Speculation, clarification abounds following Boise St. returns

Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

The dominoes set in motion when the Boise St. Broncos and Mountain West Conference announced Monday that the Broncos would remain in the MWC rather than moving to the Big East Conference in July 2013 have not begun to fall - but they are teetering. MW Connection continues the realignment watch.

The dominoes set in motion when the Boise St. Broncos and Mountain West Conference announced Monday that the Broncos would remain in the MWC rather than moving to the Big East Conference in July 2013 have not begun to fall - but they are teetering.

Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com began his Monday afternoon blog with the rhetorical question "Why stop at 11?" referencing the MWC's current make up of Boise St., the Air Force Falcons, Colorado St. Rams, Fresno St. Bulldogs, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, UNLV Rebels and Wyoming Cowboys plus new additions for 2013 the San Jose St. Spartans and Utah St. Aggies and football-only members the Hawaii Warriors.

Fowler reiterated much of what had already been reported by ESPN, but added some specifics to earlier reports that the league was talking to "3-5 teams":

A league source says UTEP, SMU and Houston have recently shown interest in becoming members.

BYU is the biggest prize available, but the Cougars seem committed to independence -- at least for now.

Thompson sees his league having as many members as his board of directors wants, whether that's 11 or 14. ESPN first reported the Boise news.

"I think everything is on the table," Thompson said. "Long term is relative. We have a football season that kicks off in eight months. We're going to have to make decisions here in a few weeks."

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But as Fowler points out, "keeping Boise isn't cheap."

The league will be assisting with paying Boise's Big East exit fees an implementing a bonus system for schools that appear on national TV networks such as ESPN, NBC, Fox or other channels.

It appears Boise can make good money off this formula. The MWC needs Boise, its most attractive television pawn, because it will sell more than, say, Utah State-Hawaii games. Depending on how the deal's cut, the Mountain West should be better positioned for more money, too. It's an interesting, creative strategy for the league and the school.

According to a league source, the Mountain West is primarily targeting ESPN and NBC Sports for its repackaged games.

"We will be very involved in the selection process with Boise State games and part of respective packages," Thompson said. "It's a very positive situation for the conference."

Meanwhile, over at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Aztecs football beat writer Stefanie Loh added comments to her Boise St. Staying Story from San Diego St. athletic director Jim Sterk, who declined an interview request with the U-T but commented in a press release sent out by SDSU.

Sterk said:

"...the Aztecs "have been monitoring the ongoing changes in conference realignment and are aware of today’s announcement."

"Today’s news represents a significant change in conference alignment," Sterk said in the statement. "We will continue to evaluate the situation and make decisions based on the best interest of the San Diego State athletic department and the University overall."

ESPN's Andrea Adelson added to the post-Boise/MWC maelstrom in her Big East blog entry Monday, mentioning some of the details that Brian McMurphy also reported earlier in the day:

As a way to keep Boise State in the fold, the Mountain West renegotiated its television deal with its primary network partner, CBS Sports Network. The league will guarantee the rights to Boise State home football games that are sold as a separate package. In addition, Boise State and other football teams in the Mountain West that appear on national television (ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) will be paid a bonus of $300,000 per game, with an additional $200,000 for a Saturday game.

Wonder who will get a lion's share of those appearances?

Lest anyone out there think Boise should be fitted for a white hat and given a mask and a steed name "Silver" after all this, Adelson added this bit of conventional wisdom as well:

In the end, Boise State had to do what was in its best interest. In this era, it is every program for itself and every coach and athletic director for himself. So while Boise State practiced a bit of self-preservation Monday, the Big East was dealt another blow, losing its 14th school in the past two years. Two of them -- Boise State and TCU -- never played a down.

Frank Schwab over at Yahoo! Sports twists the knife in regards to the Big East's predicament on the Dr. Saturday blog at Yahoo! Monday afternoon:

As for the Big East, it's yet another embarrassing defection. There have been 14 schools to leave the conference the last two years. It now has to sell television networks on giving it a truckload of money when its major moves lately have been to add Tulane and East Carolina.

Good luck to the Big East trying to get that big television contract it was banking on. Television networks will probably want to see how many more schools leave the Big East before figuring out how much money it's worth to televise those games.

That's it for now....

This ain't the NFL, but it's appropriate to say that San Diego St. is "on the clock..."

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