Boise State is returning to the Mountain West the Broncos never really left equipped with a special new agreement and the status of league savior, or at least stabilizer.
The Broncos also return as league bully and the team everyone else wants to beat the most. In football. In basketball. In swimming. In checkers.
Before it played a single down in the Big East or made a free throw in the Big West, Boise State opted out of those leagues. It used every bit of leverage it had to extract a deal with the Mountain West that should ensure it makes more money than any other league member for the foreseeable future.
The league and school agreed to terms Dec. 30 and league presidents voted Dec. 31 to accept the terms and welcome Boise State back. Boise State was set to join the Big East and Big West on July 1.
Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson made the deal because it was the best way to secure the future of his league and position it for college footballs new postseason structure.
The league presidents accepted the terms because they recognize Boise States value, the extra money the Broncos will bring and remain hopeful that their football programs can someday earn the same special provisions.
Boise State took the deal because it had nowhere else to go. The Big East wasnt going to acquiesce to its demands and no one associated with the Broncos was positive the Big East was worth associating with anymore. The Broncos took the deal because it was the best option for all student-athletes, from basketball players to swimmers.
Now they must all get along.
The relationship between Boise State and the Mountain West even if it is strong at the official level has always been a bit uneasy at lower levels and between fan bases.
Some of it stems from the fact that the Mountain West spurned the Broncos for so long, refusing to invite them and their powerhouse football program despite Boise States clear interest.
And when Boise State finally did get in, the league included the petty no blue uniforms on the blue turf rule, rankling the Broncos.
Boise State didnt help their cause, either. Less than three months after playing their first Mountain West football game, the Broncos were entertaining offers from the Big East.
Since announcing their intention to leave in December 2011, there has been a threat of taking more Mountain West members to form a Big East western division, creating further animosity.
One of the things we were careful to do, both the conference and Boise State, is to come up with those payment provisions so that every members of the conference can have access to those, whether its the bowl profits, the BCS or the national exposure, said Kevin Satterlee, Boise States vice president and general counsel. There isnt a Boise State provision. Every member of the conference has the ability to benefit from those. Thats important.
Boise State doesnt own the rights to its home football games. Whatever money is made from the sale of those games goes to the conference.
But the perception is much different. And the payouts could be, too. While everyone has the ability to benefit, its likely that Boise State will earn the most.
While other conference members play on CBS Sports Network with its limited viewership and no Mountain West-paid TV bonus, the Broncos are likely to be racking up $300,000 (and perhaps $500,000) paydays on national television.
I kept telling some of my Mountain West friends, we dont go to these games and play alone. So if theres going to be a national exposure bonus, theres somebody on the other side of the field that benefits as well, Boise State President Bob Kustra said.
Weve seen what uneven distributions can do to a conference. The Big 12 nearly fell apart because of the Longhorn Network. The network helped push away valuable members like Nebraska and Texas A&M.
Mountain West teams are unlikely to have the same options the Cornhuskers and Aggies did.
Instead, theyll have to exact their payback on the field. Theyll have to beat the bully.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444