The picture is very symbolic of the current state of the Mountain West Conference.
BYU quarterback Max Hall represents his school, stiff-arming the MWC, which looks dazed as it gets thrown on its keister.
If the Cougars follow up on their idea of ditching the conference to become Notre Dame West, the MWC will have lost two of its best programs (Utah being the other) this summer, leaving fans across the Rockies none too pleased.
That’s why Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson donned a cape Thursday.
No, not because he missed the Superman Convention and felt nostalgic. He sees that his conference could be headed for a rocky patch and pulled a George Clooney in The Perfect Storm.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, representatives of the MWC and Conference USA met in Colorado to discuss merging the two into a super conference with possibly more than 20 teams.
Yes, the scenario is still complex and far from being complete. But unlike the Pac-10’s attempted merger with the Big 12, this one works out fantastic for nearly everyone involved.
Except BYU. Is karma in the building?
The two conferences would not necessarily merge into one big pool of 20 plus football programs. Instead, the most likely proposal has the MWC and C-USA champions playing in a title game for an automatic BCS bid.
Which is something Cougars’ fans may have to wait years for as an independent.
Even though the bid may be the most lucrative part of the deal, it only gets better from there. A conference this large and widespread would almost guarantee a huge television contract, another prize that even the biggest schools crave.
Hmmm… I wonder what network would want a contract with a conference that has fans from California in the West to Florida in the East, and from Texas in the South to Idaho in the North.
Based on hot cheerleaders alone, the answer is all of them.
Operating in three time zones, the MWC/C-USA conglomerate could be the only conference to feature games throughout Saturday on its network. The Big Ten Network only has two or three slots for games per Saturday due to its compactness.
The merged conference could have up to five. With fans all over the country, this idea is oozing money like the BP oil spill.
With a television contract in place, the recruiting game becomes an absolute free-for-all. Wyoming is suddenly on air in Florida and Marshall hits TVs in Nevada, opening up huge recruiting channels for all of the schools. AKA, Texas and California. I was being polite to the other states.
Nevertheless, high school athletes would know they have a great chance to be on television regularly and make a BCS game in the MWC/C-USA. That could shift the talent away from the six power conferences, allowing for more parity.
Which could then lead to a fifth BCS bowl game, or, better yet, a playoff (Honey, hide the kids. He just said the p-word!).
All those benefits may bring BYU back to the conglomerate. If not, the fact that the Cougars have banked on putting their other sports in the WAC, which currently is below the required number of teams and could fold in 2011, would do the trick.
Sadly, it’s not all sunshine if the merger occurs. A couple of teams may have to be shaved off in order to keep the conference manageable, so some schools like Tulane may be out of luck.
However, when weighing the pros and cons, sacrificing a few teams for a huge money rush and a guaranteed spot in a BCS bowl is a no-brainer. David Kahn could be running this conference and know that’s the right choice.
Okay, maybe not him.
Thompson and C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky deserve a pat on the back. They see the college football landscape shifting to super conferences, and they don’t want their schools to be left out of the loop.
Their solution, in fact, makes them THE loop. Everyone else gets to see how real men do work.
Hear that, Larry Scott?
The bonus prize is getting BYU back. The merger would make BYU have to think twice about independence, and if they come back, the MWC/C-USA would be one of America’s strongest conferences.
Now it just needs a new name. Any one got a suggestion?