Mountain West upbeat about conference's future

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Realignment and television contracts may have concentrated the power in college football in a handful of power conferences, but that hasn't dampened the outlook of the future at the Mountain West.

"I think the room is excited and energetic," commissioner Craig Thompson said Monday at the conference's spring meetings. "There's a sense of momentum. These people, meaning some of the new members coming in like the Fresno States and Nevadas or Hawaii in football, those guys have played each other for decades. It's not as though, 'Oh wait, here's somebody new.' They're more like a cousin or in-law. We've known them and have been going to the same Thanksgiving dinner for years. It's not as though we have a whole new mind-set."

Boise State, expected to join the Big East in 2013, was not present during the three-day retreat at Torrey Pines golf course and resort. The Mountain West appears to be set with 10 football-playing members once the Broncos depart and, with the league's proposed merger with Conference USAcalled off, is looking for a stable membership in the forseeable future.

"San Jose State and Utah State are participating in these meetings in anticipation of next July when they're members," said Thompson. "I think the tendency is that we've gotten to a point where we've gotten to 10 football-playing members so let's maybe take a pause, collect our breath a little bit and see where any future changes may lead people.

"There's still great interest in the Conference USA perspective of we have some similarities and we're going to play them in two of our five bowls and scheduling purposes. But that would probably be the extent at this point.

The Mountain West did not issue a statement on any formal position regarding the BCS, but it is clear the league will have to fight to get into any future postseason system and likely face an even more uphill battle than they do now. As the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 have pulled away from the rest of the FBS, others like Thompson's conference have recognized their new place in the college football power structure is not terribly different from their old one going forward.

"The TV rights are different between five leagues and the rest the FBS membership, there's no question about that," said Thompson. "We've played in some BCS bowl games, and those members have left. Does that mean we're in a place where we're not ever going to get back to those points? I don't know. We're energized and excited, so what we have to do is hopefully maintain that there's equity in a lot of those decisions. Somebody's going to win the national championship, but 120 teams won't."

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