Behold a Pale Horse: The Mountain West's Rise to Supremacy

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Behold a Pale Horse: The Mountain West's Rise to Supremacy
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Who would have thought, back in 1998, when the Bowl Championship Series was put into operation, that the Mountain West Conference would be as worthy, if not more, of an automatic selection over school's from the Big Ten, Pac-10, ACC, and the Big East?

As a matter of fact, the Mountain West conference was not even fully operational until 1999, although current commissioner Craig Thompson has served since 1998.

Basically born out of the BCS, the Mountain West conference, preferably known as the MWC, is set to beseige the armies of mainstream college football, especially after another heavy blow was cast upon one of the nation's best teams by a MWC-member school.

The MWC is 2-0 in BCS appearances, with Utah winning the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and 2009 Sugar Bowl, both in convincing fashion.

Did you realize that the Atlantic Coast Conference, one with an automatic berth into the BCS, unlike the MWC, has just two wins in eleven BCS appearances?

Also, the current members of the automatically qualifying Big East conference have just a 3-3 record in BCS play.

The Big Ten is 8-11 in BCS bowl games, but in recent memory have failed miserably.

The Big Ten conference is 0-6 in its last six appearances, averaging losses of more than 17 points per game.

The MWC can make a claim against any school in the Pac-10 other than USC as well.  The Pac-10 is 9-4 in BCS history, but without the USC Trojans, it would be just 3-3.

This year, we have already seen the BYU Cougars upset No. 3 Oklahoma on a neutral field.  The other power teams of the 2009 MWC also won in convincing fashion, including Colorado State sneaking by Colorado.

When we take a look at the other conferences mentioned herein, it is debatable as to which conference is deeper talent-wise, but at the end of the day, we are calculating teams with enough power to win and talent to be considered national title contenders.

The Pac-10 looks to be a one or two-horse race again, with USC and Cal is its only BCS contenders.

The ACC has just one BCS victory since 2000, has no serious BCS national title contenders since Virginia Tech lost to Alabama.  Miami and Florida State are on the rise, as is Georgia Tech and North Carolina, but to say that either of those four, including the Hokies as a fifth, have national championship potential, is asinine.

The Big Ten has two, maybe three, national championship contenders, but this conference has proven to be a fraud in the BCS lately, as I noted above.  Penn State is the most serious threat, but Ohio State and Michigan could make a play as well.

The Big East should have its automatic qualifying rights stripped.

The only school in recent memory to have a shot at being pronounced as a national champion contender is West Virginia, but the days of Pat White leading the Mountaineers to the promised land have passed.

With that said, let's take a look at the Mountain West.

BYU, Utah, and TCU all could make a run at finishing undefeated.

BYU may be the only team to have a strong enough schedule out of conference to make a push for the national championship should they run the table and finish undefeated.

Not bad for a school in a conference without an automatic qualifying bid.

Would things be different if the MWC did have an automatic bid with the BCS?

Probably.

Everything is about image and perception in college football.

That is why the Utah's and TCU's of the college football world could finish undefeated, but still not play in a BCS game.

The MWC may be just an nine-team league, but it has been dominated by the same four schools since its inception.

Since 1999, the MWC has had 12 schools finish with ten wins or more.

Last year, the MWC had three schools finish in the final top 25, including two in the top seven.

With credentials like those stated above, why should the MWC continue to be a non-automatic qualifying league?

For those that say that New Mexico, San Diego State, and Wyoming drag down the value of the MWC, every league has its beleaguered members, like the Big 12 with Iowa State and the SEC with Mississippi State.

The shocking win over Oklahoma by the BYU Cougars has the national media talking about BYU playing in the national title if they run the table.

Such a feat will not go unchallenged, since BYU still has Florida State, TCU, and Utah on its schedule, but what a shame it would be, hypothetically, if BYU does finish 2009 undefeated and they do not get the points necessary, via polls and computers, to play in the BCS National Championship.

If that were to happen, the bowl system would need to be put to death once and for all.

Also, the MWC is a respectable 6-3 versus schools from BCS conferences in bowl games since 2004.

In disheartening fashion, earlier this year, the committee in charge of the BCS rejected a proposal drawn up by the MWC for a playoff system.

On a stronger note, though, an offer was extended to Boise State to join the MWC in 2008.

Finally, the BCS is in desperate need of a makeover.

With just two victories, Utah has more BCS wins than Penn State, Michigan, Alabama, Oregon, California, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Boise State, and Notre Dame.

Anybody that agrees with the majority of America that college football needs a playoff system should be rooting for BYU, Utah, and TCU the rest of the way, even if you disagree on the point that the MWC is more than deserving of an automatic berth in the BCS.

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