Mountain West coaches grumbling over CSU's new running back

Updated: August 27, 2003, 1:58 PM ET

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- The Marcus Houston issue isn't going away any time soon.

The talented running back who transferred from Colorado to Colorado State this year is expected to see playing time when the two in-state rivals square off Saturday in Denver.

Houston won rare approval from the NCAA to play immediately, rather than sit out a year. Houston, who played for Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver, clashed with the CU coaching staff before he left.

While No. 23 Colorado State is CU's problem this week, some coaches in the Mountain West Conference are unhappy with the NCAA decision.

Air Force Fisher DeBerry called the move a potential "Pandora's box."

"I just thought that was sort of the NCAA rule that when you transfer from one Division I school to another Division I school, that you have to put a year in residency," he said Tuesday. "So I was very, very surprised, as I'm sure a lot of other people in our conference were very surprised that this young man was given an immediate reprieve to play."

None of this sat well with Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick, whose team is the media favorite to win the Mountain West title.

"I wish those guys would have said something about it to my face," Lubick said. "Colorado State had nothing to do with this; Marcus and his family handled all of the appeal. All CSU did was write a cover letter and send it in to the NCAA.

"If you want to know if I think the waiver was the right thing, I absolutely think so. The NCAA did the right thing in allowing him to play."

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said he didn't think the NCAA ruling will set a precedent.

"We were surprised that the waiver was granted," he said.

Houston, who is listed as CSU's No. 2 running back, said he was surprised by the coaches' reaction.

"I would like to think that, as a student-athlete, I have gone through some adversity and prospered," he said. "I wouldn't like to think that I'm outside the boundaries of the NCAA as far as the rules of college football are concerned."

CSU senior quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt said the NCAA did the right thing in granting Houston a waiver.

"I was a transfer, too, and I had some issues with coaches and things like that when I transferred," said Van Pelt, who arrived from Michigan State in 2000. "I think it's pretty obvious that there was some legitimate wrongdoing on the part of CU in this case."

Whatever the fallout, Houston will be able to play against CU and Mountain West schools the next two seasons.

"He's worked hard and he's worked himself into where he deserves playing time and then we'll let the season take care of itself," Lubick said. "But the fact that he's here doesn't mean that we're going to be an automatic champion."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index