Posted on: December 2, 2010 4:18 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
BYU may have wanted out, Utah may have wanted out, TCU may have wanted out, but the continuing expansion drama surrounding the Mountain West Conference has proven that there's still plenty of schools that would be happy to be in. The Honolulu Star-Advertister reported yesterday that Hawaii officials were in Colorado this week, speaking with MWC commissioner Craig Thompson and ironing out the final details of what appears to be a done deal to bring the Warriors aboard as a football-only member. (UH's other sports will join the California-based Big West. )
But the MWC may not stop there. According to this AOL Fanhouse report , Utah State officials have also been making a face-to-face plea to Thompson and Co. this week, asking for a MWC invite and a lifeline out of the lame-duck WAC . The Aggies won't bring much to the table in terms of football pedigree, but at least they've taken steps forward in recent years under coach Gary Andersen (including beating BYU this season for the first time in 10 tries) and can claim a sterling men's basketball program and solid academics.
USU's interest gives the MWC several options when it comes to expansion. Running them down:
They could stand pat at 10 teams . There seems to be little downside to bringing Hawaii aboard, especially in football alone -- the travel costs of visiting the islands are easily offset by the NCAA provision allowing teams a 13th scheduled game if they travel to Hawaii -- so it seems unlikely the MWC will suddenly stiff-arm the Warriors and stay at 10 teams. But few other immediate options will do much to raise the league's football profile, and weaker members on the gridiron could put the league's dream of a BCS automatic bid in jeopardy.
They could expand to 12 teams and start a championship game . A title game could be an excellent carrot for the MWC to dangle when they start looking to finally get out of the less-than-lucrative current television contracts that drove BYU into football independence. Utah State might be the most obvious candidate, but Conference USA member SMU would bring the highly attractive Dallas media market back into the league after TCU's defection, and under June Jones the Mustangs have made major strides on the field as well. With C-USA's chances of ever snagging a BCS bid set at "nil," the Mustangs would likely jump at the chance. The same goes for Houston , which is an even more distant geographical fit but features an even-better established football program and a similarly-lucrative market.
Other potential WAC refugees like Idaho or New Mexico State would also be options, but probably only in the event the BCS bid was already off the table and SMU and Houston had turned the league down.
They could merge with C-USA. This seems like a terrible idea from the MWC's perspective, but nonetheless the Orlando Sentinel reported today that Thompson and C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky have had prliminary discussions about "a variety of potential collaboration options." But it's hard to see what, other than potentially a push for a joint TV contract, the C-USA can offer the MWC; the latter is the stronger conference top-to-bottom, has more brand recognition (compare the profiles of Boise State and even, say, Fresno State to C-USA powers like East Carolina and Southern Miss ), and already has the BCS bid process underway. If the C-USA is looking to create a full merger, it would seem to eliminate any chance of the league being powerful enough to wrangle a BCS bid; if all they want is an end-of-year title tilt, that's likely just one more obstacle in the way of a Boise or, well, Boise and a BCS at-large berth.
Butit's on the table, along with a lot of other possibilities for the MWC. Thompson has some very big decisions to make, decisions that will help shape the future of college football in the West for years to come.
Posted on: November 29, 2010 6:06 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Following today's announcement by the Big East that the TCU Horned Frogs would be joining the Big East in 2012-13 in all sports, the nation turned its eyes back to the Mountain West Conference for some sort of reaction. After all, in TCU's six-year stay in the MWC, the Horned Frogs were one of the most successful members of the league, and could have been the catalyst for an automatic bid to be awarded out west (which still might happen, so that's worth mentioning).
Ah, but TCU went east, and now the MWC has to react. Here's the statement released earlier today by conference commissioner Craig Thompson:
"Today's intercollegiate athletics environment is very fluid," Thompson said. "Our Board of Directors and Directors of Athletics, as they have throughout the history of the MWC and with even more focus recently, will continue to analyze the landscape and chart our course in the context of ongoing changes. That includes conversations already underway with potential future members, as well as related discussions with our television and bowl partners.
"We appreciate the many contributions TCU has made to the growth and development of the Mountain West over the past six years. We look forward to shaping the future of the Conference in the coming months."
That's certainly a better response than Thompson's first draft, which was fifteen paragraphs of panicked expletives over and over. Probably. Maybe.
At any rate, losing TCU as a conference member is still a gutshot for the conference, as it sees its top football programs flee just as the WAC's top schools transition in. After all, even though TCU's scintillating 2010 campaign will still be "officially" considered in the MWC's bid to receive an automatic qualifier bid, is there any doubt that the BCS will find the conference lacking? There's no incentive for the BCS to actually bring the Mountain West into the fold -- just to maintain the appearance of due diligence. Shame, too, because it'd be nice to see that conference in a situation where it's not depending on one team to be perfect just to get the same shot at money as every other power conference gets. That arrangement didn't work for BYU , Utah , or TCU (all of whom have fled for more lucrative and forgiving situations), and Boise State shouldn't have to accept it either.
Posted on: November 3, 2010 1:51 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
When we last touched on the epic brouhaha surrounding the BYU -San Diego State botched replay debacle, we predicted that the BYU administration would issue a terse "no comment" in response to SDSU's requests for clarification, but that the Mountain West itself would have to reveal its findings to preserve any kind of integrity ... and to keep the Aztecs and Cougars from spening the entire next offseason at each other's throats.
Sure enough, the expected BYU response ("Insinuations that any locally contracted member of the MWC replay team influenced the replay ruling or did not follow Conference protocol are inaccurate. The University will have no further comment on this matter ") came down almost immediately. And as of yesterday, though their findings weren't released directly, a letter from MWC commissioner Craig Thompson to the SDSU president's office obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune has made the results of the conference's investigation public:
The Mountain West Conference determined that the botched replay call resulted from the “combined human error” of all three replay crew members who worked the booth for that football game against San Diego State Oct. 9. The three-man crew included two BYU alumni who didn’t notice or “weren’t sufficiently aggressive” in pointing out that conclusive video evidence of the controversial play was available and on live television in their booth ...The nuts and bolts of the breakdown: head replay official Mike Angelis apparently became too focused on one particular (inconclusive) replay of J.J. Di Luigi 's obvious fumble, and the two BYU-affiliated replay staffers failed to either notice or provide Angelis with the better view.
Why those staffers did not will obviously be a matter of discussion in San Diego for a long, long time to come, and the conference's belated decision to ban school employees from working the replay booth for their school's games was obviously a horse-out-of-the-barn moment. But if the MWC has explained where the breakdown occurred and has cleared them, there's nothing else SDSU backers can really ask for.
That's not going to keep them from asking anyway, of course. For anyone convinced that "malfeasance" was indeed behind the video mistakes, this conclusion to Replaygate likely won't come remotely close to providing satisfaction. But with all three official parties (SDSU, BYU, and the MWC) having commented and sworn not to comment again, it's fair to say this is the conclusion Replaygate has reached.