Thursday, August 19, 2010

Expansion silliness: Mountain West mania edition

It seemed that the mass hysteria of conference expansion  was over, and everyone could settle down and get ready to see college football get real serious about playing for that mythical national title. Then BYU had to go Spinal Tap and turn the expansion silliness level up to an eleven.
The Mountain West was set to add Boise State next year, while losing Utah to the Pac-10, while continuing to petition to be a full time BCS conference. Then reports came out that BYU had decided to  upturn the apple cart and consider leaving the conference to go independent. Independent in football, that is, but join the WAC in basketball and other sports. The move is reportedly in the works  to bolster BYU-TV, the school's state of the art cable network.
The move would  sort of make BYU the Notre Dame of the Rocky Mountain region, only Mormon and not Catholic. (And bolstering the potential viewership of BYU-TV's religious programming is one of the reasons the would be made, according to Dan Wetzel.)
Of course the Mountain West isn't ready to let its BCS membership dreams go up in smoke. While the BYU news was brewing, the conference announced that two more WAC schools, Fresno State and Nevada, would be joining Boise St. in the MWC in 2011. And Houston and UTEP are reportedly being looked at as for membership according to ESPN. Which means that the conference would be trading out one team of Cougars (BYU) for another (Houston).
But wait, it gets sillier. The West Coast Conference is showing interest in inviting to BYU to join the conference, becoming  the landing space for the school's non-football teams. In doing so, BYU's mens' basketball team would be facing March Madness darlings Gonzaga and St. Mary's.
While the Mountain West could probably handle losing BYU (and they're not going to let the Cougars leave without a fight), it looks like the WAC is looking more and more toasty as a relevant football conference. Even with BYU's kind-of alignment, it looks to be the bigger loser of the two Rocky Mountain conferences. The MWC's BCS dreams are still there, but the if the WAC had them, they probably were shattered with the loss of three teams.

(via, ESPN, SB Nation)

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