And so it begins. CBS Sports is reporting that officials from Boise State University are still weighing their options, and could potentially decide to stay in the Mountain West Conference. Officials from BSU were questioned on why they hadn't yet officially withdrawn from the MWC, and they gave this response:
"We are actively monitoring the changing landscape in college athletics and remain committed to making the best long-term decisions for Boise State,"
That changing landscape likely refers to the potential new system of the BCS that does away with automatic bids, and thus the need to belong to an "AQ" conference. For years Boise St. has had one of the top football programs in the country, but the school has never been given the opportunity to play in the biggest game of them all, some would argue, simply because of their conference affiliation.The new BCS system, which is still in the works, is said to be going into effect in the 2014 season, and is rumored to be a four team playoff system that has no automatic qualifiers. That change, in theory, allows any school, regardless of conference affiliation to potentially play in that playoff.
A move to the Big East is a stretch for Boise anyway. The school lies thousands of miles away from the rest of the conference, would need to beef up its athletic budget to support so much travel, and would have to split up its sports programs between multiple conference that would leave their athletics teams competing from coast to coast.
So, as it stands today, Boise St. is joining the Big East in 2013. But, they don't have to notify the MWC of their official departure until June 30th, 2013, leaving the door open for a potential change of heart. At this point, if Boise would decide not to join the Big East, they would still owe the conference $5 million in exit fees. Any departure after that June 30th date would cost them an extra $5 million.
Let's be honest here. Boise St. belongs in the MWC. It just makes sense. So, one would almost have to assume that at some point the university will decide that the Big East is just not the place for them. But, if and when that decision is made, how does it affect the rest of us?
Well, as Miner fans, if Boise St. remains in the Mountain West, our hopes of ever joining that conference are long gone. For some of us, that's ok; for others, not so much. A decision from Boise St. not to move east would likely cause San Diego St. to reconsider their move as well, and the Big East would then be looking for a couple new additions...again.
Conference USA could potentially be poached from, but there's also the possibility that the Big East finally falls apart as a football conference, like it should. There have been talks about the Big 12 potentially coming after Cincinatti and Louisville, and the ACC possibly being a player as well. If that happens, the Big East, as we know it, could be seeing its last days.
So where does that leave us? Well, if the Big East implodes, you'll likely have 5 schools without a home. Houston, Memphis, SMU, UCF, and South Florida. Sure Conference USA would be a great home for all, but at this rate, who knows how many schools will be in this conference at that time.
But, if the Big East finds a way to survive, we can probably count on a couple more C-USA members packing their bags, putting us right back into the same boat that we are in today. It's a bit early to try and assume exactly what will happen, but at this point the immediate future of conference expansion lies solely in the hands of Boise State University.