Shortly after Fresno State and Nevada held dual press conferences officially announcing their acceptance of invitations to the Mountain West Conference, commissioner Craig Thompson took center stage and held court during a 45-minute teleconference.
While there were questions regarding the latest additions to his conference littered throughout, Thompson was, for the most part, peppered with questions regarding the status of a current member that’s rumored to be on the verge of becoming an ex-member.
BYU, as they’ve been for most of the past 24 hours, was the central focus of Thompson’s media session and, if the commissioner does indeed know the school’s intentions for the future, he was not showing his cards. Regardless of how the press framed their questions regarding BYU’s status in the conference and the possibility that they could make a go of it as a football independent, Thompson was deflecting at every turn.
On several occasions when the subject of BYU was broached, Thompson nimbly averted a real answer by stating that those questions would be best directed to the school. Numerous times, Thompson pleaded ignorance regarding BYU’s intentions or gently chided a reporter for drifting into the hypothetical.
Thompson did allow that BYU is still a member of the Mountain West — reiterated that numerous times, in fact — and the school participated in several conference calls both Tuesday and Wednesday regarding the potential additions of Fresno State and Nevada.
Thompson also, and apparently with a straight face, said the invites to the two new MWC schools were not due to rumors of BYU leaving, that there was no correlation between the two situations. Both schools were first contacted by the conference Tuesday morning to gauge their interest, after the first rumors of a BYU departure began making the rounds.
Outside of that? Thompson’s teleconference did nothing to clear the smoke surrounding BYU’s conference future. If anything, the smoke has been joined by a soupy, dense fog, making it next to impossible to determine exactly what turn this situation will take next.
And, in this game of conference chicken Thompson & Company seem to be engaged in with BYU officials, maybe that’s exactly what the former wants.