In the crazy world of college football it seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same. The new playoff system is now coming together, but as it is accurately nicknamed, the "BCS 2.0" seems to be just a newer, bigger version of the old.
Included in the expanded money sponge known as the new college football playoff is a massive television deal worth a reported $7.3 billion. That is billion with a "b" in case you missed it. The staggering number is what ESPN has offered for the new playoff system, and the BCS commissioners have to be very happy with those kind of numbers.
The "power five leagues," as they are now being called, consist of the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, the Pac-12 and the ACC, and they will receive an equal share of the massive boatloads of cash arriving in BCS harbor. The remaining "group of five," which includes the Big East, MAC, C-USA, Sun Belt and the Mountain West, will get the crumbs that fall from the elevated table of this, the latest BCS banquet.
So Where Does That Leave Boise State and the Big East?
The "group of five" will get a guaranteed bowl game in the new system, but it will go to the highest ranked conference champion of those five.
With the teams that will be in the Big East starting in 2013, the conference would have earned that spot eight of the last 10 years if the new system had been in place.
On one hand it is good news for the Broncos, because had the new system been in place previously, Boise State would have gone to three "BCS" bowl games in the last five years. It also means that if a team like the Broncos loses a game, they could still make a top-tier bowl game as the top-ranked conference champion.
One other advantage the Big East will have over the other four conferences will be strength of schedule and conference rankings. The Big East is consistently ranked in the top six of college football conference rankings, and that should continue for years to come.
However, the Big East will be more difficult for the Broncos to win than the Mountain West or the disappearing WAC, and the Big East will have an additional hurdle called a conference championship game.
Some of the other conference champions currently don't face that last big hurdle. Ask Houston if a conference championship game helps. If you remember the dominant Cougars were upset last season by Southern Miss in the C-USA championship and missed their chance at a BCS bowl.
It seems that if the new playoff system was going to be fair to the "other five," a.k.a. the conferences formally known as the little sisters of the poor, the commissioners would require a conference championship game to be eligible for the new BCS 2.0 bowl games.
Actually, if they were fair, this conversation wouldn't have to happen in the first place.
To Add or Not to Add, That Is the Question
The current, future Big East lineup is clearly the "best of the rest," but they could get better. Big East commissioner Mike Aresco has made it clear that the conference wants to add a 14th team. At the top of that list are BYU and Air Force.
Both of those teams would be a great addition, but only BYU brings the kind of clout needed to elevate the conference. There has been some talk of adding three more teams which would include both BYU and Air Force but also adding Army. Which, with Navy already joining in 2015, it would bring great tradition and competition to the conference.
BYU, however, should be the first target of the Big East, and if history is any indication, it is.
The Big East already went after Brigham Young University once, but the deal fell through because of television rights. But, with the new developments and playoff system, you have to wonder if the Cougars could reconsider?
If anyone can land BYU it is new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco. He is a class act, and seems to have the conference stabilized and moving onward and upward.
BYU will need a conference if it wants to be eligible for an automatic bid to the new and improved BCS. However, the Cougars could still be picked as an at-large team by the new selection committee. That seems highly unlikely, but it could theoretically happen.
There Is a Wild Card Out West
One wild card out there is that BYU could choose to go back to the Mountain West now that the Mountain Network is gone. An extreme long-shot, but stranger things have happened.
The commissioner and presidents of the MWC are probably desperate enough to make a sweetheart deal to land the Cougars.
That would do two things for BYU. It would get the Cougars in the automatic bid arena and place them in a much easier conference to win than the Big East.
The danger for the MWC is alienating other teams out of desperation. It seems like it could foster resentment against BYU. Resentment, by the way, that may already exist because of the first departure of the Cougars from the troubled conference.
Also, you have to wonder if the MWC would require BYU to add their other sports back to the conference? Again, the desperation in the air might overlook that, but what would that do to the morale of the rest of the conference, and if required to bring all sports back to the MWC, what would musical conferences do to BYU's other sports?
An even bigger question might be what would a return to the MWC ultimately do to the school's integrity and credibility? Which, from all indications is quite important to BYU, and it has always seemed to exhibit both in their actions.
The Big East Has More to Offer
If the Cougars partnered with the Big East, it would be a much better fit for the football program. It would mean better competition, a conference with a better reputation, better strength of schedule and more television revenue.
It would also allow BYU to keep its Olympic sports where they currently sit in the West Coast Conference.
The Big East would give BYU some decent rivalries with Boise State, San Diego State, SMU and a Cougar fight against Houston. If a reasonable television agreement can be reached, expect BYU to be the 14th member of the Big East.
No Matter What Happens, Boise State Is in the Best Position Possible at This Time
For the same reasons BYU should join the Big East, Boise State should be happy it is going to be a member of the conference in 2013.
It will be by far the most respected conference outside of the "money five," a.k.a. "look down the end of our noses committee." Not only that, but the increased revenue and television exposure will help build new facilities and draw recruits to "The Blue."
If BYU joins, it will be another challenge for Boise State, but it will elevate the conference ranking of the Big East.
A western division with Boise State, BYU, San Diego State, Houston, SMU, Memphis and Cincinnati would be respectable.
Combine that with the a new eastern division of the Big East that included Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida, Navy, Central Florida, Temple and Connecticut. Currently the Big East has Temple in the west, but that will probably change once another western partner happens.
Compare that list to any of the other four conferences in the race for the automatic bid, and there is clear separation.
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