I woke up this morning near the Air Force Academy, as I do every morning, wishing that the following conference realignment story would have been the news of the day!
First, the Mountain West Conference ("MWC") signs a TV marketing deal with ESPN that pays each member institution $7.5 million per year over the next ten years. Yes, the $1.125 billion ten year agreement gives ESPN the exclusive rights to the MWC broadcasts for both football and basketball. The MWC agrees to flexible scheduling in return. This is the most crucial part of this wish list!
Second, the MWC announces the additions of the following institutions effective July 2013: the University of Houston, the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Tulsa, and the Southern Methodist University
Third, the MWC announces that Boise State University and San Diego State University will not leave the conference in July 2013 since the Big East is dissolving before our eyes. Both institutions exercised the opt out clauses in their contracts with the Big East.
Fourth, Brigham Young University and the University of Hawaii have both agreed to long-term football-only scheduling agreements with the MWC while maintaining their football independence and their current conference affiliations with the West Coast Confernece and the Big West Conference, respectively. Further details of these football scheduling agreements will be released in another story.
Fifth, the MWC announces a unique 3-division conference organization with an annual football championship game pitting the two highest ranked division winners. The three divisions will be organized by geographical fit as follows:
Pacific Division: Fresno State, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV and Nevada
Mountain Division: Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Utah State, and Wyoming
Southland Division: Houston, New Mexico, SMU, Tulsa, and UTEP
Sixth, the MWC announces the four-year football conference schedule for the Air Force Academy to illustrate how the scheduling will work in the new three-division MWC:
2013: at BSU, CSU, at Wyoming, Utah St, at Fresno St, San Jose St, at Houston, SMU, and Tulsa
2014: BSU, at CSU, Wyoming, at Utah St, UNLV, at Nevada, New Mexico, at UTEP, and at San Diego St
2015: at BSU, CSU, at Wyoming, Utah St, Fresno State, at San Jose St, Houston, at SMU, and at Tulsa
2016: BSU, at CSU, Wyoming, at Utah St, at UNLV, Nevada, at New Mexico, UTEP, and San Diego St
The annual nine-game conference football schedule enables strong regional rivalries within each division, a biennial game with each institution from the other two divisions. This would provided a home, and an away, game with all institutions in the other divisions once during the four year scheduling cycle.
Whoops, I must again return to reality. It was good to dream for a few minutes though. I could go on and on about the benefits of a MWC configured as a three-division 15-team conference. But that would assume that the leadership of the MWC would actually lead.