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Report: Boise, BYU, SDSU all still in conversations with MWC

BYU v Boise State Getty Images

As is usually the case, one realignment story — in this case, Maryland’s departure from the ACC to the Big Ten — tends to open up the proverbial flood gates to a handful of other reports, which opens the gates for others and soon enough you have a college football pyramid scheme.

One such report involves — surprise! — the future of the Big East conference. Per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Boise State, BYU and San Diego State are still having conversations with the Mountain West Conference about re-joining the league. However, it’s reported that the talks did not originate solely because of this latest round of conference realignment. Though not official yet, it’s believed that Big East member Rutgers will also announce it’s intention to apply for Big Ten membership tomorrow (Tuesday).

Rather, discussions reportedly began when it was announced last week that college football’s new playoff would have six access bowls with one spot guaranteed to go to the highest-ranked team from a conference that does not have a contractual tie-in to one of the major bowls (i.e., the Big East, C-USA, MAC, MWC and Sun Belt). In terms of access, the Mountain West would be on the same level as the Big East. Still, McMurphy reports that discussions among the three former and possibly soon-to-be former members have “greater significance” because of the latest moving and shaking between conferences.

The Big East is currently on the open market for a new TV deal after its 60-day exclusive negotiating window with ESPN passed. This is where things get messy with the likes of Boise State and San Diego State. On one hand, there’s still no definitive number (yet) that Boise and SDSU can hold as affirmation that a move to the Big East is financially worth it. On the other hand, any reports of wavering support from the two MWC programs — this is not the first time it’s been rumored that BSU and SDSU were showing trepidation — could affect the Big East’s TV negotiations.

And around and around it goes.

BYU, a former member of the MWC, is in a slightly different situation. As a football independent, the Cougars are in the middle of a TV deal with ESPN that brings in about $4 million annually. While a return to the MWC may not payout that much for BYU — it’s not even clear how the school could break such a contract at this time — it would give the program potentially greater access to an at-large spot in one of the six access bowls (and a higher payout).

The one thing to keep in mind about realignment since this is now everyone’s third rodeo in as many years is that everything was fine in the college footbal landscape as of a couple of weeks ago. Now, there’s at least some sense of panic. There may be moving parts, but not all of them will lead to change.

Updated 11:45 p.m. ET: Boise State president Bob Kustra released the following statement (H/T Idaho Statesman) about its future with the Big East:

“We are in contact with the Big East Conference office and are evaluating the information that has come forward regarding conference realignment the past few days.”

Not much going on the statement. Not overly promising, but not total doom and gloom either. Just evaluating options. Again, the lack of a TV deal really hurts the Big East going forward.

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16 Responses to “Report: Boise, BYU, SDSU all still in conversations with MWC”
  1. normtide says: Nov 19, 2012 7:09 PM

    Why not return to the MWC. Keep all your athletics in one league, and save a fortune on travel.

  2. kombayn says: Nov 19, 2012 7:21 PM

    Boise State & San Diego State will return to the Mountain West where they belong. I think they’ll also look at Idaho & New Mexico State to give them a couple lifelines. After that I suspect that the MWC will look at BYU & UTEP to make it 16 teams but I’m sure the MWC would be happy at 14 teams.

  3. pastabelly says: Nov 19, 2012 7:29 PM

    UConn goes to the ACC and the Big East will just be a basketball conference.

  4. deadeye says: Nov 19, 2012 7:40 PM

    “The one thing to keep in mind about realignment since this is now everyone’s third rodeo in as many years is that everything was fine in the college footbal landscape as of a couple of weeks ago.”


    That is the problem with believing everything these university officials say, you end up getting blindsinded by reality. Everything has not been ok going all the way back into the spring:

    -The BIG12 had heavy discussions with both FSU and Clemson about joining. Those discussions sent off alarms within the ACC. People like Bobby Bowden and Dabo Sweeny were making public statements to the effect that it would be a mistake to leave the ACC. They said those things because they knew what was really happening.

    -Notre Dame was in simultaneous discussions with both the ACC and the BIG12 about becoming a partial member. They played each conference against each other, and the ACC gave the best deal to the Irish resulting in the move from a couple of months ago.

    -The new playoff format was being negotiated between the conferences. This understandably worried teams in weaker conferences.

    -The ACC tv contract was renegotiated, and the numbers were disappointingly low.

    -Maryland began reaching out to the BIG10 and BIG12 because they were desperate to improve their revenue. They had to cancel several athletic programs due to their budget problems.

    -The SEC and BIG12 created a brand new bowl (which has since become the Sugar Bowl) to compete with the Rose Bowl. They each own 50% of the bowl and together keep all the revnue.

    -The most recent tv deal for the BIG12 was being negotiated during the spring and summer. It resulted in a new 12 GOR for the conference. This was very stabilizing.

    -The SEC network was/is being negotiated, and the revenue numbers that it is expected to generate have been shared with their top expansion target, VT. An invitation from the SEC could be offered to the Hokies witin a month.

    -Since Maryland’s BIG10 move, GT is now talking to the BIG10 and the BIG12 is talking to both FSU and Clemson again.

    The point is that you can’t rely on university officials when discussions like these are happening, they deny everything until it all becomes official. And up to that point meaningless platitudes about “being committed” and “happy with the current arrangement” are incessantly offered up to keep everyone else in the dark.

  5. whoisedgy says: Nov 19, 2012 8:07 PM

    Boise, et al stay in MWC. FSU and ? To Big 12.
    I am so glad Oliver Luck got the Mounties in the Big 12!

  6. Romulus says: Nov 19, 2012 8:10 PM


    while i appreciate the insight and speculation. The SEC will not add any more teams, they have already had serious issues already with scheduling the next two years. They have made this clear multiple time. They will never add just one team because the way the conference is balanced, its always been a East/West conference and every university within the conference wants to keep it that way because of divisional and non divisional rivals. The SEC wants Florida St. but not purely for revenue numbers although it would never happen because it is UF leverage in most athletics that is competes in the SEC. They would then seek out a western division opponent to once again balance the conference. The SEC also is proud of its regional tradition meaning that they want fans to travel to games. it is one of the few conferences where fans can travel to all divisional and non divisional games with the exception of USC to Missouri and vice versa but they already knew that would happen. Its safe to say the SEC likes where its at.

  7. deadeye says: Nov 19, 2012 8:26 PM

    “while i appreciate the insight and speculation. The SEC will not add any more teams, they have already had serious issues already with scheduling the next two years. ”



    The scheduling problem you mention for the SEC is very real. Believe it or not, going to 16 would alleviate those issues, because they would be able to go to four divisions of four teams each.

    Again, don’t get caught up in what officials say on the record. When it comes to realignment, 99% of that is disinformation.

    The SEC wants a school in Virginia and North Carolina. They might end up taking others, but not at the expense of getting into those two states.

  8. thefiesty1 says: Nov 19, 2012 8:51 PM

    If Boise backs out of it’s intension to go to the Big East, the BE is dead as a football conference. Wait a sec, it already is.

  9. hahapapa says: Nov 19, 2012 9:19 PM

    Stay Boise. Just stay ….

  10. imaduffer says: Nov 19, 2012 9:58 PM

    The sad part about Boise State is, the fan base is not as large as most schools and their games will never bring in 70,00o fans. Money is the driving factor and unfortunately they don’t meet that criteria.

  11. timh1955 says: Nov 19, 2012 10:42 PM

    I just wish Boise State would make decision on a conference and stick with it. They have gone from the WAC to MWC to Big East while at the same time thinking about staying in MWC then finally deciding to go to the Big East and now they are again considering staying in the MWC! Incredible! All of the conferences that have been in including the Big East are worthless.

  12. lbijake says: Nov 19, 2012 11:01 PM

    UConn stays in the Big East and it will still be just a basketball conference.

  13. sportsinhd says: Nov 20, 2012 2:00 AM

    It’s kind of sad to see traditional rivalries die because of big money, but a bunch of 16 team conferences would move us even closer to a very real playoff. Forget the four team scenario, a bunch of 16 team conferences playing two semi-final games and then a championship game would make for a great December. Fans would get what they want, more of a real playoff, college presidents could say they “fought” the playoff, and everyone gets more TV money. It’s a win for everyone but the student athletes who get to watch everyone make millions at their expense.

    The big prize in all of this realignment is VA Tech. I can imagine a bidding war between the SEC and Big 10 over the Hokies. North Carolina would be a good fit in the SEC, and since it’s their basketball rivalry with Duke that really matters that could continue on, albeit just once a year.

    Boise, BYU, etc moving back to the Mountain West makes some sense, they aren’t going to get into a super conference anyways, but it’s sad watching schools like BYU and Boise who have worked so hard to be competitive get crapped on with everything outside of their control. Still, if they can get to 16 teams and get the championship game it will help at least a little bit with that goal of reaching a big money bowl.

  14. Pac12Ute says: Nov 20, 2012 5:01 AM

    @ Romulus

    The reason that the SEC doesn’t want to go to a 16 team league has more to do with playing 7 division games, 1 cross-conference, and 1 rivalry game. That would be 9 SEC games every season, resulting in a tougher schedule and 1 less pillow fight against an FCS team.

  15. floridaconservative says: Nov 20, 2012 9:21 AM

    #1 – BYU’s contract with ESPN provides for at least 3 games on ESPN or ESPN2, at least one game on ESPNU, and at least one game on BYUtv. The four guaranteed games are worth about $4.0M (the breakdown is something like $1.2M per game for ESPN, $1.0M per game for ESPN2, and $0.8M for ESPNU. ESPN holds an option to pay similar rates for additional broadcasts.
    #2 – Even in the loss to San Jose State, it was pretty obvious which team merited being picked up by ESPN2. Attendance was only about 15,500 (up from SJSU’s season average of 9,200). ESPN clearly thinks BYU brings eyeballs
    #3 – If BYU doesn’t figure out a way to win, I’m not sure how long BYU will continue to bring eyeballs.

    Add up all three points and I think BYU stays independent for the next 2-3 years unless they continue having 7-5 regular seasons or get invited to the Big XII. The MWC would have to offer all kinds of TV autonomy to get BYU to agree (similar to the Big XII-Texas arrangement). I guess time will tell.

  16. sbuel2 says: Nov 21, 2012 7:56 AM

    MWC has limited capacity in seating and attendance. When Boise State and SDSU were leaving, their MTN network (one of the first conference networks) ceased operations last May. There are no large TV audiences to add money to the coffers for any major conference to gain. Pac 12 may be going to 14 teams soon to keep up with the B1G and SEC and maybe Boise State and BYU (Sunday scheduling for non football sports is an issue). Big 12/10 is still at ten so no championship game. They need to add at least two teams. Issue, who wants to be under Texas thumb and with the new commissioner, their desire for all home games for Thanksgiving has already been done for the future. They did have to go to even profit sharing except for the $20 mill a year for LGN which is only for Texas. Four teams have left big 12 in last two years. So with Texas rules, it might be difficult to get any teams willing to join them to get back to 12 teams let alone 14 or 16. There is going to be more scrambling and you can’t blame teams to go for an improved financial situation, like Maryland. Plus larger conferences have better opportunities and competition with non-football sports.

    Eventually, probably 16 four super conferences and if you aren’t in one of them you will be getting the leftovers.

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