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Colleges: BWC's add may subtract

College FootballCollege SportsFootballCollege BasketballSan Diego State AztecsBasketballBig West Conference

San Diego State is set to join the Big West Conference in several sports, most notably men's basketball, for the 2013-14 school year.

The recent announcement was heralded enthusiastically by Big West officials, who are paid to be enthusiastic about such things.

For those who follow Big West basketball, the arrival of the Aztecs, currently surging under Coach Steve Fisher, clearly adds some legitimacy to a conference that has lacked impact on the national stage since before most of its current players were born.

Some would argue that Long Beach State, which won at Pitt earlier this season and is carrying the conference's banner well through one of the more demanding nonconference schedules in the nation, is already adding to the conference's reputation.

But those that believe San Diego State's arrival will translate to increased bids in the NCAA Tournament might be misguided. The Aztecs, should they continue to roll under Fisher's already appointed successor Brian Dutcher, could conceivably dominate the conference tournament and seize the annual automatic bid.

This would deny the "get hot in Anaheim and advance," train of thought that fuels hope for a league that has an "on-any-given-night" competitive profile.

Only if a respected San Diego State team is upset in the conference tournament, could the conference get the chance to cash more lucrative checks that come with a date in the Big Dance.

And while current Big West member schools have been welcoming the Aztecs with open arms, Fisher and his staff were reportedly demoralized by moving from the Mountain West, which had the fourth best conference RPI last season, to the Big West, which ranked No. 29 in that category.

Only one of two elements crucial to the Orange Coast College football team ranking No. 2 in the state in rushing yards per game in 2012 is set to return next season, Pirates Coach Mike Taylor said last week.

Freshman running back Domenic Betts, who led the state in rushing yards with a school single-season record 1,772 and led the state in rushing touchdowns with 20, is expected back, Taylor said.

But Offensive Coordinator Jack Wigmore, whose use of multiple sets, including the smashmouth double wing helped OCC enjoy productivity on the ground, will not return, said Taylor, who is Wigmore's brother-in-law.

"He is going back into retirement," Taylor said of Wigmore, a former high school coach in Washington and Oregon, who had not coached since the 2003 season before agreeing to help Taylor out last season. "It was a one-year deal."

Taylor said he had hoped to be able to offer an offensive coordinator a full-time position, but that is no longer available. He said he has some candidates in mind and will work to have a new coordinator in place by the end of January.

Taylor also said he plans to hire a coordinator who will favor a spread offense.

"I would like to throw the ball 65% or 70% of the time," Taylor said. "That is where everyone [at the community college level] is at."

OCC began last season running the spread but, after little success early in the opening game at Saddleback, shifted to the double wing and began moving the ball.

OCC finished the season with 519 rushing attempts and 244 passing attempts, giving it a 68% penchant for the run.

Betts, who spent parts of the previous two academic years at College of the Desert and mentioned in October that he would like to potentially join a four-year program after just one season at OCC, will need further community college credits to obtain his associates degree, a requirement for transferring to a four-year school.

Taylor said a handful of players are receiving recruiting interest from four-year schools, headlined by center Alec Davis and offensive tackle Kyle Donaldson. But Taylor said no transfers have solidified their plans yet.

The OCC men's basketball team has lost a promising talent, as 6-foot-7 freshman Eric Stockstill broke his hand in the Pirates' game Saturday and is lost for the season.

Stockstill, who had a limited basketball background out of Chicago but was improving rapidly, had just pulled down 10 rebounds in a Glendale tournament game on Friday, a rare feat in a program that shuffles in as many as 14 players, limiting playing time for all.

OCC baseball coach John Altobelli, who underwent heart surgery on Friday to repair a weak valve, returned home Sunday and continues a strong recovery.

Altobelli, 48, is hopeful that he will be able to coach his team from the dugout when the Pirates open the season on Feb. 3 at home against Cuesta at 3 p.m.

barry.faulkner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

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