The Daily Aggie :: 08/19/10

We'll just call this the "The What The Hell Just Happened Edition". We apologize for not getting the 2010 Aggie Volleyball Preview posted this morning like we'd hoped, we got sidetracked by this whole BYU/Fresno State/Nevada ordeal.

In less than an afternoon's time span, the WAC went from potentially bolstering itself overall as a league (minus football of course) to wondering it it'll survive (again) after the sudden (but not really so sudden if you read the tea leaves) departure of Fresno State and Nevada.

If you've been following us this summer, you know that we broached this very subject back in June when the Pac-10 invited half the Big 12 but only ended up with Colorado. Here's what we wrote in June 14th's Daily Aggie.

Everyone will be waiting with bated breath this week as Texas (and in turn the rest of the Big 12 south) makes its decision on which conference it will end up in. Earlier in the day ESPN.com was reporting that Texas was leaning toward the Pac 10 only to change that report a couple of hours later reporting that Texas is leaning towards staying in a 10-team BIg 12.

The latter could actually be more disastrous for the WAC than a mass exodus by the Big 12 south to the Pac 10. Why? Because the Pac 10, at 11 members needs to add one more to have a championship game in football (which was probably part of the goal to begin with, championship games mean more television money). That means that they would likely turn to Utah to fill the 12th spot in the league. That move could in turn could send the Mountain West back to the WAC cupboard to fill a couple more spots (it's our belief that the Mountain West wants to have 12 teams and a championship game in order to try to earn an automatic BCS bowl bid). That would mean that the MWC would likely try to pluck Fresno State and Nevada from the WAC and perhaps Houston (a travel partner for TCU) from Conference USA (who in turn might try to get Louisiana Tech to join to replace Houston, a bid that if offered would be hard to turn down for Louisiana Tech as C-USA is a better geographical fit for the Bulldogs than the WAC is). That would leave the WAC with just five members, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Idaho, Utah State and Hawai'i and in code-red status.

Three-fourths of that scenario has come true. Now it's the Mountain West who is in the same position as the Pac 10 was, an 11-member league looking for a 12th. Hello Houston? Goodbye LA. Tech?

Here's what MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson said on June 17th:

“Our intention is to move forward for the 2011 season with a nine-member conference. We are done. Parroting what fellow commissioners in the Pac-10 and Big 12 and to a degree in the Big 12, I think our endeavor in expansion is over for the time being.”"

And our response to that in the June 18th Daily Aggie:

We would caution WAC fans to take Thompson's word with a grain of salt however. This is the same league that last Monday had a press conference stating that they would not be inviting Boise State to join the Mountain West, only to turn around and invite Boise State a few days later.

We're afraid it's just a matter of time before the WAC loses Fresno State and Nevada (and Louisiana Tech for geographical reasons).

Now, here's why this is bad for the schools that are left holding the WAC together:

According to some quick research done late last night by Kyle Whelliston (MidMajority.com) in order for a league to maintain it's automatic bid status for the NCAA Tournament a conference must have: a) 8 teams. b) 7 core members (Division I for at least 8 years); c) 6 of those must be in the same league for at least 5 years.

Kyle points out that the current 2011-2012 WAC setup would fail rule a). And if any one of Idaho, NMSU, Utah State, Hawai'i, Louisiana Tech or San Jose State leaves, it fails rule c).

The thing that is really troublesome is that regardless of who joins the WAC to replace Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada, should any one of the six current remaining schools leave the WAC, the WAC will still fail rule c).

And after chatting back and forth with Coach Spence last night, he believes the same rule applies to women's basketball as well. The same could hold true for volleyball and soccer, in baseball's case, from previous discussions with head baseball coach Rocky Ward we know that you have to have at least six members to maintain your automatic bid status on the baseball side and the same is likely for softball as the league had been a seven team league before Boise State's inaugural season two years ago.

There have also been reports stating that in order for a conference to be a BCS member, you need an eight team minimum membership. We haven't been able to find anything that officially states that, however, that's even more troublesome for the WAC. Given the scenarios we laid out in our June 12th and June 14th Daily Aggie posts, the WAC could be stuck at six football members for at least the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. Again, we don't know the specifics of being a BCS conference (and for some reason can't seem to find any documentation online) but could that mean that the WAC is shut out of receiving any BCS monies for at the very least 2011? Quite possibly.

What's also a bit concerning is that the $5 million pledge of solidarity that each of the eight remaining members were reported to have signed, according to reports in the Reno Gazette-Journal and Fresno Bee, neither one of those schools may have signed it. So, not only is the WAC losing two of its key members, it could also have nothing to show for it.

Now, as for BYU, the school that may have started this whole mess. We wrote yesterday afternoon about the benefits of their potential membership in the WAC. Well, it's still not official that they are joining the WAC at all (although it never really was, everyone was just going off of reports from sources). There are now thoughts that they could be staying in the Mountain West with the addition of Fresno State and Nevada.

The WAC will be holding a press conference at 11:00 a.m. MT this morning to address the Fresno State and Nevada departures. We'll let you know what is said.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 08/18/10 :: Afternoon BYU Rumor Mill

We had something written about the whole BYU football independence/WAC for everything else but decided hold off on posting it this morning until we got a better indication for if the whole thing was really going to happen or not. This morning has seen the Salt Lake Tribune report that it's a "Done Deal" (of course we all know about how "done" these "done deals" are.), however, they are citing a source in the WAC office in their story. So... we'll stick our necks out a little bit and comment on the potential move.

Before we get that though, one interesting side development in this story is the revelation that there is no penalty for Boise State should they decide that the Mountain West isn't what they thought it was and decide come crawling back to the WAC (that would make for very interesting rivalry games between Idaho and Boise State if that happened given what unfolded during the WAC's football media days). A dream scenario for the WAC would have Boise State come back giving the league it's nine-team format for football and the much desired 10-team format for men's and women's basketball, volleyball and softball which would create travel partners and avoid some of the difficult scheduling the league office has.

The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy also spoke with Aggie head men's basketball coach Marvin Menzies who said that he would welcome the addition of BYU to the WAC.

So what exactly would it mean for the WAC in terms of competition? Well, it means the WAC gets instantly better across the board in pretty much all sports. Last season, the 2009-2010 athletic season, BYU was the conference champion in eight of the 19 Mountain West sponsored sports (women's soccer-regular season, women's swimming and diving-regular season and tournament, men's and women's indoor track and field, men's tennis-regular season, softball-regular season as the MWC doesn't hold a postseason tournament, and men's and women's outdoor track and field).  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 08/18/10

As promised, we've posted our 2010 Aggie Soccer Preview. The Aggies open up their season on Friday night against UTEP at Aggie Memorial Stadium. The one big question that remains before Friday night's opener is who will claim the starting spot in goal for the Aggies. There are big shoes to fill with Katie Graul's departure but after speaking with Coach Needham earlier this week, he seems very confident that one of the three goal keepers he has on his roster can fill those shoes. Whoever it ends up being, whether is Jess Schutter (who has been hampered by an injury but should now be cleared to practice), Mikaela Bitner (redshirt freshman) or Erin Wosick (true freshman), the Aggie defenders, the position that is probably the deepest on the team, will definitely be able to provide a lot of help to the new goal keeper, especially early on while she gets her feet under her.

The AVCA Preseason Top 25 poll was released yesterday and the Aggies were one of the team in the "receiving votes" category. The Aggies received 14 votes good for 41st in the rankings. We also posted yesterday that the Aggies' schedule is full of teams either in the Top 25 or receiving votes. There will be plenty of opportunities for quality, RPI-boosting victories in the non-conference. The Aggies would most definitely crack the Top 25 should they win a good number of those matches.

Also, be sure to check out Ellen Miks' first entry in the 2010 Aggie Volleyball Diary.

We hope to have our 2010 Aggie Volleyball Preview posted tomorrow.

Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News notes that UNM's men's basketball schedule was released and the dates for the Aggie/Lobo games are December 4th in Las Cruces and December 11th in Albuquerque. The time for the game in Las Cruces is still TBD (though we'd guess it'll be at 7:05 p.m. just like every other year) and 7:00 p.m. in Albuquerque.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >>

2010 bleedCrimson.net Aggie Soccer Preview

The New Mexico State soccer team went into the 2009 season with few expectations. The reason? It was the program's inaugural season and nobody really knew quite what to expect. The result? A much better than predicted finish from the team as a 9-9-1 overall record and a conference record of 4-3-1 led to a fifth place finish and a WAC tournament bid in just their first season. Just how impressive was their inaugural season? Fellow first year program Missouri-Kansas City finished their inaugural season at 1-16-1 and fellow conference mate Louisiana Tech, a program that has been in existence for six seasons, had never won a WAC game until last season and still have yet to participate in the conference tournament.

Enter 2010. The Aggies are looking to build off the momentum they created in their inaugural season and despite being picked to finish eighth by the league's coaches, the Aggies have their sights set once again on a strong season with a top six finish and a conference tournament berth.

"We definitely have high expectations, we did good last year and we just want to build off that," said sophomore defender Courtney Irwin in the team's media day interviews.

Being just a second year program, the Aggies didn't have a lot of turnover after their first season nor do they have to replace many starters due to graduation. The team does have a couple of notable names to replace as the Aggies' leading goal scorer, Jazmin Cardoso, transferred to George Mason and senior leader and First Team All-WAC goal keeper Katie Graul exhausted her eligibility. Finding Graul's replacement in goal will be one of the few puzzles second year head coach Michael Needham will have to solve before the Aggies open the 2010 season. The Aggies have added 13 newcomers to the roster with several of them expected to push for playing time and perhaps potential starting positions.

POSITION BREAKDOWNS  Continue Reading This Post >>

Aggie Volleyball Receives Votes In AVCA Preseason Top 25 Coaches Poll

The AVCA Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll was released today and New Mexico State received 14 votes placing them 41st in the rankings. The Aggies' regular season schedule includes nine matches against teams that are either ranked or are receiving votes.

New Mexico State will face #15 Florida State and Florida International (receiving votes) in the FSU Invitational on Friday, August 27th. On September 10th and 11th the Aggies will face Rice who is receiving votes and then #23 LSU. NM State will then travel to Albuquerque to face in-state rival New Mexico who is also receiving votes before heading to Tucson for the Arizona Invitational on September 17th and 18th where they'll face Pepperdine (receiving votes) and #18 Arizona.

The Aggies will then host #5 Hawai'i in a nationally televised match on ESPNU on September 29th at 8:00 p.m. MT and then four nights later will host #18 Arizona. The Aggies will travel to Honolulu to face the #5 Wahine on Sunday, October 31st.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Ellen Miks' Aggie Volleyball Diary :: August 16th, 2010

Ellen MiksHello Aggie Volleyball fans! My name is Ellen Miks and I am currently a sophomore here at NMSU. I was extremely honored to be asked to write this blog for y’all, especially since the person who wrote it last year was one of my good friends Kelli Goodan. We miss the seniors very much this year, but we are looking forward to continuing their legacy that they left behind.

First a little about me just so you know who is giving you updates on the Aggies… I am from Denver, Colorado and I went to Columbine High School. I plan on majoring in math so ultimately I can be a high school math teacher. You should see the looks I get from people when I tell them I want to be a high school math teacher… all they tell me is, “Good luck!” As for my volleyball position, I am a DS/Libero/Outside/Rightside/Middle…. Whatever coach tells me to play I do it!

I believe I should do a small recap of our season last year. We ended up being 20-9, but unfortunately that was not quite good enough to qualify for the NCAA tournament. We had a very difficult preseason, but as we played more games, we started to come together as a team. Near the end of the season we were playing really well, and we went back to my home state and beat the Colorado State Rams in four games! The CSU Rams ended up going quite deep into the tournament, making it to the Sweet 16. Although it was hard to swallow at first, we knew we belonged in the tournament, and that’s why this year we are determined to win more games like the Colorado State game, and beat more teams like them.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 08/17/10

How can you tell your program is on the rise? One of your assistants gets a head coaching job. That's the situation that Aggie swimming and diving head coach Rick Pratt finds himself in. Assistant coach Heidi Voigt was named the head coach at Northern Michigan yesterday. The Aggies have improved leaps and bounds in Coach Pratt's five seasons and are now perennial contenders for the WAC title. In fact, so much has been talked about as far as Boise State's departure from the WAC on the football side of things but Coach Pratt and the Aggie swimming and diving team are one of the teams who will definitely benefit from Boise State leaving as the Aggies finished in second place last season to Boise State at the WAC Championship meet.

We're not trying to infer that the Aggies cannot win a league title while Boise State is still in the league, quite the contrary as the Aggie program is gaining ground on the WAC by leaps and bounds each season and a WAC title could very well be in the cards this season but their rise to the top could be hastened by the Broncos' departure after the 2010-11 season.

Don't forget that we'll have our Aggie volleyball and soccer previews posted a bit later this week. Be sure to check out our interview with Aggie head soccer coach Michael Needham as well.

We're also very excited to reveal that Aggie sophomore outside hitter Ellen Miks will be writing the Aggie Volleyball Diary this season. Ellen's first entry will be posted later today!

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >>

AggieVision :: A Day In The Life Of The Equipment Staff

bleedCrimson.net Coach Needham Interview :: 08/16/10

bleedCrimson.net: How did Friday's Crimson and White scrimmage turn out?
Michael Needham: It went well, it went real well. The game was very even and the kids were all competing. We're still trying to figure out what's going to be the right combination of players and the right group for playing UTEP on Friday. It was a good runout and it was a good chance to see the kids in a game environment."

Even though it was against ourselves I felt that it was pretty competitive. The pressure could have been a little bit better. There wasn't quite as much defensive pressure as I would have liked in terms of preparing us to play a rivalry game next Friday. At the same time you're playing against your teammates and you play a little bit differently anyway. All in all it was good. We got through it healthy which is the most important part. We had a some great performances from a lot of kids and got exactly what we wanted out of it.

bc.net: What have been the differences starting year two versus year one?
MN: The first thing, and it's very similar to last year, the first thing we're looking for in preseason is for our group to come together as a team and to get to know each other a little bit. I think they've done that really well. I'll credit my returning players on that. Any time there's going to new players, they were all new players last year, any time you bring in a new group of players and you're trying to incorporate them and get them going, you're trying to make them as comfortable as possible as quickly as possible. All credit to our returning players. They've been great to the incoming kids. They realize that both groups of players, both the returning players and the incoming players, are all going to contribute to this effort. They've treated them very much as equals and not made life real difficult on them as a group of freshmen. That was the first thing, come together.   Continue Reading This Post >>