News, Notes & Rumors – May 7
The Sagaba Konate saga is starting to get as many plot twists as a day-time soap opera.
One week it looks like the Mountaineer center is going to keep his name in the NBA draft, but then the next week it looks like he is going to return to WVU for his junior season.
Last week many around the Mountaineer program were starting to breathe easier, thinking that he was going to be at West Virginia again next year. But this week, after being invited to the NBA Combine, the feeling is that Konate’s decision is a coin flip. Sagaba, along with senior teammate Jevon Carter, are among the 69 prospects invited to the NBA Combine, which will be held in Chicago May 16-20.
Konate’s performance at the Combine may influence his decision, but just by being invited, he could now be leaning towards moving into the pro ranks this year. He has until June 11 to pull his name out of the draft, if he wants to return to college.
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The WVU Coliseum is likely to undergo another round of renovations that would be in place prior to the start of the 2019-20 basketball season.
The concourse of the Coliseum was redone a couple years ago. The proposed new upgrades will include a new scoreboard/videoboard and ribbon boards in the arena, as well as improved lighting and audio systems.
WVU is gathering requests for proposal (RFP) from vendors. The winner of the contract will design the project and oversee the work.
No budget has been set yet for these renovations, as WVU will wait to see the results of the proposals and the bid costs before making a decision to proceed. Other potential upgrades could include the installation of WiFi for public use, but again that depends on the overall cost of those bid services.
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There is a quiet whisper going around that West Virginia’s athletic department could potentially purchase an existing golf course in the Morgantown area.
I can’t get anyone at WVU to confirm the rumor, but such an acquisition would make sense, as the Mountaineer golf team needs to improve its current practice facilities.
West Virginia’s golf program, which was restarted three years ago after a 30-year hiatus, currently uses an indoor practice space at the Evansdale Crossing that features a computer-based simulator. But the team has no permanent outdoor practice facility at this time. WVU is trying to fundraise for such a project, but instead of just building a practice range and a couple of putting greens, West Virginia now may be in the market for a full-blown golf course. Presumably such a course would remain open to the public, while also being available to the Mountaineer golf team.
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We mentioned a couple weeks ago that former Mountaineer quarterback Skyler Howard had signed a contract to play professional football in Japan for the Obic Seagulls
Last week Howard got his first opportunity in the X-League, leading the Seagulls to a 59-0 victory over the Meiji Yasuda Penta Ocean Pirates in the season opener. Howard got the start and helped Obic build a 35-0 halftime lead, throwing three TDs along the way. He then gave way to the backups.
“It’s good. I loved going out there with my teammates,” said Howard after the win. “It’s been over a year since I strapped it up. It was good getting back out there. I love playing football.
“I’m still was a little rusty,” he admitted, as he also threw an interception. “I felt like I had been off for a year, but the second quarter felt better than the first.”
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A change in replay procedures for Big 12 football games has left the league looking for a new supervisor of officials.
The Big 12 has centralized all its replays, similar to how it’s done in the NHL and MLB. All replays are now sent to a review center at the league office in Irving, Texas, and the Big 12 wants its supervisor of officials in that replay center on all Saturdays to help oversee the reviews. But Walt Anderson, who has the Big 12’s director of football officiating since 2006, also has been an active NFL official for the past 22 years.
As a NFL official, Anderson often has to be onsite for his pro assignment on Saturday, so he’s unable to commit to the Big 12 to be in its Irving replay center every Saturday. Thus having to pick between the two, the 66-year-old Anderson, who is a retired dentist, decided to stick with the NFL.
The Big 12 used the centralized replay center last fall, as well, but if Anderson wasn’t available, his assistant, David Warden, was in charge of the process. Now the Big 12 wants its supervisor on site full time in the future, and that’s not something Anderson could commit to.
The Big 12 will search for a new supervisor of football officiating, though it will have to refrain from hiring an active NFL referee because of the mandate for the supervisor to be in the Irving replay center on game days.
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It’s a little early to start making reservations just yet, but Mountaineer football fans now know where and when the Big 12 affiliated bowls will be held.
The Big 12 has contracts with seven bowls this year, and that doesn’t include slots in a College Football Playoff semifinal game, if a Big 12 team (or two) is among the final four.
The bowls with the Big 12 ties start on Wednesday, Dec. 26 with the Heart of the Dallas Bowl at 1:30 p.m. (Eastern) vs. a Big Ten foe and the Cactus Bowl in Phoenix at 9 p.m. vs. a Pac-12 opponent. Then on Thursday, Dec. 27 a Big 12 team will play in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl in Houston at 9 p.m. against a SEC foe. The following day, Friday, Dec. 28, Big 12 teams will be featured in two bowl games, starting with the Camping World Bowl in Orlando at 5:15 p.m. against an ACC opponent. It will be followed by the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio at 9.m. against a Pac-12 opponent. The Autozone Liberty Bowl in Memphis will be played on Monday, Dec. 31 at 3:45 p.m., as a Big 12 squad will face one from the SEC. Then the next night, a Big 12 representative will meet an SEC opponent in the Allstate Sugar in New Orleans in a New Year’s Day game that will start at 8:30 p.m.
The two College Football Playoffs semifinal contests will be held on Saturday, Dec. 29 this year. One will be played as part of the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla. and the other as part of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. This year’s national championship game is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
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Big 12 men’s basketball recorded the highest viewership of any conference on ESPN for the 2017-18 season.
The conference averaged 1.2 million viewers for an increase of six percent from the previous season. Viewership across all ESPN networks combined increased 10 percent with an average of 581,000.
The 2018 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship game between West Virginia and Kansas was the most-viewed contest in the championship in 16 seasons and the second-most watched on record with 2.9 million viewers. In addition it was the third-most watched game of Championship Week across all networks.
ESPN’s College GameDay originated from Big 12 schools for half of its eight shows. The previous conference high in one season was two appearances.