Saturday, December 22, 2012

Can Mountain West Conference Become The "Big Sixth" Member?

Like we all figured, the Mountain West Conference is trying to lure Boise State back.  Boise, remember, joined the MWC last season before jumping to the Big East conference for next season.  Of course, that was when there was a BCS automatic bid process as well as a somewhat attractive Big East.

Now?  That is all gone.

The new playoff system leaves the Big East out of the "BCS" crowd.  Boise State would have just as good a shot at the postseason if they stayed in the MWC.  Even if that didn't matter, the Big East is a shell of the conference it even was when Boise signed on (San Diego State is also supposed to leave for the Big East as well, but no word if they are interested in coming back). 

To me, it makes sense for Boise State and SD State to come back.  The Mountain West will be the same as it was this year, aside from the additions of San Jose State and Utah State.  That bumps the membership to 12 teams and gives them an ability to have a conference championship game (in Vegas, perhaps?).  The conference could be divided like this:

EAST:  Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State, Wyoming
WEST:  Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV
Pretty simple dividing line there and have that MWC title game in Las Vegas.  Maybe the league would be interested in getting to 14 teams if they can find a way to woo BYU back into the fold (New Mexico State or Texas State could be out there as the 14th team).  BYU and New Mexico State/Texas State go to the East and Boise State moves to the West division. 

Aside from that, the Mountain West should no only be able to stay the 2nd best conference in the west (duh) but to become that strong 6th conference behind the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and ACC.  I mean, Boise State is the biggest BCS buster we have had, Hawaii has been to a BCS bowl and the other schools have decent programs from time to time.  You have teams in Vegas, SoCal, the Bay Area and along the Rockies.  Getting BYU would be huge.  The MWC also has rival markets with the Pac-12 with Utah, Colorado, Southern and Northern California.

Of course all this is with the assumption that Boise State would come back to the MWC.  That isn't a done deal.  While the Big East isn't at all as sexy as it once was ... and it wasn't that sexy ... they still have the same positioning for a BCS bowl berth.  Bouncing back to the MWC could get messy for Boise State by having to pay to get out of the conference before even playing a game (ask TCU).  But unlike TCU, Boise won't be leaving for a big TV payday that can cover for the fee.  The MWC has one of the worst TV contracts out there and coming back to the conference may not be worth it for Boise.  This would also, basically, show Boise State as nomads as they've not been able to commit to anyone it seems.  They joined the WAC in 2001, left for the Mountain West in 2011 and then announced they were heading for the Big East in 2013.  Quitting on that deal would look kinda bad.

They could stay in the Big East and wait out for maybe the Pac-12 to expand again or maybe a new conference (two have been rumored) that could form.  It isn't that far out of the realm of possibilities.  Even then, the MWC would be alright but not as good as they could be with that star program in Boise State. 

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