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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Aug. 24, 1999)
Mountain West seeks recognition
By Samuel McKewon
Senior staff writer
The new Mountain West
Conference is a classic case of the big
boys taking their ball and staying much,
much closer to home - and making
much, much more money doing it.
The members of the newly formed
conference - Air Force, Brigham
Young, Colorado State, New Mexico,
Nevada-Las Vegas, San Diego State,
Utah and Wyoming - broke away from
the Western Athletic Conference in
search of respect, competition and big
ger bank accounts. And they did it all
with less pain than it took to stay in the
existing 16-team, 2000-mile wide con
Whatever traditions the WAC had
were more or less glossed over when
the league went to 16 teams. Rivalries
seemed to disappear. Teams like Texas
El-Paso and San Jose State just weren’t
as strong as the others, and there was
still that costly and time-consuming trip
to doormat Hawaii that no one wanted
Hence, the new league was bom,
and it promises no red-eye flights and a
still-reasonable pile of money to spread
amongst eight fewer teams.
Now the new league is working to
gain respect, which some Mountain
West coaches feel they already possess.
“For us to get too frantic over
respect would be wrong,” San Diego
State Coach Ted Tollner said. “You have
to measure the strength of the eight
schools by what they’ve done in the
That might be more than some
think. Six of the eight teams have win
ning percentages above .500 in the
1990s. BYU is annually ranked in the
top 25 and went 14-1 in 1996. Last sea
son, it was Air Force that went 12-1 and
whipped Washington 45-25 in the
Still, Tollner concedes the respect
given to major conferences has eluded
the WAC and now the Mountain West.
And to join them, Tollner said, the
Aztecs have to beat them.
There’s a healthy slate of upsets in
the making for the Mountain West.
B YU gets its chances against Virginia
and Washington. SDSU travels to
Southern California. CSU Coach
Sonny Lubick points to these games,
along with his team’s in-state battle
with Colorado, as early chances to
establish Mountain West as a power.
“In terms of media and the public,
those games would be a shot in the arm
if we won them,” Lubick said. “But then
again, we might win a bunch of games
and still not get too much respect.”
Even without the respect, there’s
still bound to be more money, byway of
a smaller travel budget and more attrac
tive games, which should raise atten
dance throughout the conference.
“When we had 16 teams, I don’t
think anybody knew who the heck was
who,” Lubick said. “Now the Mountain
West is the old WAC conference as you
and I remember it. From a financial
standpoint, it’ll have a little larger
impact at the gate.”
Tollner said he expects a tougher
conference to emerge with higher gate
BYU is an annual favorite, and
although they must replace their quar
terback, the Falcons remain dangerous
in the wingbone offense. San Diego .
State returns the most starters (15),
while Utah boasts the best backfield.
CSU and Wyoming could compete for
a league crown, too.
“BYU is the favorite,” Tollner said,
“but I really think there’s five teams that
have a legitimate chance at winning this
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Big 12 looks to replace
proven running backs
CKS from 13
its leading rusher in Marlon
Barnes. Cherrington carried the ball
103 times last season for 350 yards.
The Buffaloes also return junior
Damion Barton, who rushed for 195
yards a year ago. Coach Gary
Barnett also will benefit from an
experienced offensive line, which he
calls “the great strength of the
Nebraska will benefit from a
year of turmoil at the running back
position that enabled three players to
gain starting experience. DeAngelo
Evans, Correll Buckhalter and Dan
Alexander all saw starting action for
the Comhuskers last fall.
“It is a real strong position for
us,” coach Frank Solich said. “We
? -- TT V *:;
have three guys that are really com
ing on for us, along with Dahrran
Oklahoma finds itself in the
same predicament as Texas. Coach
Bob Stoops enters his first year at
Norman, Okla., with the task of
—— : 1 i —
revamping an offense that lost 1,000
yard rusher De’Mond Parker a year
ago. Seth Littrell is the leading
returning rusher for the Sooners after
racking up 205 yards last season.
“De’Mond was an excellent
player here” Stoops said. “But we
really feel that with the guys we have
running the ball right now we will be
Kansas returns junior David
Winbush from a season just 26 yards
shy of the 1,000-yard mark.
“We do have some running backs
that will cause people to miss,”
Coach Terry Allen said. “The real
concern though is in the offensive
line with a couple of new starters.
“We are just extremely excited
about David. He has gotten bigger
and stronger, and we are just anxious
to see what he can do.”
Kansas State watched Eric
Hickson leave Manhattan, Kan., and
welcomed two talented backs to take
his place. Frank Murphy and David
Allen are both juniors with speed and
great moves. Allen led the nation in
return yardage per punt at 22.1 yards
Oklahoma State Coach Bob
Simmons need look no further than
his bloodlines to find his leading
rusher. Nathan Simmons, his son, is
the Cowboys top returning rusher,
with 937 yards a year ago.
leamea wun lony Lina say, inis
could prove to be one of the most
explosive offensive duos in the
Texas A&M returns senior
Dante Hall, who is looking to better
his 1,024-yard effort of a year ago.
Hall also has a knack for finding the
endzone with eight touchdowns last
Iowa State back Darren Davis is
looking to fill his brother’s shoes in
his senior season as well. Davis aver
aged 106 yards per game a year ago
along with seven touchdowns on the
Baylor and Coach Kevin Steele
are looking to blow open some sort
of a ground game after a season in
which not one back recorded more .
than 360 yards rushing. Darrell Bush
and Derek Lagway will be the main
rushers for the Bears.
“I don’t know what the focus of
the offense was last year, and I was
not involved in the play calling,”
“So it does not concern me that
we did not have anyone rush over 400
yards last season. We have backs that
are capable of running for a lot of
yards if we block well.”
Missouri lost Devin West, who
rushed for 1,578 yards and 17 touch
downs a year ago. The Tigers’ sec
ond-leading rusher was Corby Jones,
who has also moved on after gradu
ating. Senior Rob West will take
over after gaining 165 yards last sea
son on 32 carries.
The Big 12 Conference will be
represented on the 1999 U.S. Ryder
Cup team by three alumni. Team cap
tain Ben Crenshaw and Justin
Leonard are former Texas
Longhorns, while Jeff Maggert
played for Texas A&M in his college
days. The Ryder Cup will be played
at The Country Club in Brookline,
Mass., on Sept. 24-26.
Texas Head Coach Mack Brown
will be facing one of his good friends
and a former colleague in the ACC
when his Longhorns play host to
Mike O’Cain and North Carolina
State on Aug. 28. Brown and O’Cain
became good friends while Brown
was the head coach at North
Despite the reunion, Brown is
wary of facing his old friend.
“It is just not something that I like
to do,” Brown said. “Mike will have
them well prepared, and you can’t
forget that they beat Florida State last
The game will mark the first
meeting ever between the two
The Big 12 was represented by
five teams in the preseason AP Top
25 Poll. Nebraska is ranked sixth,
Texas A&M is No. 7, Colorado fol- •
lows at 15, Texas at 17, and Kansas
State is ranked 20th. Oklahoma St.,
Texas Tech and Missouri all received
Four running backs from the Big
12 have been listed as candidates for
the Doak Walker Award, given to the
nation’s best running back.
Dwayne Cherrington of
Colorado, Darren Davis of Iowa
State, Dante Hall of Texas A&M and
Ricky Williams of Texas Tech all
made the preseason cut. Davis, Hall
and Williams all are returning 1,000
yard rushers. Ricky Williams of
Texas won the award last year for the
Kansas will travel to South Bend,
Ind., to face Notre Dame in the Eddie
Robinson Football Classic on Aug.
28. Head Coach Terry Allen is opti
mistic going into the match-up.
“Obviously we are going up and
running pretty quickly with the Notre
Dame game come Saturday,” Allen
said. “We feel that it is a great oppor
tunity for us and great preparation for
games to come for us in the Big 12.”
Texas sophomore golfer David
Gossett won the U.S. Amateur on
Sunday. Gossett beat Sung Yoon Kim
at Pebble Beach, securing a spot on
the U.S. Walker Cup team. Gossett
was the 1999 Big 12 Champion.
Big 12 football schedule:
(all p.m. unless noted)
Saturday, Aug. 28
Kansas at Notre Dame, 2:30
North Carolina St. at Texas, 7:30
Thursday, Sept. 2
Indiana State at Iowa State, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 4
Baylor at Boston College, 11 a.m.
Nebraska at Iowa, 11 a.m.
Stanford at Texas, 11 a.m.
UAB at Missouri, 2:30
Colorado vs. Colorado State, 5
Texas A&M vs. La. Tech, 7
SW Louisiana at Oklahoma State 7
Notebook compiled by staff
reporter Joshua Camenzind. *
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