Mountain West Conference Expansion Possibilities

Jeff JensonContributor IJune 7, 2010

BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 07:  Quarterback Tyler Hansen #9 of the Colorado Buffaloes rolls out to deliver a pass against the Texas A&M Aggies during NCAA college football action at Folsom Field on November 7, 2009 in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado defeated Texas A&M 35-34.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Reports are out that the Texas legislature is attempting to squeeze Colorado out of the PAC-16 picture and putting Baylor in. 


This is not a new phenomenon. When the Big 12 was formed, the Texas legislature put the squeeze on BYU from being admitted in favor of Baylor. 


If this PAC-16 continues with the addition of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State we will need Larry Scott and the PAC-10 high and mighty to admit and apologize for misleading the public about their expansion criteria. 


Academic misfits Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are allowed in?  A cultural fit with Texas A&M?  Really? Just admit money was the reason for your decision.


If the Texas Legislature is successful, Craig Thompson and other Mountain West Conference presidents will be licking their respective chops for a piece of the Buffaloes.  A great academic jewel deep in the heart of the Mountain West. 


Boise State is in a power position in any MWC expansion

No matter what expansion occurs in the MWC, Boise has to be in the picture, at least if the ultimate goal is to qualify for a BCS auto-bid.  Having four teams in the Top-25 the last two years could help assure that the Mountain West expansion could go as high as 14 members. Anything higher than 14 and the numbers may not work out in the auto-bid requirements unless a couple of conference bottom dwellers get the boot, which won’t happen unless teams leave to join the BIG 12 Conference instead of coming to the MWC


What would divisions look like?

It depends on whether Baylor or Colorado end up getting the squeeze. If Baylor gets left out then a MWC division would revolve around keeping the “gang of 5” in the same division.  Having Colorado, however, would break up the “gang of 5” because of geographic proximity to Colorado St. and Wyoming and the natural rivalry that Colorado has with Colorado St.  Air Force would most likely be the Colorado school that would compete westward because their rivals are non-conference foes.  With Colorado in the mix, an East-West rivalry makes sense now, than with other previous scenarios.




Colorado St.



Kansas St.


Houston or Iowa State





Air Force

Boise St.


New Mexico




A note on Iowa State

The biggest question if the Mountain West expands to 14 is which schools to take. They could take Iowa State, which is a major geographic outlier in terms of where the direction of the expansion should go or maybe go with Houston, which would be better for recruiting and create a travel partner for TCU. 


What about the Mountain West Television network.?

Expansion could lead to a new television contract.  If a television network doesn’t sweeten the pot, all the MWC schools could leave and join the BIG 12 and change the name to the BIG 14, which the naming rights are owned by the BIG 12. That could give ESPN a new chance to make up for the pitiful contract offer they made the Mountain West last time.  The best case scenario resembles what the BIG 10 has done: give ESPN a crack at the games first, and then let the remaining go to the conference channel.  That would hopefully lead to fewer games on Versus.


14 leave space to grow into 16

Sixteen is not a magic number for the Mountain West. Right now the conference is trying to become competitive with the other leagues. Going with 14 teams right now lets the Mountain West continue to build up its programs and can wait for the next Boise State to come along.