Conference expansion: What Rutgers, Maryland to Big Ten means to Mountain West

Rutgers and Maryland are officially in the Big Ten, while other reports are surfacing that UConn is leaving the Big East to replace Maryland. So, what does this mean to the outgoing Boise State and San Diego State.

"Things become scar tissue because nothing surprises you anymore," Boise State AD Mark Coyle.

That is exactly as most people fell now in regarding conference realignment.

For those who are unaware, Maryland and Rutgers are off to the Big Ten, and UConn is reportedly the favorite to replace Maryland. However, there reports that Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida are also being considered. The moves for Rutgers and Maryland will be for the 2014 football season.

While the conference realignment carousel keeps on spinning, there is a trickle down affect to the two scheduled outgoing Mountain West members: Boise State and San Diego State. A possible decision is now placed back in the hands of both schools athletic departments on if they want to go forward, or remain in the Mountain West.

Assuming things stay as they are, and that is a big if, here is what the Big East would look like in the 2014 season. This list assumes UConn is on their way out:

Boise State
Cincinnati
Louisville
San Diego State
South Florida
Houston
SMU
Central Florida
Temple
Memphis
Navy (2015)

That is a far cry from the 12-team league that Boise State and San Diego State were expected to join. Looking at the teams left, there are no founding Big East members, and it is basically Conference USA of just a few years back.

Currently, the Big East in midst of signing a new long-term media rights deal, and losing Rutgers is a big deal and will cause the contract dip. It will decrease not because Rutgers is a football power, but the people who subscribe to cable or satellite in the greater New York-area. The money that the Big East could get is already across the board, so there is no reason to speculate on what it could be.

There are clauses in new member contracts that can allow teams to leave for free, or very cheap. First up, is the Houston Cougars; they apparently have a clause that is tied to the money they are to receiver from the Big East, and two separate sources confirm this:

"I am absolutely positive it's in their contract," said a person with intimate knowledge of the situation.

"This is no doubt about that," another industry source said.

[...]

The source did not have particular numbers but described the Houston contract this way: "If we [Houston] don't get X percentage of what you [Big East] think the TV contract is worth [we can leave]."

However, that threshold is not known. However, former Big East commissioner John Marinatto said that the contract could be worth between $10 and $20 million per school, currently Big East schools earn approximately $4 million a year.

So, depending on what the number is for Houston, they can leave at no cost. By Houston leaving, that would kick in a clause to allow San Diego State and/or Boise State to leave without penalty:

Here are the details about Boise State's agreement with the Big East:

If Boise State does not join the Big East on July 1, 2013, the school would owe the conference $5 million. That number can be reduced if:

- The Big East's total revenue drops by 25 percent before July 1, 2013.

- The new television contract allocates less than 70 percent of proceeds to football-playing members.

[...]

The league [Big East] has another mutually agreed upon football-playing school west of the Mississippi River.

The final clause is one that both Boise State and San Diego State have, and if Houston leaves, and another school can not be found out West, then either could jump with no penalty The Big East wants to keep both schools, and Air Force, as well as BYU's, name will surface as a replacement.

The revenue clause could come into affect with current Big East members leaving to the ACC/Big Ten.

Now, back to the Mountain West, do Boise State and San Diego State still want to make this move. It will be more money regardless of what the Big East looks like. Mainly due to bowl money and that various television networks are fighting over the Big East media rights deal.

However, with the Big East being lumped in with the Mountain West, Sun Belt, MAC and Conference USA for that single automatic big money bowl, it could be in both teams best interest to consider staying in the Mountain West. With equal access to big money games, as well as playoffs, money will not be a huge difference and that the Mountain West television deal is up for renewal soon could close the gap even more.

Then add in that Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson is open to allowing Boise State and San Diego State to return, that would put the league at 12 teams and be able to host a conference title game.

Not sure if all of that is enough to warrant returning to the Mountain West, but the higher ups at both schools must take all of this into consideration. The new-look Big East is completely different to what the teams were to be a part of just one year ago.

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