The Mountain West championship game won’t change anytime soon but the TV network likely will, Commissioner Craig Thompson said Wednesday.
Thompson floated the idea of selecting the conference’s two best teams for the game rather than the two division winners at this week’s spring meeting in Phoenix. Participants included the football coaches, men’s and women’s basketball coaches, athletic directors, senior woman administrators and faculty athletic representatives.
“It was a resounding silence,” Thompson said. “If I said we didn’t talk about it, that’s probably an overstatement.”
Last year, 10-2 Boise State beat 6-6 Fresno State in the title game. Colorado State (10-2), Air Force (9-3) or Utah State (9-4) might have played Boise State in the game under a “best two” format, but they’re in the Broncos’ division.
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• CBS has declined its contract option to show the 2015 Mountain West title game. CBS aired the first two games. It’s probable “that we’ll be changing networks,” Thompson said.
• The Mountain West has partnered with the just-approved Arizona Bowl to provide a team this year to play a Conference USA team. The Arizona Bowl will get the final selection from the MW’s pool of bowl-eligible teams. Early reports have placed the Arizona Bowl in Tucson, but Thompson said the location hasn’t been finalized.
• The Mountain West likely will put a team in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, vs. a Big Ten team this year. That game would replace the spot that BYU will take in either Las Vegas or Hawaii if eligible. The Mountain West agreed to give up a spot for one year in each of those locations in an effort to add some variety to its bowl offerings. The same arrangement is in place for 2019, with BYU playing in the game it doesn’t get this year. “Let’s take a breath of fresh air and let’s play somebody we don’t normally play in hotly recruited, fertile Texas,” Thompson said.
• Athletic directors and basketball coaches made a “resounding statement” that they want to keep the tournaments in Las Vegas. The current contract has one year left. But the conference members want to “see if there are opportunities to play in buildings other than Thomas & Mack,” which is UNLV’s home. There’s a new arena coming to Las Vegas, but the Pac-12 has the first right to use it, Thompson said.
• The annual Mountain West presidents meeting is May 31-June 2 in Park City, Utah. Thompson doesn’t expect any major decisions. The conversation likely will center on the rising cost of college athletics and enhancing the student-athlete experience, he said.
“They’re more business conversations this year,” he said. “We’re not going to talk membership, not going to talk about a whole lot of different things other than how is new (NCAA) governance working.”
The Mountain West’s bowl pecking order this year:
• Las Vegas vs. Pac-12
• Cactus (if the Big 12 or Pac-12 doesn’t fill its contract)
• Poinsettia (vs. Army/MAC), Famous Idaho Potato (vs. MAC), Hawaii (vs. American), New Mexico (vs. C-USA). They share priority.
• Arizona (vs. C-USA)
Notes: If BYU is bowl-eligible, it will take the Las Vegas or Hawaii spot. The MW then would play in the Armed Forces Bowl (vs. Big Ten). ... The Cactus Bowl will be played at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field in Phoenix this year. ... The Poinsettia Bowl is in San Diego.