Tag:Mountain West expansion
Posted on: March 8, 2011 3:47 pm
 

MWC in the right despite Patterson schedule gripe

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As we mentioned in our TCU Spring Primer yesterday , the impending divorce between the Horned Frogs and the Mountain West isn't going to be the amicable type. The conference has responded to TCU's defection to the Big East by inflicting various 2011 schedule-related indignities on the Frogs, including switching their home date against Boise State to a road trip and ignoring TCU's request for a Sept. 10 bye week in favor of a trip to Air Force.

Though Gary Patterson hasn't ever been the sort of coach to rant and rave about forces outside of his control -- see his subdued reaction to the BCS championship conversation excluding his undefeated Frogs each of the past two seasons -- his recent comments have made it clear that he is not pleased with the way his team has been treated:
The schedule stinks.

But nobody at TCU seems all that surprised.

Humored, maybe, as football coach Gary Patterson described himself. Or peeved, as some inside the athletic offices put it ...

"I realize a lot of this is dictated by TV," Patterson said, as spring drills prepared to begin last week. "But if the league said we could have one scheduling request, why didn’t we get it? I’m wondering who else had their requests ignored."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Gil LeBreton called the scheduling decisions "bush league" this week, writing that "I thought the league was classier than that."

Certainly, the conference's treatment of TCU isn't entirely "sporting" or "gentlemanly." But there's not much sporting or gentlemanly about the entire BCS system, one that virtually guarantees that a team like the Frogs will abandon the MWC for the greener pastures of an automatic BCS bid at the very first opportunity.

More Mountain West

For the MWC to be able to fend off any future suitors for their new flagship program at Boise -- particularly in light of the fellow defections from Utah and BYU -- they'll almost certainly have to be awarded that bid as soon as possible, and if they can snag a more lucrative television contract along the way, so much the better. Playing nice with TCU does nothing to help the MWC accomplish either of those goals; a Boise win over the Frogs, for instance, counts torwards the numbers in the league's bid application and damages the standing of the conference most likely to have its bid stripped.

Even from a simple perception standpoint, it's worth it to the MWC to saddle TCU with as many obstacles as possible. If the Frogs wipe the floor with the league on their way out, there won't be any hiding from the fact that the conference may have been irreperably damaged goods. If they lose two or three conference games and watch Boise or even San Diego State ascend to the league's top ladder ... well, which one of these scenarios do you think represents the stronger position for the MWC when it comes time to negotiate that next TV contract?

It would be great if everyone in the conference expansion wars played nice and got along and sat down for tea. But the real-world demands of the BCS and its millions means that's a chump's game. You can't blame TCU for feeling aggrieved, but you also can't blame the MWC for refusing to play it.


Posted on: January 26, 2011 6:59 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 7:02 pm
 

No change in Mountain West TV contracts

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's been plenty of news to come out of the Mountain West's presidents meeting this week, most of which are covered here by the Idaho Statesman's Chad Crippe following a discussion with commissioner Craig Thompson. To recap: the TCU-Boise State game will be moved to Boise; the conference won't invite Utah State and San Jose State to join, despite reports to the contrary, and looks set at 10 teams for the foreseeable future; and various scheduling details have been ironed out, like placing the TCU-Boise marquee matchup at season's end and giving each team two rivalry games that won't rotate off the eight-game schedule.

But one detail from Crippe's report shouldn't escape notice, even among the expansion madness and TCU-Boise brouhaha:
[Thompson] did not collect bids from the TV partners based on an expanded league. “Because I didn’t know specifically who we’d be talking about,” he said ... The Mountain West is talking only with its current TV partners. Colorado State president Tony Frank told The Coloradoan that he doesn’t expect the TV money to change significantly from the current $12 million per year.
So no new television partners, and no major changes to a contract that runs through the 2015-2016 season? That's not what fans of the Mountain West want to hear, not when that contract offers the entire conference some $3 million less than ESPN is paying Texas by itself for the forthcoming "Longhorn Network."

The lack of television exposure (despite MWC games airing weekly on the excellent CBS College Sports, now in 94 million homes !) and, more importantly, television money is explicitly what's driven league mainstay BYU into football independence, and severely hampered the conference's efforts to keep other departed members Utah and TCU. While the MWC doesn't appear to be in any further danger of having its current 10 teams poached by larger leagues, that San Diego State and the Big 12 have had some measure of contact shows that that danger isn't entirely passed.

And besides: every year the MWC accepts relative peanuts while the Texases of the world get fatter and fatter on their TV deals, the gap between the conference and the BCS gate they want so desperately to crash will only widen. In short, a new, richer TV contract will be a key part of the MWC's long-term success ... and if it's not on the immediate horizon, it's fair to question how high the ceiling on that success can rise.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: January 26, 2011 10:13 am
 

Did Big 12 consider adding San Diego State?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

San Diego State president and Mountain West board of directors member Stephen Weber didn't drop any bombshells when it came to discussing why the league declined to extend the expected invitations to Utah State and San Jose State yesterday. "We got into the generic question of, 'Do any of these teams that have been talked about add value?'" he said of the board's discussions, "[and] right now we didn’t see any."

So that's pretty straightforward, if even a little more straightforward than the apparently value-less Aggies and Spartans would like to hear. But when discussing his own school's potential conference affiiliations, Weber got a lot more intriguing:

“The issue gets to be interesting when you start looking at an increasingly successful athletic program and a large TV market,” Weber said of SDSU. “I know others have looked at exactly those issues. When it’s something that will be attractive to them, if ever, I can’t guess.”

Asked if the Big 12 , now down to 10 members, had expressed interest in SDSU, Weber said, “I can’t talk about that.”

He did say no other conferences have approached SDSU about membership.

Contrast Weber's two responses here. When asked if any other league had made any sort of overtures to the Aztecs, he flatly says "No." When asked if the Big 12 had made any sort of overture to the Aztecs, he says "I can't talk about that." The conclusion is obvious: someone in the Big 12 has talked to someone at SDSU about possible membership.

Equally obvious is that any firm invitation hasn't yet been extended, or SDSU would have jumped in with both feet. But it would make sense for the Big 12 to already be doing its due diligence on either re-expanding to 12 (conference championship-staging) teams or possibly replacing current members looking to jump ship. And it would make sense -- given the huge San Diego market and their recent football and men's basketball success -- for the Aztecs to be on that due diligence shortlist.

Don't expect any of these discussions to lead anywhere concrete anytime soon; both the Big 12 and the MWC seem firmly committed to the "membership configuration already established" in their respective leagues (to use the term from the MWC's non-expansion confirmation statement yesterday). But if the Big 12 does go hunting for new blood in the near future, we now have a pretty good idea of where they'll turn their attentions first.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com