Headlinin’: Mountain West revives its perpetual playoff push

Dr. Saturday

Making the morning rounds.

Gentlemen, we've got a hot new idea that could change everything! Feast your eyes upon... Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson is back on the playoff bandwagon, telling the Arizona Republic he plans to renew his push for a 16-team bracket he says would generate $700 million a year — more than three times the current $174 million payday under the BCS. That's nothing new: The MWC attempted to make a case for a playoff ahead of the last round of BCS contract renewals in 2009, and brought the subject up again earlier this year. This time, though, with multiple politicians and the Department of Justice zeroing in on credible antitrust claims — as well as a full-time anti-BCS lobby that's already helped to plunge one of the big-money bowl games into a major scandal — Thompson's efforts might fall on more sympathetic ears.

"What we are trying to do is offer an alternative with the current system. We have not been comfortable with the current system," Thompson said. "If you are standing still, you are falling behind. We are trying to be creative." [Arizona Republic]

Housing? Really? The NCAA has reinstated spectacularly named Boise State defensive lineman Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, a native Dutchman who missed the first six games of the season for accepting $13,600 in "improper benefits" from his host family in Boise both before and after enrolling at BSU. (He immigrated from Amsterdam while he was still in high school.) Benefits cited by the NCAA included "housing, meals, gifts, school supplies, travel, vacation, among other items," which sounds suspiciously like Tjong-A-Tjoe was suspended for being an exchange student. In addition to the six-game suspension, the $13,600 was repaid to charity.

At any rate, he'll be eligible to play Saturday against Air Force, along with two other Amsterdam natives, receiver Geraldo Boldewijn and safety Cedric Febis, who were suspended one day before the season opener for various misdemeanors. Febis missed one game and was forced to repay $20 — seriously — for "recruiting violations and impermissible transportation," while Boldewijn missed four games for benefits in the $700 range, including a 1990 Toyota Camry with 177,000 miles on it. All violations are classified as "isolated and inadvertent" and almost certainly will not lead to any further penalties. [Idaho Statesman] {YSP:MORE}

I'll be back. There's no official word from the school, but Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas practiced in pads Wednesday, took reps with the first-team offense and fully expects to be back in the lineup Saturday against Colorado, a week after leaving the Ducks' win over Arizona State with a knee injury in the third quarter. "I haven't ever been uncleared or anything like that," said Thomas when asked if he'd been cleared by doctors, in contrast to running back LaMichael James, who told reporters he'd been cleared after sitting out the ASU win with a dislocated arm. "I'm not even in the same situation as LaMichael."

At any rate, considering the game in question is an almost certain win in Boulder, whether the Ducks' banged-up stars can play and whether they actually will play are two completely different questions. [Eugene Register Guard]

Low blow means no-go. Miami has suspended defensive tackle Micanor Regis for Saturday's game against Georgia Tech in response to a groin shot Regis landed on North Carolina receiver Dwight Jones in a 30-24 Hurricane win. "Quite honestly, I'm embarrassed," coach Al Golden said in a statement. "We expect our players to represent our program with class on and off the field, and when they do not, there are consequences." [Associated Press]

Notice anything different about me? This may look like just any old "Golden Dome" to you

… but to Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who brought the helmet to a post-practice briefing Wednesday to show off the new color, it represents months of obsessive work:

"We finally got it right," Kelly said. "(Athletic director) Jack (Swarbrick) and I have been frustrated with the color of the helmet and we've had Ryan Grooms, our equipment manager, who's worked diligently in getting this put together.

"We feel like we've finally got the gold the right way. It's not those different shades we've seen over the years. We're pretty excited about it and we'll wear it this weekend [against USC]."

After all that work, they've certainly come a long way. [Chicago Tribune]

Quickly… Clemson linebacker Tony Steward is out for the season with a torn ACL, the blue-chip freshman's second in as many years. … Tom O'Brien chalks up N.C. State's injury issues to cut blocking. … 141 fans were ejected from Autzen Stadium during Saturday's win over Arizona State, including 11 who were cited or arrested. … Jim Tressel plans to man the replay booth for the Indianapolis Colts for the first time this Sunday. … Andrew Luck helps the Stanford hoopsters ham it up to promote the start of basketball season. … And Notre Dame's win over Air Force on Oct. 8 was the lowest-rated Notre Dame game ever broadcast on NBC. Here's guessing Saturday night's visit from USC will fare slightly better.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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