Boise on the verge of Mountain West invite?

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Most of the expansion attention of late has been focused on the Big Ten, with a little Pac-10 and minimal SEC talk sprinkled in for good measure.

However, it’s one of the non-BcS conferences who could lob the first expansion grenade.  Maybe.

According to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, “there’s at least a decent chance” that Boise State will be extended a formal offer to join the Mountain West when presidents of the member schools meet next month.  If not then, then at some point between then and before July 1.

And Wilner explains why the sudden “rush” for the conference:

If the MWC wants Boise State’s performance in the 2008-10 seasons to be included in the formula that determines whether the MWC receives an automatic BCS bid for the next cycle of games — and it sure as heck does — then the Broncos must be a member of the MWC in 2011.

And for them to be a member in 2011, they must be invited by July 1, 2010.

Whether or not the MWC would extend an offer remains to be seen — back in late April, the Idaho Statesman wrote that Boise State’s door to the MWC is closing — but one thing is nearly certain.  Boise State would need to receive some type of assurance that a school like Utah or Brigham Young — or both — aren’t caught up and sucked in by Pac-10 expansion as it would make little sense for Boise to bolt from the WAC for a conference that’s losing one or possibly two of its “Big Three” members.

As with all of this expansion talk, though, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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Matt Krohn/USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck had his contract extended Wednesday by an additional year with a $1 million raise in annual salary, after the latest round of big spending by Big Ten rivals.

The new seven-year deal will run through the 2029 season, the university announced without releasing terms. Fleck will now make $6 million per year, a person with knowledge of the contract confirmed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been finalized.

Last week, Nebraska hired Matt Rhule and Wisconsin hired Luke Fickell to put them in the top tier of head coach compensation in the conference. In terms of average annual value, the 42-year-old Fleck is eighth in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Rhule, Fickell, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. All seven of those coaches make $7 million or more per season.

The Gophers (8-4) play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. They’re 3-0 in bowl games under Fleck, who was hired away from Western Michigan in 2017.

Minnesota tied for second place in the Big Ten West Division this year, behind Purdue. Fleck is 43-27 overall with the Gophers, including 26-26 in conference play. They’re 0-6 against Iowa and 3-3 against Wisconsin, their primary rivals.

Fleck’s winning percentage is third-best in program history among coaches with 45 games or more, behind Henry Williams (1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (1932-41).

“What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,” athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement distributed by the university. “He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota and his team continues to excel academically, athletically and socially.”

This is the fifth time in six years on the job that Fleck’s deal has been adjusted to keep up with the competition, as power conference coach contracts these days rarely have less than five years on them at any time. Minnesota extended his deal a year ago, too.

In that iteration of his contract, the termination fees Fleck would owe Minnesota if he were to hop to another program were bumped way up. Those numbers landed at $7 million in 2023, $5 million in 2024, $4 million in 2025 and $3 million in 2026. Details about those figures in the new deal were not immediately available.

Virginia players granted extra year of eligibility

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to Virginia players whose eligibility has expired in the aftermath of the slaying of three members of the team, the school confirmed.

Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed last month as they returned to campus from a field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C. A former player at the school, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is facing three counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting. A fourth player, Mike Hollins, and student Marlee Morgan were injured in the shooting.

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting, and the team and university community memorialized the victims in a nearly two-hour service on campus. Team members also traveled to each of the three funerals held for their teammates.