The way Boise State President Bob Kustra sees things, he and the Broncos athletic department owe a great deal of appreciation to San Diego State counterpart Elliot Hirshman.
A planned Friday night dinner in Boise was just one way of showing his gratitude.
In the final days of June, with Boise States future conference affiliations hanging in the balance, it was Hirshman who worked tirelessly to secure the Broncos new non-football home in the Big West Conference.
He kept pushing, kept pushing hard and assured that this whole thing came together, Kustra said. He had quite a bit of leverage with the Big West and he used it very well.
Hirshman used his relationships with other presidents in the Big West to persuade them that adding Boise State was in the leagues best interests.
He first spoke on Boise States behalf at a Big West board of directors meeting in May. He lobbied throughout the summer on behalf of the Broncos.
San Diego State was a very strong advocate, and if they hadnt been, Id say there would probably be little chance Boise State would be here, Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell said.
Said Kustra: San Diego State is really the reason why things all worked out with both the Big West and the Big East.
Hirshman was protecting his schools interests as well.
San Diego State wanted to go to the Big East in football for financial, competitive and exposure reasons, Athletic Director Jim Sterk said.
But the Aztecs needed Boise State to remain committed to the Big East. The Broncos, however, needed a stable home for their other sports programs. Without one, they may have been forced to abandon their plan to go to the Big East in football starting next season, likely costing San Diego State a place in the league as well.
The Big West, which has long coveted San Diego State for its basketball program, didnt want to risk losing the Aztecs just months after getting them. The Big West voted unanimously to add the Broncos on Aug. 20. The move was announced Aug. 25.
It was important for us and it was important for Boise, so Im glad it all worked out, Sterk said.
At times, Sterk talked almost daily with Boise State Interim Athletic Director Curt Apsey and then new Athletic Director Mark Coyle. Kustra and Hirshman spent months on the phone together, Kustra said.
Those conversations and the shared experience of conference realignment worries have formed a bond between the leaders at each school.
We have been through a lot together. Even though fans may not understand, they should understand. Its a special friendship and a rivalry. We did this together, Kustra said. If we can do this together, we certainly ought to be able to forge a terrific rivalry.
Boise State and San Diego State are misfits a description that no one would disagree with. They will be the westernmost football schools in the Big East, a league headquartered in Providence, R.I., and built on basketball prowess in big, urban northeast cities.
Boise State and San Diego State share no real history or affiliation, aside from the one forged in the last few months.
The Broncos and Aztecs have met just once on the football field last years 52-35 Boise State victory.
Now they will meet every year, likely as western division foes in the new-look Big East.
Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said he favors a geographic alignment for the league, pitting Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU, Memphis and one other league member in the west.
I dont know if it is (a rivalry) or not, but it would make sense that it would become that way since were the two teams furthest west in the Big East, San Diego State coach Rocky Long said.
But to develop a rivalry, the competition has to be good. And to this point we have not played at the level of Boise State. And we havent been competitive in games that weve played against them. We havent been competitive. So its not a rivalry yet. Until we can compete on an equal basis or make the game really, really close, you dont have a rivalry.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who will be competing in his third different conference since 2010 when the Broncos join the Big East, is cautious about anointing anyone as his programs rival.
Weve got to stick in a league long enough to do those things, Petersen said.
In the Big West, the Aztecs should be among the leagues top contenders in every sports, notably mens and womens basketball. San Diego State is the preseason favorite in the Mountain West in both sports this year.
Our coaches have a lot of respect for San Diego State and what they can do. In order to compete in the Big West, youre going to have to compete against San Diego State, Coyle said. It will develop that natural rivalry.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444,Twitter: @MurphsTurph