Here is what would have happened had their been a playoff in place since 1998, and using the rules put in place at 2014.
With the news of what the 2014 college football postseason will look like, SB Nation's Jason Kirk went back to through the BCS era to see what the format would look like. Even with the changes, it did not change the Mountain West teams who got into a major bowl game.
Some of the changes mostly involved Boise State. They would have made it to a major bowl in 2004, 2010 and 2011, but under the current/old system, Boise State went to the Las Vegas Bowl twice and the Liberty Bowl in 2004.
TCU would have been in the national semifinals in 2009 and 2010. In '09 TCU would have been matchup against No. 1 ranked Alabama in the Orange Bowl, and in '10 would have played Oregon in the Sugar Bowl.
Here is a nifty chart that shows what 1998-2012 bowl season would have looked like:
Details of the chart:
- Bold boxes for the access bowl game with first pick.
- * "Group of Five" automatic qualifier.
- + Contract bowl team replacing a conference champ.
- ++ Contract bowl team forced out of its spot by semifinal game.
With the guaranteed spot to the top "group of five" (yes, that is official name), that should lead to a reasonable chance for a Mountain West champion to be in the running every year.