The rumors and speculation and whispers have been there for months, that Boise State, and San Diego State as well, was reconsidering its planned move from the Mountain West to the Big East.
Finally, there’s some definitive fire to go along with the smoke.
BSU is scheduled to join the Big East on July 1 of this year, but has yet to officially notify its current conference, the Mountain West, of its intent to withdraw, CBSSports.com‘s Brett McMurphy reported Friday morning. Additionally, McMurphy writes, “Mountain West representatives met with Boise State officials earlier this week to persuade the Broncos to remain in the MWC.”
The university has until June 30 to officially notify the MWC of its intent to leave. A contract BSU has already signed with the Big East states that the school would owe a $5 million exit fee if it “leaves” the Big East before July 1, a $10 million exit fee if it left on or after that date.
It’s believed that at least part of the MWC’s recent discussions with Boise entailed how the conference could help pay the $5 million exit fee.
It appears there are at least three reasons why Boise State is having second thoughts about a move to the Big East.
- The biggest reason for that, one could argue, is the demise of the WAC. With Boise’s football program moving to the Big East, all of the university’s non-football sports would be moving from the MWC to the WAC. If the WAC ceases to exist — that’s a very real possibility — BSU would need to find another conference home for its other sports. The MWC has already stated that it will not allow Boise to move its football program to the Big East while keeping its other sports in its current home.
- With talk of eliminating automatic qualifying bids for the six “power conferences” as part of a revamped postseason in major college football, a major impetus for Boise State’s move to the Big East will suddenly be taken away. The Broncos’ desire to take its football program out of the MWC and into the Big East was based on two reasons and two reasons only: to become a part of an AQ conference and pull in more money as a result. Speaking of which…
- The Big East last year reportedly turned down a television deal that would’ve paid all-sports conference members more than $14 million annually — just over $8 million annually for BSU and SDSU as football-only members — with the thought being the league could get even more in the future if it waited. That was a big factor for Boise, which made in the neighborhood of $3 million annually off the MWC’s deal. Now, however, it appears as though the Big East may have erred in turning down the original offer as McMurphy writes “the Big East’s new media rights will be worth substantially less than [the] $155 million per year” they could’ve gotten last year. Less money, therefore, equals less incentive for Boise State to move to a conference two time zones away.
Add up all of the above, and mix in some lesser mitigating factors, and one could make a very compelling case for Boise to stay right where it is, which appears to be exactly what the MWC is attempting to do. And, it seems, that’s an option to which Boise is more than willing to listen.
The loss of the Broncos would be a significant blow to the Big East. With the departures of West Virginia (Big 12) and Pittsburgh and Syracuse (ACC) in 2013/14, the Broncos were being counted on to become the flagship program on the football side of the conference. Losing BSU would very likely have a ripple effect on the Big East that would be extremely detrimental to the future of the conference, football-wise.
Most certainly San Diego State would pull out, as could Louisville. Prior to McMurphy’s report, there was another from ESPN.com that stated the Cardinals, as has been the case for a handful of months, have made it perfectly clear to the Big East that the school wants to be in either the Big 12 or the ACC. UConn as well continues to maintain that it wants to be a part of the ACC, although those feelings thus far have not been reciprocated.
Should Boise State opt to bail on the Big East and remain in the MWC, and the expected trickle-down effect takes place, the Big East could very well be left with Cincinnati, Rutgers, UConn and USF as current members, and Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF as members beginning in 2013. And that’s provided the ACC doesn’t do an about-face on UConn.
In other words, it would be left with a league that’s nothing more than the Big Conference USA East. Good luck getting major television dollars off that football grouping.