TCU moving to the Big East in 2012 is bad news for the Mountain West Conference, but it could be even worse news for the Western Athletic Conference.
With the loss of the Horned Frogs, the MWC has essentially been reduced to the MAC plus Boise State.
It’s also the final nail in the coffin of the league’s hopes of becoming an automatic qualifying conference for the BCS.
Even with Nevada and Fresno State coming from the WAC in 2012, the conference is now light years from ever being considered for inclusion.
A much more pressing issue for the Mountain West though, is that with BYU, Utah and now TCU headed off to greener pastures, the conference could be in danger of having the plug pulled on its current TV contract, or at least renegotiated to a much less lucrative number.
Don’t be surprised to see the conference reach out to three other WAC schools in the attempt to get to 12 teams.
Hawaii has already reportedly had talks to move its football program to the MWC, while the conference might also look to add Utah State and San Jose State as well.
Such a move would allow the league to pitch to the suits in New York on the idea that they still have a school in the Utah market and a new school in the Bay Area. It would also allow the conference to add a championship game that would increase the coffers and provide a bit of a bump in terms of exposure while providing some damage control to the league’s reputation.
Prevailing wisdom in the new world of conference realignment is that you don’t bring in more mouths to feed without those mouths bringing in more than they consume. But in this case, such a move would be an attempt to prevent a potentially drastic drop in revenue.
It would also destroy a potential competitor for television revenue in this part of the country and potentially put the MWC in position to cut a deal with ESPN if it were to lose its MTN/Verses/CBS-CS deal.
The WAC, which currently has a contract with ESPN, would certainly not be viable with just Louisiana Tech, Idaho and New Mexico State. In fact, La Tech has already been rumored to be looking at getting into Conference USA. New Mexico State would probably look to go back to the Sun Belt, while Idaho may be forced to slink back to FCS status.
The schools that announced last month that they will be joining the WAC in 2012, UT-San Antonio, Texas State and Denver, could have no conference to move to.
Bad News for BYU
If the WAC were to collapse, it could be bad news for Tom Holmoe and the Cougars in terms of football scheduling for 2012. In addition to hosting Utah State, BYU is scheduled to play Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State and San Jose State that year.
If those schools were to join other conferences, Holmoe could find himself scrambling to fill additional holes in a schedule that already needs two more games to complete a 12-game slate. The games were originally scheduled in part to help the WAC schools fill gaps in their schedules with the loss of Boise, Fresno and Nevada.
Keep your eye on the Mountain West’s reaction to TCU leaving—it could have a real impact on BYU.