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College Football Insider

CBS still has option to keep Mountain West rights until 2020

The Mountain West Conference's restructured television contract with CBS creates an interesting dynamic for 2016, when the network can apply its four-year option to keep the conference's rights until 2020.

CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd reported Friday night the Mountain West had reached an agreement to restructure its television deal with CBS that allows the league to sell packages of games to additional networks. This is a reworking of a 10-year deal with CBS that began in 2006-07 and pays a reported $12 million per year.

But the deal does not affect CBS' four-year option after the deal is up, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation. In other words, the Mountain West likely won't be a free agent for another eight years.

The Mountain West doesn't see this as a bad thing as it works to bolster its portfolio and position itself for more money than its antiquated original deal.

The reworked deal is more inventory for a league that's clearly trying to become the most powerful small conference while the Big East is vulnerable. It could also free up the conference to profit more off digital rights.

With CBS still the primary rightsholder with priority picks to the top games, as Dodd points out, the question becomes: How much will the new inventory -- games with Utah State, San Jose State, New Mexico and others -- be worth to suitors?

The Mountain West will find out soon on the open market.

Otherwise, the league feels good about its 10-team membership after meetings with each school last week. One official believes the Big East's overtures to Fresno State have been unsuccessful so far.

If the Mountain West can retain Boise State, which is set to join the Big East in 2013, it could prepare for the 2016 re-up with 11 teams and possibly a 12th if it poaches from Conference USA.

Boise State has several options -- stay in the Big East, revisit the MWC, or explore an independent television deal, as Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel reports.

A Mountain West expansion to 14 teams is an option, depending on what happens with the Big East.

“Everything is on the table right now,” one conference official said.

 
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