Posted by Adam Jacobi
If recent rumors are to be believed -- and there's no indication that they're overblown -- one of the two teams that will be joining the Big East's football conference is TCU. If that turns out to be true, that's seriously bad news for the Mountain West, and in particular, Boise State.
Consider this: Boise State has been limited for years by the creampuff-soft level of competition in the WAC when it comes to building a championship-level resume. Some would argue that such a comically easy slate of opponents has also been instrumental in getting Boise State to perennial double-digit wins in the first place, and that argument certainly has some merit, but it seems pretty clear that Boise knows its chances of playing for a national title are greatly enhanced when it plays real competition on a more regular basis. Hence, their move to the Mountain West.
That Mountain West, by the way, has certainly seemed like a more plausible candidate for an automatic BCS bid than, say, the Big East over the past few seasons. Adding another high-caliber football program like the Broncos would have likely sealed the conference's (and Boise's) reputation as unassailable, and shifted the balance of power in college football west.
Alas, that Mountain West will never exist. Just days after Boise State announced their intentions to head to the MWC, Utah accepted an invitation to join the Pac-10, which was sort of expected even beforehand. BYU announced its intentions to go independent in 2011 some months later, and now TCU's likely headed east. Replacing these three teams, then, will be Boise State... and Fresno State and Nevada. WAC, WAC, and WAC.
Indeed, by the time these moves all get made, the Mountain West won't look like a new power conference at all; if anything, it'll just be the WAC 2.0, but with fewer trips to Honolulu and more to Las Vegas. Hey, win some, lose some. But a conference led by Boise, Fresno State, and Nevada didn't get a sniff from the BCS Committee when it comes to awarding an automatic BCS bid (and guaranteeing BCS money), and it won't this time around either. Boise State's strength of schedule will still continue to suffer, and the Bronco faithful will still be left calling for a playoff when their team dominates and isn't granted a shot at the national title. That cannot possibly be what Boise State had in mind when they announced plans to join the Mountain West just five months ago.