1Sources: Schools may rejoin MWC
Updated: November 19, 2012, 7:21 PM ET
By Brett McMurphy | ESPN
Boise State, San Diego State and BYU have had conversations with Mountain
West membership about the possibility of returning to the league, sources
The talks originated after last week's decision in Denver by the BCS
commissioners to award an automatic access bowl berth to the highest-rated
champion to the "Group of Five" conferences. That decision in essence put
the Mountain West on equal footing, as far as playoff access is concerned,
with the Big East starting in 2014.
The caretakers of college sports long ago stopped worrying about the fans or
the student-athletes. It became about them, their egos and legacies, about
the aphrodisiac-laced cocktail of power and greed. And so it is again,
writes Dana O'Neil.
Sources said Monday those talks are expected to bring on greater
significance after Maryland announced it was leaving the ACC for the Big Ten
. ESPN reported Rutgers will announce Tuesday it is also leaving for the Big
Ten. That means the Big East will lose Rutgers and then potentially either
UConn or Louisville to the ACC.
A San Diego State official said: "Nothing changes, we are committed to the
With the Big East losing two more schools and having the same playoff access
as the Mountain West, Boise State and San Diego State are reconsidering
their options. One of the main reasons both schools opted to join the Big
East was the draw of more television revenue.
However, it's unknown how much more the Big East's future media rights will
be worth compared to the Mountain West's after losing Rutgers to the Big Ten
and another member to the ACC. It's also unknown how much the Mountain West
's media rights deal would increase if Boise State, San Diego State or BYU
returned to the MWC.
Even though Boise State and San Diego State don't join the Big East until
July 1, 2013, the schools would have to pay an exit fee to get out of their
contract. Both schools signed contracts with the Big East on Dec. 6, 2011,
with a $5 million buyout, but that amount was increased to $10 million in
January when Navy announced it was joining the league in 2015.
BYU, which left the Mountain West after the 2010 season to become an
independent, would have to get out of an eight-year contract with ESPN to
rejoin the Mountain West or Big East.
ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz declined comment when asked if ESPN would
allow BYU out of its contract.
BYU's deal with ESPN is worth nearly $4 million a year through 2018, with an
option for 2019, sources said.
BYU wouldn't be able to earn that much in the Mountain West, but the Cougars
could be interested in returning to a conference because it would get
greater access to a major bowl berth.
As an independent, BYU would have to finish among the top 10 to 12 teams in
the nation to earn an access bowl berth. However, if the Cougars were in the
MWC or Big East, they could get an access berth by being the highest-rated
champion of the "Group of Five."
The latest conference realignment moves continue to decimate the Big East,
which has only one football member remaining from 2003 -- a Temple team that
initially was dismissed from the league.
In the past year, the Big East has had six schools -- West Virginia, TCU,
Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame and now likely Rutgers -- leave or announce
they were leaving the league, with a seventh school expected to go to the
ACC to replace Maryland.
Meanwhile, the Mountain West's membership next season will consist of 10
football programs: Air Force, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada,
New Mexico, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State and Wyoming.
When the MWC announced this past summer it was adding San Jose State and
Utah State to replace Boise State and San Diego State, MWC commissioner
Craig Thompson said then the league purposely didn't expand past 10 in case
the Broncos and Aztecs had a change of heart.
"Our board has determined that we're staying at 10 football-playing
institutions," Thompson said in July. "We're going to line up with that
formation, but at the same time we'll keep our eyes on the landscape and if
there's a need to change, we'll do that."