Boise State accepts Mountain West Conference invitation

Broncos will begin MWC competition in 2011, become league’s 10th member on landmark day



Boise State players celebrate their 17-10 victory over TCU after the Fiesta Bowl on Monday, Jan. 4, 2010, in Glendale, Ariz.

Updated Friday, June 11, 2010 | 6:30 p.m.

The Rebel Room

The conferences, they are changin' ...

With the world of college athletics now shifting by the day with conference re-allignment fully underway, Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer get you caught up to speed and discuss what measures the Mountain West Conference should take to keep up with the pace.

In a Monday news conference, Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson said the league would take a proactive approach to the league expansion going on across the country.

On Friday, the MWC backed those words up in a big way.

Boise State is officially leaving the Western Athletic Conference and will become the MWC's 10th member. It was confirmed in a statement released early Friday morning, kicking off a landmark day for the 11-year-old league.

Thompson said that after the MWC decided not to expand earlier in the week, the process was then set in motion with Colorado declaring its intention to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-10 on Thursday, leading the Mountain West to act swiftly.

He said the MWC was not pursuing Colorado, but could sense that with one domino having fallen, more were soon to drop and the time to act could be short.

A conference call with the league's board of directors took place on Friday morning at roughly 6 a.m. PST, and news broke shortly thereafter.

Thompson did not say that the league is definitively done expanding. He said that lines of communication with other schools are currently open.

"This kind of goes back to Sunday and Monday last week, with our board of directors in Jackson Hole, we'd been contemplating the sea change," Thompson said. "Are we best being at 10 (teams)? Are we best being at 12? Do we look at 16? Something in between?

"We may be done, but we anticipate continuing the dialogue that started yesterday and continued into today between athletic directors, particularly board of director members with institutions. I can't predict that we are finished, but I know that we are continuing to look to grow the Mountain West Conference."

This is the Mountain West's first expansion since TCU joined the original eight-member field in 2005.

Boise State had a July 1 deadline given by the WAC to let the league know its intentions. The school is paying an undisclosed entry fee to join the conference and will officially become an MWC member on July 1, 2011.

"It will be a privilege to compete and partner with such a successful group of member institutions," Boise State President Robert Kustra said in a statement. "This move is in the best interests of Boise State's future, and the university is excited to be part of one of the nation's most outstanding conferences."

In a teleconference on Monday night, WAC Commissioner Karl Benson made it sound as if Boise State heading to the MWC was all but a done deal.

"I think everyone was anticipating and expecting it," he said. "All the signals out there were pointing in the direction that any invitation would come today.

"This is an unbelievably volatile period. The poker playing that is going on I think is unprecedented."

The movement around the country doesn't appear to be even close to done.

Nebraska on Friday officially announced its intentions to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten, joining in Colorado in defecting from the league.

As for the Big 12's future, it hangs in limbo as five of the Big 12 South schools decide what to do with invitations from the Pac-10 and invitations elsewhere.

Reports on Friday indicated that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will officially accept Pac-10 invites early next week, while Texas A&M may still join them, but is also being heavily courted by the Southeastern Conference.

If it turns out that the Mountain West is not done, either, rumors naming Kansas and Kansas State as potential targets may continue to pick up steam, as they are currently sitting and watching as their conference crumbles.

Thompson was asked specifically on Friday if he has contacted Kansas and Kansas State, but he deflected the question.

"I'll leave it at this: I've had conversations last night and this morning, continuing up until this phone call, with several institutions," he said, neither confirming nor denying. "I know that both board members and athletic directors are reaching out similarly to get a sense of where institutions' minds are these days."

However, when asked if he's keeping a close eye on the Big 12 specifically, he insinuated that he was.

There is also still the possibility of other conferences attempting to come in and poach current Mountain West members as their own leagues deteriorate, with the Big 12 being a prime candidate.

Friday's addition of Boise State could be looked at as a power play to make staying more attractive.

"I'm not aware that any are, but I would not be shocked if some were going to be approached by other people," he said. "We'll be prepared. I think today's decision was a part of that."

As for the Boise State addition, it obviously boosts the Mountain West's football credentials right from go and more than likely puts the league in line to be an automatic qualifier for the Bowl Championship Series.

The Mountain West will now claim three so-called "mid-majors" that have made BCS games as at-larges — Boise State twice, Utah twice and TCU once.

Oddly enough, Boise State's second BCS appearance was this January against TCU. The Broncos prevailed in the Fiesta Bowl match-up, 17-10.

The program also pulled off what is viewed as the biggest upset in the BCS's 12-year history, downing Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl with a 43-42 triumph.

The Broncos have won seven of the last eight WAC football titles, and under current coach Chris Petersen are 49-4 in the his four seasons at the helm, including undefeated campaigns in 2006 and 2009 to go with a 3-1 record in bowl games.

"We want to play at that BCS level," Thompson said. "We have played at that BCS level. We've performed well at that level. We've won BCS games. We now have in our market share four perennial top-25 teams, three of whom have played in BCS games, two of whom that have each won two BCS games. It continues to be the No. 1 stated goal of the Mountain West Conference, and I think we made a strong move in that direction to continue that development as a BCS automatic qualifying league.

"I think that there's going to be some changes in the BCS, regardless if there's six (major) conferences or five or four. What we do know is there's a four-year contract under the current rules and regulations with ESPN and the four bowls. In two years, there is an opportunity for a seventh conference to become eligible as the seventh automatic qualifier."

Another topic brought up during the lengthy teleconference was the potential layout of the league's regular season football schedule.

Thompson said nothing has been determined as of yet as to whether the MWC will stick with its current eight-game conference slate format. Before its own expansion, the Pac-10 set a model in place for 10-team leagues, with everyone playing three non-conference games and nine league contests, facing everyone in the conference each season.

Thompson said his personal preference is a nine-game conference schedule.

But that, along with a restructuring of the conference's current TV deal, is one of many semantics which the Mountain West now has the luxury of 14 months' time to hammer out with its shiny new member.

They key accomplishment on Friday for the league was showing that it has some vision and will do its best to stay intact as the world shifts around it.

"I think a lot of it might be people think this is a game of musical chairs," Thompson said. "And they want to have a seat when the music stops."

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  1. @bape702-

    TCU and BYU aren't going anywhere. Utah is a longshot to the PAC-10 if UT, TT, OU, and OSU keep what's left of the Big 12 intact.

  2. This is great news for the conference. The MWC can and will be a great conference for years to come as long as we stay intact. We now have to wait to see what the rest of the Big 12 is going to do.

  3. Nebraska to Big Ten. Who's next?!

    Bring on Kansas with open arms!

  4. unlv to the pac 10

  5. The joke will be on the MWC when Chris Peterson moves on to a bigger school for more money, and Boise will go back to crap. Also, now Boise will have to play a tougher schedule and will not go undefeated and will not be getting anymore BCS bids.

  6. Superbad must be a millionaire since he can predict the future... either that or he has a sky high bill for the Psychic network.

  7. MWC is not done yet. Next week will be even more of a roller coaster.

  8. Too bad for myopic rebel fans. Now a win over Nowhere State will not mean a certain MWC title. Can't beat the mormons at Utah or BYU, and now the rebels will not be able to beat Boise. Too bad so sad. Perhaps UNLV football should praise eternally Jason Thomas, Giant Size Robinson, that win over Wisconsin, and move up to Division II.

  9. @bape702-

    Who, in the MWC, would the Big 12 go after? Do tell...

  10. If moves are based on football and the Big 12 wants to keep its pulse, TCU, Air Force, Utah and BYU all have to be looked at as options, you would think.

    I don't think any of them defect and I think the Big 12 is all but dead, but just playing devil's advocate.

  11. I have to agree Ryan. The way things have transpired in 2 days make me only to believe the big 12 is done at this point.

  12. The new conference will be called the Mountain and will have two divisions the West Mountain and the East Mountain. The West will have SDSU, NM, UNLV, Wyo, Boise, Utah St, Fresno St, and BYU. The East will have TCU, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas St, Utah, Air Force, Houston, and Colorado St. My dumb guess is as good as all the other speculation out there and who knows I might be right for the first time but, I don't see any defection from the Mountain West. The big 12 is over and the new Mountain is on as long as we can negotiate a better TV deal which should be a no brainer. I don't see Iowa St or Missouri in the picture. Not that they aren't deserving but I see them finding homes in the East someplace.

    So with the line up I see we should pick up two or more bowl games and send at least 8 teams to the NCAA Tourny.

    I can't wait for next week to see how it all unfolds....

  13. I just read that TCU is opposed to Baylor. So scratch them from my list. I'm curious why one Christian university is opposed to another Christian university. Does anyone know the history or politics behind that?

    My new revised conference is still the Mountain with the West Mountain division consisting of UNLV, Wyo, Boise St, Utah St,BYU, SDSU, and NM. The East Mountain now consists of TCU, Kansas, Kansas St., Missouri, Utah, AirForce and CO St.

    I would be thrilled to have Missouri I just don't know if they feel the same about us.

    That is a fourteen team conference. It stops there with Fresno, Houston, and Baylor dropped from my imaginary conference.

    I like to include Utah St as I see them as an excellent academic institution and a sleeping giant in athletics. Someday they will wake up. They open this years football schedule against Oklahoma. They have guts and desire as they lost to Texas A&M in College Station last year by a touchdown.

  14. Baylor lobbied to exclude TCU from the Big XII in '94.

    It looks like the rest of the MWC is fine with TCU enacting their revenge and blocking Baylor. Kansas, KSU, Mizzou and Iowas State would probably make the MWC 14 a BCS conference anyway.

    No more wac schools. Let them do what Boise did and EARN a MWC invite.

    The MWC is not running a charity. And that is exactly what extending an invitation to fresno, reno, utah st., etc would be. Charity.

  15. This is certainly exciting news, and if we can get Kansas, K-State, and Mizzou, hello BCS bid. Not to mention what the two Kansas schools would do for the MWC's basketball prestige.

  16. As a Fresno State fan, I'm happy to see Boise State head for greener pastures.
    My fantasy conference idea is a new "Big Zero" conference, The only team in it will be USC!

  17. It would be fun to see Kansas at the T & M once a year.

  18. The thought about KSU and KU going to the MWC from the BIG 12 is embarrassing. Nothing against MWC or UNLV. Look at the #'s. Big 12 splits about 175 million between the BIG 12 schools. MWC splits about 25 million. KSU's athletic budget is 45 million, almost twice what UNLV's is. If anything the BIG 12 should take BYU, UTAH and TCU. Remember this is about football. UNLV puts a team on the field but that is about it. For any of you who have not been to a football game at a major conference school, it makes UNLV/Boyd look like high school ball. If the BIG 12 is no longer, KSU and KU will either go to the BIG East or the PAC10. KU Coach Bill Self already said, KU will only go to a conference that is in the BCS. MWC is not a BCS conference. As a KSU grad, I would love to see KSU come to town and put up 72 points on the score board at Sam Boyd and take two games a year from the Rebels in BB. Joining the MWC would hurt both KU and KSU too much for me to want them to join. It is all about the $ and the MWC cant pay to put good teams on the field/court.

  19. Get over yourself, KSU fan.

    Texas is ditching you so say bye bye to all that money you've become used to. It's not like KSU was the driving force of all that $$$.

    Kansas MIGHT make it to the Pac XX, but you won't. Keep dreaming.

    I understand the BCS arrogance from other programs. But KSU????


  20. MWC has only been together for about 11 years or so. Gotta start somewhere, and for only being together for 11 years, I'd say they are heading in the right direction with expansion and young schools. (UNLV only being 57 years old mind you). It takes decades for universities to get recognition and support, however I'd say KSU wasn't even on my radar until UNLV played them. Same with Iowa State.

  21. Sorry but I do not think it is Bill Self's decision on where his school ends up. As we all know Texas is in the drivers seat and it might come to it where Kansas and KState would accept an invitation to the MWC once Texas and its followers head west. It is about money and face it Texas is the driver. It would be fun to see Kansas and Kstate in the MWC and it would only bolster an already strong reume to become a BCS conference. Then funny enough Self would be right and they do go to a BCS conference.