Friday Q&A: Conference Expansion, John Calipari to the NBA

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Welcome to another edition of CFBHuddle.com’s Friday Q&A, the weekly column that lazily tasks you, the reader, with generating my content for me allows you, the reader, to sound off.

With the NCAA Tournament in its second weekend, it’s only fitting that one of this week’s Qs take on the most prominent figure of the Big Dance, John Calipari. We’ve also got some conference expansion pertaining to one of the teams that shook up this year’s March Madness, the UAB Blazers.

If you have a question for Friday Q&A, tweet @kensing45 or @cfbhuddle. You can also send an email to publisher@cfbhuddle.com. I’ll also accept smoke signals and notes in bottles, sent across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

First off, I hope that the national attention and new details that have emerged in the UAB situation force a change by 2016. What’s gone on their is a travesty and Ray Watts should be gone yesterday.

However, Conference USA making contingency plans should UAB football really and truly be done is probably the right move. The MAC has been able to make the unwieldy 13-team conference work for awhile now, but it’s not an ideal number. Moreover, C-USA has some intriguing options should the conference expansion dominoes start tipping again.

Pulling programs from the Mid-Atlantic has been good for C-USA thus far. Old Dominion and newcomer Charlotte have tremendously high ceilings. James Madison is a similarly high-potential team in the same region, and would be my first call if commissioner Britton Banowsky is indeed electing to explore more conference expansion.

James Madison is a proven winner at the FCS level, and the renovated Bridgeforth Stadium is FBS-ready. The university’s undergraduate population is certainly big enough to support FBS football, and an inter-commonwealth rivalry with Old Dominion comes built-in.

Alright, we’re working on the contingency Kentucky does indeed run the table to win it all. I have to say, it’s a pretty strong hypothetical off which to operate, given the Wildcats’ handling of West Virginia in the Sweet 16.

Allow me to formally call my shot right now…or, after we clear this up:

Let’s assume Cleveland. If Kentucky wins the national championship, John Calipari to the NBA happens in early July. Specifically, John Calipari to the Cleveland Cavaliers happens in early July.

The media conjecture that LeBron had friction with David Blatt has seemingly died down, but when the Cavs exit the Playoffs, I wouldn’t be shocked if Blatt’s ousted. When that happens, John Calipari should be the first call.

Now, I know NBA elitists will crow about Calipari’s NBA track record — specifically, NBA elitists with outspoken disdain for the college game. Let’s call his hypothetical person Bill S. But I see Calipari as having the chops to be basketball’s Pete Carroll: someone who had a lackluster professional run, went to college and dominated, and came back to the pros employing a more player-friendly attitude that resonated with his team.

And while the two things are in no way related, our hypothetical NBA honk may or may not have been hyper-critical of Pete Carroll.

I’m a big believer in Mike MacIntyre. Obviously what he accomplished at San Jose State speaks for itself, as he performed a minor miracle that had lasting effects — see the Spartans’ 2015 recruiting class — and Colorado is not in the dire straits SJSU was upon Mac’s arrival.

However, San Jose State also wasn’t in the Pac-12 South, which I believe to be college football’s most competitive division. Please don’t get too upset, SEC West homers; I didn’t write “best,” just “most competitive.” And I think the Pac-12 South finishing 2014 with five ranked teams speaks to the division’s strength.

Furthermore, I anticipate USC, Arizona and Utah all being improved from last season. Arizona State and UCLA will be of similar strength at worst, which is high praise for a pair of 10-win teams.

In other words, Colorado is running on a treadmill in reverse. The Buffs are making progress, but the results won’t necessarily indicate it next season.

Colorado opens at Hawaii, thus plays 13 games and needs seven wins to bowl. The nonconference slate is set up well for CU to go 4-0, which means the Buffs need a 3-6 Pac-12 finish. Unfortunately, the schedule doesn’t play out too favorably.

From the North, CU draws Oregon and what I suspect will be an improved Stanford team at home. Oregon State and Washington State are very beatable, but both are road contests. Arizona and USC come to Boulder out of the South. The Buffs must steal one of those two and sweep Oregon State and Wazzu on the road. I just don’t see that happening.

On Sandra Bullock: Uh, she’s pretty much gorgeous. Physical attraction is obviously a subjective thing, but I can objectively say she’s in the top one percent of people on planet Earth in the looks department. Plus, she represented my alma mater in Speed.

Rich Rod hilariously paid homage to this scene a year ago:

Now, onto the American. Again, ranking conferences is subjective. So much is dependent on criteria. If we’re talking strictly coming off 2014 performances, I rank the conferences thusly:

1. Pac-12
2. SEC
3. Big 12
4. Big Ten
5. ACC
6. Mountain West
7. American
8. C-USA* (Editor’s note: C-USA and MAC were erroneously flipped. I have some real garbage copyeditors here.)
9. MAC
10. Sun Belt

The Mountain West and American are the G-5 brothers-in-arms, as far as I’m concerned. An argument for either as the best G-5 conference last season can be made, thought I don’t know that the American had a team quite as good as Boise State. Boise State-Memphis would have been a helluva contest, but I have to give the Broncos the edge.

The MWC’s perception was hurt by one division so much better than the other. Fresno State, the West’s title game representative, had a sub.-500 record. However, the Mountain offered Colorado State, Utah State and one of last season’s major surprises, Air Force. Based on the Mountain Division’s strength, I give the MWC a slight edge.

However, with the American expanding next season and adding new coaching blood, I like the American more in 2015.

Navy brings one of the nation’s best quarterbacks, Keenan Reynolds, and the perennially underrated Ken Niumatalolo. The Mids will compete immediately. Fellow newcomers Chad Morris and Tom Herman, at SMU and Houston respectively, will make those teams more competitive.

Look for Memphis to build off last year’s breakthrough season. East Carolina and UCF should remain the pictures of consistency they’ve been the last half-decade or so. And, if you’re searching for a 2015 version of Memphis — a team emerging from obscurity to flirt with the G-5 New Year’s Six auto-bid — look no further than Temple.

Temple quietly finished 2014 bowl eligible, the first time since joining the Big East/American, and head coach Matt Rhule returns one of the most veteran rosters in all college football.