LAS VEGAS The Mountain West plans to remain with 10 football-playing members for the foreseeable future and has ruled out adding Idaho and New Mexico State, Commissioner Craig Thompson said during his annual state of the conference address.
Weve informed them that they will not be members of the Mountain West. Go on to Plan B, whatever Plan B may be, Thompson said of the two remaining football-playing members of the WAC.
Thompson said neither program would move the needle on a TV package. The league is adding Utah State and San Jose State from the WAC in 2013 when Boise State and San Diego State depart for the Big East. That will keep the league at its current 10-member alignment.
A 10-team football-playing conference is the way were going to be for well into the future, Thompson said.
The commissioner did indicate that the league might be interested in adding a Texas school or schools. He said the league visited with Texas-San Antonio, which is joining Conference USA in 2013, and received informational material from Texas State. Conference USA member Texas-El Paso (UTEP) also is an intriguing candidate for the conference.
If, for whatever reason, they tire of traveling to Miami and Charlotte and Norfolk, Va., we would have conversations with them, Thompson said, referencing the locations of several new Conference USA members.
Thompson made it clear, however, that the conference is not having negotiations with UTEP.
The Mountain West has been Idahos top preference for a conference affiliation, but the league has not reciprocated the interest. The Sun Belt also ruled out further expansion, leaving the Vandals considering independence in the Football Bowl Subdivision or joining the Big Sky of the Football Championship Subdivision.
COST TO LEAVE: $2.3 MILLION
Boise State will forfeit about $2.3 million in Mountain West revenue for 2012-13 because its leaving for the Big East.
However, the school would not lose its Bowl Championship Series qualification money if the football team reaches a BCS bowl game, Thompson said. The Mountain West pays BCS participants $4 million. The schools expenses come out of that money.
The Mountain West distributed about $2.9 million per school for 2011-12. The total revenue of $23.3 million is expected to remain the same in 2012-13 despite the loss of $4 million in TV revenue because The Mtn. network was shut down. Money from the NCAA basketball tournament will make up the difference.
The Mountain Wests TV deal now is worth $8 million per year, but thats open for negotiation again with the membership changes next year.
BLUE RULE WAS ON TABLE
The Mountain West rule prohibiting Boise State from wearing all-blue uniforms on the blue turf would have been rescinded if the Broncos had decided to stay in the conference, Thompson said. (If Boise State breaks the rule, the league board of directors would tackle the issue, with a fine possible).
But the largest piece of the Mountain Wests pitch to keep the Broncos was to subject half of the conferences BCS distribution to a performance-based formula. Teams with BCS Top 25 finishes would have earned larger shares, with Boise State getting the most and Nevada, Hawaii and Fresno State getting a bump.
Thompson said he dealt with the Boise State negotiations on a daily basis for months and thought he had a chance to prevent its move to the Big East.
It was a very hard decision for Boise State, he said. Our presidents felt we were a better league with Boise State. I agree with that.
MORE TV ON WAY
The Mountain West is close to finalizing its TV schedule for this year. More than 30 games will be added on local or regional television, putting all but a handful of games on TV, Thompson said. That package is expected to include the Boise State-New Mexico game, which is the only Broncos game not scheduled for TV yet.
Four MW-owned games are on ESPN networks, including BYU-Boise State and Boise State-Nevada, because rights-holder CBS Sports Network sold them.
ESPN was willing to pay and buy those games, Thompson said. I dont know if they werent in the past, but this year they were.
The Mountain West is looking into putting games on digital platforms like phones and tablets in the future, perhaps as soon as this basketball season, but not for this football season.
ANOTHER TRIP TO VEGAS?
Boise State has won back-to-back MAACO Bowl Las Vegas titles and the Broncos could be headed to the game once again. The bowl has the first choice among bowl-eligible Mountain West teams to play against a team from the Pac-12.
If Boise States in the hunt, we feel like this is their place to play if theyre not going to the BCS, said Tina Kunzer-Murphy, the games executive director.
The Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego has the second choice among bowl-eligible Mountain West teams. The opponent will be BYU. However, the Broncos play BYU this season, and the game likely wont want a rematch.
The Mountain West also has bowl tie-ins with the Hawaii, New Mexico and Armed Forces bowls. There is not a selection order for those games.
Kunzer-Murphy said the bowl is not interested in making an agreement with the Big East and wants to keep its Pac-12 vs. Mountain West game. Mark Neville, the associate executive director of the Poinsettia Bowl, said his game has not had conversations with the Big East.
BCS PITCH HAD ONE-YEAR OPTION
When Thompson met with BCS leaders to pitch the conferences case for automatic-qualifier status, he asked them to consider a one-year option just 2012 in addition to the standard two-year option. The reason: Boise State, which was a big part of putting the Mountain West in position to request the waiver from the AQ criteria, was only expected to play one more season in the league.
The BCS rejected both options without explanation.
We deserved it. We earned it, Thompson said. The black-and-white rules say we should have received it. It had been granted in the past. For whatever reason, it was not granted for us. We were able to access those games without it in the past, and theres nothing stopping us from doing it again.
Hawaii will pay Boise State a $175,000 travel subsidy for this years game as part of the Warriors membership agreement with the conference.
Boise States media day player representatives, cornerback Jamar Taylor and offensive lineman Joe Kellogg, didnt get out much during their two-day stay.
Me and Jamar decided were probably ready to go home, Kellogg said Wednesday. Vegas isnt really our thing. I just miss being with the guys back in Boise, working out, getting ready for the season.
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen arranges for all of his recruits to go snowmobiling on their official visits, which usually are held in the cold winter months.
The snowmobile helmets even have Cowboys logos on them.
Guys who played for Wyoming in the 1970s tell current players they did the same thing.
The snowmobiling experience is part of Christensens attempt to make sure players understand the benefits and negatives of moving to Laramie.
We dont have malls and we dont have nightclubs, he said. If thats important to you, dont come here. Its not going to change.
THE FLAG REMAINS
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr still has a Boise State flag in his Fresno residence. It was placed there by his older brother, former Fresno State quarterback David Carr, when Derek arrived in 2009.
The deal: He cant take it down until the Bulldogs beat the Broncos.
Boise State beat Fresno State 57-7 last season, Carrs first start in the rivalry.
I only get one more shot at those Broncos, said Carr, who was friends with several players on last years Boise State team. Im trying to take that stupid flag out of my room.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat
Brian Murphy: 377-6444, Twitter: @murphsturph