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07.30.05: BCS pushing for instant replay in all 28 bowls
07.29.05: Bower suspends two players, bids adieu to 4 more ... S.C. prep coaches blast Spurrier scholarship moves
07.28.05: Pirate Radio Network evolves to 27 stations ... Acquittal leads to reinstatement of UC assistant
07.27.05: At East Carolina, Saturday is all about the ladies ... ACC stockpiling future postseason destinations
07.26.05: BCS faces challenge from shadow poll of VIP's
07.25.05: Players still learning the ropes of redefined ACC ... Huggins assistant acquitted of DUI charge
07.24.05: CIAA trophy to be named after 'Big House' ... ECU hoops mirror reflects Herd, Wave, Knights
07.23.05: East Carolina alum Mike Sutton taken off respirator
... Jury slaps recruiting guru with $30 million verdict
07.22.05: Big Ten stirs the pot of shifting bowl alliances
07.21.05: Cal, AF, road trip to Memphis on Vols' 2006 slate ... Mississippi Valley State hires former USM coach


News Nuggets, 07.31.05
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

After C-USA raid, restocked WAC plows ahead

RENO, NV — Nick Holt shaved his head on a golf course recently, auctioning his locks to raise a quick $2,000 for the Idaho football program.

The spontaneous gesture was sure to get the locals talking about the coach's attempt to resuscitate the Vandals. With all the challenges facing Idaho, New Mexico State and Utah State during their debut seasons in the Western Athletic Conference, Holt can testify that such dramatic acts sometimes seem quite necessary.

``I was going bald anyway, so that's why I kept it like this,'' Holt said, rubbing his clean dome Thursday at the WAC's media day. ``I saved some money on shampoo. When I first shaved it, I looked like an egg ... but when you get a tan and you're naturally good-looking, you can wear any hairstyle.''

The WAC changed its lineup for the fourth time in eight years this summer after the defections of UTEP, Rice, Southern Methodist and Tulsa to Conference USA. The net result is a nine-team league that's leaner and more Western — but just as tough, according to the coaches charged with making a name for themselves for something other than their hair choices.

Though the three new squads generally are expected to finish at the bottom of the WAC this season, the men in charge know they've moved up in the world. The conference provides bigger opportunities for recruiting, revenue and television exposure while cutting down on travel and building new rivalries.

``I think everybody agrees it's a step up in leagues,'' New Mexico State coach Hal Mumme said. ``It gives us a chance to recruit better players, and geographically it's great for our fans. Nothing against the league we were in, but a lot of those teams, our fans didn't know where they were.''

Mumme probably wouldn't have agreed to take over New Mexico State's program if the long-struggling Aggies hadn't shown their commitment to big-time football by leaving the Sun Belt for the WAC.

Mumme, who ran his inventive offenses at Kentucky and Valdosta State before building Southeastern Louisiana's program from scratch in the last two years, said coaching in the WAC is ``something I've always aspired to.''

``I think the WAC is the most exciting and the most innovative conference in the land,'' he continued. ``A lot of the coaches that have coached in this league have influenced the entire world of college football.''

Indeed, Mumme could cite anyone from Lavell Edwards to Fisher DeBerry among the WAC's great innovators of seasons past. Boise State's Dan Hawkins and Fresno State's Pat Hill have built consistent powerhouse programs earning frequent national rankings in recent years, with Hawaii and coach June Jones not far behind.

All three of the league's new coaches are rebuilding their programs on the foundation of recent failures, though Mumme and Utah State's Brent Guy face the double challenge of being rookie coaches at their schools.

Holt is only slightly more comfortable in his second season at Idaho after going 3-9 last year in a season containing 12 straight games without a bye while featuring nearly enough road miles to circumnavigate the globe.

``It's already helped our (recruiting),'' Holt said. ``Being able to sell the WAC, especially in the regions that we recruit, we (get) better student-athletes. They know about the conference. They know it's competitive, and it's going to be better. It's just got to take some time.''

Guy left his job as defensive coordinator at Arizona State to return to Logan, where he was an assistant from 1992-94. Utah State has wandered through Division I football in recent years, spending time as an independent in between stints in lower-tier leagues.

``It's a challenge, but this is where we wanted to be,'' said Guy, who won't even have a full complement of scholarship players this season. ``We're going to have to earn the respect and earn our way to the top of this league. There are three teams that have clearly been dominant in this league, and we're going to be anxious to compete and see how we measure up to those teams.''

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2005 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:26 PM


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