Boise State on the Cusp of a Mountain West Conference Invitation?

Jason DuniganCorrespondent IMay 15, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 04:  The Boise State Broncos mascot is picked up by some Broncos fans in the first half against the TCU Horned Frogs during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 4, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

What the rest of the college football world has known for years, the Mountain West Conference has finally just picked up on: adding Boise State to your conference is a no-brainer!

With the Mountain West brass getting ready to meet soon, the prevailing thought…or at least the prevailing rumor…is that the Mountain West, or “MWC” as some call it, will invite Boise State to join their conference as soon as the Broncos can negotiate a way out of their current conference, the Western Athletic Conference, or “WAC.”

By taking Boise now, the MWC can include Boise State’s top 10 finishes towards their BCS automatic qualifying totals in a couple of years when each conference’s credentials come up for evaluation.

It makes 100 percent sense. No question. This needs to happen.

The only glaring problem still facing the MWC, however, is the looming threat of the Pac-10 and Big 12 conferences coming in behind them and pilfering a couple of Mountain West gems for themselves.

That is why it is imperative for the MWC to add Boise as soon as they possibly can, but to also be smart enough not to stop with Boise.

Adding Boise by itself is a good move, but it will not prevent current MWC members from moving on to bigger and better things. Honestly, the MWC can add just about anyone not named Notre Dame, or that doesn’t already reside within a BCS automatic qualifying conference, and it won’t make a whole lot of difference if other  (more financially lucrative and prestigious) conferences come calling.

What the MWC can do, though, is grow to a 12-team conference with a championship game and attempt to help stabilize the conference and ward off any outside threats.

I am not convinced the schools in the MWC want to move to another conference. The schools in the Mountain West seem to fit well together, and if they were able to achieve automatic qualifying status, they may be willing to tell the other conferences to pack sand.

The MWC already has its own network that few people have access to, but that doesn’t mean it can’t become a valuable commodity in the future.

What the Big Ten has been trumpeting is the financial value a conference network can provide, and the MWC should follow the Big Ten’s lead and continue to expand to take full advantage of the potential of their network.

After hanging up the phone with Boise State and letting them know they are “In,” the next physical action the Mountain West should take is to start dialing the University of Houston to extend them an invitation to join, and follow that up by issuing an offer to Fresno State as well.

While they are at it, they should go ahead and grab Nevada, UTEP, SMU, and Tulsa and call it a day.

Now immediately, my faithful readers, you are going to start saying to yourselves that most of those schools were part of a 16-team WAC mish-mash several years ago, and they chose to faction off and form what is now the Mountain West Conference.

You are saying to yourselves that it will never work or that they tried it before and failed and the sky fell, and cheese fell off of crackers, and cats started living with dogs, etc…

Well, that was a different time. A different era, if you will. It was a time when the WAC had no shot at being one of the Big Dogs of college football. Now, the Mountain West Conference has a real shot at being one of the Big Dogs. They have a legitimate chance to get a seat at the grown-ups table.

Today the 16-team mega-conference is all the rage. Not only is the Big Ten talking about it, but the SEC has all but said it will retaliate with an expansion of its own if the Big Ten grows to 16 members.

Still, even being one of the Big Dogs will not make the MWC immune to losing teams to other conferences. And losing any of its top teams would be the proverbial “nail in the coffin” of any hope the MWC has of gaining - or potentially maintaining - an automatic BCS bid.

A nine- or 10-team Mountain West is vulnerable, but a 16-team Mountain West if a force that can withstand losing a team or three, and it makes it much more attractive to Boise State because it provides proof of future stability.

On top of that, it widens the marketing footprint of the conference’s cable network, “The Mountain,” meaning more cable providers would be willing to pony up the cash to carry the network as part of their package offerings.

Even if Utah ends up leaving for the Pac-10 and TCU ends up leaving for the Big 12, the teams that remain would be strong enough maintain the conference’s new-found automatic BCS bid, and Boise State would potentially assume control of the top as it has done in the WAC.

The concern on the part of Boise State has been the stability of the MWC, and the fear that they could jump ship from the WAC, only to have some or all of the top Mountain West teams end up leaving in a short period of time, thus putting Boise in a conference full of also-rans, just like they have been in the WAC for several years now.

The solution to those fears and to the potential answer is to grow the Mountain West and grow it now.

A Mega-Mountain-West-Conference might prove to be too good to leave for teams like Utah, BYU and TCU. After all, what teams would you rather face to get to a BCS bid; Boise State, New Mexico and Houston, or Oregon, USC, California and Oregon State? Okay maybe that’s a bad example considering the MWC and Boise State’s propensity for beating Pac-10 teams, but still, you get the idea.

So start with Boise State, oh Mountain West decision makers, but do not stop until you have created a force capable of withstanding a Pac-10 earthquake or Big 12 tornado. And if you do, the fruits of your labors will grow for decades to come. Give or take a team or two.