Just one week ago, the world of college football seemed destined for great change.
Nebraska and Colorado had fled the Big 12, which looked to collapse around a monster conference developing in the West, and the Mountain West Conference looked poised to be the overwhelming victor of it all after securing Boise State from the WAC, and having it's apparent pick of the Big 12 leftovers.
One week later, the Big 12 has become a solid 10 teams, the Pac-10 was left scrambling for a 12th member, the Big Ten has dozed back to sleep, and the Mountain West was left on the outside looking in.
Let's look at exactly how close the Mountain West was to becoming a major conference.
As of last week, the conference had the following schools secured for the 2011 season:
1. Air Force
2. Brigham Young
3. Colorado State
4. New Mexico
5. San Diego State
10. Boise State
With this lineup, the conference would have four teams (Boise State, Utah, BYU, TCU) that have proven themselves to make a splash in NCAA Football.
In addition, they would have teams such as Air Force, who have proven to break into the top 25 every now and then.
The conference would have a couple proven teams for the men's basketball tournament as well.
All of this set aside, the conference was also a front-runner to pick up Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, and even perhaps Iowa State.
So if everything else around them had gone the way that it was speculated, in 2011 we may have been looking at a 14-team major conference in football looking at an automatic BCS bid , in addition to having a two or three perennial powerhouses in basketball.
Alas, all did not go as planned.
Dan Beebe and the Big 12 had the barrel of the expansion gun pointed to their head in the name of the Pac-16, but they talked their way out of it.
The conference powerhouses didn't bolt as speculated and instead held their ground, leaving the Mountain West looking on in silence.
As if all of this wasn't enough, the Pac-10 came knocking and kicked the Mountain West in the gut by luring away one of its powerhouses in Utah.
The Mountain West's automatic bid for the BCS seems to have disappeared, unless the faint hope that Texas A&M still abandons the Big 12 or a Big East collapse comes through for them, and even then it will be an uphill battle to secure a spot among the majors without adding a team. This scenario is unlikely as the conference is sandwiched directly between Big 10/Big 12 and Pac-10 territory.
Furthermore, the MWC still have to be on the lookout for a Pac-10 invasion that could potentially take San Diego State, and possibly even their new gem Boise State (depending on the legal logistics of it all).
If there's any conclusion that should be taken from all of this is that if anyone is to be disappointed about the NCAA Conference shakedown, it's the Mountain West and their programs who are, as has been the case in the past, on the outside looking in.