The Big East just lost their commissioner, and now, they're frantically fighting to figure out if one of the teams they expected to fill their void, from a prestige standpoint, is going to back out of the deal. The league already lost TCU to a better conference when the Horned Frogs opted for the Big 12 over the Big East. Now, the Boise State Broncos hang in the balance as they must decide whether or not to join the conference.
Reported by CBS's Brett McMurphy, the Broncos are worried about the future of the WAC for their Olympic sports and the future of the Big East. Good for the Broncos. The climate is changing on the collegiate athletics landscape, and it's a smart move by the school in Boise, Idaho to play the wait-and-see game until they're forced to make a call on July first.
The Olympic sports and the future of the WAC is a big reason to continue looking for a conference home. Sports like tennis, wrestling, volleyball and the like cannot join the Big East. That's too much flight time, too much money and just too much pressure on the Boise State athletic department.
However, even in the scope of football, without the Olympic sports dilemma, the Broncos are wise to just wait. The automatic bid system that gives the Big East an automatic berth into a BCS bowl is dying in 2014. Rumor tells us that the system is being pushed towards a flat, top-10 or top-15 rankings pool from which the major bowls would select their participants, using tie-ins to get their teams, where possible.
Even though the Big East has had their champion participate in a BCS bowl every year since their inception, the league does not have a true bowl tie-in. The ACC has the Orange Bowl. The Big Twelve has the Fiesta Bowl. The SEC has the Sugar Bowl. The Pac-12 and Big Ten have the Rose Bowl. The Big East Champion has floated between the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls.
What that means is, under the new rankings, to qualify system teams that qualify from tied-in conferences they would be sent to their respective bowls and the remaining participants would be selected from the pool. Boise State has finished ahead of the Big East Champion three of the last four years.
Since Boise State's big rise to prominence in 2006, where the Broncos finished behind Big East Champions Louisville, the Broncos have been topped by the Big East in 2006, 2007 and 2009. That's 50-50 on Boise State outperforming the Big East in the rankings.
When one looks at those numbers the real question is: under this new system, do the Broncos really need the Big East?
I'm inclined to say no. Not because the Mountain West is a better conference than the Big East; it most certainly is not. Rather, the Broncos don't need the Big East because it's not going to give them the boost that they expected when the autobids were in place.
Without the automatic bid, all the Broncos are doing is flying cross country to play games with the hopes of ending up in the Top 10 to 15 in the nation, possibly sneaking into the Top Four. That's what they're doing right now—except without the cross-country costs.
Now the question of the $5 million exit fee is a palpable one, and the Broncos would have to come up with the money. However, for their Olympic sports to be housed in the MWC and their football team to grossly cut back travel, all while fighting the very same fight they have been fighting, it makes sense to pay the cash and stay in the Mountain West.