feeling to Soldier Field, if you have ever been there. You can feel the presence of all the historic players who have played there." – Hoby Pena, youth football organizer and El Paso resident