Boise State officially joined the Mountain West Conference this week. The announcement was as surprising as January snow in Denver. Boise brings a great program with strong tradition (albeit short) and national respect to the MWC.
But it won't help the conference. You see, the problem with the MWC isn't at the top. It's from the middling programs in the middle to the should-be-1-AA schools at the bottom.
The conference will never gain the national respect its top programs like BYU, TCU, Utah, and now Boise State deserve (and the bowl placements and money that come with them) while they are playing October and November games in Laramie, Colorado Springs, and Albuquerque.
Then there's the horrible TV deal the MWC schools are hamstrung with as well. No ESPN exposure, no nationally televised games on channels anyone watches, and amateurish, low-definition broadcasting plague the top schools in the league, who have succeeded in anonymity despite the TV deal.
Because of that, I cringe every time I read an expansion article stating the MWC should/could snatch up Big-12 castoffs Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and whomever else is left in the cold.
Not because those schools don't bring a lot to the table, but because the four big programs in the MWC should use this conference shuffle as a prime opportunity to separate themselves from the lousy MWC schools and programs that have been anchors around their necks in the swim toward BCS money.
Those four aforementioned schools should simply leave the MWC, its stinky bottom (pun intended) and TV deal, and align themselves with remnants of the Big 12.
A conference built around a core of BYU, Utah, and Boise State in the west, and TCU, Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri in the east is a very good start.
Throw in Houston and San Diego State for TV and recruiting market purposes, and you're really on to something.
More importantly, however, you remove yourself from the shackles of schools and programs that bring, literally, NOTHING to the table.
No offense to Wyoming (my grandfather is actually a UW grad), but they have no business being a 1-A school (or FBS or whatever euphemism the inept NCAA is using these days).
It lacks the facilities, student body, alumni base, and game attendance. It belongs with the likes of Montana and North Dakota in the FCS.
And that doesn't even account for the TV market. Taking that into consideration, Wyoming brings neither a good market, good program, good academics, good facilities, nor good fan-base to the MWC.
It takes but doesn't give. By definition, the University of Wyoming is a parasite to the Cougars, Utes, and Horned Frogs. It's time for an inoculation.
Air Force does have a tradition of winning. It should stay 1A/FBS, but independence makes much more sense for the military academy, just as it does for Navy and Army.
New Mexico and Colorado State are trickier. Both have OK (but not great) TV markets. Both have had winning football in the past, and New Mexico has a winning basketball program again.
But New Mexico needs to invest (a lot) in its facilities if it wants to belong in a major football conference. Its stadium would be shameful to most Texas high schools.
Regardless of the nuts and bolts, the top of the MWC (I'm looking at you ADs of BYU, Utah, TCU and BSU!) need to show their respective fans and alumni that they are committed to becoming players on the national scene, and you simply can't do that carrying Wyoming on your back.
For fun, here's how I'd like to see things shake out in The Western 12 (Dub-12, as it would affectionately become known):
West - BYU, Utah, Boise State, UNLV, San Diego State, Fresno State
East - TCU, Houston, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Baylor
If you have to go to 16 teams, you add Colorado State, Nevada, Iowa State, and New Mexico. Or consider Memphis, Tulsa, and even SMU.
Not a bad lineup, and it becomes an immediate basketball force to reckon with.
Either way, here's my final thought to the ADs of BYU, Utah, TCU, and BSU: If you want to eat at the table with the cool kids, you've gotta lose your un-cool hangers-on.