Overlooked in Craig Thompson’s push for an eight-team college football playoff is the potential leverage the Mountain West Conference commissioner possesses.
Of the 11 conferences with the Bowl Championship Series (only six get automatic bids), the Mountain West is the only one that has not signed the new BCS contract with ESPN.
MWC presidents don’t want to give away a bargaining chip, especially before next month’s BCS meeting in Pasadena, Calif. And with a signing deadline of April 20, 2010, they can take their time.
The problem for Thompson and the MWC is no one knows what it means if the conference doesn’t sign the new contract.
Maybe the deal is invalid. Maybe the power conferences make the Mountain West ineligible for BCS games through 2014. Maybe the contract is valid even without the MWC’s signature.
Here’s what you can bet will happen in Pasadena. College football’s most powerful commissioner, Jim Delany of the Big Ten, will mention Thompson’s playoff proposal and quickly dismiss it, and the other leagues will follow like sheep. Just like they always do.
Chances are, the Mountain West eventually will have no choice but to sign. But Thompson will feel better knowing he fought for change, won the public-relations battle and put the conference in better position for when the contract ends in 2014.
It’s not a victory in the truest sense, but it’s the closest he will come.
• WHO’S THE NEXT SUCKER? — If you believe bodoglife.com, a Internet gambling site, the Oakland Raiders are the most likely team to sign Terrell Owens.
Fresh off blowing up another locker room, the talented, me-first wide receiver was dumped by the Dallas Cowboys.
Bodoglife.com lists the Raiders as 7-2 favorites to land T.O., followed by the Washington Redskins at 4-1, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 11-2, New England Patriots at 6-1, the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans at 7-1 and the Miami Dolphins at 8-1.
The most logical destination would be the Patriots. From the owner to the coach to the players, they wouldn’t put up with Owens’ garbage, and he would know that before even walking into the locker room.
Which means he probably won’t be in New England.
• SERVES THEM RIGHT — Kentucky basketball fans couldn’t wait for coach Tubby Smith to hit the road, and when he left for Minnesota two years ago, there was great celebrating in the commonwealth.
Now the Wildcats (19-11) are in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament and have noticeably declined since switching from Smith to Billy Gillispie, who has made more news for his classless denigration of an ESPN courtside reporter than for anything on the court.
A Fox Sports.com story full of negative quotes captures the growing frustration in an area where basketball is worshipped.
"I’m not buying that they are talented enough," former Kentucky star Kenny "Sky" Walker said.
A Kentucky-less NCAA Tournament wouldn’t exactly be heartbreaking. But be forewarned: No Kentucky, no TV shots of Ashley Judd.
I’m just saying.
COMPILED BY MARK ANDERSON LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL