In 2009, the Mountain West produced three teams that finished ranked in the final BCS poll.
TCU, the conference champion, ended it's thrilling run with the big boys a No. 4 in the country. Followed by BYU at No. 14 and Utah at No. 23, the Mountain West made it's case as to why they should no longer be aligned with the smaller names of college football.
Instead, they made a case that they belong among the Big Six. In fact, it may very well have been the Mountain West that have stirred the talks of the rumored "Super-conferences" across college football.
With a stacked TCU team back in 2010, along with another top-25 team in Utah, the Mountain West should be just as strong this year. Throw in a very talented and young BYU team, and this conference poses a threat to any Big-Six team in the country.
So how competitive is the Mountain West really? It's always been difficult to compare these Big-Six programs to a non-BCS program, but let's take a stab at it.
Here are 10 BCS programs that would find themselves without hardware in the Mountain West conference.
Brian Kelly has a lot of work to do after Charlie Weis let the program run wild the past few seasons.
However, that isn't to say the talent isn't there. The Irish have the roster to win at lease nine football games this fall, and probably will.
That also isn't to say winning nine games in the Mountain West would be attainable. The undiscovered 2010 Irish would match-up with the elite Horned Frog team pretty awfully.
We'll get to see for real how well the Irish would fit in among the top of the Mountain West when the Irish host Utah on November 13th.
But for now, a prediction of the Irish coming up just short for a conference championship in the Mountain West seems generous.
This Rich-Rod program has been on the decline ever since he stepped foot in the door.
The Wolverines have to think about reaching a .500 record before they even think twice about winning a BCS conference championship, let alone a Mountain West championship.
This year's squad will be improved from last year with a more experienced offense and defense, but don't expect much of a jump.
TCU 35, Michigan 10.
Rutgers has been a program on the brink of making it big in the past five years.
With a burst onto the national scene in 2006 with the "Pandemonium in Piscataway" win against a top-ranked Louisville team, the Scarlet Knights just never have rounded the corner leading to consistent success.
Although a fairly young team, Greg Schiano's squad is talented. With young offensive threats like sophomores Tom Savage and Mohamed Sanu, Schiano has plenty to look forward to.
However, 2010 isn't the year where they make it back onto the national stage. The Mountain West fields at east three teams that would knock Rutgers down with a loss this season.
It seems as it was just yesterday when UCLA was on top of college football, fighting alongside Southern Cal as the big boys in the West.
However, even Norm Chow couldn't save the program from falling out of the nationally elite.
Talent may be on the way, but 2010 will be yet another year of trying to crack the Top 25 for the Bruins. Improvement will be there, but don't expect anything big from the boys in the baby blue.
Playing a tough schedule already, the Bruins wouldn't stand a chance in the competitive Mountain West this season. With TCU and Utah leading the way, UCLA would fall to the middle of the pack in the MWC-somewhere where any successful program can't afford to wind up.
Much like the Bruins of UCLA, Boston College has been another name that has fallen off the map quite a bit.
Known for their "overdevelopment" of players, the program hasn't been where it should be in the past years. Although they have some good wins under their belt, they also have some under-par ones as well.
Although Boston College fields some of the most hard-nosed players in college football, their talent wouldn't matchup well with the fast-paced defense of a TCU or even the attacking offense of a Utah.
In conclusion, Boston College should stay put with their struggles in the ACC. Their wounds wouldn't be healed any faster with a move to the MWC.
Because of the vast amount of talent and elite teams in the SEC, Auburn has taken a step back into the shadows the past few years.
However, that doesn't mean talent doesn't find it's way to the program. Recruiting hasn't been a problem even with the down years recently.
With recruiting, however, comes development. The Tigers are a young football team that is waiting to blossom. And because of that, they find themselves on this list.
However, behind the arm of Florida transfer and former five-star Cameron Newton, don't expect Auburn to be on this list in 2011. Keep the Tigers on your "up and coming" list.
But for 2010, the top of the Mountain West would have their number.
Derek Dooley has some challenges ahead of him.
Transfers, lost recruits, and criticism were quick to be announced after the hiring of Dooley. The newest Vol coach might go through a rough year in 2010, but what else would you expect when a program is abandoned so quickly by it's former "leader"?
Dooley gets a pass from me (and probably most of the nation) this year. However, his football team doesn't.
If anyone were to say Tennessee would finish in the top three in 2010 as a member of the Mountain West conference, they would be considered quite the fool. In fact, the Vols may have a tough time winning any conference at this point in time under such a fresh, new name such as Dooley's.
Tommy Tuberville knows how to win.
And when you hire Tuberville as your new head football coach, you expect to win immediately.
Texas Tech fired their "abuse-thriving" coach in Mike Leach and made the move to Tuberville's unique coaching style. In the end, this move will end up being a great one.
However, Tuberville's offense and defense differ from that of Leach's. Don't expect any drastic improvements until Tuberville gets a few recruiting classes under his belt, filling in his roster with his type of football players.
2010 may be a decent year for Tech, but the Mountain West wouldn't be too kind to them either. A top three finish would almost be guaranteed, but beating TCU would leave Tuberville without any hardware in his first year in Texas.
Just like their Big East counterpart in Rutgers, Pittsburgh is another team that seems to have just been missing a piece or two to push them into being considered the "big boys" of the college football landscape.
Bill Wannstedt wears the mustache like an elite football coach. Why can't his teams follow him into the promised land?
2009 was a great year for this Pitt team, but they lose signal-caller Bill Stull. With questions at quarterback and on defense, they will take a step back out of the Top 25 in 2010.
TCU's swarming defense would eat the Panthers up. Utah's offense would overpower this weakened defense, as would that of BYU.
A 2010 appearance in the Mountain West would result in a third place finish for Wannstedt's team.
This list seems to possess a bunch of teams thriving to make it to the top under the guidance of a great coach.
Well, South Carolina rounds out this list, Steve Spurrier or not.
Spurrier is a fantastic football coach and has shown his abilities at South Carolina to win big football games (inconsistently, however).
The Gamecocks, like many of the rest of the teams, can be filed under the under-achieving BCS teams that never seem to turn that corner they need to in order to be recognized as one of the best. Although they win big games, they lose ones they have no business losing.
With little talent difference between South Carolina and the elite of the Mountain West, I wouldn't expect Spurrier's team to come out on top in the West. Although it would end in a better result than the massacre in the SEC, the Gamecocks wouldn't find a ring in the Mountains, either.