BCS Buster: Could the Mountain West Get the Big 12's Bid?

Eric Galko@OptimumScoutingFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 04:  Head coach Chris Petersen of the Boise State Broncos celebrates after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs 17-10 during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 4, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

For years now, we've seen teams like Hawaii, Boise State, Utah, and TCU consistently make their case for a fair chance at not only a BCS game, but the title game. And outside of Hawaii, each of those teams had legitimate cases made to be playing or considered afterwards the "National Champion."

With the current set-up of the BCS, the 10 games feature the top two teams and six automatic conference representatives with two spots remaining for at large bids. And five times over the past five seasons, a non-BCS team has crashed the party.

But with the Big 12 likely to dissolve in only a matter of weeks, that sixth automatic bid will be left available. What will the BCS do?

As of now, it seems that the BCS will just leave that block open for another at-large team. But if another conference were to emerge as a BCS-worthy contender, it would be an easy and smooth transition to keep the current format.

With the Mountain West having already three consistent Top 25 teams and two BCS teams already in conference, they look primed to take the Big 12 spot right now. However, the lack of talent throughout the conference may be a cause for concern for BCS brass. While the top four (TCU, BYU, Utah, and Air Force) are all perennial bowl teams, every other team is hit or miss and doesn't have the appeal that a BCS conference needs.

However, with the Pac 10 and Big 10 poaching teams from the soon-to-be former Big 12 conference, the Mountain West could have some options to add the talent needed to increase the appeal to the Mountain West. It's unlikely that Kansas and Kansas State will answer the Mountain West's call, as they are likely to wait it out and hope the Big 10 or SEC looks to expand some more and add them in the mix.

However, Baylor and Iowa State still may remain, with Baylor being the apple of the Mountain West's eye. Baylor is in the midst of rebuilding the program but has been trapped behind the Texas and Oklahoma schools for too long to really make any headway. With a well-respected coach in Art Briles and consistently bringing in and sending out talented football players to the NFL, Baylor could be a contender in the Mountain West early on and add talent.

Iowa State doesn't quite do that, and unless they have ties to Baylor, they'll likely be left alone from Mountain West expansion.

After they get their crack at the Big 12 leftovers, the conference will have to search elsewhere in their general conference vicinity for talented teams to add appeal. Obviously, if they are going for the gusto with this expansion, they need to target Boise State. The Broncos have been a staple for small school FBS football for over five years consistently, and probably single-handedly push this team over the edge to at least be considered for a BCS automatic berth.

Finally, to make the conference an even 12, they'll have to choose between SMU and Houston to fill it out. Houston has a young coach in Kevin Sumlin and an exciting offense that has led them to bowl games consistently, and the team has some national recognition. SMU has the rich history and built-in rivalries with a few Mountain West teams. In the end, they'll likely choose Houston because of their impressive talent and consistency under Kevin Sumlin, even while losing players to graduation.

Here is the final breakdown of what the conference may look like, in order of program's football talent:

1. Boise State

2. Utah

3. TCU

4. BYU

5. Air Force

6. Baylor

7. Houston

8. Wyoming

9. New Mexico

10. UNLV

11. San Diego State

12. Colorado State

While the bottom four are not very good teams at all, the top four are all BCS-worthy teams over the past few years, and 5-8 have made bowl games in the past few years.

Is it as deep and talented as the Pac 16 or Big 10 plus two (or whatever it's going to be called) or SEC? No, not at all. But can the top teams beat these "big conference powerhouses?" The answer is a proven yes.

So, end the government impact on the college playoff system—it's not going to happen. But with everyone's favorite BCS crashers battling for the chance for an automatic berth, it at least feels like the underdogs can really take down the big-time programs each year.


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