The Mountain West Conference continues to throw suggestions and thoughts around regarding adding more teams and becoming a “super conference” that would gain an automatic berth into the BCS. As of right now, the Mountain West has started informal conversations with universities that might be left out in the shake-up of the college football landscape.
In addition to the league’s talks with schools from the Big 12 and Big East that might be excluded in conference realignment, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson has had conversations with Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky about a football merger.
Such a union would create a super-conference with at least 22 teams in two divisions stretching from Hawaii to the East Coast. But is this good or bad? The original thinking of the people running the Mountain West Conference was that the conference was already going to gain an automatic BCS bid because of the teams that were already coming in.
With Fresno State, Nevada, and Boise State joining a conference which already had BYU, Utah, TCU and San Diego State, the thinking was that this would be enough to gain automatic qualifying into the BCS. And why not? All the teams listed above have been riding in the top 25 for several years, with Boise State, TCU, Nevada and Utah all being in the top 10 in the nation at some point.
However, this was not to be. Boise State came over, Fresno, Nevada and Hawaii will come over in 2012, but TCU, BYU and Utah all bolted for other conferences. The Mountain West is still very solid, but now the “heads” are trying to figure out a way to build a super conference and gain that BCS bid no matter what.
There are literally dozens of scenarios that could play out over the next couple of years in regards to who comes to the Mountain West. It will all depend on what teams leave what conferences. As of right now, the Big 12 looks to be in the most trouble, because if Texas and Oklahoma leave, that would be it.
“If in the worst case there’s a 10-team Mountain West Conference in August 2012, that’s not a terrible place to be,” Thompson said. “But are there better options? That’s what we’re trying to determine.”
Thompson said he’s spoken with his counterpart at C-USA many times about merging football leagues. Should a plan be hatched, each conference would play separate schedules with the winners meeting in a title game.
“Basically, it would be two separately run conferences and business as usual, if you will,” Thompson said. “We’re just trying to see if this is an option for these 22 schools.”
the Mountain West will know after this year whether it has qualified or needs to seek a waiver and get approval by a 75 percent majority of the BCS oversight committee members to obtain automatic status for the 2012-13 season.
“One of the intended goals (of a super conference) is that the best team, however determined out of these 22 to 24 institutions, would get an automatic BCS berth,” Thompson said. “That’s something that would preclude whatever is perhaps happening in the Mountain West world.”
These days, Thompson is trying to sort out fact from fiction with all the speculation from around the country. He’s also formulating quite a few contingency plans.
“It’s trying to work in a world right now that’s speculative but you’re asked to give definitive answers,” Thompson said. “What will we do if this happens? What will we do if that happens.
We’re trying to position ourselves for any number of scenarios.”