Weighing Boise State’s four best options if it leaves Mountain West Conference

first_imgBoise State is one of the most successful programs in college football.The Broncos have a 165-34 over the last 15 years, third-best in the FBS behind only Ohio State (171-28) and Alabama (173-32). That’s what makes Boise State’s recent statement regarding the Mountain West so interesting. The Broncos have a disagreement with the conference about whether this would be the last time they can negotiate a media rights deal separate from the rest of the league after the conference landed a six-year, $270 million deal with FOX and CBS.MORE: College football’s winners, losers after early NFL draft entries“The Mountain West stated that this was the last time our deal would be negotiated separately,” the school said in its statement. “However, Boise State’s decision to join the conference was predicated on a number of negotiated provisions, including the right to separately negotiate material terms of media rights relating to our home games.”This is stated in our conference agreement and cannot be changed by any vote of the membership or conflicting agreement. We will not support any change to this provision and are in the process of weighing our options to move forward.”Assuming one of the options is to leave the conference, where would the Broncos end up? Here are the four possible options:American Athletic ConferenceThe AAC has claimed the Group of 5’s New Year’s Day 6 bowl bid in four of six seasons in the College Football Playoff era. Boise State was able to secure that first bid in 2014, beating Arizona 38-30 in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos haven’t been back since despite compiling a 52-15 record in that time — second-best among Group of 5 schools.So why not add to the conference’s strength? Remember, Boise State nearly joined the Big East in 2012. The AAC isn’t much different, and one could argue it is what the Big East might have been. Adding the Broncos would give the AAC even more strength in its “Power 6” quest. Considering UConn is leaving the AAC to rejoin the Big East — football will be independent — it leaves a position available for the conference to fill.One potential hangup is the vast distance between Boise and the remaining conference teams. Even if the Broncos played out of the AAC West Division, the nearest conference opponent would be Tulsa — some 1,500 miles away. That said, if Boise State chose to leave the Mountain West, this is the most logical course of action.IndependentGoing independent would be an intriguing option for the Broncos, who have been tied to the Big West, WAC and Mountain West conferences since bumping up to Division I in 1996. Boise State has increased its national profile since then, however, and there is an allure to playing an independent schedule.The challenges would be similar to what BYU faces: The Cougars — which won the national championship in 1984 while playing in the WAC — have been trying to get the attention of the Power 5 since leaving the Mountain West after the 2010 season. BYU is 70-47 with one 10-win season since. And, no matter how difficult the Cougars’ schedule is, they have not received that attention.Boise State doesn’t have quite the same brand power as BYU, either. What Power 5 program is going to travel to Idaho in November in the middle of the Playoff race? Scheduling could be more difficult than it seems.This would be a move the school would regret in the long term.MORE: Composite top-25 preseason rankings for 2020 seasonPac-12 ConferenceThis would be the jackpot for Boise State — if there was another round of expansion in the Pac-12. The Broncos could compete in the North Division, where they would be a geographical fit and boast similar attendance ratings to Oregon State and Washington State.The Broncos have a familiarity with those schools. Boise State is 12-13 all-time against Pac-12 teams as a Division I program and would have a natural rivalry with South Division team Utah, which went from the Mountain West to the Pac-12. It would add another quality football program to the conference.What would it take? Another round of realignment. If the Pac-12 wants to go to 14 or even 16 teams, Boise State would be one of the teams it considers, at least from a pure football standpoint. It would take more sweeping changes, however, than the current TV spat the school has with the Mountain West. Would Boise State meet the Pac-12’s stringent academic standards for its member institutions?.This is the best option for Boise State. It just might not be the best option for the Pac-12. Big 12 ConferenceWhen the Big 12 held an audition of sorts for possible expansion, Boise State was one of the best candidates in the pool.Where do they fall short? Attendance. The Broncos would have the 10th-best home attendance in the Big 12, only ahead of Kansas. Every other school in the conference ranks in the top 50. It’s a deal where Boise State fits from a football perspective — they would be able to compete with Kansas State, TCU and Iowa State on a yearly basis — but the regional interest in the Broncos simply wouldn’t justify their inclusion.The Big 12 also has proven over the past few seasons it doesn’t need expansion to get in the College Football Playoff: It only needs Oklahoma and Texas to be good.last_img

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