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Morning links: Utah named a winner, BYU a loser in college football realignment; mock draft roundup

BYU's Jake Heaps is sacked by Utah's Brian Blechen as the University of Utah and Brigham Young University play MWC football Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010.
BYU's Jake Heaps is sacked by Utah's Brian Blechen as the University of Utah and Brigham Young University play MWC football Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010.
Tom Smart, Deseret News

June is usually considered the dead time in college football, but five years ago things never seemed so alive.

The world of college football appeared to be flipped on its head with teams switching leagues and rumors of mega conferences swirling across the nation.

The then Pac-10 attempted to raid the Big 12 of six of its teams, including its greatest asset, Texas, to create a Pac-16. But even though the Longhorns opted to remain in the Big 12, which saved the league, change still occurred.

The Pac-10 added Colorado and Utah to make the Pac-12 and Nebraska headed to the Big 10 (which eventually grew to a 14-team league). The changes created a domino effect. Texas A&M and Missouri ended up in the SEC and the Big 12 took on TCU to make itself a 10-team conference.

With TCU and Utah out of the Mountain West, BYU jumped to independence. And with its top three teams now gone, the MWC expanded — a move that eventually resulted in the death of the WAC as a football conference.

The changes didn’t stop there. Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel reports that “today, 43 FBS schools — 33.6 percent of the current membership — compete in a different conference than they did five years ago.”

So, who came out on top?

Mandel examined the biggest winners and losers from the realignment saga, and Utah came out as one of the big victors.

“When then-Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott failed to woo Texas and Co., he plucked Utah and Colorado for a more modest but ultimately lucrative 12-team product," Mandel wrote. "Also like TCU, Utah initially struggled in its move up before breaking through with a top-25 finish last season. The program has also dramatically upgraded its facilities.”

On the flip side, Mandel says that BYU’s move to independence resulted in it being one of the losers of realignment.

“A well-intentioned decision at the time to take football independent has largely backfired,” Mandel wrote. “While BYU gained exposure by making its own deal with ESPN, it got stuck in FBS no-man's-land when the CFP replaced the BCS. Whereas Mountain West champ Boise State made the Fiesta Bowl last year with two losses, BYU, not considered part of the Group of 5, needs to finish in the top 10 to have any chance at a major bowl. It's also missing out on lucrative CFP revenue. The MWC distributed $23.5 million to members this year; BYU split less than $1 million with Army and Navy.

“The situation is dire enough that coach Bronco Mendenhall recently said joining a Power 5 league ‘has to happen within three [years].’ He better hope the Big 12 keeps missing the playoff.”

Mock draft update

The NBA draft is two weeks away, who do the experts have the Jazz taking?

DraftExpress: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona

“The Jazz have built one of the most talented young rosters in the NBA, with an exciting blend of talented length and athleticism. One thing they don't have is a physically gifted wing who can defend 2s, 3s and 4s, while also being capable of hitting outside shots. Stanley Johnson fits that mold very well, and has the type of role-player potential that could be very valuable in a league that has very little depth at the swingman position.”

Sports Illustrated: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky

“Opinions on Cauley-Stein are all over the map. As limited as he is offensively — and no tweak to his shot is going to make him much more than a finisher and maybe a decent baseline/elbow jump shooter — his defensive upside is enormous. The Jazz could use another big (when was the last time we said that?) and Cauley-Stein can slide between both frontcourt positions.”

ESPN: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona

“The Jazz have Alec Burks, who has played well the past two seasons, but logged just 27 games due to a shoulder injury this past season. Johnson is a power wing who has a chance to be a terrific player in the league. He's big, strong and showed he can make shots, shooting 37 percent from 3 last season at Arizona.”

Other links:

— Andrew Bogut says LeBron James jumped into cameraman. (USA Today)

Should NBA baseline cameras be moved back? Players think so. (ESPN)

— The meaning of commitment: What does a verbal pledge really signify? (Sports Illustrated)