This season for the Mountain West is critical to determine if they can become part of the BCS. We all know that the Mountain West falls short in the criteria when it comes to overall computer rankings, and we also know that the Big East and ACC do not qualify in all three categories but they will both keep their automatic qualifying status through the 2013 cycle. The ACC has a contract with the Orange Bowl and the Big East stays due to the BCS contract.
The Mountain West will need to file a petition to the Presidential Oversight Committee, but according to ESPN's Brad Edwards ($) the Big East's numbers would not even allow the league to file the petition to become an automatic qualifying league (emphasis mine):
You'll see that the ACC meets the first two criteria but doesn't reach the AQ standard on the third, while the Big East comes up short of the AQ standard on the first and third. Furthermore, the Big East ranks sixth in the second part, which means that it doesn't even achieve the level that's necessary for appeal.
In other words, the BCS is asking the Mountain West to achieve a standard that it doesn't even hold its front-line members to. Whether that fact might help the MWC appeal remains to be seen.
What also remains to be seen is whether this performance could cause the Big East not to be included as an AQ conference in the next BCS contract, which will be negotiated in 2012.
If it isn't, the conference still has hope. There's another four-year qualifying cycle that runs from 2010-13, and any non-AQ league that meets the standards during that span will have a guaranteed BCS berth for the 2014-17 seasons.
This puts the BCS and the Mountain West in a bind, because on one hand the Mountain West is getting to use Boise State's numbers from a weaker WAC and they get to use TCU's numbers even though they are not part of their league. Now it is clear why the Big East wanted TCU, they get the No. 3 BCS rankings from 2010 to count in the next cycle. The prior high was West Virginia at No. 22.
However, the BCS put these rules in place and while I would like to think the BCS would stick with the rules that have been in place I would not be surprised if the Mountain West gets denied. If they are denied rest assured that Craig Thompson, the Mountain West and all of the politicians that have been involved against the BCS to do something about this.
If the BCS was smart they would allow the Mountain West in the club for the 2012-13 cycle and use the rolling four-year numbers from 2010-13 which would exclude TCU's numbers during that time, but also include the numbers for Nevada, Hawai'i and Fresno State. There would be a two-year window where the Mountain West could receive an auto-bid and in my opinion once a team is in it is hard to push them out; just look at the Big East.
It also could depend on what the next incarnation of the BCS is going forward past the 2013 college football season. There could be a plus-one that was mentioned recently by adding the Cotton Bowl to the mix.
I have been on this drum for a while saying the Mountain West should be included to the BCS due to the rules the BCS has in place and that their petition should be granted when compared to the ACC and Big East who do not automatically qualify for BCS inclusion, but they still keep their seat at the table.
Current rankings are below in regard to BCS inclusion:
Average ranking of highest-ranked team (final BCS standings, 2008-10).
|2. Big 12||3.3|
|5. Big Ten||7.0|
|7. Big East||12.3|
11. Sun Belt
Average ranking of all teams (2011 conference membership) by the six BCS computers. The high and low rankings for each team are not discarded, as is the case when the BCS standings are calculated (BCS computers, 2008-10).
|2. Big 12||41.5|
|5. Big Ten||46.6|
|6. Big East||50.3|
|11. Sun Belt||98.4|
Adjusted top-25 performance ranking (final BCS standings, 2008-10), which accounts for the number of top 25 teams in the conference, with weight given to where those teams ranked and an adjustment made for the number of conference members.
|2. Big 12||90.6|
|3. Big Ten||88.9|
|6. Big East||45.1|
|11. Sun Belt||0.0|