Boise State AD talks digital network, football championship after Mountain West meetings

ccripe@idahostatesman.comJune 7, 2013 

Boise State University Athletic Director Mark Coyle.


— The Mountain West's forthcoming digital network and first football championship game were key topics at this week's conference meetings, Boise State Athletic Director Mark Coyle said Thursday.

The digital network has not been finalized, but the concept calls for each school to produce live video of non-televised events on its campus. That content would be made available for free. Football and men's basketball games are included in the plan, although it's unlikely any Boise State football games would land there because of the program's popularity and special arrangement with ESPN.

Previously, the Mountain West's TV agreements did not allow streaming of the two most popular sports.

"Football and men's basketball are significant pieces of the digital network," Coyle said.

The conference plans to do an assessment of each school's capabilities and must reconcile different capabilities and contractual agreements. For example, Boise State retained its Web-streaming rights until April 1, 2018, in its membership agreement with the Mountain West because of an existing multi-year contract. The school has been charging to view events online.

For the championship game, which will be played Dec. 7 at the stadium of the division champion with the highest Bowl Championship Series ranking, the conference established a working group of staffers from across the league to develop protocol. The host school will run the game.

Both participating teams will receive a financial reward, Coyle said, with the rest of the money distributed across the conference.

The Mountain West has not sold the TV rights for that game yet. CBS Sports Network gets priority but must reach a financial agreement.

Other notes from Coyle:

• He supported the idea of inviting all 22 men's and women's basketball teams to the conference basketball tournaments in Las Vegas. The plan was approved at the meeting.

The format produced much debate at the athletic directors meeting earlier this spring, Coyle said. The women's tournament will run Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. The men's tournament will run Wednesday-Saturday. The top five teams receive byes into the quarterfinals.

"The goal was to have them all play in (the Thomas & Mack Center) and have all our teams there," Coyle said. "That was a priority with me. There was healthy debate about that. I feel like we made the right decision."

• As part of its agreement to stay in the Mountain West, Boise State and the conference partnered on a deal to sell rights to the Broncos' home football games to ESPN.

"The new TV arrangement we have is phenomenal for Boise State," Coyle said. "But then, financially, all Mountain West teams get rewarded. … If you could have told us when we went into this process that ESPN is going to own your home games, we'd be pretty excited. They're the big stick - that's what people pay attention to."

• Boise State has paid its $1.5 million exit fee to the Big West, Coyle said. The school has not reached an agreement with the former Big East, which the school has sued to try to avoid an exit fee of up to $5 million. Boise State scrapped plans to join the Big East for football and Big West for most other sports in 2013-14 to stay in the Mountain West.

• The new College Football Playoff that begins in 2014-15 is better than the BCS in Coyle's eyes. "We have better access in this new system," he said. "If it does expand, we'll welcome that. But at the end of the day, if you win your games, you're going to have a chance. That's what you've got to do."

He did not seem interested in serving on the selection committee for the playoff system.

"If you put me in witness protection," he said. "You talk about pressure."

• Boise State will present a $36 million budget to the State Board of Education this month. That's about a $1 million increase over fiscal 2013.

• Boise State is close to a final decision on whether to install a new video scoreboard in the north end zone this year. "Stay tuned," Coyle said. "We are working incredibly hard on that. It is a priority."

• The band will move from the east grandstands to the north end zone this season. It will be located near the tunnel where the team enters the field. Coyle hopes the band will have an impact on more fans playing in that direction. The move opens 300 seats in the east grandstands. Season-ticket holders will have a chance to upgrade into those seats. Also, the band, cheerleaders and dance team have moved under the athletic department umbrella.

• Installation of the new midfield logo at Bronco Stadium - matching the athletic department's move to a slightly different Bronco head without the words "Boise State" - should be completed this week. Blue strips also have been added on both sidelines to provide more of a buffer before players hit the old track. Coyle also is looking into having the purple-and-gray Mountain West logos replaced. Last year, the conference began permitting schools to use their own colors for the logo.

• Coyle went on a non-conference football contract spree this year, signing home-and-home deals with Florida State, Oklahoma State, Virginia, Connecticut, Louisiana and Troy. That fulfilled one of the goals he had when he got the job 18 months ago.

Virginia (ACC), Oklahoma State (Big 12) and Connecticut (Big East/American Athletic) will be the first teams from their conferences to play regular-season games at Bronco Stadium.

"Boise State has been a great partner to college football," Coyle said. "They've gone and played these neutral-site games and these special games. Those are awesome and we still want to be a part of those things, but an objective for me when I interviewed for the job, I told (President Bob Kustra), 'How can we get some of those people to come here?' We're grateful for Virginia, Florida State, Connecticut, Oklahoma State - all those teams that have stepped up. … I'm trying to get some firsts. And we've been able to do that."

Coyle has one opening to fill through 2018 - a home game in 2015. That makes a home-and-home deal difficult, but Coyle said he doesn't expect to have trouble finding an opponent.

The Broncos also could add a 13th regular-season game in 2016, but he has not talked to coach Chris Petersen about whether they want to do that. With the conference championship game, the Broncos would be in danger of playing 14 consecutive weeks.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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