With all of the news over the last year or two about the establishment of so called "Super Conferences," you would think someone would have built one by now.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what is happening in the FBS. However, with so many moving parts and no central leadership, the idea of four or five 16 member super conferences is hard to establish.
However, a smaller, more agile conference might be able to get something done, while they are still small and agile.
Enter, the Mountain West Conference.
They are pioneers already in many areas, like their television deal that other bigger conferences are now mimicking. However, the problem was that the MWC went far too exclusive and strangled exposure for its own members.
Now, with Boise State returning to the conference and San Diego State looking as if they might as well, the MWC has an opportunity.
It is a unique opportunity to beat the big boys to the punch.
If the MWC can sell BYU, Houston, SMU and another Texas team on their idea, it might just happen. What is the MWC's idea? Well, it may not be their idea exactly, but they could be the first to do it. How about building a 16-team super conference of their own?
Wasn't that the WAC?
Now, before the critics cry, "What about the WAC? Wasn't it a 16-team conference?" Yes, but not in this age of Internet streaming, 24-hour sports channels, towers of television revenue and media exposure.
But, don't misunderstand, the MWC can't just become a 16-team conference without additional characteristics that make it appealing.
What about internal playoffs?
If the MWC was to go to 16 teams, they could split East/West and have two eight team divisions. Or, they could get a little bit crazy and go four different four team divisions.
How would that work?
A reader named Russ Thorson recently commented on the whole idea of "Super Conferences." He had some well thought out details on how it might all work. However, it was his thoughts on scheduling that stood out the most. In his correspondence he said:
A nine-game regular season schedule could work thus: Each team plays all three division rivals, plus two of four teams in the other three divisions. This would allow home-and-home series with every league opponent (non-division teams would be played two of every four seasons)
It sounds like scheduling would actually be simple in a scenario like this.
Each team would play the three teams in their division and two crossover games from each of the other divisions. The Conference could rotate those games around to keep things from getting stagnate and stale.
This would allow teams to still have a decent out of conference schedule and maintain interest, rivalries and intrigue within the conference.
Division playoff games.
At the end of the season the top ranked division champion would face the lowest ranked division champ in one playoff game and the other two would face off in another conference playoff game.
The MWC could host those games in Las Vegas, San Diego, Dallas, Houston or even San Antonio if UTSA was added as the third Texas school. Or, they could allow the highest seed to host the game. Either way, it could be exciting.
What about the Championship game?
Then after the first two division championships happen, the winners would face off for the conference championship in the highest ranked team's stadium.
It would add three nationally televised, interesting and intriguing games for viewers and fans, and it would beat the big boys to the punch as stated earlier.
Many believe this is where the "Big Five" conferences are headed anyway. However, with their size and egos, they may be slow to move.
The day of the "Super Conference" is coming, so why not be the first?
The key will be a great television partner.
The Mountain West has a bad television deal. They did renegotiate it, but that was to save the conference. However, the current deal expires in 2016. That bodes well for the MWC, especially if they get this 16 team conference built now.
ESPN would no doubt be the way to go, and they could help the MWC build this into something great. If they agreed to promote and broadcast the playoff games, the MWC would instantly become relevant.
Ratings for the championship game would be decent because of the investment people would have already committed in the previous week's MWC playoff games, and hosting it at the highest ranked team's stadium would generate excitement and atmosphere for the broadcast.
Here are the possible divisions.
San Diego State
San Jose State
SMU or UTEP
UTSA or Tulsa or Texas State
Is this idea crazy?
No crazier than anything else out there. Besides, since so many are saying this is where the "Big Five" are going anyway, why not show them how it's done.
The Mountain West should certainly think about creative options and not limit themselves by conventional thinking.