Bumped to the front page.
New AD Jack Graham answered fan questions in the Denver Post's fan mail section. Of interest to the MW Connection are his comments regarding the Mountain West conference, its stability and a possible hint as to CSU's future with the conference. "Captain Jack", as he is being called by some, has interest in possibly bringing back men's baseball, instituting men's and women's soccer and possibly adding lacrosse or hockey to CSU athletics. There is speculation that it could come at the expense of water polo, which seems to have been a curious sport to keep, while killing some of the others off. The CSU Rams baseball club is the current and six-time national champion of the NCBA. The idea of a new, on campus stadium was also raised in this context, meaning it could be an all sports complex and not just football only. Great news for the other, proposed, sports.
Mr. Graham said, when asked about the future of the Mountain West:
First, with regard to the Mountain West Conference, we are in a period of real instability and transition. A combination of a very poor television contract with The Mountain, which inhibits our ability to have national attention, and the lack of a true football playoff system, has put the Mountain West at risk of surviving.
The health and standard of the television contract currently in place, the Mtn., is something of a white elephant when dealing with potential members to upgrade the conference. Mr. Graham makes specific mention of it, and does so before mentioning the lack of a playoff system in the FBS. If the fans are aware of the situation, then it is painfully obvious and a stone around the collective neck of not only the MW, but also the schools attached to it. When an AD speaks about a conference being at risk of even surviving, there has to be some speculation about what is really going on behind the scenes.
The new AD also went on to say:
I am not optimistic, at this point, that the Mountain West will be an automatic qualifier in the current BCS configuration.
CSU has been left out of the meaningful and constructive discussions about conference realignment because we have not earned the right to be at the table to negotiate; we have not delivered successful results. Let's change that dynamic; let's earn the right to have a voice.
The first half of the quote is not really a surprise to anyone. Without Utah, BYU, TCU and, soon, Boise State, the MW will have no heavy hitters left. Although the MW has fulfilled the criteria for entrance into the promised land of AQ status, very few outside of the friendly confines would be thrilled with the left overs of the MW getting an AQ bid in football or basketball.
It is the second half of the quote that is of interest. It seems "Captain Jack" is looking to get CSU a vote at the conference realignment table. The hiring of the new head coach for $1.35 million was already one sign. Another is the proliferation of new uniform designs at ram nation and the discussion of a possible new sponsor, hinted at by the logo on the proposed uniforms. From the blogs on ramnation, some supposed insiders are claiming that there will be a big announcement, once McElwain gets to Fort Collins, after the January 9th national championship game. Is it an announcement about apparel, sponsorship and uniforms? There have already been two meetings about the location of the new, on-campus stadium. Could a location have been found already? Or could CSU be working towards another way to get the "voice" Mr. Graham spoke of? CSU begins classes on January 17th. If the rumors are true, look for Mr. Graham, Tony Frank and Coach McElwain (a.k.a. the three wise men) to make an announcement around that time, in order to garner as much publicity as possible.